Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Simplicity Goals – Kitchen February 21, 2015

Filed under: family,organization,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 4:40 am
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As promised, I am going to be posting more details about the decluttering I am doing in our home.  I know that some will find the extent that I am going with this to be extreme, but that is the beauty of this.  You can feel free to take from the ideas whatever you need that will fit your own lifestyle.  I am going to be posting this as a short series, one room per post, so that I can go more into exactly what I am doing and why.

As I have often stated before, I absolutely loved touring an old home that was on display at a historical museum.  The complete calm that I felt as my husband and I walked through the rooms was a sweet balm to my soul.  The thought kept coming to me that this was the feeling that we should have when we walk into our own home.  It is often stated that the family home is a place you can go to get away from the stresses of the world.  Yet, how often do we allow our homes to become influenced by that stress?  How many times do we fall short in that feeling of being at total peace when we walk through the door of our home?

This historical home, like so many others of that time, was very sparsely furnished.  The items on display were ones that spoke a story of the family’s life.  When we entered the home, we were in the largest room of the house….the kitchen.  Along one wall was a huge fireplace with an oven built in to the wall.  In the center of the room was a large wooden table.  The chairs were neatly arranged as was a long bench that ran the length of the table on each side.  Items most often used were carefully placed around the room.  A hutch for storing dishes, cooking utensils, and linens stood on one wall.  A butter churn in a corner next to a chair.  A firewood box was set up near the fireplace.  There were other items as well which decorated the room, but each item held a specific purpose.  Looking around, you could see that the family who lived in that home was likely a farming family.  The old farm kitchen was truly the center of the home.  Often times, it would be the only room to have heat in the winter.  For this reason, it was the place where the family was always gathered.   In many of the older Amish homes, this is still the case.  Our Amish neighbors, Levi and Katie, had one large room in the main level of their 2-story home.  On one end was the kitchen/dining room and at the other end was the living room.  I remember how simply it was arranged and have always wanted to recreate that level of simplicity in my own home.

The following picture is of an Amish kitchen that I found online.  I don’t know who originally took the picture, but it shows the best representation of what I love.

Amish Kitchen

Amish Kitchen

In this picture, you can see how sparse the furnishings are.  The room is small, but very functional.  Do you notice the lack of cabinetry?  That is typical of older homes.  In fact, our home has no cabinets at all!  In this little kitchen, a Momma can do all her cooking, canning, and other tasks without any problem.  I absolutely would love to recreate this kitchen in our own home!

Above the table is a simple oil lamp suspended from a chain attached to the ceiling.  The other lighting option, which happens to be a popular one with the Amish, is propane gas lights.  You can see the propane tank in the opened cabinet.  These lights are just as safe to use as a camp lantern.  Storing the propane bottle in the cabinet box makes it safe around children, especially with the lantern up so high from a child’s reach.

A wood burning stove for heat as well as cooking makes the kitchen cozy in the winter.  The gas stove provides a method of cooking in summer months when it is too hot to use a wood stove comfortably.  It also provides a steady heat source when using a canner to jar up your harvest.  A baker’s cabinet holds the items needed for any baking that is done each day.  The family’s dishes are kept in the upper portion of the baker’s cabinet.

Compared to a “modern” kitchen, this one definitely lacks the conveniences that many women enjoy today.  There are no small appliances, such as a microwave or even a toaster.  Yet, to the woman who cooks in this kitchen, it contains everything she needs.  Extra dishes have no place in this kitchen.  It only holds what is essential.  Extra place settings of dishes, the canner, and other items that are not used daily may be kept on a shelf in the pantry until needed.  Once the need is gone, they are returned to that location.

Our kitchen is larger than the one pictured.  Though it is larger, it has had it’s times of feeling more crowded than the picture above.  This has been one of the driving factors in my wanting to cull out the excess.  When a room in our home looks too cluttered, I get very tense.  It directly impacts me.  I get overwhelmed and stressed.  I just can’t seem to function well in that environment.  Being as I spend so much of my time in the kitchen, it is the logical place for me to start when it comes to decluttering.

When I think about exactly what items I am needing in my kitchen, I take into consideration two things.  First, the number of people in our family.  Second, the frequency in which I use any item in the kitchen.  For all practical purposes, I only need the following to make my kitchen fully functional.

Dishes & Silverware:

1 complete place setting per person (plate, bowl, dessert plate, silverware)

1 glass per person for cold drinks

1 mug per person for hot drinks

Bakeware:

1 cookie sheet

1 muffin pan

1 (9×13) cake pan

1 (8×8) cake pan

2 pie pans

1 roasting pan with lid

1 casserole dish

Cookware:

1 stock pot with lid

1 large sauce pan

1 small sauce pan

1 large skillet

1 griddle

Food Prep Items:

1 large mixing bowl

set of wooden spoons

soup ladle

metal spatula

wire wisp

set of measuring cups

set of measuring spoons

measuring cup for liquids

sifter

rolling pin

knives

meat mallet

pastry knife

potato masher

rubber/vinyl spatula

Additional items, such as the extra place settings, cookie cutters, and canning supplies can be stored in the pantry.  I also keep the table linens on a shelf in the pantry.  The items listed above are the ones that are used most often.  The fact that they can all easily be stored in a single baker’s cabinet, such as the one in the above picture, is a great space saver.  I don’t have a cabinet like that, but the wire shelving is more than sufficient to store it all with shelves left over.  As I go through my kitchen supplies, I am finding that much can be packed away in a box.  Anything in the box that isn’t needed within 6 months, can be donated.  It is literally that simple.

Now, I do want to mention that when you cut down your dishes to a full place setting per person, this means that you have to stay on top of doing dishes immediately after each meal.  Otherwise it can be a pain in the backside to have to hurry up and do dishes so you can set the table again.  Some may find that it is too tempting to go grab up the extra place settings, especially if they don’t want to run a dishwasher that is not full.  In our family of four, it doesn’t take long to do the dishes if done right away.  We get the wash water ready just before sitting down to the meal.  My darling husband made it a house rule that each person has to clear their own place at the table and hand wash their own dishes.  This makes it even easier to stay up on it.  After the dishes are done, the table is wiped down so it is ready for use again.  It is really just a matter of setting up a routine and sticking with it.  Things don’t always go as planned, but the effort to stay on top of it is at the forefront.

What I have found over the years has been that the excess “stuff” in your home can be as stress inducing as anything outside of your home.  You have to maintain and store all those items.  When things get too cluttered and you run out of space, the intensity of your stress magnifies as you try to cull out what you are able to do.  Yet, at the same time, trying to hold on to as much as possible.  In having few things, you are free from that burden.  Cleaning is much faster and easier when you have less to deal with.  As I go through our home and remove excess, I am finding that my personal stress level is dropping.  I have more time in the day to pursue other things.  By removing unneeded items, I gain space for items that we do need.

Like the historical home, we want the items in our home to have purpose and function.  We want to be deliberate in what we buy and keep.  Though our home is much larger than what is termed a “tiny house,” we are wanting to adopt that way of thinking.  As we plan the remodeling yet to be done, we are looking to open up the front of the house back to its original floor plan.  The wall that separates the kitchen from the kids’ room will be taken down again.  Originally, it was all one large kitchen/dining room.  The pantry is a separate room just off from the kitchen.  In the entry area of the pantry nearest to the kitchen, there is shelving that can easily become storage for the extra dishes and supplies.  This will further leave the kitchen space more open and clutter-free.

I am still working on the process of scaling back in our kitchen.  It is taking time as I have to do it around my other daily tasks.  I am enjoying the results though.  Each bag or box of stuff that leaves the kitchen gives me a sense of relief.  It has been so eye-opening to realize just how badly we let the attitudes of society to take control.  In our country, people seem to have the attitude that if you have few things, you are poor and disadvantaged.  Yet, I am finding that by not catering to that attitude, we are actually going to be richer in our lives.  Instead of having to maintain so much stuff, we will have more time to really enjoy each other as a family.  We can pursue the interests that we have without distraction.  Best of all, we will save money by not getting all that stuff in the first place!

 

The Vaccinations Debate Hate-Mongering February 7, 2015

Filed under: faith,ramblings — ourprairiehome @ 4:40 am
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Yes, I am finally going there. I have tried to avoid being drawn into the Vaccinations debate for years now. It seems that since the recent measles outbreak, more people have become very vocal. Some voices actually being militant in their tone and are now spewing hate. I have been shocked at the sheer level of which the people are reaching in their venomous words. Some calling for government to force vaccinations onto all children, regardless of the parents rights. What is the most heartbreaking is when I see this coming from people who profess to be Christian. Where is their Christianity in the hate that they are showing towards others who do not share their views on the subject? This goes for both sides of the argument. You have people showing the same levels of viciousness on both sides of the vaccinations debate.

My personal stance on this issue are not important to the topic of this post. My focus here is quite simple. I want to draw attention to the way in which people are treating each other. What positive message are people trying to give when they get ugly in their words and attitudes? I have seen a full range of reactions, from comments people post on social media to what they say out right. There is an attitude from the pro-vaccine side that parents who don’t vaccinate are ignorant. Some even call into question the person’s parenting skills. At times, there are comments that those parents who do not vaccinate their kids are guilty of child neglect, likening the choice to not vaccinate to the level of being a form of child abuse. Then you have those who would go so far as to want to hold the parents of an unvaccinated child financially responsible if their vaccinated child were to become sick with the measles or other illness that the vaccines are supposed to protect against. From the side of those who do not vaccinate, there are comments about the pro-vaccine people being sheep that blindly accept what the pharmaceutical companies and the CDC state as fact. In other words, calling the pro-vaccinate crowd ignorant for not looking into the vaccine issue for themselves. The list goes on and on. Where is the Christian attitude in all this?

Several times now, I have seen remarks about the pro-vaccine parents not wanting their child exposed to a child who has not received vaccinations. They feel that the unvaccinated for be sequestered from the vaccinated children. This has really taken off since the measles cases. As long as our nation allows our borders to be basically a free-access to those from other countries, we will always have a risk of exposure to illnesses that our nation had lowered the occurrences of. Not every nation uses vaccines to the extent that our nation does. This is where the politically correct issues gets murky. To assume that an outbreak of an illness is caused by an unvaccinated child who has never been outside of the US, either by birth or by traveling with family, is to make a huge error in judgment. I have one question for both sides to consider on this issue. If the measles, in example, was nearly gone from the US, then how did anyone in this country come down with a case of measles? Who exposed that person? What was the true point of origin? In finding an answer to this, we all have to stop with the knee-jerk reactions on the subject.

I am seeing friendships and other relationships becoming strained, at best, over this topic. It would seem that the vaccine debate rates up there with politics and religion when it comes to volatile subjects. Maybe that is one reason why I have tried to stay away from it. All I know is that people are causing harm to others through this process. Maybe not the physical harm, but relationships are being tested in a harsh way. Again, I have to ask. Where does this fall in line with the teachings in the Christian faith? I would love for someone to point out in the Bible where Christ set this kind of example? Where did he treat those who believed differently than himself with total vile and hatred? What instance in the Bible demonstrates that it is acceptable for a Christian to be such a hate-monger towards others? In my Bible, Jesus Christ sat down with those who were of a different belief and He showed them grace. Remember the woman at the well? Her people, the Samaritans, were not thought well of by the Jews of that time. Yet, Jesus went to her and treated her with respect.

If you are quick to be hateful, show disrespect, and spew evil on the heads of others through word or actions, what good are you doing? Does this tactic ever bring about a feeling of comfort that allows two sides with opposite views to sit and discuss them meaningfully? Has a person ever been won over from their point of view by calling them vile names or making ugly accusations? What good has it ever accomplished?

No matter where your heart lies in this, or any other hot topic of debate, the message is the same. Don’t lower yourself to the point of becoming hateful towards others. Speak respectfully to them. Be as open minded to their point of view as you would have them be towards yours. When people shout ugliness towards another, nothing is ever gained. Hearts can become hardened and lines can be drawn in the proverbial sand. Don’t allow fear to direct your words and actions. You may find others far more willing to hear your point of view if you do this.

 

One View of Simplicity February 1, 2015

Filed under: green living,old fashioned,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 11:20 pm
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Ever since we started on this journey to a more simplified lifestyle 6 years ago, we are often asked why we would do this to ourselves.  It seems that society’s outlook on someone deciding to live within their means (or below their means) just because they choose to, is one in which the person is looked upon as having gone off their rocker.  For us, it seems silly that the media spouts off about the cries of conservationalists and enviromentalists for people to become more conscience of their use of fossil fuels and natural resources.  These groups often push for a more sustainable lifestyle that reduces the carbon footprint of each family.  Yet, here we are, doing exactly that and we are looked upon as being radical or weird.

I read an article today, “When Bread Bags Weren’t Funny” by Megan McArdle, that a dear friend shared on Facebook.  I loved the perspective of the author.  She was spot on in her views.  She shares in the article a glimpse into our nations past.  Not the distant past, but just a generation ago, using illustrations from the Little House books series as a comparison.

As I read the article, I was nodding my head in agreement to so much of it.  I have always held the belief that as a society, we have become spoiled.  Things that are relatively new (within 2 generations) have become so commonplace that people think it is impossible to life comfortably  without them.  One example of this attitude is the air conditioner.   When people first hear that we don’t use an air conditioner in the summer, they freak out.  They can’t understand how we can manage without one.  Truth be told, generations of our ancestors survived hot summers very well without air conditioning.  Even more interesting is to note that prior to my Grandma’s generation, women wore far more heavy clothing than we do today.  Yet, even in the deep south where humidity is  stifling in the middle of summer, these southern women managed to get through the season without health issues popping up all the time.

One of the issues that really makes me wonder at the thought processes of others is when people get weird over the idea of us using wood stoves for heat and cooking in winter while we have kids in the house.  Let me say this, even our autistic child who is developmentally delayed knows to never touch the wood stoves.  He doesn’t even touch them in summer when the stoves are not in use.  He simply has be trained to not touch them.  It is no different than teaching a young child to not touch a burner on your kitchen stove or to not pick up a glass object.  You simply train them.  Yet, there are those who cannot seem to understand this concept.

As far as the economics part of simplicity, here is my opinion. We are living on a single income.  My husband doesn’t make a huge salary, but a very modest hourly wage.  The wage is low enough that many families that we know would be looking for a second income to survive on a monthly basis.  According to the US Census bureau, the poverty line for a family of 4 is about $22,300 income per year.  Our family income is close to that.  Yet, we manage on this income.  How do we do it?

First, we don’t use credit unless critical.  We now have 1 credit card that is held in reserve for medical expenses only.  We are part of a medical sharing program and this credit card is what we use if we have to go to a doctor or buy medication.  Secondly, we only are buying essentials.  We see no need to go into debt to buy things that are unnecessary.  One point brought up in the article that I agree with is the opinion expressed about clothing.  In earlier generations, a person only had a week’s worth of clothing.  It was common for a woman to have what was termed her “work dresses” which were worn throughout the week.  These were the dresses worn as she did her daily tasks. The fabrics were sturdy ones that could take a lot of use.  For Sundays, she may have a single dress that was only for church or a special occasion, such as a wedding.  It was not uncommon for a woman to wear her Sunday best as her wedding dress.  When I was growing up, we got new (or new to us from the thrift store) clothes that were purchased just before the new school year began.  Our older clothes that still fit became our play clothes.  Each day, we would put on our school clothes before heading out to the bus.  When we got home, we had to change into our play clothes so that our newer outfits wouldn’t get messed up as we did chores or went out to play.  Today, many kids get a complete new wardrobe of clothing when school begins and they wear these same clothes whether playing outdoors or going to school.  Seldom do I hear someone talk about play clothes for their younger kids.  Often, kids today have more clothing than can fit in their dressers and closets.  Why?  Why would anyone need that many clothes?  How much money is spent on buying and maintaining that amount of clothing?  Where else could that money be better used?  It isn’t just the kids either.  Many adults have far more than they need, yet society says more is the better option.  If you don’t have a lot, then you are poor and underprivileged.  You are lacking in their eyes.  But who is truly lacking in this?

Toys for kids is another area where people go nutty.  In the Little House books, the Ingalls children had a special toy.  In the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, Laura writes about her sister, Mary, having a doll.  Laura’ parents couldn’t afford a doll for Laura, so Laura had a doll made by wrapping a cloth around a corn cob.  Later, she would get a doll of her own.  At that time however, Laura was happy to play with her corn cob doll.  Our kids have had a lot of toys given to them over the years.  We finally took on the task of buying each child an 18-gallon size plastic tote.  Because their bedroom is small, the toys that fit in their totes is all they keep.  We have given the excess to a thrift store run by a church that uses the proceeds for a youth ministry.  Our kids don’t feel slighted one bit by having to donate the extra toys.  They still have all their favorites.  Later, once the house remodel is done, they will appreciate even more the downsizing of their toys.  The room we are fixing up for them is the largest in our house.  We will be putting a wall down the center to give each of the two kids a room of their own.  Their rooms at that time will be about the size of a small bedroom in a single wide trailer.  More than enough room for them since they spend so little time in their bedroom anyways. Most of the time the family gathers in the kitchen/dining room or are outdoors.

My current project is attacking the homeschool shelves.  Every homeschooling family will shudder at the thought of what I am doing.  I am boxing up and donating all the excessive books that I have.  When I started buying them, I planned to use them with both children.  Now that I have a better idea of what Pookie is capable of doing, I know that it may be years before he can use some of these resources, if he is ever able to use them.  Instead of keeping everything on the hopes that he may one day be able to use the materials, I am donating everything Little Miss is not using within the next year.  By doing this, I will be able to clear nearly all the shelves.  Yes, like many homeschool families, I have a large amount of books and resources cluttering my shelves.  Not for too much longer though.

My feeling is that there was much to be appreciated about the more sparse furnishings.  The less you have, the easier to maintain and keep clean.  Purchases now are being considered by how much real use will it get.  I take time to consider each purchase and try to never buy anything on a whim or impulse.  Such was the way of things with earlier generations.  Money was scarce and they had to be thoughtful in considering each and every purchase they made.  Why is it so strange to others if a family lives that way now?  I can only think that it is because it is more acceptable to give in to our desires and wants without considering the financial consequences of those purchases.

As I think on that article mentioned above, I can only smile to think that someone else is “getting it” and understanding that there is no shame in choosing to live with less.

 

 

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

 

 
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