Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Moving the Wood Burning Stove

Last year we went through 200 gallons of propane in less than 30 days.  So we got a second, larger tank.  We also decided to buy a wood burning stove for about the same price as one refill of the 2 tanks of propane.  We put the stove in the back of the house, in the utility room, because that is where the chimney for the old disconnected and removed wood burning furnace was.

Eric installed a fan that was left here by the previous owner.  When the temperature got hot enough, the sensor would kick the fan on and blow the warm air into the kitchen.

The method was better than nothing, but was not the best  I would often find myself and others sitting on empty joint compound buckets, huddled around the fire in the unfinished, uninsulated room.

Earlier this year, we had a new chimney installed in the front of the house, where we actually exist during the day.  The dilemma was what to do with the floor.  Eric and I have agonized over this.

This area is severely cracked, sounds hallow in some parts, has a patch of cement that bumps up, and also has some pretty rough gouges. 

I actually gave Eric an ultimatum. 
"I need the wood burning stove in the front of the house and in working order before your next travel for work trip!"

I was ok with the original floor (I could put a rug over most of it) or willing to cover it somehow.  Eric had to be the decision maker.  He decided to put brick down.  Yay. Decision made.

I found a brick store - the ACME brick company.  Thoughts of Wile E. Coyote cartoons with ACME everything abounded.

Acme Brick. The Best Thing To Have Around Your House.

Yeah...  Not made up.  It's real out here.

Eric and I walked into the store and found what we both liked - the same sample- in less than 5 minutes, maybe 2 or 3.  Then I proceeded to look at everything in the store to "be sure" I really did like the one I originally picked the best. 
Then we got to the sales guy.  The brick we picked is a concrete brick, not a clay brick.  Questions as to whether it will hold up to the weight of our wood burning stove were raised. 

Back to the drawing board.  I looked at ALL the clay brick options and didn't find a single one I thought I could remotely live with.  The sales guy went to the "expert" brick guy and came back to tell us the concrete brick should be fine. 
OK!  Ordered! 
I picked it up 2 weeks later the same day as our home school group in Springfield.  Taking the truck instead of the SUV was a logistical adventure with where the onions sat, but we got the brick safely home.

Eric and I have never laid tile or brick.  This process is completely new to us.  We decided to get cement backer board, mortar, and the suggested tools. 

The morning of the planned installation, Eric thought it would be better to do self leveling cement.  OK.

The floor transformed into a beautiful shiny marbled super smooth floor.  I would have been happy with it right there, but we feared cracking and we had the brick already......

We had to wait for that to set up and cure. 
Then to lay the backer board.

Another waiting period for that to cure.
Then to lay the brick.

Laying the brick was an involved process.  We streamlined with assigned duties and made the process as efficient as possible.

Elanor globbed the mortar down and cleaned up any extra.
Eric spread it and troweled it.
Amelia back buttered the bricks.
Scott and Naomi held the back buttered bricks to hand to Eric.

We ran out or mortar.....

Then we really got going. 
I back buttered.
Seth and Amelia cut some bricks.
Scott opened new boxes as we needed them.
Elanor took a break, with others attempting to fill in.
The onions held back buttered bricks so Eric could do a larger area and put several down at once.

Another waiting period.

The box suggested that you seal the TOPS of the bricks to help prevent the mortar from bonding to the brick.  But to be careful not to allow any spillage down the sides of the brick because it wouldn't bond where it needed to.  Well, I can say I tried really hard.

Then on to "grout."  But brick has mortar, not grout.  So on to mortaring, but with a lighter color.

Eric and Elanor came up with the idea to pipe in the mortar with cake frosting bags.  OK.
We had a little bit of a learning curve with what consistency worked best.
We had mixers, bag fillers, Eric pipes, I troweled. 
I used a half circle tool for a very short time.  It made the floor rather bumpy. 
I then tried the "wipe it with a sponge method."
Winner winner chicken dinner!

I was rushing to get done to go to a meeting at church... The first part was ok, but as time went on the cleaning job became increasingly sloppy.

I spent the better part of a day chiseling and wiping off the excess mortar.

The final step was to seal the whole thing.  I liked the wet look more than the dull look.  So we switched to glossy sealer.

Eric left on a Saturday.  I sealed the floor late Friday night after a fun filled date night.  Eric, Scott ,and I moved the stove to the front of the house Saturday morning.  I was personally very thankful for our 2 moving dollies.

I plan to have a small seating area on the left.  We will install the trim around the windows after they are replaced.  We used some baseboard trim to keep our little dog out of the area while we were working and while it was setting.

Location, location, location!
The stove has been in the front of the house for a couple of weeks now.  I absolutely love it!  Our whole house is warmer.  The heat goes up the stairs, into the living room, and even into the master bedroom without turning on the central heating and cooling fan.  We are cozier and we are one step closer to a completed home.  Win - win.

And..... We are back to hovering when it is cold.  But on actual stools rather than buckets this time.  Ha ha.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Canning Pears

There is an amazing man in our ward.  Brother Cox.  He is in his 90's and does not act his age!    He came to our home school group so the class I was mentoring could meet and interview someone who served in WWII.  He gardens, very successfully.  He brings his garden surplus to church every Sunday to share his bounty with others.  He has offered me specific items in bulk.  He even invited us over to pick AND can beans at his house, with the help of his lovely daughter.

About a month ago I received a call after 9 pm from brother Cox.  {He would give the energizer bunny a run for his money, for sure.}  Brother Cox invited me, along with a couple of other families, to pick pears. 

OK.  I've never loved pears.  I've never picked them.  And I have never canned them.  But OK.

The pear trees were supposed to be ornamental.  Nope.  The city planted several fruit bearing pear trees at the cemetery.   Brother Cox noticed all the fruit going to waste and asked the city if he could pick them.  He has been doing this for well over a decade.

We arrive on the agreed upon day.  There is Brother Cox, up a ladder, in a tree, picking pears!

The pears were delicious, but needed to sit to ripen.

I decided to can pear sauce.  I do not have a pressure caner and sauce seemed easiest.  My food strainer says no skinning or coring.  
My first attempt did NOT go well.
The strainer barely fits onto our very thick counter-top and slipped off easily, it leaked, it was very difficult to turn the handle to churn the pears, and NO sauce came out.  
I have canned a few things several times, so canning in and of itself is not new.  I have made applesauce only once and that was a few years ago and I did it as a family project with lots of helpers, including Eric.

So I inform Eric of my plight.  He asks if I have boiled the pears.  I responded rather indignantly and an emphatic "NO" escaped my lips.  Eric just stared.  Wait for it...... He thoroughly enjoyed watching my gears turn and the light bulb go off and then GASP!  I didn't cook the pears!  Maybe you can picture this hilarious akin to I love Lucy moment.  There was some laughter at my folly.

The second time was tedious at best.  It took a LONG time to boil the water, to quarter and add the pears, to empty the water set aside the pears, refill the water and beginning the boiling process again, and then, grind the pears into sauce.  (This is all wrong if you are unaware.)  I got sauce!  
I started with so many pears!  I piled as many as I could up on the counter and the pile looked the same after I filled the pots.  And there were still more pears waiting in bags and boxes.  The job proved to take much longer than I had anticipated.

The sauce was rather liquidy, and I didn't want to wait longer for it to simmer down, so I strained the sauce into two jars - 1 for the juice, and 2 for the sauce.  I thought I was so clever.....  Really it was just time consuming.  
Even my helpers doubted.

A friend told me that the sauce seems watery, but if you strain it the sauce could be too dry.  Argh.  So the latter batches were not strained.  If it is indeed dry, I have the liquid to add back to it.  If the sauce is fine, I have cider.

I learned the the difference between sauce, cider and juice; for me anyway.  Obviously I am NOT an expert.
Sauce - ground up COOKED fruit.
Cider - the juice of the ground up cooked fruit
Juice - is the water the fruit is cooked in.  I learned this on the very last batch.  Sigh.  It was very watered down.   But repeatedly using the same water cooking the pears would have yielded a flavorful drink.

cider, juice, sauce

I did not take as many pears as I could have that morning at the cemetery.  I did not want to overwhelm myself.  But I got a bit flustered anyway.  This project took an entire day, from shortly after breakfast until after bed time for the onions.  But at least I did it in one day.  One day of standing at the stove.  One day of everything I touched getting sticky.  One day of frustration and finding the way.  One day of disarray. 

 I seriously questioned whether it was worth canning or not.  

There were a couple of jars that did not seal properly.  I was SO sick of pears, I just put them in the frig.  

Well....  I learned a lot from this experience.

I learned:
that even when I think I know what I am doing, I might not.
that seemingly simple things can be complicated if you don't know what you are doing in the first place.
how to can pear sauce.  I am confident my next attempt will be much easier.
perseverance even when I'm not sure it is worth it.
that I LOVE pear sauce!  I will certainly be canning again next year!

I see the gospel and life in general in this experience for me.  
There are videos and blogs and other canning resources available.  I looked, but did not study or gain knowledge.
I jumped in without preparing myself.
I ask:
How often have I read the scriptures for the sake of obedience without ever gleaning anything from my reading?
How often have I acted impatiently without prayer or pondering or waiting for an answer.
And yet when I do this, how often has Christ been there to help me and show me a better way?  Every time! - if I am willing to follow Him.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Scott and Soccer

Scott loves soccer!  It is his favorite sport.  The only sport he cares to play.

Last Spring I missed the sign up date.  I gave my information to the lady that coordinates soccer and she said I would be on the list to notify us when the next time soccer was about to begin.  Um.  Nope.  However, we have some church friends with boys that play soccer too.  Scott got signed up and our friends were Scott's coaches!

Scott enjoyed himself.  He was goalie much of the time.  It worked out perfectly because the team didn't have a goalie.

Scott was not often busy because the team was usually at the opponents' goal.

Sometimes the ball made it down to his end of the field.

Scott practiced anytime he could talk one of his sisters into playing with him.  
It paid off during games.

Scott was not the best at drop kicks when he started.  
However, he was soon kicking to midfield with ease.

Most of his blocks were straightforward and uneventful.

Scott blocked a goal and kicked it back out into the field.  It went straight to a player of the opposing team who was in perfect position to make an aggressive goal shot (almost a fast action penalty kick).  Scott quickly realized his error and dove for the ball.  Amazingly, he blocked it..... again!  

Though the season lasted only a few short weeks, Scott learned much, improved his skills, and let very few balls get past him.  There were times everyone thought the ball was going in and to everyone's amazement, even Scott's, the ball was deflected.  

One time a ball was coming in very high.  Scott jumped and made contact with the very tips of his fingers.  The ball shot straight up and went over the goal rather than in.  Another time Scott blocked a ball destined for the goal.  He leaped parallel with the earth deflecting, but not capturing.  The ball hit the post and bounced back into the field.  Thankfully members of his team backed him up and got the ball down field with no chance for the other team to try again.  

I asked Scott if the scrapes were worth the block.  He looked at me perplexed: as if there were a choice.  Of course!  I figured out battle wounds from soccer are like mini trophies - reminders of the effort, hard work, quick reflexes, and successes.

Scott's team was undefeated and he allowed only THREE goals the entire season.  The end of season tournament proved to be the same. Undefeated!

Note:  Ava Martial Arts sponsored the team Scott was on.  We might try that too.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Living the gospel of Jesus Christ

I recently had an experience where someone thought I had stopped going to church. 
Wow?  I was shocked.  How could anyone think this about me?

I was baptized and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 21 years ago.  Since that time, I have striven to live the gospel of Jesus Christ on a daily basis, making Him the center and focus of my life. 

I know I lived with Heavenly Father, and with all of you, before I came to earth.  I know this life is a preparatory state to learn and to be tested.  My ultimate goal is to return to Heavenly Father and to become like Him. 

I searched for a few years to find truth as I felt the influence of the Holy Ghost before I found the church I now belong to.  Once I found it, I jumped in with both feet and have never regretted it.  And yet someone thought I was no longer going to church.  That stung a little. 

I know living out in the sticks has it's challenges and the isolated lifestyle is vastly different from where I grew up and from where Eric and I began our raise our own family.  But it is not so isolating that I would cut myself off from the church I so dearly value and love, that brings me hope, motivation, practice, and support for centering my life around the Savior.

The principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ ring true to me.  There is no bending God's laws to make those who don't like it comfortable.  In fact, I find it to be the opposite.  Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is quite uncomfortable.  I am constantly prompted to get out of me comfort zone (yes I have one), to develop in ways I never imagined, and to become a better wife, mother, and daughter of God - always striving for improvement and progression.

I choose this for MY life and I accept that there are many who disagree with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the church to which I belong, whether they interpret it differently, or whether they disagree entirely.  I am grateful that I live in a country where religion is not mandated, where every citizen can practice what they believe.  That I belong to a church that promotes the same.  Article of Faith # 11 sums it up well.  Yet, there are some who want the freedom to choose their lifestyle or religion but persecute others for living a lifestyle or religion that contrary to their own.

I have accepted that I will not understand all things in this life.  But, I have been privileged to glimpse the life to come, the life after physical death, where our spirits will dwell until our bodies are resurrected and reunited with our spirits.  It is glorious!  I hang on to those glimpses when life is hard.  I have faith that what I have experienced in that regard is real.  I have faith!

So how could someone think I left the church I so dearly love and have devoted my life to?  Have I not set a good enough example?  Have I not made the Savior, Jesus Christ the topic of conversation, or part of my everyday language?  Have I shied away from my declaration to follow Him?  Have I not kept my baptismal covenants?

Well, it ended up being a misunderstanding when I explained that my church used to meet for 3 hours each Sunday and now we meet for only 2 and we do the other hour of church at home (which ends up being way more than just one hour).  I guess because I home school and do everything at home, it would follow that I do church at home.  OK, I will own my part in that.  I'm glad it was just a minor misunderstanding.

Each April and October, we have General Conference.  This is when the world wide leaders of the church address us.  I love General Conference!  While General Conference was 2 weeks ago, I have just begun to re-read and listen to each and every message again (and again). 
Here are some things I took away from it the first time. 

"I glory in plainness, I glory in truth, I glory in my Jesus"

Do you honor your promises? Is your word your bond?

The 2 great commandments!

STUDY: D&C 25, 84, 107
(Women's session)


There is no need to constantly tell our spouse or children how they can improve; they know that already.
There IS a need for love.
Create and environment of love!

Increased Holiness leads to increased happiness.

The greatest battle is within ourselves.

Overcome the 3 Ds of the adversary.

Cheetahs and Topis

Dalmatians and striped kitties

Less wifi and more Nephi

Consider the ways

Jesus Christ is at the center of it all!

Friday, September 27, 2019

A mechanic in the family?

The starter on our 1997 (farm/get Seth to work and back) truck went out.  A couple of people said to get under the truck and tap it with a hammer and it might get it going again.  
Yes!  That worked.
But it was obvious that we needed a new starter.  Several people said that starters are easy to change out.  Just 2 bolts.  Eric and I were discussing it with our very self reliant neighbors, The Tuckers, and he said not to take it in, that he would change it for us if we didn't want to do it.  Well, that was motivation enough to attempt it.

We got a starter from the auto parts store.  It was suppose to be for the engine and year of our truck.....

Eric was told that there were 2 bolts... and one wire.
So simple!
Just 2 bolts.
He disconnected the wire and got the corroded bolts lose, and learned that the starter was still attached.  What?
There was another wire.
So with one hand holding the weight of the starter he worked quickly to get the other wire free.  It didn't help that I handed him the wrong size socket wrench TWICE.  Oops.

The old starter was not a match to the new starter!
So back to the auto parts store.  The guy at the counter wondered how we even got the starter we bought.  When he looked it up, we were supposed to get a different one. But there were two options.
Decisions decisions.
Why does everything have to be so complicated?  ha ha
The guy got both off the shelf and we matched it up.
Back to the truck....

Less that 30 minutes and we had a new starter in.
Yay Eric!
Eric asked me to get in to start it.
"Oh yeah, I have to hook up the battery."
The truck started right up.
Whoot whoot y'all.

There is a song called I'm Rednecker Than You.  (Parody song contains alcohol and chewing tobacco)  We have fun with this song.  We are NOT rednecker than anyone we know in our area.  But we might be rednecker than someone......  LoL
In any event, we are more self reliant in taking care of our truck.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Seth's birthday

There is an amusement park in Branson, MO - Silver Dollar City.  Through Seth's employment, he gets to go to Silver Dollar City with one guest for FREE on certain days.  Well, we decided to go, and we took some other onions to check it out.  Silver Dollar City started out as a cave attraction and other things were added to occupy people while they waited for cave tours.  It's much like Knott's Berry Farm, but with several shows.  We went during "Southern Gospel."  So many gospel choirs, quartets, and such.  Of course, there were rides too!  Some pretty cool ones.  There were a lot of people there, but the shows were full and we walked right onto the rides.  The onions made several repeat visits.

Seth woke up to balloons and a Happy Birthday serenade.  The balloons mysteriously disappeared.  Hmm?

Seth taught the young men in our ward and in scouting how to do chain mail.  The missionaries joined in too.

Seth said he wanted cheese balls for his birthday.  As if we weren't cheese ball enough already. wink wink.  We thought it would be fun for everybody to get him some, but the store only had three.  so other candy had too suffice.

On top of cheese balls and candy, Elanor made Seth Granny Annie's cheese cake.


Several days later, Seth is still experimenting with all the ways he can eat his cheese balls.  Um? 

Seth is doing well.  He is working and saving as much as possible.  He begins trade school for horseshoeing in February.  Seth is looking for scholarships ans has applied to a few.  Finding scholarships has been a challenge.  "White male with parents that are not suffering financially."  First world problems people.
He's growing up and launching! 
I admit that I have emphasized on life skills and independence to the point of beating the dead horse.  But I have questioned the possibility many times over.  I am so excited for and proud of my boy.  
I have faith that the Lord will provide a way for Seth to go to school.