Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Have I Been Doing ?

For the past week I have been busy working with Emery to transform our guest room into a proper girls guest room. One that a girl can find that sort of old fashioned moment of reprieve from the busy-ness of modern life.
We put up a wooden tongue and groove ceiling and painted it white, really giving the room that cottage feel to it and from that point on it was creating the space I wanted.
I have always loved bed crowns but to me they are a bit costly, so I purchased a little black metal shelf at Hobby Lobby when they were 50% off and then rubbed it with gold leaf. Tied on the drapes with ribbon and put some paper flowers around the top to dress it up just a tiny bit.
I have filled the room with things dear to me and things I love to look at. In a way, this room is for me, as it will have my writing desk in it, by the window and am on the hunt for a cozy easy chair to put in the corner near the lamp as a place to read and gaze out the window at the birds or watch the wind tussle the clothes around on the clothesline. I even have plans to put in a little herb garden by that side of the house, so one window will look out on the rose garden and the other window out onto a proper kitchen herb garden.
There are still photos to put in frames, old ones, generations tied together by perhaps photos of my grandmother as a baby wearing a certain dress that we have all worn and had our picture taken in, even now, Mei-Ling has had her picture taken in it and perhaps a wall covered with pretty frames of all the matriarchs in the family, back to my great great great grandmother
We are working one room at a time to have our home just the way we want it. Perhaps with the look of an old English cottage.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Afternoon

It's hot out today, 97 in the shade. There is a little breeze which helps make it bearable when you are out working. The goats have sought the shady spots in the pasture, just laying about chewing their cuds. The chickens seem to be seeking shelter from the sun under the trees too.
I hung clothes up early this morning, washing them late last night just before I went to bed so I could get them out on the line first thing this morning. This kind of summer heat can be hard on the clothes. The sun is so strong. Everything was dry in less time than it takes a clothes dryer to do the job. I hung out a pair of bright red long johns, made me dream of cold weather when such garments are a blessing to have on under your clothes. I had found them in a stack of clothes that somehow didn't make it up to the attic for storage. It made me smile watching them dance around in the breeze, the air scented lightly with the fragrance of the Italian pine mixed with the smell of sweet ripe peaches needing to be picked from the trees.
Each and every day I count my blessings that I have time to enjoy the small simple things of life.
Enjoying the marvels of creation that show me over and over how much God loves me.
Lately I have been re-reading books that Emery and I read together early in our marriage, when we were seeking wisdom on what sort of things really matter. Its been eye opening to see so many concepts that we took to heart, buried in our hearts and even now, nearly 32 years later, we see how influenced we were by what we read and how much it has impacted almost every aspect of our lives. Wise words that told us how to live and what is really important. Looking back at it all now, the path we chose according to what we prayed about and what we took in as solid guidance has made all the difference in the world.
I smiled as I re-read these words, looking around at our simple furnishings and realizing what influenced us to live this way..
"Furnish your home with things plain and simple, things that will bear handling, that can be easily kept clean, and that can be replaced without great expense. By exercising taste, you can make a very simple home attractive and inviting, if love and contentment are there. {AH 150.3}Happiness is not found in empty show. The more simple the order of a well-regulated household, the happier will that home be. {AH 150.4}Avoid the Spirit of Rivalry.--Life is a disappointment and a weariness to many persons because of the unnecessary labor with which they burden themselves in meeting the claims of custom. Their minds are continually harassed with anxiety as to supplying wants which are the offspring of pride and fashion. . . . {AH 150.5}"
and..."Find Spiritual Lessons in Daily Living.--God has surrounded us with nature's beautiful scenery to attract and interest the mind. It is His design that we should associate the glories of nature with His character. If we faithfully study the book of nature, we shall find it a fruitful source for contemplating the infinite love and power of God. {AH 144.1}"
It matters not to me who wrote these words, but that they were full of wisdom that has worked so well in our lives.
Even advice on marriage was heeded and we are all the better for it...so in love, so blessed each and every day to be together. More in love every second of every day.
So long ago we read these words and have not forgotten them. "Express Love in Words and Deeds.--There are many who regard the expression of love as a weakness, and they maintain a reserve that repels others. This spirit checks the current of sympathy. As the social and generous impulses are repressed, they wither, and the heart becomes desolate and cold. We should beware of this error. Love cannot long exist without expression. Let not the heart of one connected with you starve for the want of kindness and sympathy. . . . {AH 107.2}"
Love notes still find their way to one another and saying I love you is often and heartfelt. What a blessing to still feel butterflies when we see one another cross the room.
Life is good, and it is full of abundance of the things that matter.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Old Fashioned Green Living

This afternoon as Emery and I sat next to each other churning ice cream made from our goats milk and eggs from our chickens we talked about how so much of the talk these days is about Green living and its a good conversation to have, only its turned into some sort of marketing frenzy that has people spending lots of GREEN.
I made a lentil loaf today and covered it in the oven with a cookie sheet, no need for aluminum foil...after all what did your great grandmother do ? She used another pan to cover the one in the oven if what was being baked needed to be covered. And then what did she do in place of plastic wrap for storing food, simple really. I do it too. Most of my stainless steel bowls can be covered with a pot lid that is the same size or many mixing bowls that are used for storage too, can be covered with a dinner plate or a bread plate if the bowl is small.
Imagine if we all went back to doing things this way, we would be living with a lot less plastic waste in the dumps. I still wrap sandwiches in wax paper, our local Whole Foods sells great wax paper sandwich bags just like my mother used to wrap my sandwiches when I was in grade school. Simple solutions really, for a serious issue.
Living so old fashioned just naturally manifests itself as living green. Home made soap, home made laundry soap. Heating with downed wood, burns clean, no fossil fuel needed and it helps folks get rid of fallen trees on their land. No paper towels or napkins used, cuts down on the amount of trees used for things that cloth can do better. Cleaning cloths to clean up spills and cloth napkins on the table don't require much space in the washing machine. No need for a clothes dryer. A clothes line works great. Its good exercise, lifting bending, reaching etc. Using natures resources to dry the clothes is a great way to be living greener and once again, your great grandmother probably did the very same thing. It gets you outside, listening to the birds sing and watching the clouds drift by.
Forget using all these fancy kitchen machines that use electricity that is so often requires some sort of fossil fuel to keep it going. Make bread without a machine, it keeps the arm and hand muscles strong and consider a hand crank egg beater to whip things up. Living like great grandma has a lot of benefits, one of which, you sleep well at night and for me, I am glad to hit the hay after its been dark a couple hours. No desire for me to be burning the midnight oil. Sleep comes easy and that's the way I like it.
You don't need to buy a ton of new fangled "green" things to step lightly on the earth. Just live old fashioned and you will be living very green.
here are a couplr links that might help you decide to dump some of the toxins in your daily life
and here is a good reason to limit all the electricity in our lives.
My great great great grandmother lived totally green and never knew what that term even meant ! She is seen here with my great great grandmother and her siblings who lived without all those things we think we have to have in order to live our lives.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Thoughts on the day so far

Milking to be done, other chores too. Laundry to be hung up. The unpleasant but necessary job of cleaning an abscess left by a wound on the goat. Mustang grapes to be trimmed back and the list goes on. Clouds hang in the sky like drooping laundry on a sagging clothes line, heavy with moisture. The humidity is visible and you can smell. Damp soil, wet leaves. With all this work to do I will have plenty of time to think, to pray, to muse. Lately I have been wondering why it is so many that call Jesus their Lord, live so unlike him in principle. Myself included. His words so simple and really not that many, if you take all his words from the New Testament, you will find they hardly make up a booklet, but they are profound and somewhat radical. Treat all men as your brother. Give to the poor, doesn't matter if you think they deserve it. Don't judge. Treat others the way you want to be treated....does that even mean in political discussions ?
There is a site that has just the words spoken by Jesus in Matthew http://www.billywray.com/WordsOfJesus.htm and I often wonder when I read these words...what would Christianity be like if we only knew these words, and really honestly tried to live by them. What would I be like ?
When we are confronted by the difficulty of walking this walk, we quickly seek some other text from the Old Testament or something from Paul's writing that can be used as some wiggle room, gives us an "out", but honestly I think Jesus might just have given a serious talking to, to some of those Old Testament men that fell so short of the mark.
Jesus asked us to live compassionately, full of eyes that see others needs and not to judge them for their short comings. That alone would change the world.
here is another link that provides just the words of Christ as recorded in the 4 gospels, Acts and Revelation http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/JBPRed.htm

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

"As you simplify your life..."

"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness."
~Henry David Thoreau~

Living On One Income

Living simply isn't new to me, its just the way we have lived for nearly every year of our marriage, except for a few years in California and those years were not living our dream, just living where we were.
I get emails quite often asking about the how to's of living on one income, even when that income is not huge.
Here is a repost from 2007 that explains some of the ways we have done it, even when the children were young.
click the link below to find out how we did it and honestly, not much has changed since then. Children all grown, so we have more spending money, but we certainly keep it simple.


Gentleness is something I strive for, but I fear I am far from the mark. I am not meaning physical gentleness, that isn't a problem for me in any way shape or form, but gentleness of thoughts and words...well, that's a bit different for me. Weighing an independent spirit and a gentle spirit on the scale is not always easy to balance.
1 Peter 3 says so beautifully that..."3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." I know this verse is true because I have met a few gentle and quiet spirited women and they glow with such an inner beauty ! But for me, I know there runs deep within me this generational Yankee strong minded, Independence that roars with that saying..."don't tread on me" kind of mentality and that is not always the sort of mind set that causes one to emanate with inner beauty !
Yes, yes, of course I pray about it, no need to remind me to do that, but praying only makes us a bit more pliable, we still need to do the work of changing. We are not puppets and God never forces His will on us, or makes us do things that are not in our hearts to do. The work of changing is always our own.
We are influenced by what we see, hear and what we speak. We somehow need to balance Independence and gentleness. Not letting one negate the other.
We can talk so negative about a certain subject that it becomes a definition of who we are. However, if what we talk about is positive and good and filled with a gentle spirit, than what a wonderful thing to be known for.
The world would be a wonderful place if more people sought actively to be full of gentleness and compassion. Filled with a quiet spirit that had us think before we said something unkind or a bit abrasive. No one needs to spend their lives pointing out the flaws of another or defending their own actions. I know I don't.

For me, the goal is,
Seeking....a more quiet and gentle spirit.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th Of July

The Name of Old Glory
by James Whitcomb Riley

Old Glory! say, who,
By the ships and the crew,
And the long, blended ranks of the gray and the blue,
Who gave you, Old Glory, the name that you bear
With such pride everywhere
As you cast yourself free to the rapturous air
And leap out full-length, as we're wanting you to?
Who gave you that name, with the ring of the same,
And the honor and fame so becoming to you?
Your stripes stroked in ripples of white and of red,
With your stars at their glittering best overhead
By day or by night
Their delightfulest light
Laughing down from their little square heaven of blue!
Who gave you the name of Old Glory? - say, who
Who gave you the name of Old Glory?
The old banner lifted, and faltering then
In vague lisps and whispers fell silent again.
Old Glory,--speak out!--we are asking about
How you happened to "favor" a name, so to say,
That sounds so familiar and careless and gay
As we cheer it and shout in our wild breezy way
We-the crowd, every man of us, calling you that
We-Tom, Dick, and Harry-each swinging his hat
And hurrahing "Old Glory!" like you were our kin,
When-Lord!-we all know we're as common as sin!
And yet it just seems like you humor us all
And waft us your thanks, as we hail you and fall
Into line, with you over us, waving us on
Where our glorified, sanctified betters have gone,
And this is the reason we're wanting to know
(And we're wanting it so!Where our own fathers went we are willing to go.)
Who gave you the name of Old Glory O-ho!
Who gave you the name of Old Glory?
The old flag unfurled with a billowy thrill
For an instant, then wistfully sighed and was still.
Old Glory: the story we're wanting to hear
Is what the plain facts of your christening were,
For your name--just to hear it.
Repeat it, and cheer it, 's a tang to the spirit
As salty as a tear;
And seeing you fly, and the boys marching by,
There's a shout in the throat and a blur in the eye
And an aching to live for you always-or die,
If, dying, we still keep you waving on high.
And so, by our love
For you, floating above,
And the sears of all wars and the sorrows thereof,
Who gave you the name of Old Glory, and why
Are we thrilled at the name of Old Glory?
Then the old banner leaped, like a sail in the blast,
And fluttered an audible answer at last.
And it spake, with a shake of the voice, and it said:
By the driven snow-white and the living blood-red
Of my bars, and their heaven of stars overhead
By the symbol conjoined of them all, skyward cast,
As I float from the steeple, or flap at the mast,
Or droop o'er the sod where the long grasses nod,
My name is as old as the glory of God....So I came by the name of Old Glory.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Julia Child making omelette on an electric stove top

Just A Thought, I think we are spoiled

Sitting in the living room, sipping a piping hot mug of Barry's Gold tea and watching Julia Child cook. Its an old show, and there she is making wonderful, gourmet food on an electric stove top using rather cheap looking aluminum pans. Makes me think a bit about how so many today cannot imagine being able to cook in such a kitchen. Just proves, its not the stove or the quality of the pans that creates masterpieces in the kitchen, its the cook and a good cook can apparently turn out delights in less than a gourmet kitchen.
She had no fancy cabinetry behind her, and her counter tops were just formica or something like that, and using a GAS stove....aren't we spoiled !

Peace in my heart

For me, peace in my heart is a goal worth searching for, for working towards and for stopping in my tracks to see if its already there, just not being acknowledged in this busy world we all move about in.
Right this minutes, cinnamon candles burn brightly on the table, chasing away the gloominess of the day, and the sweetest music plays on my stereo that evokes within me a calmness and contentment that is far more precious than gold. A hammered dulcimer playing a melody that feeds my soul.
This morning I walked past our garden, that seems to be struggling this year to do anything much. The ground too dry, too used up, and now muddy. Weeds however, never seem to be affected by such adversity. They grow to survive. Next year the garden will lay still, a year of rest and we will nourish it with minerals and other nutrients it so badly needs. Even in its sad state, the garden gives, not as much as we had hoped, but still if gives. How thankful we are that we live in a time when we do not have to depend on only the garden.
In the stillness of this humid, sticky morning I milked my goats, fed the chickens and let my eye wander to all the marvels of nature that surround my corner of the world. I smiled thinking that so many people in their busy worlds seek vacations where they can connect to the sounds of nature without the hum of the city running in the background. How folks make reservations for simple cabins that lack the luxuries they demand all the rest of the year. No one seems to moan because the vacation spot doesn't have all new stainless appliances or granite counter tops. The curtains may not match the sofa. We run off to find sol ice in places we cannot imagine having to live in. We refresh our souls in places that are so much lower in expectations than what we feel we have to live in. What if we chose instead of living to buy this and buy that, living to impress and then pay the piper for it, we opted to live that vacation sort of existence all the time ? And yes, I do know there are plenty of folks out there that will only vacation in the high end resorts etc and they are not who I am talking about. But if the truth be known, not a one of us is what we own. Those added things we add to our existence is a bit like make-up. Not the real us. We are more, much more than our possessions, but we often hide that truth behind the externals. I suspect we are at times afraid to look under the cover of externals, we can be so full of insecurities.
As I bent over in the garden, pulling carrots, I felt complete peace in my heart. I have it all. Good health, love so full, still my heart feels as though it will explode with delight at the mere sight of my husband walking towards me. I have children that are blessings, joys. Children that have not shamed me, but delight me. I have grandchildren that live near by and give us something beyond what we could have ever imagined. More love. I live daily without having to deal with an ugly boss or negative co-workers. I get to play like a child in the mud with my grand-daughter, or spend a busy day making cheese. I get to sit and read books that inspire or knit socks for the coming winter months. I get to pray with my husband who is the finest Christian man I know. Who has allowed me to brag that in our nearly 32 years, has never, not once, said a mean or hateful word to me. Who has only been provoked to swear twice in our married life, both involve a hammer and a thumb and the word I call a swear is hardly noticed as such these days. Certainly not a foul vulgar word.
It is not luck that has given me this life, it has been choices we made and blessings from those choices. We walked a narrow, path for many years that was lined by scoffers and people that thought we were crazy for making such choices. We smiled then and smile now, content for the road taken.
Life is what you make it and for us, we made it just the way we wanted it to be. Peaceful and simple.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Cheese Making Day

With so much goat milk, I have been busy making ice cream and cheese. Today is Ricotta cheese making day, so tonight there will be lasagna on the table for supper.
I use the standard whole milk easy ricotta recipe. 3 Tablespoons of White Vinegar to two quarts of milk. Heat the milk to 200 F, then add the vinegar, heat up to 200 once again. Let sit for 15 minutes, then drain the curds, hanging it in butter muslin. I use a clean hand woven dish towel. Works great. Let drain for an hour and then I lightly salt and its ready to use.
Will be making bread using the whey. The chickens will get the leftover whey or maybe it will be the rose bushes
Here are some photos of the process this morning.
Heating the milk slowly to 200 F
Lining a colander with a hand woven tea towel
Vinegar to curd the milk with
Getting close to the 200 F
Right after the vinegar is added, the milk curdles
the whey
Hanging the cheese to drain
the finished product
which as I write this, is in the oven in the form of lasagna and bread is rising that was made with the whey

Little Folk Visuals

So many of you have emailed asking about the little felt book that I thought I would provide the link so you can see all the wonderful items available from this company.
I still have the Deluxe Bible set that we bought for the girls nearly 30 years ago and they look brand new. Have held up to lots of use. I used them every week to tell the girls the Bible story that went along with their Sabbath School lesson. It was a wise investment !
We also had many of the educational sets for homeschooling purposes.
If you happen to live near a Seventh Day Adventist Book Store, they are usually sold there too.
Just click the link below for information about ordering.
Little Folk Visuals

A New Year

It is a silent sort of morning, sitting next to the wood stove in my rocker, watching the birds outside my windo...