Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Bunch of Random Updates

So, I know I've been MIA for quite some time, but thought it was high time for an update. :0) This one's for you, Becky! :0)

Life has been very busy lately (and not so lately).  Back in August my hubby got sent out of state for a week on continued education.  Due to the fact that we had not spent more than 1 night apart in the course of the past 15 years, he took me and the boy to stay with my parents in Michigan for that week so at least we wouldn't be as lonely.  Thankfully, we survived.  :0)

When we arrived, however, my dad was down with his back to the point that he couldn't even get up to come greet us.  By the next morning he knew that a trip to the emergency room was in order.  The problem was he couldn't even walk.  Chris ended up having to carry him like a baby out to the car.  He spent most of the week in the hospital having tests done.  Dad had a bulging disk that was pressing on the nerves.  To make a long story short - nothing was done for him while we were there.  He ended up having surgery shortly thereafter though, and me and Isaac made 2 more trips 'home' to be there. 

Dad is on the mend now and I have spent more time away from my husband in the past 2 months than the whole time we've been married.  I hope we're done with that.  Me no likey.  I AM glad that at least we're just a one tank car trip away now instead of the plane flight it used to be when we lived in Florida.

A few short weeks after our last trip to Michigan we were expecting some of our dearest friends from the Sunshine State, whom we hadn't seen in four and a half years.  I suddenly felt the urge to complete every task on my barely started to-do list from the summer - all in 2 weeks.  I don't know why that maniacal urge kicks into gear when company is coming.  The good thing was that it hit all three of us.  We painted, cleaned windows, washed walls and baseboards, did yard work, cleaned upholstery, carpet and rugs...  No corner was safe from the rags and cleansers.  And, you'd never know it to look at my house now. :0(  I'm thinking about adopting the new philosophy that I won't bother cleaning because you can't tell anyway.  I'll have to let you know how that works out.

We did have a WONDERFULLY, FANTASTIC, INCREDIBLE time with our friends during their stay, though.  We spent a lot of time doing one of my favorite pastimes - laughing.  It's good medicine, you know!  The kids have grown so much.  They are so sweet, well-behaved, and well-spoken - a true joy to have around.  The kids got on so well that they were up until the wee hours of the morning all weekend!  I was happy that the little Floridians got to see snow for the first time while they were here, as well as elk and bison.  My friend, Jessie, has a couple of posts from their visit here and here over at here blog Overflow of a Forgiven Soul, if you're interested.  One of them includes a really simple, really yummy recipe.  Now you have to go visit, don't you? :0)

Things are getting back to normal now, I think.  I'm not sure things ever really are normal.  What's normal anyway?  All I know is that a) we're still playing catch-up in school from my maniacal cleaning, projecting spree; b) Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away; which means that c) Christmas is directly upon us; d) I am totally not ready for that. 

I had all of these sewing projects lined up in my head for making adorable Christmas presents.  Pretty sure that's not going to happen.   I pulled out my sewing machine a couple of weeks ago to get started and found out my machine isn't working.  The needle won't go up or down.  Neither me nor Chris could manage to get the machine apart to see if it was something like a belt that had come off.  Of course, when I started calling around to see about getting it fixed, it's going to cost more than the machine did in the first place. So, I think I'm just going to get a new machine instead - for Christmas.  Which means I won't be able to make sewn presents this year.  Any ideas for gifts would be greatly appreciated. :0)

So, that's about it for now.  I'm totally out of the blogging mojo.  I'm sure you can tell by my complete lack of focus and rambling.  :0)  I wanted to do a quick update anyway, though.  If I don't drop in again before hand, I hope you all have a wonderful and peaceful holiday season!

Hugs to you all!

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Know I Said I Wouldn't Be Around Much, BUT....

I need to get something off my chest.  So, here goes...

Remember how I told y'all I'd had a bunch of tests done lately?  Well, almost 2 months ago I had a mammogram and an ultrasound of my breast done because sometimes I could feel a lump and sometimes it hurt. (How's that for a run-on sentence?)  Anyway, the doctor told me she felt it could be related to my hormones because they were out of whack, but wanted me to have the tests done just to make sure.  I appreciate that.  To say that I didn't ever had a mental battle with that little lump would be lying, even though there is no history of breast cancer in my family.  Both tests showed absolutely nothing - not even anything to deem suspicious.  There simply wasn't anything there.  The radiologist told me that as we age, breast tissue can change and become lumpy.  Also, a surge of hormones can cause inflammation in a lymph node which could give some discomfort.  Given the placement of the lump and the fact that most of my discomfort was during 'that time of the month', he felt that this was probably the case in my situation.  Rest in peace, my mind was put to ease.  My gynecologist seemed satisfied with the results.

Fast forward to today....

I get a call from a nurse at my gynecologist's office.  She said that the doctor wanted to know how that lump was doing.  "I haven't been having any issues."  Well, she was going to refer me to a surgical group. I'm going out on a limb here and assuming it's the same surgical group that she referred me to that removed my gall bladder.  I told her that since both of the tests showed absolutely nothing and the doctor had told me that it was probably hormone related, that made sense to me.  She then said, "Well, if you change your mind, let us know."  End of phone call.

Now, here's where I want to pick y'alls brains.

Here's what went through my head:
1) Wouldn't a surgical group be used for something invasive, like biopsies?
2) Why would she want to refer me to a surgeon for a non-existent lump?  What would there be to biopsy?
3) If it was something she was still truly concerned about, why would she wait almost 2 months to schedule me for an appointment with the surgeon?  After all, wouldn't possible cancer take precedence over a gall bladder?
4) If she was concerned enough to refer me to a surgeon, wouldn't she have made a real push to have it investigated further instead of just a, "Well, if you change your mind..."?
5) Could my beloved doctor really be a racketeer in cahoots with the surgical group for kick-backs? Note: I'm not usually a conspiracy theorist, but something just doesn't seem to add up to me at this point.
6) Or, could there really be something she's concerned about and just not telling me?  Although, this doesn't make sense in my mind either due to the fact that I had 2 tests done that showed absolutely nothing.  And, aren't ultrasounds pretty much the gold standard for finding tumors?

I would like to be rational about this.  My mind in leaning towards #5 at this moment - but maybe that really is being illogical.  I know I'm not always the sharpest knife in the drawer and I have had no formal medical schooling.  So, any thoughts, please? :0)


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Update and a Free DVD Offer

It was a week ago today that I had my gall bladder removed.  The surgery went well and I was home to sleep on my own reclining sofa that evening.  I have spent the past week recuperating and waiting for my energy and strength to return to pre-surgery status.  I thank those of you who took time to comment and encourage me with your stories and your prayers.  Hugs to you all.

This past week has given me plenty of time for contemplation and evaluation about how our days go, what we accomplish and whether or not the results are in line with what I want to have happen in our days.  The bottom line is; there are priorities that need to be restructured.  As I have been feeling a pull towards a more natural/simple life style in the areas of what we eat and how we live in general, I feel that pull more strongly in other areas lately. 

I am feeling the need to pull back more from technology.  Not that there is anything wrong with it.  On the contrary - I find it to be very helpful.  Sometimes too helpful.  It can tend to be a big time suck for me.  Even blogging anything worth reading takes a great deal of time to order the thoughts on the screen, spell check, edit and make it flow properly.  Obviously, I haven't written much worth reading in quite a while. :0)  But, then that leaves me riddled with guilt.  Between blogging, Facebook, and just checking my e-mails - I am spending way more time on this wonderful piece of technology we call the computer than I want to.

I would rather my days be spent on more productive things like gardening, working on my sewing projects, taking walks with my son and just spending more quality one on one time with him in general.  Even though we're home together every day, I feel that there are so many things that take my time and attention that we don't spend "quality" time together.  He is the only child I have.  I only have this season once.  There is no way to redeem time once it is gone.  I don't want to have regrets one day because I was too busy to give my attention to the things that are most important in my life. 

So, I have decided to give blogging and other areas of computer time a new place on my list of priorities. They are being demoted.  Actually, this blog has been severely neglected for a while.  But, I have decided to let go of the guilt of it.  :0)  I will check in on occasion - only if there is anything really worth reporting.  I truly admire those women that seem to be able to do projects, write beautiful blog posts about them every day and still manage to make quality time with their families.  Unfortunately, I don't happen to be one of those women who can do it all.  So, I'm coming to terms with that.  I'm letting go of some things that hinder and embracing the gifts I have before me.  I realize that some goals I have won't be easily reached without giving up quite a bit of  'screen time'. 

I dearly appreciate those of you who have stuck around to read my goings on!  Some of you have even become what I would consider friends. :0)  This isn't an absolute good-bye.  It's just an I'll be seeing you a little less often.  So, friends...let me share a great freebie with you before I go today.

NASA and The American Museum of Natural History have joined forces to create a free DVD for educators and parents entitled, Journey to the Stars.  It's a planetarium show about the amazing variety of stars that dot our cosmos--exploding stars, giant stars, dwarf stars, neutron stars, even our own star!  Just go to this link to sign up for your free copy!  This is a great offer, especially for you homeschoolers out there!

You'll still be in my thoughts with much love...


Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Hey, Y'all.  I know I haven't posted anything in nearly a month - and, for that I'm truly sorry.  I've been pretty preoccupied lately and figured it's time I spill the beans as to why.  Bear with me as I try to condense a month long story into a blog post. :0)

It all started a little over a month ago when I went for a routine pap smear.  I hadn't had one in years.  Shame on me, I know.  I found a doctor here that I was pretty excited about seeing.  She is a medical doctor who also leans toward preventive/natural medicine.  Anyway...I told her about some symptoms I was having - part of which I thought I was going into early menopause.  So, in addition to 2 different ultrasounds and a mammogram (Boy, was THAT ever fun!), she took a lot of blood work.  Thankfully, the ultrasounds and mammogram came back fine.  But, my blood work showed some things were out of whack.  One of great concern was that my insulin level was really high.  I don't have diabetes but, if I don't get my insulin down - I will.  I definitely don't want to go down that road.  So, I am making changes and taking some pretty drastic step to ensure that doesn't happen. 

I am half way through an 8 week diet designed to rapidly drive my insulin levels down.  This is what I get to have EVERY day; four 8 ounce shakes (specially designed by doctors) and 1 protein bar.  Oh, and all the water I care to drink.  Thank God I like water.  BUT...my stomach has been absolutely tore up for weeks now.  I forgot to mention that I have to see the doctor once a week during this time.  Last week she put me on a prescription that is supposed to get my body to listen and respond properly to how it's supposed to be pumping out insulin - or something along those lines.  She said that one of the side effects could be stomach upset, but thought that in my case it would probably help.  I won't go into the details as of why - because that's not the point I'm trying to get at.  I told her that I was having what I thought was gall bladder issues and wanted to make sure this new script wouldn't accentuate the problem.  She wondered if I'd had it looked at before.  I haven't.  I have a doctor's appointment for it, but that doctor couldn't get me in until July.  So, this doctor told me that my gall bladder could heal itself as my insulin comes down and I get healthy.  It would be better to do that than have it surgically removed.  But...we needed to make sure I didn't have gall stones.  So, she scheduled me for an ultrasound of my gall bladder.  Did I mention that this is all being taken care of by my gynecologist?  I love her.  She is the first doctor I've ever had that I feel really wants to see me healthy and well.  She wants to get to the root of the problem rather than just throw pills at my symptoms.  I'm so thankful to God for leading me to her.  But, I digress...

I had that ultrasound yesterday morning.  Not good.  I don't have stones.  I don't have thickening of the wall which accompanies gall bladder disease.  What I do have is a gall bladder that is - and I quote, "...almost completely filled with sludge."  It is so abnormal and uncommon that the doctor reading my ultrasound has never seen it before.  He said that on the rare occasions it does occur it's usually found in very sick people who are bedridden and can't eat - not in relatively healthy people who can eat.  When I asked him if there was anything that I could do to get my gall bladder to start pushing the sludge out - he apologized for not having any answers for me.  Crap. Or should I say 'Sludge' in this case?  Either way...

I saw my gynecologist yesterday afternoon.  Apparently my gall bladder is beyond the healing process and has to come out.  Evidently, it is the reason for all of my stomach woes.  She was impressed that the doctor reading it was so impressed by my freakishly abnormal gall bladder.  Glad I could make their day.  Not really.

Anyway, she told me that she had already taken the liberty of scheduling me an appointment with a surgeon for tomorrow.  I guess it needs to come out fast.  I'll know more tomorrow after seeing the surgeon as to just how fast it needs to come out.  I'm not really looking forward to having surgery.  But, I'm not thrilled about being sick all the time, either.

My mom told me yesterday that my grandfather had his gall bladder rupture and he almost died from it.  I don't think that's normal, either.  So, maybe freakishly abnormal gall bladders is a hereditary thing.  I don't know.

Well, that's my little tale of where I've been the past month.  With all of the not eating and weekly (sometime more) doctors appointments and trying to get this school year finished up and stuff - my head just hasn't been into blogging.  I will try to do better at keeping y'all updated now that the cat's out of the bag.

Say a prayer for me!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Great Freebie

Hey y'all.  If you're like me - then you like FREE!  And, have I got a great one to share with you today!  If you go to this website you can sign up for the homeschool freebie of the day.  I venture to say that it's not just for homeschooler's, though.  For instance, yesterday's and today's freebies are two parts of an awesome book if you have boys; "The American Boy's Handy Book".  It is over a 400 page book download total (between the 2 days) full of activities and skills to keep your little man/men occupied.

The book is broken down into each of the four seasons, with activities to coincide with each one.  A very small sampling of what your son (or husband) can learn would be how to make their own kites, fishing poles, bobbers, nets, minnow bucket, different kinds of boats, water telescopes, soap bubble pipes, how to camp without a tent and the information that goes with that.  It also has chapters on wild birds; how to recognize, raising them, and preserving nests and eggs; how to make a boomerang, and information all about dogs.  In the winter section it has parts on building snow forts, shields and ammunition, and sleds, chair-sleighs and snow shoes.  And that is just barely scratching the surface.

Later this week there will be a similar book offered that may appeal more to girls.  Of course, I know lots of girls that would have a hey day with the book I just mentioned, too. :0)

So, if you're looking for some good, free entertainment for your kids this summer - and any time they start in with, "I'm bored!" - go to the Homeschool Freebie website and download yourself a copy of "The American Boy's Handy Book".  They offer great freebies Monday through Friday every week.

Have a great Tuesday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Monday evening I accompanied my guys fishing.  Chris was fishing for catfish on bottom.  Me and Ike were fishing for blue gill with bobbers.  Ike had caught 3 blue gill.  Before too long he threw out his line and almost immediately he yells, "Somethings messing with my line!  I got something!  I need some HEEELP!"  Chris grabbed the net while Isaac was realing in his catch.

We were shocked, to say the least, to see this 14 pound carp hooked and caught on a #10 blue gill hook (the smallest).  It was the largest fish ever caught where we were fishing.  They were really surprised to find out it was caught by a nine year old!  That's my boy!  I couldn't tell you who was more excited, though - Isaac or his daddy!

Shortly after Ike's big catch, I caught a rather large catfish using the same small hook.

Unfortunately, we had to throw the big carp back.  I've always heard that they're good eatin'.  They're actually a delicacy in Europe.  A lot of people open pay pits stocked with carp over there for this reason.  But, you have to know how to get around that mud vein when you clean them - which can be a pretty crappy job.  Sorry, couldn't resist!  Since, we (and by saying 'we' I really mean Chris) don't know how to clean them - back into the water it went.

The catfish was another story.  I already had planned to make tilapia for supper last night, so we fried it up and served it along side the other fish.  Can you say, "YUM!"?

We had so much fun we're going back tonight!  That leaves me with just one question:

Anyone know how to clean a carp?

Monday, April 26, 2010

You Know You Live In A Small Town When...

3 fire engines, 2 police cars and 1 ambulance show up to extinguish the fire someone has going in their backyard fire pit.  Yes, life in a small town is exciting.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Computer Journal

I don't know about you, but, with the move towards paperless - I have more and more important things going on my computer.  Things with passwords.  But, I'm a simple gal.  So, seeing as how I didn't want to remember a bunch of user ID's and passwords - I'd just use the same one for everything.  Stupid - I know.  Then, I started to hear more and more about identity theft.  It was time to change my computer ways.

If you have a steel-trap mind and can remember 50 different passwords - I envy you.  I, however, do not posess that gift.  So, I had to get creative.

A friend had given me this blank journal.  So, I now keep it by my computer to keep track of all things computer related.

The first pages are where I keep all of my passwords and privacy questions.  It looks something like this;

     * Progressive Insurance
        Log In - xxxxxxxxxxxx (my ID)
        PW - xxxxxxx (my password)
        ? - 1) answer to 1st security question
             2) answer to 2nd security question

I have plenty of space to add more companies and the appropriate info if  I need it.

Also, I have a couple different e-mail accounts (personal and blog).  I have these written inside the front flap along with my husband and my son's e-mail addresses.

A little ways back in my journal I have a section marked with a sticky tab for book recommendations.  Any time I come across a book while browsing or a fellow blogger recommends a book that is on a topic that I am interested in - I write the title and author in this section.  I always leave a space in between so I can make notes later.  Sometimes, I take my journal with me to the library and write down the location and info on it in this space.  I can also make a note when I've read one on my list and whether or not I want to purchase it for myself.  Books I have purchased then get highlighted.

The last section I have in my journal is towards the back.  I have a section for good websites that I wouldn't necessarily read every day and don't want to clutter my bookmark section with.  In the example above, I had written down sites with handmade gift ideas for Christmas - definitely something I don't need to see every day.

The nice thing about a journal like this is that it is totally customizable to whatever information you need to keep you organized during your computer time.  You can also find blank journals really cheap - I picked one up at Goodwill for like thirty-five cents recently.

So, tell me, how do you keep track of all of your computer passwords and information?


I'm sharing this post at Teach Me Tuesdays.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy 15th Anniversary, My Love

"Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of his house for love,
it would be utterly scorned."
~Song of Songs 8:6-7

Thank you for 15 years of filling my life with joy and my heart with love.  Words cannot describe the measure of my love for you.

Happy Anniversary, My Love - You complete me.

"I love you - those three words have my life in them."
~By Alexandria to Nicholas III~

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Apron - To Wear or Not to Wear? That is the question.

I tend to be a messy cook.  I'm prone to splash when stirring, splatter flour and wipe my hands on my pants in a pinch when a towel isn't immediately available.  Don't judge - I'm just laying my reality out there for you.  Now that I have begun baking my own bread, I can tend to be a real mess with all of the kneading involved.  I have found a simple, albeit old-fashioned, solution, though...the apron.

I have worn one occasionally for many years.  But, lately, it's a part of my attire on an almost daily basis.  Some women scoff at the idea of wearing an apron - they think of it as a symbol of common housewife bondage.  I don't look at it that way, though.  Maybe, that's because I've embraced my role as keeper of the home.  I find wearing an apron strangely liberating.  That probably has something to do with the fact that I am a messy cook and I'm also in charge of laundry.  Either way, I don't care.  I like to think of the apron as a symbol of my ability to nurture and care for my family and their needs in a way that is lost to many in today's world.  I don't run around like June Cleaver in a dress, pumps and pearls.  Heck, I don't even own pearls.  I'm more of a jeans and tennies type gal.  Although, I do love Crocks and Birkenstocks, too. :0)  And, though, I may or may not be found in make-up on any given day - there's a good chance you'll catch me donning my apron in the kitchen!

So, in honor of my new apron (you'll see it in a minute) - I thought I would share with you today the history of  'Grandma's apron' and the evolution of mine.

The History of Grandma's apron:
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath. Because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

 When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

 And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

 Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot woodstove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to eat.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

REMEMBER: Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the windowsill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the windowsill to thaw. They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron. I doubt anyone ever caught anything from an apron.

Interesting, huh?  Ready to see mine?  OK, let's go!

I made this Christmas apron (in all it's wrinkly self) in 8th grade sewing class.  It may have been the first thing I ever sewed.

See the cute little snow men?

I also made a matching pot holder.  If you look closely, you can see a snow man stitched into it.  Isn't that special?
I gave this set to my Granny once I finished it.  It came back to me after she died almost 8 years ago - although, it's hard to believe it's been that long.  I don't wear this one all that often because it's only a 1/2 apron.  I find I need a bib style to keep me cleanest.  It's also dear to my heart for reasons you can probably figure out.
I picked this one up at a dollar store many years ago when I only wore an apron only occasionally.  It's really too small to be very effective.  But, it was cheap.  This was a classic case of 'You get what you pay for'.
This was a great find and the reason for my current 'apron love'.  I got it at Goodwill (where else?) for $1.99 and it still had the tags on it!  I love it.  It wears like iron - you can't hurt it. I wear it on a nearly daily basis - so much so that I realized it's time I get another one (or 5) that are functional that I can rotate out while the others are being washed.
While I was shopping Friday, I picked up a really pretty bed sheet that I thought would make a lovely apron.  I had every intention on going in JoAnn Fabric and buying a pattern so I can attempt to make one, but decided against a stop at JoAnn's at the last moment that day.  But then...
Look what my best friend showed up at my house with yesterday!
Is this not adorable, or what?  I swear, aprons have not even entered our conversations.  But, she handed it to me and said that her mother-in-law had made it for me.  Made it for me!  I've never even met her mother-in-law.  She lives in Michigan.  She had made my friend one and knew that I am learning to sew, so she decided to make me one, too.  I love that woman!  I can't wait to wear this one.  Don't think I didn't try it on like I was 10 the moment she handed it to me, either!
To me, this gift was another one of those small ways that God gives us the desires of our hearts.  Only he knew of my desire to add another apron to my collection - and, yet, he placed it on the heart of woman whom I've never met to make me one.  It's the small blessings like this that overwhelm me with gratitude and add up to a spectacular, joy filled life.  But, I digress...
That ends my personal apron showcase.  I had fun reading your comments from my "Book Nerd" post - so, I hope you'll play along with me again!  Let's hear it - do you don an apron?

A) Never, ever.  Not in a million years would you catch me in one!
B) I wear one occasionally.
C) June Cleaver's got nothing on me!  I wear one almost daily.
Thanks gals!

Have a great Monday!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Very Simple Fix

I have these 2 silpats (silicone mats) which I use just about every time I pull out a cookie sheet.  I love them.  I also have this skinny little drawer where I keep them rolled up along with my rolling pin and various other utensils.  The problem is they don't want to stay rolled into a tight tube.  Inevitably, they end up loosening in the drawer, making it a pain in the patootie to get the drawer back open.

This is just one of them.  The front end is larger than the rear and sticks up more.  Can you imagine what it's like when two of them are in this little drawer?

Yesterday, I had this idea strike me in the head like lightening from the sky: You know rubber bands would fix that don't you?  HELLO!!!!  WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT BEFORE? 

So, I now present to you a much more manageable utensil drawer.

It amazes me how the best solutions are often the simplest ones!

Have a great Friday!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Know I'm A Nerd. But, I've Come To Terms With That.

I have this little addiction.  I love books.  I have always loved books.  I think I love them too much.  The problem is - I don't have a whole lot of time to get reading in these days.

Let me give you a glimpse of my current book pile that I am working on (on top of my daily Bible reading).  Ready?

I did finish this one.  It's an easy read full of personal stories, great recipes, tips and really cute crafts.

This one didn't get read all the way through.  I had to return both of these to the library yesterday after renewing them once already.  This book is more of a reference guide to all things "homestead".  It has EVERYTHING in it.  We're talking from how much crop you can grow on different amounts of land, to starting seeds, to saving seeds, to canning, cooking; fruit and nut trees - what is the best type for your area, how to care for them, how to save the nuts and use them...; herbs - growth, care, saving, recipes...; sheep, goats, pigs and cows (both for milking and meat) - how to care for them, what each breed is best for, butchering, wrapping the meat, milking, making cheese; raising bees and much, much more; The list for this book could go on and on.  Let's just say that I was ecstatic to run across this little gem at our pitiful library and have added it to my "I MUST OWN THIS BOOK!" list. :0)

I received this book for free because I agreed to write a review for it (when I finish it).  It's all about the real life of Jane Austen.  I'll share more of the details of how I received it for free (and will have access to more free books) and how you can, too when I write my review.

My approach to reading this book has been different than any other book I've read.  It's not one that I have personally been able to just pick up and read leisurely.  It's one that I feel compelled to read when I've had a rough day.  Amazingly, there is always just the right thing that I need to hear that day when I do.

I am SO glad that I bought this book (with my Swagbucks, by the way)!  It is so rich with information that I want to sit for days at a time and read it.  But, my family expects to eat each day and they would frown upon running around naked because they had no clean clothes to wear - at least I think they would frown.  Let's just say, I don't want to go down that road!  I can't read this book if I'm distracted, though.  I need to be able to concentrate because it is full of important information (that I desperately need to know), case studies and medical report findings.  I read this one with highlighter in hand.  It has ignited a fire in me that I've seldom experienced.  It's really that good!

In this selection of books, I own three and had checked two out from the library.  Normally, I check out more at a time. I'm trying to restrain myself. :0)  I see so many books that I want to read because they relate to things I am currently wanting to learn and I check them out in my excitement.  I know - I'm a nerd.  But, I've come to terms with that.  Then, the reality of a busy day to day life sets in and I struggle to read them.  Cookbooks are returned without trying even one new recipe. 

On top of my book addiction - I subscribe to these magazines:  Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, House Beautiful, Midwest Living and my free subscription to Weight Watchers Magazine.  At least I can digest the magazines in 5 minute chunks of time if I need to.  And, I usually do!

I have come to realize that I LOVE to be continually learning and trying new things.  I think that is part of my book obsession.  They open a whole world of experiences and how-to's for anyone willing to glimpse within their pages.  HOW EXCITING IS THAT?! 

So, I want to know - are there any other 'nerds' out there with me?  Do you love books?  What is your favorite kind of books that you like to read?  Don't leave me hanging, ladies! :0)

Hope you can find a few moments to get lost in a book today!

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Wash My Own Mouth Out With Soap - And I Like It!

This is a post I've had on the back burner for a while.  I wanted to have some time to use the product and get an opinion of it before I wrote about it.  You're probably wondering what it is, so I won't hold you in suspense any longer.  I've been using tooth soap.  Yes, soap on my teeth.  Actually, my whole family has been.

I decided to take the next step in kicking more chemicals to the curb a couple of months back.  When it was time to buy more tooth paste, I opted for a natural tooth paste from Trader Joe's.  I didn't actually read the ingredients until I got home.  Dork!  It had flouride in it - something I was wanting to eliminate.

Right at that same time I began to read about tooth soap over at Health, Home, & HappinessThis is one of Cara's posts about it.  But, if you have some time to browse around there, she has some really interesting posts on holistic dentistry.  Anyway, the timing just seemed right.  What was the point of buying "natural" toothpaste if it still had poisons in it?  So, I ordered a 4 pack of tooth soap from the etsy.com shop, Beautiful Soaps.

I like the fact that this particular brand of tooth soap comes in a chap stick type container.  It just seemed more sanitary to me than the ones that are a regular bar meant to be kept out.  Plus, I thought this style would travel easily.

My whole family loves this stuff!  I don't think my teeth have ever felt cleaner than while using tooth soap.  It doesn't give you that artificial minty feeling in your mouth after brushing - it just leaves your teeth feeling really clean.  Another thing I've noticed (Chris, too) is that in the mornings my teeth don't have that fuzzy feel that they did with regular tooth paste. 

We were close to the end of our first order of tooth soap when we went to Michigan last weekend.  I placed another order before we left, but took the tube of "natural" toothpaste with us on our trip.  I couldn't believe the difference.  By mid-afternoon my teeth felt absolutely skanky.  We're talkin' plumb carny, here (pronounced, kyarn - ee, emphasis on the first syllable.  That means absolutely, beyond nasty in my yanka-billy vernacular).  It was really gross.  I was really glad to see that manilla envelope in the mail containing...my precious shortly after our return home.

There are many health benefits to using tooth soap, including the fact that flouride is considered harmful and banned in Europe along with most other countries for reasons I'll let you research yourself.  I know, how kind of me, huh?  I've also read that flouride is a component in rat poison.  And, when we don't interfere with the process by coating our teeth with glycerine and other things - something in our saliva causes our teeth to naturally remineralize.  I don't have all of the specifics down, yet.  I plan on researching this area more fully.  But, in the mean time, I can't imagine ever going back to any sort of tooth paste if for no other reason than I know that there is nothing harmful in tooth soap and my teeth have never felt cleaner.  Ever.  I'm so not kidding here.

I hope that you take a little time to look into the benefits of using tooth soap over tooth paste.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I need to go brush. :0)

Have a gerat Monday!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Bottom Line

My husband, my son and myself went to Michigan over the past weekend to spend time with my family.  We had the best trip ever - except for the part where my husband got sick (for the first time in a year) promptly upon arriving and was in bed for pretty much the whole time.  He went to an urgent care clinic on Sunday morning and got a couple of shots and a couple more prescriptions.  But, we still ended up extending our stay by two days until he was capable of making the drive home.  Other than that, it was wonderful.  :0)

Mom had bought some Granny Smith apples that she was going to use to make pie.  She ended up not making the pie and since they prefer red apples for eating, the Granny Smiths would have went to waste.  Dad asked me if we would want them.  Of course!  I told him that I buy 2 bags of them every week because they are Chris' favorite.  So, when we loaded up the Explorer to leave I grabbed the apples and tossed them in the back - happy that I would have something to send with Chris to work for lunch the next day.  Lord knows there wasn't anything else in the house to eat when we got back!

So, yesterday morning as I'm trying to find things to put in Chris' lunchbox to fill a hole in his belly I reach for the bag of Granny Smith apples.  Then, I read the bag.  That's when I became appalled, angry, horrified, and a few more emotions that I wasn't ready for at 6:30 AM on a Wednesday morning.

I scanned the bag to the computer so you can read it for yourself.  Pardon the crinkles.

Do you see what it says the apples are coated with?  Look, right there above the bag weight.

Coated with Food Grade Vegetable and/or Shellac Based Wax Resin to maintain freshness.

HELLLLOOOOO?  SHELLAC?  REALLY?  Am I being unreasonable here?  I mean, my dad is a carpenter and I remember shellac being a very common finish on many of his wood projects.  I certainly wouldn't have wanted to ingest it.  So, just to make sure I'm not turning into a completely paranoid food freakazoid, I felt the need to Google.  Actually Swagbucks.  Whatever.

This is copied straight from Wikipedia.

Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes (pictured at right), which are dissolved in denatured alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a brush-on colorant, food glaze[1] and wood finish. Shellac functions as a tough all-natural primer, sanding sealant, tannin-blocker, odor-blocker, stain, and high-gloss varnish. Shellac was once used in electrical applications as it possesses good insulation qualities and it seals out moisture. Shellac is often the only historically-appropriate finish for early 20th-century hardwood floors, and wooden wall and ceiling paneling.

From the time it replaced oil and wax finishes in the 1800s, shellac was the dominant wood finish in the western world until it was replaced by nitrocellulose lacquer in the 1920s and 1930s. It remained popular in the Southern United States through the 1950s and 1960s. It continues to be a popular candy glaze for pill shaped sweets such as Skittles.

Shellac is edible and it is used as a glazing agent on pills (see excipients) and candies in the form of pharmaceutical glaze (alternatively, confectioner's glaze). Because of its alkaline properties, shellac-coated pills may be used for a timed enteric or colonic release.[11] It is also used to replace the natural wax of the apple, which is removed during the cleaning process.[12] When used for this purpose, it has the food additive E number E904. This coating is not vegan and most likely not vegetarian either as it may, and probably does, contain crushed insects. In the tablet manufacture trade, it is sometimes referred to as "beetlejuice"[citation needed] for this reason.

There are a few things here that disturb me.  Let's break it down, shall we?  First, they say that it is edible.  But, it has be dissolved in denatured alcohol.  What is that?  Let's ask our handy dandy Wikipedia again.  Mkay?

Denatured alcohol is ethanol that has additives to make it poisonous or unpalatable, and thus, undrinkable. In some cases it is also dyed.

So, they take this "safe" resin and then break it down in a poisonous liquid before they put it on our food, candy and medical pills.  Does anyone else find this a little disturbing - or is it just me?

And, then there is the fact that it most likely has crushed insects in it.  I understand that that is probably an issue with a lot of canned, processed and manufactured foods.  But, apples?  Really?  I wonder how many vegans and vegetarians know that the apples they are eating aren't vegan and vegetarian.  Would they be upset?

I'm just skimming the surface here.  You should Google it yourself.  But, the bottom line for me is that I am not comfortable eating a food that is coated in poison and that is used as an insulator, sealer and in engine work.

One more issue and then I'll be done with my little rant.  As I stated earlier - when we got home from Michigan there wasn't really much in the house to eat.  I have been cutting out the processed foods, which makes weekly grocery runs a necessity.  I have been shopping at Trader Joe's - which is nearly an hour away.  Yesterday, I thought I'd make a quick a run to our little store here in town and buy enough stuff to get me through the next three days when I can get to Indy and do my big shopping.  I had apples, lemons and bananas on my list from the produce department. 

Guess what apples I found?  The exact same kind that I had at home that were coated with shellac.  I proceeded to look at the loose apples.  Same thing.  I moved on to lemons.  All of the lemons were coated with the same stuff.  I asked the guy stocking produce if they had any organic produce.  I know that I have bought it there before.  Evidently, there wasn't enough of a demand for it and the store quit carrying it. 

So, I left the store without buying any apples or lemons.  I did by the bananas because at least they have a peel that I would be taking off - and they aren't on the dirty dozen list.  Actually, they're on the list for the least contaminated produce. 

I never paid much attention in the past to the things that I put in my mouth and offered up to my family.  No wonder we are in the shape we are in.  As I have begun to finally pay attention - words really can't express the emotions I am experiencing.  I'm horrified at what the food manufacturers and FDA are passing off to us as "food".  What's worse is that we thoughtlessly eat it - putting our faith and trust in the fact that they have our best interest and health at heart.  I am realizing that the bottom line for the food industry is the bottom line.  I also find it very unsettling that I can not even buy an apple that hasn't been coated with shellac without driving an hour.

I know that it costs more to buy organic.  We are a one income household.  We scrimp and save and sacrifice to be able to be a one income household, because as a family - that is where our personal priorities are.  That's just us.  We're all different.  But, we have eaten a lot of crap over the past 15 years because it was affordable.  The thing that we have come to realize is that it wasn't affordable.  Oh, maybe on our budget.  But, it cost us in our health.  The stance we have taken as a family is that the buck stops here.  We realize we are going to have to pay.  Either we pay up front by expanding our grocery budget - or we pay down the road with medical expenses and degenerating health.  We choose to pay now.  That means that I won't be purchasing "food" that makes my family sick just to line someone else's pocket.  I will drive an hour if I have to just to be able to put real food on the family table.  I will utilize my farmer's market this summer, as well as my own back yard to grow real food. 

My bottom line is this:  I will be voting with my money.  If that means that I don't shop at my local supermarket because they won't get on board - so be it.  If I have to drive an hour each way to buy nutritious food each week for my family - so be it.  But, I won't be force fed poison any more just to make it easier on the food industry.  And, with that my rant ends.  Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Living Room - Yes, I Procrastinate.

OK, OK, OK!  I know I procrastinate.  But, at least I get there.  Part of the delay in posting pictures of the new Spring-ified living room was the fact that I had an awful time finding some blue pillar candles for the wall sconces.  I went to JoAnn Fabric and found the perfect shade of blue candles on clearance for 2 bucks a piece.  Cha Ching!  That's my kind of deal!  But...they only had 5 left and I needed 6.  Don't think I didn't search that store high and low looking for an extra one!  I even had an employee in on the hunt.  We looked to no avail.  There wasn't a 6th candle to be found anywhere in the store.  Bummer.

So, I moved on to Meijer.  I found some candles in a shade of blue that would work.  For 7 dollars a piece.  Somebody, just smack me if I ever spend $42 plus tax on 6 candles.  I'm much too cheap frugal for that.

So, I had to wait until I found them.  Which, I finally did this weekend at DEAL$.  My candles ended up being $3 a piece.  Not too bad - but more than I paid for anything in my whole change-up.

Are you ready to see how I pulled it all off so inexpensively?


I found this heavy tablecloth for $1.99 at Goodwill.  Of course.  I cut off the border and made 2 pillow covers to go over my red pillows.


Now these red pillows are the forms inside of the blue covers. 


I swapped out a few things on the wall that is to the left of the above picture, too.

This is what it looked like before.

This is where we are now.  And please, ignore the blue painter's tape surrounding the woodwork.  It is going to be painted out white...eventually.

I traded the old picture with this one that was hanging in my bedroom.  It has more blue in it.  I also swapped the votive holders and red mini pillar candles for these simple blue tapers that I found at Goodwill for twenty-five cents a piece.

The white urn had been replaced with this vignette a couple of months ago - except there was a red book where the one with blue now is. Since I already had everything around the house, it was free.

The red chair pillow in both of my wing back chairs have been replaced with these:

Both of these blue pillows were borrowed from the guest bed upstairs.  My cost - nada.

This might not be the best example of the entertainment center.  But, since it is the only example I have - it's what you're getting.  :0) You can see the red vase and books on top and the red pillar candles on the side.

I swapped out the red books for some blue ones I had (free) and traded the blue tapers (twenty-five cents a piece at Goodwill) for the white ones.  I had the blue pillar candle on the blue candle base in my bedroom - so I just brought it out into the living room (free).  The blue and white plate was given to me by my friend, Carrie (free, also).  It was previously hanging on the wall upstairs with 5 others.  No one will ever see that it's missing. :0) 

Here was my before shot looking from the kitchen/dining room, again:

That rug is now in the dining room.

Here is the after:

Before - looking from the hallway:

And after:

Like I said in a previous post - I think it will look even better once we get the trim and doors painted white.

I didn't show pictures of the hallway.  I'm not sure it's even big enough to be officially called that anyway.  But, it had a pretty picture hanging on one wall with a red background and white flowers.  I found the following framed sketch at Goodwill for $5.99 and picked it up because I thought it was cute.  And neutral.

I could totally live in a house like that. :0)  Anyway, I have this print in my hallway now.  And the big red mirror that I had on the other wall is patiently waiting to be painted 'heirloom white'.  Now, if we can just get the weather to cooperate...

So let's do a total run-down on everything I spent $$ on to swap out my house from a Fall/Winter color sheme to one that's more appropriate for Spring/Summer.

  • 2 king sized bed sheets (curtains) - $3.98 a piece = $7.96
  • 1 table cloth for dining room table = $1.99
  • 1 back up table cloth for dining room table = $2.99
  • 1 table cloth for making sofa pillows = $1.99
  • 4 taper candles = $1.00
  • 6 pillar candles = $18.00 (By far, my most expensive buy.)
  • 1 pencil sketch - $5.99
Grand Total = $39.92 + tax

Not bad, considering I changed out everything from drapes, to table cloths, to pillows, candles and accessories.  And since I shopped and gathered over a period of about 6-8 weeks, I didn't have to drop the cash all at once.  I was able to keep the cost down because I shopped my house and surveyed what I already had before I shopped anywhere else.  I chose to go with blue because that meant I could borrow accessories from around the house for a few months.

I like the fact that I will be able to reuse everything from year to year.  The only exception would be if we burn the candles up - probably not going to happen.

Well, I'm done now and your eyes are probably tired from all the reading.  So, you go have yourself a good one, OK?


And, BTW, thanks for hanging in there and reading.  I'd hug you if I could!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Free History DVD

I just wanted to pass along a great offer from the History Channel to you today.  If you are a homeschooler (or school principal) - click here to register for a free copy of "AMERICA The Story of Us".  They'll even pay shipping!  It will be mailed out in August.  The offer is good through July 1st.

Have a great Monday!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Finally...Winter Jam '10

As you may or may not have caught in my "To Do" list for Spring Break last week - we went to Winter Jam '10 this past Thursday.  The original plan was to meet up with the gang at 4:00 pm and head up to Fort Wayne.  But, when Chris' boss found out where we were going, he wanted Chris to drop off some equipment at another shop up there.  That meant we needed to leave earlier (without the rest of the gang) so we could find the place before they closed.  Naturally, when you change your plans and try to hurry, it throws some sort of wrench into the mix...

Like thinking that since your son was already in the car and your husband was on his way to the car, that you were cool to lock the door and shut it.  Except, your husband forgot to grab his keys and you purposely didn't bring yours.  So, you weren't going ANYWHERE - unless your husband did this...

Chris had to climb through the bathroom window to get his keys before we could actually GO to the concert.  We like to keep the excitement alive.

We got the the equipment dropped off in Ft. Wayne for Chris' boss and headed over to the colliseum to get in line. 

It was actually a good thing that we went early because this is what it looked like about an hour and forty-five minutes before the doors opened.

We were able to get the most awesome seats I've ever had at a concert - and save enough for the rest of the gang when they got there.

We were right by the sound pit where all of the artist came out and waited before they went up on stage.

Those are the stairs that they actually used.  It was fascinating to get to see all of the behind the scenes stuff that went on.

The crew setting up before the concert.

Most of the groups only did two or three songs.  Except, Newsong.  They hosted the concert and did a pretty big set.

They went all out with confetti and giant balloons.  It was pretty cool.  But, some of my favorite moments were when the bands would just sing with acoustic guitars.  And this...

Let me just say here - I am not one to be star-struck.  People are people, right?  They put their pant on just like we all do.  They just happen to make their living in the public eye.  I've been to lots of concerts.  I got to meet lots of artists when I sang in the choir of the Handel's Young Messiah Tour years ago.  Heck, I even (accidentally) touched Michael English's butt.  But none of that affected me like seeing Mac Powell walk out into the pit to get ready to go onstage.

I suddenly became a thirteen year old girl.  I leaned over and told Chris, "I'm actually excited!!".  I was giggling and waving and trying to take pictures.  It was ridiculous.  I didn't feel too bad, though, because I think my husband turned into a thirteen year old girl, too!

You see, Third Day has been our favorite band since...forever!  Or, at least since the 90's when they actually started producing records.  Or CD's.  Or eight-tracks.  Or whatever the heck it is they actually call them now.  Anyway...we've been fans since their beginnings. :0)

Mac, right underneath our feet with his hairy Jesus lookin' self.

Guess who?  He was so close we could have plucked one of his hairs out.  But, some party pooper would have called security and had us escorted out of the building into another nice, sturdy building with bars and we actually wanted to see Third Day perform.  It was basically the whole reason we came to the concert, after all.  Plus, we had spent Chris' retirement and Isaac's college fund on 2 drinks a piece and a Dippin Dots for the boy - so we wouldn't have been able to afford bail.  We couldn't expect our friends to bail us out, either,  because they have more kids than we do.  I'm pretty sure they left the building missing an appendage or two.

So, we got to hear Third Day end the show with a 45 minute set.  Mac heard how awesome I am when he was in the pit right below our feet and had me come up on stage with him to help him sing "God of Wonders"...Yeah right.  It would have made the show better, I think, though.  No?  Whatever, Loser. 

Then...we were hungry from all that screaming and jumping and acting like thirteen year old girls.  So, we drove through McDonalds at 10:58 pm and this is exactly how the conversation went.  I'm not exaggerating here.  At all.

"Hi.  Welcome to McDonald's.  May I take your order, please?"

"Hi.  Yeah.  We'd like.....and ..... and ....with a ..... to drink with that."

"OK.  So, I have your order as ....."  Then silence before she finished repeating our order back to us.  And then, more silence.  Followed by...

"I'm sorry.  We're closed."

HELLLLLOOOOOO!  YOU JUST TOOK OUR ORDER!!!    I swear, I thought I was back in Florida for a minute.  Except, we could actually understand what she said.

So, we left without causing a scene because, remember we had no bail money left, and went and found a McDonald's that actually stayed open later than 10:58 pm on a Thursday night. 

After the adrenaline wore off we struggled to stay awake on the long ride home.  But, we arrived safely with gratitude in our hearts that we had had a wonderful evening, all in all, and didn't have to climb through the bathroom window to get in the house.  And we all lived happily ever after.  The end.  Well, the end of this story anyway. :0)