The Gang

The Gang
October 2008 Sweet Potatoe Harvest

About Me

I am a busy mommy of 6, seeking to be a loving, godly helpmeet to my husband and a biblical discipler to my children. God has blessed us with a child with Autism. May the lessons that the Lord is teaching me and our family be a blessing to you and yours!

My Favorite Books

  • Bible
  • Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl
  • Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
  • Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
  • Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
  • Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
  • The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
Thursday, May 29, 2008

This morning I woke after a very short night to rise and shine get ready for the day and spend some time with the Lord. While I was having my devotions Philip came down. We were chatting a bit and for some reason Philip asked, "Mom are you 60 like daddy?" I laughed thinking.... Ok, I may feel like I'm 60 today but hopefully I don't look like it! I responded "Honey, Daddy and I are 36." My dear Philip who I think has clogged ears again due to excessive wax says, "Oh your 56?!" So I repeated very slowly and loudly, "NO, THIRTY SIX!"He looked at me sweetly smiled, gave me a squeeze and said, "Oh Firty six" and went back to his eating. I laughed and went back to my bible reading thinking about the fact that I am so blessed to be a mommy, even if I am accused of being 60 years old!

Sorry for the old picture. This was from this past Christmas. I thought it showed Philip's glowing mischievous smile well!!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Here are a few more tips for reducing your expenses during this uncertain economic time.

1. STOP SAVING CASH! Ok, now you think I've flipped right? Take some time to research out what top economists are saying about the dollar. One of my favorite investors has coined the phrase: "Cash is TRASH!" The dollar value is crashing so what good is your hundreds or thousands of dollars in savings really going to be worth when the dollar value is ZERO. If you have a savings you really have three choices for your money. 1. Invest it into consumable goods for your family: ie FOOD, Livestock (if you are in the country). 2. Invest it in hard cash, meaning gold coins or silver coins. You can purchase small lots of 90% silver on ebay, and through many silver brokers and banks. Your silver, & gold will increase in value as the dollar decreases. Be careful though. If you invest in silver from a large broker your silver may be traceable. You don't necessarily want people to know you have gold & silver hiding some where. BUT you do want to have it. Some top economists are saying that silver may reach as high as $100 per ounce! One I was listening too stated that if you own $9000 in silver you may be able to purchase a home when the economy fully crashes because that silver will be worth a LOT more! Even IF gold and silver do not sky rocket even if it doubles in value you have invested wisely. How long will it take your money to double at a 2%-3% interest rate in your savings? I rest my case! 3. Keep your money watch your investment go negative while inflation increases! Meaning, there is less pull for your dollar every day.

2. Stop using paper products. Ok I know there is no replacement for toilet tissue & even writing paper for our children. However, we can greatly reduce the use of other paper products. Instead of paper towel use microfiber towels and/or rags for cleaning. Replace your paper napkins with cloth. Use the same cloth napkin for each person for all meals in a day, just make sure to save your messiest meal for dinner! :-) Start using hankies instead of kleenex (or if you are a kleenex lover buy lots over the next few months before the prices get too unreasonable).

3. Hang your clothes outside to dry. I am NOT a fan of underwear and socks on the clothes line, however, if all I'm drying is one load of underwear and socks a week rather than drying 4-5 loads a DAY I can really save a LOT of energy and reduce my electric bill. I don't have a clothes line right now and can hardly wait to have one again at the new house!

4. Wear your clothes more than once. Ok, I'm meddling now right?? No, most people can wear pants/skirts 2-3 times before they really need to be laundered. I know what you are going to say next, "MY kids cannot keep clothes clean for 3 minutes let alone 3 days!" I have five boys and believe me they get dirty in the summer. However, I find that usually their pants & shorts can still be worn more than one day, especially if they are just playing outside. I do change their shirts every day. Once they get a nice tan I don't even encourage them to wear shirts in the summer. It saves me laundry and boys love running around without a shirt on! Teach your kids how to judge whether it is really clean or dirty before they throw their clothes in the wash. Reducing your laundry as much as possible will reduce your expenses in soap & electricity.

5. Don't shower/bathe daily. EWE! No really now, only if you have a very physical job will you stink after one days work. So space your bathing to every other day or every third day is possible. Stop making your kids bathe every day! Teach them to shower or bathe when they stink, if they don't sink have the wash their hands and face before/after meals and their feet before bed (so you don't have black stains on the sheet when they play outside all day in their bare feet/sandals). I promise you that they won't grow weeds behind their ears if they only have 1 or 2 baths a week. Really!!! :-)

6. Interview your grandparents or parents and find out how they made it through the last depression our nation had. Take notes and make some changes that will help your family to survive through our tremulous times.

When I think of more expense reducers I'll post again! Do you have any input?
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
There are a lot of families who are concerned about the bug sprays they use on their children. However, many do not take the time to consider how many toxic chemicals they are slathering on their bodies to protect themselves from the supposed harmful ray's of the sun. A blogging friend of mine Stephanie wrote up a two part post on sunscreens. She has some GREAT information to consider when shopping for your families sunscreen this year. Click on her name and it will take you to her blog then look for her posts: "My thoughts on sunscreen. " Dr. Mercola also has some great information on sunscreen and bug spray.

I try to use very little sunscreen on the kids. Instead I limit their time in the sun during the hottest parts of the day and/or make sure they are clothed in such a way to minimize skin exposure. This year Nathan, Philip & Thomas already have nice little "tan's" from exposure to the sun in the later afternoons. I'm glad that on the "farm" there are wooded areas that I can encourage the kids to play in during the heat of the day.

What are you doing to help you and your family handle the sun without toxic sunscreen?
Monday, May 26, 2008
In today's economy it seems impossible to reduce your expenses. Phil and I watched a video on utube about the "Energy NON Crisis". If you are concerned about the current oil crisis and the dollar value you should look up this video or get the book and start doing your own research. It is a bit disconcerting to realize that our nation is headed for such a huge financial crisis if not a full blown depression. We have been discussing how we as a family are going to be wise stewards of what God has provided for us. We do not have to fear what is to come because we are able to Trust that the Lord is in control. However, we do believe that God wants us to be wise & prudent as we approach the uncertain economic crisis of our age. If you are not preparing for the rising gas & food prices you need to start NOW! I thought I'd share some of the things we are doing or plan to do that you might find helpful!

1. Have a garden this summer. Even if your yard is small consider a small garden box with some of the veggies that your family uses the most. Find a book on Square Foot Gardening at your local library or do research on the web. Seeds are very inexpensive and yield much more than the $1 you pay for them. It is not too late to start a garden.

2. Reduce the number of times you shop each month. If you usually usually shop one time a week, start by shopping every other week, then every third until you reach the point where you are only traveling to the store 1 time every month or better yet, every other month. We usually shop one time a month with the exception of milk & eggs which we try to get within 5 miles from home from local farmers. Our garden will soon reach the point where we will be able to provide all our own fresh veggies. Until then I have Phil pick up what I need on his way home from work so that I'm not having to waste gas to get to the store and back.

3. Car pool. Find someone to car pool with for work so that you are spending 1/2 or less than you typically would on gas each month by splitting it 1to 4 ways with others in your local area. Our new home will be 20 miles from Phil's work. He is trying to find people to carpool with so that he can share the gas expenses. If he cannot we are considering a motorcycle for the warmer months of the year since they are much cheaper on gas.

4. Find a local food club in your area where you can purchase bulk beans, grains, rice, flour, sugar, etc. Some in the Mid-West US are Natural Farms, Country Life, and United Prairie. These stores on wheels carry many food items that are both organic and non-organic. You can contact these companies and see who runs the local "clubs" in your area. You can often find out about these groups by asking church organizations, and health food store owners. If you are wondering what to do with 50# of flour, sugar, beans, rice, etc. When you do go shopping stop at every store that you can along the way that has a bakery. The bakeries use 5 gallon tubs of icing, fillings, etc and often will sell you their empty buckets for between 50 cents and $1. You can then put your bulk grains into these buckets (after cleaning them good) and they will stay fresh for YEARS!

5. Buy in bulk. Many large grocery stores or even Sam's/Cosco sell items in bulk. Plan your budget so that you can start buying things in bulk. Focus on one food that you use the most each time you shop. There is no way you can stock up on everything all at once (unless you use your stimulus check, which would be a wise investment), so make a plan to start stocking up on the basic food items so that when flour is tripple the price it is now, you won't have to buy it because you have plenty stored away.

6. Start cooking some vegetarian meals. Find 2 vegetarian meals your family enjoys and make them each week. By not purchasing as much meat you will save a lot of money. Maybe fix homemade pancakes, spaghetti with tomato sauce (no meat), beans and rice flavored with Taco seasoning, popcorn with peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese with tomato soup, veggie stir fry with rice, etc.

7. Stop eating out! Make a sack lunch or supper when you need to be on the road or at work. You will save several dollars a day by making homemade lunches rather than going to a restaurant's. Kids LOVE picnics! Making a sandwich to take along rather than stopping at McDonald's will not only be healthier but will be just as easy as you travel.

8. Water. If you typically purchase bottled water look into getting a water filter. I've been researching the Berkey Water filter systems. The water at the farm we are moving to is not drinkable unless it is filtered. Buying a water filter will save us having to buy bottled water for our family of 8.

9. Shop locally. Find farmers markets, and local farmers that have eggs, milk, syrup, etc for sale or trade. If you have a farmers market only 10-15 miles from your home you will be paying less for the food and support our economy so much better. For more info on why shopping locally is very economically smart read the book: Animal Vegetable Miracle. You can find a lot of info on-line about shopping locally too.

10. Start reducing your food portions. We have decided that I'm gong to start cooking less so that we are getting our nutrient needs met while reducing my grocery needs. We in the US really do eat way too much food. We can live on much less and we may be forced to live on much less in the near future. When you have to pay $5-$7 a gallon for gas you will have to reduce your food budget. By reducing your food portions and making sure you are cooking healthy meals that will meet your families nutrient needs you will end up saving money at each meal.

11. Reduce your home energy use. Make sure you are conserving water by taking shorter showers, economizing your water use while doing dishes, and catching rain water for watering your lawn and gardens. We set a timer for the kids when they are in the shower so that they don't take long showers. We fill a sink with hot water to rinse all the dishes in then empty it and fill it again with soapy water to wash them and we are starting to fill up the other side of the sink with hot clean water for rinsing rather than running the water through the entire rinse process. Often I only use 4 gallons of water to do my dishes. If you have a dishwasher be sure to use the shortest cycle possible with the NO HEAT drying cycle. Turn your heat down this winter. For each degree you turn down your heat in the winter you can save up to 3% of your heat expense. We usually keep our house between 62 & 64 degrees all winter long. If you have the option of heating with wood DO! If you have a wood stove that will also allow you to cook on it. DO IT! Many soups, stews, chili's, hot cereals, pot roasts, roast chicken, etc can all be cooked very easily if set on top of a wood burning stove in the winter. Check out new appliances like Solar Ovens, hand crank food mills/grinders, outdoor bread ovens, and wood grills. You can build a nice outdoor cooking grill by using cinder blocks.

12. Start making your own cleaning products. The basic ingredients needed for almost all your cleaning needs are vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, and borax. These ingredients are not only cheap but they are also NOT toxic. You can find many recipes online for dish soap, dish washer soap, laundry soap, all purpose cleaning, window cleaning, etc.

Ok, I'll stop there. I'm off to make bread and do my dishes. I have promised my kids that we'd fly a kite sometime today and of course I need to pack. If you are doing something to prepare your family for the rising gas and food prices please post a comment sharing your tips!!
Saturday, May 24, 2008

Today our Thomas is 7 years old! Thomas we are so proud of you! You are learning to overcome so many of the challenges you face as a special needs boy. It thrills our hearts to see how the Lord is allowing you to grow in knowledge and understanding. It is our prayer that soon you will be able to understand God's love for you! Happy Birthday Thomas! We love you!

We hope you will enjoy watching Thomas as we sing to him, and as he receives his birthday present. His scooter from Grandma & Grandpa Reese! The video will be added as soon as Phil can compress it for me.

I've had this post written since the 24th and also want to ad that Thomas was so excited about his scooter that he went door to door in town here telling all our neighbors about his scooter and his 7 candles on his birthday cake! Just when we think Thomas is learning his boundaries well we realize once again that Autistic children don't comprehend boundaries, danger, or proper social behavior. We had to take the scooter away a couple times because of his going too far away from home on the scooter. Thomas definitely likes his new scooter. He has been sleeping with it and carrying it with him all day everywhere he goes!

Tidbits from this past week:

Elizabeth had her final band concert. Phil stayed so that he could attend while I was home with the three littles. Elizabeth has learned to play the Baritone and did a very good job at the concert. She is blessed with an ability in music that we hope to encourage as we home school through various music lessons. Phil was very impressed with not only the high school band, but also the elementary. Mrs. Rice does a GREAT job teaching music at all levels. I'm very thankful that our children have had the opportunity to be in her music classes these past couple years.

Thomas has been on a knight kick. This past week his therapist helped make him a night costume during one of his sessions. You'll see Sarah, one of our favorite therapists pictured with Thomas. I wish I could take Sarah along with us when we move. She has been wonderful with Thomas and has a real desire to work with Autistic kids. Thanks Sarah.... we'll miss you!!

Today our little chicks graduated from their first brooding box to a larger one that will accommodate them until our move on the 16th. You'll see one close up picture of one of our Turkens. We have 3 Turkens and they are one of our favorite breeds that we received in our heavy mix of roosters. They are so ugly they are CUTE! :-) Phil has done a wonderful job building these homes for our birds. Our first 25 egg layers are arriving on June 3rd. We've decided that when we get to the farm we will order a straight run (which means a mix of males & females) of 50 more heavies so we'll have plenty of egg layers and hopefully at least 50 roosters for butchering. A couple weeks ago I was visiting a friends homestead in our town and she has ducks, turkey's and geese. We've decided to also order a barnyard mix which will give us 2 geese, 6 ducks and 6 turkey's. We'll have 1 turkey for Thanksgiving, and 1 duck for Christmas then save the rest for breeding in the spring. If we end up with 2 boy geese one will probably be used for a winter holiday meal too. Ducks usually are really good setters so even if I cannot get my chickens to sit I might be able to get the duck to sit on chicken eggs. :-)

The boys all got summer hair cuts this week. Nathan's ended up shorter than I had intended because Friday morning he decided to cut the top of his hair in three places which led to me having to give him a buzz. Now I can officially say that ALL of my children have cut their own hair before the age of 4! Nathan's big phrase this week is, "No mamma, I not da baby, I your boy!" That is the phrase he heard over and over as we went through the time where we took away his bottle.

Phil has been working really hard in the garden. It is nice to see many more crops being planted each week. Next week he will be spending Memorial Day in the garden then flying to Florida for a business trip Tues - Thurs. We all hope to spend a few days at the new house June 4-8 to finish the garden, plant the herb garden, and do any final painting & clean up work on the house.

Today we are celebrating our Memorial day with Sloppy Joes, Thomas's birthday party (I'll post pictures later), and a bonfire with s'mores. And I'm taking a break from major packing since my allergies have led to a nice cold and I'm beat from our busy week.
Monday, May 19, 2008

One challenge I have found during our transition to a nourishing lifestyle is that of having snacks on hand for the kids to grab quick. Fruit is GREAT! However, my kids go through it faster than I am able to shop. Today I'm sharing a couple recipes that don't necessarily meat the qualifications of the Nourishing Traditions style of cooking but they are a much better snack than what you get buying granola bars from the store. I found this recipe when I was on a quest for a healthy granola bar for my children that did NOT have High Fructose Corn Syrup. I make these 2 times a month and we've taken them to "pot luck" type activities where they have been a huge hit! They are GREAT for camping, hiking, and sack lunches. Enjoy!

Homemade Granola

4 cups oats NOT quick. Use old fashioned, rolled or thick cut oats.
2 cups nuts (I use a combination of raw almond-sliced or chopped, pecan, peanut, cashew, etc.)
1/4 cup sesame
1 c non sweetened coconut flakes
1/4 c wheat germ (I use 1/4 cup of my freshly ground flour)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup Virgin Coconut Oil (you can use sunflower or safflower if you are not yet a convert to Nourishing oils. Do NOT use olive oil, it has too strong of a flavor)
1 cup Honey (you can add a little mor honey if you like it a bit sweeter)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup other dried fruit

Cooks note: In my opinion this recipe needs a little cinnamon. However, my family are not real cinnamon fans so I haven't added it yet. If you enjoy cinnamon and plan to add dried apples, you'd want to add 1 tsp cinnamon to the granola mix before baking.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl until mixed well. Divide the mixture between 2 Large Stoneware Bar Pans or Jelly Roll Pans. Cook in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes. Be sure to stir the granola every 10 minutes in order to allow for even browning. Remove from the oven and pour onto parchment or wax paper. Add raisins and other dry fruit if you want to. Allow to cool completely then break it up and store it in an air tight container. We love sprinkling a tablespoon or 2 onto our yogurt or yogurt/fruit bowls.

Chewy Granola Bars
Recipe courtesy Family Circle Magazine
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar (I use sucanat)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups granola (see recipe above)
1/2 cup coconut (the recipe calls for sweetened, I use unsweetened and works great)
1/2 cup golden or regular raising (I leave these out because my family does not like raisins, instead I'll add another 1/2 cup of raw nuts: pecans, peanuts, or cashews)
3/4 cup chocolate chips or carob chips
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds

1. Combine sugar, honey, vanilla and butter in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 2 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. Allow mixture to cool for a couple minutes.

2. Meanwhile combine granola, coconut, raisins, 1/2 cup chocolate chips and almonds in a large bowl.

3. Stir brown sugar mixture into the granola mixture. Spread into a 13 X 9 baking pan. Press the remaining chocolate chips into the top. Refrigerate 2 hours or until completely cooled. Allow to sit at room temp for 15 minutes before cutting into bars.

Cooks note: If you double the recipe you can spread it into a Stoneware Bar Pan or Jelly Roll Pan.
Sunday, May 18, 2008

Today I want to focus on many blessings that the Lord has been showering upon our family and me personally. I'll start with some general blessings then expound on some spiritual blessings and lessons that the Lord has been teaching me.

On Saturday, I was able to pick up a little over 6 gallons of raw milk and 1 1/2 gallons of cream from pastured cows. My picture today is of the final stages of the butter making process. We allow the cream to sit out for most the day then we take turns shaking it until the butter separates from the buttermilk. In this picture you'll see my almost gallon of buttermilk which will be used for biscuits, pancakes, and bread this week, two 1/2 cup portions of butter, and the blob of butter that needed to be put into 1/2 cup servings. I use my Measure-All cup to pack the butter into while squeezing out as much buttermilk as I can. I then wrap my 1/2 cup blob's in saran wrap, write the date on them with a sharpie marker, then put them into a zipper type freezer bag. These last months in the freezer. I pull them out for fresh use or for baking. This blob of butter ended up giving me 6 cups of organic raw butter. That is equal to about $13-21 dollars since most organic butter sells for $5-$7 per pound. The milk and butter are a huge blessing! Plus I had the opportunity to spend a couple hours visiting with my friend who milks the cows!

When we left the "farm" with our car loaded with milk & cream we headed to another friends house who had some canning jars for me. As we brought the cases down from her attic I was overwhelmed with excitement to find that she was giving me 14 cases of jars, most of them 2 qt PLUS a box of lids and seals! A brand new case of jars runs for around $15. Once again the Lord showered us with goods that will meet our families needs!

I've also been blessed with fresh farm eggs for FREE the past few weeks which has been wonderful! My friend with the chickens also has ducks, geese & turkey's. She has given us goose eggs on more than one occassion which are Samuels favorite eggs to use for his omelet!

A few days ago I was able to meet my new pastors wife via email. We've been corresponding about the move, the church, and other things. I found out that the week we will be moving to New Holstein is the week of our new churches Vacation Bible School. I'm so excited that the kids will be able to get to know the children from our new church right away! God is so good!!

Yesterday Elizabeth and I went to our churches Mother Daughter Brunch. My heart was blessed by the message which I will write more about at the end of this post. Then we went into "town" for our trip to get the milk, canning jars, groceries, and lumber for another chicken pen. While we were shopping I decided to look at some tops and skirts. I desperately needed some clothes that weren't too tight or too big. I've only lost about 28 pounds so many of my shirts are still snug. I know tight fitting shirts are the "popular" style. However, I do NOT feel that they are modest nor do they honor the Lord or my husband. So as Elizabeth and I were looking at shirts I noticed a clearance rack. I usually NEVER find clothes for myself on a clearance rack. There were some REALLY cute reversible skirts that I decided to try on. Not only did they fit but I was also able to find a top to match each on. Because the skirts are reversible I got 6 new church outfits for just $42. It was so nice to wear something that wasn't horribly baggie and frumpy to church today. PLUS I found new tops to wear with my favorite Capri's. Now I'm all set as far as my wardrobe goes for Camp and the summer in general.

The Lord has been teaching me a lot this week about my attitudes regarding my home, packing, scheduling my days, and discipling the children. Yesterday at the ladies brunch one of my dear friends spoke on the impact studying Mary & Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, has impacted her life over this past year and a half. I found her challenge to be very applicable and convicting to the internal struggles I find myself facing these days. I have a tendency to be very "Martha" with my days, I'm often in a rush going from this to that, praying on a whim, reading scripture rushed, listening to the Christian radio with only a portion of my attention, all of which tends to leave me feeling frustrated and STRESSED! The speaker pointed out that it wasn't what Martha was doing that was wrong but that she was "cumbered about" or consumed with and stressed about so many things that she wasn't willing to listen to or be taught by Christ. That little statement hit me between the eye's like the rock that struck Goliath. I realized that I have been cumbered about rather than casting all my cares upon Him who cares for me. I have been doing the good things rather than seeking to live for the Greatest Master. I had to ask God to forgive me once again for my selfishness and lack of willingness to just trust God with each day and all that it entails.

I can honestly say that after yielding my fears and expectations about these next few weeks to the Lord that I am at peace about everything that needs to be done. I have renewed my commitment to seek to walk faithfully, communing daily with the Lord and teaching my children how to walk in His grace day by day. I pray that our busy weeks will be a time that we will reflect back on and be able to see many things that God taught us and ways in which He was magnified through this time of pressure.
Friday, May 16, 2008

Today it hit me that I have just 19 days left to get this entire house packed up. AHHHH!! We aren't moving until June 16 BUT my last day to pack is June 4th. We leave for the new house on June 5th to paint and work in the garden through the 8th. After going to our new church in Kiel that morning we will head back up here to do laundry and pack for Northland Mission Camp's Family Camp. We register for Camp Monday afternoon and will be there through Saturday morning. Then back to the Pembine house for laundry and the final preparations for the move on Monday the 16th. In all reality I only see about 12 days that I will be able to be busy packing because of various events: school, Thomas's Birthday, Thomas's WEAP appt in Green Bay, and weekends with the Family. This Saturday is the Mother Daughter Banquet at our church, next Saturday it Thomas's birthday for which we have planned on going to a hotel to swim for a few hours then have a picnic party. Yikes, I was stressed when I figured out that I only had 19 days, now after thinking through the schedule I'm REALLY STRESSED!!! Anyone wanna come help?! I know the Lord will give me the strength to get it all done!

Today I packed 10 boxes up from my office , organized & labeled all the boxes I packed this past summer and packed up all the canning jars that have been given to me. Now that I have the garage organized I feel very free to continue packing and just move the boxes out there so we can still have somewhat of an orderly home during the packing process. This picture shows all the boxes that needed to be labeled so they'll make it to the correct room at the new house, plus the 10 boxes I packed today.

I had one VERY gross find for the day. While packing my canning jars into boxes with lids I found a jar that had what I thought was a mouse nest. In the same box there was a jar with some icky smelling water. When I dumped the jar I noticed the partially decomposed body of a little mouse. YUCK!! I quickly covered up then had to explain to Philip why the mouse was dead and why he couldn't touch it. EWWWW!

After working from 9-5 on packing I came in to clean up the "packing" mess in the kitchen. You know the leftover stuff from the sorting, organizing, pitching process. Then finished off my pizza crust and made our pizza for tonight. I used Lindsay's recipe from Passionate Homemaking which was posted on Nourishing Gormet. It is a soaked pizza crust recipe and it smells and looks WONDERFUL! I didn't finish this post before the pizza was done, so we have sampled the crust now and it tastes GREAT!! Much better than my attempt at a soaked crust the past 4 weeks. Here is the link for the recipe: Lindsay's Pizza Crust Recipe

Phil has been working hard this week fencing in the garden and planting the broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, red onions, Brussels sprout and butter crunch lettuce all from plants that we started inside in late March/early April. I'm so thankful that he has been willing to work so hard to get our garden ready and planted. It has been a LOT of work, especially since he is putting in a full day of work then driving 20 minutes to get there so he can work until dark each night. I'll have to see if I can get him to take a camera down next week and take a picture of our garden so I can show it to you. You've probably noticed that I've finally learned how to post pictures! :-) I haven't figured out how to post more than one picture and have it look right but I'm learning!

Well, I'm off to clean up the kitchen, clean up our room and get beautiful because my sweet hubby is coming home tonight! :-)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
One of my favorite home school resources are having a SALE until May 20. I purchased their Busy Bible for Nathan for his 3rd birthday. He is only allowed to "read" it during church services. It is absolutely wonderful, handcrafted and worth the expense! I also bought him their alphabet chart that has a stuffed animal for each letter of the alphabet. We'll be using it for the home school room next year. Their proverbs series is VERY good!

Take advantage of this sale and have some fun shopping for the summer or next school year! Below I pasted part of the email I received about the sale.


Welcome to the Learning Parent
"Create Your Own" Clearance Sale!

Take 25% Off Everything on Our Website!

(Applies to orders of $50 or more – until May 20, 2008. Use Code SALE.)

Exciting things are happening at The Learning Parent!
We're in the process of creating some awesome teaching materials that will make your home schooling much easier and enrich the lives of your children.

In addition, we're discovering more and more wonderful resources for our children and we want to share them with you! In order to make room for these great new products, we simply must clear some shelves!

So ... until May 20th, 2008, we are giving you the chance to create your own clearance sale! That's right, take a whopping 25% off the price of any product or products on our website on your order of $50 or more! Save big on everything! Following are samples of our inventory of hundreds of items.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thirteen years ago today I walked down the isle nervous yet anxiously anticipating what it would be like to be Mrs. Philip Reese. These past years have exceeded my expectations and have been a dream come true. Phil, thank you for 13 wonderful years! You are still the love of my life and my very best earthly friend. Thank you for loving me so patiently and faithfully. You are a wonderful father. I enjoy watching you play with our children while constantly seeking to point them to Christ and His ability to meet every need they have. Thank you for taking such good care of me and the kids, for not only meeting our physical needs but for consistently guiding our family spiritually. I am so thankful that the Lord has given you to me. Your passion for Christ overflows in the way you daily express your love to me and the children. I'm so thankful that you love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and seek to serve him daily. I look forward to many more years by your side learning how to best meet your needs. I love you!

Since we are not able to be together today I wanted everyone to know how blessed I am to have you for my husband.

Happy Anniversary My Love!

My first try at cheese looks GREAT! Sam is holding it on the cutting board in the picture. He tried some this morning on his Farm Fresh Goose Egg Omelet and said it tasted really good. It is supposed to sit out on the counter for a couple days to dry then be waxed and stored for a month to age. I highly doubt it will make it to that stage since we have been without cheese for a few weeks now and the kids are anxious to try it. Thankfully I have a friend who is able to share about 10-15 gallons of farm fresh milk with me this weekend, as well as more next week. I will plan on making at least 3-4 2 pound rounds of cheese with some of this milk. It takes 2 gallons of milk to make approximately 2 pounds of cheese. Since I know I'm going to be getting extra milk over these next couple weeks I will probably let the kids eat this first block of cheese as a snack and on our soup tomorrow.

I made some whole wheat/spelt bread last night too with over 70% of the grain soaked in Whey for 24 hours. The bread looks and smells WONDERFUL! This is a nice transition bread recipe for the beginner soaker like myself. I hope to get to the point where I am confident soaking almost all the grains for baking. Here is the recipe that I used:

Soaked Grain Whole Wheat/Spelt Bread
7 1/2 - 8 cups Freshly Ground Hard Red Wheat and/or Spelt Flour (I used 4 wheat & 3-4 spelt)
3 tsp Yeast
1/4 cup water
2 cups plus 3 oz Whey or buttermilk
1/2 cup sucanant (I have not tried it with honey yet but I'm sure it would work, you'd just need a bit more flour because of the added moisture)
5 Tbsp butter
2 tsp salt

1. Mix 5 cups flour with whey or buttermilk (buttermilk does add a bit of a bitter flavor, adding more sugar or honey helps) in a bowl with a lid. Mix well and cover. Leave it in a warm spot for 12 - 24 hours. 24 hours is best.
2. When you are ready to bake the bread. Put the water, butter & sugar in a small pot and melt butter.
3. While butter is melting put 1 cup flour, 2 tsp salt and 3 tsp yeast into a bowl.
4. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a dough hook for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add soaked grains and kneed with a dough hook for 6 minutes. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.
6. Remove dough from bowl, grease bowl with olive oil or coconut oil. Put dough back into bowl turning once to coat with oil. Cover with a wet cheesecloth or clean wet dish rag. Put in a warm place to rise until doubled.
7. When the dough has doubled in size punch down and divide into two globs of dough. Shape into loaves and put into two greased loaf pans (I prefer stoneware). Allow to rise until doubled in size.
8. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until loaf is browned and hollow sounding.

I'm enjoying baking breads & pancakes with soaked grains. The dough of the breads is beautiful and elastic much like a white bread loaf but SOOO much healthier!! The pancakes are so light, fluffy, and loaded with wonderful flavor and fiber!

It really is fun making all these things for our family from farm fresh, organic ingredients! I think some nice grilled cheese sandwiches are on the menu for lunch today!
Monday, May 12, 2008

My cheese tasted very good as salted curds. I put some on our salads at lunch. The rest of it is pressing in the cheese press until tomorrow morning. Then it will have to cure and age. I was quite concerned about my first batch of cheese but I think it turned out quite well.

On Saturday Phil, Sam, Caleb & I went down to New Holstein to spend a day at the new house working in the garden and seeing the house. While the boys were working in the garden raking out the sod the current renters dog trampled several of my plants. Phil had decided NOT to put up a fence and use flowers and other means of keeping out the deer and rabbits However, after the dog killed some of the plants he decided it would be best to fence in the garden. Fencing it in will also allow us to free range our chickens more since they won't be able to get into the garden. This week he will finish the fence THEN plant the onions, leeks, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, and spinach. He is also hoping to start a few small rows of carrots, more lettuce & spinach, as well as get all our potatoes, red onion sets and the raspberry plants in the ground when they come.

I didn't spend much time in the garden but I did get to see the house and find out the phone numbers for the local co-op's, organic raw dairy farm, home schooling groups, and more. I enjoyed my time with the mom of 9 who is currently renting the house. She is a seasoned home schooler and was such a blessing to talk with.

So, are you wondering if I like the house? Yes, I do like the layout. I don't like the flooring nor the fact that there is lead based paint throughout. We will be talking with the landlord about ripping up the carpet and just having the nice hard wood floors (refinished or not they'll be better than the carpet) and giving everything a fresh coat of paint in order to seal the lead based paint. Painting isn't a permanent solution, but it will help it to be much less toxic while we are in the house. There is a nice root cellar with a real old fashioned potato box that I'll be able to divide for my potatoes & onions. There are also many canning jars that the current renter will be leaving for me because she doesn't have enough space in their moving truck. I've been "collecting" canning jars over the past two summers and hope that I won't have to purchase any thanks to so many freebies that I've found. I will only have to purchase lids & seals which are much cheaper than having to get the jars too. She might also be leaving their BEAUTIFUL piano which would be such a huge blessing! I've been wanting to get a new piano or keyboard for Elizabeth and myself. I'm hoping that since we are going to a smaller church when we move that I'll be able to get more heavily involved in the music ministry at the church. The piano is in very good shape and is just in need of tuning. Her husband doesn't want to move the piano to Virginia and they don't think it will fit it on the truck with the rest of their stuff.

Phil and I will have the main floor bedroom which has a door to the bathroom (almost like a Master Bedroom w/ bath). The kitchen is a nice big country kitchen with some nice pantry cupboards in the laundry room. PLUS, in the Laundry room there is space for my upright freezer. It will be nice to have one of my freezers right near the kitchen. The other freezer(s) will be in the garage. The four rooms upstairs will be for the kids. We aren't sure yet if our table will fit in the kitchen or not. If it will then we will put it in the kitchen and make the "dinning room" into a living room and the "living room" will be the school room. There is a very cute porch on the front of the house that is off the living room. For mothers day the kids & Phil got me two hanging potted Impatience plants that will look really pretty on my brass hooks, one on each side of the steps. There is also a little round flour bed in the front that I'm going to plant some colorful flowers in. I'm going to use the flower bed along the south side of the house for my herbs.

I love the fact that I can see the garden from the window right above the sink in the kitchen. I'll be able to see the cows grazing from the other window in the kitchen. The property will work very nicely for a few cows if we rotate their pastures. There are plenty of fence posts in the barn that the landlord said we could use to fence in the property for the animals. We are contemplating getting a couple goats and sheep to get the pastured area around the barn in shape. it is too uneven to mow and it too overgrown for the cow.

So, our little "farm" is in need of some TLC, animals, and the Reese boys running along the creek catching crayfish. :-) We still do not know when we will be able to get into the house but hope that Phil will be able to get in as soon as the current family moves out so he can manage the garden better and get the chicken coop & yard, and the pasture area ready for us to animal shop in Mid-June. We hope to have the kids rooms painted before we move in too so that there will not be as much opportunity for lead exposure.

We have learned that at the auctions here in WI beef and dairy calves are going VERY cheep. So we plan to get a couple beef calves and possibly another one for dairy. The diary cows are also very reasonably priced if you aren't getting an entire herd and if you don't want a cow that is giving 60-90 pounds of milk a day. Plus, the cows that didn't calf in March or April but are calving in June/July are also a very good price. The serious farmers don't want those cows that are off schedule. We will have a new neighbor at the farm that can help us to get a cow that was on a dairy back to good health through natural means. Now we just need to find a cattle or horse trailer to borrow so we can hit an auction after we go to family camp.

So, over all I am very excited about the rental house in New Holstein. I'm even more excited about the opportunity to become part of the natural homestead movement by becoming more and more self sustainable!

We have 28 baby chicks peeping away in the apartment eating, drinking and fluffing their wings. We ordered an assortment of "heavy" males for butchering. I've really missed chicken since deciding to no longer purchase mass raised unhealthy chicken. The company I wanted to order my egg & butchering chickens from has all their egg layers on back order until late June. So I ordered my roosters and will be getting my egg layers from our local feed mill in a couple weeks.

The chicks are safe in a box under lock and key. The kids are enjoying watching them and I am glad to know that our meat is safe from the kids! :-)

I am also working on my first batch of cheese today. I'm making Farmhouse Cheddar. Currently my pot is sitting at 90 degrees allowing the curd to separate from the whey. Off I go to finish our first batch of cheese. Later I'll post about our visit to the farm house this past weekend.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Each day as a I mother my children, I am more and more grateful for the godly mother I have. Mom Conover you are my Martha Mom. You are always faithfully serving others at the expense of taking time for yourself. Mom, thank you for being so faithful to the Lord, to Daddy, and to us over the years. Thank you for making sure Kirk and I were raised in the church even through the years when daddy wasn't interested in spiritual things. Mom, thank you for being an example of how to seek out godly wisdom from the Word and from your godly authorities (our Pastor & Pastor's wife). Thank you for being transparent as you journeyed through your Christian growth. Your strength of godly character and unmovable faith served as a pillar for our family for many years. Mom, thanks for always keeping up with the tasks of the household for doing our laundry, making our meals and taking time to have fun with us. Thank you for always being available for a chat, and for bearing our burdens with us through your tears and prayers. Thank you for being with me as I became a mommy for the first time, and for being there as we welcomed each one of our children into this world. Thank you for your fun spirit and your contagious laugh. Mom, most of all thank you for being you!

I love you Mom!

Mom Reese, you are my Mary Mother. Thank you for accepting me into your heart and home as your daughter-in-law. Thank you for being such a constant example of a praying, discipling parent. Thank you for raising your son to be such a tender, compassionate, godly man. Thank you for the times you have graciously, prayerfully, and gently given us biblical wisdom and guidance. Thank you for being an example of how important it is to sit at the feet of Jesus and for how fully surrendered you are to Christ.

I love you Mom!

Thank you to both of my Mom's for showing me Christ as you daily strive to walk with Him and be more like Him.

Happy Mothers Day!
Friday, May 9, 2008
Philip is constantly busting his nose. The poor child has a Mayhew (my mom's side of the family) nose to begin with and with all the falls, running into walls, getting hit by base ball bats, etc. his poor nose keeps getting wider and wider! :-) He has a scab on his nose right now because he hurt it somehow this past weekend. On Tuesday at school he picked the scab and it started to bleed so the gym teacher put a big band aid across his nose. Philip refused to take off the band aid.

On Wednesday night one of the Tiny Tracker leaders asked Philip what happened to his nose, he replied "I picked it!" This response allowed all the leaders to have a nice laugh!

Thankfully on Thursday after being hosed down by his big brother Sam and being pushed over into mud and pine needles by the dog I had to throw him into the shower, taking the opportunity to RIP off the band aid. He cried and cried not because it hurt (which it did a little) but because he had planned on leaving the band aid on indefinitely.
A couple of weeks ago one of my favorite nutritional blogs was hosting a blog give away and I entered the drawing. I won some wonderful natural bathing products from Luscious Naturals.

You can see the products Cassidy offers by visiting:

Why use natural soaps and shampoo you ask? The soaps, shampoos and bath products from the store are LOADED with chemicals that our skin absorbs that can cause illness, even cancer. Currently I'm reading a book called "The Cure for all Cancers" by Dr. Hulda Clark. No I do not have cancer, but I do have a family history full of cancer. We have decided to reduce our toxic load as much as possible by eating home grown and/or organic veggies, organic grains, beans, rice, and sugars, and by using things for cleaning our home and bodies that are free of toxic substances.

I'll have to post on info for safe cleaning and personal care products another time. For now I want to tell you about the products from Luscious Naturals that I got to try. I received her Luxury Salt Butter which I've been using on my heals and bad psoriasis areas on my feet & knees. They leave my icky dry areas feeling very smooth and soft! The Cedarwood Shampoo Bar which smells great, leaves my hair clean but without any greasy chemical residue. The Vegan Lavendar Calendula Organic Soap which also smells great, leaves my skin clean without feeling dry.

Thanks so much Cassidy for taking the time to make these products with such great ingredients and a wonderful cleaning quality!

Thursday, May 8, 2008
This week Phil is working hard on our garden at the new house. He is fencing it, tilling it, planting the potatoes, onions, black berry & blueberry plants. I'm very excited that on Saturday I will be able to see the house for the first time! Phil and I are taking our anniversary day away to work in the new garden for a few hours, see the house then go out to a nice restaurant in Manitowoc that Phil has a gift certificate for.

We hope that by the end of our garden time on Saturday to have all the cool veggies in, the beds marked, and everything freshly watered. Our main garden is 42' X 75'. We will have a vine garden between the garage and barn for the vine veggies. Our raspberries, black berries, and blue berries are in different places around the property too.

We are going to be doing some successive plantings of several of our veggies as suggested in the the book I read on four season gardening. Over the next few days I'm working on getting my cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, lettuce, and cabbage hardened up so we can plant them on Saturday. So, off I go to put them outside for a little wind and sun!
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Today as I've watched Nathan play, it has hit me that my baby is growing up. He looks so tall in his shorts and tee shirt running through the yard with the dogs singing Sunday School songs at the top of his lungs. I think because he is my last child and he is now 3 years old, it is really hitting me that my baby days are over. I've never had a 3 yr old without having a nursing baby in my arms. I'm very thankful for my 6 children and for this new phase... yet...........twin girls would be so much fun!

No this is NOT an announcement. :-) Like Phil says, "I think our quiver is full!"

Here is a short video from Nathan's 3rd Birthday celebration.

Thursday, May 1, 2008
There may be some of you who read my blog that think I'm crazy for trying to grow my own food, purchasing organic, and changing our family's dependency on the commercial food supply. Today I watched a lengthly documentary done by a woman in Canada I believe, that is very troubling. It is a long documentary but very worth the time it takes to watch it. If you care about you and your families future food supply and health you will want to watch it.

This documentary and the article Dr. Mercola wrote about it make me so thankful for friends who shared with me books on health and nutrition along with sources for heirloom vegetables. All our vegetables this year are NOT GMO but they are instead heirloom vegetables which will give me the ability to save the seeds and use them next year. I probably won't be able to save and reuse the corn because I believe some of the land that butts up to ours has corn on it planted by a local farmer. If the only veggie I have to buy next year is corn seed, it will make for a very cheap harvest for next season. This year I plan to track my yields so that I will be able to total up the amount of organic food that we will have grown and preserved. I buy organic now so I will be able to figure out what the value of my home grown organic foods are and how much money will be saved.

Many people think, "Oh but all the WORK!" My thoughts are, I'd rather get off my tail and get moving while teaching my kids a time honored tradition, self sustainable living, then sit around eating food that is essentially poisoning us.

So off I go to pick up Philip from school, then water my plants!