Thursday, October 30, 2014

Canning Outside

 Since we don't have a range this year nor a real kitchen at the moment (while we live in the garage) I wasn't sure if I would get any canning done this year. I haven't done as much as normal but I am kind of excited about what we have gotten done. Also I have learned that I kind of like canning over a campfire. I would still love to have a kitchen sink to work with as I process my foods but I don't mind the canning over a campfire - it works pretty good.

This year we have been able to can 2 loads of tomatoes, 2 of salsa, 2 of applesauce and 1 of mince. Not a ton- but something for our cupboards and I am pretty happy. The tomatoes were all thanks to my parents and most of the apples were thanks to being able to pick at a friend's.

We have been doing all our waterbath canning on the campfire but this week my parents brought over a cute little old woodstove to cook on outside (since I like cooking outside and my parents thought that it would be nicer to have something higher up, that didn't make all of my pans black and didn't get smoke in my eyes so badly) and it was wonderful for cooking up my applesauce. When I had cooked the applesauce on the campfire before I had gotten it to hot and scorched a batch. The stove doesn't get as hot so it worked perfectly.

We did still do the canning over the campfire as we like it to stay nice and hot for that.

On these chilly days (guess how many layers I have on in the picture above) it is pretty nice to work around a fire or a woodstove. We are thankful for all the woodscraps from the house to burn and all the wood from clearing earlier this year. We are just wishing we could manage to have a woodstove here inside but have decided it might not be worth all the work and expense since we will hopefully be in our house soon.

Have you ever done any canning outside?

I am linking to:
SchneiderPeeps - Simple Lives Thursdays Link Up

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cinnamon Apple Dip {A Yummy Recipe for Fall}

 A week or so ago Mara made a very yummy mistake while cooking. She was planning on making no-bake cookies but when it got to the point of adding cocoa powder she accidentally added cinnamon instead. At that point she realized her mistake and came to discuss what she would do next. She then came up with an idea of an apple dip and it turned out wonderful!
 Here is the recipe:
Cinnamon Apple Dip

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder
Mix all the ingredients together in a pot and heat up to boiling. Let boil while stirring for one minute. It is then ready to use. 

We had picked some really tart apples and having the cinnamon dip on them was a very yummy treat. 

After the leftovers had been refrigerated the mixture was then hard and we discovered that you could form them into candy. However after sitting out at room temperature for a while they do tend to get pretty soft.

  The dip can easily be reheated for using on apples again.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

I will be linking this to several blog hops that are on my sidebar.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Strength

"The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him."
Psalm 28:7

During these very busy days when I so often grow tired it is so nice to be reminded that my strength comes from the Lord. I don't have to do everything on my own. He is always there for me to lean on. And yes, with our love of music we have been doing lots of thanking Him in song. Work is always a little more fun if you sing too.

I hope you have a great week and that you remember to lean on the Lord and thank Him!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sometimes I Don't Even Feel Like "Me" Anymore

 This evening as I was going through the grocery store (after going to Taco Bell for supper and then yet another trip to Menards to make some house decisions) and I was putting into my cart yet another thing that I normally don't buy I started to really feel like someone different then myself.

  I have made all sorts of names for myself:

  • Abbi the Frugal Homemaker
  • Abbi the Real Food Cook
  • Abbi the Natural Mama
And so forth and so on. I had become a person who bought almost no processed food (no crackers, no tortillas, very little bread products - you get the idea), who made her own laundry soap and used cloth pads, who bought things basically only when they were on sale and stocked up to last until the next sale, who creatively found ways to do without and substitute if I couldn't find something cheap enough, healthy enough and natural enough. And who didn't go out to eat just because I was struggling to figure out a meal.

  But I think I had made those goals an idol in my life. They are good things in an of themselves but if I have real struggles with putting paper plates, laundry soap, crackers, cake mix and full priced butter in my shopping cart because I believe that they will help our family during this super busy and somewhat stressful time in our lives - then there is a problem. 

   The thing is - my identity should never be tied up in whether I am consistently frugal or natural or anything other than what my relationship is with Jesus Christ. He is the one that provides my identity. I am a sinner saved by grace and my role is to glorify my Maker and to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others. If I can do that better right now by using paper plates some of the time and feeding my children crackers when they need a snack - then so be it. 

  Do  you ever find yourself making an idol of a certain lifestyle that you have chosen for yourself? Does it ever take up more of your attention than God does? I hope you will join me in striving to put everything else in it's proper place and always keeping God in the highest place that He deserves.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lead Me

Photo by Mara
"Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day."
Psalm 25: 4 & 5

This is what I want as my focus each and every day. That I would learn to follow in the path that Jesus walked. That each day as I go along making big and little choices (whether to say a kind word or one that tears someone down, to serve someone or to be self-centered, etc) that I would seek the ways of my Lord and follow in His path.

  I also want to focus on knowing God's truth. To study His word faithfully. To be aware of teaching that doesn't agree with the Bible and to turn away from it. To teach this truth to my children as well. 

  All day, every day, I want my thoughts and focus to be on the One who has done so very much for me. The only one who provides for my salvation - May my life always be His!

I hope this is true for you too and that this verse will encourage you in your walk with Him.

I thought I would share this song with you as well - it is one I was one that I have been enjoying listening to and it ends with the words "I am Yours" - the words that my heart is also crying and I hope that you will choose that way as well.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

So Many Decisions!

 The one thing that I am finding about building a home is that there is an insane amount of decisions to be made!! That is one of the reasons that just buying a home or building it slowly over time would be easier. Oh well - it may be challenging but it is fun too.

  Here are some of the decisions that we have been making this week:

  • Where all the outlets, switches and light fixtures are going. And how many. We are trying to think of everything - but you wonder if you really did.
  • Where all of the plumbing things need to go - like outside spigots, the height of shower heads, and then dealing with figuring out things that needed to be changed because of how the plumbing would be running and things that weren't fitting.
  • What sort of shower that we wanted - after we found out that what we had planned on wasn't available. I guess we are going to put in a tile one. We are going to try to do it ourselves so if you have any tips they would be appreciated!
  • Where all the cultured stone should go on the outside of our house (as it seems we ordered more than we need for the areas that we planned on putting).
  • What sort of bathroom vanities and medicine cabinets that we wanted.
  • What sinks we want.
  • What light fixtures that we want.
  • Continued discussion and research on countertops. I would like slate countertops but our cabinet man (and every other cabinet maker in our area) is unfamiliar with using it and nervous about it. If any of you have experience with slate countertops I would love to hear your thoughts! 
  • Whether to have a doorbell or not.
  • What tile we want.
  • What wood flooring that we want.
  • Trim color.
  • What doors we are getting.
I think that there have actually been quite a lot more than that - but that gives you an idea. We had researched some of these things earlier and thought about them but we hadn't actually made a lot of the decisions and suddenly it needs to be made now. 

  As always I love to hear your tips or thoughts on what makes a great house and what you have really liked or disliked about your home.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Through Mara's Camera Lense

Mara loves to notice all the little things in nature.
She says this is a fairy table with acorn seats and a lamp. 
 Last week Mara got a new camera that she had ordered in the mail. She decided to get a pretty nice one this time after saving a lot of money from her cleaning job. In this post I thought it would be fun to share some of the pictures that were taken on her camera.
 Lots of leaves at Grandpa and Grandma's!
 The kids had fun playing in them as we were getting ready to leave my parents after a day of butchering chickens.
 My pretty Mara. On Friday of last week she went to spend a day with her Aunt Keren so that they could have fun trying out her new camera (Keren loves photography). They had fun walking around town and taking pictures.
 Keren by the famous statue in our town.
 A fairy picnic she made.  Mara loves anything that looks like it would be great for "Fairies".

After her day with Keren she also joined two sets of Aunts and Uncles for supper.
 Keren and Benjamin
 and the rather crazy Luke and Bea. I am not sure what prompted this photo but it looks like they were having fun!
 Luke can get much more serious. The next day they came to help us on our house. Here he is working to put up the lath for the rock. His job was to screw into the cement wall which was incredibly difficult.
 Aaron ready to help.
Mixing up the mortar and getting it ready to use.
MollyBea "butters" a rock.

Putting the first section up.
 Saturday was a beautiful sunny day.

 The stairs are taking shape!

 On Monday we worked on putting up rock again.
 My sister Keren came over to help. This strip of rock will have dirt back-filled up to the bottom of the rock.
 Mara found some harebells still blooming (most things have died because of the frosts) - these are one of my favorite flowers.
 Wispy haired Megan.
 A very yummy apple dipped made accidentally (a mistake in following a recipe) by Mara. I will share the recipe soon.
 Megan working on crocheting.
Jonathan still hard at work on the chicken coop. It now has shingles, a window and house wrap. He is working on fascia and Mara and I are working on fencing in the run area.

  That is a peek and some of what has been going on in our lives recently.
What have you been doing?

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Chicken Coop Built By Jonathan

 This Spring we thought one of the first things we would get done on our property (following the outhouse) was the chicken coop. But as we couldn't work on it right away as we waited for permits and then things moved along quickly and we really needed to just get the garage done (for living in) the chicken coop kept getting put off. All the supplies were here - neatly piled up under tarps - we just didn't have any time to put them together.

  It came time to move in August and the chicken coop still wasn't done - we hoped that we could do it that last week (before moving) but there just wasn't time - so we asked my dad if he could board our birds and he characteristically said yes. So our birds have been over at my parents.

  Ken and I have continued to stay quite busy - with rock gathering, putting on siding, fall harvesting/food processing and lots of other things and we just didn't manage to work on the chicken coop. The kids however would like to have our birds here and so Ken told Jonathan that he could make the chicken coop if he liked and he gave him the plans, explained a few things and Jonathan got to work. Some of the rest of us have helped too - Aaron, Megan and I helped put poles in and get the base level. Aaron has also helped to hammer quite a few times and Mara or I will run up and help when he needs something lifted up (though he has been moving a lot of 4 x 8 sheets of plywood by himself which I find impressive) and I did help him get all the trusses put in place - mostly though Jonathan has been the one doing the work.

The building is 12 foot by 8 foot with 8 x 8 for the chickens and a 4 x 8 section for a garden shed. The above picture shows the chicken door that will go into the run and the hole for a window.

 This is the garden shed side.
The door to go into the chicken coop.

 I don't have the most recent photo as he does now have sheeting and tar paper on the roof too.

This project has been a great learning experience for Jonathan. He did already know how to use the miter saw, drill and jig saw but now he has learned to use the circular saw as well. He has also learned a lot about framing and following a plan. He also gets to practice a lot of math while working on this project - so though we have been doing a lighter load of schoolwork this fall we still have a lot of learning going on. It has also been good for him in learning some of the joys of being self-motivated and doing a job well. Our neighbors and our contractor have been having fun watching him and are quite impressed with his work.

  I will be linking this to the Homestead Barn Hop

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Is Genesis True?

"In the beginning God created
the heavens and the Earth"
Gen. 1:1

  This evening at church we enjoyed watching a video where Ken Ham (from Answers in Genesis) spoke about how are society has really changed in what we believe - that primarily we live in an Acts 17 type society (when Paul spoke to people in Athens about the Unknown God - he was dealing with a group that believe in many gods and didn't know the true God) rather than an Acts 2 type of society (Where Peter spoke to many Jews and religious people that already knew God but just need to be told the Good News of Jesus Christ). While I had definitely known that there were many people now who don't believe in God and don't believe God's word is true - I really hadn't thought about how very prevalent that opinion was.

  I, like Ken Ham, do believe that God created the Universe just exactly how He said He did in the book of Genesis - that is was done in 7 literal days and that we have a young earth and that God created things perfectly - there was no need to evolve to some higher form. Ken Ham points out how critical this belief is for the foundation that the rest of the Bible is also true - including that Jesus died for our sins.

  Now, I am very curious about what you all believe. Though I have my guesses about what those who read my blog believe I would really love to hear from you!!!!

 Do you believe in the literal Creation account in Genesis OR Do you believe in Evolution OR do you believe in something in between - such as God created the earth but it took Him millions of years and then there was even more time and so on OR do you believe something else entirely concerning our origin?

I would also love to hear what was most influential in your life in forming your opinion on this.

 Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

Lots of Progress on the House

 This was a really great week of progress on the house. It was rather exciting!
On Monday our well was drilled. We don't have electricity or plumbing done in the house yet (next week- I think!) so we can't use the well but still it is done.
 They put up all the trusses on our house.
 The roof sheathing is now on too. Our house is really taking shape and that is so fun! This is the front view.

The house from the back. They were working on the living room bumpout at the time - they still have one to do for the kitchen too.

  Even though today was Saturday our contractor and crew worked for a while. They started getting the stairs done which was pretty exciting.

We were busy working on the house too and Luke and MollyBea came over to help. We started putting our rock ("cultured stone" - really made out of concrete) "foundation" up. We made good progress. We have a window of 4 days where the nights are supposed to stay above freezing in which we will try to get this done. Hopefully it works out!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Life on the Family Farm - Under an Open Heaven {Book Review}

I have been enjoying reading aloud "Life on the Family Farm - Under and Open Heaven" to my kids lately. It is a book written by and about Tom Heck - a dairy farmer in Northwestern Wisconsin.

 Each chapter is it's own separate short story about Tom and his wife Joanne and their two kids. Mostly it is of things that happened on their farm though sometimes we hear a bit about Tom's growing up years and things like that. We (and Aaron - our future farmer/rancher probably the most) were rather excited about reading this book. We love reading about how others are living the farming/homesteading lifestyle.

  Though I will admit that the stories aren't written in the riveting style of an author like James Herriott (Veterinarian and author of "All Creatures Great and Small" and other books) they are still interesting and what I find to be really, really neat is his Honor and Praise of God in every chapter. He is constantly pointing out God's wonderful workmanship or his provision and more. His worship of our Creator just comes through every chapter that he writes and that is a beautiful thing!

  As a mother I have also really appreciated his tying in lessons on Thankfulness, The Joy of Hard Work, The Benefits of Fun Family Time and things like that in many of his stories. I think that stories like this along with being an example in your own life and learning from the Bible are great ways to teach these things to your kids.

  So if you would like a book that is easy to read and interesting and constantly prompts you to give praise and honor to God - then I would recommend this one. You can find it at Amazon if you would like to purchase it.

  Disclaimer: I was blessed to receive this book free of charge from Life Sentence Publishing for purposes of reviewing. All thoughts however are my own and are true - I was not paid for writing this.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Processing Corn Over a Campfire

 My parents blessed us recently by giving us a bunch of corn from their garden that we were able to process and put in the freezer for this winter. Putting up food for the winter takes a little different twist this year as I don't have a normal kitchen with running water and a range to work with. That didn't make things all that difficult though. We just did it differently.

The corn was husked just like normal. I had a good crew to help me (Jonathan was missing because he has been spending every spare minute lately working on the chicken coop).

 The next step is to put the corn in to a boiling pot of water for 4 or 5 minutes. I could have done this using the propane campstove or the electric burner but I have found that the campfire has been the most efficient way to heat up large pots of food and also we have just been using stuff that we wanted to clean up from around here for the firewood so having fires serves a dual purpose and doesn't cost me anything. I like that! The only negative is that we did get smoke in our eyes from time to time and that isn't so fun.
After boiling the corn I used a tongs and got them out and put them in a bowl of cold water to cool and then I cut the corn off of the cob and put it in containers.

Quick and easy! I used the boiling corn water over quite a few times which saves a lot of time.

While I was processing the corn we also enjoyed snacking on it and we ate corn on the cob for 3 different meals last week. Corn on the cob is a fun part of summer and fall!

  I also cooked down applesauce over the fire. My next task that I intend to try using the fire for is canning tomatoes and applesauce. I think it will work just fine.

  Do you like to do any campfire cooking? How do you put up food for the winter? Have you ever done it over a campfire?

I will be linking this to the Homestead Barn Hop.


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