Tuesday, June 27, 2017

As the Dust Begins to Settle


Has it really been only a month since I shared the news that we were leaving Little Shouse on the Prairie?  It seems like it has been an eternity - an eternity of moving, that is!

In the past four weeks, Sir Knight and I (along with help from our children and parents), have packed up 17 years of off-grid Shouse living.  We have cried and laughed and worked until we thought we'd drop.  We've made endless trips to our new home and shed buckets of tears.  We've questioned our sanity and witnessed God's great provision.  And finally, we have landed.

One of two trailers loaded with the story of our lives


Building racking in the new container

Making the living room feel like home


Looking into the kitchen


Looking into the new addition that will be the "Butler's Pantry"


I brought my culverts to plant my herbs

My new back yard
Along with our move, we have made other, life changing decisions.  Sir Knight left his job of over 30 years and he, along with Master Hand Grenade, is opening a butcher shop.  We've purchased an old service station in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere and begin the work next week of remodeling it to meet our needs.  Our goal is to be ready to open by hunting season (in September).  We have our work cut out for us!  The building needs to be completely reconfigured and we need to install coolers and freezers, rails and scales.  In his spare time,  Sir Knight has been apprenticing with the butcher Master Hand Grenade apprenticed with and is soaking up as much information as he can.  We've been buying equipment and making plans.  We are on our way!

This move has been rather like jumping off a cliff.  We've left everything we've known and are embarking on the adventure of a lifetime.  As the dust begins to settle, we see a new future.  And we are truly thankful.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Goodbye Little Shouse on the Prairie......


We've done it.  After praying and dreaming and hoping for years, God has moved mountains and we're moving house.  And this, dear friends, is not easy.

Sir Knight and I have known for many years, that although we thought we would raise our children and grow old here on our little prairie, our hearts weren't truly here.  Our hearts were in the mountains.  We have prayed for years that we would be able to move, however, until now, that has been but a dim and distant hope.  Now, in the blink of an eye, it has happened - we are moving!

The emotion of the move has taken me completely by surprise!  I somehow thought I would skip out of here with a spring in my step and a smile on my face, but the reality is that I am preparing to leave the only home my children have known, and therein lies the rub.

As I go through shelves and cupboards, clean out under beds and in little used nooks and crannies, I find remnants of the bygone days of my children's childhood.  I've undressed the garage door for the last time.  I've taken my last tray-full of ashes out of my trusty wood cook stove.  I've sold the farm table that caught fire when a gasket cracked on the Petromax lantern I was lighting the first year we lived here, when we were well and truly "off-grid".  We've sorted and packed and discarded.  And cried.  Just a bit.

Our annual Highland Hunt

The children's skating rink

Sir Knight reloading

Little Shouse providing the backdrop of our lives
Sir Knight and I are excited and terrified and overwhelmed, all at the same time.  The children are giddy one moment and in the depths of despair the next.  They are excited about their new life in the mountains, near their grandparents, and sad to say goodbye to the friends they've known since birth.  They are soaking up the last few moments of their childhood home, listening to the sounds of the lid rattling on the wood cook stove as I stoke it and the sounds of the garage door being opened to let the spring air permeate Little Shouse one last time.

The kitchen shelves

The fabric of our life


Miss Serenity in the only backyard she's ever know

The Shouse that Built Her
Soon, we'll begin another adventure.  We'll make new memories and learn new lessons.  We'll turn the pages of our lives, anticipating each new paragraph, page and chapter.  But Little Shouse on the Prairie will always be our prelude.  We'll always have the joys and the sorrows, the feasts and the famines.  And we'll always have the lessons.  Little Shouse has taught us more about life than any education possibly could have.  We have learned to love each other and to encourage each other.  We have learned to suffer together and to mourn together.  We have learned to do without and to find a way when there is no way.  We have learned what we can live without.  Most importantly, we've learned to lean in to God.  We have learned that He is trustworthy, that He is faithful and that His timing is PERFECT!

And so Little Shouse, goodbye....and THANK YOU.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

His Children....


Maid Elizabeth recently did a photo shoot for a purebred dog photo contest.  Elizabeth is the proud owner of a Giant Schnauzer and thought he would be a great representative of his breed.  The contest was designed to showcase the historical use of specific dog breeds, so Elizabeth decided to highlight the Schnauzer's history of German police service.  Rather than embracing their standard role, she decided to do a bit of a twist on the police theme and have "Faust" (Elizabeth's dog) portray the ultimate protector - protecting children from deadly authorities.  Princess Dragon Snack and Master Calvin dressed for their role and Miss Serenity applied their makeup.  The final images were haunting and more than a little chilling.......a little much for this mother's heart!

I pray we never have to experience the reality of these photos.  Remain every watchful......

Miss Serenity doing makeup

Master Calvin

Princess Dragon Snack

This was the photo that Maid Elizabeth submitted.   She titled the photo "His Children"
(no....she did not win - but I thought it was a great photo)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Hope


Spring is the promise of hope realized.  From twigs that appear dead, new life shoots forth.  Shrouded in a blanket of snow, flowers burst into bloom.  While rain beats down upon the earth and wind batters the landscape, tender life begins to unfurl in anxious anticipation of spring.

Such has been the case at Little Shouse on the Prairie.  New life and Hope has come.  For years I have struggled to grow a garden.  I have planted and tended crop after crop, only to have them flourish briefly, languish in an exceedingly sad state and finally wither into oblivion.  Finally, finally, my efforts have been rewarded - spring has come!  I have roses, lilacs and red twig dogwood budding.  Raspberries and strawberries are awakening.  Lavender, chives and basil are bushy with  new growth and even my apple trees and blueberries bushes lived through the winter!  Hope has been realized at our Little Shouse.

An apple tree planted last year

Budding leaves!

Red Twig Dogwood - the beginning of a hedgerow

Raspberries

Roses and Lilacs
As our garden has lay dormant, awaiting God's perfect timing, so has our hope of a new direction for our family.  Those of you who have followed along on our great adventure know that we have longed to make changes - for Sir Knight in his job, and a new location for our family.  Those hopes and dreams, which have long lay dormant, have recently experience a resurgence of hope.  Spring seems to have come to our family as well as our garden.

As our adventure unfolds, we'll keep you posted - until then, Hope springs eternal.

A wild rose that I transplanted years ago - thriving!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The True Value of Gun Free Zones

Master Hand Grenade found this and I had to share.  The video will surely speak for itself.....


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rainy Days and Cozy Kitchens


It has been raining, and raining, and raining!  Our new little brook has been filled to the top of the bank carrying water away from our front door.  Our driveway continues to be a local attraction, with children lining up to jump on it, like a massive trampoline.

Although the weather has been dreary, the kitchen has been cheery - positively bustling with activity! While the cook stove crackles away, Miss Serenity and I have been busy filling the shouse with mouth-watering, home-baked goodness.

Every Wednesday, we host what we affectionately call the "Twinkie Bible Study".  A few months ago, Princess Dragon Snack expressed a desire to have a bible study.  I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to encourage my almost 12 year old daughter and her friends and immediately agreed.  At tea that afternoon, I was talking with Sir Knight and told him I would be hosting a "Tweeny" (in between child and teenager) bible study.  Dragon Snack overheard our conversation and said she didn't like the term "Tweeny".  Sir Knight, quick as always, said "we'll call you "Twinkies", because everybody loves Twinkies"!  And so, the Twinkie Bible Study was born!

After the girls (there are 4 Twinkies) finish their bible study, they retire to the kitchen and have tea.  Each week, the tea flows and treats are served, as the clink of china and the giggling of girls fill the shouse.  Generally Princess Dragon Snack or I bake for the Bible study, however, today Miss Serenity did the baking.

Brownie Bites
Courtesy of Miss Serenity
As the rain poured and the fire crackled, Miss Serenity whipped up a batch of brownie bites.  Soon, the bites were done and the table set, and all that was missing were the Twinkies.  Before we knew it, the Twinkies trudged up the driveway, shrugged off their wet coats and settled in for the Bible study.  We read out of "Prayers for Girls" by Elisabeth Robinson Scovil, and today's subject was Truthfulness.  First we read the selection and then we looked up bible verses that dealt with truthfulness.  What a pleasure to watch the girls flip through their bibles and listen to them read the verses.  And I especially love to hear how they intend to incorporate the verses into their daily life.  Today we read:

For Truthfulness

O God, Who has told us in Thy holy word that Thou art the Truth, keep my lips from falsehood.  Do not let fear force me into saying what is not true.  Make me think before I speak so that what I say may not be untrue.  Strengthen me when it is hard to speak the truth.  Give me such a great respect for my word, that I never may break it.  Having promised, let me always perform.  Make me sincere in all my actions.  Take from me the wish to deceive, that I may be truthful both in word and deed.  I ask this for Jesus Christ's sake.  Amen.

As we were having our bible study, I had bread rising in the kitchen.  Earlier in the day, I had sautéed onions and diced cheese and put together dough for Cheese and Onion bread.  It is one of our favorite savory breads to have with soups or other hearty meals.  Today, instead of making loaves of bread, like I usually do, I decided to form the dough into rolls.  Mmmm!  As I formed the rolls, huge chunks of cheese stuck out at angles and browned pieces of onion clung to the dough.

This evening, I pulled the rolls out of the oven just in time to accompany Joe's Special (Enola Gay Version) on our dinner table.  What a wonderfully savory treat!

Cheese & Onion Loaf

1 1/2 C hot water
2 tsp. sugar
1 T. salt
1 T. yeast
4 3/4 C flour
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 C Cheddar cheese, shredded (divided)
2/3 C. Cheddar cheese, cubed
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped and sautéed

Mix together the water, sugar, salt and yeast.  Allow to "sponge" (sit and grow) for 1/2 hour.  While the mixture is sponging, saute the onions in a bit of butter and set aside to cool.  

After the mixture has sponged, add the flour and dry mustard.  Mix in the cubed cheese and 2/3 C of the shredded cheese.  Add the sautéed onion.

Knead dough until elastic (about 10 minutes) and transfer into an oiled bowl.  Allow to rise in a warm place until double in size (about 2 hours).  Form into 1 large loaf (put in bread pan) and allow to rise until almost double.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  While oven is heating, brush the top of the loaf with milk and sprinkle 1/3 C grated cheese on the top of the loaf.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until loaf sounds hollow.  Turn loaf onto wire rack (I have to loosen the crunchy cheese from the sides of the pan to release the loaf) and allow to cool completely.

Sautéing Onions
Diced sharp cheddar
Adding the onions and diced cheese
And the grated cheddar
Dough, ready to rise
Fresh from the oven
What a beautiful spring day this turned out to be - in spite of the dark, rainy weather!  And now we get to see what tomorrow has in store!!