Monday, November 29, 2010

Comfy Cozy

"Comfy Cozy" is what the kids say when we put them in their warm pajamas. That's exactly how I'm feeling today, comfy cozy.

This is what it looks like outside.

(Yes, these pictures are taken through my living room window. I'm not going outside today if I can help it.)

Despite the yuckiness outside, this is what it's like inside my home. This is the reason I feel comfy cozy today.

I've closed up my thermal curtains to block out the cold, rainy outside. There's a nice warm fire going in the woodstove. Of course, the Christmas tree makes my home feel more cozy too. I'm just really content today. I'm loving the provisions God has given us and wanted to share.

If you're experiencing a dismal rainy day today too, I hope you're in a comfy cozy spot as well.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Sarah Funny

This evening Sarah was rummaging through the cabinets while I was working in the kitchen. She was asking questions and I was half-listening because I was busy working. So, when she held up a platter and asked, "Mommy, what's this for?" I quickly answered, "Oh, that's for deviled eggs."

She got real quiet then.

Finally she looked up at me and whispered, "Mommy...why do you make them for the devil?"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Living In An Energy-Efficient Earth-Berm Home

When we moved to our homestead this past December, we really didn't know what to do with our earth-berm home. We knew that it was supposed to be more energy-efficient, but we had no clue how to make it energy-efficient. We thought we would just move in and see tiny electric bills from that day forward. We were so disappointed when, last winter, we simply could not keep this house warm. I was miserable. I would get out of the shower and almost freeze to death before I could get dressed.

Since then, we've discovered that our attic insulation was very sporadic. So, late this summer we had more insulation put in. We also recently added thermal curtains to most of the windows on the south side of the house. (The north, east, and west sides of the home are built into the ground, so if there are windows, they are the small "basement" type.)

I'm pleased to say that, with the improvements that we made this year, we just recently turned on our heat for the first time two days ago, on Tuesday November 16th. Now, I never really paid attention to when we turned our heat on for the first time in our old home, but I'm pretty certain that it was well before mid-November. I've also been comparing our electric bills from our old home. I was pleased to see that this month's electric bill was $78.19 compared to this time last year at our old home at $102.41. Figured into our $78 bill now is an outdoor light with a $8+ dollar monthly fee that we didn't pay for at our old home. So, I'm pleased to be seeing a savings so far and I'm looking forward to this winter to compare last winter's bills. However, our goal is to be totally independent of the central heat at some point. We'd like to solely heat with our wood stove as we gain more experience with it and Shawn gets a larger stockpile of firewood cut.

It's also taken some time to figure out how to "work" our earth-berm home. I discovered that, in the summer, I needed to open the windows as soon as the sun went down and the temperature dropped. Then, in the mornings I needed to close all the windows and curtains in order to keep the cool air trapped inside our home. It did make a difference, and fortunately, with our skylights and small northern windows, we still had enough light entering that we didn't have to use the electric lights too often. I will admit that I wasn't excited about this plan because I didn't want to feel like I was living in a cave for the entire summer's daylight hours. However, I discovered that I really spent very little time inside in the summertime. There's way too much stuff to do outside in the garden and orchard at that time of the year. So, coming inside to a cool, relatively dark home was kind of nice.

In the winter, I will need to do the opposite. In the mornings once the sun comes up, I open the south-facing curtains to let the sunlight come in. Doing this helps the house to heat up. In the evenings I close all the curtains up and the heat from the sun is trapped in here to help keep us warm through the night.

So far, things seem to be working well. Granted it's only November. I guess the real test will be February when it's bitter cold, but I'm optimistic.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Work In Progress

I'm not a very patient person. Here's yet another way in which God is trying to teach me patience. Now that the weather has turned cooler, Shawn and I have started focusing on fixing up the inside of the house. Up until this point, we've spent most of our energy working out in the garden, orchard, and root cellar since the weather's been so nice.

This bathroom is our current work in progress. It's coming along little by little, but not quick enough for this impatient woman. I don't like it when things are halfway-done. Since we have to make improvements as funds become available, I'm just going to have to get used to this eclectic bathroom combination. We have the lovely purple wallpaper border and blue bathtub/shower from the home's previous owners combined with the yellow and blue ducky decor from our old home added to the new tan/cream flooring and green cabinets that we've just added since moving in.

On the to-do list is to remove the wallpaper border then paint the walls a tan color that has a hint of brown in it. Then I want to stain the closet door to match the wood trim. I plan on getting an oversized shower curtain that will totally hide the blue bathtub/shower until eventually we're able to replace it with a neutral colored one.

I think it'll look nice when everything is eventually done. I just have to learn patience in the meantime I guess. I don't like learning patience.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Exceptions To "Store What You Eat & Eat What You Store"

Shawn and I have approached our Emergency Preparedness by following the above idea.."store what you eat and eat what you store." Basically, what this means is that you only store up the items that your family consumes on a regular basis. Then you rotate through the oldest of your stores while replenishing what's been used with newer product. For example, there's no point in stockpiling mass quantities of canned beets if no one in your family is going to consume them unless they're actually starving..but, if your family does like to eat canned peas, then stock up on those and rotate through by earliest expiration date.

Recently, Shawn and I were able to attend a Survival & Emergency Preparedness Expo. It was a wonderful event that allowed us the opportunity to mingle with like-minded individuals that understand the importance of being prepared. At that event I was able to see that Shawn and I had followed "store what you eat and eat what you store" to a point where we were lacking items that would be beneficial in an emergency situation.

You see, our lifestyle is different than most. We don't use a lot of products that typical families do. Our food choices are different. Our cleaning supplies are different. Our way of treating illness is different.

After thinking this over a bit, I've decided that we needed to add some things to our inventory. Bleach, for instance, is never used in our home. However, in an emergency situation I can see the benefit of having it. Over-the-counter children's medicines that we avoid because of the artificial colors and flavors could be invaluable in an emergency situation when a doctor isn't available and herbal remedies weren't effective. Canned vegetables are used very, very rarely in this home, but I think the importance of having them in an emergency situation is pretty obvious.

So, I'm putting this out there to get everyone to think about their own individual situations. Are there things missing from your household that you would wish you had in an emergency situation?

Sam's First Lost Tooth

After what seemed like forever, Sam's tooth finally fell out while he was eating an apple. He's not one to wiggle and pull and jiggle the loose tooth until it falls out. He really doesn't pay any attention to the loose tooth at all. He simply adjusts his chewing to the side so it doesn't bother him and moves on with life. So, needless to say, when his baby tooth did finally fall out, its replacement was well on its way to being fully in!

Here is Sam showing off the crater left by his baby tooth and his new big boy tooth that came in behind it.

A Walk In The Woods To See The Toilet Tree

Ok...I'm guilty of playing catch-up again. Here are some pictures of a family walk we took since my last post.

Here are Daddy and Sarah patiently waiting for Momma and the boys.

The kids were excited to find what they call "The Toilet Tree" in a dried-up creek bed.

And here's why they call it "The Toilet Tree."

Sam and Sarah found some of the year's last flowers.

Daddy and Andrew leaving the flower-pickers behind.