Sunday, January 16, 2011




Here is the new site:

visit my photography blog at its new location!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

At the end of a busy day, how much do I think about exactly what I'm doing when I prepare for bed, climb under those covers, and rest my head on my pillow?  Well, I've been thinking a lot about that lately.  :)

After my back pain flared up due to a fall, I thought about bed constantly.  I couldn't wait to simply lie down and try to ease the pain.  The pain would ease throughout the day, but after days and days of waking up in the morning, stiff and sore and facing a 15-minute ordeal simply to get out of bed and get my body in a vertical position, I knew something was up with the bed.  Finally, I refused to sleep there, choosing a sleeping bag on the floor instead.

sleeping on the floor--messy but helpful

Though I was stiff from the hard surface, my back began to heal, and today I deal with a little soreness and stiffness if I sit (or stand) for any length of time.

My dearest Fernando and I went shopping for a mattress, and after a long search, with lots of research, we found a solution to the bed issue.  That solution arrived last week.

On Saturday, the guys combined their efforts not only to replace our bed, but to give our master bedroom a whole new look, quite by accident, I might add.  :)

Of course it's messy--we're getting ready to move things around (that's my excuse, anyway)

The first step, of course, was to remove the old mattress.  This thing was a monster of epic proportions.  The photos speak for themselves.

(disclaimer--the mattress stain you may have noticed was from a mug of Fernando's coffee...)

Then my sweet Thomas cleaned the headboard, footboard, and railings of our existing bed frame.  And oh, my, did the carpet need a really good vacuuming!

Here's the "quite by accident" part.  Fernando asked me to show him exactly where the frame for our "new" bed should be placed.  Comments and suggestions flew, and the next thing we knew, we--I mean the guys--were moving every piece of furniture in the room, some just a foot or two, and some clear to the other side of the room.  As you saw in the image of our bedroom at the top of this post, our bedroom is long, but very narrow, which presents a host of problems with a king-sized bed and just four pieces of furniture--dresser, TV cabinet, skinny bookcase, and my project desk.

My project desk experienced most radical relocation.

Fernando's "side" of the bed was the most interesting area to clean out.  He is an organizationally challenged stuff collector (I love my husband, and I'm trying to be kind here--he's okay with me sharing this).  As he started to go through the bookcase that was "his," he stopped, placed his hand lovingly on one of the shelves, and murmured, "Wait.  Before we start, I need a minute alone (*sniff*)."  Giggles all around.  Dad's Shrine to Stuff was emptied, and all of his, well, stuff, was put in what was affectionately called Dad's Doo-Doo Box (sorry if that's an offensive term).

Here are a couple of things among the more interesting finds in that corner of the room:

Four opened boxes of Kleenex

A ten-year-old strip of negatives

Then it was time to fit the mattress supports, then the mattresses, into our existing bed frame.

Danny helping with the mattress cover

Ahhh, my first night on the new bed was strange (the smell of new sheets, sleeping on the opposite side of the bed, etc.).  But I woke up refreshed, without additional back pain.  I am a happy girl.

Here is what is left to do:

This is now cleaned off, but there are a few similar piles around the room.

I'll post more photos of the "finished" room once we organize our little piles.  :)

At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant.

Jeremiah 31:26 nasb (taken slightly out of context by me)

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
captured by Christine Anne

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Week -- What He Deems Best

This is my time to reflect on the past week, to store up memories in my heart,
and to acknowledge the Lord's ways in my life.

Home Life

What a quiet few weeks.  Being on the "injured reserve list" is no fun; but, the Lord is ever patient with me.  He has drawn me to the foot of His throne.  Each day He brings into my life what He deems best.  My slowly healing back is the cross that I would bear as I slowly and carefully do His work each day.  This is currently His best for me, and I gladly accept the fact that He is working in my heart.

The guys have stepped up to help around the home.  It's so interesting that without other girls in the home, there really are a LOT of areas that fall to my jurisdiction, and a lot that needs to be delegated when this manager is unable to fulfill her duties.  :)

My wonderful Fernando has helped in so many ways, and has again and again endeared himself to my heart.  In addition to his usual daily work, he worked on his compound bow, to fix and tune whatever needed fixing and tuning.

I'm able to stand (and then sit) for short periods of time, so his help in the kitchen has been gratefully received!  That was especially true on New Year's Day, as he and all the guys came together to help make Antoinette's French Toast Apple Crunch for brunch--which ended up being at about 12:45pm!  I don't remember what title she gave this recipe, so I came up with my own descriptive name.  Everyone loved it, which is not a common occurrence in our home.  Antoinette's recipe now has a place in my recipe binder.

slicing the apples [photo by Danny]

Antoinette's French Toast Apple Crunch

My Kitchen and Garden

The photo above with my dearest love tells it all.

My Project Desk

Still sits empty.  But here is some detail on a card I had made a year or so ago.  I thought I'd have to use a generic card for Bryan's graduation, but I found this extra card and was able to use it to give to him on his special day of celebration.  :)

Behind the Lens

The photography business is slow during the winter, but that's okay with me.  I trust the Lord to bring me clients as He sees fit.  Sweet Fernando drove me to the bank right before the new year to help take my business display down.

My business display at my bank!

Heart Thoughts

I have had a particular hymn running through my head these past few weeks, and wanted to quote it here.  I plan to play this on my flute during communion in our church service on January 9.  The author of this hymn is Lina Sandell, 1832-1903, from Sweden.  According to 101 Hymn Stories, while she was on an ocean journey with her pastor father, tragedy struck.  A sudden lurch of the ship caused her father to fall overboard; he "drowned before the eyes of his devoted daughter."  The author of the book describes:

Although she had written hymns prior to this tragic experience, more songs began to flow out of her broken heart which reflect a simple, child-like trust in Christ and a deep sense of His abiding presence in her life.

With that in mind, read the words of her hymn.  I have to include all three verses; I couldn't pick just one because each one ministered to my heart.  May they inspire you, as they have me, to trust Him.

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best--
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Ev'ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in ev'ry tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
captured by Christine Anne

Friday, January 7, 2011

FFG -- Gourmet Granola


My amazing friend Lori hosts Friday Farm Girls @ Heart every week;
please click on her button to visit her blog
and to find out how you can participate!

A bowl of homemade granola

I'm slowly recovering from my back injury, and I'm happier this week!  I'm able to move around a bit more freely, and because of needing to stand frequently, I have found myself in my kitchen more often.  My practical farm-girl heart says, "If I need to stand, I may as well stand in the kitchen and do something!"

One morning, I enlisted the boys' help to make granola.  I posted a photo of this once a long time ago, but this time, I have photos and the recipe!!  :)

cinnamon, coconut chips, pepitas

Christine's Granola

This is a double recipe; the amounts are easier!  I usually triple the recipe to have extra throughout the week.  I list alternate ingredients (and notes) in parentheses, just in case you don't use what I use.  :)

1 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup coconut oil (or other oil)
1/2 cup honey
1 t vanilla
24 oz. rolled oats (sorry I don't know how many cups this is; I use a scale)
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t sea salt

Optional Ingredients (I use the above for plain granola, and add the below for "gourmet" granola; you can add as many or as few as you like!)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds; I use raw Mexican)
1 cup coconut chips (from my bulk co-op, they are sweetened coconut shavings and totally yummy)
1 cup chopped nuts (I use a combination of raw walnuts, pecans, and slivered almonds)
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit (a friend just gave me dried cherries!!)

Combine sucanat, coconut oil, and honey in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat until sucanat is dissolved (it will be shorter if you use brown sugar).  Stir in vanilla.  Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients--I usually add the dried fruit after baking--in a large bowl and mix to combine.

Pour the liquid mixture into the oatmeal mixture, stirring until completely combined.  Spread into a baking pan, and bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.  Remove to stovetop or potholders and stir in raisins.  Stir the mixture as it cools (it will become one single clump if you don't!).  Store in an airtight container; I use canning jars.

Stir to lift oats from the bottom of the bowl--this will help thoroughly combine the ingredients

See?  Warm granola + cold milk = large clump :)

Glass jar storage

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
captured by Christine Anne

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tea Talk--How Many Are Your Works!

Welcome to my home!
Sit and share a cup of tea with me as we encourage each other in the Lord.
To participate, click on Ruth's button above.

I'm having...flavored black tea in my Pfaltzgraff tea cup. The tea was a sample given to me by a neighbor, and it is passionfruit flavored.  Since it was such a little sample, I used half the amount each time I made tea, and steeped it longer, so that I could stretch it out and make it last longer!  It's a delicious tea.

I'm feeling...still achy with my back, though I finally learned today that I should sit on a pillow when I'm at the computer desk.  So that's what I'm doing right now!  I still need to stand and walk around frequently so my back doesn't stiffen--very painful--but it is slowly healing and I feel so much more capable of running our household now!

On my our state's homeschool convention this coming June.  I know it is a long way off, but it is on my mind since I just finished organizing and sorting through all the workshops I will be managing for families homeschooling special needs children.  I have volunteered for a number of years now at ICHE (Illinois Christian Home Educators), and for the past two years have served as the Coordinator for Struggling and Special Learners.  One part of my responsibilities includes finding and scheduling special needs speakers for our annual state convention each June.  The fun part of that responsibility is getting to manage everything at the actual convention--all my speakers and this year I will be handling 12 workshops.  I love logistics.  :)

I leave you with...a short verse from Psalm 105, which we read at dinnertime devotions tonight.  After David exclaims all the works on God's hands--all the things He created--during the first 23 verses, he then exults:

O LORD, how many are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your possessions.
Psalm 104:24 nasb

We shared a lively discussion of His creativeness in forming all of His creatures, including man.  We spoke of His creativity in making this earth, in telling the sun and the moon where to go, and in commanding the sea to come so far and then no more.  And He knows me--such knowledge is too wonderful for me!

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
captured by Christine Anne

2011 Food Storage -- Week 1


I've already worked on this week's assignment.  When I first decided to accept this challenge, I figured it would be pretty easy for me, the "pathetically organized" personality, who already has some food canned from her garden, and some extra stocked in our Bomb Shelter (that's what we affectionately call that particular corner of our basement!).  However, after reading this month's assignment, I was overwhelmed--what had I bitten off?  Didn't I have a ton of other stuff I'm working on?  How was I ever going to find the time to work on this?  Maybe I should just not do it...

As Fernando and I chatted about this, though, I saw his enthusiasm for the project.  He has a very clear view of politics and our nation's plight.  He is very perceptive when it comes to all things political and economical, at both the state and national levels.  Gosh, even I know that our Prairie State could declare bankruptcy in the next five years.

Usually when we get talking about something, the creative juices flow.  Something he says, or even something I hear myself say, nudges me in a direction I hadn't anticipated.  And so, this project will result in hours being racked up for Thomas--Home Economics 101!!  I am thrilled that, as we spend time together creating and implementing our storage plan, we can count all the time we spend as credit towards his high school diploma.

For a summary of my week, I'm going to copy the parts of Lori's assignment below in purple, then comment on each one.

Always, always, always pray before undertaking any kind of project for your family!  Ask God to watch over you.  Ask Him to help you make wise decisions.  Ask Him to lead you.  And, if you are married, ask your husband if it's all right for you to do this.

This will be ongoing!  We definitely need His wisdom, His leading, His plan, for this undertaking.  I jumped on board before even asking my husband, then I asked him about doing this.  :)  Yep, it was backwards.  And I was prepared to drop out if Fernando was opposed.  But surprisingly, as I said, he was enthusiastic and encouraging.  I've said it many times before--when my husband encourages me to do something, I know it's the Lord's leading.  The Lord worked this situation out nicely.

Take a walk through the house and decide where you will keep your stored food.  How much space will you need?

Thomas mentioned that the only under-bed space was Dad's and Mom's bed.  But our room remains warm in the summer, even with air conditioning, so that may not be the ideal location.  Since we already have our Bomb Shelter in the basement, we decided that we would carve out some extra space in that area.  There is a "train table" opposite the Bomb Shelter shelving, a project-of-many-years construction that will remain for Fernando to work on and finish with future grandchildren (see--I'm thinking ahead!!).  We have several Rubbermaid boxes filled with stored clothing underneath that table, so we'll spend some time in the near future sorting through that, de-cluttering and simplifying it.  After all, Thomas is our youngest and we have no need to keep certain clothing items any longer.  We will move the remaining clothing boxes elsewhere to free up enough space for food.

We're not really sure how much space we'll end up needing.  Once we finalize our menu and get an idea of how much product we'll need for three months, and how much space that product takes up, we'll be able to figure out the space issue.  (Fernando has already talked about building the food to a six-month supply, but we'll stick to three months for now.)

Decide realistically how much additional money you have or could free up to spend on this food you'll be storing.

We plan to skim a little off of our weekly stipend, and see how much we can save up.  Currently, I set aside a certain amount each week in four areas:

  1. Bulk co-op.  We have a friend who organizes a bulk co-op on a monthly basis.  This portion of money goes toward all of our grains, dry beans and legumes, pastas, oils, etc.
  2. Meat and eggs.  We found a source for farm-fresh eggs and meat, Nature's Choice Farm.  We already have grass-fed beef stored in our freezer, so this portion of my grocery money is spent on eggs and non-beef meat--poultry, fish, etc.
  3. Costco.  I purchase certain canned goods--tuna and olives, for example--and other items here.  Plus, I get good prices on some organic products.
  4. Weekly perishables and other.  This portion of money stays in my wallet, for use at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Meijer (which now stocks some good organic products!).  With this portion, I purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, cheeses, sour cream, butter, ketchup/mustard, etc.  This is the portion of my grocery budget that causes me the most trouble--when this runs out, no more purchases for the week. 

We use CASH for all of our grocery purchases.  We initially used cash when we were first married, then gradually switched to using our Discover card.  The "cashback bonus" feature was nice, and we always paid our full monthly bill.  But we were spending beyond our limit each month.

Crisis came about three or four years ago, when we were almost $1,000 in the red for the month.  One day, Fernando came home from work, walked into the family room, and announced, "We're going to use cash for groceries.  When the cash is gone, we will not purchase more.  The Lord will provide."  And He did.  Within one month, our grocery budget was back in the black!  God is good.

I wanted to share that because cash is how I will be operating when I purchase food for storage.  For example, if there is some extra cash at the end of the month in our Costco budget, I can set that aside for extra purchases.  I am simply going to make another envelope for "food storage" purposes, and keep it with my current envelopes of cash.  I also realize that the money for the bulk co-op is already for purchasing extra.  I should be able to use some of that money for items I find I need once lists are made.


I have sources and a plan for purchasing already in place.  I will research as I encounter ingredients I can't store well.  I anticipate having to deal with--what takes the place of an egg?  Sour cream?  Buttermilk?  Cheese--oh, my lovely cheese?  *sigh*  I'll research these as I have need, and post results!

Okay, this post is now pretty long.  My next post (next week) will focus on our menu plan, which we've already started.  I think I'll let it sit and mellow a bit, then look at it again and get more family feedback, before we make the final decision on what we'll be committing to eat over and over again!  :)

Thomas works on the menu plan

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
captured by Christine Anne

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

March On, Young Man!

Our family had the privilege of attending a celebration of Bryan's homeschool graduation.  What a happy time celebrating God's goodness in the life of a young man seeking to follow Him!  No more words for me; simply enjoy these few photos, and hop on over to Lori's blog to read the details!

Back to life,

visit my photography blog!
captured by Christine Anne