Saturday, March 31, 2012

Preparedness Challenge #33

Today is the monthly Preparedness Challenge and the give-away sponsored by USA Emergency Supply. I hope that you're prepping and putting something aside each month! Now is the time to prepare for those unexpected events.

Think of it like a savings account for when the car breaks down. Only this is for an emergency situation where money isn't the best resource when the actual "event" happens. Instead, the supplies you've stored and skills you've learned are your savings account.

And don't think that a little here and there isn't enough! Over time it adds up. Just like consistant small deposits into a savings account add up to something big after many months, so does your food storage, emergency survival gear, and even your sustainable resources and skills.

USA Emergency Supply has graciously sponsored a wonderful prize this month... a 3 book give-away! (Did you know they have books on their site? Check it out!) There's one book for each of the 3 categories in the Preparedness Challenge.

To help you with your food storage...
The Beginner's Guide to Preserving Food at Home by Janet Chadwick

For emergency preparedness...
Passport To Survival by Rita Bingham and Esther Dickey

And for sustainable living...
Homegrown Whole Grains by Sara Pitzer

When you visit USA Emergency Supply's site you'll find they have a great section on Using Whole Grain Foods along with other helpful articles.  

How I Met The Challenge!

Here's what I did this month in each category (see category definitions near bottom of the post)...

• Food Storage: I added extra chicken feed, coconut oil, essential oils, and dish soap along with supplies for making shampoo bars.

• Emergency Preparedness: I dropped the ball here... again! This is the hardest area for me. I did really well last month, but I need to be more consistant. On the other hand, I did keep track of our firewood usage this year, and seems like we need 3 cords to get through the entire winter. Knowing this will help us this summer as we cut and split wood. I added the information to my Tickler File so I won't forget and I have a deadline for gathering and splitting wood for next year.

• Sustainable Living: My favorite category... I had to rebreed the Kinder goat this month (but I think I timed it better this month), I got the bare root fruit trees planted, my husband is half way finished with a new coop run for chicks, and I ordered the spring chicks. Ten of which are White Rocks which will be for meat. When I decide on a breed I like, I might start hatching my own. And guess what else? Drum roll... I finally got two pick up truck loads of wood chips! Score! They are composting now in preparation for future use in my garden. I also started several cool weather plants indoors and some I directly seeded outdoors, so we should have some vegetables growing again soon.

Speaking of gardens... with such nice weather, we've been working outside a lot, so it's easy to forget to do any prepping. Make a list of items you need in each category and keep them in your purse or on a separate shopping list so you can refer to it when you're out and about. Pick up an item every now and then to add to your "savings" account!

For more information on Preparedness or to find out where I stand on all this "prepping", you'll find there is a Prepping Basics Index with all my posts on the subject (so you don't have to scroll down through every post, but you can jump to each one directly). Someone asked this past month if I plan on finishing the series on Prepping Basics. Yes, but I have no clue when! I'm in the throws of major gardening right now, so if I promised a date, I'd probably fail! But don't give up on me entirely!

Now it's your turn to join the Preparedness Challenge..

Join the Challenge & Enter The Give Away

To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment on something you did this week to be more prepared in terms of food storage, emergencies, or sustainable living (or all three areas!) OR link up your Preparedness Challenge blog post (you only need to comment or postnot both). Posts not related to at least one of the three areas of preparedness will not be counted toward the give-away. Please be sure to clearly state in your comment or post what you did this month to be more prepared (see my example above as one easy way to do this). Again, the three areas we are focusing on include: 

• food storage for life's unexpected events whether related to long term effects from a disaster or a job loss and everything in between

• emergencies for times of power outages, natural disasters, and such

• sustainable living in order to be more independent, both physically and financially, and to live as close to the land as possible given each individual's situation 

Please be respectful of our challenge and only add a post on one of these three preparedness topics ONLY in order to retain the integrity of the link up event. If your post is just a general homesteading post, please save it for the Monday Homestead Barn Hop.

NOTE: This challenge and give-away ends Friday, April 6, at 11:59 p.m. PST.

Be sure to take the Preparedness Challenge picture and add it to your blog so others know you're participating and hopefully they'll join up, too! THANK YOU!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Plant & Garden Markers

Since most of us are starting our seedlings, now would be a good time to think about how we're going to keep track of each plant so we know which is which! It's important to know this because when it comes time to re-order seeds next year, you'll want to know the exact variety of eggplant that was your husband's favorite, which tomato did best in your microclimate, and the bean variety that produced the most tender pods. 

So, how are you going to mark those plants? I think you'll have a hard time choosing because there are some great ideas out there that you can purchase or make at home for just pennies. 

(Each photo has a link to what I believe is the original blog, Etsy shop, or website and it's tutorial if provided).

Custom Flatware Markers from Beach House Living

Do It Yourself Stamped Flatware from Bunny Hill Designs

Hand Painted & Decoupaged Markers from Homespun Sprout

Recycled & Stamped Can Lid Markers by Pin & Paper

Juice Lid Markers by Still Parenting

 Aluminum Duct Tape Marker from Aunt Peaches

Painted Rocks from Whimsey Love

Wine Cork Marker from Eat Drink Better

Clothespin Plant Marker from Glue & Glitter


Twig Markers from Storage Glee

Seed Packet & Jar from Martha Stewart

Keep in mind that whatever plant marker you use, it needs to be water proof. Even if you're using a drip system, water happens. I have used a Sharpie in the past, but it's not quite as water proof as you might think. So last year I switched to the Garden Pen sold by Johnny's Select Seeds and it won hands down. 

For the stamped flatware, you'll find that Harbor Freight Tools carries an inexpensive set for under $15. It's a nice size and includes numbers.

So... which one would you choose?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Barn Hop #55

Welcome to the Monday Homestead Barn Hop, where homesteaders meet up from all over the blogosphere to fellowship and share what's going on from their own homestead. Together, we've been learning from each other and encouraging fellow homesteaders so that we might not grow weary in doing good! Thank you to everyone who contributes and makes this community possible!

Also, thanks to everyone who offered to become a Barn Hop hostess! When Kelly stepped down, the three hostesses made the decision to remain as the 3 original hostesses and keep it at that. It would be just too hard to choose another hostess from so many great bloggers!

However... the Barn Hop hostesses would like to recognize you for all the encouragement you give to each other by adding a weekly "Featured Homestead" to the Monday Barn Hop. Jill, Kendra, and I will each select a homesteader to highlight on our blog based on an outstanding post they've written, a great idea everyone needs to see, something we think is worth highlighting, or something that is just plain fun! So be sure to visit all three blogs weekly in order to meet each featured blogger! You never know when it might be you!

This week I chose to highlight fellow homesteader Charissa, from Mad Mad Me! This past week she linked up a delicious remedy for sore throats! And oh, my! The photos alone were enough to make us all wish we were "under the weather" just a wee bit. Seriously, I'm thinking I might neeeeeeed some really soon! And wouldn't this make a perfect cup of hot tea?

Be sure to visit her blog this week and check out her great site! (I would love to have a photography lesson or two from her... plenty of eye candy there for sure!)

And can I just add... SO many great link ups... it's going to be tough to pick one each week!

So most of you probably already know I've spent most of my time out in the garden this week, planting fruit trees and such, but I also planted some cool weather items such as peas, lettuce, radishes, spinach, and some kale (I think!?). I also started my onions indoors (a bit late), along with some beets, broccoli, cabbage, and a few other items. I can hardly wait for this next wave of snow and rain to move on through so I can get back out there!

Join The Barn Hop!
and Amy @ Homestead Revival...

...invite you to link up and share your homesteading adventures!

1. Write a blog post about what's going on at your homestead or a post on something you're learning or an item of interest that will benefit the homesteading community. Be sure to add the red barn button and link back here so others can join in the fun.
2. Come back here and enter your information in the Linky. Please be sure to link to your actual post (click your title and then copy the URL above) and not your home page so those participating later in the week can find your post easily.

3. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment and tell us what's going on at your homestead!

Please Note: As hostesses of the Homestead Barn Hop, please understand that we reserve the right to remove any links that are not family friendly. While this may be subjective, we will err on the side of caution in order to keep our blogs appropriate for all readers. Thank you for your understanding!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Blessing

"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?"
~ Psalm 8:3-4

Oh, how great is His love for His children! The Creator of galaxy upon galaxy, longs to fellowship with man, a mere speck in the universe!

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."
~ I Peter 5:6-7 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Now Is the Time...

The cats may be thinking it's time to take a break and just enjoy the sun, but for the rest of us, now is the time to DIG! Although spring has begun, we're still getting snow off and on. But in between are beautiful days and plenty of sunshine! Just what I've needed to cure those winter blues and get some vitamin D, while getting a jump on my garden! Amazing what a few hours outdoors does for the spirit!

If you plan to move any plants around your yard or garden, plant trees or shrubs, add fencing, or change the terrain of your land, now is the time to do so while the ground is moist and soft! In fact, it's so soft at the moment, even in our High Desert Mountain range I can easily slip my shovel down into soil that would normally be hard as a rock!

This week I've already started digging out a trench to build a retaining wall in my terraced vegetable garden, planted four trees, and I'm about to plant 8 more. Next I need to dig some post holes and add some fencing for some berry plants and transplant them from their original home (which will now be the new goat yard). I have a couple of blueberries to plant as well. And before it's all said and done, I think I'll move a couple of perennials that would do better in a different location.

One of the things I did this winter was to save a bit of money aside for my garden. That way, when my local nursery got bare root fruit trees and other items in stock around January and February, I could purchase a few at a much better price. Some of these were planted in a large plastic container until I was ready to get them in the ground. My nursery also held on to some that I paid for until I was ready (all you need to do is ask; my nursery was more than willing!). 

If you missed bare root sales at your own nursery, add a note to your calendar or tickler file to remind you next year to plan ahead, because immediately following bare root sales is soft dirt season in the garden! Time to plant!

And if I'm AWOL from my blog, you'll know I'm out in the garden!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Homemade Liquid Handsoap

Slowly but surely, I'm learning to recreate many of the items I use to buy at the store for a fraction of the cost. I like that it's not only frugal, but the products are often safer because the ingredients are much more simple. I know every single item that goes into the soap, deodorant, or whatever it is I'm making. And this liquid handsoap is no exception... it's a fraction of a fraction of the original cost! Woo hoo!

You may remember my recent batch of bar soap? I actually had extra soap that wouldn't fit into my molds so I just poured the excess into some disposable plastic containers and then pulled it out a bit early in chunks because I had a little trouble getting that batch to firm up. But it eventually did and I saved these pieces, not knowing for sure what I'd use them for.

Then I was on Pinterest and found Robyn's liquid hand soap recipe on The Farmer's Nest. Jack pot! I knew exactly what I was going to do with the soap scraps I'd been saving. And in fact, this was very timely because I had been searching for a bulk supply of liquid hand soap at a great price, but hadn't found one that I was pleased with in terms of cost and quality. Even if this experiment was only so-so, it would be almost free since I had all the ingredients on hand.

Liquid Hand Soap Recipe

1  8 oz. bar of soap, grated (or more - I'll explain below)
2 T. liquid glycerine
1 gallon water
favorite essential oil (optional)

Place the water in a large pot and begin to heat it on medium-high. Add the 2 T. of glycerine and the grated soap to the pot and stir. As it warms it may get a bit bubbly. Stir in several drops of your favorite essential oil if the soap is not scented and you want your hand soap to smell nice. (I just did this until it smelled like I wanted - sorry I didn't count drops!).

Continue to stir until all the bits of soap have dissolved. Then turn off the heat and let it sit over night or for about 10-12 hours. After sitting, mine seemed to separate and was very watery, so I followed Robyn's instructions and reheated it and added more soap shavings (believe me, I had plenty!). So in all, I guess I used about 16 oz., not 8 oz. But mine was a homemade soap. Robyn used an 8 oz. bar of Mrs. Meyer's and it got very thick after sitting.

After mine sat a second time overnight, it didn't look cloudy like Robyn's but it did look like a liquid version of my soap. And if I put my hand into it, the liquid was certainly soapy! This time it was still runny, but thicker than before, so I decided to call it done.

Using a funnel, I loaded up a couple of my very empty soap dispensers and stored the remaining soap in a couple of large canning jars.

And now, I have a lot of soap for literally a few pennies. I think I can live with it a bit runny at that price!

It the runny soup bothers you, perhaps these two tips will help:
• One reader on Roby's blog made a solution of 3 T. table salt and 8 oz. hot water, stirred until dissolved, then added it to her room temperature liquid soap. According to the reader, it instantly thickened it.
• Another reader suggested not adding as much water if your soap is high in oils (which mine was).

If your soap ends up being too thick:
• Try using an electric hand mixer and breaking it up a bit.
• Try adding a bit more glycerine.

So I hope this extra info helps because every bar of soap is going to produce different results. At least our hands should be clean for a long time!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dear Daughter: The Heart of Modesty

This post in part of a continuing series addressed to my daughters, but also for the benefit of younger women everywhere. While this particular post addresses modesty, it does not cover all aspects of it. I will be writing a second letter in the near future addressing what was not discussed in this current letter.

Dear Daughter,

Modesty is such a touchy issue to address, especially for young ladies. While the Bible is clear that women are to be modest (few believers would argue this particular point), it does not seem to define it definitively in terms of hem length, necklines, slits, tightness, looseness, straps or no straps, bikinis, undergarments, or anything else. And for good reason...

Modesty is never, NEVER, N.E.V.E.R. just a clothing and style issue. It is always first and foremost a heart issue. And the issue of the heart is usually vanity and pride.

The reality that it's a heart issue may have escaped your notice, but how we dress reveals a lot about the state of our heart at that very moment. In fact, your clothing is an advertisement to everyone who sees you, like a billboard designed to grab one's attention. 

A modest attire tells others you value yourself as well as your "neighbor", but more importantly, it reveals that you value your relationship with your Savior

Immodest clothing announces your focus is clearly on self with little thought of others and that you are seeking attention. And it distinctly communicates that in this particular area you are not seeking to please God, but man.

It may seem harsh for me to make such a bold claim... that an immodest, Christian young lady is being selfish and vain. But to ignore this fact and pretend it's really just her flair for fashion, or a need for self expression, or even her "cluelessness" is really the same as approving of her sin and does nothing to set her back on the right path. 

While the responsibility for addressing the sin lies first and foremost with her parents (who should be diligent to instruct her in proper clothing from an early age and certainly before an immodest attire is paraded in public), it does not mean that a young lady is not responsible for her own modesty. With each passing year, she should be gaining wisdom of her own and have less of a need for her parents to "rule over her" with a firm hand. 

If her heart is seeking to please the Lord, then a simple study of modesty from the Bible will be sufficient to guide her in proper wisdom and understanding when it comes to her clothing. And because her heart is seeking that which is honoring to God, she will see the instruction as good and for her benefit, not as a "punishment". This is the young lady who will be creative within the boundaries she knows will please her Lord and she will cheerfully find a way to be fashionable and yet modest.

However, a girl who is rebelling against God or perhaps seeking to please her own flesh, when given counsel from her parents or from the Word, will reflect an irritation in her soul that is seen in her attitude and response when confronted. Such a young lady will complain or whine about how restricting the proper clothing is, that it's not fair others can wear the latest fashion, or how ridiculous the modest attire looks on her. Nothing pleases her unless she wins her parents over to allow her to wear what she desires. Life for her is miserable and she will never find joy even if she obeys her parent's wishes to the letter unless she repents of the sin in her heart first. 

Many a girl has worn clothing that covered almost her entire body, only to flaunt her figure by walking in a provocative manner while teasing and flirting with every young man who happens to come across her path. Why? Most don't know why they do this. All they know is that it makes them feel good when boys pay attention to them. But the truth of the matter is... by seeking to stir up emotions in the opposite sex, her heart was chasing after their attention and approval in order to flatter her vanity and pride. 

So what counsel does God's Word give in terms of the heart of modesty? 

• Have you ever hear of the word "shamefacedness"? This word is synonymous with modesty and if you do a word study on it, you'll find that it means "a sense of shame or honor, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, and respect". Do young ladies parading around in tight fitting, low cut tops or short skirts make you think of any of these character qualities? Probably not! Oh, where are the maidens of our day? This isn't about stepping back into a Victorian Era, but rather obeying 2 Timothy 2:9, "Likewise I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly...". 

• We are to put others before ourselves, even in our clothing choices! "Do nothing from selfish or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus..." Philippians 2:3-5. This means that you need to protect not only your own body and heart, but that of your brother in Christ who could very easily stumble when he sees too much of your body. 

You need to KNOW that men are created by God to be attracted to women visually (and actually, we like this fact). Often women forget this on a surface level, but truthfully, we think of this a lot more than we may realize. When girls are still single and looking for "Mr. Right" to come along, almost every young lady makes an attempt to look her best when she knows she is going to be in the presence of other young men. So to say "I don't get it" is an excuse and actually closer to an out right lie at times! As girls, we "get it", but we just don't want to acknowledge it because we want to please our own flesh.

• This idea of the opposite sex brings me to another point that you may be thinking... Am I my brother's keeper? To some degree, yes! "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself;" (Romans 15:1-3a). As far as it in your ability to do so, help your brother not to sin and go the extra mile to be modest. Don't worry... he WILL notice. Chaste young women are extremely attractive to young men looking for a wife!

• The saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans" does not apply to things that would be sin. So wearing an item to an "event" that would otherwise be considered inappropriate so as to blend in and "be a witness" doesn't cut it! God never gives us a pass from obeying His Word to win others to Christ. We think too little of our Lord and our fellow man when we think that doing right can not possibly bring others to Christ, even if it seems offensive or silly to them at first. And why would they need a Savior if they already have all that you seem to have? They won't see their need unless they see the righteousness of Christ lovingly and beautifully portrayed, radiating from the believer.

• Sometimes we need to go the extra mile, going even beyond the minimum, and clothe ourselves in such a way as to not give offense to a brother or sister in Christ or another group of people who might struggle with our attire even if our clothing isn't considered immodest according to Biblical standards. Missionaries often find themselves in such situations when living abroad. Is it too much to do the same when visiting a church or family you know has standards different than your own family? As long as we do not become legalistic in setting such standards, we are not forbidden to honor the standards of the weaker brother. Instead, Paul tells us to practice such standards in their presence until God helps them to see the truth. (I Corinthians 8)

• When our heart rebels against what we know to be true, such as the Scriptures above, we need to take note and do some serious introspection and root out the sin in our heart with the help of the Holy Spirit. Don't brush it off and think it's no big deal! It is!! Deal with it prayerfully. Don't ignore it or in time, you won't hear the Holy Spirit at all in this regard and you'll be so deep in your sin, you'll be less likely to repent. Remember Romans 1:18-19! 

My dear, I believe the Lord purposefully did not give strong specifics in regards to our clothing for several reasons, but one reason in particular stands out in my mind... if He had given us detailed guidelines, we would probably push the limit right up to the edge and check off modesty as if it were only an outward requirement and never consider the modesty of our heart. I pray that your heart will forever and always be His! 


Monday, March 19, 2012

Barn Hop #54

Welcome friends! So glad to have you stop by today! It's Monday and time to link up those blog posts with all the happenings and great tips from your own homestead so that we can all glean from each other wisdom and encouragement!

I need to apologize... again! I posted almost nothing last week on my blog. Very uncharacteristic of me on the whole. I hadn't even had my camera out for most of the month! But there have been some good things going on around here and I even dug out my camera for a few quick shots (sorry the lightening was bad on them! I was in a hurry)....

• I worked on organizing my new seeds and started some indoor seedlings for cool weather crops and utilized some of that great worm composting from my worm bin! They all seemed to be at one end, so I scooped some castings out from the other end and mixed it with my potting soil along with some other amendments.

• Planned more on the future goat barn, garden, and bees. I had to move some things around, but I decided to leave the garden where it is.
• Made liquid hand soap from the left over soap scraps from my bar soap (it was only semi-successful)

• Been nursing a sick chicken for several days; amazingly she's still alive, but not sure she'll make it. I thought she was egg bound (and I tried olive oil around her vent), but she laid a nice regular sized egg this morning, so I'm thinking it's bacterial. I've been giving her water with probiotics. She is drinking well and even ate a bite of food today, but after just a few seconds, she's so tired her head drops and she goes back to sleep. Poor baby!

I've researched this for hours and she has absolutely no symptoms other than the sleepiness! She looks healthy in every other way. The chicken that died from shock seemed to have the same symptoms and I'm wondering, could this be shock as well? Right before the symptoms showed up the bobcat came back while I was in the front yard doing some spring cleaning in the flower beds and I didn't have my gun. Too bad!! That cat is wrecking havoc on my flock! We've had snow ever since and I've kept them all locked in the coop with this chicken in the chick nursery alone so she can have some peace and quiet.

• Completed my training as a Global Media Outreach Volunteer - yeah!!! (It shouldn't be so time consuming now)
• Started making cultured dairy products from my new goat's milk. I'm trying some Middle Eastern Cheese this week from Wardeh's GNOWFGLINS class.
• and of course, did all the usual including an outing to the big city with my husband and some of the girls!

I did spend some time writing some blog articles that I haven't posted yet. I need to pray over them a bit more and tweak them some. A couple are for the Dear Daughter series. I'll give you a little clue... we've done some clothes shopping this week and I felt that writing out my thoughts in this series would be helpful. (When I write, it helps me get my thoughts in order and to think through why I believe what I believe. I hope you can benefit from some of it.)

In other news, this is Kelly's last week with the Barn Hop. Nothing bad, but the Monday timing wasn't working well for her and she has a new adventure planned for a link up that will fit her schedule better. We hate to see her go and wish her the very best!

Join The Barn Hop!
and Amy @ Homestead Revival...

...invite you to link up and share your homesteading adventures!

1. Write a blog post about what's going on at your homestead or a post on something you're learning or an item of interest that will benefit the homesteading community. Be sure to add the red barn button and link back here so others can join in the fun.
2. Come back here and enter your information in the Linky. Please be sure to link to your actual post (click your title and then copy the URL above) and not your home page so those participating later in the week can find your post easily.

3. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment and tell us what's going on at your homestead!

Please Note: As hostesses of the Homestead Barn Hop, please understand that we reserve the right to remove any links that are not family friendly. While this may be subjective, we will err on the side of caution in order to keep our blogs appropriate for all readers. Thank you for your understanding!


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