What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Yarn Along


I have just finished the greatest book.  The kind of book that hurts while you read, but that hurt is actually the effects of your heart growing wider and deeper and in profound ways.  An extraordinary girl named Katie Davis, leaves her posh life at the top of her class and goes to Uganda for what was supposed to be a short-term missions trip.  Instead, she finds herself drawn to the place God calls her and moved to Uganda to reach the needy people there.  At 19 years old she began her journey to bring jobs to women who needed them so badly they prostituted themselves out, education to children whose families' wouldn't be able to afford it, medical care with her own two inexperienced but willing hands and has adopted 13 beautiful girls.  She is remarkable.  Her story is powerful.

You must read Kisses from Katie.
And then visit her blog.
And then visit her ministry website.
And then ask your husband to buy you these beads for Christmas because it would make you so very happy indeed to feel these precious women close to my heart.  (Please, Mattie?)

Though far less exhilarating than the book above~ I am working on this scarf in a random mohair skein that was given to me. It is coming slowly because I am alternating between this and that pesky second glove that needs to be finished! 

Join us?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Art: (Self-portraits inspired by the pumpkin farm)


I don't really need an excuse to go to the pumpkin farm, it is just that fun. And besides, it's tradition.

When we came home from our little field trip, I used a few pictures I had taken of the children to do an art project with them.  I took a picture of each of them, printed a copy and then the children cut it right in half.  We talked about symmetry and then the children tried to draw the missing half of their face.

I was SO impressed with the results!  I did sketch the head outline but that was the only line I helped with.  Each one of the children captured a piece of their personality in their drawings.  Even Adele'.who is only four, made a drawing that actually looked like HER. 


Friday, October 25, 2013

Finances on Friday

 ....In which I try to keep my head in the financial game by thinking on (and acting upon) ways to save pennies, make pennies and stretch pennies.

Well.  I was wrong.  We DIDN'T start a fire on the 22nd.  We lasted until today.  This very morning.

I woke up and crawled out of my warm bathrobe and into my chilly clothes first thing.  I made a cup of steaming chai tea.  Matt says (right before leaving for his roasty toasty car to head to his roasty toasty office) "Ahh- it feels pretty warm out this morning.  You'll be fine without a fire."  I said (in my head) "Yeah- says you, the man with the heater during the commute and a nicely heated office to work in.  But, whatever.

The children woke up.  The tips of my fingers were numb.  The biggles did animal chores with the lure of a hot cuppa tea on their return.  I made everyone steaming bowls of cinnamon oatmeal with raisins and tea all around.  I thought about what I could do to keep the oven on all day.  I re-seasoned all my cast iron at 350` for 1 hour.  I stood by it with the oven door opened just a crack every now and again.  I planned on baking some soft pretzels for snack time.  But still it was cold. 

So I started the first fire of the year.  October 25th.  

Now the house reeks of a newly painted woodstove starting for the first time for the year and an oven full of seasoning cast iron. 

We will be stinky but warm!  :-)


Wood heat is a huge money saver.  We do not buy wood, we cut it and split it ourselves from our own land.  So it is free.  In one sense anyway.  It costs us something, but the cost is in blood, sweat and tears.  (Hopefully just sweat and tears.  Blood is never a good thing.) 

One small woodstove in the basement doesn't quite cut heating a big two story house to "cozy"....so we are never really WARM.  But I am thankful for it, immensely so.  As with all matters of saving money, you have to sacrifice some things.  One of our sacrifices is a 65 degree house in winter.  (sniff)  At least, though, we have a place to retreat and thaw out our fingers whenever they need it.  And plenty of blankets for our beds.  ;-) 


And my financial efforts this week~

It seems like this past week I spent more money than I saved.  I spent a lot of money!   But I will call it "strategic spending" because the money was for worthwhile things that end up saving in the long run.  Besides, I don't mind spending money on things that matter.  It is the trickling of cents down the drain for worthless things that I am trying to rein in.  At least these were worthwhile purchases.

~ We received (and paid for) our 1/4 beef cow.

~ I put in a bulk food order at a nearby mennonite place.  Before I did this- I compared prices with Sam's Club.  I ordered the better deals from each place. 

~ I did our monthly grocery shopping trip.  We went to Aldi and Sam's Club and got everything we will (hopefully) need for the month, except a months' worth of milk. 

~ Even though I REALLY, REALLY wanted to buy candy corn while out on the town (a major weakness of mine)- I didn't.  (CONQUER!)  But, I totally intend to when it goes on clearance after Halloween.  ;-) 

~ I also will not be buying any costumes this year because at the end of Halloween last year I bought a few at 90% off to add to our dress-up bin.  We will raid the dress-up box and or make do with what we have.  No.  I don't have any idea what the children will be.  Thanks for asking. 

I am already planning a post-Halloween shopping trip to score some deeply discounted candy and costumes.  Exciting!

~ I went through our freezers to clear some space for the beef and to make sure nothing will get buried and overlooked (and wasted).  I put the oldest things all in one freezer to be used first and used up quite a few of the oldest things throughout the week.   Some of the things I used up:
  • older turkey broth and turkey bits (for turkey gravy on toast for lunch.)
  • bread dough (pecan rolls for breakfast and snack one day)
  • apple cider (for breakfast drinking, cider ham glaze and apple cider caramels)
  • ravioli (for lunch)
  • ham (for Sunday dinner, scalloped potatoes and ham and for tonights ham and "pineapple" pizza)
  • two half used bags of frozen broccoli (veggie side for dinner)
  • four bags of shredded zucchini (for zucchini soup with a twist for dinner and muffins for breakfast)
  • italian spicy sausage (for Zuppa Toscano soup)
~ I boiled the ham bone for broth.

~ Saved the ham fat/bits/bones for dog/cat treats

~ I did some photo work in exchange for a free date in the future.  (yay!)

~ Matt rebuilt the barn haymow, with lumber he sawed himself from trees on our own land.  

~ Matt made a door for the barn, with the same.

~ Matt bred our jersey cow himself, saving vet fees.

~ harvested from the garden all of the turnips, beets, and (can you believe it?) MORE jalapenos.

~ froze turnip greens, turnips, beet greens, many jalapenos

~ I filled out an application to be a reviewer of homeschool resources.  I don't know if I will get the opportunity but I did try-and that counts for something.  I hate how every year my homeschool budget only covers the basics- math, science, history, grammar and never has anything leftover for FUN resources.  Maybe, just maybe, this will be a good way to round out our homeschool with fun stuff?!?  (I hope, I hope)

~ harvested the last of the apples from our tree

~ sought out a free shipping code for necessary (and gift!) online purchases and saved $40.00 of shipping costs  (Company: ChristianBook.com.  Free Shipping Code: 412963.  Good until: October 28th!)

~ I ordered some additional school books for this year AND quite a few for next year while CBD was having some sales.  First, I price compared their prices with rainbow resource and Amazon for each item.  I did the same with a few audiobooks for Christmas gifts.  CBD won each time.

~ gratefully received a three huge zucchini, some radishes, sage and parsley from neighbors. 

~ I canned more applesauce.

~ brought in my rosemary so I can have it to use throughout the winter

~ gratefully received a 50# bag of red potatoes (Thanks Mom and Dad!!!)

~ was given a big bag of clothes from a church friend (Thanks, Mary!!!)

~ washed and reused ziploc bags and foil

~ fed kitchen and canning scraps to the chickens

~ I wrote several letters instead of making phone calls.

~ I started to write out a Christmas gift list.  'Tis the Season, after all.  Homemade Christmases especially, require a bit more thought and time and preparation.  I actually should have started a long time ago.   

Have you made any Christmas gift-giving plans?  Making any presents?  I'd love to hear about (and maybe steal) them!

How was your week? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Penny's Big Day


This post may alarm you.  It may gross you out.  It will probably leave you feeling a bit squirmy.  It does me, anyway.  Feel free to skip it entirely, unless watching a cow get impregnated fascinates you.

 Because that is what Penny did over the weekend:  Get pregnant(At least SOMEONE around here is.)

Or, at least, that was the idea.  We'll see if it "took" in about 20 days.  If she hollers and bellows for some male to come and make babies with her, then we will know it didn't work.  If she stands quietly and contentedly, growing a baby bovine during her next 'heat cycle', well then CHA-CHING.  It took!


We chose to buy some bull spermies in a nice, tidy little straw instead of using an actual bull.  We did this because Matt loves me and knows that I am so NOT CAPABLE of having a bull around here.  No thank you.  If a bull comes to Hopestead- I will go.  That's final. The end.  Over and out.

 See?  Nice and tidy.

He sticks the intimidatingly long spermy-shooter in his shirt.  Spermies, they like it warm.

(Wow.  Never thought I would use the "s" word on my blog.  And here I am, shooting it off like bullets.)

 Meanwhile, on the other side of the barn...the innocent and unsuspecting Penny wonders why she was put in the barn on such a glorious day.  "Odd" she thinks to herself.

But she doesn't know the meaning of the word ODD just yet.


Oh yes.  This is happening.

Matt has done this many times before- in fact, he's been known to quadruple pregnancy rates on the farms where he has worked.

He has skills.

I don't think Penny minded the actual procedure, but she may have minded all the spectators gawking at her while she was most vulnerable.

The whole thing took like five minutes.  Penny was fine and dandy afterwards.  I, on the other hand, waddled back to the house with knees glued together, wondering at the indecency I had just witnessed.

We put Penny out to pasture.  After all, she may be eating for two...

Later, I found that Penny's brave feat had made the papers! 

 (My apologies to the Marble family.  The journalists' priorities, is seems, were more than a bit skewwed.)  ;-)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The End of October

Our high-tech children on their new-to-them typewriter, listening to Dolly Parton or Bach or Scottish pipes on the new-to-them tape recorder. 




Penny had an interesting weekend.  You'll hear about that tomorrow.  It's befitting for a post all its own.

Mattie-made floor.

This bugger is one of the same that stung Corynn a few weeks ago picking apples- a fruit wasp.  For comparison, an ordinary bee sits on top of the lid. 



 October ending is spent bringing in wood and the last remaining garden things and apples to keep us warm and filled this winter.  It has been such a wonderful apple year; even with our three unhealthy trees we have had ample apples to sauce and dry and bake with and spice in apple butter.  Made all the more wonderful when we were unable to pick even a single apple the year before.  I am very thankful that there were a few apple trees here when we got here, especially since my plans for adding fruit trees this year never came to fruition.  Fruition, get it?

We've added layers of quilts to the beds and shivered as we scrambled in for quite some time and I have warmed the kitchen up by baking and canning when the house is cold, but we haven't started our woodstove yet this year.  Tomorrow morning, I think, we will start our first fire of the season.  Over the weekend Matt cleared some junk wood from around the place and burned it and I stood watching it blaze, feeling its heat and smelling that wonderful woody, smoky smell.  I breathed it in and wondered at how welcome that scent was to my nose, how I had missed it without realizing I had.   I gladly became a human rotisserie as I inched forward and let the fire heat me through and then rotated until my sides felt like they would burn and then my back and then my other side.  Over and over, there is nothing like the intense heat of a fire to warm your bones.

I realize that this will be the last of my homegrown flower bouquets and so I fill every nook with every remaining half-living petal that I can muster.  I will miss my flowers.  They had a good run.  A beautiful run.  The bees are lazy and lethargic, clinging on to petals- seemingly drunk on pollen.  I impressed the children when I picked one up with my fingers without it stinging me.  It just sleepily wondered at why it was moving but didn't care enough to fly.  Or sting.

The children are constantly running around with bare feet and wearing short sleeve shirts with no coats, even when it is downright cold outside, because that is what they have done all summer and old habits die hard.  I chase after each one with a hat and sweater many times a day and try to keep socks on their almost blue toesies before they take them off again, how odd they feel on their skin.

Matt, he is up to his usual mischief.  Once he re-sided the barn, well, then he had to go and cut a few holes back in it to make some doors.  And he used all the recently sawed lumber to rebuild the hay mow floor in the barn.  Finally, a place to store hay!  That, plus brush-hogging, re-siding the chicken coop, sorting logs, bringing in wood- he is has been such a hard worker.

Yes.  We are like squirrels, hurriedly running from here to there getting those last minute things done before we hole away for the winter.   I can't say I am looking forward to winter~ affection does not come easily to a season that freezes my bones and forces me to haul frozen water to frozen animals in frozen temperatures.  But I can say we've had a good run, Autumn and I.