Monday, June 29, 2015

Our New Home Arrives!

For the past couple of years, ever since we purchased 10 acres, we have been dreaming, planning, and trying to save to build.  It was our hope to build a darling cabin on our acreage.  However, as more and more time progressed, we realized that it is hard to pay bills on two different pieces of property, and try to save money, so our thoughts turned to how we could just move out to our land, and thus save money by living there, and then building as we can.  After making that decision this past year, we began actively looking at options for something to live in while we save to build.

Our options ran a big gamut from travel trailer, to park model trailer, to remodeling a shed into a home, to a single wide mobile home, and then even considering a double wide mobile home.  The Lord opened up the door for us just a couple of weeks ago (see this post and this post to see just how this came to be), so that we could purchase at a very cheap price, an older single wide mobile home, and it was something affordable for us, and that we could make work.


The past two weeks have been a flurry of activity around here as the process to ready our land for the arrival of the trailer began.


We needed trees taken out, trenches dug for water, sewer and electric lines, and a gravel pad put down. All of this of course took place while my husband was out of town, working to pay for it all.  We have had experience in the past with setting up a mobile home, but my husband was always around to make the important decisions -- but not this time.  I was dealing with the contractor trying to decide where best to put the house, and making important decisions about the moving of the trailer, consulting with my husband along the way, yet.... there is nothing like having him here to see, and make the decisions.  It was a big weight for me, as he always has been the one to make these kinds of decisions.  However, I prayed every step of the way, and the Lord blessed me with peace about it all.


Our son and our dear friend JH went to prepare the home for travel.  All the skirting had to be taken off, and the addition separated from the home, porches had to be removed and all the blocks underneath the home had to be stacked and brought to the gravel pad.  It was a lot of work for them to do.


The home is small, very small!  It is a 14 x 56 mobile home, built back in 1977.  However the previous owner had gutted the home, replaced the insulation, had it all rewired, put up sheet rock all throughout the home, and new windows.



Once my husband arrived home, we went to look at the house together.  I had not seen it yet in person either, as I had decided to wait and see it with him.  It was a huge leap of faith to buy this home without ever seeing it, but we knew the Lord's hand was in the midst of it all.



This is the 14 x 8' porch addition that comes with the home.  It is unfinished, but has four large windows, and has great "bones" that we will be able to use.  We plan to insulate it, finish the floors, roof and walls, and make it into one part mudroom, and one part office for me.  I love the large windows!


There is still quite a work of that needs to be done cosmetically to the inside of the home.  There are a few kitchen cabinets, but they will need replaced.  This bar area will need to be finished.  Carpeting and linoleum will need to be pulled out, and a new floor surface put down.


The stove is quite a mess, and will be tossed.  We will replace it most likely with a gas stove.


One of the things that quite impressed me about the home was the large new storm windows with screens that were installed, that allow lots of light into the home, and the ability to see out into our yard easily.


This is the small second bedroom, which will be our daughter's.  It is a lot smaller than the bedroom she has, but we are going to make it work.  She wants to paint the room a soft baby or turquoise blue.


The bathroom is in decent shape.  The floors had all been replaced with new boards, and a new tub installed.  I will no doubt want to change the vanity out at some point, and of course the camouflage curtain will be the first to go! ... lol!


There is room in the corner for a shelving unit which we will use as a linen closet.



This is the master bedroom.  It is very small!  However, we will have room for the necessities that we need.  Again... the curtains will be tossed... lol!



There are no ceiling light fixtures in the house, except for one in the kitchen.  The ceilings are low, only about 7'.  The previous owner installed these "lanterns" for light fixtures.  I am sure I will find something to replace them, as well...  :)


This is the master closet, which is actually pretty nice, and has been redone.  There are closet doors that just need to be hung.

Finally the big day came, this past Saturday, when the mover was able to come and move the trailer to its new home.


Here is a better picture of the addition.  This was not able to be moved Saturday, because the mover didn't have equipment ready to haul it.  He will be moving the addition this week sometime.


Here is the trailer being readied for transport.


... And its arrival to our property...


... a wide swing coming in...


... and getting straightened out


The gravel pad all readied for the arrival of the trailer...


It took a little maneuvering to get it straight, but not much...


... and there it was!


The movers worked very hard to level it and it was quite late when they left, so I didn't get a picture of that.  I know it doesn't look like much... in fact it looks pretty small doesn't it!  Yet, we purchased this home for $3000 and we own it free and clear!  My husband keeps asking me - how does it feel to own your home?  LOL!  It feels great!

We have a LOT of work ahead of us, but --  our dream of living simple, and debt-free -- is much closer to being a reality!  In particular, the kitchen will need a cheap remodel.  I don't want anything expensive, as that would negate the whole purpose of what we are doing.  I have plans to visit our local Habitat for Humanity to see what they may have, and I have also been scouring craigslist looking for cabinets as well.  We plan on replacing the flooring and painting to begin with, and then see what happens next.

If any of you have any suggestions for the upcoming renovations that we will need to do, be sure and leave me a comment!  I would love to hear any tips or helpful ideas that would allow this process to move along more smoothly!







Monday, June 22, 2015

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread....

I'm sure all of us are very familiar with this particular line from the Lord's Prayer.  However, in recent days, I've become acutely aware of just what that line really is supposed to mean in our lives.

I often make homemade bread, and while kneading the dough there is often time to think, and I've thought many times about how we are to pray for today's bread.  It seems the Lord has been teaching me through different means and thoughts about how closely to Him He wants us to walk, and to trust.

I know that I am not alone in desiring to have the future planned out for me... to desire to "know" what needs to be done today in order to prepare for tomorrow... so many things in the future that are not known to us, and yet... they cause worry.  If truth be told, all of us, at some point in our lives have worried about tomorrow... only to find that once tomorrow came, that problem that we had worried so about... took care of itself without any help or intervention on our part!

And so... that is why this part of the Lord's prayer is so important in our day-to-day lives.  We cannot fear, or even despair over tomorrow, because today is what we have.  And so we are to pray... give us this day our daily bread... give me today Lord what I need to get through this day... give me the strength to face the problems today... give me the courage to do your will today... give me what I need today to walk by faith.

And so, when we begin to remind ourselves moment by moment throughout the day, when trials and tests come, and when the future seems rather uncertain, and perhaps a little fear rises up in your heart at the thought of "tomorrow"... and all the "what ifs".... yet that is when we are to stop those thoughts in their tracks, and replace them with... Lord give me today what I need... and I leave tomorrow in your hands.  For really... that is all we can do.  We can't change tomorrow, because what happens today, may completely change what happens tomorrow... and we waste so much time worrying about fixing tomorrow, when today is where our focus needs to lie.

As I made my daily loaves of sourdough bread this week...


Trying out my homemade almond milk as a substitute for the water called for in the recipe...



And using my bread making machine to knead the dough for me.... (and being very thankful for the bread machine who did the mountain of kneading work for me so that I could be busy with other things!)


And as I patted out the dough into shape...


and prepared it into the two loaves ...



to be put into my coconut oil greased loaf pans...


which then were left to rise for several hours (sourdough raises slowly, sometimes 7-8 hours or overnight!)


I couldn't help but be reminded over and over as I spent time with the bread...


... how thankful I was for this lesson the Lord had taught me.  Today, this bread is enough... and tomorrow when it comes... the Lord will provide my bread for that day too, and my heart was grateful for the peace that came just knowing that today, I have enough!  And since tomorrow is not here yet, I will be grateful for this bread, for its value today.

This little line in the Lord's prayer has taken on such deep meaning for me now... and my "daily bread" will always cause me to stop, pause, and ponder with a grateful heart, the things that the Lord has provided for and taken care of for me today, and ... I can go on about my day, leaving tomorrow in His capable hands!  There is a great peace that comes in this.

I pray that your heart will be full of His daily bread today, and let the rest of it go... whatever tomorrow holds, leave it with Him, and be thankful for today.... indeed dear Lord, give us THIS DAY our daily bread :)

What Makes a Dad?

Father's Day comes once a year to honor our dear fathers, but really, it should be something that we are thankful for every day.  I have been blessed to have a wonderful father whose love has always been a constant throughout the years, a loving, generous, hard working man who loved his family so much. Then I was blessed to marry the most loving, kind and wonderful man who became the loving father to our children.  And at the center of the heart of the fathers in my life, has been my Heavenly Father. I count myself and my family blessed beyond measure to have had the wonderful love and support of a father in our lives.  I found this poem that says it all so well....

What Makes a Dad? 

God took the strength of a mountain
The majesty of a tree
The warmth of a summer's sun
The calm of a quiet sea
The generous soul of nature
The generous soul of nature
The comforting arm of night 
The power of the eagle's flight
The joy of a morning in spring
The faith of a mustard seed
The patience of eternity
The depth of a family need
Then God combined these qualities
When there was nothing more to add
He knew his masterpiece was complete
And so He called it... Dad. 
~ Author Unknown ~

So a (belated) Happy Father's Day to my father, my husband's father, and my dear husband... with much love and thankfulness to the Lord, my Heavenly Father who has blessed me beyond measure.  
I am blessed! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

One Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Alfredo

I don't know about you... but summertime begs me to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen cooking!  It seems that between the family, the garden, the chickens, the housework, and just the alluring beauty of summertime... that I do not have as much desire to be in the kitchen baking and cooking.  And certainly, in the heat of the afternoon, I don't want to have the oven warming things up even more.

So this time of year, I always seek out the quick, easy, nutritious and delicious recipes that make summertime life more enjoyable.

I had thawed out some chicken for dinner, and my intentions were to make a quick chicken dinner with it, although I wasn't sure just what, because all my recipe involved using the oven.

I decided to come up with a new chicken pasta "one pot" recipe... and here is what happened... I didn't take pictures of every step, but this will give you a general idea of how easily it came together.


First I  seasoned approximately 1 pound boneless chicken breast with salt, pepper and browned it in a bit of butter and coconut oil.  After the chicken was browned on both sides, about 5 minutes or so, I added approximately 3 cups water, and turned the heat up to bring the water to boiling.  2-3 cloves of crushed garlic were added into the pot.  Then I added in the whole wheat linguine noodles, breaking the noodles in half as I added them to the water.


You will want to stay close, and stir the noodles and chicken as there isn't as much liquid in the pot as usual, and they will stick easily.  However, the idea is to allow the noodles to absorb as much of the liquid as possible.  Cook the noodles for about 6-8 minutes.  They will be slightly undercooked, but will finish cooking later.

Then I put 1 package of softened cream cheese into a large glass measuring cup, and poured in a bit of the hot water from the noodles, and stirred the cream cheese until no lumps were left.  Then I added enough milk to the measuring cup to make 3 cups.  Next I added 1/4 cup cornstarch, and stirred the mixture very well until thoroughly mixed.

Then I removed the chicken breast, shredded the meat, and set it aside.  Pour in the cream cheese/milk mixture, and stirred gently, then stir in the chicken.

At this point, I added my seasonings, which included 2 tbsp chicken bouillon, 1/4 cup sherry cooking wine, and salt and pepper to taste.  Turn the heat down to simmer, and allow the noodles to continue cooking slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes or so, until thickened.  Remove from heat and serve with sprinkles of parsley, and Parmesan cheese.


Serve with a salad or whatever vegetable you prefer, and you have a quick and easy stove-top meal, all made within one pot, with little cleanup...


 ... and best of all, a cool kitchen!


The One Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Alfredo was a big hit with the family, and the side salad added some beautiful color, texture, and goodness to the meal.  I simply used some local lettuce (given to us by kind neighbors), a small yellow pepper sliced, and halved cherry tomatoes.  I topped the salad with a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and Mrs. Dash seasonings, and feta cheese.

ONE POT CREAM CHEESE CHICKEN ALFREDO

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, thawed
1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp coconut oil
1 pkg whole wheat linguine or fettuccine noodles, broken in half
3 cups water
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp Mrs. Dash, salt & pepper to taste
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
2-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
1-2 tbsp chicken bouillon
1/4 cup sherry cooking wine
Parsley and Parmesan cheese, optional

Brown chicken breast in butter and coconut oil in Dutch oven or large saucepan.  Add water, and heat to boiling.  Stir in halved noodles, and cook for about 6-7 minutes, stirring gently often.  Remove chicken and shred, set aside. Stir together softened cream cheese in a large glass measuring cup with about 1/4 cup hot water from pot, until smooth.  Add in enough milk to make 3 cups, and the cornstarch. Stir all together until smooth, and then add to noodles.  Stir back in chicken, and add bouillon and sherry.  Simmer noodles, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with a sprinkle of parsley and Parmesan cheese, if desired.  Serve with salad or favorite vegetable side.  Enjoy!  (I won't tell your momma if you lick the plate clean, cause it's that good!)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Morning Devotions with the Chickens...

Our baby chicks are really growing!  Recently we integrated them into our chicken coop with our other hens... and that did NOT go well at first... I felt so sorry for my poor babies!


When I first took them out to the chicken coop to meet the other hens, they were quite unsure about their surroundings, and were terrified.


The hens were not happy at all about the new additions to "their" space... and the war was on...



Poor little things!


They have started putting on their feathers, and look so funny with half down and half feathers!



This little banty loves getting on top of the water holder and then begins to chirp loudly!



This picture was taken just a week ago! They have really grown and grown since then!


I kept the babies inside while I  would let the hens out to free range in the grass morning and evening. The babies were glad for some relief from the mean hens, and would happily run around inside the coop.


This week however, the babies were almost as big as our banty hens, and so I decided it was time to let them outside for a while.


This morning I went out to check on the chickens and decided it was a perfect place to have my morning devotions, and keep my eye on the babies as they got to explore the outdoor world.


They were as thrilled and excited as they could be, chirping happy little sounds as they scurried through the grasses and weeds and playing in the dirt.


The hens were busy chasing bugs and doing their thing, and the baby chicks were free to roam and explore without being bullied by the hens, plus I was keeping a watchful eye on them.


Hard to believe how much they have grown in the past few days!


Getting their tummies full of fresh green grass!


Uh oh!  The mean hen is back, and she has got all the baby chicks running for the corner.  I keep hoping that one of the babies will decide to stand its ground and defend itself, but so far I haven't seen that happen.


I shooed the bully hen out of the coop, and the little ones came back outside.


I think this little banty is just so precious!  She will let me hold her and pet her while some of the others won't.


Back in the grass... oh what a feast!


It was a very special time to sit in my lawn chair and watch the hens and the chicks busy themselves with bug chasing, grass eating, and dirt bathing, while I read my Bible, and had my devotions surrounded with happy little chirps.  A blessed and beautiful way to start my morning!

I thought of this quote by George Washington Carver: "I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if only we will tune in." 

And Psalms 90:14 says "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for you and be glad all our days."

Indeed, my morning time spent with the Lord is the most precious and wonderful time of the day, and once I start the day with Him... like the Psalms said... I can sing and be glad all day long.

May the Lord bless your day with a song and gladness in your heart, for HE is good, and His mercies are new every morning!