Saturday, April 30, 2011

Creative friends...and a GIVEAWAY.

Hand spun art yarn from Magnolia Handspun...try and pick just one!
I tell ya...the Internet sure can be a GOOD thing. I have met so many wonderful, loving, caring, funny and talented people online. The only downside...distance? There are so many of you I would love to be able to call up and say, "Hey...wanna meet for a coffee?" Could you all just move a little closer to me, please? Thanks.

Either way...I wanted to share a few links with you today...links to two beautiful, genuine and creative women I've had the pleasure of corresponding with over the past couple of years.

Have you met Earthmama? Head over to her blog...take a look around, see what she's up to, read her thoughtful words. And read a recent interview she did with Camilla from Magnolia Handspun. Great interview...gorgeous photos...inspiration...you never know what's possible...until you try.

Oh...and there's also a GIVEAWAY! Head on over for a chance to win some amazing art yarn!

Good luck!

Friday, April 29, 2011

At one time...


My view from the kitchen door.
The older I get...and the closer I get to God...the more I begin to see things so very differently than I once did.

At one time...I was liberal. I'm not anymore.

At one time...I smoked cigarettes. But because of a TRUE miracle of God, I don't anymore.

At one time...I drank alcohol. Quite a bit of it. But because I'm not good at it...or maybe I was TOO good at it...I don't drink anymore.

At one time...I was at the mercy of depression. Because of God's faithfulness...and His Word and promises...and MY determination to BELIEVE it all, I'm not anymore.

At one time...I was at the mercy of anxiety. I'm not anymore.

At one time...I sang Jesus songs not really knowing what I was singing about. Now I sing Jesus songs and I know WHO I am singing about, personally.

At one time...I was lost. So very lost. But now...I am found.

God changes things...and it is always for the better. Always.

So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you!
Proverbs 7:15

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I bought an apron.


Apron from Marshall's.
Eggs and lemons from
my backyard.
I don't wear an apron. I didn't even have an apron until last week. It's not to say I don't need an apron...I'm a pretty messy cook. I just have never thought to wear one (until after the bacon grease splattered, of course).

My mom wears an apron. Far as I know, she's always worn an apron. I remember, just around dinner time, she'd head to the kitchen, put on her apron, and get started on making us a yummy dinner.

My grandma Dottie wore an apron. The kind that was more like a smock...with the little ties on the sides. And pockets in the front...I think maybe for her tissues and cigarettes. I can see her now...standing in her kitchen, something onion-y and potato-y simmering on the stove, slicing an apple for me, and even peeling it. What a treat.

But I don't wear an apron.

And now with the apron craze, I almost rebel a little more, refusing to jump on the bandwagon. What a brat, huh? I have my moments...more often than not if you ask some people.

Well...I was at Marshall's last week...one of my favorite stores, the home department especially. I was browsing around and noticed some cute fabric out of the corner of my eye. And whaddya know...it was an apron. It was pretty cute. The price was right. I had some birthday money burning a hole in my new wallet that I also bought with birthday money. I tossed the apron in my cart.

Now I have an apron. I haven't worn it yet. And more than likely won't...until canning time, that is. Canning is even messier than cooking. Think peaches and pickles and tomato sauce. Think strawberry jam. Mm, mm...can't wait.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday in the Word.


Luke 19:10

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

Lost. That's me. Lately. Going this way and that. Headed one direction only to spin on my heel and head the other. I see something...and chase it. Then get distracted by something else...and it begins to chase me. I think one thing is best...only to realize it wasn't even an option. Or at least it seems not. Not now, anyway. Or maybe not ever. We'll see.

If you don't stand for something...you'll fall for anything. You've heard it. It's so true. I know what I stand for. I do. I just don't know where I stand. Or where I should stand. I want certain things...my heart desires a way of life...certain things to do...but my world doesn't match up with my heart. None of it is lining up. It's crooked. And bumpy. And full of road blocks. Constant road blocks. Constant. It's tiresome. And frustrating.

Today I am tired. And lost. And grateful for a savior. And safety. The only thing that is certain...Jesus. And the knowledge that when I am lost...He seeks me. And He saves me...every time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

black + white = gray.

you know the drill...wanna know more?
It's gray here today...and drizzly. Fine by me. I've already decided today was a day in...house needs cleaning, laundry needs doing, menu needs planning.

The boys have been on vacation the past two weeks...it's been nice having them home. Today is their first day back to school. I'm going to miss them. I hate that they are gone so long during the day...then off to practices for another couple hours...then doing homework for more hours...then it's time for bed. Not a lot of time for...family. I realize it more and more as they grow older...and more independent.

Easter was nice...lots of family, and food. Oh...so much food. We went to my aunt and uncle's...the kids played wiffle ball. The adults talked and laughed and...ate. The little ones played and ran around in diapers and tasted one of each from their Easter baskets.

Papa was there...he recently turned 95. He shared stories of when he was growing up...I love when he does that. His parents immigrated from the Ukraine (we always thought it was Czechoslovakia...turns out it wasn't!). They had...um...11 children? Somewhere around there. A LOT...how about that?

He asked me about my chickens and talked about how they, too, had some, "lots of chickens"...and a BIG garden. He told of how his mother, Maria Stoyka, made the best roast chicken "with lots of butter"...and homemade pirogi's. He talked of foraging mushrooms like his father taught him to...and sneaking homemade sausage from the cold cellar on a Friday (mother said no meat on Fridays!) and getting whacked on the head when she caught him. He talked of swimming in the river on Sundays...all day...then coming home hungry enough to eat cold pirogi then finding a quiet place in the grass to rest in the sun.

Papa's father was a coal miner...and a very hard worker. He worked in the mines all day...then at home the rest of the time. Papa said his father was an innovator...always creating things to make tasks easier...more efficient. I told Papa that's where he got it...he too is that way. He nodded in agreement. I love hearing about Papa's childhood...he always talks of it so fondly.

Another vacation...come and gone. Another holiday...come and gone.

Not all good...not all bad.

Not all black...not all white.

A gray day...to fit a bit of a gray mood.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter..


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Getting away...and being prepared.

On Thursday morning I packed up my boys and we headed to Donner Lake to visit my aunt and uncle. They recently purchased a cabin on the lake and invited us to come and stay with them.

Chris was on a roll at work and made the decision to stay home. Which was fine...but it made me more aware of traveling with my kids to a place I hadn't traveled before with the possibility of snow fall while traveling. I wasn't nervous...but I was definitely thinking a little deeper while packing.

I'm thinking you're all familiar with the story of The Donner Party...and trust me, this was at the forefront of my mind as I preparing for the trip. You'd have thought we were staying with my aunt and uncle for a week the way I packed!

I packed extra blankets and extra warm clothes for all of us. I had a case of water in the back of the car for sports practices and such...so I just left it there. I packed extra food, too...not a lot, but enough for an emergency.

I'm happy to say the drive up was uneventful. We listened to music, stopped for lunch and marveled at the snow along the way. It was so beautiful. Perfect for our mini getaway...

After a nice visit, a little shopping, an overnight stay and some playing in the snow we packed up the car and headed home. It was snowing a little on the way, and I'd never driven in snow, but it was fine. And so pretty. And I felt good knowing that should we have a problem or run into a sudden storm and road closure, the boys and I would be fine until help arrived. (I know, I know...I've been told I can be a bit of a drama queen. But hey...what if there HAD been an emergency? Who'd be the drama queen THEN?! Huh?!)

Anyway...it was a great 24 hours...and a lot of fun! Glad we were able to have a mini getaway and spend some time with family. Thank you D and Hyla...we had a great time!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday in the Word.



Jeremiah 12:10-11

10 “Many rulers have ravaged my vineyard,
trampling down the vines
and turning all its beauty into a barren wilderness.
11 They have made it an empty wasteland;
I hear its mournful cry.
The whole land is desolate,
and no one even cares.

Do you ever stop and look around at our world, like while you're driving down the highway for instance, and wonder what in the heck we're doing?
 
As I drive down the highway I see shopping centers one after the other after the other...giant concrete buildings...all looking the same....full of stuff, stuff, stuff...and lots of people trying to grab all the stuff.
 
I see huge expanses of concrete...covered with shiny, new cars guaranteed to make us feel better and bigger and more important. Bright lights...and balloons...and those weird moving air filled things to grab our attention.
 
Billboards...everywhere. Flashing messages to us...tantalizing...ice cold beverages, scantily clad women, promises of riches at the nearest casino...buy me, drink me, desire me.
 
Distraction. Selfishness. Me, me, me. Want, want, want. More, more, more.
 
I hear it's mournful cry. The whole land is desolate, and no one even cares.

It's so sad. It breaks my heart. It makes me sick.
 
And I am right in there...wanting, grabbing, more, more, more. I get caught up in it. I see it...and want it. And pout if I don't have it.
 
It's not what this is all about. There is more. He didn't intend it to be this way. We've done this...we've ravaged the vineyard...we're trampling the vines...we're turning all it's beauty into barren wilderness, and an empty wasteland.
 
Not all scripture is sunshine and roses. But it is all truth.
It's what I got this morning...so it's what I share.
 
xo

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

small beginnings.

Meyer lemon blossoms...looks like hope to me.
Over the past week I have been reminded, on several occasions, that you have to start somewhere. I have been reminded to start small...take that first step...and just start.

I have always had this habit of seeing something I want to do...and then thinking I need to do it all at once.

I can't just start a little garden, trying my hand at a couple tomato and zucchini plants to get my feet wet...I need to build a 50-acre homestead where I grow ALL our own food ALL the time.

I can't just learn to bake bread and commit to a fresh loaf once a week...I have to bake all our own bread, every single day using yeast I make myself (or grow? I don't even know how that's done!) and flour I've grown and harvested and milled myself and then bake it over an open flame in a brick oven I built myself out of bricks I fashioned out of clay and...whatever else you use to fashion bricks.

I can't just...well, I think you get the idea. Don't you? I have this "go big or go home" attitude...but going "big" is overwhelming! Especially when you don't know what you're DO-ING. And...I don't. Not yet, anyway.

Our hope is to one day have a larger home situated on usable acreage. It's been a dream for us for years. So we've been waiting and waiting for the time to be right for this dream to become a reality. Waiting is the key word here.

One day I was driving Ian to school and I saw a garden flag in someones front yard that had the familiar saying on it..."Bloom where you're planted." I'd seen it a million times before but this time I knew that God was letting me know that we needed to stop waiting...we needed to do some things right here, on our own little city lot to get started. We needed to take some time to experiment...and learn. How on earth did I expect to care for acreage when I couldn't even take care of a small, suburban lot?

Good point...why didn't I think of that?

So, bloom we did.

We expanded the garden from a couple of small planting boxes to a full-fledged fenced off garden area. I taught myself to can peaches and beans and how to make jam. Two years ago we got The Girls and they've been supplying us with fresh, delicious, beautiful eggs ever since. We plan on getting rain barrels and collecting rain water...and planting some fruit trees and grape vines. We are using our time here on our small city lot, our small beginning, to learn and gather knowledge and experience so that when that dream does come true, we'll know where to start and what to do.

This series of small beginnings will eventually add up to big changes in our lives. No more waiting...it's time to rejoice and "to see the work begin"! And I know it will be worth the wait...anything done in God's timing and in God's direction always is.

Zechariah 4:10
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin...

Monday, April 18, 2011

A good, productive weekend.


It's organized, really!
Got a lot done this weekend...again! We're staying on track with our goals...my husband and sons especially. They did a lot of digging...a lot of sprinkler setting...a lot of plumbing...and now, we finally have sprinklers in our backyard. I almost can't believe it... And I almost can't believe that means sod is coming next! I can't wait to see GREEN in our backyard.

I, on the other hand, took the time to tidy up the garden space. It was a mess...and had become a bit of a dumping ground for random garden supplies. There were flower pots full of dead plants that didn't survive the winter (or the chickens!), coiled up chicken wire from our old fence, cages and supports and trellises...messy.

I moved everything out of the garden area and onto the side yard (so I could get a better look at the garden space I'm working with this summer). As I was moving the old pine boxes around and wondering what to do with them, my husband suggested turning them into shelves. I thought it was a great idea! So...that's what we did.


Deadly pine boxes turned utilitarian garden shelves.
Piled one on top of the other, these old pine boxes that were horrible as raised bed gardens are perfect for storage on the side yard! Ian made them sturdier and safer by screwing them all together. I was able to move all of my pots out of the garage (freeing up garage/pantry shelf space for Preparedness supplies!) and onto the side yard shelves. I've been wanting to move that stuff for so long...it felt good to actually DO it!

I also took a little time to sit on the deck and take a look at what seeds I have...still need to pick up some pumpkin, watermelon and cantaloupe seeds and maybe some more flowers, I'm thinking sweet peas and more nasturtiums. (And maybe a little something else that catches my eye...short sunflowers? ;)

The weather was perfect yesterday...cool and breezy...thank goodness. It made life and work a lot easier for Chris and Ian who were really working hard to get the sprinklers done and covered over. After a good long day in the yard I grilled some slider size burgers with cheese and an experimental onion topping...accompanied by oven fries.

All in all it was a good, beautiful, productive weekend. I'm grateful...

How was your weekend?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday morning...

{found at Pinterest.}

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My new favorite gardening book.


My new favorite garden book. Love it!
 I have a new favorite garden book...The Kitchen Garden by Alan Buckingham. I'm pretty sure I purchased this book at Costco...over a year ago. Would you believe it's been sitting on my shelf for over a year and that I just pulled it down a few days ago for the first time? Yep. It's true. And let me tell you...I am so glad that I did! This is seriously my new favorite garden book.

I have to tell you I have a very short attention span. I get bored easily. When I am gathering information I just want bullet-points...bam, bam, bam. I don't have the patience to read a big, long diatribe as to the importance of microbes in the soil and what they do, and why...and where...and how...step by step. Blah blah blah. I know some people thrive on that type of information...I...am not one of them.

I've decided that is the exact reason why I am loving The Kitchen Garden so much. It is broken down into manageable sections...Kitchen garden know-how, the Kitchen garden calendar, Crop planner and Troubleshooting.

So far my favorite section is the Kitchen garden calendar. Each month it gives a list of Top Tasks... what to harvest, what to plant, what to sow, what to pick...it's all laid out...right there on the page. Then each page after that gives detailed (but not too detailed) instructions on what to do, how and when along with many beautiful photographs.

The Crop planner is another great section. This section gives detailed information about planting, growing and harvesting many fruits, herbs and vegetables we commonly grow in our home gardens. There are also instructions for putting together raised garden beds and compost bins. There are tips on planting and pruning and protecting those precious seedlings from pests. There are instructions for storing your fruits and vegetables over the winter and cleaning up your garden for the dormant season. Oh...and did I mention the gorgeous photographs? Mm, mm...love this book.

Anyway...I just wanted to share this new (to me) find with you...and remind you that if it's been sitting on your shelf, unopened, you need to open it. It truly is that good. And if it's not sitting on your shelf, and you'd like it to be you can find links to it in this post as well as in my Amazon widget in the sidebar to the right. If you do happen to order it through my Amazon link I will get a small commission. Thank you in advance!

And have a great, productive weekend!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Planning the garden, missing Grandpa Fred and some helpful books.

Can you say "salsa"? Pepper and tomato
plants waiting patiently to be planted.
Last weekend we expanded the garden. Instead of roughly 130 sq. ft. of dirt we now have about 480 sq. ft. of dirt. WOW! This is huge for me...considering when I very first began trying my hand at gardening (15 years ago) I was working with one raised bed measuring 4x4 feet! I did square foot gardening before it was even invented...you should have seen how much I crammed into that tiny space!

I have to say...it wasn't a success. At all. So I gave up.

Until...

We went to visit Chris' grandparents at their home in a small town in Ohio about 6 years ago. It was an amazing time for our whole family. We all have very fond memories of that family trip. It was so much fun. It was the first time I'd met Grandpa Fred...and I felt loved and accepted instantly. I was able to spend some time in Grandpa's garden...pulling weeds and helping him harvest the garlic. I made the mistake of asking him if he'd ever grown flowers in his garden. His reply, and you've heard me quote it before, "Why grow it if you can't eat it?" (He may or may not have tossed in an expletive for effect. ;) Grandpa Fred went to heaven three years ago....three years ago today as a matter of fact. We really miss him...so much.

I especially miss him during gardening season...he was a wealth of information about gardening. He gardened his whole life...BIG gardens. But as he got older and his battle with MS got a little harder he narrowed his growing choices to tomatoes, garlic and horseradish. And each year he and Grandma would make their famous (literally in their small town...this sauce was highly coveted by many. :) tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce and spicy horseradish. Each year around this time, as I start to plan our garden, I inevitably have questions and my first thought is, "I wish I could call Grandpa."

Thanks to Grandpa I decided to try my hand at gardening again. Over the next few years I planted a few things here and there. A tomato plant or two...a cucumber vine and a few beans...and with each attempt and small success my confidence grew. Then  a few years ago God had gave me 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12...and I knew it was time to garden on purpose. I planted a few more tomatoes, a few more peppers, some cucumbers and nasturtiums...the basics. And this time, it was a success. We grew a bonafide garden. We grew our own food. It was awesome and I was hooked.

Back to this year's garden: thanks to the help of my husband and the boys, we have a larger garden area. And now that it's a reality I can't quite decide what to plant and where! Part of the problem is that dang pecan tree...and not knowing when it will be trimmed back (issues with the power company and dangerous power lines, etc...lots of phone messages being left and waiting on return calls..) and exactly how much more sun the tree trim will actually allow in.


Oh cherry plum tree, such a thorn in
our side. Keep it? Or chop it?
Not to mention the small cherry plum tree that is in the back corner of the garden. Should I just get rid of it because it doesn't produce tasty fruit? Or give it a year...trim it...fertilize it...and see if it improves? (Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.)

In the meantime, I need to get some vegetables in the ground! Especially the ones that we bought last weekend to take advantage of the sale at the hardware store. We got 6 pepper plants and 4 tomatoes...can you say, "homemade salsa"? I can! My husband has honed his salsa making skills...makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Mm, mm, mm...can't wait!

I love garden planning. I have planned gardens and landscapes for years. I pull out my beloved graph paper...and the colored pencils. I open up the garden catalogs and the stack of garden books I've collected and spread them out all over the table. And then...I plan the perfect garden...on paper. It's always perfect on paper! But not until now has the big, perfect garden become a possible reality. And now I don't know what to do!!

So I just decided to do what I've always done. Get out the graph paper...and the pencils...and the stack of garden catalogs and books. The books I am currently using are Carrots Love Tomatoes, The Backyard Homestead and The Kitchen Garden. (More on The Kitchen Garden tomorrow! It's my new favorite gardening book! It's amazing...) Sounds like a recipe for a beautiful vegetable garden. Now, if I could just get this darn pecan tree taken care of we'd be in business!

Do you already have some food in the ground?
Seeds started?
How's your garden planning coming along?
And what should I do with that crazy little cherry plum tree?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The best glass of orange juice I've ever had in my life.


homegrown oranges + Noni's juicer = l.o.v.e.

My brother has been bringing me oranges from his tree for the past couple of weeks. He started when I was so sick...he just knew that the homegrown Vitamin C was exactly what I needed. And he was right! They definitely made me feel a lot better.

Can I just tell you? The oranges from his tree are the biggest, juiciest, most flavorful oranges I have ever had. For real. They are so juicy that when you slice them the juice comes running out. And I didn't want even the tiniest bit to go to waste. I knew what I needed to do....

I went to the hutch and got out Noni's glass juicer that Aunt Lisa gave me a year or so ago. And then I juiced the biggest, heaviest orange in the bag. It was love in a glass I tell you...oranges from my brothers backyard...Noni's glass juicer...it doesn't get any better than that. Hands down...the best glass of orange juice I've ever had in my life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday in the Word


Jeremiah 9:23-24

23 This is what the LORD says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.

I don't know what to say about this scripture. It's not the one I had in mind to share this morning. But I know that God wanted me to read Jeremiah 9...and then share it with you. So...I opened up my bible and I read Jeremiah 9. And it was harsh. It's warning. It's rebuke. It's truth. I would recommend that you read it, too...because it's enlightening.

Bottom line? We need God. Always. We can't do this thing called life on our own. We can try. And we can succeed...for a time. Or at least we think we are succeeding. I thought I was. But when I look back I can see that doing things my way was not the right way.

I made a mess of things insisting that I do them my own way. I was not always right. My way was not always best. More often than not...I was way off course. And I was digging myself a deeper and deeper hole. Thank goodness He comes down into that pit to save us...

I still try to do things my way. I can be stubborn. But God, thankfully, always intervenes. And He reminds me that His ways are good...that He has my best interest at heart...that He loves me.

And He loves you, too. NO.MATTER.WHAT. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Backyard improvements...DIY

Our poor backyard has been neglected for a very long time. When we moved in many years ago it consisted of a medium size pecan tree, some berry vines that didn't produce edible fruit and two unkempt cherry plum trees. Now the pecan tree is gargantuan and the berries and one plum tree are gone. Our poor little home had been badly neglected before we moved in so the yard was dirt. And it remained dirt. And...it still is dirt.  But not for long.

My husband and I finally agreed on a garden design that will work for us. It's very simple. And that's a good thing. In the past I wanted a cottage garden...soft edges, flowers everywhere, fluff. Now I have adopted Grandpa Fred's point of view, "Why grow it if you can't eat it?"  This is what we have in mind...


Right now the pecan tree branches span across the yard and a bit over the deck. They shade the back of the yard and much of the garden space. I've got calls in to tree trimmers for bids on having it cut way back. This has to be done to make room for SUN...we need sun for the grass, sun for the chickens and sun for the garden. It would be nice if the tree were to go permanently...but it is very expensive to have it removed...so a trim it is.

To get started, the weekend before last we moved the chicken coop. I love having chickens. But I do not love how messy and destructive they are. I like to let them free-range...but I don't like that they tear up my garden, scratch through my flower pots and poop everywhere! It was time for a change.

We moved the coop behind the shed (that little white building on the left) so now they're between the shed and the back fence. This makes much more sense in the "design" of the backyard. They've got their coop still...but now it's inside a spacious run just for them. They still get to "free-range"...but now it's just a bit more controlled.

The girls may beg to differ as they pace back and forth at the new gate, pining away for the days they were free to eat our innocent seedlings and poop on our deck. But...in time they'll get used to it. They've already found a new dust bathing area...and eventually I will have a sandy area for them as well as some greenery. They'll be OK. They've got it better than many!

Just this past weekend we extended our garden area. It's now about 3 times the size it was! What am I going to do with all that space?!! (I'm sure I'll figure it out...) The garden now spans from the back of the house to the back fence. We installed posts and wire fencing to match the chicken run. It's not fancy. It's actually very utilitarian. But that's fine. At this point, I just want it done. So cost effective utilitarian works for me.


Here's the new garden area...from the wood fence to the newly installed wire fence. And you can see in the foreground the ground tilled up...that will be grass. If you can imagine me standing and taking the picture, the chickens are behind me, opposite the garden area. Poor girls...they'll be able to see it but not get to it. So mean...I know. But don't worry...they'll get plenty of goodies. They always do!

This is a closer shot of the garden and the garden gate the boys built for me a couple of years ago. I think it works perfectly!

Productivity sure does feel good. I can't wait until it's all done and planted and we can sit out on our deck, enjoy a barbecue of grilled veggies from the garden...and look out on a nice yard.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday morning...


I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light.
~Mary Gardiner Brainard



Saturday, April 9, 2011

Preparedness Challenge: what I did this week.

I'm on a budget. A pretty tight one. So adding more to the list than what we need right now is a challenge in and of itself.

But I I believe it's important to be prepared for a possible emergency. During the week, while I'm out shopping for what we need for the house I'm always keeping my eyes peeled for bargains on items that I can add to the emergency stash without edging into the weekly budget too much. The soap for example...3 bars for a dollar. The dog food...2 cans for 89 cents. A box of Band-aids and onion salt...each a dollar. (Forgot to put those on the list...oops.) Every little bit helps...and makes me feel all that more accomplished and prepared.

Oh...and I thought of a few things to add to my lists that I somehow forgot to include last week! Those items are: foil, tarp(s), towels/rags, paper plates and TOILET PAPER. How could I forget TP? That would NOT have been pretty.

If you weren't here last week, and would like copies of detailed supply lists, click on the "Printables" button on the top navigation bar. There you'll find links for free, helpful lists you can use to check off items as you acquire them. Print them out...then be sure and add these items! Especially toilet paper for crying out loud!

Wanna join the Challenge?

(Wanna make a cute catalog card list? Go here.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

And the WINNER is....

Thank you to everyone who signed up to be in the
100 Followers Celebration!!

The lucky winner of The Quick-Fix Home Organizer is.......

Eliza J!!

Congratulations Eliza J!! Send me an email to let me know your mailing address so I can send your book and CD (and a few other goodies) in the mail to you next week!!

That was so much fun...I love Giveaways. I wish I could do it every day! But until I hit the lottery....that probably won't be happening any time soon. Come to think of it...since I don't even play the lottery...it probably really won't happen!

Anyway...thank you again for playing along with me!

Making a couple of changes.

I should be cleaning the side yard...or organizing the garage...or raking up 40 bajillion pecans in preparation for the backyard makeover.

But instead I've been making some changes around here at Give a Girl a Fig.

#1: I added sponsor and affiliate ad space. I made the decision, after prayer and careful consideration, to incorporate ad space and affiliate buttons in an effort to generate an income. I chose my affiliates based on things I like...and use...and want to use in the future. I chose my affiliates, and will do the same with sponsors, based on my lifestyle, my budget and my beliefs. When you click on an ad button, and go to that site and make a purchase, I will receive a commission from that sale. Thank you in advance for your support.

#2: I added a navigation bar along the top of the blog. Several of the links are up and ready and several of them are still under construction. Thank you for your patience as I continue to make these changes.

#3: I will be focusing regularly on a few things in the future. The Preparedness Challenge is one of them...Human Trafficking is another. And of course Wednesday in the Word will still be a weekly post. There are a few other things I am still considering..but for now, these are things you can count on seeing at Give a Girl a Fig.

I spend a lot of time here...writing, commenting, sharing. I love blogging. I love getting to know all of you. I love reading what you have to say. I am excited about the changes...and I'm excited at what I believe God is doing in all of it. I believe that God prompted me to start Give a Girl a Fig several years ago (I'll be sharing that story soon)...and He prompted me to create Wednesday in the Word. He's allowing me this space to share my life and His truth. I pray that my efforts glorify Him...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

today's laundry list...

Betty wants to know if you've signed up for the GIVEAWAY yet? No?
Well, what are you waiting for?! Go here for your chance to WIN!
(This picture makes me laugh every time I look at it.)
Welp, it's Thursday. Starting tomorrow the boys are off for the next two weeks...Spring Break. (Remember when it used to be called Easter Vacation?) It'll be nice to let them sleep in.

I have been busy lately...busy making some changes here at Give a Girl a Fig. As soon as I'm done I'll give you the Grand Tour.

I've come across some new things that I wanted to share with you.

Have you heard of Mad Hungry? It's my new favorite cooking show hosted by Lucinda Scala Quinn. She's down to earth; she makes good, easy, healthy recipes; she's got sons; she wears cute tops. And just the other day she talked about home remedies...simple ones like ginger and chicken soup...the usuals. She was instantly my new favorite. I appreciate her outlook...

I've mentioned a time or two...I love to make things. Always have. Always will. Years ago I was very involved in online art groups...but stepped away from them for years. Well...a few weeks back I was invited to do an art project with my friend Lelainia. She reminded me of an art exchange site called Swap-bot. Have you heard of it? I'm enjoying it so far...you have to be selective in the swaps you choose. But so far I've had good experiences.

My friend Sarah recently started her own blog and a few weeks ago she asked me to write a guest post!  So I did...but then I forgot to link up! (Sorry Sarah!) Pay her a visit...let her know you came by.

Hmmm...what else?

Oh! I thought of one more thing...wanna win ANOTHER giveaway?! My friend Amy is giving away a book, Sourdough from A to Z. If you want a chance to win head on over and leave a comment!

I guess that's it...for now. I'm sure I'll think of something else later...it's how my mind is working today...feeling a bit scattered...and chatty!

And don't forget to sign up for the GIVEAWAY...the winner will be chosen tomorrow!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wednesday in the Word


John 12:42-43

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

* * * * * * * * * *

I look forward to Wednesday in the Word every week. I look forward to asking God which scripture He wants me to share with you...and then sitting and waiting for the answer. Sometimes, it takes a while to get the answer. Other times the answer comes instantly...like this morning.

In my usual way I sat down to write and asked God, "What do you want me to share today?" And just like that I heard the familiar whisper, "John 12." And out of all 40-something verses, I believe this is the bit that God wanted me to share. 

What really stood out to me is verse 43...for they loved human praise more than praise from God. Chris and I went to a worship conference a couple of weekends ago. One of the worship leaders said, more than once, that Jesus is just looking for someone to be His friend. It really hit me...I wrote it down...I cried. That statement went along with a tug I'd been feeling in my heart for weeks...a tug of Jesus whispering, "I just want to spend time with you...that's all."

For weeks I'd been praying and asking God what He wanted me to doDo this or do that...do, do, do. Work my way right on into heaven. If you're not doing, then you're useless, right? Hmm...well, that's what the world says.

But Jesus never told me what He wanted me to do. He simply said, "I just want to spend time with you.."

Jesus is looking for someone to be His friend. What is a friend anyway? Dictionary.com says a friend is, "a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard."

I say a friend is someone who is there for me...who spends time with me...who takes time to listen to me. Not someone who takes without giving...who talks only of themselves without ever listening to what I have to say...not someone who only comes around when they need something.

I really had to stop and ask myself, "Have I been a friend to Jesus?" Sadly, my answer was...no. Not a very good one anyway.

I don't want to be the friend that just takes takes takes. I want to be the friend that is there...that spends time...that listens. I realize Jesus doesn't need me for anything. He doesn't need me to do anything...to make anything happen...nothing. He's got this whole life and world thing totally under control. He's got God. He is God. But the way I look at it is...God sent Jesus to the earth...to die for us. To save us. To be our best friend in the whole wide world. And just as any parent would want...God wants His Son to have friends...good friends...loyal friends...and that's where we come in.

It doesn't take much to be a friend...and honestly, Jesus isn't as picky about His friends as we are about ours. And God doesn't parent like we do, forbidding Jesus to hang with us because of what we've done...or what we're doing...or what color our skin is...where we live. God loves ALL of Jesus' friends...no matter what. (He even loves his enemies.)

And Jesus doesn't choose His friends based on those things either...He's got something in common with ALL of us...and He loves ALL of us. He died for us, after all. He is attached to us by "feelings of affection and personal regard". All we have to do is reciprocate.We don't have to be perfect...or clean...or thin...or rich...or sober...or talented...or popular. We just have to be ourselves...and willing to be a friend.

* * * * *

Lord, I thank you for your patience with me...and your willingness to be my friend even when I'm not so friendly...or loyal...or attentive. I thank you for loving me...and being my friend even when all I do is take...and talk...and never quiet myself enough to listen to what you have to say. Help me, Lord to be a better friend to you...to not see you as a religion, but as a friend.
Amen.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

100! Let's celebrate with another GIVEAWAY!

Well look at that...I recently hit 100 Followers
here at Give a Girl a Fig. I am so excited!

Now, I realize that in comparison to some others...100 doesn't seem like much. But...I'm not into comparing myself to others (anymore...ha) so for me...and for this blog...100 people taking time to visit now and then is a BIG deal.

And I appreciate it. Very much.

thank you.

So I don't know about YOU...but I think this seems like a good time for a celebration! And to celebrate...I'd like to have another GIVEAWAY!

First in the prize pack is this book...The Quick-Fix Home Organizer. I can always use help with organizing. And even better if it's QUICK!

Second is a CD titled FREEDOM. It's a 3-CD pack full of amazing songs from various worship artists. The proceeds go to International Justice Mission to fight  human trafficking. Human trafficking is...hmmm....there really isn't a word that can describe it well enough...at least not a word that I can use here. I know God has laid it on my heart to do something...in some way...to help those trapped in sexual slavery. More on that in the future...

Thirdly...I will toss in a few extras!

So whaddya think? Wanna join in the celebration?! You do? Great! Just leave a comment and you will automatically be entered in the GIVEAWAY. And if you tell others about the GIVEAWAY in some form or another...blog or facebook or telephone (ha!)...just let me know in another post and you can be entered to win again! The winner will be chosen this Friday, April 8th...thank you again and good luck!

Monday, April 4, 2011

We moved the coop!!

Joined in on the Barn Hop!
* * * * *

We finally had some time (and good, dry weather!) this past weekend to do some work around the house. One of those things included relocating the chicken coop!
Betty
Two years ago, when we first got The Girls, we put their coop and pen in a small empty dirt area right outside the side entrance to the garage. It was a space that had bad soil, shade all morning, direct late afternoon (HOT) sun...all around a weird place to try and grow anything.

Nellie

Not to mention, it was convenient to the garage where we store their food and have running water. We figured it was a perfect place for the chickens.

Or was it?

What we did NOT consider when getting chickens and putting them so close to the house was the issue of FLIES. Oh my...YUCK. We love having chickens. But we do NOT love the flies.

As it turns out we have another big, ugly dirt area in our backyard. Come to think of it, our whole backyard is big, ugly dirt. And a big, obnoxious pecan tree. But...not for long. Moving the chickens began a domino effect of plans for our yard, plans we've been wanting to do for a long time but haven't done for one reason or another. At one point it was lack of interest. Then it was lack of time. Then it was lack of money. And on and on it goes.

But those reasons are no longer valid...and we are ready for a backyard we can live in and enjoy.

So the plans were made and discussed...it was like giving a mouse a cookie...

Moving the coop led to...
Expanding the garden (more on this soon!) led to...
Getting pecan tree removed led to...
Adding sod and sprinklers led to...
...a nice finished backyard that we can actually enjoy. Finally.

And being the woman of the house I always see things as so simple..."Hey Honey! Let's just move the chicken coop today!"

6 hours later waiting on posts to set in concrete so
they're sturdy enough to install fencing.

*cricket cricket*

But...it's not that simple. It takes time...and energy...and resources...and help from my hubby! And that's fine...I'm good as long as I know we are making progress around here. And we are...slowly but surely.

As for the empty space where the coop was? I'm not sure yet. Grapes? Berries? Herbs? I don't know...it's a weird space as far as sunlight. But I tell you what...the soil sure is a lot better thanks to The Girls!!

 Do you have any recommendations for a morning shade/afternoon sun
location in a Zone 9 garden?

**Hey...I just came across a GIVEAWAY at Forgotten Way...they're giving away a copy of Making Herbs Simple! Pay them a visit, take a look around, sign up for the giveaway!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday morning...



There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way."
C. S. Lewis

Saturday, April 2, 2011

We have a WINNER!!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the GIVEAWAY this week! 

I gave each of you a number, in the order you signed up to win.

I then put those numbers in a bucket and had my husband pick the winner!

And...that winner is....

donnag!!


Congratulations donnag! Please send me your mailing address in a private email
and I will ship your devotional and booklet out to you on Monday!

Thanks for participating everyone...can't wait for the next GIVEAWAY!

Are you prepared? And FREE print outs!

**Quick reminder...about the GIVEAWAY! Go here for a chance to win! The Drawing is later this afternoon!**

I am loving this Preparedness Challenge! (Amy...you rule!) I am the type that needs someone, or something, to hold me accountable to following through with...something. Anything. Everything! Whatever it is!

I joined the PC (Preparedness Challenge) a couple weeks ago...and now, throughout the week, I think of ways to better prepare my family for a possible emergency. And I think of it more because I feel I have to answer to YOU. Well, that and the thought of not being able to provide for my kids in an emergency situation about pushes me over the edge.

This past week I did quite a few things to prepare for an emergency. I bought 6 more gallons of water, a dozen boxes of matches and a few more cans of prepared foods such as chili and baked beans. I was talking to my mom about this whole "preparedness" thing last week...and she brought up a good point...what if we don't have water to prepare food with?

It made me stop and think...because I have been setting things aside with the assumption that I will have some sort of water supply to prepare things such as beans and rice and dried soups. But there is a good possibility that we won't have access to water with the exception of whatever I've set aside. It was a good point...and urged me to pick up some ready-made canned goods to add to the stores.

I also gathered travel size shampoo, conditioner and lotion from our time away last weekend. I don't usually bring those things home...they just take up room in the linen closet. But this time I thought they'd be good to add to the supplies for the PC. Those and a small sewing kit I came across a week or so ago in the junk drawer.

The main thing I did, though, was to make Master Lists of everything I want to have in my 3-month Emergency Storage. I am a list maker...I need to see it on paper...write it down...check it off...or I forget. And I was getting overwhelmed with going to this site and this site and that site...gathering info, trying to remember everything I needed...wanted...could possibly need, etc.

So...I decided to make myself Master Lists. I took all of the information I felt was important from several difference sites and put it all on three lists. So now I can print them out, see what I need, check it off when I have it...done.

I also wanted to share these Master Lists with you. Keep in mind that these are the items I think we'll need, and use. The lists are also a guideline...your family may not eat what my family will. Or need what my family needs.

Would you like a Master List for yourself? Follow these links and print them out:

Emergency Food List
Emergency Non-Food Items List
First Aid Kit Supplies

I will be ordering some of these items from Emergency Essentials (follow the link in my sidebar). I like the idea of powdered milk, powdered peanut butter and potato flakes. No...not gourmet. Or local. But these are things that my family goes through a LOT of and will definitely get used up. And if we get to the point of survival, I won't be concerned with what's in the food or where it came from, as long as I am able to feed my kids.

Not to mention, the items from Emergency Essentials have a long storage life due to the way their stored. I can't do any better at this point...so this is a plus for me.

I also want to share a link to a Food Calculator put together by LDS. You just plug in your numbers and it generates a list for you. This is the list I used to create my own list...adding some things and taking away others.

This preparing business sure does make me feel better. I have yet to really get it organized...right now it's all sort of piled on and around a few shelves in the garage. "Organize pantry shelves in garage" is on my to-do list...still. (ahem) Next week...for sure...*wink*.

What have you done to prepare? Do tell..!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Taking care of business...making changes and a GIVEAWAY!




OK...so I am doing some work around this blog...making some changes, adding some items, removing some others. It sure is time consuming! Thank you for your patience with the layout and wacky colors while I fix things up!

Hey...speaking of that, can you do me a favor and tell me how it's all looking from YOUR computer so far? I know how it looks on mine...but not sure if it's looking OK from someone else's point of view. Not to mention, I'm messing with the HTML which is SO not my forte'! {edit: maybe I DO know a teensy bit about HTML after all! I love it when things work out like you want them to!}Thank you in advance...

And don't forget the GIVEAWAY!!

The drawing is tomorrow! I'm giving away a lovely  new testament
devotional bible and a booklet I wrote for Belgium. 
Want a chance to win? Go sign up!

As far as the booklet I wrote for Belgium, I do have more. It's quarter-page in size and contains 18 pages of hope and truth as to what God can do with depression...if you let Him.

If you don't win, but still want a copy of Desperation and Hope; a journey through depression, I have some available for $3 (to help offset the cost of postage and materials).

Alrighty then...back to work for me! Until tomorrow...I pray you all have a beautiful day!