Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Parents seeking.....

How would you start a personal add for your lovely, unmarried, Godly, adult daughter?  Not that we are likely to advertise in the local paper, but Sir Knight and I have been brainstorming ideas of traits that we would like to have in a son-in-law.  Being the off-beat family that we are, our list of qualifications looks more like a skill set than a romantic ideal of "Mr. Perfect".  So, here are some of the qualities we are looking for in our daughter's future husband....

1.  Non-negotiable - God-fearing, Jesus-loving, Christian.

2.  Loves children and considers them as a gift rather than a nuisance.

3.  Priest, Prophet, Provider & Protector of his family.

4.  Military (preferably at least one tour in Afghanistan - or other mountainous region).

5.  Proficient in small unit tactics (any special forces training a plus).

6.  Oath Keeper.

7.  A year's supply of food.

8.  Must have "group standard" weapons.

9. Ham Radio Operator.

This seems a little ridiculous, but it is amazing how few real men we come into contact with.  Mostly, we meet boys who are only interested in their girls running around with no clothes on and then taking what little they do have on at the drop of a hat.  Not for our girl.  We want more.  We have raised her to be more.

No.  I don't think we will take an add out in the paper or post a personal add on Craigslist.  I think we will pray.  We will pray for Maid Elizabeth's husband just like we have been praying for him since she was a little girl.  God will bring him in His perfect timing.  We will wait.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Animal Crackers and Cocoa to drink.....

Every year in school, our children memorize poetry.  When they are little, I read the poetry to them, and they choose what they want to commit to memory.  When they get a little older, they choose their own poems.  Sir Knight and I love nothing more than to listen to a well articulated piece of poetry that one of our children has stored away in their fertile minds.

When Hand Grenade was little, we came across this gem of a poem in a children's poetry book.  The book had wonderful illustrations and made us long to crawl into the book and join the occupants for Animal Crackers and  Cocoa to drink.  Now, on a wintry, blustery dark afternoon, we will set the kettle to singing on our wood cook stove, open little, individual boxes of crunchy animal crackers and sip on piping hot, homemade hot cocoa.  What a perfect way to experience the simple joys of childhood!

Animal Crackers

Animal crackers and cocoa to drink,
That is the finest of suppers I think;
When I'm grown up and can have what I please
I think I shall always insist upon these.
What do YOU choose when you're offered a treat?
When Mother says, "What would you like best to eat?"
Is it waffles and syrup, or cinnamon toast?
It's cocoa and animals that I love most!

The kitchen's the cosiest place that I know;
The kettle is singing, the stove is aglow,
And there in the twilight, how jolly to see
The cocoa and animals waiting for me.

Daddy and Mother dine later in state,
With Mary to cook for them, Susan to wait;
But they don't have nearly as much fun as I
Who eat in the kitchen with Nurse standing by;
And Daddy once said, he would like to be me
Having cocoa and animals once more for tea!
Christopher Morley (1890-1957) 

Now, for the hot cocoa recipe!  I started searching for just the right homemade hot cocoa recipe about 20 years ago.  I tried just about every cocoa recipe I could get my hands on.  Nothing suited until I came across a variation of this recipe in an old school cookbook of my husbands.  I tweaked this and that, until I came up with this version.  It is our favorite.  Our children won't touch that ol' store bought stuff!  And it is oh, so simple.

Enola Gay's Hot Cocoa Mix

4.3# box Nesquick (chocolate) (the size you can buy at Costco)
2 1/2 C Powdered Sugar
4 C Coffee Creamer
9 C Powdered Milk

Stir ingredients.  Mix 1/4 C. cocoa mix into a cup with hot water.

Getting everything together

My secrete recipe

Dumping in Nesquick

Adding creamer

Measuring the powdered milk

Mixing it all together

Ready to go into the cocoa jar

Get some Animal Crackers and enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Getting ready for Old Man Winter

Living in a shouse has a certain number of challenges, one of the biggest of these is winter.  Our shouse was never meant to be lived in.  Our original plan was to live in the shop for a year and then build a house.  Well, ten years later, here we are.  Because our shouse wasn't intended to be a house, it is a little drafty.  The finish work was that of a shop, not a house.

Every year we make little improvements to make our winters a bit more comfy and cozy.  One year, Maid Elizabeth and I stalked the shouse looking (and feeling) for any little chink in our metal sided armour.  Armed with a can of blow-in expanding insulation, we chased any little draft and rendered it harmless with our trusty miracle in a can.  What a HUGE difference that made!

This year, we got creative.  Our door has always been drafty to say the least.  We have put weather stripping in it, only to have the weather stripping disintegrate within a couple of weeks.  One year, I even nailed a heavy wool blanket over the door, however this made opening the door nearly impossible.

Most of our weather comes from the southwest and our door is positioned directly southwest.  After much consideration, I think I have come up with a workable solution to our draft problem.  I got a couple of curtain rods (from my mom) that were designed to be hung over French doors.  They are secured at a single point (on the outside of the door openings) and swing open on a hinge.  The idea is that you can hang curtains over your French doors and still open the doors to let the outdoors in.

Hanging the first curtain over the window proved painless and I was excited to try my idea of hanging the second curtain (heavy, blackout affairs) over the door.  This took a little more engineering, but thankfully, Sir Knight was up to the task.

As I said, the curtains are really heavy.  Having only one point that the curtain rod was affixed to the wall made us consider another option for supporting the rod.  We finally decided on a large eye bolt well above the curtain rod, with a length of para-cord going from the bolt through a hole that Sir Knight drilled through the end of the rod.  It worked beautifully!  The curtain rod is well supported and swings very freely, so opening the door is no problem.

The single hinge
The end with the para-cord run through (and the hook)
The curtain closed over the door
And swung open

After engineering the curtain rod, we put a hook in the wall so that we could attach the end of the para-cord to the hook and it would hold the curtain closed.  When the wind blows, we will be comfortably insulated from the icy draft!  Yeah!!!

After fixing up the curtains, I gussied up the "entryway" a little.  I hung a mirror (on the side of our kitchen pantry) and put a couple of coat hooks below it.  I also dug up some upholstery fabric and with a pair of scissors and some spray adhesive, created a cozy and inviting ante room.  It's the little things that make such a big difference.

Attaching fabric to the wall

Smoothing the fabric

Our new entryway

Winter - here we come!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Serving a Foreign God

An anonymous reader commented on my A Conquered People post and I thought you might like to read it, so I have decided to post it here.  The comment is such:
This post is completely contrary to the wisdom of our nation's founders and one of the core values our nation was founded upon. You clearly think you know better than our founders. They didn't make separation of church and state part of what it means to be an American because they were naive or less virtuous than you. They did it because it is what history taught them works. Our founders knew how do defeat this type of extremism and posts like this play right in to the terrorist's hands. 

Al-Qaeda are currently a tiny minority in the Muslim community and are largely seen as the the haters and kooks that they are. As long as this is true Al-Qaeda is impotent and they can't do anything about it. But you and people like you can fix that for them making their vile dreams possible. All Al-Qaeda needs to do is point to people calling themselves Christians with opinions like this and fear will give them the influence they need to create the Armageddon they are trying to take us toward. 

Not seeing other religions as the enemy isn't political correctness. It's part of being an American, it's the smart strategy, and it's the only way to escape the hell of continual religious war across the earth. Please don't give Al-Qaeda what they want and what only we can give them. 

I find it interesting that this reader did not dispute one fact listed in the post.  The author of this comment did not deny that Muslim's, as conquerors, where laying claim to conquered territories, which is the whole point of the post. The reader only succeeded in name calling.  

Anonymous said that my post was contrary to the wisdom of our nations founders and that I clearly believe that I am wiser than framers of our government.  I am but a humble housewife with an opinion.  The founders of our great country were men of renown.  True men of greatness.  I wouldn't think myself worthy of serving them water.  But as to my post being contrary to their wisdom, wasn't it the colonists in America (that birthed these great men) that hosted the Salem Witch trials?  Where they really "tolerant" of other religions?  No. They called sin what it was, sin.  They did not disguise apathy in the covering of "tolerance".  I do not believe our founding fathers would have "tolerated" the dismantling of their new government on the alter of "religious freedom".

The "Separation of Church and State" (which is mentioned no where in the Constitution of the United States) was never intended to keep the Church out of the State, but rather to keep the State out of the Church.  This concept seems to be lost on the loyalists of this country, however, the documentation supporting our constitution will bear out this interpretation.  Our founders had a great desire to keep the State from running our Churches.  They knew that when the State was in charge of the Church, the State would claim complete authority and become the ravagers of freedom.  The Church was the people's avenue to complete freedom. By exercising their God given authority and responsibility to design and construct a just government and system of laws, the people ensured a future of freedom.

Accepting Islam means choosing to give up our freedoms and our right to justice to serve a foreign god.  Contrary to the comments made by anonymous, to accept Islam is to accept death.  Not just to our bodies, but to our souls as well.  Our founding fathers would no sooner have accepted Islam than they would have accepted being under the rule of King George.  Islam serves a false god. Islam doesn't acknowledge Christ as their risen Savior.  By definition, that means they are the antichrist.  And they are aggressive. They don't merely want to live and let live.  They want to convert our country.  They want conversion by the sword. As a Christian country, America could no more allow her borders to be breached by a foreign god than a Muslim country could allow an "infidel" in theirs.  There is no compromise, no tolerance.  In both cases, you must either convert (and no true believer would ever convert) or die.  

According to the Bible, there will be no true peace on earth until the Son of God returns.  This is not my opinion.  It not in my control.  Nothing I say or do will encourage peace or stop it.  No amount of name calling, derision, or calling into question my relationship with God will change that fact.  We live in a fallen world.  The consequences of sin are bloodshed.  We will not have peace.  We cannot achieve our perfect world with "tolerance".  It is foolish to think that we mere, fallen humans, can impose our righteousness on a Holy God.  His will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Conquered People

All of the fuss over building a Mosque at the World Trade Center site seems somewhat perplexing to me.  After all, it is the right of conquerors to establish markers identifying their newly acquired territory.

When you consider the explorers and conquerors of old, you will notice a pattern of identifying territory.  When Roald Amundsen successfully reached the south pole, the first thing he did was plant a flag marking his achievement.  When our astronauts landed on the moon, they drove an American flag into the lunar surface, effectively "claiming" that land as American soil. When British Colonists breached the North American shores, they set the Union Jack to flying.  They laid their claim.  They staked their territory.

Islam has done no less.  Their history is a history laden with conquest.  In Israel, their holy sites have been built over the top of Jewish holy sites. The Dome of the Rock covers the original Jewish Temple Mount.  The Grand Mosque of Damascus was first a church dedicated to John the Baptist.  And even Mecca itself was originally a pagan shrine.  The Muslims first conquer and then mark their territory. 

At some point we need to see things as they are, not through the lens of political correctness.  The Muslim clerics don't want to build a Muslim "YMCA" or "fitness center".  They don't want a nice little coffee shop or peaceful gathering place.  They want a shrine.  They want to lay claim to their piece of America.  They want to fly their flag over a conquered people.  

The "War on Terror" will never be won until we identify who we are at war with.  We are not at war with "terrorists", we are at war with Muslims.  Not all Muslims are terrorists, but nearly all terrorists are Muslims.  Muslims and Christians cannot live in peace.  We serve two different masters and never the twain shall meet.  They are willing to fight to the death.  Are we willing to stand to the death?

I recommend.....

Another favorite cookbook on my kitchen shelf is Hearth & Home, Recipes for Life by Karey Swan.  Karey has a wonderful, engaging style that makes you want to grab a cup of tea and settle in for a long "visit" with her.  She has wise advice on healthy eating and encourages the use of whole grains and whole foods.  Her opinion is, if she can't make it, she shouldn't eat it - an opinion I heartily embrace.

A number of recipes have become our favorites, specifically Sky High Biscuits and the crust recipe for her Pastys. I use the Pasty crust for our infamous Fried Apple Pies! (Oh, and the Pastys are wonderful, too!)

Although the recipes are wholesome and tasty, the true treasures lie in the Recipes for Life sections of this book.  Karey covers topics ranging from wives loving their husbands to raising children to the gift of hospitality and homeschooling.  She has an entire section on stocking your pantry and a month by month guide of activities and celebrations that encourage family togetherness.

Hearth & Home is a treasured resource in our home.  I highly encourage you to "invite" Karey to minister to you.  If you care to order Hearth & Home, I have featured it in the Kitchen Resources tab on the upper left-hand side of my blog.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Quarantine: A Preparedness Essential

I was reading a lovely old book the other day and was charmed by the romantic notion of a sick room.  The picture in my mind's eye of a tender little mother nursing her dear child back to health amidst fluffy white pillows, crisp sheets and stories read in hushed tones made me desire to be just such a mother.

When I was growing up, the sick bed was most often the living room couch, where blankets were alternately piled high or kicked to the floor, depending on the temperature of the patient.  Lots of liquids were offered (if we were very lucky, it was 7-up) and my mother's cool hand was frequently laid upon fevered brows.  Tissues were strewn about the room along with throat lozenges, books and whatever diagnostic tools my mother deemed necessary for managing the illness currently troubling us.  And more often than not, one or all family members came down with the offending disease.

As I was reading my lovely old book, I saw, for the first time, beyond the charming scene of the domestic sick room.  I saw the wisdom of old time common sense.  Of course the mothers ministered to their sick in their own room.  It was her way of keeping the rest of her beloved well.  Only Mother visited the sick.  Mother ministered to their every need.  Mother wiped brows, gave sponge baths, read stories and kept watchful vigils -all in the confines of the "sick room".  This sick room, was in actuality, a quarantine.

As preppers, we may want to revisit the ways of our wise forbearers.  They knew that their survival depended on their health.  They knew that to minister to the sick in the public areas of the home would, at the least, subject the family to illness and at the worst spread death through the entire home and perhaps the community at large.

We have lost our respect for disease.  We live in a time of readily available antibiotics and other life saving medications.   No longer do we fear influenza, whooping cough or typhoid.  We think we have beaten these diseases. We are in control.  Not so, I say.  Our control is an illusion.  What if....  What if we don't have access to antibiotics.  What if Strep no longer responds to the antibiotics we have at our disposal.  What if diseases we thought we had eradicated come back in full force.  What if....

Practicing the forgotten skill of quarantine could save your life and the life of those you love.  When you have limited or no access to life saving medications, it will be essential to take a proactive role in stopping the spread of disease.  Quarantine is the essential, common sense approach to stopping disease in its tracks.

Although, initially I viewed the sick room through the lens of romantic, girlish notions, I have come to view it as a preparedness essential.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It happened on your watch

I have been watching with interest the recent victories of "tea party candidates" in numerous primary races across the country.  The grass roots Patriots are routinely trouncing their RNC loyalist adversaries.  The Republican incumbents are left feeling robbed of "their" seats and wondering what happened.  They are stomping their feet like spoiled children having a temper tantrum, screaming "If I can't have it, no one can!"

I know what happened.  The United States of America crumbled on their watch.  They can cry "but I didn't vote for it" or "I argued against it" or "I told them it wasn't a good idea", but it falls on deaf ears.  When push came to shove, what did they DO about it.  Nothing.  When the health care bill was passed in the middle of the night they did nothing.  When loyalist supreme court justices where sworn in they did nothing.  When corporate CEO's were raping the American public they did nothing.  They let it happen.  Then, to add insult to injury, they stood in front of news cameras and blamed every evil on the men and women on the other side of the aisle, who where, in fact, their co-conspirators, knowing that the ignorant public would open wide and swallow the poison they had concocted in the darkness of night.

The ignorant public isn't so ignorant after all.  They haven't believed the lies.  They are no longer buying what the loyalists are selling.  They are standing up and saying "It happened on your watch".  They are speaking with their votes.  The People are voting for fellow citizens who have never held a public office.  They are looking for representatives who will actually represent them, not the established system.  The people are saying "It happened on your watch, and you did nothing".  The American public knows, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" (commonly attributed to Irish Political Philosopher Edmund Burke).  Evil has been flourishing and it has been happening on their watch.

Our "good" men did nothing.  And now they are paying the price.  Our Patriots our taking back their country.  They are not willing to allow evil to triumph.  American Patriots have taken the watch.  Loyalists, consider this your notice.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In Memoriam

This clip was aired only once - not for advertising or to make money - but to remember.  I am not normally moved by tributes, but I will let this one speak for itself.....

Tell me again that this isn't a religious war.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Specialization is for insects

Years ago, I stumbled across a quote in a classical education book from which I was gleaning wisdom to enhance our homeschool.  It stuck with me like a burr.  The truth evidenced in its words was such a contrast to our current education system and culture, that I saw, with new eyes, the crumbling nature of our society.  It comprised the authors thoughts on what it meant to be human....

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein

When our children go to State schools they are tested to see what their propensities are and they are then directed toward studies and jobs encompassing those strengths.  If they are good at English, they are encouraged to be teachers or journalists, if they are academically weak, they are encouraged to go to trade school, if they are good in math they are encouraged in the sciences.  Or, perhaps, they are just encouraged to specialize in current societal voids.  In other words, their energies are directed to one specific area rather than to developing themselves as a whole person.

As we all know, there are people with God given gifts in the arts or languages or sciences.  Of course, we should encourage those gifts, but not at the cost of the whole person.  We should be encouraging our children to be true "renaissance men" and renaissance women".  We should be training them not only for academic excellence but also real life, nitty gritty living.  

Sir Knight and I make it a priority to see that our children are well-rounded.  They learn reading, writing and arithmetic along with canning, hunting, running a household, computer skills, land navigation, shooting, sewing and anything else we have the opportunity to teach them.  We listen to classical music, memorize poetry and read classic literature.  We gut and skin deer, butcher chickens and hogs and render tallow.  We provide first-aid and minister to the elderly.  In other words, we live life to the best of our ability and try to provide comfort and encouragement to those we meet.

Our country used to be populated with people who could do anything.  They did what needed to be done and they did it with skill and grace.  The west would never have been won had we waited for people people with a specific skill set.  It was won on the backs of well-rounded, can-do type people with vision and the ability to get things done.  That is what I want for my children.

We can not rely on the State or anyone else to raise up our children to greatness.  We must be active in their education.  God gave us the job of educating our children and nobody else has greater influence in their children's lives than parents.  What an awesome and wonderful responsibility with which we have been entrusted.  Here are the thoughts of another Patriot regarding our children and who they ought to be...

We are steadily asked about the age at which to teach young people to shoot. The answer to this obviously depends upon the particular individual; not only his physical maturity but his desire. Apart from these considerations, however, I think it important to understand that it is the duty of the father to teach the son to shoot. Before the young man leaves home, there are certain things he should know and certain skills he should acquire, apart from any state-sponsored activity. Certainly the youngster should be taught to swim, strongly and safely, at distance. And young people of either sex should be taught to drive a motor vehicle, and if at all possible, how to fly a light airplane. I believe a youngster should be taught the rudiments of hand-to-hand combat, unarmed, together with basic survival skills. The list is long, but it is a parent's duty to make sure that the child does not go forth into the world helpless in the face of its perils. Shooting, of course, is our business, and shooting should not be left up to the state.”

-The late Jeff  Cooper

We are complete beings created in the image of God, not animals created with a solitary purpose. Living a full life is for human beings, specialization is for insects.

Pinecone Firestarters

Every fall I ask the kids to go to a little valley on our property affectionately known as "Pinecone Valley".  We have lots of Ponderosa Pine trees and that particular valley is full to overflowing with pinecones.

When the weather gets that tell-tale nip in the air we collect all of the pinecones we can find and dip them in paraffin wax that has been scented with Fir Needle Balsam (I know, not pine, but it's what we have!).  They smell SO good and make phenomenal fire starters.  We love to give them out as hostess gifts, even if the recipient doesn't have a fireplace or wood stove, because they look beautiful in a basket and make the whole room smell wonderful.

Yesterday, we got out the wax pot, the fir needle balsam and the pinecones and started dipping.  Neighbor girl happened to be here, so Miss Calamity, Princess Dragon Snack and dear Neighbor Girl did all of the work (which they happened to think was quite fun).  I don't think I have ever had pinecones so full of wax before, but, let me tell you, they sure will start a fire!

Paraffin is available in grocery stores in the canning department
You can melt it to make candles or seal jams or make pinecone firestarters!
I like to add essential oil because they smell heavenly
Neighbor Girl, Princess Dragon Snack and Miss Calamity
Everybody dipping at once!
It is smelling like fall!

Friday, September 10, 2010


As many of you know, I have a pretty in depth "bucket list".  My buckets have socks, soap, pasta, laundry detergent and Ham radio equipment in them.  Not to mention beans, boots and bag balm.  I have, however, recently experienced the great delight of barrels.  Not that buckets have lost their appeal - not at all.  But barrels, now there is something to really crow about!  No longer do I have to stack 15 buckets of hard white wheat on the shelf, I can just fill a barrel to overflowing!  That leaves by buckets to tend to supplies that require less space such as baking powder and Italian seasoning.

My wonderful Sir Knight is always thinking of me.  Yesterday, he came home from work bearing gifts.  Some might think flowers or candy or Chinese take-out, but no, he brought barrels!

I was so excited!  Flowers wilt, candy goes straight to my hips and I have never really been that fond of Chinese take-out - but barrels!  Sir Knight really knows the way to a damsel's heart.

Now comes the hard part.  Do I start  a powdered milk barrel or add a rice barrel?  Should I fill one with Kamut?  Or maybe Spelt would be better!  Choices, choices.  What's a girl to do?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

When things aren't what they appear

I begin every day on my knees.  No, I don't have a hard time getting out of bed and no, I am not looking for my slippers.  I am doing battle.

Over the years, I have come to believe that life is one battle after another.  Some battles are physical, like cancer or a traumatic injury, but most battles are spiritual.  The wars I wage daily are not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities.

When I was a little girl I worshiped the God of my Fathers.  When I grew older, God called MY name.  No longer did I see God through my fathers eyes, but as MY own Savior and the Rock of my Salvation.  But, when God called my name, it was just the beginning of the journey, not the destination.

As a baby Christian, God carried me through each day.  He led me gently beside still waters and ministered to  my soul.  He gave me an excitement and a passion for His word.  As I matured, things got tougher.  He began to teach  me His ways and I learned that His ways are often not my ways.

When Sir Knight and I decided to leave the Seattle area and move to the Idaho Outback, we found the perfect property.  It was everything we had ever wanted.  It was a log home on 50 acres at the end of a dead end road.  It had two ponds, a 50 gallon per minute well, a barn and views that just wouldn't quit.  It was literally picture perfect.  I prayed over that house.  I knew it was ours.  We were meant to raise our family there.  We put earnest money down, used our house in Seattle to secure financing and were well on our way to our dream life.  We packed up all of our worldly possessions, rented our Seattle house, put all of our things in storage and moved in with my folks, just until we signed the papers.  Three days before Christmas, the "dream house" was to become our reality.  We drove to Seattle to sign the papers and wham - the financing fell through.  Just like that, our dream evaporated.

We ended up in a dumpy rental (across from a drug house) for about six months and finally ended up buying a house in a town just north of Coeur d'Alene.  It met none of the criteria we had wanted in a house, and to tell you the truth, I have no idea why we bought it, but we did.  It was a life-changing event.  The house itself was nothing special, but God knew what He was doing when He put us there.  He was changing the course of not just our lives, but our childrens' lives and many lives of those around us.  It was in this house that God called Sir Knight's name.  It was in this house that I quit work and stayed home with my children.  It was in this house that I began homeschooling, homesteading and seeking to become a Proverbs 31 woman.  It was in this house that I learned to love my husband and my children.

What originally had been a tragedy became one of our greatest blessings.  God knew that our "dream house" would have financially bled us dry.  He knew that I would have had to keep working to afford it.  He knew that He was going to call Sir Knight and that the people that he would use were not near our "dream house" but were near this house that met none of "our" criteria.  God knew.

Years later, when Master Hand Grenade was in the NICU and the doctor told us to say goodbye to our 8 day old son, my newly Christian husband thanked God for the days we had had with our precious child.  He thanked Him and gave our tiny son back into the hands of a loving God.  The God who sees the beginning from the end, knew that we needed the people he surrounded us with in our "not dream home" to pray and to lead and to hold us up.  God did not take Master Hand Grenade that day, but instead gave him the gift of life, and us the gift of faith.  God had a perfect plan.

When our beautiful daughter Chase was born still, God surrounded us with His servants that had walked this walk before we did.  He carried us through the valley of the shadow of death and gave us a glimpse of eternal life.  Many years later, he gave us the privilege of walking through the valley with our dear friends.  What seemed to be a tragedy was indeed a great blessing.  It allowed us to minister to other children of God and show them His great mercy and faithfulness.

So many things in our life don't go the way we think they should.  Disappointment follows disappointment.  Generators break down, animals die, cars break, jobs are lost and children are sick, but through it all, God is faithful.

I'm sorry to say that I don't trust God easily.  I fight.  I yell.  I cry.  But over and over, God gently says "Trust Me, I've got your six.  I will fight the fights.  The battle is mine."

And so, I start my days on my knees.  I praise on my knees.  I weep on my knees.  I plead on my knees.  And over and over again, God reminds me that "things aren't what they appear".

Monday, September 6, 2010

Better than Crispy Cream's Doughnuts

When fall is in the air, warm, wonderful, homemade doughnuts are on the menu.  A number of years ago, I searched for the "perfect" doughnut recipe and came up with this gem.  They are easy to make, light as a feather and perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  The one problem that we have found with  making our own doughnuts is that our children shun any doughnut that has been out of the fryer for more than 10 minutes!  Spoiled kids!!!

Generally, we dip half of the doughnuts in a glaze and frost the other half with  maple frosting (my personal favorite).  When we have any left over, I don't cover them overnight.  When they are covered they seem to get heavy and moist.  When we leave them uncovered they stay crispy and light.

Better than Crispy Cream's Doughnuts

1 T Yeast
1 3/4 C lukewarm Water
1/2 C Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1/3 C Shortening
5 C Flour

  • Dissolve yeast in water.  Add sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and 2 cups of flour.  Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally.  Stir in remaining flour until smooth
  • Cover and let rise until double (50 to 60 minutes)
  • Turn dough onto flour surface - coat lightly with flour.  Gently roll dough 1/2" thick with floured rolling pin
  • Cut with floured doughnut cutter
  • Cover and let rise until double (30 to 40 minutes)
  • Heat oil to 350 degrees
  • Slide doughnuts into hot oil with a wide spatula
  • Turn doughnuts as they rise
  • Fry about 1 minute on each side
  • Remove from oil
  • Dip in glaze

Freshly cut out doughnuts

Frying half the batch at a time

Doughnut Glaze

1/3 C Butter
2 C Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
4 - 6 T Hot Water

  • Heat butter until melted
  • Remove heat
  • Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth
  • Stir in water, 1 T at a time, until desired consistency

Dipping the doughnuts in the glaze

Cooling on the wire rack

Maple Frosting

1/2 C Butter
3 C Powdered Sugar
2 tsp Maple Flavoring

  • Thoroughly cream butter and powdered sugar
  • Add maple flavoring
  • Beat until spreading consistency

Try them, I think you'll love 'em!

Maple Frosting

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I recommend.....

Many of you have asked for cookbooks and other resources that we find helpful in our off-grid/prepared lifestyle.  I thought it would be easier to start a page of recommendations and links than to try to remember to whom I've told what.  On the left-hand side of my blog is a link that says "Paratus Familia Resources".  All of the cookbooks that I will recommend will be linked on that page (don't think that didn't take me forever to figure out!).

After seeing my lovely friend Patrice's practice of book recommendations, I thought I would follow her lead and recommend some myself, starting with the most beloved of my kitchen tools - the More with Less cookbook.

My Titus 2 mentor, "Lady Pauline" introduced me to the More with Less cookbook about 15 years ago.  I had just started ordering bulk foods and grinding my own grains, and this book walked me step by step through making just about everything from scratch.  The author is Mennonite, so the book is full of recipes from church members from the States, but also from missionaries all over the world.  There are tons of ideas for using leftovers to create whole new meals and also certain recipes they tag as "time savers" because they are so quick to prepare.

The yogurt recipe that I first tried is in this book, along with various methods of incubating it - depending on what you have available.  I still use this tried and true recipe, and I still use the method of incubating that I found in this book.  I make one of the granola recipes regularly along with potato rolls, white sauce, skillet beef and lentils and so many other things that I couldn't possibly list them all here.

If you are looking for a basic, down to earth approach to cooking from scratch, this is the book for you.  I have purchased a copy of each of my daughters to put in their hope chests so they will never be without so many of the recipes they have grown up with.

I will be recommending more books in the days to come.  Who knows, you might find your favorite on the list!

Princess Dragon Snack

Little Miss Dragon Snack whacked her toe on a chair as she was running through the house the other day.  It was already swelling by the time I got over to her and these pictures were taken the day after.  The swelling is down a bit, but the bruising is growing.  Poor little Dragon Snack!  Perhaps she should start wearing shoes!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Nation of Beggars

Destroyer of the human spirit

1 in 6 Americans are availing themselves of government assistance.  Yes, you read that correctly.  1 in 6.  The assistance comes in many forms - Medicaid, Food Stamps, Cash Benefits, WIC, Welfare and Unemployement.  Apparently Medicare and Social Security don't count because they are not considered "assistance" but rather "entitlements".

Let me tell you a little story.  When I was growing up, my parents decided to jump off a cliff and follow their dream.  This dream led them from a home, surrounded by family and friends and a wonderful support network to 25 acres of raw land in the middle of nowhere (quite literally) with nothing.  Really, we had nothing.  We knew no one.  Neither of my parents had a job.  Our property was beautiful but devoid of any infrastructure.  There were no buildings, no well, no septic system, no power.  Just rolling fields, tall timber and two creeks.

As I said, my parents moved to this secluded wilderness with no jobs and no prospects, but with an intense desire to live their dreams and the internal fortitude to achieve their quest.  It was no walk in the park.  We spent the first month and a half living in a tent, taking baths in the glacier fed creek and working.  Hard.  We built an outhouse, fenced 25 acres, hand-dug a spring and lined it with cedar, put in a septic system, had power brought in, moved in a single-wide trailer, cut and split eight cord of wood and hauled a winters worth of hay for our five horses.  We accomplished all of this in three months, quite literally by the sweat of our brows.

Fall rolled around and my dad had to find work.  There was very little to be found - nothing in his previous profession of iron working.  There were not a lot of skyscrapers in the backwoods!  He eventually found a job pushing a broom on the night shift of a local saw mill.  He hated every minute of it, but he did it, and was thankful for the work, because he needed to provide for his family.  After working there a short time, he was hired to mechanic for a logger.  This logger was busy, so my dad spent much of his time on the ground under huge logging equipment.  It was a terrible job.  Cold, hard, back-breaking work it was, but it was better than being a janitor at a saw mill, and he did it without complaining.  Our very first Thanksgiving was spent with my dad at his job.  We all lay on the cold November ground beneath a skidder so that we could have Thanksgiving Dinner as a family.  And you know what?  We were truly grateful.

The first winter was the hardest.  We had not lived in our new place long enough for my dad to be able to hunt, so we had no meat.  Money was non-existent, so we had to make do with little or nothing.  By the grace of God, our pastor had connections in farming community about 8 hours away and brought home a truck load of apples and a truck load of potatoes and gave them to families in the church.  We went into winter with some jars of canned goods that my mom had canned from her large garden before we left, a couple hundred pounds of potatoes and about a hundred pounds of apples.  That was it.  Nothing more.

Our nearest neighbor (about a half a mile away) took pity on us and brought a rabbit to grace our dinner table occasionally.  Another neighbor gave us extra eggs from time to time.  As a rule, we didn't eat breakfast or lunch, but my mom always found something to make for dinner.  We never went hungry.  A cause for great excitement came when my Grandma would send a "care package".  It was like Christmas in a box!  She sent breakfast cereal,  cans of soup, toilet paper, toothpaste and all kinds of goodies.  We had never felt more blessed.

We kids never knew we were poor.  My brother and I both have the BEST childhood memories of anyone we know.  Neither one of us ever felt deprived of any good thing.  We had our parents, a roof over our head, food in our bellies (such as it was) and a God that loved us.  What more could children want?  Nothing. 

You may ask what this little story has to do with the price of tea in China.  Everything!  While we were busy being poor, we were learning the most important lessons in life.  We learned that hard work really does pay off and that good things are worth waiting for.  We learned that there is pride to be had in a job well done.  We learned that going without wasn't a bad thing.  It wasn't something to be avoided, but rather something to be embraced as it built our character.  We learned to stand in the face of the impossible and, through sheer grit, make it possible.  We learned to stand on our own two feet and never admit defeat.  Our parents taught us to be adults.  They taught us to be responsible, to fight our own fights and to stand up after we had been knocked down.  They taught us independence.

Our government is destroying what is best in the human spirit.  By always "bailing" people out our government is crippling its' citizens.  Just like a parent that continually provides money and shelter to their drug addict adult child or the parent that lets their adult children live in their basement, eat pizza a play video games all day "just until they find direction", our government is creating generations of "adult children", dependent on them for their daily bread.  It is stealing our independence, our self-esteem and our very individuality.

It is not bad to suffer.  It is not bad to struggle.  Hardship and strife do not produce hopeless, helpless shells of humanity, rather they produce vital, strong, merciful human beings capable of changing their world.

Our government should not be in the roll of indulgent parents.  They should be facilitators of freedom, justice and independence - none of which are dependent on the almighty dollar.  By constantly "assisting" people, our government is destroying the human spirit.

If my parents could make it through years of hardship to realize their dreams, I daresay the majority of the American public could benefit from a little "character building" themselves.