Saturday, April 30, 2011

Making Sense Out of the Chaos

Springtime tends to bring a bit of chaos into the mix. Chores suddenly pile up as the gardening and yard work needs to get done. On top of it all, winter was not kind to our property so we've had to tear down an squashed outbuilding and do some extra clean-up. Other things broke around the house, including ourselves!

I had a nasty bout of food poisoning and spent part of a Monday in a public restroom considering calling 911 because I was being sick so badly. I now have an annoying sinus infection and my entire system is off due to the food poisoning. Apparently, I may need to go on a corrective diet.

Hubby fell quite ill, so on top of everything else, I've been nursing him back to health. He's been pretty much bed-ridden, so I played plumber and fixed the bathtub faucet and shower. All the while my two older kiddos have been insane! My oldest cannot be quiet for 2 minutes and enjoys making silly sounds. My daughter breaks down in screams and sobs over every tiny little thing. My youngest is at that stage in babyhood where he wants mommy to hold him every minute he's awake.

I'm not complaining. I'm just stating the facts. This is a busy time! Of course, being the silly goose that I am, I just HAD to buy those adorable ducklings and now I take care of them.

We're enjoying what we can out of this and trying not to go crazy with the rest of it. Slower times will come. But for now.....I better go hold my infant. He's screaming for his mommy...again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reconstructing History

A living history friend of mine owns and operates a fabulous shop online and in Easton, PA called Reconstructing History. For my blog readers who love vintage and antique clothing and the charm of dressing in such manner, check out her extensive collection of patterns based on mountains of research and actual historical pieces.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Amish Peace

I finished reading Amish Peace by Suzanne Woods Fisher. What a great book! I recommend it highly to any Christian (or non with an open mind towards Christianity in general) who's experiencing a lack of peace in their lives. This certainly isn't a substitute for God's Word and His peace that passes understanding, but this book is a great tool to get us thinking about things in our complicated modern world. A few things I gleaned from the book are:

1. Family is so incredibly important. Right up there in the #2 slot, right after God is family. Of course, I already knew this, but this book put it into my mind just HOW important family is. When I got married and became a mother, by default I put myself on the back burner on a very low simmer. It ain't about me anymore and you know? Realizing this leaves no room for resentment and bitterness. That's pretty stinkin' freeing right there! Selfishness is a peace-eater.

2. Modernization first took the father out of the home, and now takes the mother out of the home as well. BOTH parents' focus should be the home and family. I know, I know, we don't live in a rural, agricultural existence anymore where mom and dad and kids toil away together, but that doesn't mean we can't shift our focus back onto our homes and families. I know so many fathers and mothers who both work and are both involved in their own adult lives leaving their children to a few precious hours here and there during the week for family time. Thanks, but I'll gladly say no to your jello shots parties, Pampered Chef evenings, and football weekends in favor of spending a day with my husband and children.

3. Hospitality doesn't have to be annoying, scary or fancy. Simply welcoming a guest and giving of yourself is fine. So stop stressing about (and apologizing for) your home.

4. Saturday preparation and Sunday observation. I loved how in the book, the Amish are described as spending Saturdays in preparation for Sundays. That way Sundays can truly be peaceful, relaxing and worshipful.

5. The chapters on forgiveness were really profound...and convicting. Having the attitude and FAITH for trusting and forgiving ALL THE TIME is hard. We want justice. We want revenge. We want an apology. We want fairness. Yet the Amish are expected to give forgiveness freely and without strings. Why? Because Christ forgives us. When Christ stops forgiving, then we can, too. Now, that doesn't mean that sinful actions go undisciplined! It just means we forgive. When your little child is naughty, you discipline them, but you forgive them. If, after you've told them not you, your child keeps running into the road, you discipline them, you don't trust them alone near the road and thus don't allow them near it without you, but you forgive them.

6. Don't worry, let go and let God. We stress out because it's still snowing when we want sunshine and warmth. We stress out because the car broke down and we can't go get that craved cup of joe at Starbucks. We stress out because we've caught a cold. We stress out because cable is out and we want to watch our sitcom. We stress out because the internet is running too slow. We stress out about so many things that can't really be helped. Why? Why torture ourselves? Imagine being stuck in a traffic jam, cussing and swearing until our blood pressure is sky high, shaking our fists at God for not doing something about it because He knows you HAVE to be at point B at this time only to find out later that if you weren't stuck in a traffic jam at just that moment, you'd have been one of the victims in the bridge collapse or tractor trailer pile-up, or office shooting, or deer-car accident, or robbery, or whatever.

The Amish aren't perfect, and they're the first to tell you that. You most likely don't agree with all their beliefs, or even some of them. But, they do have wisdom we can glean from. So much of that wisdom is packed into this book.

Friday, April 22, 2011

We are officially a farm

Well, at least according to my 5 year old son, we are officially a farm because we now own ducklings! Not as many as are in the picture. My camera battery is charging, so I made do with a picture found on google images. We only got six of the cute little things.

No, they're not pets. We're raising them for meat, so I guess that does make us more of a farm. For some reason, people in general are more understanding of raising animals for meat if you live on a farm. If you're just Joe Homeowner with a couple of critters in the backyard who eventually wind up in your freezer, people think you're some sort of sicko. But, if you're Joe Farmer and some of your livestock wind up in the freezer, you're just Joe Farmer.

But, for now they're cute little ducklings living in a brooder in the basement. Hubby started building their home outside around our little pond and they'll move out there as soon as their old enough and it warms up some. It's almost May and it snowed yesterday!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Homestead Blessings Giveaway!

Busy Hands, Busy Minds is giving away 3 Homestead Blessings DVDS, canning, gardening and herbs. I entered!! You can too!

GAPS diet

I'm seriously considering venturing down the path of the GAPS diet. I just bought the book. My decision was made more firmly (though not set in stone until after I read the book) today when I suffered my 3rd bout of food poisoning in just over a year! (1/2 an hour in a public restroom and calling my mother to come rescue me befor I called an ambulance - yeah, it was THAT bad.) My poor insides are all inside out. I'm ready for a change, even if it involves a very strict, limited diet. Right now, a strict limited diet sounds good to me anyway.

Are you or have you been on the GAPS diet? Do you know anyone who has?

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Noisy Credenza

Yep, that's apparently what my piano is, at least according to the piano tuner. He's a fine man who begged me not to put any more money into the piano and said if he ever comes across a good spinet, he'd give me a call. Apparently, what I have is, as I stated, a noisy credenza.

I'm not discouraged, or even embarrassed. I sat at my dining room table penning a letter when he completed tuning the piano, and then he played. My house, my little cottage, was filled with real, live piano music! I can check another dream off my list of dreams! To him it was rubbish. To me it was a dream come true! As he pulled out of the driveway, I sat at the piano and playing a simple rendition of the same stanzas of Pachelbel's Cannon in D, about the only thing I know how to play.

My 5 year old LOVES the piano. He'll sit at it for a good 45 minutes to an hour just plunking out his own little tunes and listening to all the notes and note combinations.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Meals for a New Momma

A family member is going to be having her baby soon! I'd like to prepare some meals for her and her family. Any ideas for meals that refrigerate/freeze and then reheat well?

Moroccan Recipes

Yesterday evening I dined for the first time on Moroccan food! I've had Indian food before, but not Moroccan. It was so good! I ordered the Seafood Tfaya. It was delicious....beyond delicious! I'm going to attempt to make it for hubby next week after Resurrection Sunday.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Disguising the Elephant in the Room

In my never-ending quest to feather this tiny, ever-changing nest, I'm thankful for the tips I learn out of magazines that celebrate small homes, such as Cottages & Bungalows. One thing I learned is that if you have a large piece of furniture in a small room, a way to minimize this "elephant in the room" is to paint it the same color as the walls.

I'm thinking of employing this method, myself. To make room for the spinet, I have to create or buy some sort of storage unit that'll fit in the remainder of the space. The best way to utilize space in a small area is to go vertical. The problem with that is then you have this looming piece of furniture that just might not compliment the space, or it'll create a focal point you may not want to have! Painting it the same color as the wall takes attention away from it.

Have you done this in your home? How did it turn out?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A New Addition To Our Family

I finally have a piano!! It isn't much, just an old 1920's Starr Spinet, but it's mine! Already, my children have tried it out even though it hasn't been tuned in over a decade! It's still beautiful music, even if it isn't Liszt. Oddly enough, my 5 year old started playing something that sounded like "Alexander's Ragtime Band!" LOL!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Wish It Would Just Stay Clean!

If I had a nickel for every time I heard "I wish it would just stay clean," and a quarter for every time I've said it, and a dime for every time I thought it, I could afford bi-weekly maid service!

As I vacuumed my floors this morning, wrinkling my nose to every little bit of grit, gravel and crumb, the thought crept into my head. Right behind it was the practical answer:


After all, we LIVE in these homes of ours. I mean, how horrible would it be to clean the house and make everyone sit still the rest of the day, no potty breaks, no meals, no moving, just so mom can enjoy a clean house that stays clean for more than 1/2 an hour?

I've given up lamenting about having to wash the kitchen floor (again) because my kiddos came in from a day of sandbox fun in the fresh air and brought in half the sandbox with them.

Of course, who wants to spend all day cleaning, chasing that elusive spit shine in a house that's well loved and well lived-in. Some of us just have to settle for fairly organized and sanitary enough. LOL! But, there are ways around it.

Train your littles to fix their own beds.
Train your boys to wipe the rim of the toilet after they're done going to the bathroom.
Keep meals at the dining room (or kitchen) table.
Sweep your porch, steps, entryway, and/or mudroom frequently to prevent the tracking in of the grit and gravel.
When you have a crawling baby in the house, it's ok to require guests to remove their shoes. After all, it's for the baby's sanitary safety and you certainly can't be expected to clean the floors every time someone steps foot in your house, especially when you're busy caring for a baby!
Train your girls to clean up any loose hairs that fall to the counter or floor or get wound in their hairbrush when they fix their hair.

Simple daily maintenance steps such as these do help, as well as enlisting the help of your residences to pitch in with the chores.

Many hands make light work, and as such, you can get on with living in your home more, rather than cleaning it because everyone else does!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Reviews!

I've finally taken up reading again! Mostly, when I have insomnia in the wee hours of the morning, but still!!

I'm currently reading "Amish Peace" by Suzanne Woods Fisher. I won this book through a giveaway on A Joyful Chaos. I love this book! Suzanne does a really great job of writing about Amish simplicity and peace without the schmoozy romanticism so many others put into Amish life. Also, the chapters are short, but touching, making it easy to read. Her words pull you in, warm your heart, and make you think. She adds Amish proverbs and questions at the end of the chapters to make you think and help you consider your own desires or needs for simplicity and peace in your life. There's also interesting trivia about the Amish.

Reading this books goes hand-in-hand with how I've been thinking and feeling lately. I admit that I lost a lot of the simple joys in life and my peace was robbed. For example, last night as I was leaning over the bathtub guarding my 9 month old as he splashed in the bathtub, I realized that I was missing out on the simple joys of motherhood such as bathing my children after a happy, hearty, dirty day. Instead, I viewed it as a chore I needed to get out of the way to get to something more important. I never figured out what that "more important" was. That's because the more important was what I was already doing! Caring for my children. After all, that was my childhood dream!

I pulled this book out of my shelf recently, too. I was graciously given this book by the author, herself. I believe it is a must for every Christian bookshelf. It's a simple book that chronicles a baby's development with pictures, measurements, and a beautiful poem as if from the perspective of the growing unborn baby. I pulled it out to show my 5 year old what he used to look like when he was in my belly. Since I was pregnant with his baby brother, he's asked lots of questions and has been very interested in unborn babies.

I first learned about this book on the blog of a woman who considered herself pro-choice. She was giving the book away! This book is very much pro-life so it was odd to me that a pro-choice woman would promote it on her blog. Then, I read her testimony. After reading the book, she stated that it prompted her to reconsider her views on abortion. Wow! Such a wonderful testimony from a book simple enough for a 5 year old, yet perfect for adults, too.

So, please visit the book's website HERE!

I also added The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook to my collection and English Cottage Gardening for American Gardeners.

In other news, the Duggars are coming out with a new book! You can pre-order it at

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Maple Syrup Giveaway

A Joyful Chaos is hosting a giveaway of a pint of Grade A Maple Syrup!! Go on over and join in the fun! While you're there, follow her excellent storytelling of her life growing up Amish!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Full Blown Attack

Yesterday, the weather finally turned for the better and old man winter gave way to Spring! As soon as Baby boy went down for his nap, the older kiddos and I attacked the clean-up waiting for us beyond our storm doors. Well, my kiddos attacked the sand pile which is finally free of snow. My kitchen porch is clean and decluttered! Hubby is stringing up a new clothes line for me tomorrow! It'll be so nice to hang clothes on the line from the window of my kitchen porch again. I cleaned out the dog's run from a winter's worth of poop and old straw and lay out a new carpet of straw. I planted strawberries around an old stump using a newspaper barrier, compost from my heap, and a mulch of leaves and straw. I dug up horseradish and ground up nearly a quart of it!

Today, I cleaned the garage and cleaned off the bbq grill. It's all set for a season of grilling!

Next, I have huge amounts of yard work to do. Hubby's tackling what he can this weekend. I have the shed to clean out as much as possible. We're hoping to move it to a different spot in the yard this year and we're going to need the space since our garage down back collapsed in the snow and its contents need a new home until we can build a barn in its place.

And then there's the garden! I've got my order in for manure from the farmer next door. I'm hoping by Easter I can get my early crops in.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

So excited to win this giveaway!

I won this giveaway over at Our Joyful Living! When I entered I said to myself in a sort of half-prayer (if there is such a thing) that if God wants me to have the book, He'll let me win. Sure enough, I won!! I have a feeling it is going to be very timely in my life!

The giveaway was sponsored by Vision Forum, so I want to give a shout-out to them in thanks!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Edible Vanity

I'm really hard pressed to continue spending $80.00 or more dollars every 4 months on products for my vanity. On top of that, I'm bothered by the amount of chemicals women so freely slather into their pores. I have gone more natural, but that comes with quite the price tag. In a continuing quest for simplicity, I wondered if there's a simpler way. I have found it in my kitchen!

Makeup Removers! Milk, yogurt, olive oil!
I use rose water as a toner after washing my face (with Scottish Lye Soap).
I use sweet almond oil as my moisturizer. It works great as an after shave lotion, too.
Here's a recipe for Homemade Deodorant using kitchen products. I haven't tried it yet since I still have some of my usual deodorant left.

I've tried the cider vinegar and baking soda no-shampoo before, but I didn't like how it made my hair feel sticky and made it look filthy and twisted into little rat-tail dreadlocks. I may try it again sometime, but for now I'm happy with the infrequent washings I do with the chemical-laden commercial shampoos.

There's also the baking soda toothpaste.

I heard rubbing the white part of an orange or lemon peel on your teeth is supposed to whiten them. I haven't tried it myself. I use hydrogen peroxide.

Speaking of lemons....aren't they supposed to be good for lightening dark spots on the skin?

There's always the sugar scrubs and salt soaks for your bath time.

Can you think of anything else?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Crawling and cleaning

Baby Boy has officially started crawling. Before, he just sort of pulled himself along his tummy, but didn't travel too far. Now that he's crawling, he's all over the house! That means I'm becoming crazy about keeping the floors clean. I think it also means moving all my older kiddos' toys down to the play room.

His crawling is so cute and I love that he's exploring, but I admit I'm not a fan of the crawling stage. I much prefer them walking. He's also clapping now and sitting himself up. And, praise the Lord, he's sleeping better at night! He was only up once last night!!!