An Autumn Celebration!

Strewn toys, sweet drawings on my refrigerator, empty treat trays, decorations (that aren’t placed just so anymore), and frosting bowls with finger trails in them. Signs of a day well spent.

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Micaiah wanted to celebrate this beautiful harvest season. “A fall party!!” he kept saying.

He planned games, made decorations and wrote his own invitations complete with a handprint turkey.

He was kind enough to let Adriel choose and make treat recipes (with help from Grandma of course).

We practiced welcoming guests, taking coats and offering beverages.

I am one proud mama. I set out one decoration and helped a few mothers understand what the mysterious turkey card meant that their child brought home. Grandmas helped with the cookies. Other than that, this was a kid-thrown fling. How cool is that?!

It was a time of enjoying friends and showing love.

Blessed, I feel. (How Yoda was that? Sorry)

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How To Know If He’s a Keeper

This is for all you single ladies, aspiring/new dairy cow owners and anyone else who might want to chuckle at my misery.

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Milking – Thank you Cow Can’t Kick contraption!

Sunday evening I had my new dairy cow “home” for 24 hours. Lambda expressed her discontent at my milking technique by kicking the bucket and dancing around. Finally, for whatever reason (probably something I did wrong because let’s face it: I’m a nube.) she kicked me. We’re not talking about kicking the bucket over and nicking my hand. This was a carefully aimed karate chop that got me in the forehead, the arm and the thigh all in one foul swoop.

I proceeded to holler at my husband, who is currently nearing deaf old man status due to a couple of ear infections. After 5 yells, or something like that, he saunters over holding the baby and asks how it’s going. I don’t even remember what I said, but it was something like, “It’s not going! I just got kicked in the fricking head!!”

I turned into a soppy puddle of emotions. I apologized over and over because I thought for sure I couldn’t possibly milk that monster. He asked if we just needed to get a milk machine. That is after all what she’s used to. My response, “We need a freaking craigslist add, that’s what we need!”

Apparently my colorful language is lacking.

All evening Nic kept telling me I can do this. You need to know that I have a massive propensity to romanticize things. My romanticized version of dairying didn’t really have a kicking cow in it. But even when I told myself it might not be quite that smooth, I pictured a little spilt milk here and there. Go ahead, shake your head. But the Bessie I imagined was much more…friendly

In actuality, I can count more sore spots on my body that the times I’ve spilt milk. (Although I do occasionally have to milk one teat onto the ground when I can’t get the bucket right under her udder.) So I cried on and off all night long. Here I had hunted down a milk cow, dragged my whole family 3+ hours away to get her and she was such a poop!

I was rolling all of these things in my brain-the inadequacy, the bumps & bruises, I felt like I heaped a burden on Nic because I was being a wimp and on top of it we had to get up at the crack of dawn to do it again.

I’m so so so so sorry.

That’s when Nic put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You need to know that I’m not frustrated with you. At all. I would do this by myself everyday for my family.

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And that ladies, is how you know you have a good one.

Just when I thought I was irresponsible, irrational and wussy (Ok, maybe a little on that last one) in swoops my super-husband to rescue me. He reminded me that we made a decision that we felt this was best for our family’s health and he was going to make sure it happened.

God made men and women equal but different. Both in his image, but with different gifts. Even though I smell like cow half the time, I feel like quite the tea cup these days: feminine, fragile, even pretty somedays (you know under the snot and…stuff). But ladies, you know you’ve got a good one when he makes decisions according to what is true and good and stands for them. I’m so thankful for my sturdy thermos and God’s grace which has given us nine beautiful years.

Two vessels, both filled with the Spirit of God, but oh so different in form and function. 

Some Moments

I’m a dreamer. I’ve made so many plans in my life! From music to medicine and far away places, I can romanticize anything. But in reality, my heart swells when I look around at the way I get use the gifts God has given me (and some things that I’m just plain terrible at) to serve my family and my community.

I find so much more joy in brewing a mean cup of coffee or a pot of tea for a neighbor than if I were working as a barista in the best coffee house in town.
…singing praises as my children all asleep…on any stage big or small.
…teaching my children all day every day…paid to teach other groups with vague hope that God’s Word would penetrate their hearts.
…making handmade things for my family and home…making an income with my craftiness.
…raising plants and animals to feed my family fresh ingredients…farming for an income.
…making fun fresh meals that my kids actually enjoy…on the Food Network ;)
…creating a peaceful environment by keeping an organized home…designing the best scandinavian cabins in the world.
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No matter what I could be doing with my time and energy, the opportunity to serve husband and children seems like the most beautiful thing in the world.

There is nothing else I would rather do.

To be honest, sometimes I forget. When a handful of people are all asking for something or there’s a whole roll of toilet paper in the toilet (again!) I forget how truly blessed I am. It’s so easy to forget about the vast realities of God’s faithfulness. Maybe telling all of you will be a good reminder for next time I have to break out the plunger.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.
Proverbs 14:1

 

A Little Vacation

Our family took a train ride a couple weeks ago. We wanted one last chance to see some friends before they move even farther away from us. It was the best weekend away we’ve ever had with our children. Our hosts had already thought of tons of fun things to that our children would enjoy. Our kids enjoyed not being drug around to see people they don’t know and do things that are no fun. Happy kids = happy visit, a much different pace from our normal whirlwind family trips. Here are a few moments:

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We were blessed beyond words. The only thing we could have asked for, was more. For time, talk and delicious food!

 

 

Our Honest Thanksgiving Menu: Real Food & Otherwise

Update: I highlighted our actual menu in orange where there were choices given. It was a delicious day!

There has been a lot of talk about holiday dining on the blogosphere these days. When it comes to entertaining and guests and being one ourselves, where do we compromise? So I decided to honestly share how we will be handling our Thanksgiving menu. Honestly, I would love to be able to prepare a huge 100% real food meal with sprouted buns, wild turkey, home grown beets – the whole nine yards, not only for my immediate family but as a service to the extended friends and family who will be joining us.

Maybe next year I’ll set a holiday food budget and save in advance (as well as pay a babysitter) so I can do it all, but this year here’s what it will look like. You’ll see that the biggest area in which I’m caving is homemade soaked baked goods. Being over 7 months pregnant and doing all of that on top of normal commitments is one unrealistic expectation I am with-it enough to dodge.

  • Organic Spinach Salad topped with walnuts, organic pears, dried cranberries
    • (Store-bought) Raspberry Vinaigrette or (Homemade) Italian Dressing
  • Rolls (will ask Mother-in-law to pitch in here so ingredients might be organic, definitely not soaked, but she will bring gluten free as my father-in-law in on a GAPS type diet)
  • Main Course Options ( I need to decide on one or two)
    • Turkey – local, free range organic ♥ –
    • Two Chickens – Local, free range – yummy, healthy, but not turkey!
    • Venison/Elk Roast – I read today that the Wampanoag Indians brought five freshly hunted deer to the first thanksgiving. I think it would be plenty festive if we used some of the wild game in our freezer!
  • Trimming – Homemade stuffing from gluten free bread – if I have time to make the bread I will, but I’ll be honest and say that I’m not above buying a (hard as a rock I might add) frozen Ezekiel Loaf or other bread (food for life) to make it.
  • Mashed Potatoes – Homemade from homegrown potatoes
  • Gravy – Homemade, thickened with xanthan gum or one of my many GF flours
  • Creamy Corn – canned corn (i know BPA…once in a while I just have to) simmered with organic cream and unprocessed sweetener of choice)
  • Dessert – My husbands grandmother will probably want to bring something, usually an interesting jello number or a boxed pie. (Pumpkin pie…from a box)
    • Also, I will make a homemade pie (either pumpkin or butternut-maple with real maple syrup) my cheat: Gluten Free Mama’s Pie & Pastry Mix
    • My Mother-in-law was kind enough to make both gluten free blueberry pie and apple crisp – not organic, but edible for me which doesn’t happen very often. Woohoo!

Ok, so there’s the bulk of it. As you can see, my normal standards have been lowered. I find fellowship and hospitality more important than being inflexible in our diet. We have chosen to eat natural foods prepared healthily for good reasons. But taking care of the body God gave us is not near as important as showing others love (Isaiah 58, 1 John, the whole life of Christ).

When it comes to large events, do you lower your standards (wherever you’re at in your real food journey)? If so in what ways? If not, how do you manage it all?!

Diet Dilemma: When the Processed Foods Are Free

As many of you know, my husband and I recently moved to a “new” community. (In actuality my husband to a job at one of the churches I attended as a child; you can read more about that here.)

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Being the kind of folks they are, the church threw a pantry party for us to get us started. They had mentioned my gluten allergy in the church bulletin announcement, so most of what we received was gluten free!

The dilemma: Very little of the food could be classified as “real food”…

My question: What to do?! What to do?!

We are all at different places when it comes to the food we choose to eat. For those of us on a real food journey, we have become concerned with the quality of our food and what we’re actually putting in our bodies. Considering this, many non-perishable goods can be a nightmare!

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So what’s a girl to do? The way I see it, I have 3 choices:

1: Stick up my nose. (Refuse to eat it and find it a new home: food bank, garbage can etc.)

2: Open Wide. (Just eat it)

3: Open my Heart. (Serve everything I can to my family and share as much as possible.)

I personally feel that (trying to stay Biblically minded) being ungrateful enough to reject the food would dishonor the One who provided it more than putting some processed foods into my body. I separated out the gluten-free stuff and narrowed the pile down to mostly canned goods and a few boxed side dishes. The fact is most of the people who step inside my home couldn’t care less what kind of food they get as long as it tastes good.

Do I want to set a higher standard (even for unknowing guests?) YES! Is that an excuse for wastefulness or ungratefulness? Absolutely not.

In the end, I am so blessed to be a par of this community. Their generosity touches my heart! I am thankful for all of the effort they put into welcoming us, even remembering my special dietary needs.

 Where are you at in your real-food journey? Is it even a consideration for you? Or are you at a place where you are tempted to let your high standards trump your duty to love people?

Pros & Cons: A Food Co-op

Some women just love to shop. They love to shop for clothes, housewares and even groceries! I am not one of those women. I’ll admit that I love the occasional antique shopping trip. (I loooove old things!) But I’ve always labelled the mall as an energy-vampire and I dread walking into most super-markets.

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Meal planning, organized lists and experimenting with new recipes have all made my bimonthly grocery trips slightly more enjoyable. But still…there are so many other things I could be doing! Then I discovered this magical thing called (drum roll please)…a food co-op.

My friend Darcy always has this fruit bowl with unique varieties in it. She was also serving interesting greens in her salads and had such a colorful table of foods when I’ve been over for dinner. Finally one day a group of Bible study attendees were trying to figure out exactly what one of her fruits or veggies was and somebody asked, “Where did you get this?” She responded with two words that have changed my life: “It was in my Bountiful Basket.”

Huh? I thought she had gotten a fruit basket gift from someone, so after a few weeks of more cool fruit I asked her what a Bountiful Basket was. She explained that it was a food co-op.

A food co-op is generally a member owned but definitely member-funded grocery “store”. In the case of Bountiful Baskets however, there’s no actual store-front. You pay for a basket of fruits and vegetables. All of the money you pay goes straight to buying the produce. Because of this there is a (very small) processing fee as well. You reserve a basket at a particular pick up place and time.

The Pros and Cons: 

-Unfortunately, you generally don’t know what will be in your basket until you get it. This makes meal planning difficult (or fun if your a glass half-full type :) and unpredictable.

+On the plus side, you can add on whole grain bread, granola or extra veggies.

+You can upgrade to an organic basket. (I love this feature. This way I don’t have to stand in line with my fingers crossed that I don’t end up with a bin full of dirty dozen produce.)

-Odd distribution places and pick-up times. At least in my county, I can’t really line up a regular grocery trip with my basket pick up. the pick up times are early in the morning (I would have to take my basket home to keep it fresh since I live in a rural community) and at places like a hardware store at the (complete opposite) edge of town or the masonic temple.

+I save my self time, energy and lots of money at the grocery store!!!

-You usually have to bring your own basket, but this doesn’t seem like a big deal to me!

Overall, I  think it’s awesome! Check out bountifulbaskets.org or search for other food co-ops serving your area.

Do you have other local initiatives to save people time and money in your community?

Why Engedi?

Upon visiting The Bella Red, fellow blogger Kate Tietje of Modern Alternative Mama noted that she could tell Biblical living is very important to me. While that is the focus of my first blog, living a healthy and natural life is also very important to me. I know that most Bella Red readers are interested in Theology, not homemade household cleaners, cloth diapers or my real food journey so I knew the day was coming soon: a new blog.

In Song of Solomon 1:14, the writer says this: “My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.” I want to make sure that my home is like En Gedi, a peaceful oasis that my husband and children can be happy to come home to.

I married my beloved in 2006. Our journey thus far has been littered with blessings, but it has also included many changes and struggles. From miscarriage to Celiac disease, we have become fully aware that God’s creation is not functioning as it was made to.

So here we are, literally counting the days until our little country home is move-ready. I am excited to share with you my journey to return to some of my roots. From chickens to organizing, here I record my attempt to live where the roads of Biblical living an natural living intersect. Through my successes and failures, I hope you will both laugh and learn as I strive to have a joy-filled home where my husband is happy to lead and my children grow in the Lord.

Welcome to my adventures Finding Engedi.