Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Belated Pics

These pics are of Josiah in the hospital last month.

First Fruits

Reposted 11-04-2011 (can't imagine why I ever took it down?)

We picked our first produce on Monday night!

We are thrilled!!! Remember what we started with?

 I know that the onion is not done yet, but I was curious how far along they were. The tomatoes will be pouring in soon. The peppers are all looking great too! We are super excited! This is our first successful garden! Last year our efforts were flooded...twice.

Speaking of "first fruits," we decided that we will be giving away a portion of our produce as a gift to God. It will be our way of giving back of our first fruits.

New (to us) Tiller

Great Story!

We moved here in August of 2008, but we started coming weekly to help my FIL with hay in May of 2008. At that time we saw someone using a tiller in a garden just near the road. When he finished he parked the tiller under the tree and left it there. It sat in that same spot until about two months ago, when Paul got up the nerve to stop.

He asked if they might consider selling it. They offered it to him for $25!!! (The same tiller costs several hundred dollars new!) So, we bought it! There were some pieces that needed replaced or repaired, and we took these to the local hardware store. These repairs costed only $55! So, we have a new-to-us tiller for only $80 (and a few hours of Paul's tinkering)!!! Praise the Lord! This will make gardening SO much easier and time effective.

When Healthy Eating and Budget Collide

My desire, as chief cook and bottle washer homemaker of our family, is to have our family eat as many raw and unrefined foods as I can reasonably fit into each meal. The catch in that sentence is "reasonably fit," because healthy eating can get very costly! Right now, my 6yo Nelson eats more than my husband at every meal. And, my 8yo Becca eats more than I do at every meal. So, I need to seriously consider the food budget!

We are currently making most meals from scratch. And, while this is cheaper than eating out, it would be cheaper yet if I would make a few changes.

Here is what I am considering:

Presently, I am using raw/pure honey in place of sugar in recipes. This stuff costs a fortune! I am ashamed to say what I spend per gallon. I have heard of an Amish man that sells a 5 gallon bucket for only  $75. That would be really cheap... for raw honey. BUT, for us that might still be too expensive. So, I am debating between buying the refined honey in bulk from Sam's Club, OR I will buy a 50 pound bag of evaporated cane juice from the Dutch Foods Store. I have not priced the honey at Sam's yet. But, I think that the bag of sugar is $21.99.

Next is succanat. I have never been able to get it in bulk, so I paid $2.50/pound. I use succanat to replace brown sugar in my recipes. But, I will just be completely honest... I already bought brown sugar. I cannot afford succanat. Brown sugar is cheaper.

We have never been able to afford to buy organic. But, we do grow our own pesticide-free/herbicide-free produce. We will not change anything in this category. 

I use real butter, in place of margarine. Yes, I know that some of you think that margarine is the healthier option, and I am crazy. But, I have read otherwise. And, I think that sticking with food the way God made it is always better! The problem - butter costs about 4 times the cost of margarine! I could either 1) make my own butter, 2) switch to margarine, or 3) change nothing. Since I like the taste and consistency of real butter, I will not be switching to margarine. And, since we are not buying raw milk and cream right now, I cannot start making it. But, just as soon as we can get back on raw milk, I plan to make my own. Better yet! I want my own milk cow! But, this is not a necessarily a cheaper option - because you have to feed the cow. But, it would certainly be the most healthy option!

Right now we are using not-at-all-lean meat, because we can afford it. And, I do not plan to switch to cheaper meat anytime soon. But, I could try to cook less chicken and more beef. And, I could try to cook more beans/lentils and less beef! I really do want to have more meat-free meals! And, our ultimate goal is to grow our own beef and chickens.

As for eggs, I was buying the "all natural" brown eggs at the store, when I could not buy them locally. Wal-Mart sells these eggs for $2.44/dozen. I like them, because the yolk is richer/darker and the shell is tougher. BUT, my new plan (already in motion) is that when I cannot buy farm fresh eggs I will buy the cheap ones at Wal-Mart. Right now, my FIL has chickens and is able to give us eggs for free - woo hoo! But, we cannot count on such generosity when we move away. So, again, our ultimate goal is to raise our own chickens. 

We eat brown rice several times a week. We like rice, it is a good filler! But, I am thinking about using white rice on occasion. Is that really so bad?

Even writing this, I feel a little bit guilty, because now you healthy eating gurus might think less of me. But, I need to save money! I am not trying to kill my family. I am not trying to cause cancer, obesity, or other physiological disorders. I am just trying to save money! You saw in another recent post that we have cut back on everything that I can think of (save the internet and my cell phone that will go as soon as the contract is completed. Paul has to have a cell phone for his driving with UPS).

But, as I said before, I am trying to be moderate! I do not want to obsess over healthy eating, because it is not the reason we live! We do not live for food! We live for God, to know Him and make Him known! And, if healthy eating consumes me more than the Gospel - I have a problem! 

Now, I ask for your practical help and opinions. How do you save money while eating healthy?

Eating Healthy is BAD for you?

Read THIS first.

This article literally made me laugh out loud. Then, I realized that some people really believe that healthy eating is BAD (and can lead to malnutrition!). And the eating-healthy-disorder will probably appear in the new DSM (what Drs use to evaluate a person's mental health). That is not funny, it's sad!

Now, I do understand that there are people who seem terribly overwhelmed with healthy diet. These people are afraid to even eat with others, for fear that they might consume soimething with refined sugar or something warmed in a miucrowave. Now, that's going a bit far - in my opinion.

Yet, every time I read a book on healthy eating, as it pertains to whole/unrefined foods, I feel like "I can never go back." I try not to be consumed with it, but I know that I can never be as carefree as I used to me.

But, for now - I will enjoy the sugary Coffee Mate that I use in two mugs a day. I will enjoy the cookies I splurge on from time to time. I will enjoy the food that others bring to potlucks.

This is a great post to lead into the post I have had in draft all weekend, entitled When Healthy Eating and Budget Collide, I will try to post that today!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rebecca's Pictures

Hi.I am Rebecca, I am 8. I have a kitten, her name is Rose. She is cute. I  have a camera. I took these pictures. My camera is the one I am holding. The dog is Daisy. She likes Josh and Lucy's playground. The next picture is the yard, wheat and the fence.  Nelson likes to climb trees. Mom is holding is Dolly. The other kitten mom is holding is Rose.

Putting God First: An Eight Week Bible Reading Challenge

Paul and I created a group on Facebook, and we invite all blog readers to participate in the challenge. You don't need to be on Facebook, that is just a means of advertising.

The PURPOSE of this group is to encourage one another and hold each other accountable to reading the Bible every day. The specific CHALLENGE is that for eight weeks we will not be using the computer for pleasure or for work until we have read our Bibles each day. We are "putting God first" with the intention that we can all establish a new life routine or become more established in our pre-existing Bible reading routine. Anyone who appreciates the purpose of this group and wants to participate in the challenge is welcome to join!
Will you take the challenge? Or is there something you do ahead of reading your Bible besides checking the computer? Let us know if you will be taking part in the challenge!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


(This post was written by Paul, when we were trying to move out of a moldy house that was making me lose my mind and physical health. Our daughter Lydia was also very sick. We were desperate for a way out of the chaos! We moved in October 2010 to a much better home.)

Dear family and friends,

We are in desperation mode. Bethany has not conveyed the depth or the extent of what our household is going through. She cannot and will not. If you could witness the atmosphere of our home from day to to day you would think we were insane. So please, I beg you, pray more earnestly than ever. We need God to break into our lives in a big way.

Also, a friend of a friend offered to let us stay in their home in Columbia. We don't know much at all about this family. I went to college with them but we did not hang out. We visited a church Sunday and this family just happened to be members there. It seems that God would have us to know them, but is he asking us to stay with them for a while? We are scared to take such an offer. We are a family of seven, they are a family of six. We would really take up space. It just seems odd to move in with folks we barely know. Are we just being proud?

Sadly, we are are losing faith here, literally. At times you would think that we were not Christians, to our shame. I know God provides, I am just scared because of what I am seeing unfold before my eyes. Please, for the sake of my wife and children ask the Lord to show us the way.


By Way of Analogy

I LOVE step aerobics! When we lived in IL (and in FL) I had a membership to a fitness club, because I really enjoy working out with other ladies! There is such momentum and drive doing step aerobics with a class-full of people stepping up and down at the same time. I love to tune out the music and listen just to the stepping.

These days, I cannot afford a gym membership. So, we bought me a work-out ball, my own step, a DVD, and small weights.The idea is that I will work out alone.

But, as much as LOVE doing step aerobics, I just cannot get motivated to do it alone! I know I need to. I even want to. But, without the class to enjoy it with... and hold me accountable... it just is not the same.

The Christian life is the same way. We might really LOVE the Lord! We might really LOVE listening to sermons, preparing lessons, reading the Word, and praying. But, without the accountability and fellowship of the body... sometimes we lose interest. We might find another way to use our time that is less profitable. Sure, we know we need the spiritual weight training (so to speak) but it is so hard to do it alone!

Believers, we need to stay connected to the Body of Christ! We need to stay in constant contact with other believers! We need to be sure that we are supplementing our daily spiritual work out and diet with regular meetings/fellowship with other Christians!

Because, as much as we truly love the Lord - it is hard to be disciplined without the help of the body.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Music to Start Your Week

Hillsong's Desert Song has really ministered to me in my need and I trust it will do the same for you. Go HERE to read the lyrics and/or watch the video.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mini Crib

Have you seen the new mini cribs that have come out? I had the opportunity to use one at a friend's house and I HIGHLY recommend it!!! I want one for my own house! They are about the size of a playpen, only they have fixed sides, so they are super safe. It adjusts from shallow bed for newborns to deep bed for big babies.

Mini Cribs

Moderation in Food Preparation - Part 2

Reposted 11-04-2011: edited a very little for tone and content

Last Saturday we took Baby Josiah to the ER for an "apparent life-threatening event." My refrigerator was empty that day. I left the babysitters (Paul's parents) with no bread, no lunchmeat, no easy-to-fix meals, no freezer meals - nothing! I was running low on groceries and was trying to wait till the next payday to have a big shopping trip. In the meantime, I was going to make a lot of cheap meals that I knew I could make from scratch (anything with potatoes, lentils, flour, rice, canned tomatoes, etc). I could have gotten by pretty well for a few days. BUT, Paul and his parents did not want to make the meals I had planned in my head. Because, let's face it - though I can (usually) make meals with 5 kids fighting in the living room standing by, not everyone else can.

I decided to rectify the problem. I have grandiose ideas of having a stack of meals lined up in the freezer to be thawed out in a time of need. But, in reality, I know that will not happen any time soon. So, I bought frozen pizzas, hot dogs, and hamburger helper. I don't plan to cook those items, and I certainly don't want to eat those items. They are intended for Paul to make them. (Though to give Paul credit where credit is due - he did make bread from my usual recipe! And, it turned out nicely.)

So, the other night I was in the grocery store... and, on every aisle I was tempted by some favorite sugary snack: Doritos, soda, ice cream, boxed cereal, and more. I was somehow self-controlled enough not to buy any of these items. (If you are new to the blog, then I should tell you that we are not on a diet, I just have some crazy notions about food. I do my best to serve my family meals made without high fructose corn syrup, refined, sugar, and refined flour. You can read more about that in Part One.)

I came out of Wal-Mart and complained, "What is the point of denying myself ice cream and soda if I am just going to buy all this junk food?!" And, Paul's rebuke for my noticeably sour attitude was this, "There is nothing wrong with eating healthy. But, if it causes you to sin, then you have got to let it go." My husband knows me pretty well. He could see that I was really upset that I bought those food items. He knew that I was grumpy and snippy, because I cannot live up to my own standard. As usual it was a matter of unreasonable expectations. I have placed on myself these standards that are just about impossible to meet... then, when I fall short, I take it out on everyone else. I sin.

So, I am writing this to encourage you in your healthy living journey. It is great to read blogs by ladies who cook everything from scratch and you cannot find a single grain of white sugar in their home. BUT, it is easy to take a good thing and make it really ugly. My family sometimes HATES healthy food, because of my attitude when I cook it... because I get so grumpy... because I am so burdened.

Paul is always asking if my burden is from God or man. And, honestly, I know that God wants me to be a good steward of my body. And, He wants me to be a good homemaker. BUT, He does NOT want me to sin.

I thank God for placing me with a husband who wants to see me grow. I really needed his rebuke. Paul does well to remind me that my food "convictions" are not from the Lord if they cause me to sin. And, I am grateful for it!

My House is Plagued

Reposted 11-04-2011: No change to content, only grammar/spelling

I won't deny it - I am discouraged. I just keep thinking my house is plagued. Only, there is no prophet coming to me to tell me what it all means. (I am being a little cheeky here. But, to read the real story of God using Plagues in the Bible, read Exodus 7-12.)

My plagues:
1- Poisonous Brown Reckluse Spiders
2- Snakes (non-venomous, so far)
3- Mice (usually, just in the duct-work being noisy. But, this month they got in. Not only am I mouse-a-phobic, but if a mouse can get in...)
4- Black Mold
5- Flies (Not just a few... we had THOUSANDS. I have never seen so many flies in a house in my life... gross.)

Let's hope this list does not get any longer before we move... whenever that will be.

Friday, June 18, 2010

He Actually Paid Me

Wow! My FIL actually paid me for helping with hay this week! He has never paid me before, though he always pays Paul. Not only did he pay me, but he complimented me to Paul saying that I am "a go-getter." I am vacillating between feeling really appreciated and really ticked off (that he never noticed all the times I worked hard before). Paul assures me it is a great compliment. I have finally arrived.

Two Interesting Tidbits

One: Josiah had an eczema patch under his chins neck for about 3 months. After 2 days in the hospital and a trip to IL, the patch is completely gone! I read the other day that mold can cause skin rashes... but I seriously did not think that Josiah's eczema was a product of that. Maybe the mold is the reason Nelson's eczema has flared up so terribly too.

Two: Paul noticed a pattern that is pretty disconcerting. Lydia eats more away from the house than she eats when we are home. Whenever we visit friends (or the hotel breakfast) she has a real feast. And, back at home she picks at her food again... Hmmm - we now have a theory that mold affects appetite.

To all of this, all I can say is "Lord, Please, please deliver us from this house! Please provide an escape!"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Health - an Update

I am happy to be able to post again. I am undecided whether I will move back permanently. This post is another test post... to see if Blogger behaves.

I am still struggling with mold. Some days I think "It's all in my head, the house is not the problem." But, seriously,  the house is the problem! Just one example: This morning I had a terrible headache (as usual), so I took a nap when the little ones did. (The oldest read a book. Number Two took a nap too.) As time passed my head hurt worse! So, I decided to go outside. I felt better in short order, and mowed the yard (with the push mower.) Then, when I got hot and tired, I came back in. In just a few minutes my head hurt again! If I don't spend every minute of every day out of doors I end up a miserable mess!

But, aside from the mold I seem to be doing well. Last night Paul and I worked with my FIL to bring in the hay. We do square bales... and last night we did 250. My MIL drove the tractor. Paul and his Dad threw the bales up to me, and I stacked them. That means I handled about every bale! I felt great while we were there... but woke up this morning with my usual headache.

I felt great during Josiah's hospital stay. I felt great when we went up North to visit family. It really is this house... it is certainly not all in my head.

EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to say that I did not lose any weight during my no-soda challenge. I did, however, lose one dress size! I am not terribly surprised, because my body type builds muscle quickly.  My arms are legs are both stronger better toned than they were at the beginning of Spring.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Benefits of a Crashed Computer

While I was in the hospital with Baby Josiah this past weekend (read here and here), the computer was infected with a virus. Paul was doing some research for me when some kind of "bug" completely killed my computer. We lost all of our pics. We also lost recipes, Word documents, and everything else that was not backed up on CDs (that is about everything)! Surprisingly, I am not terribly upset about this. I thought I was going to lose my 5 month old baby last week - what is a computer compared to that!?

The good news from the computer crash is this - whatever virus that hijacked my ability to access blogger has been destroyed (or so it seems)! So, I am considering moving my wordpress blog back over here... I need to pray about it first. I will give it a few days to see if I can consistently use blogger (log in, write posts, and make comments on other blogs).

Do you have an opinion? Which blog is easier for you to read and follow - wordpress or blogger?