Monday, December 28, 2015

So the new year....

It's almost here...the New Year.  That day that everything is "new". 

 I am drawn in by resolutions, plans, charts, lists of how to be a "better YOU".  
And like February...I have to make another list, resolution and plan...however it doesn't curb the urge!

If you've been reading here long, you know that at least twice a year, I attempt a Month-of-Nothing.  In fact, it is actually part of my 101 in 1001 goals. I'm at about 50%  half the time I do a great job, the other half...not-so-much. 

 After the "spending" of November (I am a big fan of Black Friday) and December, it's time to have a "Fiscal Fast" for January.  

Want to join me?
Leave a comment, so I can be an encouragement. 

Fiscal Fast requires you to not only stop shopping, but mainly, use what you have for 31 days.

Here's the "rules"

For 31 days, Don't buy anything . If it isn’t food or medicine, you don’t buy it. And as far as food goes, we make our food budget (for the 3 of us) $100 or less. For the MONTH ($25 a week)
Go through the freezer, use up the cans of veggies, the dried pasta and the non-perishables that are collecting dust and doomed to expire. You can still spend money on fresh fruits and veggies, but ONLY if they are needed to complete a recipe with existing foods that you find in the cupboard.  Food this month is focused on using up, not creating magazine worthy meals but that’s OK- it’s just a month and you’re using up those random cans and boxes you would have wasted otherwise.

We also greatly reduce our auto fuel budget during the month-of-nothing, so we reduce trips and combine trip.  Honestly, most of my "excess" driving is to go to the grocery just because I'm "bored" and like wandering the grocery store!  And knowing that we live "OUT" it is too many extra miles!

– For 31 days, you should declutter, donate and reuse.   
Instead of going out to shop, focus on making space in your life.  Donate what you don’t use, fix what you can, or pitch it. Go through your closets and shelves..  

– For 31 days, you should make do with whatever you have in the house. 
Use up those travels soaps and shampoos that are sitting around.  What can you bake from scratch? Use the stuff you received for Christmas instead of saving it for "good". 

– For 31 days, you will focus on finishing those annoying unfinished projects.
 Your half finished scrapbook will finally get done.  That empty recipe book should finally get filled.  Fill up the free time you’d normally spend on shopping, spending money out or entertaining yourself with things that need to get DONE. (and that's a whole 'nother goal list and chart :) )

– Before A "Month-of-Nothing" do NOT Stockpile.  
As much as it seems like you should stock up to "get ready" to go a month without shopping, don't.  You are going 31 days without shopping in order to make do with what you have, reduce waste, make it last or, alas- go without.

 If 31 days sounds too hard- start with 7 days.  One week of NO shopping...not even groceries (except the truly essential perishables or medicine.)  You have a small budget for that.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Despite 2015 being a challenging year… God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is Good.

At the end of 2014, Man was faced with unplanned heart surgery.  He came through with flying colors, but it was a slow road getting strength and stamina back. We had to stop working our Buckeye Bunkbeds when he became ill last year, and it would seem that our time as Buckeye Bunkbeds has come to an end.  In the meantime, as Man was recovering, we have had some new adventures to fill in the gaps! 
In February, we took an epic trip out west and missed some of the coldest temperatures in Ohio.  It was so fun to show Boy all the things we love in Colorado and Arizona. We made a “bucket list” of all the things we wanted to see and do, and almost every one was completed!!  In addition, we were able to spend time with “Aunt Micki” and “Grandma Arizona”.
We returned to the farm and the work of keeping warm.  Man and Boy spent much time honing the craft of turning wood pens.  Man even worked on casting his own blanks and resin casting other softer woods to harden them into a good turning medium.  He discovered that some of the wood on our firewood pile was actually some of the ‘coveted’ Spalted Ambrosia Maple and many pieces of firewood became pens and actually were one of our best sellers when we started doing craft fairs this summer/fall. 
My winter was occupied with my growing herd of cows.  We have Hershey, our dairy cow.  Then she gave birth last summer to twin girl calves.  They are going to be future milkers. (Frances and Miracle).  So then, in February, I bought a bottle steer.  He, unfortunately, became ill and after round-the- clock nursing for 10 days, he did not make it.  When we returned from Arizona, I had the opportunity to get another calf to grow for beef.  He has settled in very well, and is growing nicely!  His name is Moo-steer T-Bone. My winter-keeping cows.  It is more time consuming than you would think!
Spring finally came (as it always does - God is Good!) and our thoughts turned to outside work.  We prepared the garden but did not do our CSA this year.  Boy started getting serious about bike riding and actually rode in his first race.  He also started working on his 4H fair rabbit projects.  He also started wearing glasses.  He has wanted glasses his whole life-always wanting to be like Daddy-and now he has them.
Summer came and things were in full swing around here.  My mom had surgery on her shoulder L, so I was able to go down and help at their house some. I love being able to be with my parents and try to shower them with love and care as they have always done for me!  Boy went to the same camp that he has gone to for 5 years (only one year at a different camp) and was delighted to find that the same kids he sees almost every year at camp were there again. He’s already looking forward to camp next year.  We acquired a new tractor to help with farm chores and worked on putting up hay for the winter.  Man perfected Smokin Meat!!   Every week he would try a new technique or meat, and boy, we ate well.  We invited some family friends out for BBQs and had some nice fellowship.
As summer drew to a close, our thoughts turned to our, now, annual “Fall Farm Festival”.  I started making my jams and jellies in earnest. 212 jars (and 22 unique flavors) later…  We also had the guys’ pens, a produce table, and a bake sale table (with bread and over 400 cookies-7 kinds).  We had 14 vendors (Including my cousin that drove 400 miles to participate!) and a great selection of items.  It was during a football game so didn’t get as much traffic as I hoped, but we all had a good time.  Plus, Man made BBQ!  Any day with BBQ ribs is a good day! 
 After being in 4H for a few years, Boy was able to finally take his rabbits to fair.  (Each year something has happened that kept us from fair).  It was a new (and nerve wracking) experience.  He got a good score on his project book.  Judging was definitely a new experience, and he now knows what to expect next year.  After the animal auction, he was so excited to take his project again next year (and do even better) and maybe even branch out into the dairy arena.
Then we started our first day of high school-gasp!! Where did the time go??? We had a monarch cocoon that we found in the field and the butterfly emerged on the same morning that we were starting Boy’s high school career.  (God is so good!)  Just a few weeks ago, he started violin lessons.  He has wanted to play for a while now, and he is very sure that the violin is what he is best suited for.
Speaking of music, that has become the newest thing in our house.  Man has been singing for some time, but as the weather turned and it is not as fun to get outside to cook, he has started seriously working on his singing. It is a joy to hear him lifting his voice and Praising God! He has been working with a large barbershop society called the Singing Buckeyes and may join them in the New Year.  Also, he has been meeting and singing with a great ministry called Paradigm Shift that does a weekly internet.  Boy is also helping out with the broadcasts.
And through all this-I keep cows!  That sounds a bit simplistic, however it isn’t.  I feel it is truly a gift that I have gotten from my Heavenly Father.  Many others that have my same disease are not able to even leave their house.  I feel my Trigeminal Neuralgia progressing, but I am blessed to still be able to go and “work my farm”.  And I know that it is not by MY power.  It is by His strength by which I am able.  I don’t forget it for a day, so when I say “I keep cows” it is my phrase of Praise!  (it’s also so much fun that my Daddy here is also totally enamored by the cows and offers to get them sweaters in the winter and currently cow bells for Christmas J )
We are praying you have a truly blessed Christmas and feel the love of Jesus throughout the New Year!

Merry Christmas,
Love, Rea, Man and Boy

          (and all the critters!)