Sunday, December 19, 2010

So Thankful

It seems that God has constantly been reminding me lately how much I have to be thankful for.

When I complained about how tight it is in our garage after we put both vehicles in for the winter, I stopped short and reminded myself, "you have two working vehicles and an attached garage; you are wealthier than much of the world!"  How many people would like to have my "problem"?

I got frustrated trying to figure out our new printer/scanner/copier. Poor me, another luxury to complain about?

After blood tests confirmed I am border-line hypothyroid, my chiropractor/nutritionist started me on some new supplements to support my thyroid, which are not cheap.  On the way home, I starting feeling sorry for myself about how much money we spend trying to keep me healthy. I began to pray that God would provide the money needed. Again, God quickly reminded me, "I do provide for you!" I should be thanking Him, not asking again! Although it means we have to sacrifice in other areas, like vacations, or replacing old windows in our house, we are able to pay for my health costs.

I'm still fighting a cold that's had me home and doing pretty much nothing for 4 days now. Besides feeling crummy, we're also due to travel for the holidays on Thursday and I'm quite behind in Christmas preparations. But I've had all the comforts of home in the meantime, for which I am thankful. And I am also grateful I'm sick now and not over the Christmas weekend.

Anyone who reads this post has electricity, a computer, internet connection, and knows how to read. We are so blessed!

We have trials, but they are temporary, and we are not alone.

I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, born in a common stable - accommodations for which I doubt Mary grumbled and complained!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tis The Season

The season for Birthdays around our house!  Both Isaac and Aaron have birthdays at the end of November, right after Thanksgiving.  It's tricky planning what presents to give for birthdays and what to give for Christmas. And then plan celebrations at this busy time of year.

We had a party for Isaac on his actual birthday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We've gotten fairly creative with birthdays over the years. One year we did a treasure hunt which the kids loved, and ever since then it doesn't seem a birthday party without one.  Each year we have to try to out-do ourselves!

We also did a photo game this year for the second time.  We came up with 10 different situations that the kids have to do, which then have to be photographed.  Thank goodness for digital cameras!  We used to do this type of game in our youth group when I was young, except then it was called a Polaroid Relay, and we competed in teams.

This year's highlights:

everybody on the roof of the shed

everybody stuffed into the trunk of the car  
duct tape Isaac to the wall
Monday our family went out for dinner to Steak 'N Shake on Aaron's birthday (his restaurant choice, because he loves their mini hamburgers and "the best strawberry shakes"!)

He had a small treasure hunt around the house to get his present; his first own Wii game!

can you tell that he was a little happy?!
And then tomorrow is Aaron's party at Chuck E Cheese, with just 2 best friends. This will be his first "real" party, not shared with Isaac, so he's super excited!  And then birthday week will officially be over and we can start to concentrate on Christmas!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's all about the (Good) Beef!

This fall we bought a quarter of a cow from our milk farm. I think it amounted to approximately 80 lbs. of meat, almost half as ground beef.

Here it is stocked in our new (used) freezer that conveniently fit in our garage, just steps from the kitchen!

Not only will it be nice to have meat readily available for the next several months, but the cows are grass-fed on natural grass and never given growth hormones, hormones of any kind, or antibiotics, so the meat is more nutritious.  It tastes better to! Just one more step in our journey toward healthier living.

And by the way, if you're thinking that "eating beef" shouldn't be part of a paragraph about "healthier living", check out this article (it's kind of long).

I'm not an expert, but what I do know ... Fats are not created equal. The nutrition of all-natural beef can't be compared with assembly-line, medicated, get-big-quick cows. Digesting our food well is crucial to good health, and beef does digest well in a healthy digestive system.  There are so many myths out there, and errored research, that so many things we're taught (mostly here in the U.S.) sadly, just aren't true.

There are an endless number of posts that I could write about such food and health issues that I've learned over the past several years (such as, real butter is better for you than fake, low-fat butter substitutions, and  raw milk is extremely healthy).  One book that dispels many current food and health myths is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  The Weston A. Price Foundation is also a good starting point.  Look around, you might be surprised!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

I love this taco seasoning mix recipe that I found from a blog friend, Sara.

I've tried a couple other homemade mix recipes in the past but didn't care for them.  This one is definitely a keeper! And the best thing is, you control the ingredients - no MSG or any other odd ingredients. 

Taco Seasoning Mix
1/4 c. chili powder
2 Tb. cumin
1/2 Tb. black pepper
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne

Mix spices and keep in an airtight container.
Add 2 1/2 Tb. spice mix (more or less to taste) plus 1/2 c. water to 1 lb. of browned ground beef.
Simmer 10 - 15 minutes. 

(Next time I'm going to add try adding some dry minced onion to the mix.)

Earlier this week, I cooked up 8 lbs. of taco meat! I used one for that night's dinner and froze the rest. I've been wanting to do that for quite a while! I also froze some in little 1 c. containers because my boys like to put it on chips and cheese for lunch.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Fun

Yesterday we hosted a hobo, a hippie, and a glow stick man at the house.

 Aaron (almost 7)

These are the coolest costumes! Glow sticks taped with clear packing tape to black clothing.
Isaac (almost 12) and friend

Dancing glow stick men!

This is what they look like in the light

And here ...

Noah (15)  Groovy! He played the hippie role way too easily! Far out, man!

I don't usually dress in costume, but I could have been an ice cube, as cold as it got while walking with the kids trick or treating! At least it wasn't raining. Okay, Halloween done, now a new knitting project to start!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Would You Like a Subscription?

I promise this won't cost you a dime or even a penny!

If you would like to subscribe to my blog (meaning that you can get a notification whenever I publish a new post), all you have to do is enter your email address in the box on the right and then follow any confirmation steps required.  You will then receive an email whenever there's a new post on the blog.

And by the way, I'm really going to try to post more regularly than I have been, including more posts about what's going on in our homeschool and recipes.  I'm always more likely to try a new recipe if it's from or recommended by someone I know, or who's blog I read. So I'll gather up some of my favorites and post them from time to time.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fabulous Fall

We are having an absolutely gorgeous fall here in Michigan!  The weather's been beautiful, the trees seem brighter than they have in a few years, and the color seems to be lasting longer. I'm just loving it!

Let me share some beauty with you!

Just have to note that the colors of some of these next several pictures are a little harsh because I took them in the middle of the day, which a photographer is "not supposed to do". But I had to get them when I could.

I'm so grateful that God gives us beautiful colors in the fall, and then also in the spring, to make up for the gray of winter!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sometimes I Envy My Dog

Dog's sure have it good!
They never have to clean or cook or do laundry or play endless games of "Sorry".
They are served food regularly.
They get to sleep whenever they want.
They are petted and told "you're so cute!" just by wagging their tail or sitting near you and looking up at you with their big eyes.
They get giddy just hearing the words "outside", "walk", or "eat".

But what I envy most is how they bounce awake every morning ...
Happy and energetic to face a new day.
Wiggling and wagging when they first see you.
Dashing joyfully outside as if it's the first time they've ever seen the back yard.
Running around the yard with abandon, sniffing intently for any new or interesting sights or smells.

Full of contentment and joy, without worrying if their nose is too short, or too long; or if they're having a bad hair day; or if they've gained a few pounds; or how much they have to do that day.

I'm glad that I don't have to eat the same dry "food" every day that's been sitting in a bag for months, or have to sit on command. But I could use a few lessons from them on contentment and joy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One-Room Schoolhouses

I've developed a growing curiosity in one-room schoolhouses lately.  I've always thought they were interesting. A while ago I became determined to take a photo that might be used on the front of my favorite homeschooling magazine, "The Old Schoolhouse Magazine".  They feature a one-room schoolhouse on the cover of each magazine, and take submissions from readers.

After doing some research for schools in my area and the state of MI, I've decided to merge my schoolhouse interest with my photography, and begin taking pictures of as many one-room schoolhouses as I can.  I hope to gather dozens over the years, and will try to search them out if we travel anywhere.

Today, I found a list of rule for teachers in 1872. This list was for Illinois teachers, but was similar throughout the U.S.  Interesting!

Each school district set up rules for the teacher to follow. Some of them were very strict, but they were important to the farmers in the district and made sense to them. Following is a list of rules for a teacher in 1872:
  1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.
  2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.
  3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.
  4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church.
  5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
  6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
  7. Every good teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not be a burden on society.
  8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity, and honesty.
  9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.
Here's my first photos taken in our area recently.  I don't know it's history, but the outside appears to have been neglected for quite some time. A peek in the windows however gave me the impression that it's being used as some type of office/storage area.  There's also a small, modern one room addition on the back side of the schoolhouse that may serve as someone's office. Love the little outhouse on the back, right side!

It's hard to see, but I believe the sign in front says "Dist. No. 5, 1887"

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I love September! My birthday, our wedding anniversary, start of school, and cooler temps with Fall on the horizon. Fall is my favorite season; well, maybe tied with Spring; but I'm very ready to say goodbye to Summer.  As we've moved into September, my depression has also calmed down, for which I'm very thankful.

And good thing, because although I'm glad to get back into a scheduled routine, our school start-up has not been smooth this year.  Besides doing more work with Aaron as he's in 1st grade this year (and still not reading), I've added some new subjects and curriculum, one of which I'm throwing together myself from several different sources, and have classes on Mondays and Thursdays, and every-other Wednesday. Last year we took a break from any outside classes, so that's one more adjustment for this school year. We're fortunate to have a large homeschooling community where we live, with plenty of class options to choose from. They're a great supplement to our learning at home, but it sure adds up to more running around. I'm still trying to catch my breath after the first two weeks!

The temperatures have cooled down rather quickly after a very warm summer, so it feels even more like Fall.

Welcome Fall!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Creativity MIA

One thing (of many) that depression steals is creativity.  I enjoy various creative outlets like knitting, crocheting, sewing, scrapbooking, and photography.  But when my depression flares up, I have little interest or energy to work on projects, even when part of my self really wants to. So instead of posting pictures of all the amazing things I have made lately, because I haven't, I thought I'd show some ideas of what I would like to make:

 Vintage Sheet Quilt

I've been collecting some vintage sheets and pillow cases from garage sales, thrift stores, (and my parent's house!) for a while now. This would be my first quilt; should be fairly easy because it's just squares, no complicated pattern.

Knit Leaf Cravat Scarf

More of these cute knit dish clothes (I've already made one and I really like how the pattern turns out)

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Knitted Pears

I'm also 4 years behind on my scrapbooks! I've had my supplies out on the dining room table for a few weeks now, and work on it as my brain will allow, which isn't often.  Some day I'll get caught up.

I continue to have some good days and some bad days; but hoping that I'll feel well more consistently as August is gone and we approach fall. I love fall! Perfect time for taking lots of pictures!

(I'm having problems with new layouts with blogger, I don't know why some of my descriptions are not lining up correctly - they look okay when I'm typing them - but I'm not going to figure that out right now!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

1959 magazine

Another great find at a garage sale to add to my collection of old books, cookbooks, and magazines.

Take a little peak into a woman's life in 1959 from a McCall's magazine.

An electric range with a pull-out oven, for easier cleaning. That sounds like a great idea!

Japanese-inspired clothing patterns

"Let's Eat a Real Breakfast" article. A doctor recommends eating a full, well-balanced breakfast to prevent hypoglycemia, mid-morning fatigue, dizziness, and fainting. He suggests that protein be included instead of common breakfasts of just toast, juice, and coffee.  (still good advice today.)  I certainly hope that the photo included shows a wide range of breakfast choices, not just one breakfast!

Hmmm . . . now that's an interesting-looking dinner!

"A Wonderful Way to Live" - McCall's 1959 Idea House

Our house was built in 1960. Some scary similarities, like paneling that we painted over, and bathroom tile although ours is a more neutral color palette, thank goodness.  That tile is still in good shape (what kind of amazing mortar and grout did they use back then?), it's going to take some elbow grease when we rip it out someday!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August Woes

I'm not exactly sure why, but the past few summers my chronic health issues have flared up by mid-July and on into August. Summer is not my favorite season (Spring and Fall come first) in general because I don't like the heat. But it seems that summer doesn't agree with my mind and body too.

I try not to be discouraged, but it's difficult to struggle through my days instead of really enjoying them, especially when I have children to take care of.  Mornings are worse. Some days are better are others. But much of the time I don't have the mental or physical energy to do what I would like to do.

My summer goals of exercising and organizing have become dust in the wind. I do what I can when I can on better days (or even better hours). But I've had to let go of my weekly plans so that I don't have unrealistic expectations of myself, and then end up feeling like I've failed. 

This too shall pass. By September sometime, I usually start feeling better. Wonder if it has anything to do with lunar cycles and seasons? I've heard such theories.

Among others, 2 Corinthians has many verses that I hold on to during such times.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 is a favorite passage:

 "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body."

Paul had a thorn in his flesh that he asked God three times to remove.
But each time, God replied, 

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9)

Learning to be content in weakness is difficult. But God is faithful; and if we're open and seek Him, it's IN times of weakness that we meet God in a more personal way and develop deeper character.

Monday, July 12, 2010

In and Out

More out than in actually!

I had thought I might have more time to do things like blogging during the summer, but life instead has been more busy in different ways.  Holidays, family visiting, park dates with friends, sleepovers, garden & flowers to tend to, swimming in neighbor's pool, day trips, boys' friends at our house, homework for Beth Moore's Esther bible study at church, planning landscaping, and on it goes, as well as some times of rest to recover from all the fun!  I may be taking more pictures than usual, but why did I think I'd have time to blog about them? I haven't even had time to download much of my photos yet!

So I may be scarce around here for the rest of the summer.  I need to spend my time and energy living life instead of at the computer blogging about it.  But okay, first, I will post 2 pictures from the 4th of July parade!

Rashed, Isaac, Noah, and cousin Brandon

Grandpa and Aaron


I've been reminded that homeschooling actually keeps you at home! Just me and the kids. A simpler kind of busy I guess.  Summer activities - not so much!  So I'll "see" ya when I see ya!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lazy Days of Summer?

Whoever coined that phrase did not have children!

We're only 1 1/2 weeks into our summer schedule, and I'm exhausted!  Mostly because I spent all last week getting ready for the used book sale I participated in Monday at our local Home School Building.  It's a huge sale; approximately 200 tables worth of used books and curriculum set up in the gym.  It was hot, crowded, and rather mind-boggling at times, but I did sell a lot and made some money to use for next year's curriculum. 

In regards to my summer goals, I accomplished 2 out of 3 last week.  My first area of cleaning and organizing was our homeschool books, which was mostly accomplished before the book sale.  But I still have this past year's things to put away.  Also, I exercised 6 times! Two of those days I walked first thing in the morning - something that hasn't worked for me in the past.  It sure feels good to cross that off the list so early in the day!

This week I'm way behind due to the book sale and other various appointments and scheduled events.  Hopefully I'll be back in the game next week.  Oh, yeah, then family is coming.  Well, maybe the week after that?!

The kids are certainly enjoying their summer!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer Goals

With homeschooling done for the year, I've made 3 goals for myself this summer.

Putting it in print will help keep me accountable, I hope!
  1. Extra, heavy-duty cleaning and organizing of one room or area of the house per week.
  2. Walk or exercise regularly - my goal is daily, but I'll be happy with at least 5 days a week.
  3. Try one new recipe a week from several cook books that I haven't had time to explore yet.
The cleaning and exercising are the most important to me.  Dealing with depression and health issues on and off for several years made regular, consistent exercise an impossibility, and anything beyond basic survival-mode cleaning usually didn't happen.  I have muscles and a house long-neglected that I aim to pay a lot of attention to now that I'm feeling better.

I still have to keep boundaries in place to keep from over-doing things and exhausting myself. But I'm hopeful that my health will allow me to meet my goals as much as possible. Wish me luck! 

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Always Be Prepared

    You never know when you might need to defend yourself or your family from the bad guys.  So even when doing school work, be prepared!

    I love how boys are just born with a natural, God-given desire to protect, defend, provide, and conquer.  It's busy work raising 3 Knights-In-Training!

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Sweet Shot Tuesday - June 1

    The pier and lighthouse at sunset in Grand Haven, MI, over Memorial Dad weekend.

    What a great way to end the day!