Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Patchwork of Our Summer Days (photo-heavy)

I have been taking some internet free time here, though not exactly strict about it. I've popped in here and there, peeping at friends on Facebook, trying to keep up with a at least 1 photo daily on Instagram, etc. For the most part, it's been quick in and out and back to the necessary tasks of my day. The stress level is definitely improved with limited social access :-) And when I did stop in at Facebook, I pretty much found things as I'd left them...a whole lot of political arguments, Black Lives vs All Lives Matter debates, and some horribly flooding through Louisiana and parts of Texas.

As much as things seem to change, they really do just stay the same in terms of the "news" issues I suppose. There's an evil in this country that we seem a bit inept at shaking off right now. I just keep praying it doesn't continue to grow into what I fear is coming. We've left off from our roots and it's starting to really show.

August came and is on the way out and I finally decided it was time to sneak a peek at how the blog fared. Not too bad, though I suspect after the past couple of years of my woeful neglect, y'all don't have high expectations where this blog is concerned, LOL.

What's been up since that last June posting around the homestead you ask? I would love to give you some awesome exciting update, but on my honor, I swear my days are all white bread bland for the most part. I did however, just yesterday, have a super exciting, long awaited and prayed for, event. I can't share a great deal just yet, but I spoke to someone I have been looking for for a very, very long time. It was a huge answer to a great many prayers over the years, and a wonderful blessing. I look forward to growing that relationship further in the near future. I kid you not, this was a major deal. I'm not a sappy, emotional sort but I tell ya, I was crying tears of deep joy yesterday :-)
I'm a tease, I know. But I promise I will fill y'all in as soon as I am free to do so.

So, onward...This summer there has been a few exciting moments...
Our oldest son got married :-)

 The boys headed in to tame their wild locks and get some nice haircuts...sigh, my boys do clean up handsome don't they?
We helped decorate a beautiful barn that offered the perfect backdrop for the day
We helped get Big Brother put together properly, and not once did his brothers snap his suspenders (though I'm sure the temptation was strong, LOL)

 We took some photos. It was so nice having the whole crew together, even if they couldn't manage to get looking the same way at the same time for our photos :-)

 We couldn't have asked for a more blessed day. Family, new friends, and the next generation of love :-) It was definitely a beautiful day.

 In the School Room:
The herbal studies continue, though I am plodding along more than skipping along. I have discovered I apparently have a bit of test-taking phobia. I have been sitting in one unit for a couple of months now. I love the courses. I'm learning how all these various puzzle pieces connect together, discovering new herbal treatments I wasn't familiar with before, gaining a deeper understanding of some I've used for years...but I can't bring myself to take the test and move forward. 
Silly, I know. I mean it's pretty simple...I either know the material and will pass the test, or I don't know squat and will not get a good grade.

By the way, if you've ever thought about getting more education on medicinal herbs, or just want to learn how to care for your own family in a more healthy manner, now is the time! Herbal Academy of New England has a great back to school sale going on, with all courses, from their Introductory Herbal course, to their Clinical, Professional, and Family Herbalist programs discounted 15%.

The remaining 5 at home are back at the books more full-time now. We school year-round, but there are breaks along the way, and our course of study alters a bit as well. We go from textbook studies in most subjects, to a lot of outdoor study and simply reading. Right now, it's back to the textbook work to get our feet back on track. As the weather cools finally, I'm hopeful we can get back outdoors more. It's been a long, hot and sticky spring and summer. And wet. I see all these ponds so low, their dried up banks showing more and more, yet we have had rains almost daily for 2 months or better. Some light and misty, some strong and heavy. I am so ready for cold weather and maybe some winter conditions for a change.

In the Kitchen:
This past weekend we knocked out a couple long-awaited big projects in the new kitchen addition. I say "new" but seriously, that space has been in the making in one manner or another, for going on 5 years now. It went from a simple deck to a covered porch, got walls in place and turned into a huge storage space. Finally cleared that accumulation out and started using it as a sort of quiet dining room and school space. Last year, we decked it all out for the holidays and used it for gathering, eating, etc. But it still wasn't moving along in terms of the final work. This weekend Dewey and Matt built the counter top area and got the farmhouse sink set into place, and we finally moved the Kitchen Queen from the main living space into it's new kitchen home. It isn't piped in at all yet, and I need to get the right size sink drain, but I can see the finish line just ahead finally!! 

I'm excited. It's definitely not the dream kitchen everyone would want, but it is every bit of the vision I had for this space :-) The counter space is about as rustic as you can get...simple 2x6 boards. I scrubbed them with Apple Cider Vinegar, then after that dried, I've been applying coats of oil. Started with grapeseed oil, used a bit of coconut oil, and am currently treating it with olive oil. Guess my ADHD kicked in and I couldn't choose just one, LOL. The wood has soaked in the oil nicely, taking longer and longer to absorb it all. The last coat I applied last night is still showing it's shine and moisture, so I am probably about finished. When the antique table gets brought in to be my work surface and island between the sink and the cookstove, I'll prep the large cutting board top in the same manner. There will be a primitive cutting board cover for the electric range as well, to help camouflage it when we aren't using it.

There's still quite a bit of work to do in here to get it finished, but it's just about usable now, and I can live with that. Next weekend, if the weather cooperates, maybe we can get the stovepipe in and get the Queen hooked up for use. And that sink drain, lol. We haven't put the hearth in for the cookstove yet, or even laid the flooring down, but I am so ready to start really using that space!

It hasn't been all construction and such in the kitchen. Life still has to happen around here, despite the stacked 2x4s and power tools. We've been doing our usual stuff like menu planning, bread baking, etc but a couple weeks back we brought home 80# of bananas and set to prepping them for the dehydrator and the freezer. We had to make several loaves of banana bread to enjoy, though after slicing bananas all day, no one was that interested in eating banana anything for a few days, LOL.


We cleared the frozen veggies from the freezers and dehydrated them to store in the pantry, and got some needed bulk mixes made up as well.
If you don't have a big garden or access to good farm markets to buy your fresh vegetables, frozen is a better option than most canned vegetables. If you're like me and stock up on them as sales come along, you may find you have a freezer full. As we start planning the bulk meat purchase and more cases of Zaycon Foods wonderful chicken breasts, I found I needed space freed up in those freezers. Dehydrating the frozen fruits and vegetables stored there was easy :-)
I normally keep a lot of cans of cream of this or that soup on hand to use here. It's easy to ditch those cans and mix up from scratch really, but I wanted to give a bulk mix recipe I had here a try. Although I added the chicken bouillon into the mix, it can be left out to add on an as-needed basis, making the recipe even more versatile by subbing beef bouillon, or even a vegetable bouillon. We tend to use chicken or mushroom soup here most often, so I added it in the main mix. If you want more DIY Pantry Mixes and dehydrating ideas, I definitely suggest visiting 21st Century Simple Living. You will be taking a lot of notes :-) Next on my list of DIY, the Tomato Powder. I currently buy that in the ethnic foods section of my Walmart, but making it myself would be so much more healthy. It reconstitutes into everything...tomato juice, tomato paste, tomato sauce. Of course having ready-to-go tomatoes in the pantry is great thing, but tomato powder would be a huge bonus as well. I can easily add a few spoonfuls to 'beef' up the flavors of soups, stews, casseroles, etc.

a photo of my dear friend Glenda's current canning stash :-)

I love seeing the jars fill in the spaces. Used to be our pantry held almost nothing but jars of home-canned foods and very few store-bought items. I've gotten too far away from that in the past few years and it's time to get back on track. I'm thinking we may need to leave the warming oven off the Queen this winter so I can get some canning done. My All American pressure canner is huge and doesn't fit on the cook surface with the warming oven in place. Not that I want a smaller one...canning meats is a long process per batch, and being able to load 19 quart jars into this canner is a huge bonuse, LOL.

In the Craft Basket:
I have no current projects really. I've been wandering around patterns looking for some inspiration, but all I've been working on are dishcloths and pot holders. I have a million patterns set aside for working on, but I just haven't found that perfect yarn for any of them yet.
You knitters and crocheters know what I'm talking about. The struggle is real.
I need to get working on something else soon. I mean really, I may be a mess in the kitchen while I'm working, but even I only need so many dishcloths and potholders, lol.

Around the Homestead:
We've finally had some dryer days where collecting our water at the spring-fed lake wasn't put off. I love going out there, though I'd much prefer a good water source here on the homestead (yes, we have tap water, but it's not something we will use for drinking or cooking. The chlorine levels are pretty high still.) Still, I love visiting the private spring-fed lake when they open weekly for the public to gather water. Even with the 100+ temps we've been having since mid-June, it's a peaceful, enjoyable time.

A couple weeks ago we took a quick (ha ha), fairly unplanned road trip one Saturday...to Baxter Springs, Kansas to pick up Matt's girlfriend so she could come visit before school resumed. The 8 hour one way drive made for a long, long day. You would think, 8 hours there, maybe an hour lay-over, then 8 hours back equals 17 hours. It might for normal folks, but for me...it was more along the lines of 22 hours. I like to meander a bit :-)
Meandering aside, the scenery we were treated to was amazing and well worth the zombie-like state we were in the following day. The area around the Ouachita National Forest and the Ozark National Forest is absolutely beautiful. I could definitely live there in that mountain terrain, lost in the acres of woodland :-) 
On the return trip the following Saturday, we managed a great 3 hour visit with a dear online friend :-) She drove down an hour or so with her husband and children to meet up with us for lunch. We had a great visit after years of text, Facebook, and phone chatting.

We've also done some country road trips locally, of course they were mainly to check out the elderberry progress along the mountain roads and fields. Wild foraging has been a lot of fun this year. As I learn more and more in my courses about botany in general, recognizing wild plants, and the many remedies they provide, I am amazed at everything that is around me I have over-looked all these years.

We found enough wild violets/leaves for a huge batch of infused oil for salve making, honeysuckle, Mimosa blossoms to make 3 jars of tincture, elder flowers gathered and dried for use, and a jar full of dried elderberries. I placed an order for some other necessary herbs I wanted to have on hand as well.

Everything you need for keeping your family healthy, tending seasonal and chronic ailments, treating wounds...it's all right there in nature, just waiting to be rediscovered and put back into use. We've lost so much of the knowledge our ancestors had and have turned to OTC 'faux medicines' that offer little more than a bandaid to the problem, and often create new problems to compound our already weakened systems.

Learning all I can to help my family break that cycle is a top priority for me. It's a slow process, having to relearn these long lost 'arts' and break my mind from thinking Tylenol (or any other medicine) first, but it's the legacy I want to leave for my children and grandchildren :-)

I don't think there's much else to share about the last month or so. Like I've said, we are a pretty boring bunch here. Most excitement we tend to have is fighting the tall, wet grass to mow and weed eat. I do have a project I am working on, but it's nowhere near the ready to share stages yet. Not to tease, just not sure which direction it will take or if it will even come to fruition, so I'll keep it tucked away for now. Wouldn't mind some prayers sent up on its behalf, just in case it does continue on and develop :-)

For the most part though, It's just same ol, same ol around here from day to day. We just change up the tasks a bit to fit the season. Right now, I'm in pantry-mode so we are ready for whatever autumn and winter bring to us here in the Deep South.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Season of Fear, Prayer, and most likely Martial Law...

I get a lot of nonsense notes from people who visit here, friend me on Facebook, even on Instagram, telling me how I am not doing this right, or how I am completely wrong in my thinking or actions. By a lot, I mean almost daily. I do get totally aggravated at some of them, but for the most part, the trolls simply crack me up. There is apparently no end to the things y'all have to complain about concerning how I live, what I believe, how I believe, how I raise my children, choose to dress, which manner of homeschooling I have selected, what I spend my money on, even which Bible I prefer to use.

Either I am the world's most inept, illiterate, utterly stupid bit of nothing or y'all spend too much time looking for things, LOL. Obviously I prefer to believe the latter.

I do believe y'all watch far too many online news reports and believe their twists and turns a bit too deeply. Or you've watch a few too many Walking Dead episodes.

Martial Law, as defined by Merriam-Webster:
  1. 1 :  the law applied in occupied territory by the military authority of the occupying power
  2. 2 :  the law administered by military forces that is invoked by a government in an emergency when the civilian law enforcement agencies are unable to maintain public order and safety

Martial Law

The exercise of government and control by military authorities over the civilian population of a designated territory.
Martial law is an extreme and rare measure used to control society during war or periods of civil unrest or chaos. According to the Supreme Court, the term martial law carries no precise meaning (Duncan v. Kahanamoku, 327 U.S. 304, 66 S. Ct. 606, 90 L. Ed. 688 [1946]). However, most declarations of martial law have some common features. Generally, the institution of martial law contemplates some use of military force. To a varying extent, depending on the martial law order, government military personnel have the authority to make and enforce civil and criminal laws. Certain civil liberties may be suspended, such as the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom of association, and freedom of movement. And the writ of Habeas Corpus may be suspended (this writ allows persons who are unlawfully imprisoned to gain freedom through a court proceeding).
In the United States, martial law has been instituted on the national level only once, during the Civil War, and on a regional level only once, during World War II. Otherwise, it has been limited to the states. Uprisings, political protests, labor strikes, and riots have, at various times, caused several state governors to declare some measure of martial law.
Martial law on the national level may be declared by Congress or the president. Under Article I, Section 8, Clause 15, of the Constitution, Congress has the power "[t]o provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel Invasions." Article II, Section 2, Clause 1, of the Constitution declares that "[t]he President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States." Neither constitutional provision includes a direct reference to martial law. However, the Supreme Court has interpreted both to allow the declaration of martial law by the president or Congress. On the state level, a governor may declare martial law within her or his own state. The power to do so usually is granted in the state constitution.

Some of you will believe it is I who have watched too many TV shows when I say that Martial Law will be coming to a major city near you very soon. You either don't believe things are that bad in our communities, or that the government wouldn't stoop to any such drastic level as that.
I disagree. We have seen the official actions of Martial Law in this country only a couple of times, as stated above. However, if you look back over actions during various events in this country, we have had it more often, just without the official label. Look at the rule of law instituted following Hurricane Katrina in 2005? It was undeniably Martial Law, the powers that be simply chose to use a less invasive and freedom-squashing moniker, State of Emergency.

Whatever you choose to call it, it is going to be coming to your area soon I'd venture. At the very least, to the major cities. When you decide to protest something...gas prices, police brutality, urban crime rates, taxes, does it even matter really what your catalyst is?...when you force your protest onto the general public, blocking traffic on roadways seems to be the protest of choice for the BLM thugs, you are breaking the law. By forcing your protest onto the public at large, who have nothing tangible invested in your chosen rant, you are a thug. You are instilling fear and distrust into innocent lives and essentially making your points, however valid or ignorant they may be, useless. You have lost whatever voice you might have had with that sort of protest. When you choose to plan out an attack, an ambush, of police officers in your State, because of a shooting you feel was over the line and racially charged in another State, you are not a protester, you are a psychopath killer. Your skin color doesn't even play into the issue.

This is a note I received thru a Facebook friend (the writer was not my actual "friend" but had seen my various postings on all of this ridiculous Black Lives Matter protesting recently in the news thru her friends page. My friend forwarded this note to me...

As a black family, we have seen more than our share of struggles and set backs. Our children will not attend anything more than a community college, their job prospects will be weak despite any intellectual foundation they receive. Why should it be, in a country of plenty, that we still have such a deep rift in the racial roots that formed this country and still carry the segregation of the past with us? Black Lives Matter is about helping people see the reality they have been allowed to forget. They are encouraging others to stand up and clear their vision, and sharing what a community striving for love outside of any racial boundaries can accomplish. It is the resistance to any peaceful effort that causes unrest.

My addressing this note was this:
Ok, again, for the kindergarten level here, black, white, chinese, japanese, native amercian, mexican...pick whatever skin tone and ethnic background you wish...ALL OF THESE LIVES MATTER.
However, these protests are not on any level peaceful, they are illegal and creating fear, anger, frustration, and division by the handful (truly watch some of the news videos...it's the MAJORITY, not the handful) of those using the protests as a means to break the law and push their own agenda even farther. My honest opinion, when you cease to act as though ALL or ANY of these lives are of equal importance, you drop your own value down to the dirt level as well. By screaming from the rooftops that you are worth more than anyone else, you prove you are most likely not worth a portion of anyone else.

Every child has the same opportunity in this country. There is no conspiracy against blacks or anyone else. The idiots telling you this are blowing smoke into your ears because they made a choice not to further their own lives and they want sympathy for that choice now that it has bitten them in the backside.
This isn't the Sudan, we are not some 3rd world country here. Opportunity comes from a desire/want, and the strength of faith and heart to pursue it. You have not because you ask not...or because you work not.
Am I seriously that blind and innocent of mind to believe that's true? Yep, I am. To believe that only white people have opportunity is incredibly stupid, not to mention shallow, of you. To allow your children to believe that no matter what their educational foundation is they will suffer in life, that their job prospects will be weak, that they will forever lack the fundamentals to improve themselves not only makes you empty of head, but it makes you a very poor parent. Your thinking is the sort of crap that moves the stupidity of the Black Lives Matter movement in this country right now. Your stupidity is what will work to place us under Martial Law and create those undesired outcomes. Your stupidity is what will bring our country down another notch towards becoming the 3rd world country you apparently want.
Because a police officer or any private individual fired his weapon and killed an armed or unarmed man, black, white or invisible, in a State you do not even live in does not give you any sort of rights to protest in your own backyard by enticing riots and unlawful behavior, endangering others, etc. The BLM is just another racial/hate group. Your foundation is on par with that of the KKK of old even. Your fear mongering is not opening anyone's eyes to anything other than what a group of thugs can do to an area.

I won't argue that it has opened my eyes. Believing that the everyday citizen is somehow safe in their daily routine is definitely gone. Believing that I can travel in relatively safety with my children is gone. Fully understanding that there are groups of thugs out there who feel they have been granted the power to determine if I am allowed to keep what I have worked hard to attain is certainly not just an obscure idea found in some Hollywood action flick now.
Encourage others to stand up and clear their vision...by breaking windows of shops, throwing rocks at cars, blocking roadways from the travels of innocent people who have nothing personal invested in your "cause"...these are not the actions of someone wishing to plead their case. These are the actions of thugs, of gang members, of criminals. I do not have any sense of pity or sympathy for a group that believes that destruction of another will somehow make their plea of desperation more clear. The deep rift in race in this country is not because a white police officer shot a black man, committing a crime, resisting arrest, standing by on the sidewalk watching the events unfold, etc. The racial division is here, still growing, or making a come-back, because someone...black, white, or whatever...decided that they didn't have enough given to them at some point in their life and they decided that in order to get farther, they needed to take from others. The fact you believe it is only innocent men (regardless of color) being shot and killed by Officers (of any color) merely shows how clouded your vision is. Are innocent people shot? Of course they are. That doesn't mean it's an issue of race. Just because the news is baiting the racial beast by sharing only stories of black lives taken by white officers hardly means that is the only "news" going on out in the community. They are baiting people like you...people who already have a stone in their shoe about how miserable their lives have been.
Want to strive for love outside racial boundaries? Stop blocking roadways from people who have nothing to do with your so-called cause. Stand on the side and voice your opinion, but allow them to listen to ignore as they choose. You lost your voice when you took their choice from them.

These events, this sort of thinking, is what will bring the bigger agenda into play...Martial Law, State of Emergency in the coming months, in major cities, that will bring a halt to the election process and shut down the government change-over. Look at the way people are behaving now, innocent people being targeted and attacked for some random reasoning that is only connected in the mind of the attacker. You can't honestly believe it won't get worse when that Martial Law or State of Emergency is declared. It will be a rippling effect from those larger cities right thru this country, everyone being caught in the wake of the stupidity.

Y'all have poked fun at my "prepper" ideas for years, called me a conspiracy follower, even chided my claiming to be a person of FAITH. I totally believe in God, I do not believe HE has abandoned this country or its people, and I do not believe HE wants us given over to a spirit of fear. I do, however, believe HE has shown us more than enough signs of what is coming our way personally, as well as HIS repeated warnings of what our lives will be like in our final days, that we should have our eyes well opened to the current lay of the land and the direction of its path.
I have never "prepped" from a vision of fear, I prep for common sense. The economy is never that great, it goes in seasons/cycles. Jobs are lost every day, commerce does not change with the job outlook, prices increase more often than they decrease. There are numerous natural disasters scourging our land, creating more upheaval in their passing. Nothing is forever. It's all that simple. Really. I prepare...with food, knowledge, skills, etc...so that I can (with a lot of prayer and hope) keep my family safe and continuing forward during hard times, no matter what causes those times.

Right now, given the daily news bites of unrest/attacks/protests, coupled with the fact that the government is preparing to switch hands as it were in the coming months, I cannot help but feel my preparing is more urgent, and not up to the level I would have liked for such events ahead. I will continue to do all I can to get as ready as I can, but time is quickly running out. My deepest prayers are with my country, our police officers, our neighbors, our cities. The time has never, in our lifetime, been as ripe for a serious rift and destruction as it is now.

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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