Friday, August 7, 2015

Our First Home

On June 4th, we bought a home - our very first home! Want to see a bit of it?
We took this picture back in early May the evening before we decided to make an offer on the house. So excited!
It is a split level entry, which took me a couple of weeks to adjust to, I'm sad to say. My buns and thighs, however, are going to thank me at some future date for this decision, I'm sure.

Here is our main living area. The color works pretty well with our chairs, but I'm wanting to paint it all a more neutral color, and rip out the carpet and install wood floors up here. Also, the paint on the ceiling is shiny, semi-gloss, to the point of being reflective where light hits it. I already have a 5-gallon bucket of flat paint in Behr's "Spun Cotton," and a pain in the neck just thinking about the job that awaits me in repainting every inch of our ceiling space. We want to add some sort of light to the center of the ceiling in this space, too. All the remodeling dreams aside, we love that it is both cozy and open. It is just right for us.

Come around the corner and see our dining area. See that little red table on the wall there? We will be building a desk and a cabinet there at some point, kind of as the home organizational center. For now, we have a basket that Jocelyn loves to pull mail out of and rip and eat. At least someone's being entertained!

Our kitchen space and the remains of breakfast (blueberry pancakes) on the counter there. I'm trying to keep those rose stems (from my mom's yard) alive so we can plant them in our yard. They are just starting to sprout some roots now. Wish me luck! We have a neutral hexagon tile flooring we've picked out to put down. Mr.Oak cabinet is proud of his true wood fashion, standing out from the crowd . . .  but he's gotta go, too, or at least be refaced to match the rest! Communist kitchen up in here. Gotta love the tetris cabinet next to the fabulously spacious fridge. I'm planning to paint all these cabinets a creamy light color, and re-do the counter tops with a more attractive and warm colored laminate.

Down the hall we find Lincoln's room:

And a bathroom:

And a master bedroom, with an alleged dead fish on the bed:

And the girls' room. Am I a mean mom or what? Not to worry, though. Despite the light and camera noises, no baby's nap times were harmed in the making of this blog post. . .

Let's go downstairs to the learning room! We found this antique oak kitchen cupboard from the early 1900's at a great little place in town - Farm House Furniture. It houses all our home school supplies. Seeing it brings me so much joy. We are going to start homeschooling on a regular schedule come September. Lincoln (and Atley) are pretty excited about it. I am, too. At some point, when we purchase a couch for the living space upstairs, we will move the futon downstairs, and move the camp chairs out. :)

We are also on the hunt for another book shelf, so we can unpack the rest of our books. You never can have too many books, right?! Or fabric . . .

The learning room is also my laundry-folding room. :)

And we have this bathroom downstairs:

Not pictured is my guest bedroom which is currently filled to the brim with boxes and stuff yet to be organized. The carpet in that room is a fabulous shade of 80's blue, and there's some lovely fake wood paneling on the wall. It needs a little love, like the rest of our house. And love it, we do!

Now to our backyard! We REALLY love it back here! We have a Russian Olive tree, a shed, a deck with a bench, a picnic table, a kids' play house, and plenty of room to roam. Enough room for chickens . . . :) AND GRASS!!!! Rolling grassy hills!!!

And a swing set! And a freshly planted Chinese (Mormon) apricot tree (A.K.A. "Christmas"), and a prehistoric-looking rhubarb plant that never stops giving. Not pictured is our newly planted Red Haven peach tree (A.K.A. "Coyote.")

We have yet to buy a lawn mower, hence the wavy sea of grassy meadow unruliness which I don't really mind too much but I'm thinking our neighbors probably do. We have flowers and herbs and lettuce planted in the planter that wraps around the cement pad in the center of the yard. A great space for hosting get-togethers.

And there you have it - our home! Thanks for taking a tour with me. Want to come visit us in Pokey? Please do! Then you can see it for yourself. I'll feed you, too! Deal? Deal. Ok. Happy Friday, my friends!

And just because, here is a bonus picture of the female moose my friend Katie, all our kids and I saw on our nature walk/hike up at Cherry Springs yesterday:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pantry and Prophecy

Today, I have pictures of something totally mundane from my life to show you in order to illustrate a really important and time-sensitive message for us all.

Remember how I told you in my last post that we built a pantry? We did! It was quite a process. And it's still not quite 100% complete, but I'll show you where we are at. Who doesn't love to see the mess and organization of progress in a void space? :)

Let's come take a look at my kitchen. Here is a bare wall and tons of dead space, just calling for some development and purpose. Oh, and Atley enjoying a raspberry yogurt Popsicle (compliments to the chef, my mom, who was here during the building process.)

Goodbye dead space!
 Goodbye baseboard!
Hi dad! Hello frame! (Progress is loud.)
 More framing . . .
 The box is complete! Electrical is repositioned.
 And now, some drywall!
 Oh yeah, baby.
And some tape, and some mud, and a layer of nasty white dust settling all over every surface of the entire house . . .
 Texture and shelving. Whoah! A pantry shape!
In between the last picture and this one, imagine a really frazzled tired mom with a literal pain in the neck from priming every little shelf and crevice - for about a week. Trust me, you don't want a picture of that. Don't worry I didn't take one. Pretty nice work though, eh?!
And paint - just inside the pantry. A nice creamy white-ish color. (The color inside the pantry is "Spun Cotton" by Behr.) It will eventually  be the color of all my ceilings and trim and doors and insides of closets. The outside color is yet to be determined.
 And after a day and half of waiting time - a pantry - filled with food! And dishes that didn't fit anywhere else in my little kitchen! And a happy lady! (Me.) Because I can cook! And because . . .
  I don't have to look at this, or keep my kids from digging in it, or try to prepare meals from it.
 What a thrilling thing it is so see this pantry's progression!

If you'll notice, there are no hardware or doors on my pantry as of yet, but all the framework, electrical, drywall, tape, mud, priming, and about half of the painting have been done. But, now, finally, this pantry is being used as a pantry. The food is there! The fig leaves are commencing to show on the fig tree, um, in my pantry. . . **Are you ready for things to wax symbolic?**

We are at the doors. We are at the doors, my friends.  
In Sunday school this past week, we had a wonderful discussion on the signs of the Second Coming. I loved how the Sunday school teacher started the lesson.

He asked us how weather predictions might influence our choices. Say a blizzard or heavy rain was predicted for that evening?

"If we had a barbeque planned with friends, we'd make arrangement to cook inside instead."

"We'd make a change in our attire for the day."

"We might adjust travel plans if the storm is severe enough."

He then asked us this, "What is the difference between a prediction and a prophecy?"

I answered his question with my testimony, "Predictions are our best guesses on what and when we think things might happen. But prophecy WILL be fulfilled, exactly as it has been explained. There is no guessing. It WILL come to pass."

The teacher then spoke, "If it makes a lot of sense to us to make changes in our behavior and preparations for weather predictions, it should make even more sense to prepare for the prophecies which will be fulfilled."

We then spent the next half hour talking about the signs of the Savior's Second Coming as written in the scriptures.

I feel to testify to anyone and everyone who has ears to hear, that NOW is the time to prepare. Not tomorrow or the next day. What are you doing TODAY?

Just like my pantry that was only an idea before it was created, the Earth has undergone millennia of preparation and organization and restoration for this very moment. And now we are at the last phase - the doors. With some trim and paint, and sifting through more of the impure items inside the pantry in order to replace them with purer foods, or what I shall view symbolically as building Zion, all the work will be finished.

Are we prepared temporally? Are we prepared spiritually for what is surely to come?

Sometimes I'd love to itemize a list of all the things that are going on in the world currently that are pointing to this truth - that the tribulations prophesied to precede Christ's coming are at the doors! I'd love to delve into every detail about what is going on in the heavens and what is going on in the world, in our country and in our communities that testify that we indeed are at the doors! But, I don't feel that that is necessary and it could even be distracting or fear-inducing.

Those who have ears to hear and hearts to feel and eyes to see can already see what is going on, and they are being inspired and hopefully following those promptings to prepare every needful thing and to organize their homes as sacred worshipful places.

I urgently and lovingly ask you to consider the question of what you can do to get you and your family prepared for what has been prophesied to come, now. Remember, it is not a matter of if, only a matter of when. Let us prove our faith true by action. Let us prepare for Zion. Let us prepare to meet our God. He is coming. I know this to be true with all my heart.

Be a wise virgin, not a foolish one, please? We are at the doors. Oh, be wise. What can I say more? In this there is safety and peace.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Transition Shock

I have come to the conclusion that making transitions is an art - one which I haven't even remotely mastered.

Sometimes - especially during these transition times - life can be damn hard. Yes. And dam hard. Like, there are all these feelings, thoughts, emotions, and actions I've gotta let out and for whatever reason some kind of demon beavers are clogging everything up for me. Probably I am a demon beaver half the time. That made a whole lot of sense, I'm sure.

Maybe if I stopped looking at the figurative dams in my life right now, I'd see that I'm by a beautiful waterway, outside in the sunshine, soaking in more than enough vitamin D. And there's grass! Green, not-astro-turf GRASS! But for right now I'm just a little stuck in the mud and sticks of my own emotional nostalgia.

There is so much I want to blog about - too much. And each one of these deserves it's own sappy-happy well-thought-out post about how blessed we are. Here's the short list of stuff that has happened with our family since I blogged last on April 1st:
  • Squire graduated from medical school. WAAAHOOOO!!!!!
  • We made a trip up to Pocatello to look for a rental or home to buy.
  • We visited Squire's Dad, Grandparents Tripp and Cousin Blake and his wife Haley and kids along the way.
  • We bought a house - our very first house! It's a fixer-upper, but it's ours!
  • In a whirlwind, and with the generous help of friends and family, we made the move away from Tucson, 10 days earlier than planned. We had a nice little going away ice cream party with friends where I cried the night away.
  • We went to the magical world of Disneyland with my family for two days. It was the kids' first time. They all loved it, even Jocelyn. I'm still sleeping in to recover from it.
  • We stayed with my family for a couple weeks in Reno.
  • We moved up to Pocatello.
  • We went on a camp-out retreat with the ISU Family Medicine Residency people.
  • With help from my Dad, Squire built a pantry in our house. I primed and painted it over the course of a few nap times, and through a couple of nights. Zombie girl, here, now has a place for both her dishes and food.
  • We planted some flowers and plants in our back yard, and did quite a bit of yard work.
  • We've unpacked a whole lot of stuff in our house, (boy do we have a lot of STUFF! Argghhh!) but not quite enough to have a real settled feel.
  • We hosted a BBQ for the interns and their families at our house, even in the midst of moving/pantry-building craziness.
  • Squire attended residency orientation for the past two weeks.
  • Squire was given a white coat with his name embroidered on it at the graduation ceremony last night.
  • I have met about a billion people so far ('cuz that's how many people live in Pokey, dontcha know? - residency people/spouses, neighbors, ward members, ward leadership.) And they are all really nice. One family already had us over for dinner.
  • Squire and I are spending our last two days of freedom before his first residency rotation (OB/GYN) begins, trying to get some more stuff done around this house. Oh, and I'm writing this post. ;)
(I still can't find my camera, and my blasted phone won't let me send the pictures right now, so you'll just have to imagine all these things for the time being.)

There are so many opportunities available to me, here, right now: an amazing home school group, friends and support through the residency, book clubs, libraries with story times (not Miss Georgia's story time to be sure, but it's something), symphony membership, super cheap classes at ISU, beautiful land to hike and explore, local bands playing on campus, cheap movies, a local farm co-op, bowling alleys, free ethnic food cooking classes, Relief society activities, craft nights, swimming pools, swimming in nearby outdoor locations, free weekly Zumba/Yoga/running/hiking/biking groups, regular play groups in the park. . . And the people here? They know everything about everything I've barely read about: gardening, animal husbandry, hunting, canning, quilting, prepping, and so on and so forth. What to do? What to do?! So much to learn! So much to do! So many people to socialize with! So much literal and figurative growing to be done!!

Maybe I'll just climb back in bed? . . . I feel a little overwhelmed. 

I really don't have much to complain about. Probably what I'm about to say next deserves a #firstworldproblems distinction. But . . .

Right now, I miss the comfort of friends. I miss the comfort of the Tucson home I lived in for 4 years. I miss visiting my parents' home. I miss the comfort of a place I know (though, I'm very much loving the looks of Pocatello. Truly a sight for my sore Tucson eyes.) I miss the comfort of having a calling to do each week at church, and people to visit with there. I miss my grocery stores (though I don't miss the commute.) I miss all the familiarity. Squire is kind of gone a lot right now, and there's so much to do, and I'm kind of alone, with three crazy kids who are also loving our awesome backyard and the grass and at the same time asking me when we are going to go back to Tucson? And when can Lincoln marry Jenna, and Atley marry Hunter?

Right now - life is good. And overwhelming. And. damn. hard. And I'm still trying to figure out how and where to let open the floodgates.   

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Slow Enough to Make a Difference

This morning the light of the sun stirred a fierce desire in me to get out of the house. I wanted to break in my new running shoes and TODAY! was THE DAY!! With no husband at home, three children under the age of 4, and no jogging stroller to call my own, my prospects for a good workout were dismal at best. But I am an eternal optimist, "Maybe if I just get out of the house, it'll work out better than I think it can!"  Slightly encouraged that it might work, I rallied the troops, got us all dressed and out the door. I loaded Jocelyn in the Chicco, got Lincoln and Atley outfitted with their helmets and bikes, and we were on our way.

About 15 seconds out, I realized this was not going to be what I had hoped for. Lincoln was pushing on at about the pace of a snail working its way through some Black strap molasses. Atley was whining that she couldn't get on her bike, period. 2 minutes later and about every 5 minutes after that she had to sit down on the dirt to dump out bits of sand and gravel that made their way into her pink Crocs. We finally made it to the paved trail behind our house and I had hope stirring again. I had it - a brilliant idea! I would run ahead of my kids for about 15 seconds then wheel back around the other way and run towards them. (Running in circles - it's the only way to do it with kids.) It wasn't perfect, but it was kind of working! Until I realized that we needed to cut through a couple more desert paths as there was no way my kids could ride their bikes through the whole back trail and around the entire development. By the time we made it through the sandy portion of the walk, with me carrying Atley's bike, I had pretty much resigned to the fact that today was just a day to walk, and very slowly at that. 

I wanted to get back home, give myself a mini pity party and a good shower - not that I had earned it with a great sweat or anything. But 4 days - that's pushing it, even for me. And that's no April fool's day joke, folks.  So when Lincoln said, "Mom! Trash!" indicating that he saw a plastic Arizona juice bottle to pick up and throw away, my knee jerk reaction was, "No, we're not picking up trash today." I thought about it a second longer and the Spirit gently nudged, "Go on and pick it up." So I did. Suddenly it was like all I could see was trash. Trash! Trash was everywhere and it needed thrown away or recycled! We were moving slowly, but that was incidentally the perfect pace to make a difference in my neighborhood. Instead of wishing to just get home, I realized that this was a teaching moment for myself and my children. I started to direct and encourage my kids to pick up all the trash they could find along our path. And by the time we made it home we had acquired quite the pile:

(I found it poetic that almost every item we found to pick up was related to some self-indulgent vice. But that is another post for another day.)

We recycled what could be recycled, threw away what needed to be thrown away. And we went inside and washed our hands very well. :)

Today, my kids helped me move past a self-oriented objective toward something better. I don't know how many times they have to do that a day, week or month before I realize that's just what motherhood is, but I just relearned this lesson for the umpteen millionth time now. My track record (no pun intended) suggests this won't be the last time, either.

Atley "washed" her hair with the hose when we got back home. She was excited to be a helper and put her find in the recycle bin.

And Jocelyn? She's content being her beautiful little self. She lights up my life with her beaming face. So much joy in one little person. I can't get enough of this gal.

Here's to motherhood, and moving through today just slow enough to ruin all our plans, learn the lessons others have to teach us, and make a difference in the process. Happy April, my friends!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Match Day Results!

 Oh, med school! It has been a ride and it's very quickly coming to a close. 
After interviews in seven states, lots of prayer, deliberation, compiling a rank list, and waiting and waiting and waiting. . .

Today was match day! The day when all the fourth year medical students find out (if they matched) where they matched, for residency. Want to know the results of our match?! 

We discovered we will be living the next three years in ---------->>>


This program was our #1 choice! I'm so proud of Squire for all he has accomplished. The family medicine residency at ISU is a perfect fit for Squire and what he wants to learn to be a proficient rural family practice physician. He's so happy and I'm so happy for him! I'm looking forward to being able to keep pet chickens and try my hand at small town living! (We'll see if this hippy city girl will fit in!) Pocatello is a nice midpoint between both our families, too, so hopefully we will be able to see more of them.

It'll be quite the adventure to start from square one again. We will miss all of the dear friends we have made here in Tucson.  It's amazing how about 4 years ago, when we moved to Arizona, we knew nobody at all. And now, we will be leaving what has become home to us. It's a bitter sweet day. With blogs, facebook, and cell phones - we're really not so far away though, right?! Right?!

 Onward we go for a new adventure, my friends. Thanks for following us on our journey!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How I Do It All! ;)

After my last blog post on food, my long-time childhood friend, Courtney, commented on my facebook account with these kind words:

"I am amazed by you! Honestly how you find the time to make so many amazing recipes, sew, ect and be a mom and wife is beyond me! Kudos and so much respect to you!!! Teach me your ways haha!! How do you find the time or the patience for all life throws at you and extracurricular activities"

Thank you, Courtney. I can run on a good compliment for days and you've given me some much needed fuel after a really long week, and honestly, a pretty nerve-racking month. All of us mammas need that! I know I do. I love getting compliments that highlight the good things I AM accomplishing.

Because while I was accomplishing all my canning and cooking, and nursing and blogging, and herding cats children, fill in the blank with whatever it might seems I get done around here: _______________ . . .  I didn't get this done:
See that pressure canner? It has pinto bean juice filling the bottom of it. And that big old pot got some pinto beans burnt on the bottom. It's been soaking for two days now. See the stuff to be recycled? See the leftover sweet potatoes from lunch that I still haven't put away (even as I type this post?) I'm not proud of this by the way. It's just the truth of the matter. 

See my awesome couch, badly needing repair, and draped with a blanket to keep the fluff in? (It's not working by the way.) Atley had an accident on this chair in late December. (Does saying late December make it any better?) I took the covers off and washed them. I decided I was going to repair some wear and tear on the cushions. I didn't even see the hole in the side until it has quadrupled in size because well it's been almost a few months now, and you know - kids. Oops! 

Here is the laundry I have gotten behind on that I moved from my washer and dryer. At least it was washed! (See the napping baby? Notice how dark all these pictures are?! That's the only way this blog post is happening right now. It's Siesta time around here. I make that happen by blocking out as much light as possible each afternoon.) Naps/Quiet time are a necessity every day for my sanity and happiness. And sometimes my kids take them, too. ;)

When I moved my clothes pile from the laundry machines so I could actually fold them, I saw this inspiring picture hanging on my wall - perfectly, a little crooked. And it hit me. This is life as a woman - for you and for me. For all of us! 

We each have heavy loads to carry and striking that balance of maintaining a home, caring for children and a spouse, contributing to our communities, doing a paid job and incorporating "extracurricular" activities into our routines is quite shifty business! Sometimes we are on, and sometimes we are off. Some days are for creating and extending and some days are for preserving and maintaining. Some days are for giving and for growth, and some days are for receiving and for healing. Because we are each only one human being, we can only choose one thing to give our priority to in any given moment. If I seem extra productive, it's often because I'm sacrificing some home maintenance. If I'm seeming rather absent on my blog, it's probably because I'm more present somewhere else. Do I feel guilty about what I haven't accomplished yet today? Nope! Am I going to get up off my bum and clean up my messy house after I finish this post? You betcha! We're all just doing the best that we can and that is perfectly enough!

The most important thing you can do as a person, is to know the direction that you wish to move and just start moving. I promise you this my friend - if your desired direction (and pace) match up with God's desired path for your life, the ugliest beast in hell won't be able to stop you from moving forward until you've accomplished your life's work. You'll undoubtedly shed a flower petal or two, and brush up against a bush here and there, but that isn't as important as what you are accomplishing on the whole. Just keep your eyes on God's goals for you and for your family. You're sailing a whole lot more smoothly than you think.
"The Responsible Woman" By: James Christensen (Image Source.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Latest Rampage (+I think I've found my food "niche")

Food. I love it. Probably a little too much. But you know what they say about not trusting skinny cooks - so it's all good. ;)

People who know me well know a desire to be a homesteader has been growing within me for several years now. I have drastically, though not completely, reduced the amount of processed foods from my family's diet, and learned a whole lot about cooking and preserving foods from scratch in the process. But right now, I'm feeling a serious urge to increase my knowledge about all things food, and I'm making even bigger changes. It's surprising to me how steep the learning curve is for us Americans to figure out how to do "real" food. It is counter-cultural, sometimes intimidating, even revolutionary in a way, to incorporate high-quality, non-GMO, organic/naturally-grown foods into a growing family's diet. And to do it on a dime? Double the challenge! 

Navigating the world of food is made even more difficult by the extreme opinions on every front. Food is up there with politics, sex and religion in the level of controversy discussing it can bring. Seriously. 

No animal products! No meat!
Animal products are fine if they are ethically raised.
Meat is ok if it was ethically, locally raised, and humanely butchered.
No animals or their products, but fish are ok.
No farm-raised fish, only wild caught.
Animals are fine raised on grain, just make sure they weren't given antibiotics or hormones.
Eat meat (and lots of it!) but only if it dined on a pesticide/GMO-free pasture.
Eating meat is fine, just don't eat too much of it.
No beef.
No pork.
Only Kosher or Halal processed meats.
Don't consume milk products at all. It's unnatural to consume another animal's milk.
Consume them only if they are pasturized, rBST free.
Consume them only if they are raw, from grass-fed cattle.
Only eat meat, dairy, eggs from local sources.
Stay away from all gluten.
Stay away from all grains.
Eat grains, but only if they are sprouted first.
Eat any kind of flour, just use a natural yeast.
Only eat older forms of wheat like Eikorn or Spelt.
Eat this that and the other food item, all the time - it's super healthy!
Eating this that and the other food item will give you thyroid problems!
I don't care about the nutritional value of this that and the other food item - it tastes really gross.
Don't eat anything from a can or that had a barcode on it.
Sugar substitutes help cut calories.
Sugar substitutes give you cancer.
No refined sugar, period.
Honey and maple syrup are fine replacements for sugar.
Honey and maple syrup are only good if they are raw.
No fat and skim milk wherever possible.
Full fat dairy, bacon grease and real butter.
Margarine, vegetable oil and canola oil are fine.
Only coconut oil and olive oil.
No food dyes, additives, unrecognizable ingredients.
Low carb diet.
Eat only fruit.
Eat everything cooked.
Cook everything in waterless cookware.
Cook everything in stainless steel or cast iron cookware.
Non-stick cookware makes clean-up a breeze and is a non-issue.
Eat everything raw.
All fruits and veggies should be peeled before eating.
All fruits and veggies should be eaten with the original skin.
Fruits and veggies should be consumed as juice.
Eat local food. Period.
Eat food grown from your own garden.
Eat only USDA Organic food.
Eat fruits and veggies grown with organic principles, but don't only go USDA organic. It cuts back diversity. 
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Being an American in this day and age makes it even harder to figure out how best to eat to nourish our bodies. Because our country has put so much value on eating cheaply and getting our food fast, we have allowed ourselves to become the greatest science experiment in the history of the world. Our food products are more different than any ever consumed in all of human history! And because of this (IMHO) we are sick, fat, greasy, tired, and paying a whole lot more for healthcare as a result of our malnourishment. Because we have been eating this highly processed food for decades now, and because food is so emotional for us, it is really hard to break the cycle and do something different. Especially when it requires time, work, or shopping in ways or locations outside our comfort zone and busy schedules.  

Navigating all of that is what I've been trying to do. For years. It's a never-ending battle with periods of learning and plateaus. Right now I am in the midst of a serious learning phase. 

Here are a couple of the things I've made very recently (some were things I've had on the back burner for several years):
Herbed Sourdough Rye Noodles (recipe on page #176 of The Nourished Kitchen), made with the sourdough starter (purchased from King Arthur). I have managed to keep my starter alive for about a month now. Don't plan on killing it any time soon! :) This book, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast, is great for the sourdough newbie. Also beans. Lots of pinto beans. I have decided I spend way too much on canned beans. Canning will save us money, and decrease our BPA intake, as well as our intake of other unnecessary additives that find their way into canned food.

Homemade "Good Ketchup."
Homemade Ketchup. The recipe is on page #173 of Canning for a New Generation. I've done this one before, but I've decided we're never buying store-bought ketchup ever again. It's a new food Era in the Hepworth house, baby! 

Up-and-coming projects (that'll only take me about 30 years with the rate I've been going):

 - Adding lots of new recipes to our repertoire that are not only extremely healthy but also extremely delicious.
- Rendering and canning my own leaf lard. Try crackings for the first time.
- Making my own sour cream (it's only heavy cream and buttermilk, people!)
- Try raw, grass-fed milk for the first time. Make some butter with it, too.
- Making my own cheese, starting with Mozzarella.
- Fermenting and canning my own relishes, sauerkraut and pickles.
- Sprouting grains, legumes and seeds.
- Baking with sprouted grain flour.
- Baking with all kind of whole grains, not just wheat.
- Learning more ways to incorporate Kefir in my cooking than just smoothies.
- Once Squire graduates and we move, I want to learn how to garden with Permaculture principles. That'll be a doozey.
I think I've decided that I generally fit within the WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) camp philosophically. Though we don't eat that way fully yet. One step at a time. Someday, I'd love to have the majority of our food come from our own backyard. How awesome would that be?! But for now, I'm finding out other ways to get healthy foods in on a budget. I want to share a handful of resources I have found on my journey you may be interested to know about, too.

These books: 

I particularly love Jennifer McGruther's ,The NourishedKitchen. It is filled with wisdom and beautiful photos. It makes eating a traditional foods lifestyle so accessible.

These websites: - More info about WAPF - A natural food co-up. Buy in bulk and save. - A listing of grass-fed and pasture-raised meat producers. - Listings of raw, grass-fed dairies. - Food co-op. Get lots of produce for a great price. Organic option, too. (for Tucson and Phoenix friends) - A food rescue program. Pay $10 and get up to 60lbs. of produce, often organic! You have to be ready to process it within a few days though. - The best place to buy organic herbs and spices in bulk. - Love her blog for learning about homesteading topics. - Love her youtube channel for learning all things homestead.

Any other great resources you care you share, my friends?! Feed my obsession! (Pun totally intended.) Talk to me about the food in your life!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Golden Miracle in the Switchback Staircase

My heart is so full of joy and awe today. God is a God of miracles. He always has been and always will be. And He graciously enlists our help and the help of angels in His work. And let me just tell you - the wages of God do not disappoint! Today, our family was blessed to be witnesses to and participants in a small miracle.

It all started out, mundanely enough, picking out an outfit for Atley to wear to church. My good friend Amanda passed on a great dress to us that her daughter had worn and has now outgrown. It is fitted in the bodice and it has a full poofy skirt. It definitely fits the bill for a Christmas Sunday wardrobe choice. Well, Christmas is gone now, but I thought Atley would enjoy wearing it, so I pulled it out for her to wear last night in preparation for the Sabbath. I didn't realize that Squire had already picked out an outfit for Atley. I almost put the poofey dress back, but decided to keep it out as it didn't need to be ironed like the other outfit and it would save us time in our preparation for church. I chose Atley's silver sandals with silver flowers to go with the dress. After fixing Atley's hair and getting her dressed this morning, I had the thought that she should wear her pearl necklace with the golden bow. This necessitated a change to black shoes (to avoid the gold/silver clash), which I had to request Squire get down from a tote in the garage. This final point reveals my OCD with matching clothes and probably a little vanity. It is also a testament that Atley's choice of outfit was indeed guided by the spirit. The work that went into getting her dressed today - definitely an increase from the normal routine - was noticeable.

We got into the car to drive to church. It was foggy (weird for Tucson, right?) and pretty cold. I thought, "I should have put her in the outfit Squire chose! She'll be cold today in her short sleeves!" But a voice in my head said, "No. This was the right choice."

On the other side of Wilmot road, another family dressed their sweet little girl, Atley's age, in a ruffly neon pink dress. This little gal is in Atley's same nursery class. Today, her mom explained, that she insisted on wearing a gold flower in her hair. Though it didn't match, she indulged her daughter's request for the gold flower anyway. (This is the healthy way to feel about clothing, people!) ;)

Fast forward to the end of church. We were in our classroom with our little 3-4 year old students waiting for their parents to come pick them up. Squire said, "I'll go get Atley from nursey." "Sounds good." When he brought her back, I noticed that she had a new accessory in her hair - a golden poinsettiaish flower. It looked great with the gold bow on her pearl necklace and Christmas dress, but it wasn't ours. I informed Squire it wasn't, and he left Atley with me and ran back to the classroom in order to make sure the golden accessory got back to its rightful owner. 

On his way back up the stairs (our primary classes are upstairs), a gaggle of children made their way down the steps, delaying his ascent. "Good luck!" a friend said, noting the flow of little bodies making their way down the crowded staircase. Squire waited a few moments and made his way up the stairs. He was the only one going up. Just as he came around the corner to the middle landing, he saw a little girl falling face first down the steps (about 10 steps total). She plunged from the top step and was about to land face first three steps up from from the landing! And!!! . . . Squire caught her with one arm, and then supported her with the other. She was a bit shaken up, but otherwise unharmed.

I have one last detail to add - that for the last few weeks, Jocelyn has been nursing during both the first and third hour of church. Because I nurse her at the end, I have been the one to get Atley from nursery. This Sunday though, Jocelyn slept right on through that third hour. If I had been the one to get Atley from her class, I would have recognized the flower wasn't hers immediately and no second trip up the stairs would have been made.

I testify that this was a miracle. To think what would have happened to that little girls' face or head had I decided to put Atley in the other dress, which would have required a different necklace! With no gold to make her nursery leaders think that that fallen accessory was hers, and thereby cutting out Squire's second trip to the other side of the chapel and return up the stairs at no less and no more than the exactly perfect time and step to be able to catch her! I testify again that a miracle happened today!

Albeit . . . a small miracle. There are even greater miracles than this. So much greater!

Today in primary singing time, we learned a new song that filled my whole soul with the Spirit I feel when I know I am hearing truth undefiled. 

The message of the song is most poignant in its beautiful, swelling chorus:

"Jesus is a God of miracles. Nothing is at all impossible to Him. But I know this, of all His miracles, the most incredible must be, the miracle that rescues me."

I testify that Jesus is a God of miracles. I love my Savior for all that He has done for me, and for the life He lived. I love Him for the miracles that He performed in person for others during His life and ministry, and for the miracles I have seen Him direct in my life and lives of others. I love Him for letting me witness and participate in these things. And I testify that whosover will put their faith in and follow Him, will be rescued and be granted Eternal life - life with Him and with our Heavenly Father. It is troubling at times, how the world is darkening at an ever-increasing pace. I testify that the number of miracles we see will continue to grow and increase in greater measure than the darkness. There will be no limit to the miraculous happenings we will experience in coming years. And all of them, as incredible as they are and will be - even in all their breathtaking detail - will pale in comparison to the incredible miracle of the atonement that our Savior Jesus Christ offered in Gethsemane, on the cross and out of the tomb. As we dedicate ourselves to Him, we too will have eyes to see and ears to hear the miracles that are already happening all around us. These things I know are true. I share this in love and Gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ - who has miraculously rescued both you and me.


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