Friday, September 7, 2012

And The Beat Goes On

Well, it's been a while, and a long way since I posted last. Our tiny home is now about 1,200 miles from where we started. We are now transplanted Texans. A change of venue came our way that should provide the extra financial boost that we needed in order to carry out our plans. The job leaves me with even less time than I had on order to blog etc., so I will be trying to post occasionally by phone. Not quite as easy to do with a mobile app, but we'll see how it goes...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Turn The Page...

So goes the end of an era.  Tonight we kicked off our shoes for the first time in our new home.  Our tiny home, our home on wheels.  The journey thus far has been long, and fraught with many difficult decisions.  This is phase one, or perhaps phase 1a of our new life.

Just to give a bit of background, we have been planning to move to a more rural setting for several years now.  We've dreamed, researched, planned, and discussed it till there was literally nothing left but to do it.  We listed our home with a realtor about five years ago.  But unfortunately, we missed the housing bubble by the slimmest of margins.  In a matter of a few weeks we went from sitting on a fair amount of equity to being upside-down by nearly an equal figure.  Some folks that we knew that were somewhat experienced in land and real estate speculation suggested we sit on it a couple years and the housing market should correct by then.  That didn't happen.

Despite all this, we hung in like troopers and tried, like so many have, to make the best of things.  At about the four year point, we were in a slow tail slide to foreclosure. Around the same time, our youngest son was injured in a fall and required some emergency dental care.  It was a cross-roads type situation.  Pay the bills, or pay the dentist.  The dental bill actually didn't turn out to be all that devastating, yet it was just enough to finally tip us over the edge.

Now, I'm not writing this in order to say that it's ok to default on honest debt.  Everyone has their own decision to make as far as that goes.  That was one of many fairly difficult decisions that we were required to make.  I'm not seeking sympathy either.  I am mostly committing this to record, because there are many friends and family members who have been somewhat confused and/or disapproving of the situation.  Right or wrong, agree or disagree, the die is now cast.  There is no going back, so I feel it's time to be more open about it.

We are deeply spiritual people, and have always tried to do things right and proper.  We have not only agonized over the proper course to take, but we have also probably put in several man-years of prayer about it.  Nobody said that the life of faith would be easy, but it is what we are determined to live.  I won't attempt to say that God told us to default.  I rather would say that this is the result of some bad financial decisions in the past and a bad economy now.  Whenever I seek the face of the Almighty and attempt to find His will,  it seems His answer always is, "Do you trust Me?".  The answer is yes.  If I don't then what choice to I have?  I already know what my own capabilities are.  I have seen the kind of damage I can do.

Our faith and trust have not been misplaced.  We were able to purchase our RV trailer at about 2/3 the cost of it's market value.  It will be free and clear as of this Saturday.  What a blessing.  Moving in to an RV park is also saving us at least half of the outgo we have had in our house.  Another blessing.

The process has had it's effects at changing the way we look at life too.  We have had to say goodbye to many of our accumulated possessions.  You can accumulate a lot in 20 years of marriage.  Yet, it wasn't as hard to do as we thought it would be.  We were able to bless some people that needed furniture and household goods.  It actually felt pretty good.  We also had the motivation to just throw away a lot of accumulated cruft.  Bottom line, is it's just stuff (Stupid Things U Find Fascinating).  The important thing is the people that are in our lives, and serving our Creator.  All the other stuff just seems to take care of itself.  We are together as a family we have a roof over our heads, and we have basic living necessities.  We are thankful.

We have no clear picture of what's next, or where we will be headed.  We have a few ideas, even preferences.  But our lives are in His hands.  I guess they always were, but we are now much more aware of it.

And we're good with it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name....

Aspartame is being renamed "AminoSweet" and they are calling it 'natural'.  They are renaming high fructose corn syrup, too.   It is now 'corn sugar', and it's natural.  Any time the public gets wise to health hazards of different foods and food additives what better to do than rename them, call them natural, get FDA  approval and start over?  Marketing genius!  

This shouldn't be a big surprise.  

Did you read the pus to milk ratio as allowed by law?  That's what I said... pus.  Blood has a legal limit in milk, too. Hormones and antibiotics also have a legal limit in milk. After all, without the antibiotics, the cattle will produce so much bloody pus from the mastitis caused by the hormones they are given to increase the milk productivity, that the pus and blood ratio would be too high and then it wouldn't be salable.  However, you are not allowed to distribute raw milk, yes... the same stuff that generations of people throughout time immemorial lived on, because of microbial hazards. Maybe I'd rather take my chances. I'd  certainly like to be allowed to make up my own mind!

You're also allowed a percentage of plaster of paris in your bread.  There's a legal limit on the percentage of "other" materials allowed in grains; things like bug  parts and animal hair and feces actually have an acceptable limit!!  Ok, so maybe some of that's not totally avoidable considering the fact that grains have to sit in huge silos for a time, but what about GMO stuff? Should we even start 'that' conversation?  What about mixing fish blood with fruit and veggies?  Who thinks this stuff up???  You can't even get non-gmo corn in things as an ingredient anymore, and corn is in almost everything!! 

Now they are GMO-ing pigs so that they don't produce so much waste (poo) and so they'll fatten up on more accessible/affordable feed (waste products). Chickens and turkeys can be fattened and matured in record time for maximum productivity, all thanks to hormones and the FDA.  Fish are grown in such unnatural conditions that the producers have to add different artificial nutrients and colors to pass them off on the public.  

Look at all the pharmaceuticals they pump into animals now.  There's another can of worms!  Just like pesticides and herbicides (and GMO monster food thingies) those drugs that are pumped into our food are assimilated right into our bodies and they are having horrible effects.  Yet they are FDA approved as safe for human consumption, and they tell you when confronted that the "long term effects are still largely unknown".  Then they shouldn't be approved!  

Some effects are well know.  Effects ranging from something as seemingly insignificant as fatigue, headaches or dizziness all the way to obesity, diabetes, metabolic interference and cancer.  Yet the FDA, those well intentioned folk in our government, approved these things.  We can see the effects, but they are shrugged off or winked at, attributed to other things or perhaps your overactive imagination or precarious state of mental well being is to blame.  So we buy it.  We eat it.  We feed it to our babies.

In the 1970's Tyson began what is commonly known as factory production of chickens.  The farm's conditions were atrocious due to the "higher productivity" feeds they were using and the 'factory' like living conditions were so poor that the chickens became sickly and were infested with parasites to the point that they weren't growing, lowering the desired productivity and all important income.  To overcome the problem, they began to treat the chicken's feed with small amounts of arsenic to kill the parasites problem that had grown out of control as a result of the conditions.  Only recently have the resulting cancers and deaths been directly attributed to this practice, and I'm certain they would have argued that the "long term effects are still largely unknown" if confronted on it at the time.   

They are not unknown now.

Yep... I'd trust the FDA, alright...

The list of additives is enormous. Many of them are to extend shelf life.  I submit to you that food that will not spoil should not be eaten. Some are to enhance the flavor or color.  Some are to improve the texture or consistency.  They are defined as "non-nutritive substances".  There are trans-fats, MSG which is used as a flavor enhancer and is evidently an excitotoxin, which isn't good, BHA and BHT to keep fat from going rancid,  nitrates and nitrites,  chemical food colorings, and many, many more.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  This information was very easy for me to find.  I don't claim to know a lot about this stuff, but I'm not going to sit around and remain ignorant just because the FDA says it is approved.

Who holds these people accountable?  NO one. No one.  The only thing that makes them pay attention is the money.  If we won't buy it they won't maintain the level of income they are looking for and they will have to do something else. Now that they have figured we are learning to think for ourselves and check up on things, they are sneaking and hiding things intentionally. Maybe they think we are not smart enough to notice that.  It's like a game that we have to stay one move ahead on,  a game with very high stakes.

It benefits the manufacturers and wholesalers and the rest of the powers that be if we simply remain ignorant.  They can easily change the wording and the process, but it costs them, even if it's only a change in labeling, so they try to cast enough doubt on the people who are attempting to shed light on this problem to discredit the whole argument.  It's much easier and much more profitable to make a group of people look like alarmists,  panic mongers,  worry warts, or conspiracy theorist than it is to change the status quo.  With the backing of agencies like the FDA and the AMA it's  easy to do.

People need to be more pro-active and stop trusting in and relying on the good ol' government to watch over them.  Sadly, even when they know full well that they agencies aren't doing a proper job of it they STILL wont take any steps to help themselves.  It's just as surely slavery as if they had our feet in stocks,  but it's a willful ignorance that's causing it.  It's infuriating.  That mentality makes it really hard for the people who are trying to shed light on this mess to make any progress at all.  In cases like these, if they are not for us they are against us.

I guess this is all leading to a post on gardening and self-sustainability, so stay tuned, but for now this will have to do. It's already long and I was only planning on making a passing mention about the aspartame thing.

Keep your eyes open and an ear to the ground, friends.
And they don't want us to pray..............

I'll leave you with this wonderful recipe:

Grandma's Homemade Sucralose 
(Reprinted from "Better Meals Through Chemistry" by Alton McGuiness,

"The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking - love, for
those you are cooking for." - Sophia Loren

If you love the great taste of Splenda® sweetener ("Made from sugar,
so it tastes like sugar"), you're a fan of sucralose – known
affectionately to gourmets around the world as
4,1',6'-trichloro-4,1',6'-trideoxygalactosucrose. If you are a die-hard
traditionalist or do-it-yourselfer, you may have thought about whipping
up a batch in your kitchen, just like grandma used to do. Here's your

This recipe has been handed down for generations, starting with U.S.
patent 4,362,869 which was filed on December 4th, 1980, just in time for
holiday baking. At least a dozen more patents have come along since
then, but most people use the original method which is fine as long as
you're not too worried about impurities or residual hydrochloric acid.

Sucralose can be used as a substitute for sugar, but in lesser amounts
since the same "magic trick" that is used to make pesticides more potent
– chlorination – is used here to make the sugar more potent. So
you use less! And since your body can't use sucralose the way it uses
sugar, ninety percent of the sucralose you eat comes back out again.
They hope to find out where that other ten percent goes someday in the
future, but sucralose is something you can enjoy today!


2 cups white sugar
1 quart water
2 quarts pyridine
4 cups acetic anhydride
1 cup thionyl chloride
1 cup sulphuryl chloride
4 cups dimethylformamide
A pinch of Splenda® brand sucralose

2 ion exchange columns
Large mixing bowl (not plastic)
Ice cream maker (at least 1½ quart capacity; hand-crank or electric)
Rock salt

Notes on Ingredients

Pyridine is a toxic colorless flammable liquid with a disagreeable,
putrid fish-like odor, and is usually derived from coal tar although if
you are out of coal you can whip up a batch using acetaldehyde,
formaldehyde and ammonia.

Acetic anhydride is the chemical compound with the formula (CH3CO)2O and
is used in lots of recipes, like the one that you use to refine opium
into heroin.

Thionyl chloride is listed as a "Schedule 3" compound under the Chemical
Weapons Convention Act, along with phosgene gas and cyanide, so be sure
that you start on the paperwork at least six months before you need it.

Sulfuryl chloride is a colorless liquid with a thick pungent odor so be
sure to leave the windows open, especially since it can explode on
contact with water. Since sulfuryl chloride is not found in nature, it
can be pricey but when it comes to attaching chlorine atoms to sugar,
pesticides, etc. there is just no substitute.

Dimethylformamide has been linked to cancer and birth defects in humans
and penetrates most plastics, so be sure to use a glass or metal mixing


1. Be sure to use all of the necessary safety precautions that
grandma taught you in chemistry lab.

2. Slowly add the acetic anhydride to the pyridine. When it is
dissolved, pour half of it into the ice cream maker, reserving the other
half for later. Pack the ice cream maker bucket with ice and rock salt
to bring the temperature of the pyridine-acetic anhydride solution to
around four degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Be sure to never use the ice
cream maker for anything else ever again.

3. Add the sugar and crank the ice cream maker for about four hours.
If you are using a hand-crank ice cream maker, you will probably want to
get family members or neighborhood kids to take turns – when they
hear that their reward will be cookies made with chlorinated table
sugar, they'll be eager to help!

4. After four hours, most of the sucrose will now be
sucrose-6-acetate, which sounds tasty but the overpowering toxic fishy
scent of the pyridine will help remind you not to sample the goods until
we're finished. Separate out the sucrose-6-acetate using the ion
exchange column; if you don't have an ion exchange column, try whisking
in the whites of six eggs and a pinch of baking powder, then strain
through two layers of cheesecloth. Note that this latter method will
not work.

5. Now, we'll make some fresh "Vilsmeier reagent." Pour the thionyl
chloride into a mixing bowl and add the dimethylformamide. Put some
plastic wrap over the bowl and put it in the freezer for four hours
until a white precipitate forms. Take it out of the freezer and pour
into the ice cream maker. Resist the urge to lick the bowl! As if your
life depended on it, which it does.

6. Mix the sucralose-6-acetate with the Vilsmeier reagent, and add
the remaining pyridine-acetic anhydride solution plus a quart of water,
and whisk for as long as you can stand the fumes. This is the magic
step that adds the chlorine to the sugar to give it its distinctive
chemical structure and make it superdy-duperdy sweet.

7. Add one quart of water and cook over low heat to drive off the
pyridine and other stuff. Run the resulting solution over another ion
exchange column. I'm pretty sure that's the next step, I was having
trouble thinking straight when Grandma showed me this because of all the
fumes. I think it was my Grandma anyway.

8. The liquid you have left should have about 1 cup of sucralose and
1 cup other stuff that came pretty close to being sucralose, but no
cigar. Put this in the freezer and add the pinch of sucralose. This
will cause the sucralose in the liquid to crystallize and come out of
the solution and mostly leave everything else behind. It's weird that
you need sucralose to make sucralose, isn't it? Maybe it's just the
dimethylformamide talking, but how the heck did they make it the first

9. Strain through a cheesecloth. Voila, a chlorine-enriched,
zero-calorie sweetener just like Grandma used to make!

10. Sucralose is an amazing 600 times sweeter than sugar, so mix the 1
cup of sucralose with 599 cups of suitable "filler material" (sawdust,
baby laxative, etc.) and use just like sugar. Now go make those

Friday, October 22, 2010

Interesting Ideas for the Upcoming Garden Season

I've been looking into permaculture a bit recently.   There is really a lot of good information out there on the internet just for the cost of the time to find and study it. I started from ground zero as far as knowing anything at all about it, and I've learned enough to feel confident about doing some new things in my garden this year.  

One of the things I've learned about is "no till gardening", or "sheet mulching", also known as lasagna gardening.  There's a really good article at Ready Nutrition, which is a wonderful blog I follow, on the subject of no till gardening.  I'm glad I have learned about this now so I can get it started over the winter and begin experimenting with it all in the spring.  Journey to Forever has an online library with lots of good information as well.  There is so much more, but I can't list them all.  This is just a starting place.

Essentially, it's a plan to build your soil layer upon layer, as you would mulch, and as it would in nature. For instance, a forest, everything falls to the ground in layers throughout the seasons to create a rich, complex soil.  If you have a compost bin and build your own mulch, it's much the same process.  There's a good explanation of the process here at another great blog, Permaculture Pathways.  You have a layer of green/wet, such as plant material or kitchen scraps,  followed by a layer of dry/brown, such as newspaper and leaves as well as a few stick and bulky items to keep the whole thing aerated. I have always put a few shovels of dirt between layers, but I don't know that that is necessary.  You can add bacteria and enzymes as activators, even worms, but nature's magic will take over and you will have good, healthy dirt.  If you layer your garden in that same way you should attain the same results.  Come spring you just plant right through the top layer, as a seed falling to the floor of the  forest.  

God is so good.  He amazes me.  It's not new information, not by a long shot. God gave it all to us in the beginning.  It's wisdom of the ages that's been all but lost in modern culture to things like science and the educators who know so much more, after all.  I am sure it will take some time,  maybe several growing seasons to come into it's own, but eventually, if I allow it to go to this 'more natural' state, it stands to reason that it will strike a balance. During the process I will learn what to do to adjust for some of the bad things in my garden.  I'm sure I'll be dealing with over populations of certain bugs and weeds.  I will learn about the things I need to grow to attract the good ones and repel the bad, but I can clearly see the sense it makes already.  I will be doing this from now on.

Our growing season is long here, so I still have plants in the ground.  They are starting to die back for the most part, and many of the rest aren't producing much now, so I'm going to get out there and start preparing things.  I may get rid of the tomato plants next week. I still have a few with some green tomatoes on them, but they aren't ripening.  I don't think they get enough hours of sunlight now, or maybe it's a warmth issue.  At any  rate, I'm going to pick the green ones (and maybe fry them!  Mmmm...) and pull the plants soon. Tomatoes are particularly nasty to work around if you let the frost get to them.  I planted them in such a huge mass that I will have to get some of them out of there entirely.  The rest I suppose I will chop up and leave as a layer.  

Our melon and squash vines were practically decimated by mildew.  I have to pull them off of the fences, but they are half dead already. Mildew is a terrible problem, and it's grown all over my entire garden.  It's in the soil. For a long time I meticulously trimmed off the infected leaves and vines, and sprayed and fussed, but it got ahead of me no matter what I did, so unfortunately, underneath all the layers in both of my garden areas there is mildew. I know there must be some in the compost as well.  I think I'll try to get the worst ones out and then just go with what's left.   Hopefully if I use this method of gardening the temperatures of the composting going on in the different layers will be enough to kill off the darn stuff.  If not, I would have had to contend with it anyway, because it's in the soil that's already there.  I wish I had a good answer for how to deal with this stuff. It is a nightmare in a garden.  I'm confident that God factored that in to His grand design and that there is restoration in there someplace.  

I have plenty of fallen leaves, papers and things, dry stuff for the next layer.  My husband brought home some big sheets of cardboard to lay across the whole thing.  It all seems so strange because it's contrary to what I've always been told to do.  I will try to document the goings on and post some pictures.  I'm pretty excited.

"And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knows not how." ~ Mar 4:26-27 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Build a Rocket Stove to Heat Your Home with Wood Scraps

Build a Rocket Stove to Heat Your Home with Wood Scraps

I am going to definitely be looking into this, then I'm going to get on every junk mail list I can find. =D

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thumbs Up!!

My husband and I have been talking, dreaming, planning a change.  We all have dreams.  Sometimes they are a long time coming.

I was waiting until I was sure, certain, without a doubt positive that things are a go before I dared to believe it myself, let alone to actually post any sort of an announcement or any thing, and I got that confirmation this week.  I heard him, but I waited.   I felt the situation out, just to be sure, and I heard it again.  I waited.  Finally, I said, "Have I heard it, right?  I have gotten the thumbs up?"  and indeed, it is so.  We are going to move.  We are beginning the process.  We are making preparations to go. We are actively seeking rural property and a travel trailer, and we are beginning our new adventure, and our new life!

Ooooo!  Anticipation!
New beginning!
ADVENTURE! be continued.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Deal With It Quickly

I don't have much time to post today.  I have a list of things to do that I can not put off.  I wanted to come in and update my vast audience on a few things that might prevent some heartache down the road.

I got a terrible case of powdery mildew on my vining plants recently.  The stuff is awful!  I really thought mildew was a damp climate issue, but evidently that is not the case with plants. In fact, the hot dry days we have so many of out here seem to be the cause of the wretched stuff. It seems to love, but is certainly not limited to vining, big leafed plants, particularly cucurbitaceae.  

I had no idea what it was to begin with. It starts out in small, round patches and can be easily overlooked.  Well, I guess I should say that people relatively new to gardening,  as I am, can easily overlook it.  It spreads quickly and soon covers the whole leaf.  At that point the leaves become brittle and crush easily.  From what I've observed, when it hits that stage it is all but over for those poor plants.  

My cucumbers were hit hardest and first, and I didn't realize what it was.  Actually, I thought maybe it was heat and sun that caused it, but I thought it was burning them and drying them out, not causing mildew.  Like I said, I thought mildew was a damp climate problem, so I did not look into it until it got so bad that it was too late for some of them.  I got a few cucumbers, but quickly the damage got to the severe stage and the produce was stunted and, well, unappealing.  Sadly, it is a total waste. I can not compost any of the plants that have any mildew at all on them because it will infect the whole compost bin. 

I researched it a bit and found that there are two effective ways of dealing with it organically and inexpensively.  First, no matter which method you choose, you have to remove the leaves with mildew because it spreads so easily you would never get rid of it if any were left.  One is a mixture of water and milk of all things, mixed at nine parts water to one part milk. The other is baking soda and water mixed one tablespoon to a quart off water. Supposedly either will work better than any 'store bought' treatment. Although the information I found said the milk is actually the best treatment, I sprayed the plants with the baking soda water mostly because I happened to have lots off it and only a little milk.  I will let you know how it works.

There are fungicides you can purchase.  I can not use the oil  that some people recommend because I have read it is unsafe for the plants in climates where the temperatures are over ninety degrees. It doesn't seem like that leaves too many places where it can be used!  

My best advice after having gone through this:  BE AWARE!!  I think if I had seen it early and known what it was and what to do, I might have been able to curb it considerable or possibly head it off entirely.  If you see it do not wait to treat it.  That's probably one of the big lessons of this gardening season; keep watch and whatever it is, deal with it quickly

I do not know yet what I am supposed to do to treat the soil  to prevent it from coming back year after year.  If anyone knows, please tell me.  I would  like to keep it in the all natural/organic realm if at all possible.  I  must admit, though, I would be willing to cave in and use a chemical just this one time to treat the soil for this menace, if there is such a chemical and that were my only effective choice.  I will work on rebuilding it and overcoming the effects of the chemical later on if I must.  I do not want to do this again!  It is really bad.

On a good note, I have some girl pumpkin blossoms!!  I have had watermelon, cantaloupe, and a lot of gourds coming on their vines for a while now, but no pumpkins until now.  I'm very excited.  I love pumpkins.  I bought a variety that is supposed to be good for pie and hopefully pumpkin butter, which I've threatened to make for years and never have.  If I never made a thing I would still grow them if I could  because they are so beautiful.  I usually make a nice beef or elk stew in the fall and bake it in a pumpkin.  That is a family favorite, and almost a tradition now, so I need at least one nice, fatty for that!

The corn is corning, and the cow peas are peaing (LOL).  The tomatoes are amazing, delicious, very productive, and as tall as my head!  I am having onions now although they are a bit small.   I was sort of unclear on how to deal with them and I think maybe I should have thinned or separated them early on.  Yeah, okay, a no brainer, but lesson learned.  I did not handle my potatoes quite right either, I don't think.  I have yet to check up on them. I may do that later today.  

On that note, I leave you with a favorite quote:

“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it’s liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Be blessed!