Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Radio Silence

I will be going silent for a time.  Hopefully it won't be long - but as we all find out at point or another, when it rains, it pours.

Sir Knight and I have been burdened with a fairly heavy tax bill this year, argh!  It is highly annoying, but we are managing.  Our belts have tightened to the point of suffocation but God is good and we always have what we NEED.  

Yesterday my computer up and quit - with no warning!  Maid Elizabeth did manage to recesitate it long enough for me to download some documents to a thumb drive that I would have been bereft without (including a novel that I have been writing) and backup everything important.  

At this point a new computer is not on the top of our priority list.  With that in mind, please forgive my anticipated "Radio Silence".  I will post as I am able (I am writing this on a borrowed iPad), including Miss Serenity's speech for the 2nd Amendment rally, however my posts will be few and far between.

Also, my opportunity to return emails is limited - I can only use our phone.  If you email, I will do my best to send you at least a few lines.

Until then,

Enola and Family

P.S.  I have such incredibly wonderful readers!  Your concern is so appreciated, but really, we are doing just fine.  Taxes are an inconvenience, but nothing more.  We are blessed beyond measure and want for nothing.  I am just waiting for a bit to take my computer in to the smart folks at the Genius Bar and have them take a look.  As with everybody else, it is just a matter of budgeting my time and money properly.  Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement.  You are all wonderful gifts.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Valley of Runnymede

John Lackland (so named because his father did not deed him any land) was the younger brother of Richard Coeur de Lion - the lion hearted - and usurper to the English throne.  He was wicked and cruel and his greed knew no boundaries.  His lust for money and power was insatiable.  He routinely had the leading men of his country tortured and killed in order to seize their wealth and exercise his complete and total dominion.

From the safety of Windsor Castle, John Lackland commanded the country people to drive their cattle into camp to supply his soldiers with food.  For the people of Wales, this was one act of tyranny too many.  They refused.  In retaliation, King John seized 28 sons of the chief families and imprisoned them.  With their blood boiling, the Welshmen flew to arms.  Their insubordination quickly resulted in the summary execution of the sons of Wales.  King John had decisively subdued a rebellion and secured his position as Lord and King.  Or had he?

The year is 1215.  The barons and lords have organized themselves into a great army.  In fact, they called themselves the "Army of God".  They will no longer be subject to the King and his tyranny.   They have sent their demands to King John, who, with great oaths and swearing, refuses to grant them liberties.  The Barons determine that if the king will not grant their petition, they will secure it by the sword.

Although a tyrant, King John is also a coward.  He fears being seized by the "Army", and sends word the the Barons that he will meet them at Runnymede, on the 15th of June, and grant what they desire.

The "Army of God" ascends on the Valley of Runnymede.  All of the great men of England are present - lords and barons and nobles.  They wear coats of mail and carry swords and lances.  They are there to obtain freedom and liberty.  They will not take "NO" for an answer.

The Barons produce a great parchment detailing their demands.  Upon its signing it will become the law of the land.  Amidst the vast legion of armed men, King John puts his name and seal to this great document, not even reading its contents.  It is the Magna Charta - the Great Seal - and it is the first document granting freedom and liberty to the people.

Tyrants, whether they take the form of a single Monarch or of a vast government, will never willingly give up their power and authority.  No amount of debating, talking or cajoling will cause them to release their iron grip on the rights of the people.   Their force can only be met by a united people demanding their liberty.

Our Runnymede may well be in a valley in Nevada.  Our Great Charter has already been drafted, signed and sealed - all that is required is an army, dressed in mail, armed with swords and possessing the hearts of free men.

* I wrote this about the current events happening at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada.  I must admit that I do not think that the "mob" mentality that is currently being displayed will do anything to encourage or achieve liberty.  Restraint and strength, a discipline of the tongue, will always yield results worthy of truly free men.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Getting Ready for Spring.....and Pugliese

We have been busy, busy, busy getting ready for spring!  There are so many things to be done.  Miss Serenity helped me varnish the English garden hives that we bought (the bees should be here the end of the month) and Master Hand Grenade is building raised beds and helping repair various things around the homestead.  Today, he replaced a pane of glass that had fallen out of the cold frame.  It was just held in with silicone and little else, so he scraped the old sealant out of the frame, replaced the glass, put two screws in each side (for added support) and re-siliconed the glass in place.  After Princess Dragon Snack and I weeded, we added some chicken manure, watered it a bit and will patiently wait for a week or two before planting.  I can't wait to see seedling popping their heads out of the warm, moist earth!

Varnished Hive

Repaired Cold Frame
Even though the evenings are longer, I have been settling in to read a bit here and there.  Currently, I am making my way through "Starting Right With Bees".  It was published in the 40's and is chock full of great information.  Maid Elizabeth brought it home for me after a recent excursion to a local antique store.  I can say with some authority that it was worth every penny of the $2 asking price!

Light Evening Reading
In between all of the spring clean-up, I have been baking for my family (I know, a real surprise!).  Last night we feasted.  We partook of a decadent meal of grilled chicken breast and homemade fettuccine Alfredo accompanied by a  fresh loaf of Pugliese, a regional Italian bread.  Not a word was spoken as we ate, but the dinner table was far from silent.  Contented groans came from every corner!  That is nothing short of music to a cooks ear!

Please bear with me as I write when I get a chance.  If I'm not writing, you can be assured that I'm up to my elbows in dirt, or bees or building!  I'll keep you posted.


10 1/2 C bread flour
2 T salt
2 T yeast
1 tsp. sugar
4 C water, warm
1/2 C olive oil (Extra Virgin - the good green stuff!)

Mix together the water, sugar and yeast.  Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until it starts to become foamy (sponging).  Add 1/2 the flour and all of the salt and mix.  Add the olive oil (the better quality oil, the better the bread).  Continue to add flour until the dough is soft but not sticky and holds its shape.  Knead for 10 minutes or until it becomes very smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl.  Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise at room temperature, away from drafts, until the dough has doubled in size, 1 to 3 hours.

Gently turn out the dough onto a greased baking sheet, without punching it down.  Gently pull out the sides of the dough, then tuck them underneath to make a neat, pillow-like round loaf.  Do this several times, but do not knead the dough, punch it down, or turn it over.

Cover the dough with a dish towel and let rise, away from drafts, until it has almost doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  During the last 15 minutes of rising, heat the oven to 450°.  Lightly dust the loaf with flour.  Bake the bread for 20 minutes at 450° then lower the oven temperature to 375° and bake for 25 to 35 minutes longer, or until the loaf is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

Makes 1 LARGE loaf.

Ready for the Oven

Warm and Savory

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Forget About Gun Control - Let's Talk About Government Control

Miss Serenity is preparing for her biggest school final of the year.  She has been tapped to speak at this years 2nd Amendment Rally being held in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho on April 19th.  Her speech is finished, her note cards prepared and she is steeling herself to speak in front of a large, armed contingent of fellow patriots.  This will be her public speaking final.  It is essentially pass/fail, which I've always thought was easier.  I expect her to knock it out of the park!

Serenity's speech outlines the real purpose of the 2nd Amendment - explaining in concise detail the American citizen's responsibility in securing their free state.

Of course, we are not the only ones to realize the deadly course we have chosen to allow our government to follow - the video link below outlines the only possible outcome of our unchecked government.

If you are in the area, and want to hear Miss Serenity and other patriots speak about the 2nd Amendment, the rally will be held at the North Idaho Fair Grounds on Saturday, April 19th at 12:00p.m.

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Blessings of "NO"

Most of you know that Sir Knight and I have had the desire to sell our homestead and move for a number of years.  When we originally bought our property, we had intended to live here forever.  We even purchased land with very few zoning requirements, hoping that one day we could subdivide and provide our children with plots of land to build their own homes, essentially creating a family "compound".

As our children grew older, our hopes and desires changed.  We found ourselves longing to move closer to my parents, to have our children grow up near their grandparents.  We wanted to become a community of generational living - all having our own homes, but in close enough proximity to shoulder each others burdens and share in each others daily lives.

Having a clear direction, we put our property on the market and began looking at options in the vicinity of my parent's.  Convinced that we would be moving shortly, I spent weeks packing all but the essentials and storing the boxes tidily in the horse trailer - anxiously awaiting moving day.

Quickly, we found the perfect property for our family.  It was a HUGE old house on 20 acres, complete with a barn, chicken house, garage and two ponds.  The house was rambling and quirky and full of character - a perfect fit.  The children had picked out their rooms and I was redecorating the house in my mind.  My thoughts were filled with hope and joy.  We made an offer on the house (full price, even) with the condition that our property sold.  Our offer was summarily rejected.  I prayed and prayed and prayed.  Sir Knight and I talked and planned and gave it another shot.  We made yet another offer, sweetening the pot, but to no avail.  Our offer was rejected again.  I was crushed.

The truth of the matter is that even if the homeowners had accepted our offer, our property hadn't sold.  An accepted offer wouldn't have made a whole hill of beans difference, we couldn't buy our dream property.  God had spoken.  The answer was "NO".

That was the beginning of a cycle of highs and lows, impossible hopes and dashed dreams.  Over the next few years, we would find ourselves hoping against hope that this property or that was finally the "one", only to be told "NO".   My best girlfriend's mother decided to sell their family home.  I had practically grown up there - it had to be the one!  NO.  A piece of property came for sale right down the road from my folks (where there is very little privately-held land - and it never goes up for sale) - that was the perfect piece!  NO.  Again and again and again, our dreams evaporated.

I would like to say that I took all of this gracefully, with perfect peace and contentment, but the truth is that I raged inside.  I cried and I questioned and I felt abandoned by God.  I kept thinking that if I just did all of the right things, if I tried harder, that everything would fall into place.  It seemed, however, that the harder I tried to make things happen, the more resounding the NO became.

I felt trapped.  My best efforts where for naught.  Our circumstances were less than desirable, but we couldn't seem to change them.  We couldn't sell, we couldn't move, we couldn't even change our current living arrangements without going into untenable debt.

I have to admit it - I was angry with God.  I had watched Him bless many of our friends abundantly, extravagantly - yet His constant answer to our family was NO.  No, you can't sell.  No, you can't move.  No, you can't live in a house.  No, you can't enjoy the ease and comfort of a normal life - even for a little while.  No, Sir Knight can't get a job that is easier on his body.  No, no, no!  And the worst part?  I hated my lack of faith.  I hated the fact that I questioned God.  In my head I knew of His faithfulness, His goodness.  In my head I knew that His plan for our family was perfect.  I just couldn't see the forest through the trees and I hated my lack of vision.  I was broken.

So, what did I do?  I hit my knees and cried out to my Lord.  I told Him of my anger.  I poured out my soul.  I asked for His forgiveness for my lack of faith.  I begged Him to sustain me through the valley of unbelief.  I prayed to desire His will alone and to live my life according to the will of my Father.  I practiced contentment, reminding myself of His many blessings on a daily, even hourly basis.  I sought to understand the very character of God.

I am so thankful that God loved me enough to tell me NO.  Through the years of disappointments and struggles, God has drawn me closer to Him.  He has shown me the depths of His love and the reservoirs of His grace.  He has taught me that we can't earn His favor, yet He delights in giving good gifts to His children, even when they don't deserve them.  He has taught me that His best work is often done under the shadow of grief and that hope is renewed every morning.  He has taught me that when I am at the end of my human strength, He will uphold me with His mighty right hand.  He has given me eyes to see and ears to hear - and that alone is worth every disappointment and every hour of suffering.

And here we are.  We still have not sold our property.  We still have no prospects of moving nearer my parents.  Sir Knight still works at a job that is very hard on his every joint and muscle.  We still don't live in a house.  We still have hopes and dreams and desires unfulfilled.  Our circumstances have not changed - but my faith has.  Every morning I wake with a mind filled with hope.  Not necessarily the hope of selling and moving and having an easier life, but the hope that God's perfect will will be done - that He is still on His throne and that He holds me in the palm of His hand.  I have the hope and the assurance that whatever God does with this family is right - whether it is accomplished here in "Little Shouse on the Prairie" or in the mountains of my youth.  I am exactly where God wants me!

If God had allowed all of the desires of my heart to be immediately and completely fulfilled, I would never have experienced the blessings of being told "No".  I would not have raged and questioned and cried until finally falling to my knees in submission.  I would never have scratched the surface of my faith.

I still would love to sell and move.  I would love to live in a house and see my husband working at a job that is not so physically draining.  But I am content.  I am content because I know that I can trust God with our lives.  I know that His plan is to prosper us and not to harm us.  And I know that being in the center of His will is exactly where I want to be.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Birthday Surprise

Last week, my girlfriend Lady Day and I met with our other dear friend, Julianne of Providence Lodge to celebrate Julianne's birthday.  We met in a little restaurant for tea and spent the better part of the afternoon talking and talking and talking.

Lady Day, Julianne and I have been friends for many years.  Our children have grown up together.  We have celebrated with each other, cried with each other and occasionally been irritated with each other.  Our collective children, when they were younger, were affectionately known as "The Locust" because they would eat us out of house and home whenever we spent the day together.  While our husbands would talk over the problems of the world, we ladies would encourage one another.  We would share our hearts, snuggle our children and drink cup after cup of tea.

As our children have grown older, our get togethers have become depressingly infrequent.  We still make time for birthday celebrations and an occasional afternoon visit, however we rarely have an opportunity to get all of the families together.  The children have grown, many of them have married and begun their own families.  The ones left at home are busy, all going their separate ways.  Now, rather than tending small children, wiping noses and cuddling babies, we are talking about weddings and grand babies and our changing roles in life.

Oh, what joy there is in an afternoon of sweet fellowship with these wonderful, dear friends!  After catching up on all of our latest news, Lady Day and I presented Julianne with our small tokens of affection.  Lady Day's gift to our dear friend was perfect - a handmade "Naturally Concealed" holster.  Once Julianne chooses her concealed carry pistol, she will give measurements to Lady Day, who will then custom-make a holster so that she can conceal carry with ease.  If there is a more thoughtful gift to be had, I certainly can't think of it!

My gift was far less grand, but no less heartfelt.  Julianne's husband was diagnosed with cancer about a year and a half ago, and since then, Julianne has done her best to bring nothing but healthful things into their home.  She has cut out all processed foods and sugars and has even gone so far as to discontinue alcohol filled cleansers, lotions and bath products.  Knowing that natural bath products are expensive and hard to come by, I made a basket full of items crafted in my own kitchen, with ingredients I could pronounce.

I made some tried and true recipes and a few new ones, with great results.  Knowing that Lavender was one of Julianne's favorite scents, I made most of her bath products with a liberal amount of Lavender essential oil.  First up was Lavender Whipped Body Butter.  I used the same recipe as the Peppermint Whipped Body Butter, using Lavender essential oil instead of Peppermint.  Next up was my favorite Lavender Body Lotion.  I love the way it glides on, leaving skin so smooth and soft.  Not wanting to stop there, I tried a new recipe, Peppermint Citrus Sugar Scrub.  Sublime!  And last, but not least, I made a Spa Lavender Detox Soak, a soothing combination of Epsom Salts and baking soda, scented with a healthy dose of Lavender (perfect for night-time soak).

After I mixed and stirred and poured into containers, I loaded everything into a basket, added a couple of candles and presented it to my dear friend - bath products fit for healthy living.

The afternoon spent with my wonderful friends reminded me how precious and rare our friendship is - and inspired me to make more of an effort to nourish and maintain this lovely gift.  All of the busyness in the world is no substitute for the most treasured gift - the gift of "bosom friends".

If you would like to make a gift of healthy bath indulgences, you can find two of the recipes below and follow the links to the other two.  Enjoy creating a beautiful life!

Peppermint Citrus Sugar Scrub

1 C granulated sugar
1/2 C oil (olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil)
2 - 4 T ground orange peel (optional - makes a great exfoliant)
2 T glycerin (optional)
10 drop peppermint essential oil (more or less)
10 - 15 drops sweet orange essential oil (or other citrus oil of your choice)

Mix sugar, oil, orange peel and glycerin together.  Gradually add the essential oil, mixing well.  Store your scrub in a glass container.  (I put mine in a metal powder container lined with plastic wrap).  TO USE:  Rub a small amount on wet hands, scrub body, rinse with warm water.

Crushing the orange peel using a mortar and pestle

Mixing all of the luscious ingredients

Spa Lavender Detox Soak

1 C Epsom Salts
1 C Baking Soda
Lavender Essential Oil

Mix the Epsom salts and baking soda well.  Add essential oil to achieve the desired scent.  You can use any essential oil you'd like, however, the Lavender is very relaxing.  Pour a splash into the hottest tub you can stand and take a leisurely soak.

In a plastic wrap lined antique powder tin

Rather charming, I thought

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Feathering my Nest

One of my greatest joys in life is creating a beautiful, inviting home.  Sir Knight has come to know, just by the faraway look in my eye, that redecorating or rearranging is imminent.  I especially love to use things in creative and unexpected ways.

Over the years, I have found that I can dress my house up any way I like with the things I already have.  Sometimes I wander through the "shouse" looking for a table or lamp to move to another area.  Sometimes, I look through the shed, the container or even the burn pile for inspiration.  Lately, I have been feathering my nest with anything and everything galvanized.

My romance with galvanized metal began a number of years ago when I was desperate to clean up the backsplash behind my sink.  When Sir Knight and I had brought in our old restaurant cupboard to serve as a kitchen cupboard in the "shouse", we put bead board behind the sink and counters.  After years of service, the bead board had deteriorated to the point of looking dirty and impossibly worn.  Wanting something that I could clean easily, I looked no further than our building material pile.  A number of pieces of metal roofing caught my eye and I knew they would be perfect for my purposes.  Master Hand Grenade and I put a metal blade on the circular saw, donned eye protection and used the kitchen table as a work table.  We measured and cut and used roofing screws to install our new black splash.  Perfect!  It is easy to clean, rustic and suits our rowdy family perfectly.

Our backsplash

Taking a cue from the back splash, I began to look for other ways to incorporate galvanized metal in our home (have I mentioned how easy it is to clean?).   We had junked a few beehives that were past their usefulness but I saved most of the components to be used for some as of yet identified purpose or another.  One day I was wishing that the table that sits next to the love seat in the kitchen had a bigger tabletop and suddenly I though "Hive Top".  I quickly trekked to the shed, grabbed a galvanized hive top and fitted it snugly over the existing wooden top of the side table.  It was just right, big enough to give me extra space but not so big that the table became unstable.  As of yet, the hive top is just sitting on the table, however, Sir Knight has offered to screw it to the wood with nice rounded head screws if I would like (I'm just sure if I'm ready to commit).

Hive top fitted over the top of a wooden table
Sometime later, I saw a gorgeous wooden wine barrel lid fitted with a metal band that was intended to sit in the middle of a table and hold a cheese board and wine or a lovely loaf of artisan bread.  I really wanted to bring that lid home, but it was exorbitantly expensive and I knew, with a bit of thought, I could come up with something that I had laying around.  In came yet another hive top.  The galvanized metal looks great against the rustic backdrop of our worn pine table and if I flip it over, it works great as a serving tray!  Multipurpose!

And as a table centerpiece
Last week, I was cleaning out the pantry (you should never have to use a broom and dustpan to clean the pantry!) and was looking around my various spots for some make-do shelving to make the pantry shelves a bit more useful.  I didn't find anything very romantic (a plastic milk crate and soda crate), but did spy an unused chicken feeder, galvanized of course, that was just begging to be used for something.

After I finished the dreaded pantry job, I fetched the feeder and scrubbed it clean, all the while trying to decide just where it should go.  First, I put it on the propane fireplace in the living room, filled it with burlap ribbon, electric candles, pinecones and antlers.  It was nice, but just not quite right.  While I stood there surveying my work, I heard the beeping of the washing machine in the bathroom.  I ran in to put another load of laundry on, glanced at the bathtub, and knew that my chicken feeder had found its home.

A 36" chicken feeder with the swivel top removed

The legs fit perfectly over the sides of the tub!
Disassembling my initial chicken feeder efforts, I moved the feeder to the bathroom, flipped down the legs and fitted it over the sides of my cast iron bathtub.  A galvanized, fitted bathtub caddy!  Perfect!  I added a few candles, some washcloths and a jar of homemade bath soak - creating a simply lovely, romantic bath accoutrement.  Because the feeder has sides, it holds a book quite nicely and the galvanized metal is the perfect medium in a bathroom setting.  I couldn't have purchased a better tub caddy!
A grain scoop candle-holder

After moving things from here to there, I found my coffee table (also a medical storage box on wheels) depressingly empty.  Keeping with the farm chic theme, I rescued a bent, slightly rusted grain scoop, scrubbed it up and set about creating a simple center-piece.  I fit two electric candles (not as romantic as the real deal, but better with pets and children) in the scoop, added a few berry branches and a bit of moss.  Simple, classic and just right sitting on a piece of reclaimed rustic barn board.

I love to feather my nest with unused things I already have.  Between the great outdoors and my burn pile, I have a unique, warm and quirky home that I love.  And with the incorporation of a chicken feeder, I have literally "Feathered my Nest"!