Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What's Going on This Wednesday

Mandatory quiet day at home due to sickness. Poor little Lydia had her 3rd birthday yesterday complete with a visit to the doctor and a diagnosis of pneumonia! We were concerned about her lingering fever and were very thankful to find out what was going on and that the antibiotic is already helping her!

Maybe we have had too much going on? Putting our house up for sale, hosting a cookie exchange, enjoying out-of-town relatives, taking in a performance of "The Nutcracker", celebrating said birthday, etc. It's all wonderfully busy and lovely.

So, a slow day or two at home is much needed and appreciated. We have been catching up with school and enjoying the making and eating of some Christmas cookies. Last minute orders for my products have been filled with more things stocking the shelves (need anything?) perfect for gifts to family and secret pals.

The kids have been enjoying the Advent/Jesse tree - we are only a few days behind. Now my two older children are starting to remember some of the elements of Advent from the past year or two.

On a lighter note (my keeping it real theme): we have our water shut off for the next 24 hours! I'm wondering why we picked this week to get our well repaired! Nothing like seizing the moment, right?

I hope this week finds you slowing down a bit and enjoying your surroundings with all five senses. Cheers! Now, I think I filled the tea kettle before the water was turned off; time to make something warm.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Link to my Giveaway

Having reached a milestone of 200 Likes on my business page, I'm running a little giveaway as a thanks. Go on; check it out! I'll wait here.

In other news things are rolling along on the homefront. School has settled into a routine with Math and Language completed in the morning, and reading program and handwriting along with Science and piano practice (for Abigail) in the afternoon. The two little girls like to feel as if they do "school" too. Each of them can sit at the table with paper and crayons and feel very official.

My husband asked me, in the wake of a finished knitting project, if I could ever do the whole process from sheep to sweater. I look at this as a wonderful challenge. My family raised a sheep and a goat when I was a kid (not fiber animals, just family pets). I have cleaned wool; I have carded wool; I have spun wool; and of course I have knitted wool. The only things I have not done are shear a sheep and dye wool. So, I've started researching fiber animals for someday :) The gauntlet has been thrown down, folks (in a friendly and loving way!).

Currently we have 4 turkeys residing in our fridge/freezer! We have a church dinner; husband has a work dinner; and we are looking forward to our annual gathering of family (complete with a brother and sister-in-law from Uganda) next week. We have so much for which to be thankful.

Have a lovely Tuesday, friends. XOXO

Friday, November 8, 2013

Money Saving Suggestions?

Here is copied my Facebook post this morning, "Interested in your thoughts on cell phones as well as internet. Seems like a lot of money goes towards these...just a cell phone for me with average minutes and texting (no data plan) is $68. Our cable TV/wireless internet bundle is $72, and we don't even really watch the TV (mainly use internet/Netflix). Any thoughts, suggestions, or tips on this regarding a way to save money or make improvements? We use Verizon for the phone and CenturyLink for the cable/internet bundle."

I'm paying bills today and feeling the need to re-evaluate where the money goes. If you have thoughts on this or any other money saving tips please share! I would love to collect advice and suggestions.

Thank you. Please have a great day and enjoy the sunshine albeit chilly weather (at least in our corner of the world).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thirteen for Thursday

Random catch-ups for the past week or so:

1. My mom harvested my loofah gourds this week, so now I have to figure out how to peel and dry them to make sponges. Hopefully some of them are ripe enough. We seem to have had a late season with the gourds, so they might not have matured before the first snow/frost.

2. Yes, we have a little dusting of snow on the deck and fenceposts!

3. Yesterday was the first day to turn on our furnace. My husband is in some kind of bragging rights contest at work. He won, although I wonder if he told them we run a space heater in the baby's room.

4. Exercise and weight loss around here have kind of plateaued. Actually, exercise still happens; but proper eating has been neglected.

5. Soap making is in full force. Holiday preparations are happening. Someday I would love to attend a few area craft fairs, but I've come to realize that this year is still not the right time.

6. The hunter/gatherer for the family has bagged one deer (doe) thus far. I believe we are in the midst of archery and early muzzleloader season.

7. We have a church dinner tomorrow night (celebrating Reformation Day), and a new recipe is to be attempted. White chili sounded like something tasty, so we'll see how it turns out! I'll prepare the chicken meat and broth today and then combine everything in the crockpot tomorrow.

8. I love this time of year because baking and cooking make the house a pleasant warm not a hot and sticky warm.

9. I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but my son told me that the only time he can accompany my husband in the hunting blind is if I pack him snacks!

10. My littlest one, Susanna, is going through the separation anxiety stage that the others experienced. It's sweet, but occasionally hard too.

11. Abigail is learning about being a good sport; the girl does not like to lose. So, my husband thought he would try some reverse psychology with her and let her win at checkers. He told her he was going to let her win, and made the game so obvious. At the end he asked her how that went (thinking that it was no fun to win that easily). She told him that she really enjoyed it, and that she really likes to win. So, we'll keep working on that.

12. Our dog is now the bionic dog. She has more collars: a gentle leader for walking on the leash, and electric collar for the underground fence around the yard, and an electric collar controlled by a remote for training. Yesterday I was trying to get out of the house to run errands, and the dog was bopping around in the yard with my mother-in-law's dog completely ignoring my "come". I'm buzzing the remote for her caller and just getting thoroughly frustrated because I called my husband to complain, and he starts with, "is her collar on?" Oh. Right.

13. My kids are learning the joys of hot oatmeal for breakfast - especially when there is an array of toppings!! I wonder where they got such a sweet tooth....sigh.

Happy day to you!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Updates on my Home Business

This post is about my business - making soaps and lotions for you! If you care to read no further, I will try not to hold it against you :)

Actually, I have been so blessed this year in reaching new customers, helping people soften and heal their skin, and develop a few new products for my shop. Thank you for your help in many ways: encouragement, actual purchasing of my things, referrals, and honest feedback. While I am home with my kids I am thankful for this time to pursue a hobby and help others too!

Since I am committed to only using pure essential oils in my products, you will not be seeing artificial perfumes and fragrances. I choose to add in herbs and spices that might naturally shade my items; there are no dyes and colorants added either. Where possible I use my own honey and local beeswax (my bees aren't making enough wax to harvest yet!) to further enhance the lotion bars and body butters. My goal is to provide an enjoyable product that you can use with confidence on your own and your family's skin.

I continue to make handmilled soaps (where I began), and I hope to get my soap into your home. Everybody needs to get clean, so would you consider a bar of my soap for your bath, shower (I even have shampoo bars and shaving soap), kitchen sink, or guest bathroom?

My solid lotion bars have received great feedback for healing AND preventing dry and cracked skin. Similarly, the lip balms have been soothing and refreshing.

This past year I have focused on the body butters; and this is such a joy. I fill the 4 oz jelly jars (so far I've liked using glass jars for their quality and the ability to recycle them for other purposes) with the butter. Yes, there is no water incorporated in my recipe; and I make small batches to keep things fresh and effective.

Lastly, sugar scrubs have been making an appearance around here. Upon special request from a customer, some recipes were researched and a few varieties (for the body and the feet) have been made. The scrubs really make a day feel a bit luxurious!

For the future, I hope to create some bath bombs. I am in the research phase for that. For my own family's use I have made diaper rash cream and sunscreen, so I'm looking into sharing that with you. A roll-on body oil (scented with essential oils) has also been in rotation at my bathroom sink....keep an eye out! I hope to continue with each of the products detailed above with even more ingredients coming from my own backyard (from the honey bees and from my herb garden). I'm blessed to have a wonderful supplier of highest quality essential oils and other great resources for my ingredients.

I could use your help in several ways, as my business continues to grow. The handmade community is a great place! First, please buy my things :) Each of my products is useful and, I hope, enjoyable. Also, everything makes great gift items (yes, even some things for guys!). Secondly, you can help me just by telling others about my things. I do have an etsy shop as well as a facebook page (links provided below) and my things for sale in a few physical locations. I love to sell to people around me (locally), so that I can talk and share and everything; but I appreciate being able to send my items far and wide too. My business cards are readily available if you would take some to distribute. Questions about the products or help with anything is provided through email, phone, or in-person demonstrations. My facebook page is very close to 200 "likes", and I will be having some kind of prize for someone at that point. I hope to continue that - providing little incentives and giveaways as a thank you. "Sharing" my facebook page is much appreciated as is following my etsy shop. Thirdly, I appreciate the feedback. It helps me further sharpen my skills and raise the bar higher and higher on my products' quality. I am learning so much!

Here are a few links:

Liberty Galleria - a wonderful store in Franklin, PA with a gathering of about 50 artisans and vendors.

Wolf Creek Yarns - a sweet yarn shop in Grove City, PA. Join us to knit on Thursday evenings!

My facebook business page
- "likes" and "shares" are awesome!

My etsy shop - a comprehensive list of what I have on hand (contact me with special requests!)

Thank you for the wonderful words of support and encouragement. It is a true blessing to be able to share something that I love (both making and using) with you!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How do you Like Your Eggs?

This morning my kids discovered the joys of a "dippy egg" otherwise known as an egg cooked "over light". We haven't quite ventured into sunny side up territory, but first one child, then another, then a third ate at least one dippy egg today. The baby still cannot be trusted with something messy.

So, our egg repertoire includes: scrambled, hard-boiled, fried hard or over light, and egg salad. Next to try is poached eggs - I've been reading about methods where you don't need the little cups.

How do you cook your eggs? We have plenty coming in now, and we are up for new ideas.

Oh! I almost forgot the ever-popular egg in a hole! We do enjoy a fried egg inside a fried piece of bread (hole or nest).

Happy Thursday to you!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Lots of little things have been irritating this week (don't even get me started on the skein of yarn from a different dye lot), so I want to go in the opposite direction. Here are some things that are just a blessing and a joy:

1. Our church family - we are surrounded by love and prayer from these dear folk.

2. Our 4 sweet children - they are hilarious with their nonstop ideas and conversations! "It would be hard to get a cheetah while it's running, right?" Just came up.

3. Fresh eggs every day from our flock of hens.

4. Protection and care of our health and strength.

5. A pantry full of ingredients; the choices!

6. A beautiful area of the country to live in - the leaves are just about to change!

7. Parents/Grandparents that pray for us.

8. Two little girls that still take afternoon naps and give a bit of quiet time.

9. So many good books to read - a whole lifetime of reading just doesn't even scratch the surface!

10. The internet with so many recipes and ideas to be discovered.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five for Friday

1. My dad had a surgery this week to install a medicine pump in his abdomen. Hopefully this medicine will help with the stiffness and soreness on his left side (the result of his stroke a few years back). He is doing well, and I was able to visit him at his rehab facility this week. Praise God for watching over him.

2. A couple of weeks ago (before dad's surgery) our family was able to go to the fair! The Big Knob Fair was perfect for us - animals to see and ice cream to be eaten. Here are a couple shots of the kids and the animals. The baby is hard to see, but you can get an idea of one of her favorite modes of transportation.

3. Homeschool is going well. Jacob actually said he loved school when he was in the middle of his math page yesterday! Abigail is enjoying her piano lessons too (nothing like saving money by giving the lesson myself!). During the school hours before naptime, it is not uncommon to see this:

The baby particularly enjoys visiting in the dog cage. She takes her books, toys, snacks, whatever in there!

4. Our chickens have really started to produce. We've been up to 9 eggs a day so far (I think we might get to 11-12) soon!

5. This is site of my chaos yesterday:

I have some of my products for sale at a local store, and that store is having an open house on Saturday. I needed to make lots of lotion bars and body butters yesterday, so this is my counter and stove area. It smelled so good! I also played around with some of my beeswax (from a local beekeeper because my one hive doesn't produce enough) in a jar candle. Anyone dealt with shrinkage and beeswax as it cools?

Happy weekending to you all!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Weekend Recap and Such

Today is the soft opening of homeschool; tomorrow is the grand opening. We are celebrating my parents' anniversary today. What better way to mark 37 years than with homemade peach pie and homemade whipped cream?

Our summer ended with a bang. We squeezed every last drop of fun out of our long weekend. We sure do miss Big Fish when he goes to work!

Last Friday night we enjoyed dinner with friends. I am always impressed when somebody invites our family of 6 over! We enjoyed dinner, dessert, and a stroll around the grounds (their backyard has a swingset and a little garden with the most exciting crop of butternut squash on a trellis!). Friends are fun, and we are thankful for them and their fellowship.

Saturday was Fair Day! We had off to the Big Knob Grange Fair. Highlights included: a super friendly baby calf, a honeybee observation hive, teaching my kids the rules of the tractor pull, and wonderful strawberry and raspberry milkshakes for the kids. One attraction to this particular fair was the free admission. We had a nice morning of walking around with my parents. We were quite the caravan with a wheelchair, a stroller, and a baby in the backpack! Jacob did ask me why the rabbits had so many chocolate chips in their cages!

Sunday was church, communion, and a much needed nap for many of us. We were blessed with record attendance at our little country church. We had many college students from Grove City, so it will be exciting to make new friends.

Yesterday Big Fish and I tag teamed. He took Jacob for a father/son outing in the morning while I did some cleaning and laundry, and I took Abigail for a mother/daughter outing while Big Fish fixed dinner and hooked up my Kindle to the wireless network. I say "hooked up" because I really don't know what he did to get it to work!

The father/son outing was an early morning of fishing and breakfast out. This was Jacob's first experience fishing like daddy. Usually they fish at a pond when the kids are involved. Daddy likes to wade and fish a stream, so Jacob is learning the ropes. He had fun and didn't even fall in. I asked him if he saw any wildlife; he said, "not even a raccoon!" I think Jacob may talk a little and scare the animals :)

Abigail and I did many things! We went out to lunch at her choice of restaurant....the Chinese buffet! We are fancy, folks. I enjoyed watching her eat boiled crayfish, shrimp, squid, chicken on a stick, and some sushi rolls. At 7 years old, she seems to take after daddy's adventurous eating habits. Since the buffet is in the mall we strolled to the other end and picked up some hair elastics for the girls to share. Then we hopped in the car, picked up a cold drink from a drive-thru, and headed to the playground. Alameda Park in Butler has a nice outdoor playground - large, cushioned outdoor flooring, and lots of slides and climbing wall type things. Abigail enjoyed boppping around while I walked with her a bit and also did a little knitting. Then we headed to Panera and did a little reading and knitting (Abigail is learning!). Finally we picked up a few essentials at the grocery store - you know, the necessary butter and whipping cream that we all need. Actually, we needed these things for the peach pie.

After arriving home, we had a nice regrouping of the family over a big dinner of grilled chicken, cheesy spinach, and rice. I think we all slept soundly last night; I know I did!

Hope you all had a happy time with friends and family this past weekend!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Two Posts in One

I have some pictures to share. The common denominator is my kids are in all of them! The unrelated part....I'm providing pictures of knitted items and then pictures from the rodeo. These pictures were all taken the same day, so there is that.

I set a goal for last week: to finish a project a day. I have so, so many things on my knitting needles; and it was just getting ridiculous. While I did not quite reach the goal of a project for every day, I did finish 5 things in the last week and a half! I finished a hat, two cowls, and 2 washcloths. I didn't picture the washcloths, but I do have several listed in my etsy shop (wink!).

Let's face it; the following pictures are really just of the kids. My attempts at proper lighting and showing the details of my knitting never actually happened!

Susanna was enjoying a banana coconut muffin while stylin' the oversized hat.

Lydia takes her job of saying cheese for the camera very seriously!

Jacob knows a good cowl when he sees one. Abigail decided not to partake in this photo session because the cowls were "too hot for today". Okay!

Now, we have a few rodeo pictures. The North Washington Rodeo is a great time! It has become a family tradition. Jacob's favorite part is the bull riding. Abigail enjoyed a root beer float and screaming "woohoo" in my ear :) Lydia enjoyed her glow necklace and "horses and bulls too, mom". Susanna pointed to all the horses (takes after mama) and bites of ice cream and french fries were savored.

Tuesday night was family night. My husband said we got our money's worth because kids got in free with paying parents. The weather was great, and my husband and I enjoyed watching our kids taking in the sights. I was scoping out styles of cowboy boots and thinking of a possible Christmas present idea...just being honest! I like the plain brown leather with maybe a touch of turquoise accents :)

Happy end-of-summer-back-to-school to you! Squeeze in these last summer drops of fun!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Little Midweek Update

1. Potty training!! Lydia is doing well - during the day she gets to wear little undies! Her treat is 2-3 M&M's depending on what is in the potty. I do have a picture of her sitting on the potty, but she looks like she woke up on the wrong side of the bed. One of those - only a mother could love faces - I'll spare you.

2. Let's put up pictures of inanimate objects! These are what we collected today, minus the white egg (just there for size reference).

3. School books have been finalized/decided upon/ordered. We hope to start the day after Labor Day. This is the last year of not having to report to the state!

4. My grandma is not doing well - she is in her nineties, and it looks like there is cancer throughout her body (tumor in her back and cancer in her bone marrow). She taught me how to bake an apple pie when I was 12! She and my grandad (who is 94) have always been such an example of hard work and contentment.

5. I'm closing this blog post, as I must run to the feed store to pick up some fleece. I bartered some of my soap and lotion bars for a couple of fleece.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Chicken Down

A death of a chicken is discussed in this post. Please refrain from reading if you do not want to feel a little sad.

So, we lost our first chicken yesterday. Actually, I take that back. We had to get rid of a baby chick two years ago because it was running around pecking all the other chicks' eyes. We lost our first chicken due to causes beyond our control yesterday. Our flock of 14 decreased by one. This flock is pullets hatched in mid-spring. My frustration stems from that fact that I don't know what was wrong with the creature!

She was a Speckled Sussex, and she very well could have been the chicken that started laying the first eggs. Maybe she just wasn't ready? Is that possible? I noticed yesterday morning that she was lethargic and not interested in the grain and veggie treats that the other pullets were gobbling down. I checked again on her yesterday afternoon, and she was just standing in the shade not moving. I was able to catch and pick her up with no struggling. The other chickens would have given me a run for my money to catch them.

She seemed like she was, um, constipated. She kept pushing her little bottom, but nothing was coming out. I wanted to try to relieve that and try to get things moving. I soaked her for several minutes in a warm tub of water hoping to help something come out. Then, I called a friend who used to raise chickens on a commercial basis. He suggested an eye dropper of warm water mixed with Epsom salts. I didn't have the salts, so he said just regular salt - a saline solution. My mom and I were able to give her the water/salt solution, but that's when things went from bad to worse. Maybe we gave her too much? Maybe she was too plugged up to take anything into her digestive system? She went downhill very fast from that point on.

I did not want to see her suffer, and she obviously was. I made the executive decision, and my husband quickly put her out of her misery. None of my other chickens are showing signs of anything. I've done a little reading but have not come up with anything conclusive yet. Any of you have ideas? I would think she was a bit young to be egg bound, but maybe? Would producing eggs too early be something? How do you help a constipated chicken?

On a lighter note there were a few chicken butt jokes bandied about last night. I can speak with some authority on that now :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Egg-citing! Also, Keeping it Real.

Yesterday was a big day for the chickens; we had our first egg! I had marked on the calendar that our pullets should start laying right around August 15, so we obviously have an overachiever :) There was another egg today, so we'll see if they start trickling in now. It never gets old....finding the little treasure of a fresh egg.

Remember how I wanted to keep things real for you? Jacob found the egg yesterday. It was a discovery because the young pullets really just don't know what they are doing yet. Their funny little eggs (about the size of a golf ball) can be found anywhere. This particular egg was found in the coop itself close to the water bucket. Both Abigail and Jacob were so excited, and since Jacob found the egg Abigail carried into the house. She was told to put the egg in the refrigerator. She decided that she had to use the restroom first, so she took the egg with her (of course - wouldn't you?). So, the egg makes it finally to the door of the 'fridge only to be dropped right before being placed on the egg shelf :( Sad day for Abigail but a good teaching opportunity for mama (words such as "mama knows best" may or may not have been used, ahem).

Today we tried again. Another egg was found - in the nesting box. Abigail was given another shot, and the egg is now sitting in the refrigerator waiting for daddy to come home and be shown the prize.

In other news, new soaps are being produced, cured and listed; so please take a little time to check them out. Also, I am almost to a goal of 150 likes on my Facebook business page. I would love for you to "like" me too :). Thanks a bunch!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday List

Sometimes I like to share my to-do lists; maybe I'll revisit them someday and giggle over the jobs with which I was pre-occupied! Also, I'm nosy and like to read other people's lists; so maybe you want to do the same?

1. Work on potty training this week. Since it's a fairly quiet week, we can get in a few days of stay-at-home focus on Lydia. She shows such an interest, so we'll see. We are not in a hurry, but it would be nice to have one less person in diapers!

2. Buy chicken feed, dog food, and a replacement belt for the vacuum.

3. Finish preparations for Bible study tomorrow night.

4. Bake muffins (usually I double the batch and have the on hand for the kids' breakfast for a week or two).

5. Brush the dog. Little Miss Gretel is shedding like a crazy dog. Poor thing is hot!

6. Sew something....idea for the etsy shop!

7. Cut castile soap and shampoo bars that were made last week. BTW...have you "liked" my facebook page yet?

8. Pick green beans and bemoan the fact that something happened with our squash and zucchini plants that makes them not produce. What could this be? They have plenty of blooms and plenty of pollinators just no baby squash!

9. Finalize the kids' school curriculum orders for the Fall.

10. Attack the mountain of laundry!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Nothing Says "Fun Road Trip" Like...

a nice, sticky lollipop! My blog cuts off some of the picture, but my son actually shows up if you click on the picture itself (the first one).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I thought I would try something fun: a giveaway on my business page. Be the 150th person to "like" the page, and I will send you soap - choice on castile or shampoo bar. Thanks for the support and orders, and I hope to bless someone with a little something from my stock!!

So, tell your neighbors, friends, and family. Help me get out the news for this fun little contest. I appreciate it so much :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

What Really Happens

I've been thinking of writing blog entries (or maybe Facebook updates) titled "What Really Happens" or something. A lot of people post the wonderful and exciting things happening in life, and that's what I usually do too. But, there is all the behind the scenes stuff that is comical (not at the time usually) or embarrassing or not shaded with rose-colored glasses or sad or frustrating or.....

Here goes the first episode: I just put on my workout clothes. I wondered what that funny smell was (outside of the normal workout-clothes smell). Then I remembered that I'm still wearing the shorts that I was too lazy to wash that my dog peed on in her excitement to see me a few mornings ago! It was just a bit of pee, and I figured it would dry. I didn't notice it the past couple of days, but I guess I need to get going with the laundry here!!

Maybe the title should be "True Confessions"?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Happy Birthday!

June marks the biggest grouping of family festivities: June 1st (my birthday), June 9th (Jacob's birthday), June 10th (our anniversary), and June 12th (Abigail's birthday). Throw Father's Day in there, and we just have a busy and fun time!

My birthday was absolutely perfect. Husband and MIL took the kids in the morning for breakfast, groceries, and a playground exploration. I slept in a bit, and took a run down the road. I haven't run outside the house for, well, I can't even remember! Most mornings find me on the elliptical monitoring still-sleeping babes. The run/walk was glorious. Then I returned home, showered, watched a couple Netflix TV show episodes while painting my toenails. Then I knit for a bit. All of these things in a quiet house add up to a rested and relaxed mama; it has been a blessing even in the days to follow. Then, Big Fish set up a little range for me over our hill; so I got in a bit of target practice. Finally we went out for a nice family dinner; the children were so well-behaved, and the food was so good. I really couldn't have asked God for a sweeter time. Here is a picture of my kids sharing my birthday dessert (Abigail accidentally told the waitress it was my birthday, and the waitress saw the panic in my face and skipped the singing part just bringing the cake). Even baby Susanna was able to have some chocolate bites!

Now we are planning the rest of the month! The kids' present already lives with us - the puppy, but I know both Abigail and Jacob will be receiving some tennis shoes! They are popping out of their old pairs. They both have requested shrimp scampi and dirt cake, so the birthday meal will be combined probably Thursday next week! VBS and ballet recital also happen to be next week; how did this all come down to one week? Prayers, please :)

Thank you, readers, for your responses on my last post. Still a "work in progress", so join me in the journey.

Happy Tuesday to you!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Work in Progress

I've been praying about one of my biggest problems: I have so much that I would like to do in a day, and I want to do everything perfectly, and then I become resentful of my children because they take up a lot of time (ages 6, 4, 2.5, and 1). How selfish of me! I would welcome any suggestions in the comments, but a few things are being revealed to me.

First, as small as this sounds, I need to go to bed on time. Proper rest means that my patience and energy do not run out at 4 o'clock when my husband walks in the door. That's another area - how to properly serve and support my husband - but we'll get there in another post. Bedtime for me should be right at 10 p.m. How often do I push that back to 10:30 or 11 or even later? Probably 5 days of the week!

Second, I need to just do less. That is a hard pill for me to swallow right now. I immediately think of the amount of time I spend on the internet, I can cut time to at least half! I mean do I really need to read through so many Facebook updates? What I really need to do is prioritize (per my husband's suggestion). What do I have do get done during the day (my personal quiet time, kids' school, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.) and then work backwards from there. You can see why this is a work in progress, and this post is certainly not about to fix the situation. I'm just getting some thoughts down that will possibly help someone or be able to receive some help :)

Third, the time spent on the floor with the kids is important. I thought of this because I just sat on the floor today with all 4 of my kids, and they just kind of flocked around. I sit on the floor every day with them, but many times it is just for a minute or two. I think I need a little more of soaking them in.

Lastly (for now), I need to make even more use of my calender. Mapping out the next day, when I actually do it, helps me stay on task. Checking things off as done is a pretty fun feeling too.
Well, just a few thought on a warm Wednesday afternoon. Would love to hear from some you!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Chickens and Bees

It is definitely Spring around here! The temperatures have warmed; the chicks are relocated outside, and the honeybees are setting up shop in their new hive. It is not unusual to find a mason jar filled with leaves, twigs, and some little reptile that Big Fish and the children have found on their "snake walks". Snake walks are not to be confused with creek walks. A creek walk has a very important purpose: to obtain bait for the next day's fishing. Bait around here includes salamanders and crayfish. Snake walks are as simple as a stroll in the backyard or a more strenuous hike up the back hill in which many promising looking rocks and logs are overturned in search of interesting creatures. Mama doesn't usually participate in snake walks.

Last week the nights were still chilly, but we thought the chicks were fine in their coop. We tried some hot water bottles for them snuggle, but it seems the chicks themselves came up with the best plan:

I like to term this method the "let's all pile into one nesting box" method. Yes, that is all 14 chicks in one place usually designed for a single laying hen! I checked them often to see if they were in danger of suffocation, but they were very happy in there. There little heads poked out all around the edges.

The honey bees have been transferred from their packing box (they come from California!):

The above picture is 3 pounds of bees plus a queen. There is a feed can in there too with a sugar solution to keep them alive during their travels. The queen is in a tiny little cage and will slowly be released, as the worker bees adjust to her presence and prepare wax comb for her to use for egg-laying.

Here is pretty much everything I used to set up the new hive:

I made my own sugar solution to fill the little white plastic bucket feeder, and you can see the hive boxes and some rectangular frames that are inserted down in the box. The frames provide a place for the bees to build their nest using wax to make the honeycomb. So fun!

Here is a closeup of a few bees in the front entrance of the hive a day or two after I released them from their packing box:

Finally, a picture of the "whole shebang". Notice my new electric fence (Happy Mother's Day to me - materials and installation provided by my beloved). Early this week I will open the hive to see if the queen is out of her little cage and to see what kind of work is being done on the inside. We have not had a bear sighting in over a week. Hopefully he has retreated deeper into the woods!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A few Spring Pictures

It's almost June.....which means almost ballet recital time! We had a picture session, as Abigail made sure that her costume fit properly. She told me that she was doing some dance poses for the pictures :)

Jacob and Grandad were able to able to go fishing with Big Fish. They had some fun and caught some fish! I know Grandad really helped Jacob whose hands were so dirty that Grandad had to hold the sandwich for him to take his bites. What would Jacob do without his Grandad? Sorry the pictures are sideways...trying to figure out where I made a mistake in rotating/saving them.

While I don't have the best pictures of Lydia, I wanted to show something she likes to do. She tucks a toy, in this case a fairy horse, into the front of her shirt to carry around. She hushes her toy and talks to it while she has her hands free for other things.

Poor baby Susanna....she is too big to take baths in the sink still, but mama hasn't made the big switch to the bathtub. She enjoys her time in the sink, but usually there are clean dishes in the background that we have to be careful not to squirt!

And, we have upped our bear-repelling tactics by obtaining a watchdog. Said dog is an adorable puppy right now, but she is growing. By the way, her name is Gretel.

Stay tuned for some honey-bee installation posts! Hope you are enjoying some sunshine, as we are today!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Weekend To-Do

Thought I'd put my reminders here:

1. Wash and block some Mother's Day gifts. For the non-knitters this means to get the item wet and then pin it out to dry in the shape you want.

2. Bake! We need some snacks and some Mother's Day desserts. Need is the key word here; 2 pounds of butter were bought last night is all I'm sayin'.

3. Tonight remember to shut the 9 big chickens in their coop and remove their food. Hopefully their system will clear properly for the "end of the road" tomorrow.

4. Move baby chickens to new coop tomorrow. Yay! I will feel better knowing they have tons more room to live rather than an oversize cardboard box.

5. Burn cardboard box that housed chicks :)

6. Collect grocery/snack items to be sent to Africa for brother and sister-in-law's upcoming birthdays.

7. Sweep floor. Thrilling I know, but in the eyes of a one-year-old the vacuum is the scariest thing in her existence.

8. Cut up some freshly made shampoo bars and start working on listing them online.

9. Get creative with lunch for the kids since groceries need to be obtained. Suggestions? Maybe scrambled eggs.

10. Take pictures. I am having to write this down lately as a reminder because I want to be more intentional about this. I always think later that I wish I had a picture of some event or happening during the day.

Happy Weekend! Happy Mother's Day! My Mother's Day gift involves electric fencing and some kind of power pack to repel a bear from my new beehive. We try to follow my parents' example and give each other practical gifts!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Some Closure to Honeybee Hive #1

I was startled this Saturday morning with the sound of the doorbell. I peeked out the window to see the Game Commission Officer on our front steps. After opening the door and giving an initial run-down of the past week or so, we hiked down over the hill to see the remains of the hive. I was able to explain the order of events and learn a little bit more about our Officer (he raises competition-size pumpkins!). The officer mentioned that he believes our bear is the very same bear his wife hunts during bear season. Let's hope she gets it this year!

We have been put on the list for using the officer's bear trap. We were given further instruction as to repelling the bear (ammonia works great). I was also given the great news that I will be compensated for the 19 frames with foundation that were destroyed as well as the colony of bees. While there were still other losses such as being set back two years (!), I honestly was not thinking I would get money back!! I am thankful for this news. The money regained will go into partially funding our new-and-improved apiary protection system (electric fence).

The officer is also emailing me the plans for building a bear-deterring electric fence for beehives. I can use all the instruction and knowledge possible, as this is new territory for me.

So, the project for the upcoming week is to prepare a new home for the incoming package of bees. Armed with my new knowledge and experience, I will try again to be a good steward of the bees God has created.

Stop back for more updates! Thank you for following along my (our) adventure with the black bear.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Just a Couple of Country-Livin' Tidbits

1. Good news on the bear front....we sprayed our trash can inside and out with ammonia. Thursday is the night to drag it to the curb for collection. It was a beautiful sight to look out the widow this morning and see a freshly emptied can that had not been bothered by the bear!

2. The garden has been tilled in preparation for spring planting. My husband is awesome - he comes home from a full day of work and takes a couple of kids and puts in the time to work the soil before dinner.

3. We have LOVED taking our baby chicks out for excursions in the yard! I will sit with Susanna, and the chicks will just scurry around us stretching their wings and pecking at leaves, grass, and bugs. We have 14 chicks now (we gave one away), and I think one could possibly be a rooster.

4. Speaking of chickens, guess what I saw last night? I went down to shut the older hens in their coop just before dusk....movement caught my eye in the woods. A raccoon was there! So, the trap is set for it. We are definitely experiencing the wildlife this spring!

5. I taught Abigail how to make dandelion chains yesterday, and Jacob has been busy chasing bumblebees with the fly swatter! Lydia has been chasing the big chickens, and it seems like they are the same size as her. The girl has no fear!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We Fought the Bear, and the Bear Won (This Time)

For pictures, see the last post....last night was a repeat! We feel like we did what we could, but that bear was persistent and hungry.

I spent the day yesterday coming up with an evacuation plan for the bees - seems like I used all my phone minutes in one day! I called the Game Commission, local beekeepers, some relatives, and our pastor's family. We decided that the bear was definitely going to come back for more; yesterday I still had one box of bees and honey salvaged from the first attack. The plan was to tape and tie up the box and relocate it several miles away in the hayfield of our pastor. We needed to wait until the sun went down in order to contain as many of the bees as possible (the foragers would be out working during the day). My husband started going down to check how many bees were on the outside of the hive probably around 6 p.m. He went down two more times, each time coming back up the hill with the news that there will still a lot of bees visible.

We were waiting and thinking we would go down after dark to finish this up. Between 7 and 7:30 p.m. I was out on our back sidewalk putting some frame pieces in the and pulling the trash can inside the garage. My husband came out on the deck which overlooks the valley. He glimpsed through the trees the bear already back at the hive! This was a big difference from 2:30 a.m.! This was evening - still light enough to see! The bear ran away, but not before he overturned the box of bees (those poor bees).

I sighed at the thought of dealing with another angry cluster of bees, but my husband and I discussed quickly giving it one more go. I suited up and quickly transferred those frames of bees and honey (which the bear didn't get down to the business of really eating yet) into an upturned hive body. The bees were angry again, and I have another sting on my left wrist. In my hurry (it was starting to get dark), I did not properly zip and seal my veil; so I ended up with some bees inside and tangled in my hair. God protected me; I had no stings to my face or scalp. Even after I un-suited and came up to the house I had a bee in my hair! Brings to mind some memories of me getting stuck in yellow-jacket nests with my horse, but that will be another post at another time. I would love to stress that honey bees are very, very gentle creatures with which I usually greatly enjoy working and handling.

My husband worked hard to put available deterrents around the bee box including used kitty litter, and vinegar, and the like. If we had more time, we could have bought ammonia; a suggestion had been to fill water balloons with ammonia and coat the balloon with peanut butter. We did not have balloons and ammonia on hand.

We went to bed last night (exhausted) knowing that we did the best we can, hoping that the bees would be spared through the night so we could proceed with their relocation.

This was not to "bee". The bear struck again in the night. If you are keeping count, this is the third attack in less than 24 hours. The hive is destroyed - bees and honey are lost. My husband just gave me the news at 6 a.m. I am discouraged but not defeated! We have learned a lot in these past days.

Reader, you will be seeing posts and pictures of our rebuilding efforts. A new package of bees, ordered last fall, is scheduled to arrive in 1.5 weeks. We are working on a location right next to our house, and the plan is to include a pen of electric fence. I am also determined today to file reports on this bear with both the Game Commission and the Police Department. With four small children in our household, a coop full of chickens, and a new hive of bees coming, I would like to make sure we follow-up with this bear. He has proved to be formidable and destructive, and we need to make sure we responsibly deal with him!

The journey continues; look for more bee news very soon. Thank you for reading and encouraging these past few days even. Here's to a fresh start. I have always been thankful for God's gift of a new day.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bears and Bees

Well, it happened....pretty much the worst thing that could happen to a beekeeper. If not the worst thing (bee diseases can be pretty destructive), definitely a list topper. Last night my lone hive of honeybees fell victim to a hungry black bear. About 2:20 a.m. my husband jumped out of bed and said that the bear was knocking over the trash can right below our bedroom window. This is the second time the bear has done this, but it is the first time that we actually saw him. He was big - about 300 to 400 pounds my husband estimates. So, we yelled and made noise; and the rascal ran away.

Guess where he went? I heard a noise that sounded like a gunshot, and my husband turned to me and said that he was sorry but that was the sound echoing up the hill from the bear toppling over my beehive. The hive probably weighs about 100 pounds and had a large rock resting on top. That bear made quick work of the hive, and all my husband could do was make some noise from the hillside. It didn't deter him this time. We could hear the splintering of the brood frames. I had just inspected my hive on Saturday to prepare the bees and frames for the Spring nectar flows.

I asked my husband if he couldn't shoot the bear, but he reminded me that it was dark and it is not legal to take down a bear. Probably not the safest thing to hike down the hill at 3 a.m. and try to hunt a hungry bear.

Below are pictures of the damage taken around 6:30 a.m. after my husband walked down with his gun to make sure the area was clear. The third picture is the collected frames and foundation sheets from which the bear scraped honey and larvae.

The bear smashed the wooden frames like toothpicks!

So, there were still a pile of bees in one of the upturned boxes. I approached and immediately saw how angry the bees were. I went up to the house to put on my veil/jacket combo. I went back down the hill to start transferring the 9 remaining honey/brood frames with bees attached to the other empty box. I was stung in the leg right away and once again saw how angry the poor bees were, so I went back up to the house again to put on more gear and light my smoker. With a lot of prayer for protection and trembling fingers I gathered the frames and stuck them in the righted box. I now have one hive deep (box) filled with bees. I have no idea if the queen was rescued! Here is a picture of the lidded box containing thousands of angry and confused bees. The empty box in front had a few clinging bees that I hope will find their way to their friends.

My husband thinks the bear will be back for more tonight. We'll see if this poor box 'o bees will survive. I'm reading and learning about black bear today; all I know is that they are super hungry coming out of hibernation!

So, dear readers, I will probably take a day to pray and ask God to help me through this loss. A lot of work (and money!) has gone into this hive of bees, and I have learned a lot. I am thankful that God is already giving me ideas for developing and expanding the apiary - even this morning, but it will take some time and preparation. A small area of electric fencing will be at the top of the list!

This picture is a tagalong bee that came back with me to the house - I had about 5 or 6 of them still clinging to me trying to chase me away from their home. Normally the bees would not really even fly up around me; when I give them a puff of smoke they will stay calmly in their hive and around their queen. Aren't they fascinating?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Episode with the Trash Can

Our garbage collection service is every Friday, very early in the morning. Our habit is to roll the bin to the curb the day before. This morning (Friday), I awoke to the exclamation of surprise and disgust from my husband, as he looked out the bedroom window, that something had been in our trash. This was before my alarm went off at 6 a.m. - what a way to greet the morning!

We hurried to collect and clean up the mess; since I am not a fan of touching garbage, I donned latex gloves (yet another use for those miracle hand protectors!). My husband is tough, so he took the bare-handed approach.

Well, dear readers, we decided the culprit was a bear! Something had to be large enough to tip over the large and lidded can. Then, that something had to have the ability to CARRY BAGS OF TRASH AROUND THE YARD before ripping them open and perusing the contents. It was quite a cleanup. I would like to go on record that I am not a fan of "the week in review" provided by the garbage. I would also like to say that our dog, a toy poodle, has been reprimanded for the fact that he sleeps more sound than we do, and thus did not alert us to the fact that a probable bear was riffling through our garbage can in our yard.

We do have several things for which to be thankful:

1. No small children were harmed in this episode!

2. No honey bee hives or chickens were attacked.

3. The scene of the crime was cleaned up before the arrival of the trash collector.

4. Previously mentioned latex gloves.

I think we might be sleeping with our window cracked tonight. Have I mentioned that we're in the market for a German Shepherd?

Have a great weekend; enjoy some sunshine!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


1. Happy Easter; Christ is Risen! My daily prayer is that God would give me the joy and peace knowing that my Savior has conquered death. The kids and I colored some eggs using the silk tie method. I explained to the kids that the colored eggs and the candy nests we made are signs of rejoicing and new life that Jesus brings. While they listened, I think they were quite taken with the sugar factor as well (keeping it real!).

2. We tried for an Easter picture. We basically are the world's worst picture-taking family. Evidence includes: of the several pictures we snapped none of the kids were all looking the same way, Big Fish is not in the family picture, we waited until after church and lunch to even try the picture.

3. I had the rare experience this week of seeing an egg being laid from one of our chickens! I opened the nesting boxes, and one of the chickens was still in there. This is normal; there is often a chicken or two hanging out in there. Well, I could tell this chicken was mid-egg; as she was kind of stuck half in and half out of the box. She wanted to leave, but she couldn't - ya know? So, I was able to witness the egg coming out! Folks, there is no fresher egg; she practically laid it in my hand! We are looking forward to 15 new chicks in two days!!

4. Cute baby picture (tangling up my knitting of course!). She looks a little worried, but trust me she was having a blast. Yesterday I caught her on video dumping out a box of Cheerios. Sigh.

5. One other picture of the children learning the fine art of eating Ramen noodles courtesy of Big Fish's teaching:

Happy Spring! If I keep saying it, it will show up soon (currently snowing and 36 degrees!).

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I love lists!

1. We are looking at some sunshine today and tomorrow - yeah! DH decided that the kids can earn their keep today (at least for half an hour). They get to pick up sticks in the yard! It's amazing what is revealed under melted snow - lots of sticks and buckets and toys that we hadn't thought about.

2. Don't forget to turn your clock ahead when you go to bed tonight!

3. Trying a new recipe today to share with friends - oatcakes!

4. DH's birthday was the end of February, and he requested a hand-knitted scarf. While, let's just say I'm still working on it! In my defense, he only requested it about a month before his birthday; I had to order yarn and decide and a pattern and all that stuff. It is coming along, but he probably will not feel its warming effects until next winter.

5. My kids are already planning their birthdays (in June). We.are.discussing.cakes.everyday. My birthday is also in June, and they just cannot believe that I haven't really thought about my "birthday dessert" as they term it.

6. New word this week: sepulcher. Jacob is learning the Easter passage, and this word is in the New King James version.

7. Spring cleaning is starting! So far I've tackled: my closet, bathroom cabinet, under-sink kitchen cabinet, and hall closet. Still to do: kids' closets (mainly clothes storage), garage (DH is a major factor for this one - yay!), and my craft area. My craft area might just need a whole season by itself. It's that bad. No really, it's a monster. I could lose myself in that closet. Send chocolate.

8. Actually, don't send chocolate. DH says that since I have chocolate in the house I actually eat it. Then I complain to him that my weight loss has reached a plateau. Smart man.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Couple of Fun Things

1. Trying Cinnamon Spice ground coffee from Aldi. Loving the flavor and price.

2. Remembering to add some Sugar Free Italian Sweet Cream creamer.....mmmm.

3. Knowing that spring is around the corner with the flip to March 1st.

4. Preparing for new chicks the beginning of April: 15 chicks, 3 each of Silver Laced Wyandotte, Araucanas, Barred Rocks, Speckled Sussex, and Golden Comets.

5. Laying in supplies for a new hive of honeybees (if my first hive survives the winter it will be nice to maybe have some surplus honey to sell in the next year or two).

6. Making some new batches of soap - great sellers right now are my plain castile and Lavender.

7. Experimenting with a new recipe for a whole chicken in the crockpot.

8. Loving the smiles from the children. Oldest daughter is missing teeth and baby daughter just has two little toofers.

9. Needing to freeze time to soak it all in. Thank you, Jesus, that my kids like to cuddle for at least a minute before running off.

10. Looking at snow falling - March is in like a lion!

Friday, February 22, 2013


Lately we have been enjoying some simple recipes with kale. One of my friends from church helped me figure out the kale chips; she's a pro.

Kale Chips

lots of kale (it cooks down)
olive oil

Heat oven to about 350. Coat kale with a light layer of olive oil (I get my hands in there and really massage the kale leaves). Spread out in shallow layers on roasting pan (I use a cookie sheet covered with foil). Sprinkle with salt, and check every 10 minutes until they get crispy at the edges. Sometimes I turn on the broiler for a few minutes to help with the moisture. Sometimes I don't!

Kale Salad

Chop up kale into whatever size bites you want! Coat with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt. Can add in things like minced garlic and pepper. Go crazy.

When the weather warms a bit I want to try some kind of green smoothie using kale and fruit.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dance Party!

One of my favorite lines from my son last night during our family Valentine's dance party: "this is the cheese grater"! Yes folks, my son can dance like a cheese grater. The kid has serious moves - totally blackmail material for later in life!

Maybe the dance party was a result of the sugar high? It's hard to stick to a diet when there are Valentine's cookies, Valentine's chocolate, Valentine's brownies, etc. lurking in the house!

I'm thinking a daily dance party is in order to burn calories. You are invited!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Poetry for the Middle of the Week

Every morning after a few chores
There's really nothing that I like more
Than to fill the filter and clean the pot
And make some coffee which I like a lot.

This morning it looks like the flavor
Will be vanilla - perfect to savor.
Let's go, Wednesday, bring it on;
Lots to do before the sun is gone.

Coffee will help me enjoy the time
Making Valentine's - won't they be fine!
Someday my children will join in the fun
But for now, making coffee for one.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Analyze This

See if you can draw a connection between these two problems: I don't return my Netflix DVD's, and I never return library books on time. In a lot of other areas, I keep up with schedules and deadlines and calender things; but these two return-places do not do well by me.

As a further twist, I always remember to renew my library books online. So, I have the books for one month with no problems. It's after the one month of "freedom" that I fall by the wayside.

I actually was relieved today to check my library account online and see that my fine total is $9.25. I thought it was much higher than that!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Quiet Day at Home

School is pretty much done for the day, so the kids are creating Valentine's. I gave them a stack of patterned paper, ribbon, stickers, stamps, glue, etc. and told them to have at it! It has been the activity for the week actually.

Me? I knit a bit on Big Fish's scarf for his upcoming birthday, and now I'm going to sit at my spinning wheel for at least 15 minutes! Yeah!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Yesterday morning I went to change the baby's diaper when she woke up. I unzipped her sleeper and did a double take. There was no diaper there! My mind started racing, "Did I even put a diaper on her? Did she go the whole night without a diaper? Is her bed a soaking mess?"

Upon further investigation (and cleanup) it was discovered that her diaper had worked itself into the foot of her sleeper! It must have been a morning occurrence because she was not completely soaked. Her um, err, "droppings" were of the solid nature, so a quick little sink bath made for a fresh baby.

Leave it to the 4th child to provide this new location for a diaper. I have not had that happen before!