Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Engagement Story

Last night I got the surprise of my life when my boyfriend asked me to marry him! To give you a little background, we have been courting for 2 1/2 years and although I knew that we were heading towards marriage, I had no idea that it would be last night in the middle of the street that he would get down on one knee and ask me to be his wife.

My Tuesday night was looking like an ordinary Tuesday night by all means. I got off work, drove home through frustrating traffic, and stopped in at the grocery store to buy all the deals before they expired. I drove over to his brother's home, believing that I was simply there to attend a birthday party.

As I had been driving over, the headache that I had was verging on becoming a migraine. I wondered if I should turn around and go home. When I finally got to his brother's house, I pulled up to the driveway, and noticed my boyfriend walking out to his car.

Because my head felt so badly and I had groceries in the car, all I was thinking about was getting inside and stashing them in his brother's fridge. I got out of my car and headed straight for the house, when I heard him calling my name.

"What?" I mumbled through the pain.

"Can you come here? I have something to show you."

"Okay" I muttered and trudged over to his car still holding all my groceries.

He opened the door to his truck and pulled out a gift basket with different crackers and cheeses. "I didn't get you anything for our 2 1/2 year anniversary so I got you this."

"Aw, thanks" I replied.

"Oh, and I also got you this" he said, reaching back into his truck. He pulled out a huge red box that was full of different biscuits from different countries.

"Woah, that is a huge box" At this point I started thinking "Man, he is really overdoing himself here!" but I still had no thought of what was to come.

"We can go back into the house now....oh but wait, there is one more thing..." Out came a bouquet of roses and I though "Wow...he is REALLY overdoing himself for 2 1/2 years."

Then he kneeled to the ground and I finally realized what was happening. He was asking me to marry him. And of course I said yes!

There is no ring as of yet, because he wants me to go with him to pick it out. (The more I think about it, this is very thoughtful of him, considering that I don't usually wear jewelry and I would prefer something with a low profile)

We went back to the house, and celebrated with his family, who knew all along what was up. We called my parents (he had asked them if he could marry me so they already knew), my brother, some relatives, and a few friends. It was an amazing night and the reality of it barely sunk in.

I couldn't be happier to be looking forward to a future with him. I admire him for his character and I have seen him face challenges and grow over the past 3 1/2 years of getting to know him. I couldn't be happier with our courtship, the foundation we built, and the sense of peace it is bringing me now. I am blessed that God brought me a man who is a strong leader, yet has an amazing sense of compassion. I am also thrilled that he grew up in the country and is a real manly man! We share many life goals, agree on theological matters, believe in raising as many children as the Lord sees fit to give us, and are for homeschooling them all the way. There is so much to be thankful for today!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cats are Everywhere

My neighbor's cat "Taser" sitting on my new drier and staring in my window like the Peeping Tom that he is. Every time I see this photo it cracks me up. 

It is a good thing I like cats, because I am surrounded by them. There is always a cat in my backyard.  I have counted 15 different cats. They hide under my shed. They crawl on my fence, climb my tree, and hop in my laundry basket when I hang clothes on the line. They even poop in my garden, which I am really going to have to do something about. How do you get a cat to stop going in something that looks like a giant litterbox is a question I need to solve before Spring...

Sometimes they collect at my backyard and form a kitty committee:

Like I said, it's a good thing I adore the creatures, because I would be otherwise driven mad with the full-scale cat invasion!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Discipline, Discipline, Discipline

One thing I admire about the country life, is how much discipline it takes to raise your own food and care for animals. It's no easy "simple life," and it's funny to me how much I used to think of it that way. When people talk about going back to the simple ways of the past, they don't realize what they're saying. It's true that there's something about technology that clouds our brains and make our world seemed rushed. But it's also true that technology has made many tasks more simple.

Going back to the ways of the past usually requires more time, more patience, and more self-control. And I think that's why I long for it--because I want my life to be disciplined rather than to be led by my feelings, pursuing comfort at every turn.

A verse that has been on my heart this week is the same verse I had written on the chalkboard above my bed:

 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
 ~2 Timothy 1:7

Over and over again at my ladies small group, we ask for prayer for discipline. It's what we need. It's probably what everyone needs. It's so much easier to put on a Netflix movie when I get home from work than to do something productive. But if I'm ever going to achieve all my goals of having a garden, getting a chicken coop for the back, and learning to cook, etc, I'm going to have to have discipline. I'm going to have to force myself to act against my feelings and just do something.

There's nothing I hate more than getting home at 6:00 in the evening after battling traffic and having to start a meal (thank goodness for the days I use the crockpot!). I'm already hungry by that time, and I find it hard to do anything when I'm hungry. It's so much easier to look for a quick snack of chips than to put my mind towards making a full nutritious meal.

But, here, in the daily everyday things of life, this is where I learn discipline and put myself to the test. This is where I strengthen my muscles for doing things I don't feel like doing. And over and over again, I have to remind myself that I won't win the war (achieve my goals) if I don't fight the day to day battles. And with that fresh on my mind, I better go conquer that sink full of dishes before church!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cleaning up the Cupboards

When I moved into my new place, my kitchen was not in the best of shape. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either. The worst of it was the inside of the cupboards. They did not look like a place you would want to store your clean dishes. Luckily, this issue was one that could be resolved easily. All it required was some elbow grease and some pretty liner paper I picked up at a great price at TJ Maxx.


After--much better!

Before--Weird stains...


And the worst cupboard of them all:

Looks good enough to at least store the cat items in...

Chalkboards Galore

I have fallen in love with chalkboards over the last year, so it's no surprise to me that I've added not one but two to my new home. And perhaps this is only the beginning, because can you ever have too many?

I'm using them mainly to display Scripture verses, because it is a great reminder to me as I go about daily life. I've always wanted to fill my home with reminders of my Lord and Savior and His Word, and this is my first step in incorporating Scripture into my house.

Every week, I try to put a new verse up, giving me something to think about and meditate on. I can't wait to find more ways to put it in my home, because really, I need to be constantly reminded and have my attitude adjusted to be in line with His Word!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pumpkin Scones

After tasting amazing pumpkin scones at a teahouse in September, I knew I would have to try making some at home this Fall. I used this recipe and the results are scrumptious. I made a double batch and am taking them to work to share with my coworkers. 

Even though I am loving these scones, I want to try a few more recipes and see if the results vary. I am always in search for the "perfect recipe." I am open to suggestions, if you have any experience with pumpkin scones!

I made the spiced glaze from the recipe to go along with them and will apply it when I get to work, since things might get a bit sticky with all those glazed scones in a tupperware. The glaze is okay, but I would like to find a more richer tasting glaze, as this one really comes through tasting like powdered sugar...

Happy Fall and Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap

I've been using this recipe for years because it is simple, effective, and cheap: 

Powdered Laundry Soap

  • 1 cup grated Fels Naptha Soap
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup Borax

The only tools you'll need are a cheese grater, a bowl, and a plate.

First I grate the Fels Naptha--this is the only "hard" part. I recommend wearing a dampened bandana over your face as you do this so as not to inhale the particles of soap. If you had a real mask that would be even better, but, I do not.

My not-so-helpful but certainly beautiful assistant watches the whole process...

I didn't have exactly 2 cups to double the recipe, but I doubled it anyway. You can't really go wrong with it. 

Mix everything together....and voila! Your own homemade laundry soap for pennies.
Use 2 Tbsp. for normal loads and 3 Tbsp. for larger/dirtier loads. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Saturday Morning Realizations--Cats and Parenting

I haven't been writing much lately, even though I have the best intentions to. I feel like I'm currently busy living life and don't have the time to sit down and write about it. Most days I feel like I'm going, going, going, and by the time I get back from work, I'm gone. Too tired to write or think creatively.

But this morning I woke up and suddenly needed to write. Things that have been swirling around in my mind during the week finally pieced themselves together into a realization on a Saturday morning.

I've always imagined myself being a good parent, like most non-parents do. Those tantrums Johnny is throwing in the store? I'll handle them like a pro. It's always easy to look and parents and see what you will do when it's not your child. When you haven't been dealing with the same thing for weeks and months and years.

I've always thought that I could be calm in the midst of stressful situations and when my child is screaming could answer in a sweet voice. I know a mother like this and I admire her greatly, and I thought I could do the same....but...

Then I got a cat. A five week old kitten to be exact. I didn't realize that it would be a sanctification process in the making. I didn't realize that it would open up my eyes to what I may lack in "parenting" skills.

I knew a kitten would be a handful, but by jove and I didn't realize that it would bring me to my knees on a Saturday morning and make me wonder if I should cry or scream, as I picked bobby pins out of my drain and out of her litterbox. I found a sponge on my bed. My hair ties are in her waterbowl. She'd figured out how to open my medicine cabinet and pull everything out. There were whiffs of shredded toilet paper floating around. I found old treasures and letters from special friends I'd had in elementary school scattered in various places on the kitchen floor. And on top of this, she'd spent all morning biting me, after a night of meowing and keeping me up.

 I consider myself a strong person. I really do. Not much can break me, or so I thought. But over weeks, when it's the same thing over and over again...I lose my resolve. I get angry. I yell.

And here I am thinking I'll be a perfect parent. As I sat there scooping bobby pins out of the litterbox, I had to laugh. I became aware of my selfish little thoughts, as I whined inwardly. I just want one calm perfect day to myself, is that too much to ask? 

And suddenly I realized how much I am going to need God if I ever become a mother one day. I already need Him so much now, when all I'm dealing with is a cat.  Inwardly I have mounds of selfishness that need to be chipped away. I want rest. I want perfection. I want a clean house and eight hours of sleep. Not necessarily bad things, except when I will sin to get them.

I'm hopelessly lost on my own. I need my Savior in heaps and droves. And I'm thankful of how He reminds me of my need, on Saturday mornings, with a silly cat.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Creepy Crawlies and Other Critters

Ever since I moved to the country, my life has been full of encounters with all sorts of critters--some good and some not so good. I had no idea that where I was moving was a spider haven. I find a spider in my house almost every day.

The first one I found was a black widow. I have never in my 24 years seen a black widow indoors. To find it in my living room in plain sight multiplied the horror by ten.

I had placed a box near my front door with a bunch of things I was going to take to Goodwill and apparently the black widow thought it was a good place to take up residence. I have since sprayed my entire exterior for spiders, which has been greatly helping decrease the amount coming inside. Even so, I still had one plop down into the dishwater as I was washing dishes yesterday (thankfully not a black widow). *shudder*

Next in line on my encounters list were the green caterpillars that suddenly attacked my tomatoes. I'd been noticing that the tomatoes were going down hill and couldn't figure it out, until I took a closer look...

Not being aware or on the lookout for these guys, I'd probably let them attack my plants for a few days. They blend in well until you look closely. And the squirt a nasty yellowish liquid at you when you try to pluck them off.

And lastly, the only "good" critter on my list, is the kitten I adopted two weeks ago. I've named her Nora. She keeps me company and makes my house feel more like a cozy home.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hanging Laundry on the Line

I don't have a drier at my new place, and I was actually looking forward to having to hang my laundry to dry. It's one of those country type things I've always wanted to do. And yes, sometimes I like doing things the "hard" way. What I learned, however, is that it's really not that hard to hang laundry out.

Before going outside I put my cowboy boots on. I'd been walking around in flip flops and realized from the weird looks my neighbors were giving me that this is not smart where I live now. Not only will your feet get incredibly dirty, but there are briers, spiders and who knows what else out there. 

My washing machine is outdoors, and I had to pick out leaves and clean the dirt out of it before using it. I'm hoping I don't have to do that every time and it's just that it was sitting there a while since it had last been used...

Hanging my laundry on the line was a cinch. It probably took 5 minutes, and by the time I was done with the last piece, the first piece I'd hung had already dried. I was able to fold it in my basket and take it inside. Voila! Super simple.

It's funny, but my coworkers, who are very much city people can't believe I actually hung my clothes up to dry on a line (They don't know why I wanted to move to the country in the first place). They feel sorry for me! I suppose if I had children and was doing multiple loads a day, it might be too much. But for one person, it's no trouble. 

More "city girl" country updates to come...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Move Update (with more pictures)

I've been extremely busy at work and extremely busy with moving, but here are some photos of my progress:

The living and kitchen areas are all I've worked on so far. This room used to look like this:

It's hard to see in these colors because I took them at night, but the wall color is a soft gray 

My country kitchen.

 I love this pot rack from IKEA

I love the country feel of my sink. It makes me happy when I'm doing my dishes. 

I got my table at IKEA for $149 and am very impressed with the quality. I thought these would be rickety chairs but they are quite sturdy and the table is nice and solid as well. I hung my washboard and have a plate to hang on the other side. 

This morning, I had a visitor at my backdoor. There is a family of cats living under my shed and every day it seems I see a new one. There are at least six!

So far, living in the country is just what I imagined it to be. Every morning, my neighbor's rooster wakes me up (at 5 am, no less). I hear horses neighing out the window, and goats are bleating in the background. Even though I have a long commute, coming home to my area instantly relaxes me. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Paint Scheme

Tomorrow my family is coming up to help me get started painting my new place. I'm going with a grey and yellow color scheme. Yellow for the kitchen and light grey for the living room.

Today I made my first purchase for my new house. It was a sentimental first step. I love this grey chevron patterned chair. Even though I like living in the country as opposed to the city, I am not much for country decorating. Instead, I prefer classy modern interiors, blended with vintage touches. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Some Photos of My New Place

 I don't technically move into until the first, but I snapped some quick photos of my new place yesterday when I visited. The prior tenants still have things there and haven't cleaned it up yet. 

The dirt backyard. To a city girl like me, this is a huge backyard.

I have some raised beds to start my garden in.

The shed and outdoor laundry.

The kitchen.

These are my "before" photos, and I'll be sure to share the progress as I go along.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This City Girl is Moving to the Country

I've been absent from this blog lately, but it is not without good reason. I have finally decided to take the plunge and move more into the "country." In my new place I will have a lot more space, a dirt backyard, and the chance to raise chickens and maybe some even bigger animals. I have big plans but for now I'm going to take it one step at a time.

I've been a city girl for the past 12 years, somewhat against my will. Until now I haven't had a chance to pursue my dreams of living in a more rural area. So when a place opened up in a good area where I know the neighbors, I decided to take it. Now, I have a hundred things swirling through my mind as I prepare to put a little household together. I'd forgotten how much is involved in moving, and I'm already finding out I had a lot more stuff than I thought I had.

Still, all of it is very exciting. I will have a new place to decorate and organize and a kitchen all to myself, where I can cook and can to my heart's content. There is a lot to do in the coming weeks. I'm picking out paint colors for the kitchen and living room this Sunday and moving in August 1st. I'm ready to start this new adventure!

In other news, I just got back from a week's vacation in Wisconsin where I had a chance to soak up all of the beautiful countryside and relax a little before heading into a busy time. Almost everything in Wisconsin is green and it is incredible, especially when you are used to only shades of brown.

One of the gardens we visited in Wisconsin

I'll share two more pictures from my trip. First a washboard I bought at an antique store out there. I plan on hanging in my new kitchen.

And last, a new purse, that goes perfectly with a dress I have in the same color. I absolutely adore this color. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

No One Ever Told Me Canning Would Be Addicting!

The more canning I do, the more ideas I have for new batches. The above picture is jars of apple butter I recently processed for this year's fair. Since the recipe didn't specify which type of apples to use, I made two batches, one with green apples and one with red. I've given some to my friends to taste test and tell me which they like better.

My two crockpots with each variety cooking.

For this apple butter recipe, it called for cooking the apple butter in the slow cooker for 6 hours. This seemed to bring out the flavors and I love how it turned out. In total, I made 12 jars (1/2 pints) of apple butter. 

Twelve jars of apple butter is too much for my family to go through, but luckily I've discovered that homemade jams or butters make great gifts. People appreciate receiving something that you put your time and effort into.  It's a simple gift, but one that can mean much more because you made it yourself. 

While the jars are beautiful in and of themselves, they are easy to dress up with a square of fabric and a ribbon. Tada!