Saturday, April 25, 2015

Working on the House

 Siding the house is one of the big projects we have left and so we have been plugging away at it. Weekends are our best times to work since Ken is home. Today was supposed to be cold, windy and rainy too, I believe. It wasn't - it was a beautiful sunshiny day and nice temperature. Perfect for working outside. Ken and I spent much of the day working on siding. The kids and I did go off to go to a bluegrass concert this evening but Ken stayed home to work. When I got back (after 10 pm) I found him still hard at work with his work light on. He was working high up the side of the house.

   The kids worked today too. The girls really worked at getting out detached garage cleaned of all the remnants that were still left in there from our time of living there. The boys did some cleaning up around the yard and moving scrap lumber to better locations and such. There is plenty to keep us busy around here.

  Much of this week has been pretty chilly (we even got over an inch of snow) and so in the evenings we didn't go out to work on siding instead I finished varnishing shelves and then Ken got some put up. I am very happy to have some more shelves and a closet rod by my washer and dryer. Organization is coming. Yeah!

  We also got to the windowsill board put in the kitchen. It looks so pretty. I think that means that the kitchen is done. Hopefully I can have it spruced up and photographed and I will share it with you next week.

Some Things I Have Been Learning About Lately

I love to read. Do you? Learning is so fun I think. So I am constantly finding new books I have also enjoyed finding interesting things online to read about and learn. As we are working on getting our new homestead up and going and producing I have been reading and thinking a lot about that lately. I would really like to do things right the first time if possible since we are starting fresh. I thought I would share some little bits of things that I have been reading about and thinking about lately.

Some books I have been enjoying lately:

  • "Folks This Ain't Normal" by Joel Salitin - I found this book really fun and refreshing and not really what I was expecting. Where he talks about how everything (animals, soil, plants, bugs, us) are all made to work together it really just made me so in awe of how God created things perfectly. I hadn't realized just how wonderfully He had designed some things. The more I learn the more I am in awe of our Creator!
  • "The Self-Sufficiant Life and how to live it" by John Seymour. This book just reinforced what I had already been reading about how God designed everything to work together so perfectly!! Made me want to get a cow even more. 
  • The book of Deuteronomy.  This book is a neat one to go along with my homesteading thoughts. I have been enjoying the instructions that were given to the Israelite concerning creating and working on their homesteads and of course remember God in everything that they were to do. The reminder a couple of times to talk of Him as they walked, lay on their beds, tell their kids, etc. I really want to have that be how my life is.
  • "The Harvester" by Gene-Stratton Porter. This was a fun book to read but another one that enforces yet again how God created everything perfectly and with a purpose. I started reading this outloud to the kids but it ended up having to much romance for the boys taste and wasn't quite what I like to read aloud anyway so I ended up finishing it myself.
  • "In His Image" by Paul Brand. I have been reading this one aloud to the kids. It is so cool to read about how marvelously God made our bodies and how that it compares to the church - the body of Christ. 
  • The book of Acts. What fun to read about the very beginning of the church. This book never gets old. God was working then and He is still alive and powerful today!
  • "The Girl from Johnycake Hill" by Virginia Voight. This is the fun book I am reading to the kids now. It has been fun and reinforces our love of the old-fashioned life. 
Okay... I had better quit telling you about books (we do love to read!) and tell you about some of the other things that I have been dreaming about....

-Chicken Tractors.  We have a lovely chicken coop for our laying hens but we need something to keep the little chicks in that will be hatching in about a week. They will stay in big tubs for a while but then they will still be to little to integrate with the big ones and will need a place of their own. It is possible that they will go over to my parents but if possible we would like to make them a chicken tractor that they could live in and also work on getting rid of weeds and building up the soil in my garden area. Here are a bunch of photos of different Chicken Tractors.  Here is another post with links to chicken tractor plans. Have any of you ever made or used a chicken tractor? I would love to hear about it if you have.

-Vermicomposting (in other words - using worms to help with composting). I heard about this a long time ago but didn't ever bother to try it but I intrigued once again because I read that not only will they help you with composting your kitchen scraps but also they make great protein to feed to your chickens. They will multiply so you can then feed extras to the chickens. I do know that chickens love worms. We are looking into this more( I would really love to figure out ways to grow our own chicken feed. Here are simple instructions for making a vermicomposting bin. Here are some basic instructions for Vermicomposting.

-Aquaphonics The art of raising plants over fish with no dirt. The waste from the fish fertilizes the plants. One of our local grocery stores put up a greenhouse that used aquaphonics to raise food to sell. Aaron and I were able to go on a tour there yesterday and now we are dreaming of how to have our own small aquaphonics set up.

Here he is showing the roots that go down into the water.

Getting a milk cow, a pig, a dog and some rabbits. We need some more sources of good manure in order to grow a really good garden and we would also love to have our own milk and our own meat. This is very much still a dream but it could happen. We have to find somebody that wants to do chores when we want to go on vacation though. We don't want to be tied down completely and a cow could certainly do that.

Utilizing State land to it's full potential. We have a lot of state land around us. I am trying to figure out how all we can utilize this land to help towards our goal of not buying food but growing it or at least harvesting it instead. We know we can pick berries there and I think it would be fine to harvest mushrooms as well.

Baby Chickens and Ducks. This is actually not so much my dream but the kids. The boys have busily been saving eggs, caring for the incubator and excitedly waiting for their "babies" to hatch. They will be arriving soon!

What have you been reading or dreaming about?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Ways We Have Saved Money Lately

I really enjoy reading how others save money. I find it inspiring and sometimes it gives me new ideas to help us save money as well. I find it very rewarding to be able to save money in some areas so that we can use it in a better way. Here is a random compilation of some of the ways we have saved money lately......
  • I cut all the guys hair.
  • My sister cut my hair for me.
  • I offered to review some books and therefore got new books for free.
  • I mended socks.
  • I cleaned up wood scraps and such from our yard and burnt it in our fireplace to heat our house.
    A recent cleaning up or our yard. All of it burnt nicely in our fireplace.
  • I made my own cream of mushroom soup.
  • I did a lot of looking to find a special birthday present and ended up with a wonderful deal.
  • I let my "fingers do the walking" as I called around to look for the typewriter and so saved money on gas as well.
    Megan enjoying her new typewriter.
  • I used a warranty insurance to get my money back on a camera that broke.
  • We have stayed home quite a bit which helps to save on gas.
  • We packed a meal to eat while traveling.
  • We brought water bottles on our trip and also to town when running errands. This makes purchasing drinks unnecessary.
  • We purchased cheese in 40 lb chunks from Bletsoe Cheese for a price much less than the store price per pound.
  • We have been putting siding on the house and working on other house projects. We could have hired it done instead but doing it ourselves is saving us a whole lot of money. It is a lot of work but it is fun and rewarding too.
  • We gratefully accepted hand-me-downs that were offered to us.
  • I used some coupons that my Mom gave to me and got a free towel at JC Penneys and also $10 off some needed items.
  • We took extra building supplies back to the store and got our money back.
  • Jonathan and I made a instrument rack for our music nook for $1.50. 
  • I boiled turkey bones after cooking (with a splash of vinegar to get extra nutrients out) it so that we didn't waste anything. Now we have lots of broth as well as the meat we already ate.
How have you saved money recently? I would love to hear about some frugal thing you have done lately!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why I Believe We Need to Repent

To repent means that we are sorry for what we have done and are willing to change and do things differently. When we repent of our sins - we are going to turn away from them and walk in a different way.

Here are some verses that tell us we need to repent:

"Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent." Acts 17:29 & 30

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 2 Cor. 2:10

 "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" Romans 2:4

What an important concept repentance is. Let's not be stubborn in going in our own way but be willing to turn around and go God's way. He really does know what is best!

Our Music Nook

 Well in the race for which room got finished first in our house - The Music Nook is the winner!
(Though actually I have to confess that there is still an outlet cover missing here - it didn't come with our order but it is behind furniture so I decided to let it pass for now. Hopefully we can get it pretty soon.)

 This is a well used and loved place in our house. Every school morning the kids and I gather around the piano to sing (and usually other instruments get played as well) I also teach around 20 students in this area each week and then we each enjoy spending time practicing our instruments too.

   Jonathan and I made the music rack (with 3 boards that I bought for 50 cents each!) and we have enjoyed having it so much. Not only does it display our instruments nicely - and we love the look of instruments- but it also makes the instruments so much handier for playing. That generally causes us to practice more which is a good thing!

  To make the rack we have one solid board across the back. Then we took another board just like it and measured and cut out places for the instruments to slip into. Then we cut some pieces from a 3rd board to be nailed on either side to make the rack sturdy. I then stained it with some stain we had on hand and then varnished it. The next step was to put a strip of foam (something I had saved from a padded box) into each cut out place to make the instruments fit in more snugly.Ken then helped me mount it on the wall.

 Our piano was my grandmother's. She gave it to my parents but they already had a piano and so they gave it to me as the one that I had was pretty old and kind of needed replacing. It is a good piano and we give it a lot of use. I am so glad that I have never had to live without a piano. I love to be able to play whenever I feel like it. It has been a great way to relieve stress for me - something I have done since I was a young teen. We love using it to praise our wonderful God!

  Down in the corner by the piano is my accordion. That is an instrument that I really enjoyed playing when I was a teen but the instrument that I learned on was loaned to us so as an adult I have not had one to play. A while back we were hosting a garage sale and another family from our church was getting ready to move so they brought stuff as well. They told me that if there was ever anything I wanted to just help myself. One day I was out and they had dropped a load of stuff off in front of the garage for the garage sale. When I came home my eyes were immediately drawn to the accordion sitting there. I was so excited!

  I had looked for an accordion in the past but found them to be rather expensive and not all that common to find. When I tried the accordion out I found that quite a few keys were stuck and so it was like you were playing a bunch of chords at once whenever you played. That was a little disappointing. But my brother-in-law came to visit and was able to fix it. It was so fun to be able to play the accordion again. I still have yet to get good at it again but it is fun to play and something that my family - especially Ken- really enjoys so that is fun.

 Under the instrument rack we also have a little bench that I am able to store music books and various things for my music lessons in. It is very handy to have that there.

 On the piano we have our wind instruments. Mara plays the Ocarina, the boys have harmonicas which they are learning, Mara also plays the penny whistle, Megan has a recorder that she needs to learn and I have an alto recorder that I am quite rusty on.
Aaron plays the Mandolin (which he just got in late January) and the Ukulele. He loves bluegrass music. He has discovered that he can actually pick up about any stringed instrument and get a tune out of it.
This shows a music gathering at our house a couple of months ago. Jonathan is my banjo boy (still learning - he just got it in February). I am on the violin, my dad on the mandolin, my brother-in-law Benjamin on the guitar and Mara playing the ocarina.

Concerning our other instruments shown above - I play the cello, the little violin was mine when I first learned. Currently no one plays it but I hope to teach Megan before long. Mara is learning on my big violin. The guitar belongs to Jonathan but he never got the hang of it so it hangs there and guests that don't happen to bring their guitar along will often pick it up even though it isn't the greatest. All the kids play the piano to some degree thought Jonathan wants to forget that he ever learned. Mara has advanced the farthest (which could be expected with her being the oldest) and Megan plays it the most.

 Music is well loved here. We are still trying to talk Ken into learning an instrument but he still maintains that trying to count while doing other things is more multi-tasking than he can handle. :-)
 What sort of music do you like? Do you enjoy making music? What instrument do you play?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Making Priorities When Homeschooling

Music is something that we enjoy and try to work on. It is a fun way to praise God!
   Last week a mother of some of my music students came over for a morning to talk about homeschooling. She has eight children and has homeschooled before but quit a few years ago because it was to overwhelming. She had asked me how we homeschooled at lesson time one week and after I briefly told her she wondered if we could visit more as our method didn't seem quite as overwhelming as what they had been doing before. I was more than happy to share our methods with her. I thought it would be fun to share here some of what I shared with her last week.

Science can happen anytime. What fun when we had a butterfly visit out of season
 and we were able to take the time to learn about it and it's habits. 
  The first thing that I have come to realize is very important is to think through and decide what is really important for your children. Here is what I came up with: My number one priority for them is that they would love God and try to serve Him. #2: That they would love others and be compassionate and seek to share God's love and truth with them. #3: That they would not be afraid of working hard and that they would actually enjoy it. #4: That they would love learning and know how to learn.

   I think it is very important to realize what is truly important to your family because sometimes in the hustle and bustle of homeschool life we can get caught up in trying to get a bunch of workbooks done and the parents are stressed, the kids are worn out and you haven't even focused on the things that are important to you. When I really thought through what we wanted for our kids I started spending a lot more time sharing God's word with them and we lightened up on the workbooks.

We love interesting books about science (not textbooks or workbooks so much.)
  So I think my greatest tip would be to truly figure out what you really want for your children and really focus on that and don't worry so much about the other things. There is no way that we can teach our children everything, we don't know everything ourselves nor does anybody else in this world. So our goal should be to teach them something on a regular basis and to help them learn as
they go on through life.
My dad and Jonathan getting the eggs marked for going in the incubator.
Besides setting goals some other principles that we try to really incorporate into our homeschooling is that Learning happens everywhere. Lately the boys (Aaron especially as he has been reading up on it) have been learning all about eggs and the growth and birth of baby birds. They have been saving eggs and now incubating them to provide our chicks for this year. This is a great learning tool. Embrace the learning as it happens - you don't always have to be the one coming up with the lessons.
 Another thing that I think it really important is having a lot of good books. Well written, fun to read but educational books. There are a lot out there but there is also a lot of rubbish and then just boring, dry textbooks too. Have GOOD books for your kids to read!

 Another homeschool highlight in our house this week was when some reporters came from our local paper to interview Mara and Jonathan since they had won some essay contests lately. That was a new and interesting experience for them.

 I hope to write more about this topic later but I guess this will do for now. :-) I would love to hear any homeschooling tips that you might have!


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