Tuesday, February 17, 2009

If You Can't Move to the Farm....

Then just bring the farm to you! We spent this past weekend moving 8 rabbits and 7 chickens to our property. I'm excited to have our new family members, but I'm not real happy about the way it happened. Our dear friends, the Herrings, are having to move to Mississippi because of a job transfer. Because they weren't sure how the chickens and rabbits would do with the move, they offered us the opportunity to take over their animals. After giving it some thought, we realized it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. We're very grateful they thought of us when finding a new home for their rabbits and chickens, but WE ARE SO SAD that they are leaving and are going to miss them TERRIBLY!!!

Four of the female rabbits are due to have baby bunnies any day now, and the chickens have already given us two eggs. They were laying five to seven eggs a day, but with the move it may take a few days before that starts happening again.

I had prayed at the beginning of the year that God would give our family (particularly me and the girls) a way to be entrepreneurial - something we could all do together. It was answered in a way we didn't expect or, in all honesty, would have preferred, but nonetheless, it was certainly answered, and for that I'm very thankful.

Our First Egg

Friday, February 13, 2009

I'm Officially a Fan of George Mueller

If you don't believe me, just take a look at my Facebook profile. :>)

A few weeks ago, we finished reading the biography of George Mueller, and my only question is, WHY DIDN'T I READ THIS SOONER?? This is a terrific story of a man who completely lived a life of faith and dependence on God in every area of his life. And it is amazing what God was able to do through this man. If you've never been introduced to George Mueller, I encourage you to read about his life of faith.

The book we read was George Mueller: The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans by Janet and Geoff Benge. It was interesting from beginning to end, as at the beginning of the story you read what a crazy, wild man George was in his younger years. This was almost comical at times. But when he met the Lord, it was a very noticeable thing to everyone around George. His life was never the same, and what an amazing testimony he left behind as a result.

Here are some of my favorite stories from the book:

He and his wife sat down to eat supper, but there was no food in the house. Nothing. They sat at the table with their plates in front of them and thanked God for what he was going to provide. Soon after, there was a knock at the door. Someone had sent them a ham.

One morning at breakfast, there was no food for the orphans - about 300 of them. The children were lined up behind their chairs, and George offered a prayer of thanks for what the Lord was going to give them to eat. No sooner had the children sat down than there was a knock at the door. When George opened the door, there stood the baker with lots of freshly made bread because he was unable to sleep the night before as he kept thinking that the orphanage would need bread that morning. Then there was a second knock at the door. This time the milkman's truck had broken down in front of the orphanage, and he needed to lighten his load before he could fix it and wondered if the orphanage could use some milk.

Time after time, you read how God answered George's prayers. Should we be surprised? Absolutely not. It's just a rare thing to see someone living in such a way. He didn't want any excess in his life. In fact, when he and his wife were newly wed, he came home to a nicely decorated home. His heart sank when he saw it, and he told his wife that it all had to go. He said that the house was cluttered with things that could stop him from answering God's call on his life. Mary, his wife, was of course disappointed at first, but by the next day she had sold all the possessions - many of which had been in her family for generations. This money was then used for their ministry to others. There's no mention of her missing those things afterwards, and I doubt she did.

It sort of reminds me of a Jeremy Camp song, "There Will Be a Day." The first line says "I try to hold on to this world with everything I have, But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that trys to grab." George Mueller seemed to have experienced the opposite of this. He didn't want to hold on to anything in this world. I think he did realize the weight it would bring and didn't want any part of it.

In describing his death, he was simply tired. He led prayer meeting one night, went and read his Bible before going to bed, and then died peacefully in his sleep around 5 a.m. A peaceful man with no weights and no worries. He was 93 years old. Read his entire story if you get a chance. It was definitely a blessing and encouragement to me.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Recent Pictures

Thanks to Meredith Ivy, I recently downloaded a free copy of Picasa from Google. I had asked her about a cute picture on her blog, and she told me that she edited it with that program. This is a great program, and maybe I don't have to learn so much about photography after all, since Picasa does a great job of fixing my mistakes! Here are some pictures I've been playing around with:

This is a picture I took of Madison before her last regular season game. Note that she did finally capture the elusive 3-pointer, and I really, really hope she'll get more in the upcoming All-Star Tournament.

This is Cari before her last game. Surprisingly, she loved playing basketball and became quite aggressive - even earning the nickname "the thief" from being such a good ball stealer.

This is a family picture we took before church yesterday. I don't like to see pictures of myself, but sometimes it's inevitable.

These are recent shots of Matthew. He turned three months old yesterday, and last night rolled over twice from his back to his tummy. This is much earlier than the others. Something tells me I might want to start childproofing the house sooner than later!

Friday, February 6, 2009

New Ideas for the New Year - #4

Okay, I'm finally getting the chance to post my last new idea for the New Year, and that is to continue to make our home a healthier home. For the past few years, I've slowing been implementing new ways to clean house, trying to eat healthier, etc. I think it's impossible (at least for me) to change everything at once, and it's a good idea to always to be researching and looking for better ways of doing things.

As far as the cleaning of the house, I've mentioned before that I use the white vinegar and baking soda for the majority of my cleaning. I'm very satisfied with this and won't be making any changes here. These are both natural deodorizers, and once the vinegar dries, there is no lingering scent. I've been looking at purchasing some essential oils to add a mild scent, but no scent at all is the next best thing.

I recently purchased some Seventh Generation cleaner to use in the kitchen, but I think that it works as well as the Shaklee Basic H that I was using. The Shaklee is much more cost effective, so I'll be sticking with that.

For doing the dishes, I've been trying some Planet Dishwashing Powder that I purchased at Ingles. I'm satisfied with the way it works, and it's nice to know we're not breathing in toxic fumes every time I run the dishwasher. For washing dishes in the sink, I've been trying the Palmolive Pure + Clear, and it's definitely a keeper. The ingredients are safe, and I'm comfortable using it without gloves if I'm in a big hurry and don't want to use up the 10 seconds it takes to put them on.

As for the laundry, I've been trying various products that appear to be safe and without perfumes, bleach, etc. I've never been picky about my detergent anyway. In fact, Tide and other strong smelling products like that give me a headache, so no perfume is fine with me. A friend of mine recently gave me a recipe for making laundry detergent (as well as dishwasher detergent). I've seen other recipes in the past that appeared like they were more trouble than they were worth, but this one seems doable. If it works, it would definitely be a money saver, too, so I may give it a try soon.

I also want to be more careful about what I'm putting on my skin (and my family's skin). I don't know if this is exactly how he says it, but Jordan Rubin says he doesn't put anything on his skin that he wouldn't put in his mouth and into his body. The toxic stuff in our lotions and potions can really cause chaos with our lymphatic system as it tries to filter out what we don't need.

Now, I don't want to start eating my makeup and lotions, but I think you know what he means. As I'm running out of what I already have, I'm trying to find safer products to replace it with. For instance, when I ran out of face powder recently, I purchased some Physician's Formula Organic Makeup Powder. It wears well, and the ingredients are simple and safe. I also picked up some Jason Vitamin E Organic Lotion at Ingles the other day, and it works well, too. I had to look through the lotions as so many of them had parabens even though they said "all natural" or "organic." Parabens are said to possibly mimic hormones in the body, so that is definitely something to stay away from. (Note that Vitacost.com has the Jason products much cheaper than what I paid at Ingles.)

You may wonder why I would want to go to all this trouble. I know my time here on this earth is limited, and when God is ready to bring me home, it won't matter what I'm eating or not eating or what I'm using or not using. But, I also know that my body is a temple, and if I'm able to take better care of it, I should definitely be doing so. It may determine the quality of life that my family and I have in the meantime. Also, I might add that I'm not really doing any of this to "save the planet." I know we should take care of the earth that God has so graciously blessed us with, but my intentions with all this are to better care for myself and my family.

It's really not that much trouble anyway. The biggest challenge is the research and finding what works, and so far that hasn't been much of a challenge. I look at it as another way to live a simpler, more stress free life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lasagna Gardening

I've been giving some thought to my spring gardening plans - it will be here before I know it! - and I heard about a type of gardening called "lasagna gardening" through one of the yahoo groups that I'm a member of. I don't have any hopes of growing lasagna, although wouldn't that be nice?!- as well as a pizza garden, fried chicken garden, etc.

I got a book through inter-library loan last week titled "Lasagna Gardening" by Patricia Lanza, and I'm almost finished with it. It is a very informative book, and I have found myself taking lots of notes while I've been reading. As far as a lasagna garden, in a nut shell, it's about the layering. There is no tilling of the ground, which suits me just fine!

A few years ago, my husband made me some bottomless boxes made out of non-treated wood, and I used those for my planting. It was pretty successful, and I remember having lots of tomatoes that year. The boxes eventually rotted, so they were done away with. So my plan for this year is to have him make some more of those boxes, and then I hope to be able to experiment with this layering method.

Basically, I will fill in the bottom of the boxes with thick, water-soaked newspaper set directly on top of the sod. Next comes peat moss followed by mulch, peat moss, mulch, peat moss, mulch, peat moss, etc. until it measures 18 to 24" in height. Then on the very top will go bone meal and ashes or whatever else is recommended for whatever I'm growing.

She gives an excellent explanation of how to start a compost heap, which will make for a great mulch, and I began mine this morning with Brad's coffee grounds. I did learn not to use meat, bones, fat, and fish as those things will attract unwanted rodents/animals. Other kitchen scraps, grass clippings, manure, leaves, bits and pieces of sod, and ashes are great things to use as composting material. She gives much more detail about this in her book if you're interested in learning more.

Next, I need to decide what I want to grow this year. Last year was not well planned at all. I woke up one Saturday morning, and Brad was about to leave to pick up something at Wal-Mart. I asked him to pick up some packs of seeds while he was there, and that was about all the pre-preparation I made last year! I never fertilized the garden or added any kind of mulch. I did water it and probably would have had tomatoes had I staked them properly, but I didn't. (Note that being pregnant was my excuse for the failure of my garden last year, and I guess that's a good one!)

Something I loved about this book was that she covered every vegetable, fruit, herb, and flower you can imagine and gave instructions on how to properly grow each one. I've narrowed my list down to: artichokes, beans, peas, broccoli, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, watermelon, basil, chives, coriander, dill, lavendar, thyme, and strawberries.

I will continue to narrow that list as I don't think it would be very realistic to try to do all of those this year. I think baby steps is the key to my success with gardening, but I think I'm already off to a better start this year than I was last year. Lord willing, maybe there will be some good results!