Backyard Renovations – Installing the Solar System

It’s time I gave an update on what’s been happening here at the ranch.  Exciting changes for us! Our backyard in April looked like this. But then inspiration (through the form of my sister) came and we decided to bring the upper level down to the grass level. And now we have our own pond… that is when we have rain and until we finish our renovations then it will be something else entirely! One thing that I need to do is plan how we want to use this space. I have some ideas but I need to really think it through before we start.  So that project (backyard) is awaiting completion and we’ve moved on to other things. The next project that was started…

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A Successful Elk Hunting/Camping Trip

Tents zipping open. Container lids being popped opened and then closed as a camper searches for some missing item. These are the early morning sounds of our camp at 4:15 am.  Apparently no one can sleep so soon all of the hunters are up and about. It feels almost like a neighborhood when the lights start coming on one by one. Sadly, there is no roaring fire so they are huddled over a pitiful flame. It may be just because of the symbolic heat it offers instead of any real warmth they are receiving. I wouldn’t know since I’m snug in my down sleeping bag. I chuckle when I think of everyone turning in early but for whatever reasons they are unable to sleep longer….

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My Pegboard Wall Tent Organizer

It’s that time of year again. The hunting season is upon us and our annual elk trip is getting ready to begin. Menus Camping Checklists Groceries Gear Warm Bedding Warm Clothing and the list goes on.   But what a good time we have. This year there’s about 42 of us heading out to the great outdoors. I’ll once again be staying in our wall tent (which I’m loving) with a wood burning stove to keep me toasty if I should get too chilled. One of my goal is to figure out ways to organize my kitchen set-up in the tent. I think this will be my 3rd year sleeping in it and each year you get to see what needs should be tweaked to…

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Sometimes we may get discouraged because we feel we’re dropping the ball in our children’s education. We read the writings of Charlotte Mason or another modern day guru on education and feel the wash of failure sweep over us.   We wonder, we wish and we think desperately what we might be doing wrong because our homeschool doesn’t look like what others describe.   But I want to challenge us today to consider what it would be if we didn’t have an ideal to strive for.   Lofty thoughts, ideals and a vision of something bigger than ourselves are what gives us inspiration to keep trying. It’s what  makes us give a little more effort,   Where there is no vision, the people perish… Proverbs…

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Keeping the Tradition and Celebrating Their Success

Thanks everyone for the well wishes for Justus after his calf riding incident. Justus is getting around but gingerly. He definitely favors his leg and it’s still very tender for him. On Monday we headed up to Lake Powell as a treat for Audrey (age 8) since she finished her phonics program. Celebrating my children’s successes is very important to me. Why not celebrate and make the most of our moments with the kids? We were only a year late in going. We weren’t able to go last year and promised we would do it this year but we were almost too late since the weather is starting to cool down.  Our phonics graduate, Audrey. This was Serenity’s trip when she was 8 and this…

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A Recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Here’s a Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Bread recipe from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion that I tweaked to make it more healthy. A slice of this with a cup of Tension Tamer herbal tea and you’ll be set to start your day off right. And it was needed this weekend. On Friday evening my son entered the Calf Riding competition at our local fair. He didn’t stay on long but while on on the ground the steer stepped on his leg and split it open. Of course, we didn’t know. All we could see was that his pants were torn a little and he was bleeding a little. But we never dreamed it would be so awful. It wasn’t until we got home that night…

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Seeing the Fruits of Our Labors

Isn’t it rewarding when you see your children taking on something that you have tried to make a part of their education but maybe never felt you did quite right? I had one of those rewarding moments a few weeks ago when we were in route to our camp site at Knoll Lake.  We had stopped along the Mogollon Rim to enjoy the beautiful and sweeping views. Zoe, my niece, Serenity and Audrey started collecting little bouquets of wild flowers. And then it happened. A great moment for me as a teacher. My girl said, “The variety of flowers is so amazing,” and in her voice were the sounds of awe and amazement. What? Even though I have been unfaithful so many times to do…

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A Fall Themed Gathering

How do you feel about potlucks? I can’t say I’m really fond of them. The concept is nice – everyone bring a dish and we’ll share it together. But to me the reality of it is not so ideal many times. Enchiladas on the same plate as your broccoli salad with mashed potatoes and gravy beside that but the gravy somehow manages to spread to cover everything on your plate as well. I may be exaggerating a little but it’s pretty much the case. One of my favorite ways to organize a meal is where one person brings the main dish and everyone else brings sides that complement it. But if it’s for a very large group and you don’t want the burden of making…

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The Almost Perfect Camping Trip

We traveled the Mogollon Rim and finally reached our destination of Knoll Lake where we immediately started unloading the camping gear.  But you know how we homeschoolers see a lesson in everything….   Explaining how elevation changes can cause a potato chip bag to expand almost to the point of bursting apart. Camping trips never seem to go completely smooth and this one had a few troubles as well. Like who would set a 10 pound bag of ice on our loaves of bread – not only squashing them but saturating them with water from melted ice? Not this boy, I’m sure. Maybe that’s the reason Wesley flashed us the peace sign because HE was the guilty one! The girls got right to work, salvaging…

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A Place Where Time Has No Meaning

It was a last minute decision. There was so much to do. Sleeping bags to pack, foams to gather, food to prepare and package , as well as many other things. The thought of doing this seemed almost to be overwhelming coming so closely on the heels of our 4-H EXPO. But we wanted to do something special with our niece Zoe while she was here visiting with us, so we did it. After several hours of preparation we hit the road. The drive was part of the experience. Bumpy dirt roads with plenty of wash boards to jar everything that could be shook. The views from the Mogollon Rim, which gained attention when Zane Grey wrote about it in his western novels, were majestic….

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To Market, to Market, to Buy a Fat Pig

4-H EXPO has come and went. That’s where our family spent the last several days. It’s a lot of fun and a great culmination to the raising of an animal for market. First we loaded up the pigs. I make this sound a lot easier than it is sometimes! This one was getting a last minute mud bath before being coaxed… and coaxed…. and coaxed into the horse trailer. At EXPO they show twice – once for showmanship and the second time for confirmation. Serenity placed 3rd in the Senior division for Showmanship and her pig was Reserve Champion Crossbred. So not a bad year for our Missy. A prize pig. My niece Zoe flew in from Pennsylvania and is spending the week with us….

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Painting a Wooden Headboard

I’m making progress people on my master bedroom! If you were to see my list of things to do in there – it is dated back to 2012. I am one slow mover! But a vision for what I’m wanting is clear in my mind (at least for 1/2 of the room). Remember that headboard I rescued from our burn pile? (You can read about my finds here.) I decided to see if it would work for my bedroom. First I lightly sanded it because it was starting to peel and blister from being left in the rain (before I rescued it). It’s not a high quality piece of wood. It’s just a veneer so I didn’t sand it too much. Then with the help…

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My Rustic Fall Mantle for 2014

It’s not officially fall but for me August always signifies Autumn so that’s when my decorations went up – sometime in the last part of the month. Since I’ve been on this quest of trying to learn some basics of decorating,  I’ve had so much fun changing my mantle with the seasons. I do have a storage container that I keep fall decorations in but then I also “shop” my house which makes it possible for me to introduce different elements into my mantle decor each season. Maybe I’ll run out of ideas eventually, I don’t know, but for now I’m going with it. That 1800′s looking man in the photo is actually my son. Yes, it sure is. He’s a hunting guide in the…

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A Fun and Creative Handicraft – Glass Etching

What a great time the Castle Keeper girls had yesterday. We learned the very simple but oh, so creative art of glass etching. If you’re looking for a simple activity that is sort of addicting, this could be it. I’m itching to get me a few pieces of glass to personalize. Some supplies you will need are: Etching Cream Vinyl Reusable Stencils (these are so neat!) Rubbing Alcohol Cotton Balls Popsicle sticks   Step 1. Clean the surface that you want to etch using the cotton balls and rubbing alcohol. Step 2. Place stencil on surface. Step 3. Using popsicle stick place etching cream on stencil. You just want to dab it on. It doesn’t have to be very thick. Step 4. Let sit for…

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Baby Shower Activity That Brought a Smile

Castle Keepers begins today and we’re all looking forward to our 2nd year. It’s a group of girls from ages 13 and up (unless they have younger sibilings than they can also participate) that learn homemaking skills and other things for when they are managers of their own households. We meet once a month and each mom takes a turn teaching the class through the year.  Today we will be learning glass etching. I can’t wait to see what the girls come up with. I’ve written about the club in previous posts. You can just do a search for “Castle Keepers” and it will bring up our past activities. I also issue a monthly challenge each month to the girls. This allows us to have…

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A Brunch Baby Shower Themed “Showers of Love”

This past weekend we celebrated the birth of my 1st grandchild with a baby shower in her honor. xoxoxo The Sweetheart… When the guests arrived they were given a clothespin and directed to the magnetic chalkboard that had pictures of Zachary, Hannah and Shalom.  The side that say’s “Don’t Say” is for the clothespin game.  ”Showers of Love” was the theme for this special event and Shalom Adriel was certainly showered. The clouds were cut out of white material and stuffed with stiff paper. The raindrops were cut using the Silhouette Cameo on card stock. Clouds that were raining love. A close-up of the rain drops… And the food…  It was a brunch so breakfast it was… Homemade Pop-Tarts Drinks and seating were outdoors. It…

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A Simple Rainboot Make-over for Decoration Only

Twenty-two years ago, this little guy stole my heart. All 7 lbs. 1 oz. of him. And now, 22 years later, he’s made me a grandma and my heart is stolen all over again. I’m planning a baby shower for little Shalom that will be held this Saturday and yesterday I did a super simple project that I want to share with you. Hardly any time was involved, it’s easy and low-cost. All you will need is a pair of rubber boots that are ready to be thrown away. Like these. One of the boots has a 4″ crack where water can come in instead of keeping it out so it was perfect for this project. The first thing I did was put masking tape…

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A Western Style Farewell Dinner

This past Saturday we had a different kind of dinner here at the ranch. It was a farewell dinner for friends that our kids have almost all grown up together with. They’ve been with us through all our homeschooling activities, the Castle Keeper club, and the list goes on. So it wasn’t really a celebration but a dinner in honor of, since it’s kind of a sad time for all of us here. We’re happy for them but also sad that they’ll be moving 2,000 miles away. Because we were doing hamburgers/hotdogs, I decided a cowboy theme would be fitting.   The chalkboard sign is written in Spanish and says, “Until Later, my friends.” Remember when I rescued that furniture from the burn pile my…

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Recently I wrote a post about the pressure many of us feel to start our child’s formal education when they reach 5-6 years of age. I asked the question of why, at this point, do we feel we need to get formal with their education. Many times, especially if they’re boys, they are just not ready to sit at a desk for extended periods of time. But most mom’s do it anyways because of many possible reasons. Before I rewrite that post once again, why don’t you just go ahead and read it? So today I want to give you a incomplete list of things your child can learn that won’t require workbooks or long periods of time sitting. I’m not advocating that your child…

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When You’re Feeling Dejected and Discouraged

Sometimes when disappointments and discouragements are present in our life it’s easy to lose sight of anything good. This is something I have struggled with a lot in my personal life.  I’ve overcome it to a certain degree but then there are the days I have my set backs. It’s not wrong to feel discouraged but it’s how you and I handle it that determines whether we are going to let the trial or situation affect us adversely or if we’ll be overcomers. David also had his ups and downs as he shares in the Psalms – There were times when he was full of praise. “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.” “O give thanks unto the Lord;…

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