Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Unraveling the deep, dark secret

As I began piecing our family story together, this is what I learned.  My Great, Great, Grandfather was named John Jacob Franzmann. He was born about 1814 and lived in Prussia.  We don't know if he was born there or immigrated there....I have my theories.  John Jacob married a woman named Malinda in Prussia in 1834.  They had 5 children that I know of.  One of those was also a John Jacob.

This second John Jacob  was born in Prussia on Jan. 15 in 1839.  He immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was about 9 years old.  They settled in Cannelton, IN. He went on to marry another immigrant from Germany, Elizabeth Arnold, in 1868.  Here is a picture of John Jacob Jr. and Elizabeth.

They went on to have 8 children. Here they are with their children at the old home place.  Such a solemn group.

One of the boys was named Fred Christian Franzman (notice the change in spelling on the last name?) - he was my great grandfather.  He had a reputation for a horrible temper.  I've heard tales. If I had to judge by this picture...I'd believe the tales.  They called him Grandpa Hitler...got the idea?

He married a woman named Lena.  German was the language spoken in their home.  This couple had 5 children that I know of.  One of them was a boy named Frederick Elmer Franzman...my grandfather.  I never knew him.  He died working in a clay mine when my Grandma was about 6 months pregnant with my Dad. He was 21 years old.

This is my Grandfather, Frederick Elmer as a child:

Very "Spanky and the Gang" isn't it?  That cute little boy turned into a very dapper young man!

No wonder Grandma fell hard...that and the fact that his Dad was very well to do in a very small, poor, river town.  As I said...I've heard tales.

I'll continue uncovering family secrets tomorrow as we learn about the other side of the family.  And we'll get closer to the deep, dark, family secret related to Thalassemia.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tongue in Cheek

Before I continue my story....just a thought on the whole bail out fiasco going on.  I have this to say...worked there, know them, don't trust them...at least don't trust 95% of them.  Did you know they have hidden a little provision in the bill that will kick back 20% of this money to ACORN.  Personally, I wouldn't give them one thin dime.

So...I got this in email and thought it a hilarious solution...tongue in cheek of course!
Now, here is an interesting option for our economic crisis.  This combined with a restructuring of how large corporations and banks are structured, invested and made accountable – including downsizing the megalomaniac salaries of their ceo’s – might actually make a difference!

I'm against the $85,000,000, 000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000, 000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billion that equals $425,000.00.

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free.

So let's assume a tax rate of 30%.

Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.

That sends $25,500,000, 000 right back to Uncle Sam.

But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.

A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?

Pay off your mortgage - housing crisis solved.

Repay college loans - what a great boost to new grads

Put away money for college - it'll be there

Save in a bank - create money to loan to entrepreneurs.

Buy a new car - create jobs

Invest in the market - capital drives growth

Pay for your parent's medical insurance - health care improves

Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean - or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( 'vote buy' ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG - liquidate it..

Sell off its parts.

Let American General go back to being American General.

Sell off the real estate.

Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't.

Sure it's a crazy idea that can 'never work.'

But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!

How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC

And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

Ahhh...I feel so much better getting that off my chest.

Kindest personal regards,

T. J. Birkenmeier, A Creative Guy & Citizen of the Republic

Friday, September 26, 2008

Scrapbooking - you never know what might happen!

You never know what surprises life has in store for you....

When I was a teen, I suffered from anemia.  So, the military doctors did what all good military doctors do....they gave me iron.  Oh, they  never looked for the reason for the anemia, but they did a bang up job treating the symptoms.  Until it made me sick.  Really sick. I just stopped taking the iron pills.

When I was in my early twenties, I began to have fainting spells.  I was sent to a wonderful teaching hospital in Washington state.  After some basic blood work they sent me to  meet my new doctor......Thalia Staminopolofis...we called her Dr. Stam, for obvious reasons.  She was actually interested in finding out why I was anemic.  It is a miracle that I survived some of the "doctors" in training at this teaching hospital.  I still wonder about one young man in particular...did he ever graduate?  Dr. Stam asked him to monitor my heart beat...through my carotid artery.  We'll just say he was a bit over zealous...trying to make a good impression.... and decided to monitor BOTH arteries.  It took just a few seconds, after he cut off the blood flow to my brain, for me to loose consciousness and hit the floor. I came around in Dr. Stam's arms listening to a string of foreign words that I am sure were more than a little off color!  I felt so sorry for the young man.  It really shook him up...I think he thought he'd killed me :)

What Dr. Stam found was that I had an inherited genetic blood disease....Beta Thalassemia, Minor.  It was one of the good times not to make the majors...that might have meant death before age twenty!   Here is what Wikipedia says about Thalassemia:
Thalassemia (from Greek θαλασσα, thalassa, sea + αίμα, haima, blood; British spelling, "thalassaemia") is an inherited autosomal recessive blood disease. In thalassemia, the genetic defect results in reduced rate of synthesis of one of the globin chains that make up hemoglobin. Reduced synthesis of one of the globin chains can cause the formation of abnormal haemoglobin molecules, and this in turn causes the anemia which is the characteristic presenting symptom of the thalassemias.

Thalassemia is a quantitative problem of too few globins synthesized, whereas sickle-cell anemia (a haemoglobinopathy) is a qualitative problem of synthesis of an incorrectly functioning globin. Thalassemias usually result in underproduction of normal globin proteins, often through mutations in regulatory genes. Hemoglobinopathies imply structural abnormalities in the globin proteins themselves [1]. The two conditions may overlap, however, since some conditions which cause abnormalities in globin proteins (hemoglobinopathy) also affect their production (thalassemia). Thus, some thalassemias are hemoglobinopathies, but most are not. Either or both of these conditions may cause anemia.

The disease is particularly prevalent among Mediterranean peoples, and this geographical association was responsible for its naming: Thalassa (θάλασσα) is Greek for the sea, Haema (αίμα) is Greek for blood. In Europe, the highest concentrations of the disease are found in Greece, including the Greek islands; in parts of Italy, in particular, the lower Po valley; in southern Italy; and in the Italian islands. Sicily, Sardinia (Italian islands), Corsica (French island) and Cyprus and Crete (Greek islands) are heavily affected in particular; the higher incidence in these islands likely is because of the higher inbreeding that occurs in isolated populations. But Asia now has even greater prevalence, with the highest concentration of carriers (18% of the population) in the Maldives.

Beta (β) thalassemias

Beta thalassemias are due to mutations in the HBB gene on chromosome 11 (Online 'Mendelian Inheritance in Man' (OMIM) 141900), also inherited in an autosomal-recessive fashion. The severity of the disease depends on the nature of the mutation. Mutations are characterized as (βo) if they prevent any formation of β chains; they are characterized as (β+) if they allow some β chain formation to occur. In either case there is a relative excess of α chains, but these do not form tetramers: rather, they bind to the red blood cell membranes, producing membrane damage, and at high concentrations they form toxic aggregates.

Any given individual has two β globin alleles.

  • If only one β globin allele bears a mutation, the disease is called β thalassemia minor (or sometimes called β thalassemia trait). This is a mild microcytic anemia. In most cases β thalassemia minor is asymptomatic, and many affected people are unaware of the disorder. Detection usually involves measuring the mean corpuscular volume (size of red blood cells) and noticing a slightly decreased mean volume than normal. The patient will have an increased fraction of Hemoglobin A2 (>2.5%) and a decreased fraction of Hemoglobin A (<97.5%).

  • If both alleles have thalassemia mutations, the disease is called β thalassemia major or Cooley's anemia. This is a severe microcytic, hypochromic anemia. Untreated, this progresses to death before age twenty. Treatment consists of periodic blood transfusion; splenectomy if splenomegaly is present, and treatment of transfusion-caused iron overload. Cure is possible by bone marrow transplantation.

  • Thalassemia intermedia is a condition intermediate between the major and minor forms. Affected individuals can often manage a normal life but may need occasional transfusions e.g. at times of illness or pregnancy, depending on the severity of their anemia.

The genetic mutations present in β thalassemias are very diverse, and a number of different mutations can cause reduced or absent β globin synthesis. Two major groups of mutations can be distinguished:

  • Nondeletion forms: These defects generally involve a single base substitution or small deletion or inserts near or upstream of the β globin gene. Most commonly, mutations occur in the promoter regions preceding the beta-globin genes. Less often, abnormal splice variants are believed to contribute to the disease.

  • Deletion forms: Deletions of different sizes involving the β globin gene produce different syndromes such as (βo) or hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin syndromes.

This disease has stricken many famous individuals, most notably Brian Taylor, USUHS.

All that scary sounding stuff boiled down to this for me....I was anemic, I couldn't take iron and usually caught everything that was going around.  To this day, anytime my blood is tested they say "Hey!  Your red blood cells aren't round and red like normal!" They wanted to know where I got it and so my parents were tested, results showed that it came from my Dad.   His Mom was tested (his Dad died before he was born) and she was negative...so evidently this came from my Dad's Dad.  Then, as each of my children were born, they were tested.  Yep!  We beat the odds...we ALL got it!  My brother was also tested....he got it too.

As I learned more about natural remedies and strengthening the immune system, we stayed healthier.  Once we moved to our farm, ten years ago, and began raising our own food, got out of the pollution (body and soul) of the city and lived closer to the land, we all got much healthier and now rarely have a problem.

Then I began scrapbooking..  Some segue eh?......this will make sense.  Just trust me on this.  The first book I worked on was our family history.  When my Grandma died, my Grandpa went through a drawer of old pictures and helped me to put names to faces.  Then a quick google search of my maiden name turned up an amazing gentleman who had been working on our family history for decades.  It was like having my own personal geneology assistant.  He had done all the work....I just had to match the names and pictures (which he also had a ton of) to the names and pictures I had.  It was like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle that comes together so easily at the end.  He was unaware of our portion of the family so I was able to help him a bit.  Turns out that his great grandfather and my great, great grandfather were brothers.

So you ask, my dear confused readers, what does Thalassemia have to do with Scrapbooking....aaaahhhhh, she said with a twinkle in her eyes...stay tuned for the rest of the story!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I love spring and fall.  They are my favorite seasons...well, unless there is a good 8 inches of snow on the ground...then I love winter.  There are not many years here on our little farm where I get to love winter...sorry, I digress!

We are beginning to have some cool days - most mornings are cool and the evenings are glorious.  I love the smell of fall...and the sky...it looks different.  If I could make a soap that captured the smell of fall, without using any chemicals, I could probably retire a wealthy woman.  As far as I know, that can't be done.

However, I can capture the smell of spring with essential oils.  I am glad when winter approaches because of the respite from gardening.  But, I find that by January I am itching to get into the dirt again and play (play being planting seeds in my little greenhouse - thousands of them!)  I find myself longing for the smells of spring...that fresh, clean perfume!

So, of course, I created a soap to capture that smell.  I have named it Spring Bouquet. Some people create beauty with paint, like my friends Beth and Ginny.....I create with soap :)  This soap smells so good...you will want to find a way to get dirty...just to use it!  And, no matter how much you use it, it will be gentle on your hands.

When you begin to long for the heady aroma of spring...I invite you to indulge in a luxurious bath or shower with my newest soap!  It is already up and available on my website.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Take a peek to the right!

Look carefully...do you see it there on the right...."Gathering Wood".  Grab a cup of tea and let me tell you about this....

I had a sweet email asking about placing their banner here on my site....never considered that before so I  went to their website to "check them out".  Go there...now...click there on the picture on the right...I'll wait......

Aren't you amazed?  aren't you glad you went?  Their trays were so beautiful that I called my boys to look ...."someday" I whispered.   And not just the trays!  It was all beautiful.  I contacted them again and told them to send me whatever they wanted to place on my blog.  They did and I did Gwen and Mark did.

Then the amazing thing happened...I wrote to them and asked if they'd like me to do a post...you know...sort of point them out to y'all.  They wrote back with a bit of their story and asked if I'd wait a bit...till I could see a tray and hold it in person!!! These dear people wanted to bless me with a gift!  I was thunderstruck!  Imagine! I am so amazed at my Father, who provides for our needs and every now and then tucks in a wonderful desire of the heart.  I am amazed at the generosity of the Father's children whom He uses to bless me!

Let me tell you about THE TRAY. I will always think of it as THE TRAY.   Fed-ex showed up just before 8:00 am while I was out doing chores (bet he's still talking about that at "the office").  I'm sure I smelled like the buck I had just been wrestling with (who is in full rut). I was trying to free him from the bucket he was wearing around his neck, my hair was wild, (from the said wrestling), my boots were covered with chicken manure from working in THAT area....I was wearing farm clothes (need I say more?) and I was holding back our farm dog Faith who wanted to eat the nice man with the big package.  Who expected company at 7:45 am? I'm just saying.

Well, I knew what was in the package...and I went straight to my Mom's house.  She was eagerly anticipating it's arrival also.  I wanted her to share in the joy of opening it.  We tore into it, and opened the box and...except for a couple of soft gasps.... silence reigned.  Which, if you have read this blog for very long, you know is highly unusual for me AND my mom.  It was THAT gorgeous.  The wood, the script, the handles...everything about this tray says HEIRLOOM! As beautiful as their pictures are on their website...it doesn't do justice to the detail and quality of this tray.   It is a thing of beauty....something to hand down to daughters and granddaughters....to give Mom's on Mother's Day and Christmas.  It was so beautiful it. made. me. cry.

Let me share what Rebecca wrote me about their family:
My husband is a General Contractor and has been in the business for twenty-five years.  Although Gathering Wood is not yet his full-time vocation, it is our prayer that it will be soon.  We have been married for sixteen years and have two precious children.

Our family was going along through life and, from the world’s perspective; there was nothing in need of change.  We have a wonderful marriage, two darling children whom we homeschool, a lovely home, and a strong income.  Oh, but there was something inside us that yearned for something different ~ but understanding it and pursuing it was all too elusive.  Throughout the past two years or so we have been greatly impacted by the teachings of a couple of ministries and by films like Inherit the Land and A Journey Home from Franklin Springs Family Media.  Slowly we began to believe that this elusive “thing” in our hearts was all part of God’s plan for our family and with that being the case, we became eager to pursue.

For the past year we have been in the process of starting up our family business to enable my husband to work from home with his wife and children alongside.  My husband is working towards wrapping up projects with his partners in his construction business so that we can move our family.  There are so many reasons why we have considered a move for our family.  One reason being my husband’s drive.  He currently drives a minimum of 130 miles per day (on Southern California’s infamous bumper-to-bumper highways) which adds considerably to his time away from home.  This leaves very little time to devote to his family and to start a family-business.  We currently make all our pieces in our garage-workshop and we have a great need for space.  Considering the cost of homes and workshops with acreage in California (and various restrictions on home-based businesses as well as other considerations), we have decided to move out of beautiful California.  The cost of our future purchase is our main factor as we desire to remain debt-free.  We hope to find a little house with a workshop on a bit of land somewhere.  Since we would also welcome a homeschool-friendly state, we are researching Idaho and Indiana.

Our children are looking forward to the day when their Daddy works from home.  They make up little stories throughout our day of what it will be like.  We try to create opportunities for them to work with my husband as much as possible.  Our daughter, Allison (age 10), helps in hand-painting the carved lettering on our Wall Art and Serving Trays.  She has also shown an interest in ArtCam, our CNC Router software, and wants to learn how to design pieces.  Our son, Jameson (age 8), peels off the adhesive mask which is applied to our pieces to protect the wood during carving and helps his Daddy attach the hanging-hardware on our Wall Art.  Jameson also assists his Daddy on runs to the Lumber Yard.  Our children help with various things around our garage-workshop; from sanding to sweeping.  We pray for many more learning opportunities for our children to work alongside their Daddy once workshop space permits and when my husband is able to devote more time to Gathering Wood.

I am so impressed....giving up the "American Dream"  to pursue our Father's purpose and calling in their lives!  I'd just love to hug her neck!

Oh!  Did you want to see THE TRAY?  I gave it a place of honor....at least it will be there when I'm not using it! This looks out to our entire living area, dining area and kitchen.....it even catches your eye when you step in the front door!

So, for those of you looking for a truly heirloom gift...look no further!  Whether it be for a bride, a daughter's hope chest, or whether you are looking for something that will truly grace your own home...visit Gathering Wood....you can get there by clicking on their ad....to the right!

Father, each time I see this beautiful tray, remind me to be grateful, and remind me that I can show my gratitude by doing as it says....Serve One Another!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Buyer Beware!

From my inbox...

And so it goes...another book that defies the written word of our Father....seeks to destroy our little ones..the title...so misleading..but I thought you all should know....and of course a movie is to follow....be careful dear readers!

Beware of this book!

If you have children or grandchildren, work with children at church, or you have neighborhood children whose parents you know, please take note of the
information below and pass it along to others. Schools are distributing this book to children through the Scholastic Book Club.

The name of the book is Conversations with God.. James Dobson talked about this book twice this week. It is devastating. Parents, churches and Christian schools need to be aware of it. Please pass this information on to church/e-mail addressees, Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, friends.

Please pay special attention not only to what your kids watch on TV, in
movie theaters, on the internet, and the music they listen to, but also be
alert regarding the books they read.

Two particular books are, Conversations with God and Conversations with God
for Teens, written by Neale D. Walsch. They sound harmless enough by their
titles alone. The books have been on the New York Times best sellers list
for a number of weeks, and they make truth of the statement, "Don't judge a
book by its cover or title."

The author purports to answer various questions asked by kids using the
"voice of God". However, the "answers" that he gives are not Bible-based and
go against the very infallible word of God. For instance (and I paraphrase),
when a girl asks the question "Why am I a lesbian?" His answer is that she
was 'born that way' because of genetics (just as you were born right-handed,
with brown eyes, etc.). Then he tells her to go out and "celebrate" her

Another girls poses the question "I am living with my boyfriend. My parents
say that I should marry him because I am living in sin. Should I marry him?"

His reply is, "Who are you sinning against? Not me, because you have done
nothing wrong."

Another question asks about God's forgiveness of sin. His reply "I do not
forgive anyone because there is nothing to forgive. There is no such thing
as right or wrong and that is what I have been trying to tell everyone, do
not judge people. People have chosen to judge one another and this is wrong,
because the rule is "'judge not lest ye be judged."
Not only are these books the false doctrine of the devil, but in some
instances quote (in error) the Word of God.

And the list goes on. These books (and others like it) are being sold to
schoolchildren through (The Scholastic Book Club), and we need to be aware
of what is being fed to our children.

Our children are under attack. So I pray that you be sober and vigilant
about teaching your children the Word of God, and guarding their exposure to
worldly mediums, because our adversary, the devil, roams about as a roaring
lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). We know that lions usually
hunt for the slowest, weakest and YOUNGEST of its prey.

Pass this on to every Believer you know. God bless! And, if you are in
doubt, check out the books yourself.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Join me in October!

If you are local (and even if you're not!), think about joining me here on our farm for an afternoon spent learning about medicinal herbs.  I will be teaching my Medicinal Herb Course here in my kitchen!

On October 11th, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm (or perhaps a wee bit longer!) I will be teaching this class. You will receive the Medicinal Herb Book (the e-book that is on my website) and you will make every form of herbal medicine in that book. You will go home with a jar of salve and a tincture made in class.

This class is a lot of fun...I've taught it to all kinds of groups....a group of all men (boy scout leaders!)....a group of elderly ladies who booked a private class (they were really rowdy and fun!)...and many mixed classes!

I talk...you work! I want you to get your hands into the herbs, the processes, the oils...I want you to feel, see, smell and understand!   My goal is that you are so comfortable with these concepts when you leave, that you can go home and begin applying them in your own family.

You can peruse my herbal library, ask questions and we can find the answers together!  I can promise some bunny trails (there always are!), lots of laughter and loads of fun.  The cost of the class is $40.  Just a wee bit more than ordering the book online....and four hours of informative fun to boot!

There will be some herbal things to wet our whistles...and some herbal snacks to keep us going :)

If you are interested, sign up soon...I keep the classes small so you can learn and they tend to book up quickly!

Monday, September 15, 2008

I didn't think...

I didn't think much about it when he asked for the squares of felt.  We were cleaning out craft supplies.  Things not used...no longer needed..things to bless someone else...

He asked for the squares of felt. I, in typical Mama fashion, asked what for (translation: do we need to keep any clutter?).  He, in turn, replied that he might be able to make a stuffed animal with it.  He asked, do we have any stuffing..."Yes, in my sewing stuff in the basement."

I didn't think much about his request. It then left my mind....at this point in my life, many things are leaving my mind...."it is stress" they say..."it  will all get better soon".  Looking forward to that day.

Days passed, perhaps weeks before I saw any of the felt again.  Then it appeared, wrapped in a beautiful package....on that day marked "52".

It had been cut by hand...no pattern necessary, stitched by hand....by hands that had never stitched anything other than a button on a shirt to my knowledge.  Stuffed, and finished...and wrapped...oh, so, lovely.

Words tumbled from him as I gasped...words that demurred...denied it's beauty...apologized for it's appearance...it's beautiful, wonderful, lovely appearance.

It looked like this now....

Siah\'s heart

Could any mother receive a more beautiful gift from a fifteen year old son?

I didn't think he knew how...I couldn't speak....I could only weep a bit and hug ever so hard....it holds a place of honor on my bed now.  I will treasure it always....it reflects heartstrings...tied between mama and son...such a wonderful, loving son!

I didn't think it would touch my heart so deeply........blessed...truly I am blessed!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Farmer and A Baker

As both a baker and a farmer (attempting to be one anyway!) this devotion really ministered to me in my current situation....Elisabeth Elliot, as usual, speaks so well...
Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Source: A Lamp For My Feet

Seed and Yeast

When we see things we believe need to be changed, most of us are impatient to see them done at once. The kingdom of God does not operate spectacularly, with a sudden rush of irresistible force, but rather like seed and yeast. These are small and wholly unimpressive and go to work only when buried. They need an appropriate medium in which to generate change, but the life-principle is there, latent but powerful, ready to begin the slow and marvelous process of transformation.

Our prayers for change--in people, in situations--are summed up in the old petition, "Thy kingdom come"--but when we ask for that, we are asking for what may seem an excruciatingly drawn-out business. We will need the patience of the farmer and the baker who, having done the one thing needful, then quietly (and with calm faith) wait for the thing to happen.

Father, help me to bury myself and seek Your transformation...help me to wait...quietly and calmly....with faith.  Help me to pray....Thy kingdom come....

Sore, tired and achy?

Working hard around your homestead?  Putting the garden to bed or planting the fall garden?  I've come up with a new soap that helps at the end of a long day.  We've been "testing" it for a bit now and are very happy.  It is called Aches Away because that is what it does...melts the aches away.

Nothing feels better, after a long day, than a soak in the tub with this soap!  I liked it a lot before I added the Emu oil...the wintergreen is a wonderful, well-known remedy for sore, tired muscles.  But...I thought it needed to be a bit more effective.  I remembered what an improvement Emu Oil made to my Aches Away Salve so I made another batch and added the Emu Oil.....success!  I'm totally happy with it now and I think you will be too!

It has been wonderful during the summer, but I think a long, warm bath on a cold winter evening will be perfect with this soap.  I put this up on my website last night and I hope that y'all enjoy it as much as we have!


Monday, September 8, 2008


As of last Friday, I can claim that number. I sure don't feel 52...that sounds so...well...you know... old ..er ...ahem....mature.  Elijah tried to talk my mother into reversing the candles...25....it wouldn't have fooled anyone.  Too many silver hairs...although my boys continually remind me that they are a symbol of wisdom...what sweeties!

I had an appointment early that day (very exciting and I'll blog about it later!) and when I arrived back home the older two boys had cleaned the entire house! Let me say that again....cleaned.the.entire.house, all.of.it ....nothing left undone!  AND, were well on their way to having dinner done...my favorite dinner!

So, we were able to relax and enjoy each other the rest of the day...lovely!

We were celebrating with a small party of family and friends the next day but that night it was just my boys and I. However...a very mysterious man showed up unexpectedly...I managed to catch a picture of him.

He dazzled us with unexplainable feats of magic.  Card tricks (pretty good ones too!), dice tricks (still trying to figure out that one!) and my personal favorite...placing 6 quarters into a bag and saying "Damongo, Damongo, Damongo gezheundtite" (which means Sunday, Sunday, Sunday and God Bless You....just so you know, his idea so that he would still acknowledge our Father in his own way....not into magic in this house...frankly I thought that very clever!).  He then dumped the contents of the bag out and voila! The money had doubled!  Quite a nice trick but he didn't think he could duplicate it with dollar bills.

This is the official uniform of the mysterious man....everyone should have a dress up box!  He dazzled us for an hour and then took his bow!

What touched me so much is that he spent much of the previous day and a good bit of the early part of my birthday studying these tricks to surprise me.  I shared with him that he truly gave the most important gift...time... which is love expressed.  It blessed me and brought me to tears.

I received some beautiful cards from sweet customers who, over the course of the last year or so, have become dear friends....thank y'all! I'll be writing soon!

The next day, my Mom hosted a small party for me.  The boys and I spent a good deal of that day baling hay again....this was our last go around for the year.  We ran into numerous obstacles (frustrating!).  The boys made many phone calls to Mr. Visionary who coached them over the phone.  We never would have made it without his help and encouragement.  We are so thankful to Mr. V and his sweet family.  He has been a great encouragement to my boys both in practical ways and spiritually!   Our neighbor, who always comes to help when he sees us having trouble, told us that the tractor had never been properly cared for and badly needed an overhaul this winter to put it in good working order.  We will have to do that before we tackle hay next spring. But, even with all the trouble, we put another 125 bales in the barn.  We should have plenty of hay for all the animals this winter and we did it ourselves...quite an accomplishment!  I'm so proud of them.  We finished just in time to get cleaned up and head over to Mom's for a lovely dinner, cake and ice cream with family and friends.

The evening closed with the Visionary family calling to serenade me with Happy Birthday...I could hear all the sweet voices (well, the twins probably weren't singing!) and again, I was brought to tears by the love of friends and of my Father who seems to be constantly reaching out to show me His love in tangible ways through my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Truly, I am blessed!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

New Soap!

I just put my newest soap up on my website!  I LOVE this soap.  I have named it Working Hands!

I made it earlier this year and tested it locally. I was surprised at how quickly it sold out.  I have just added it to my website under herbal soaps and you can find it here.

As the description says, it works hard but is still gentle on the hands.  I've had requests from customers for something really good to scrub with after a long day in the garden or working under the hood of the car.  I believe this soap will meet those needs.

I love the scent of this soap and have to confess that we use it for a bath soap, a shampoo and at the sink for washing hands.  It is so light and refreshing yet is a powerhouse when it comes to cutting grease.

The oils used in this soap are the same used in a popular soap called Gentleman Farmer.  However, I have used my own soap recipe.  I sometimes find a scent or combination of scents that I like.  I will make a small batch, using my own base recipe and the scent, to see if the boys and I like it.  If we do, then we offer it to you.

For those of you who make soap, I'll share a great way to "test" scents before you make a batch of soap.  Essential oils are SO expensive that you don't want to waste a drop.  I take q-tips and dip them in the essential oils.  I follow the same ratio as the recipe.  For instance, if I was using a 50/50 ratio of lemon and lime, I would dip 1 end of a q-tip into lemon essential oil and then another into lime essential oil. I then place them into a very small canning jar and seal. I wait a week and then open and sniff - that is just about how the soap will smell when done.  I may waste a drop or two but not ounces and ounces of oils.  It has worked well for me for years.

I have another new soap going up later this week...stay tuned for something to help relieve those sore muscles at the end of a long day!


Monday, September 1, 2008

Desires of the heart

It has always been my desire to have two Jersey milk cows and to keep one in milk at all times, thus giving one of them time off from the milking routine but always having a steady milk supply for ourselves.  Right now, a sweet family of friends has loaned us a milk cow so that Miss Nora could have a rest after many years of milking.  This solved our immediate problems - Nora's milk production had dropped to about 2 quarts a day and there was no one to take her place.

However, I still felt a need to take steps towards that desire so that we would not be dependent on others and so that Nora was not being milked for years on end....not great for her or for milk production which slowly decreases with time.  I had no way to purchase a cow so I prayed. What else is a girl to do?  I turned to my Father and left it in His hands. And truthfully,  I didn't think much about it any more. (Not like other times when I lay the burden down and pick it right back up so that I can "help" Him....just so you know I'm not.all.that.)

Over the years there have been many animals born here, some purchased and brought here and several sold and sent from here to grace other farms.  I have never had any regrets....except once.  Over the last two years, the boys and I have regularly lamented that we should never have sold one particular Jersey cow.  Her name was Docious.....you know.....supercalifragilisticexpialiDOCIOUS.  Don't look to closely at the spelling.  She came from a local dairy, she was small, gentle and gave about 3 gallons a day.  She was perfect. I don't even remember why we sold her.

About a month ago I got a call from Docious's owners.   The husband was working more hours off the farm, they had young children and mama was a bit overwhelmed... they were trying to cut back.  They had tried to AI her (artificial insemination for those who don't know) twice with no luck. They wanted to know if I wanted her back?!  The timing.....oh, my what perfect timing!  Doesn't Father always have perfect timing?

We made time to drive to their farm and see if Docious, now called Docy by the way, had changed much.   I wondered if she was still gentle or if several years in a field had left her wild or difficult to deal with....many questions that could only be answered by seeing her again.

We were so pleased at what we found.  She came when called, was gentle to handle, looked great to our eyes and seemed as pleasant as she was when she lived with us.  We told them we'd let them know as soon as we could.

I wrote a brother in the Lord for some advice.  As far as I am concerned he gets the "Most Knowledgable About Jersey's Award".  If I was computer savvy I'd make one and send it to him.   He so graciously wrote me back and gave me guidelines for buying a cow, things to look for, things to look at, things to avoid and great advice on what to pay for a cow.  Did y'all know it's all in the legs?  I didn't! Thanks Scott, I really appreciate the help.

We called them back and told them we'd take her. New problem.  I don't have a cattle trailer and although I've hauled, calves, bucks, does, chickens, roosters, cats, dogs and more in the back of my Suburban it just wasn't going to work for Docy. So, I called these friends to ask if they could help me.  They graciously agreed to do so. How thankful I am to this family for their love and friendship!

Yesterday Docy was delivered to us and we were so thankful to receive her!

Welcome home Docy!

It is amazing to me how much my Father loves us.  It is amazing to me that He cares about the little things....milk, butter and cheese for hungry boys. It is amazing to watch Him provide for us without us lifting a finger or opening our mouths.  It is amazing to me that my Father will give me the desires of my heart when they line up with His Word and His will.
Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

We are giving thanks and praising Him for allowing Docy to come home and for granting the desires of our hearts.


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