Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

When Life Throws a Curve January 15, 2015

Filed under: faith,family — ourprairiehome @ 4:50 am
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My beloved husband is the guy who is rarely sick.  If he does happen to get a cold or something, he is blessed to nearly always recover within a day or two.  He never is down for more than a day.  Even when he had bronchitis last year, he snapped back very quickly.  Well, something happened that I never could have imagined.  Last Thursday, I drove him to work so that I could use our car to take Pookie to his appointments at the therapy center 2 hours drive away from hubby’s workplace.  He went to the back of the jeep to gather his lunch and gear so he could go clock in.  Just as he was turning to walk away from the jeep, he slipped on a patch of ice and fell hard.  Scary part was that he couldn’t move his right arm at all.  Co-workers rushed over to look after him.  Once they knew it was only his shoulder and arm that was hurt, they carefully carried him off the ice patch and he stood up.  I was thinking of calling the therapy center to cancel the appointments, but hubby told me to go ahead and get him there.  He had already missed two weeks in a row due to the Christmas and New Years holidays being on his Thursday appointment dates.  His boss and the co-workers assured me that they would see to it that he was taken well care of.  So, with great reluctance and worry, I made the journey to the therapy center.

When I picked my husband up that afternoon, I was relieved to learn that he had a contusion to the shoulder.  What a blessing that seemed to be!  He was told to take a couple of days off work to recuperate before going back to his truck driving job.  His boss told hubby that since he had a few days of personal days allocated to him that hadn’t been used yet, the company would take those recuperation days as personal days so that we would not lose any days off.  Hubby came home and did his best to rest, but since it was only a bruise, he tried to cut some firewood with the chainsaw, which the kids and I stacked into the utility trailer to bring home.  The following Monday, he went to work as planned and did his truck driving.  Now, here is the thing to understand.  He works for a company that picks up and recycles industrial scrap metal.  The truck drivers take large empty bins to the customers’ locations and trade out the empty with the full one.  Typically, he can have 2-3 of these large bins on the truck.  All the empty bins have to be removed so that the full one can be placed closest to the truck cab.  Then the empty bins are loaded back on, just leaving one empty bin for each full one he takes from the customer.  The bins are mechanically loaded/unloaded from the truck’s trailer.  After each is loaded onto the trailer, the driver has to manually chain it down and tarp the bin to prevent any metal shavings from blowing out as he drives down the road.  This is a very physical job to do.  With a tender shoulder, it is very painful.  By the day’s end, his pain was terrible and he could not sleep well that night.

Yesterday (Tuesday), he took a day off because he could barely raise his arm to dress himself.  That morning, the mail brought a disturbing letter.  The hospital had made an error in the diagnosis!  Hubby did not have a bruised shoulder at all.  The radiologist had taken a close look at the x-rays and found that hubby actually had fractured his right scapula up near the shoulder joint.  This explained so much to us.  The pain being so bad, yet there was no visible bruising.  He had swelling in the shoulder blade area from mid-level to the top of his shoulder.  So, today we went back to the hospital to find out what the heck was going on.  We got to the ER and asked to speak to the director of the ER dept.  Within a short time, a nurse came out to speak to us.  She then took us back into the ER to an exam room.  She saw that hubby needed to properly restrain the shoulder joint and the sling we had bought wasn’t doing the job.  She had the doctor on staff come in to talk to us.  He was a different one than had originally diagnosed hubby.  This doctor re-examined the x-ray before talking to us and explained where the break was and why it was hard to see.  Turns out that the fracture was in the top part of the scapula in a place that is rarely broken.  He answered all of our questions.   Thankfully, the fracture was not so severe as to need surgery.  The downside is that he now is in a shoulder restraint that basically is a waist belt what secures his arm just above the elbow and at the wrist to the waist to prevent any shoulder movement.  There is no way he can drive the jeep, let alone his truck at work.  From what the doctor says, it will take 4-6 weeks for his shoulder to heal.

We left the hospital and after getting some lunch, went to hubby’s work to let the boss know what happened.  They are being so great about it.  Because he fell before clocking in to begin his work shift, the injury is not covered by worker’s compensation.  But, they are going to find odd jobs around the office that will keep him busy so that we do not lose out on any pay.  He is taking the rest of the week off as suggested by the doctor, but will start back on Monday.  The only true downside is that we will only have one day of pay on the weekly paycheck next week since he only worked last Monday.  It will make an extremely difficult time for us that week, but the Lord is always finding a way to bless us when we need it most.

It will certainly make life more interesting for the kids and I.  Getting everyone up at 3:30am to give us enough time to get ready, eat breakfast, then drive the 45 miles to work.  I am trying to figure out things to do with the kids to avoid having a lot of extra driving.  If I can find activities or places for them to enjoy during the day, then I prefer to do that.  Unfortunately, it is too cold to take them to the park or zoo.  The library is an option, but Pookie gets bored after about an hour there.  Likely, we will just have to eat the cost of double the fuel use so that I can bring the kids back home until time to go pick up hubby again.  No matter what, I know that the Lord will provide a way.

It is hard sometimes to acknowledge that the Lord is in control and everything works out.  This injury of hubby’s is really a setback for us in many ways.  Yet, we are growing through this.  We are also thanking the Lord that hubby did not need surgery for the fracture.  We are grateful to the Lord for leading hubby to work in a place where his co-workers and boss truly are caring towards him.  Yes, this experience is not one we would have chosen, but even in this, we are able to praise the Lord and bless His name.

 

 

A Much Needed Hiatus January 13, 2015

Filed under: family,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 5:18 am
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Have you ever cooked a lobster or learned how it is done?  The lobster is placed in a pot of water.  As the water slowly heats, the lobster doesn’t seem to notice until the water’s temperature reaches a temperature too high for the lobster to survive in.  Over the past few years, it seems as though that analogy could describe my my life.  Yes, I have a wonderful family that I adore, but life happens to all of us.

Living our lifestyle is not for wimps.  We do everything without modern conveniences to make my work easier.  My husband chops wood and  splits it without the benefit of a gas powered wood splitter.  The physical aspect of our life is better than going to a gym on most days.  We love it.  

Homeschooling our children is something that we both feel strongly about and enjoy.  Our daughter is learning more on topics that schools typically don’t cover in addition to the regular subjects that schools teach.  She is also gaining life experiences that most kids never learn.  Our son is getting the one-on-one instruction that he needs in order to be able to learn.  He also is receiving  occupational, physical, and speech therapies at a therapy center each week.  It takes a lot of my time to homeschool and see that our son gets to his therapies.  The end results are worth it though.

One area of my life has been both a source of enjoyment as well as a source of stress.  It has been social media.  I can ignore the posts on places like Facebook, but the private messages and notifications were a constant distraction.  I love being able to keep in touch with friends and family, but I am finding another part of the equation to be more difficult.  While I love to “meet” others who are parents traveling the autism journey, I find myself being placed in the position of being the one to bring encouragement and filling their cup so often that my own has taken a backseat. 

I get emotionally, spiritually, and physically drained.  I found myself putting so much into every area of my life without taking proper care of my own needs.  As a result, I have felt like that lobster who is noticing a rise in the water temperature.  With that realization has come some much needed changes.

The best change has been that we allowed my prepay cell phone to run out of airtime.  It was purely unplanned, but has turned into a blessing.   I currently do not have a phone but will get more airtime put on it when I am ready.  Being “radio silent” has been enlightening as well as liberating.  I am finding more peace in my days with the kids and less stressed.  I have been changing our way of eating to a carb cycling meal plan.  With this, I am starting to lose weight and am feeling great.  The family loves the foods I have been making as well.  

Another change is that I am getting more relaxed time to spend doing things that I enjoy.  Because I am not stressed, my days are more productive, leaving me more time to crochet.  The kids and I have more time to do fun things, like crafts or games, than when I was stressed.  On the weekends, my sweet husband is going to give me a day out so that I can have a day to focus completely on myself.  I have so needed some “Momma time.”  I am truly understanding that if I don’t take time for myself, then I can’t be the best I am able to be for the family and others around me.

It has been a time of self-discovery as I learn to give myself permission to take care of my own needs.  As a Mom, you are so focused on taking care of everyone else first that you can easily overlook yourself.  I can honestly say that the lesson has been learned.  This hiatus from the phone and social media has shown me just how tense my life was becoming.  Now, I just am going with what comes my way and learning to say “No.”

 

Old Fashioned Romance January 6, 2015

Filed under: faith,family,old fashioned — ourprairiehome @ 9:09 am
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Recently, I had the opportunity to review a book titled, “The Old Fashioned Way: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Romance” by Ginger Kolbaba.

Old Fashioned Way

On Amazon, the book is described as follows.

Contrary to popular opinion, being “old fashioned” doesn’t mean you’re dull or unromantic. In fact, a true old-fashioned relationship can be more exciting and romantic than anything you’ve ever experienced! So what does it mean to do things The Old Fashioned Way? Sure, it means opening doors, holding out chairs, and taking things slow. But a true old-fashioned romance goes much deeper than that. Inspired by the motion picture Old Fashioned, this book will show you how to reclaim the lost art of romance by introducing you to romantic love as God intended it—for all of us. Regardless of your past experiences, where you’ve been, or where you are now, you can find and create a love that will last a lifetime.

As you work your way through this 40-day journey of inspiring readings and questions for reflection, you’ll discover all the unique and amazing benefits of doing things the old-fashioned way and be well on your way to creating a love story for the ages.

This book has been a very enlightening read.  I have never sen the movie, but the book gives beautiful insight into how romance should be.  The modern ideas of what is romantic and what an enduring romantic love should be is often far from what the Lord intended for us to experience.  Through this 40-day devotional, you are introduced again to what romance should be.  In reading it, I find that if more people were to apply this knowledge in their relationships, we would have a far lower divorce rate.  I am sure that some would cringe at the thought of a woman being a helpmeet to her husband, but that is because modern society has turned it into an ugly prospect.  Once you come to understand the true meaning of it, you can see how it can transform your marriage.  It isn’t just the woman however.  Men also have to play their part in this.

This book would be a wonderful devotional to share with teenagers who are approaching the dating scene.  As a Christian parent, I find that the teachings given are just as valuable to both young men and women as the knowledge was in earlier generations.

 

Recipe Organizing Ahead December 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — ourprairiehome @ 6:56 am
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Can you tell that I am getting on another organizing binge?  Lord help me,  I swear that every time I think I am doing good at this, I find another area of my life that is in need of reorganizing.  It never seems to end.  This time around, it is my recipe collection. What a mess! I have been jotting down old recipes for years in various notebooks, scraps of paper, and recipe cards. Now, I am finding that it is becoming hard to locate a recipe when I need it. Guess it is time to take time to properly organize the collection. I am looking at a variety of ways to preserve the recipes. A simple recipe card file or maybe a binder are two of the options. All I know is that I want the recipes in a central location. I don’t want to have to remember which notebook I write a particular recipe in.

I have enough recipes that I easily fill up several spiral notebooks. For the immediate solution, I could take the pages out of the notebooks and place the recipes by category into a binder. That would work for some of the collection. I also have the recipes written on scraps of paper and index cards to get organized.

I have used the recipe card files before but my collection could easily fill several of them. I am not a huge fan of the index card method though. My biggest fear is the thought of someone dropping the file and all the cards scattering. The thought of having to retrieve and refile all those recipes gives me the shudders.

My recipe collection is more than just the ones I make for meals. I also have recipes for homemade mixes and seasoning blends. Then, there are the recipes for home canning which includes recipes for everything from condiments to meals in a jar. Other categories of recipes which I have include my home remedies, homemade cleaners, massage oils and lotions, tinctures and infusions, and aromatherapy blends.

With this recipe collection, I can already see that I will need at least two large binders if I go that route. One binder for the food type recipes and the other for remedies and all non-food related recipes. It is going to be a large undertaking. I didn’t realize how large my collection was until I tried to find a recipe recently. I spent way too much time trying to find it.

Something that I am finding out about myself is that I am a recipe hoarder.  I save every recipe that looks yummy or peaks my interest.  I have 2 years worth of Vegetarian Times magazines which are filled with nothing but more recipes.  Let’s not forget the plethora of recipes that I have found on the internet or in the cookbooks that I seem to have a hard time passing up at yard sales.

In reality though, I have two basic cooking styles: warm weather and cold weather.  In the warm months, we eat much lighter meals.  It is too hot to be making stews or casseroles.  Instead, we eat a lot of salads or foods that are grilled outdoors.  One of our mainstays in warm months are grilled vegetables.  By contrast, in the cold months, I make more soups, stews, and casseroles.  I got to thinking about all of this and faced a truth.  I could easily glean my recipes down to about 45 entrees, a variety of side dishes, and a few favorite desserts for each of the two cooking styles.  This would considerably but down the recipe collection.  I would start with the basics that we eat on a regular basis.  Next, add a few more recipes that we enjoy less frequently.  In thinking about it, I could easily set up two separate recipe binders.  One binder of recipes for the cold months and the other for the warm weather recipes.  My non-food recipes could go into their own binder, as could my health & beauty recipes with includes my home remedies.   I may even add one just for my canning recipes and homemade mixes.  That means that I am looking at setting up at least 5 binders!  Yikes!!!!!

I wonder if their is a recipe collectors anonymous with a 12-step program I should be looking into.  LOL

 

Organizing My Crochet Projects December 14, 2014

Filed under: Crafting,organization — ourprairiehome @ 9:40 am
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It seems as though I am always looking for a better way to get my crochet and other projects organized.  Lately, I have been on a binder system binge.  I bought one binder to keep all the household records, menu planning, and such all organized together.  I like the way that is turning out and decided to take on another area that needed to be worked on….my crochet & knitting supplies and patterns.

Years ago, when I was a scrapbook and rubber stamp art instructor, I had a great system that I used for keeping track of all my supplies.  I wanted to do something similar with the crochet and knitting that I now do.  The first step was a search online to see if anyone else had put together a journal for their supplies and projects.  I didn’t want to have to reinvent the wheel if there was a good system already out there.  I was thrilled to find a free printable journal for knitting and another for crochet at Katheryn Ivy’s website.   The two journals are separate downloads.  She also has free printable pages for tracking your supplies, upcoming projects, and shopping wish list page for making larger purchases when taking advantage of sales.  In project planning, she also offers a page for joting down notes and another for making sketches of projects that you would like to make.  The final page is one that I especially love.  She includes a printable chart of all the knitting needle and crochet hook sizes which can help you keep track of what sizes you already have.  Armed with these free printables, I am able to put together a binder that will help me stay far more organized.  I will be able to see at a glance which projects I already have purchased the supplies for.

I am thinking about having the binder set up in sections.  One for crochet and the other for knitting.  For each of these two sections, there will be subsections using the above listed forms.  This will allow me to keep the two craft methods separate.  I did a search on Pinterest for crochet stitch charts and found some great printable graphs and charts that I can print off and add to the binder as well.  Some of the charts I found include the cross-reference charts for US and UK stitches, stitch pattern diagrams, and a nice stitch sampler that shows & labels each of the basic stitched used in crochet.  This is a great resource to have for those times when you set aside a WIP only to forget which stitch you were using.  Similarly, I found some great reference charts for knitting as well on Pinterest.

While I was at it, I found reference charts for making hats, slippers, and blankets sizes.  For example, a head sizing chart for making crocheted hats in sizes newborn to adult can be found on the Tot Toppers website.  These charts will make a nice quick reference for me to have on hand when making or planning a project.

Some extra forms that I am including in the binder are: Yarn Ball band labels for those times when you lose one, Yarn Stash inventory sheets, and my own Pattern Index form to keep track of the patterns.

I am looking forward to having this binder all printed out and completed.  It may not help me to finish my projects any faster, but it will cut down on the number of times that I inadvertently make a duplicate purchase of my basic supplies.

The journal will also be a great companion binder to my patterns binder.  Currently, I have a 3-ring binder which I am storing the patterns that I have printed off from sites like Ravelry.  I have them organized into categories with the first section being my WIPs.

 

Care Packages for the Homeless November 29, 2014

Filed under: family,holidays,serving others — ourprairiehome @ 8:30 pm
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One of the aspects of the holiday celebration that my husband and I have always wanted to make a part of our family traditions is to serve others.  As mentioned in previous posts, we are doing that through teaching our children to make their gifts instead of simply buying them.  This gives them an opportunity to share their time and talents with others.  Now that they are getting older, we want to step it up a notch and take the idea of serving others a little further.

Today, I found a great blog post that I wanted to share with you.  Amy Allen Clark, the founder of MomAdvice website shared this idea.  Making care packages for the homeless or those in need.  Not only are these a great idea for giving to the homeless, but think of the times when there is a natural disaster?  Maybe a homeless shelter?  What about kids who are entering into the foster care system?  In the case of foster care kids, they often leave there homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  At best, they may have a few changes of clothing but very little else.  With alterations to the basic supply list Amy presents on her blog, you can customize these bags for any situation.  I am even thinking of how these can be made up to hand out to young campers at the church camp our daughter attends each spring and fall.

Picture Owned by Amy Allen Clark at  MomAdvice.com

Picture Owned by Amy Allen Clark at MomAdvice.com

I strongly encourage you to take a look at Amy’s blog post, How to Make a Care Package for the Homeless.  Even if you cannot make them this year in time for Christmas, you can make up a few at a time to hand out over the winter.  Come summer, you can add things like sunscreen to the packages.  The ideas are endless.  The teaching opportunities for our children are priceless.

 

Black Friday Craziness November 28, 2014

Filed under: Crafting,family,holidays — ourprairiehome @ 9:26 pm
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I have never understood the fascination that many have of going out shopping the day after Thanksgiving.  Yes, there are great sales, but the size of crowds and traffic alone is enough to make me cringe.  I have tried it a couple of times, years ago, and hated it.  Maybe because I went out alone, or maybe because I didn’t really have a plan to make it fun.  Either way, I have found myself thinking now that I am glad that I don’t put myself through that.

What I am doing is making the gifts at home or ordering online.  I find it much more satisfying and calming to my spirit to avoid the crowds.  I am lucky to have people around me who also enjoy receiving the handmade gifts.  Rarely have I had someone be too snooty to accept something handmade.  On the rare occasions when that has happened over the years, I just make mental note to never make them anything homemade again.  If anything, they will get a little gift card so that they can buy what they want.

One thing that I have been trying to instill in our children is the importance of giving of oneself through your time and talents.  With that in mind, I am teaching them to also make their gifts.  It is fun to watch them work on a project that takes several days (or longer) to complete.  The pride that Little Miss feels when she finishes the item and gives it to the recipient of the gift is a joy to see.  Likewise, I am so grateful that the gifts are well received and the children are praised for their efforts.

There are many gift ideas that you can find on Pinterest and other online resources that will give you examples of things kids can make.  These are not just the cutesy crafts but you can find meaningful gifts that can be used for a purpose.  A project that the kids are working on is to make an ornament for each person they make a gift for.  The ornaments that they are making are so cute and easy for them to do.  Even Pookie is getting in on it.

The best part of the holiday crafting is that instead of dealing with crowds at stores, we are spending time being creative as a family.  That in and of itself is a gift that you cannot replace.

 

 
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