Saturday, February 08, 2014

My Winter Routine

I think as wives and mother we are always trying to be as efficient as possible.  I know I am.  I think that is why I love reading about the days of helps me think through the way I do things and fine tune anything that needs work.  So I try to share the things that I like to read from others, not because I think I have anything figured out, but because maybe my day can be a help to someone else :)

Wouldn't it be nice if I could just do this in bullet style and you could go on to something else?  Not going to happen.  I ramble.  Be prepared to make it to the end or get out now :)

And we being....
I get up at 6:00 a.m.  Every day.  There are cows to feed - 3 steers, named Larry, Mo and Curly - and they like to maintain a schedule.  In the evening that isn't always possible so I try to stay to the same morning time as much as possible.  So I get up, wake Lee if it is a school day,  add more clothes over my pjs if the temperature requires it (although anymore I sleep in so many clothes unless it is severely below 0 I am good) and then don my rubber boots, hat, double wrap cowl, sweatshirt zip jacket with hood up, then heavy brown cowl, barn coat with hood up and gloves.  I fill the woodstove up and then venture outdoors for my walk to the barn/pasture.  I keep a small flashlight in my barn coat pocket that Greg gave to me and sometimes I have to use it to find a path through the snow.  I check the water first.  It is all the way over on the far side of the pasture but we are very blessed to have automatic heated waterers for the cows.  We have had a little trouble with them this winter but I am so grateful every day that they work.  So I make sure that they are working then back-track to the barn.  I give the cows grain, check their bedding and make sure they have hay.  Norman does the straw and hay but I always check it so I can tell him if there are problems.  I call the steers in, make sure they are eating, lock everything back up and head back to the house.

Now I'm good and awake.  I unbundle myself and give the cats new water, milk and scoop their litter box (they will give you no peace until those things are done), move laundry from washer to dryer, start a new load in the washer and make coffee.  I sit down with my Bible and read my Sunday school lesson portion and my chapter for the day and pray.  Greg usually gets up about now.  Then I check facebook, eat breakfast and talk to the boys about their upcoming day.

Abby is usually up by now (around 7 a.m.).  Some days she wants to watch cartoons, some days she wants breakfast immediately, sometimes she wants to snuggle and read a book.  I go with the flow.  The big boys leave around 7:20.

I reboot the laundry and get a shower.

By 8 a.m.  I'm usually ready to tackle the day.  I will be honest here and say that if I'm not planning on going anywhere I put on new pjs.  My pajama pants are heavy fleece and I wear leggings under them.  They are honestly the warmest thing I own so that is what I wear if I'm going to be home.  On top I wear a t-shirt and sweatshirt...socks and slippers.  I get started on chores.  I try to do dishes the night before but if I didn't I start there, fold laundry and sweep the downstairs.  I usually have a "daily" chore like cleaning the bathrooms, dusting, mopping or something.  If I have time I do that now, if not later.

School starts at 9.  Usually Bear is up by now.  Usually Norman is too.  School takes about an hour.  Please remember that I have one in kindergarten and one in preschool.  We have a good routine and it doesn't take long if everyone is cooperating.  Next year will take a little longer.

School is usually over by 10.  By now, Norman is moving.  He waters the chickens, gathers morning eggs and does any cow chores for the day.  I fix lunch.  I either fix a big lunch and we have the leftovers in the evening or we have a big supper with the leftovers for lunch.  I try to know what this will be the day before.  It is a work in progress.

Lunch is usually around 11.  Norman and I visit.  I finish any house chores I had.  He gets ready for work.  He leaves around 1:30.  After that the littles and I read together, play, I bake and sometimes we run to town for errands or the library.  Often I can get some sewing or knitting in depending on how the day is going.

The big boys get home from school at 4 unless Greg has basketball practice.  That gets over around 5 so either Lee or I run back into town and pick him up then. I gather the evening eggs and feed the cows their supper sometime in between 4 and 5.   I fix  our supper (the difficulty being in a whole new meal or leftovers).  I start a load of laundry in the washer (you can see why in my long hard winter post).  After we eat I clean up the kitchen and we settle down for the night.

Abby and I like to go lay down around 6.  She watches TV.  I read a book.  She usually drifts off around 7.  I usually crash around  8.  I know that is early but I check on the woodstove at 10, 12, 2, 4 and then get up at 6.  So I need the sleep.

Norman gets home around midnight.  And the new day begins :)

In the comments link up your day.  I really do love to read all about it!!!!!

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Long Hard Winter

Isn't that the title to a Little House book?

That's what it feels like here.  I'm the person that has been saying for years that we were due for a "hard" winter.  I've been saying it.  I thought I was ready for it.  It's here, and I'm sick of it.

We were ready.  As ready as a person who hasn't experienced a "hard" winter since childhood could be.  We had plenty of food and various ways to prepare it.  Bottled water.  Plenty of warm clothing for indoors and outdoors.  Wood for the woodstove.  Gas for the generator.  Electric heaters to supplement.  We put straw around the foundation.  Insulation in holes.  I thought we were ready, and I think we were.  As best we could anyway.

As we endure the 3rd or 4th "arctic blast" since January 1st I feel like I can look back and say we made it.  We are alive, aren't we?  I think we lost 4 out of 40 some chickens.....although 4 was heartbreaking, it could have been a lot worse.  A  lot worse.  I keep trying to remember that.

We've dealt with frozen pipes inside, frozen pipes and water pumps and waterers outside.  I hauled water to the cows for several days. I learned to wash laundry at night and dry it first thing in the morning to warm up the drain lines.  We drip faucets and leave under sink doors open every night.  We have strategically placed electric heaters on certain outlets so not to flip breakers.  We burnt through way more wood than we expected, but the boys have been great about getting and splitting more.  I've moved more wood than I ever dreamed.  I'm exhausted after getting up every 2-3 hours almost every night to feed the woodstove so it stays 60 degrees in here overnight.  I automatically dress in double or triple layers with 2 coats, 2 cowls and 2 hats every time I go outside.  Ice and I are on intimate terms.

What have we learned?  Old houses are very difficult to keep warm.  We blanketed off all the exterior doors we don't use.  I've learned how to harness the heat of the sun coming in the big windows.  We filled in many foundation holes.  We need better electric heaters.  Next year we will straw around the chicken house.

Now that we have made it (it hasn't been miserable, although I am tired of feeling cold and tired all the time) I wonder if we will need this experience....its been a long time since we have had a winter like this....what are the odds it will happen again anytime soon?

We've spent lots of time snowed in together.  That doesn't happen much.  Played games.  Watched movies.  I've baked a lot and Norman swears that he has gained 10 lbs because of it.

I think I've lost weight from all the worrying about heat and water lines.

I can't imagine how pioneers kept cabins warm.  I do realize that their definition of warm and mine are probably different.  And they didn't have running water that would freeze.

So this winter I've done a lot of reading, knitting and sewing.  I've thought up quilt ideas, curtain ideas, and knit wear ideas.  We've planned our garden.  I've learned to make more things from scratch.

I will say that this winter has been memorable.  In the end that is what life is all about.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

New Year, Winter Storm ION, New Blogging Focus

Like that blog post title?  I thought you might.  I've got the computer in front of me and I'm blogging so I want to get as much off my mind as possible :)  Sorry, I'm efficient.

So, let's see....

Happy 2014!!!!  I'm not sure where 2013 went but I don't really miss it so I guess it can go.  I'll try to post a new "goals" post soon.

We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Winter Storm Ion tonight (insert sarcasm).  Forecast has us receiving 8-15 inches of snow and windchills as low as -40 degrees F.  Fantastic.  (if you didn't get the sarcasm there then I can't help you).  So we have a woodstove but it is outside the house and heats a water boiler system that heats the house.  Not the most efficient use of wood and requires electricity for the blower.  Old farmhouse so the insulation of water lines is questionable.  We've got straw around the house.  Norman and I have been taking turns staying up nights keeping the woodstove going.  We are exhausted and it is only going to get worse.  Oh well.  I was in a panic yesterday about the whole thing but I finally just gave it to God this morning.  We've done all that we can do.  We have gas for the generator but I doubt that we can heat the house with the space heaters.  We can however eat.  We will stay warm (even if we need to live in the smoke house with the woodstove for a few days).  This has cemented some ideas in my mind about our perfect house should we have the opportunity to implement these ideas.

We've been planning the garden :)

School will start here at home again on Monday (I doubt the big kids will have public school for a few days)

That brings me to the last part of my blog title.  I am sure that you have noticed that lately this blog has mainly been about reviews.  I really enjoy doing reviews and until recently was part of 3 reviewing teams.  One disbanded, one disbanded and I chose not to join the new one and one is still ongoing.  So there will still be reviews, but not nearly as frequently.  I'm not sure exactly what the focus of the blog will be but it will definatly be more homeschooling, homemaking, personal development, crafts.  I have a broad focus for my audience.  If you have stuck with me this long, I'm sure that there will be something for you.

Assuming that we keep power tomorrow I might try to get some of my homeschooling thoughts together and do an update post there.  We shall see how it goes.

I look forward to the new year and hope that you do as well.  Blessings friends!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Review: Tale of Two Kingdoms

Are you looking for an indepth Bible study for yourself or young adult student?  I've got it.  I do a lot of Bible studies and most of them are great....but they are usually geared toward a theme or certain topic.  Tale Two Kindgdoms by Heather Kendall is very in depth.  I've been working on it for weeks and still haven't finished it.  Using Tale of Two Kingdoms with another of  Ms. Kendall's books, God's Unfolding Story gives a very detailed examination of Biblical history while weaving in the coming Saviour all along the study.  I would imagine that this study could be used as part of school at least a semester, quite possibly a whole year.  I would recommend using them together, making the cost $45....they can also be purchased separately if you would prefer.  (The 1st is more of a read-through book, the 2nd is a question/answer bible study).

Would you like to read what others are saying about these books?   Check us out at Mosaic Reviews and see what others are saying about this great resource. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Review: Hello Fresh

I had a fantastic opportunity towards the end of November to review some food as part of the Mosaic Reviews program.  I LOVE food :) 

So what food were we blessed to review, you ask?  Let me introduce you to Hello Fresh. Hello Fresh is a subscription mail-order meal service.  Feel free to head over there and check them out, their website is very user friendly. 

First, you get to make some choices......Classic (meat based recipes) or Vegetable (vegetarian recipes).......2 people or 4.......Frequency of delivery.......

Don't panic.  The "menu" is set up in advance.  If you don't like the choices (and you have choosen a classic box) then you have the option to change out a couple of meals after you place your order.  Sorry, if you choose the vegetarian box that isn't an option right now. 

I choose the Classic box, and it was sent with enough for 3 meals for 2 people.    I was concerned because I had never ordered any cold/frozen food off the internet but it is packed very well in a very insulated box.  Everything arrived beautifully.

These are the recipe cards.  Everything is very easy to fix but does seem to require that you have been in a kitchen before.  I had never worked with fresh herbs before and it was a pleasure!  All the recipes I tried were easily completed in 30 minutes.

Random free gifts are placed in some boxes :)

In the front bowl we have the shrimp and chorizo stew (with kale - delicious!)  In the back are roasted vegetables that went with the roasted pork chops (1st time I've had leeks, very good)

Everything comes packaged in individual bags and is labeled with what meal it is for.  EVERYTHING is included except oil. 

My helper mixing up the chicken meatballs for the chicken polpetta (good the first time, but excellent as leftovers - the flavors were subperb after they had time to mingle)

See how nicely everything is packaged in there.....lots of ice packs and insulation. FedEx did my delivery.
Now, the part everyone is waiting for.....ordering meals off the internet isn't cheap.  The quality is FANTASTIC - all the ingredients were fresh.  The portions are GENEROUS.  I had a 2 person box and 2 of the meals easily fed 4 people. 
A 2 person classic box is $69, 4 person is $129.  A 2 person veggie box is $59, 4 person is $109.  I wish they had a option to mix meals from classic and veggie :) 
Overall, the service and quality was excellent.  The cost is prohibitive for us, but it is cheaper than eating out all the time, so that is something to consider.  The meals are easy and quick to prepare.  All the shopping is done for you.  Someone who likes to try new things would love this service (chorizo, kale, leeks, ground chicken - all new to me - as was cooking with fresh herbs). 
If you would like to give it a try, you can get a $20 coupon code from their website as a new customer.  I would recommend it!
Would you like to hear what others are saying about Hello Fresh?  Be sure to head on over to Mosaic Reviews to see other reviews (some reviewers got different meals so the pictures will make you drool).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

REVIEW: Pieces of Me by Diana Lynn

***I received this book for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA Review Crew.***

"I wrote this book for you."  Diana Lynn

By the time you get to those words in this book, you have walked with Diana through some fairly difficult, I would even go as far as to say traumatizing, events in her life.  The way Diana writes, you can feel what she felt; the pain, the joy, the hate, the love.

In the end, though, she did write this book to me, the reader.  A compilation of written snapshots of her life, Diana walks through her trials again to share hope with her readers. 

Diana's life has encompassed the span of deep depressions....a teenage pregnancy, abusive 1st husband, single motherhood, the loss a relationship with her father, death of her mother, an emotional affair, verbal abuse, loss of a friend......but in this book - the important parts of this book - are the lessons learned, the value of love, the hope everlasting and her ongoing journey with her Lord.

I love Diana's writing style.  You can easily read, or reread this book in a short sitting or flip right to the section that fits your situation.  The lessons that were hard learned by Diana are offered up with the wisdom that only comes from someone who has survived, thrived, through her difficulties.

Although I don't share many of Diana's life experiences, I feel that I do share some of her pain and I see how she was able to reconcile those parts of her life and that gives me hope also. 

Towards the end, Diana focuses on goals and dreams and we see her main objective in writing this book.  Diana has written so that we can see how she overcame insurmountable odds and thrived.  In the last section she encourages her readers to do the same. 

This book is available from Amazon for $9.99. You can learn more about Diana's ministry at Recovering Dysfunctionals and at her blog.

***I do not condone the use of psychics.  I also believe the Bible's warnings against a homosexual lifestyle.  That doesn't mean that we can't minister and love those who have been to psychics or take part in that lifestyle.  Guard against sin, show God's love to the sinner :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Come Back to Jesus - And Don't Bring Your Blackberry by Tanya Logan

***I received this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA review crew.***

I got a smartphone last year after YEARS of longing for one.  Why did I want one so bad?  Well, I think some of it is just greed.....I like the newest things and fancy things....and who doesn't want to be able to call up the latest weather or news story?  I think another part of me wanted one because I could feel like I belonged.  I don't always do so well in social situations and am frequently uncomfortable.  On facebook (from phone or computer) I could feel like I belonged without ever really interacting with REAL people.  With a smartphone, that ability is so quick and easy.  I had gotten to where I didn't want to miss anything and I would get frustrated if others weren't posting status updates or commenting/liking mine.  Pathetic, huh?

A friend has been bemoaning the evils of modern communication technology for years.  I don't know how many times I've shaken my head as he rattled on again and again about how we were losing touch with reality and real people, how relationships didn't matter anymore (but they do to God!) and how we were wasting time (I'm visiting with friends, checking on loved ones, how dare he???) on our little electronic devices.  Just wait, I'm coming around to his way of thinking.

I've really been convicted lately of how little time I've been spending with God.  The littles and I started going to a new church in September with a wonderful Sunday School program and I got an adult lesson book and found daily Bible readings in the back.  So I began daily doing those readings, then added in an additional chapter of Scripture (in depth) and if I had time, a Bible study.  About an hour, with interruptions, each morning. 

Shortly after that, I was given the opportunity to review Come Back to Jesus - And Don't Bring Your Blackberry  by Tanya Logan.  I was drawn to this choice.  I know God was leading me because I needed it badly. 

There is a lesson a day for 6 weeks with a leaders guide included in case this is wanted for a small group study.  I definitely think that some accountability would be useful, as I am doing this alone, but I've asked God to be my accountability partner this time :)  Each lesson is short and to the point.  Although I quickly figured out where she was heading with the study, she did it nicely and nonjudgementally. 

In the end it comes down to a good-better-best thing.  Is what I am doing (social media, reading, hobbies) the BEST use of my time?  Let's face it, I'm only getting one today.  Once it is gone, it is gone.

I quickly caught myself doing the following:
-open facebook on my phone for "just a minute" and come up for air 45 minutes later
-find myself angry about things that were posted (and that had no bearing on me, my family, or anything really - so why was I mad?)
-found myself checking facebook at the kids sporting events
-found myself checking facebook at the supper table (even though we have a "no phones" rule at the table - my oldest son took it away from me - good for him!)

My facebook problem wasn't the only thing getting in the way of my relationship with God.  I read an enormous amount of fiction books.  They aren't bad, but I do need to curb my reading time to make time for other more important things.  My hobbies, although much lower on my distraction list, also need to be kept in the proper perspective.

How am I working to change my perspective?  I've allotted 1 hour a day (30 minutes morning and evening) to facebook checking.  I've also allotted 30 minutes a day to blogging (going to be using that save feature) and 30 minutes to email.  I've already scheduled time for "me" activities into my day - reading, hobbies, etc so I am going to be trying to make the BEST uses of those times.  Good-better-best, remember? 

This Bible study has opened my eyes to so many things that had become idols in my life.  Do you need to step back and take a look at what is REALLY important in your life?  I think it would do many of us a lot of good, I know it did me!

Come Back to Jesus - And Don't Bring Your Blackberry is available for $9.99 on the kindle or $15.99 as a paperback.