Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Case for the Ultimate Survival Mom - Part I

Vermeer's Milk Maid

The Wife of Noble Character
 
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like merchant ships
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and she grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
 
Every morning, after the men leave for work and before the littles wake, I spend time in my bible.  I read two chapters of wherever I happen to be at the moment and I read whichever Proverbs lines up with the day.  Today, being the 7th of the month, I read Proverbs Chapter 7. 
 
As I was reading Proverbs 31 on the last day of 2014, I was reminded again that it is the Proverbs 31 woman that I endeavor to emulate.  She is the wife, mother and woman that can and will see her family through the darkest of days with grace, humility and complete confidence.  Her faith is securely anchored in God and she lives her life in accordance with His wisdom.  Her way is secure.
 
One of the first things that I notice about the Proverbs 31 woman is that she is rare.  There are a lot of women in this world.  A lot of pretty faces.  But, the woman that embodies these qualities, the woman that you would willingly walk through the end of the world with, is very rare indeed.  In fact, her rarity makes her worth far more than the most precious jewel.  When you consider that, you might also consider the fact that this woman is very hard to find.  Just as rubies require significant effort to unearth, so a noble woman will have to be earnestly sought and won.  Yet she will be worth every effort.  She will be the woman by your side, preparing your house to weather the most ferocious storm.  She will train your arrows to be sure and true.  She will bring every good thing within your grasp and fill your home with joy and mirth.  
 
Men, if you want a woman to walk by your side during TEOTWAWKI, find a Proverbs 31 woman.  Women, become the Proverbs 31 woman.  Seek God.  Build character.  Acquire the skills to run a self-sufficient household.  Prepare for the storm then laugh at the days to come.
 



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What Should We Do?


Thank you so much for your wonderful comments!  I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them all, especially from those of you who are disabled and/or have (or had) small children.

As you can imagine, Sir Knight, the children and I were in agreement with the vast majority of you - the woman with the small children should have used the larger stall and the lady in the wheelchair should have graciously waited.  What really surprised us was "Dear Abby's" response.  In her column, she stated that the handicap stall was reserved for handicapped people only and the woman at the end of the line in the wheelchair should have been given preference.

Truthfully, I don't think it really boils down to an issue of mobility but rather is an issue of courtesy.  In my experience, most people do their best to be courteous to one another.  Had I been in that bathroom I would have encouraged the woman behind me with the small children to use the handicap stall, just as I would have given preference to the woman in the wheelchair had she been behind me.  I am relatively certain the handicapped woman referred to in the "Dear Abby" column would have been quickly ushered into the handicap stall had she been gracious rather than rude.  She had an opportunity to encourage charity and understanding, instead she chose the disheartening attitude of selfishness.

The unfortunate truth is that sometimes we can't seem to win regardless of what we do.  If we allow the person behind us to "cut in line", the person at the end of the line gets irritated.  If we open the door for someone, they very well may hurl the insult of "I can do that myself!".  Even offering a seat to an older person can be offensive - "I'm not old" they often quip.  In our self-centered society even the most courteous of actions can be misconstrued as blatantly offensive.  What are we to do?

The answer is simple, really.  We do the right thing.  We are kind, we are courteous and we are gracious.  No. Matter. What.  It doesn't matter how someone else responds, we are responsible for our own actions - every time.  We do not have the ability to control how others respond.  We can't make them behave correctly.  We can't force them to react the way we think they should.  The only person we have control of is ourselves.  And therein lies the rub.  It is our responsibility to control ourselves. Every time!  We need to control our tongues, our tempers and even our thoughts.  Our person is under our authority!  We are our own responsibility.  No. Matter. What.

I'm pretty sure the answer to "What should we do?" is "The right thing".  If we held ourselves and our children accountable to that simple precept our country would look a whole lot different.

Monday, January 5, 2015

What would you do?



Hi everyone - please forgive me for the inexcusably long absence.  I have been wrapping up 2014 and ushering in 2015 and became more than little sidetracked!  I'll be bringing you up-to-date in the coming month.

I have a question for you.  Recently I read a "Dear Abby" column and disagreed with her answer completely.  Over tea, I posed the question to Sir Knight - his answer mirrored mine.  After dinner, before we abandoned the table, we posed the same question to each of our three older children, they too, answered as Sir Knight and I had.  Funny thing, that!

And so, I ask you - what do you think?  Here is the scenario:

You are in a public ladies bathroom (you gents will have to use a little imagination here).  There are three regular stalls and one larger handicapped stall (equipped with a baby changing station).  When you enter the bathroom, all of the stalls are occupied.  A line quickly forms behind you.  Directly after you is a frazzled looking young woman with a loudly fussing infant in her arms and a cranky toddler attached to her skirt.  The first bathroom stall to become available is the handicap stall  with the baby changing station.  Being the kind and generous person that you are, you usher the young mother into the stall and continue to wait for another stall to become available.  Almost instantly an angry voice cuts through the room - a lady in a wheelchair (at the back of a very long line) voiced her adamant opinion that the woman with the babies should have waited for a "normal" stall and she should have immediately been ushered into the handicapped stall.  

What do you think?  Should the mother and children have taken the handicap stall or should it have been reserved solely for the use of the handicapped patron?

You can probably imagine our response, but tomorrow I will tell you what our family thought and what "Dear Abby" answered.  I can't wait to here what you say!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Life in "Little Shouse on the Prairie"


I'm sorry I've been so silent - we have been nothing if not busy!  (As I'm sure all of you have been too!).  Hopefully, a picture is worth a thousand words, because that is all I'm able to get up today.  Here is a peek into our life as of late....

Master Hand Grenade became acquainted with winter driving (black ice) and learned the pitfalls of only carrying liability insurance!



And, the next day, his initiation as a butcher occurred.....



Making lotion bars...

Weighing the beeswax

Melting the ingredients

Cooling in the molds

The finished bars

Packaged and ready to go
And making cranberry wine....

Master Calvin scrubbing the barrel, with a Zebra lamp on his head
 (so he could be sure to get all of the nooks and crannies)

30 pounds of coarsely chopped cranberries

Into the "fermentation" vessel (also known as a 55 gallon barrel)

Raisins added (15 pounds)

Stirring the "must" with a pizza paddle!
Cranberry Wine

30 pounds chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
15 pounds raisins
45 pounds granulated sugar
4 1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme
1 1/4 C lemon juice
Wine yeast
15 gallons boiled/cooled water

Wash and roughly chop cranberries to allow juices to leave the fruit.  Transfer crushed/chopped cranberries to a clean winemaking fermentation container and add all of the other ingredients except for the wine yeast.

After allowing the cranberry mixture to stand for around 12 hours, add the activated wine yeast.  Stir each morning and evening for 5 days.  Strain and squeeze the solids, transferring the cranberry wine mixture into a demijohn, complete with airlock.

Rack after a month.  Rack once more after 3 months, and then two more times until the wine is clear and approximately 12 months old.  Bottle the wine and leave to stand for over 12 months.

_______________________________________

So, there you go - a brief synopsis of life in "Little Shouse on the Prairie".

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Prayer of Thanksgiving


From time to time I take my robust good health for granted.  This morning I was visiting with my mother (over the phone) while she was busy with last minute Thanksgiving preparations.  She was telling me about her upcoming travels and the many things that needed to be done in the next few weeks.  One of the items on her "to-do" list was making dinner for a local family.  This family is gracefully walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  Dad is a pastor, mom is a homemaker and schools her 6 children at home.  They live a quiet, simple and wholesome life.  And mom has inoperable cancer.  The oldest child has accepted the mantle of womanhood and is schooling and caring for her younger siblings, while she cooks, cleans and runs the home.  Two nights a week, in an effort to ease this young lady's burden, my parent's church provides a meal for the family.  It is a small gift, but a gift born of love.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving this year, we will be giving thanks for the bountiful health we enjoy.  But as we give thanks, we will also remember those that are walking a very different path.  We will thank God that He is caring not only for the healthy but especially for the sick, the tired and the weak.  He truly is The Great Physician.

I Needed the Quiet
 
I needed the quiet so He drew me aside
Into the shadows were we could confide
Away from the bustle where all day long
I hurried and worried when active and strong.
 
I needed the quiet, tho at first I rebelled
But gently, so gently, my cross he upheld
And whispered so sweetly of spiritual things
Tho weakened in body, my spirit took wings
To heights never dreamed of when active and gay
He loved me so greatly he drew me away.
 
I needed the quiet.  No prison my bed,
But a beautiful valley of blessings instead
A place to grow richer, in Jesus to hide.
I needed the quiet, so he drew me aside.
 
Alice Hansche Mortenson
1944


A beautiful Thanksgiving to you all.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Boasting Rights


Once again Miss Serenity has hunting boasting rights.  She is our most faithful hunter (she LOVES it) and has been rewarded with a buck that is even bigger than last years catch. 

This year Serenity hunted in an open field with no discernable cover.  In order to get into the field before the deer came up the draw, Serenity borrowed Sir Knight's ghillie suit and SSG and staked out her little plot of land just before evening overtook the daylight. 

First, the doe's ventured into the field, grazing while their ears twitched, alert for possible danger.  Satisfied that there was no immediate threat, a buck gracefully trotted to join his harem.  Two hundred yards away, Miss Serenity followed the buck in her site.  Adjusting the windage, she slowed her breathing, set the first trigger and then gently squeezed the second trigger.  Two ragged steps and a somersault later her trophy lay on the ground. 

Within minutes, Serenity had called home and Sir Knight, Master Hand Grenade and the two little children were by her side, preparing to gut her kill and haul him home (she shot him just across the road from the shouse).  An hour later, he had been gutted, skinned and hung in our shed.

As evening fell on Little Shouse on the Prairie, Miss Serenity regaled us with her newly minted hunting stories and we thanked God for His wonderful bounty.



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rubber Cake - The Quintessential Survival Cake


During my childhood in the hinterboonies of the American Redoubt, when our family wanted a quick chocolate fix but we had nothing in the pantry, my mother would throw together one of our favorite cakes - Rubber Cake.  I'm not entirely certain why it is called Rubber cake, since it doesn't have the consistency of rubber, but it is one of the most interesting cakes in my recipe box.  My understanding is that it was developed by an ingenious housewife during the depths of the depression when resources were scarce.   Necessity is the mother of invention! 

This cake requires no dairy - butter or milk - and is leavened not by eggs but by vinegar and baking soda (I know - vinegar in a cake!).  The result is a moist cake that is perfect alone, sprinkled with powdered sugar or frosted.  Our favorite way to serve this cake is warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!!


Rubber cake is not the least bit crumbly so it is perfect for the lunchbox as well as afternoon tea.  Another benefit?  It is mixed and baked in the same pan - no other bowls to get dirty!  Because it requires no fresh ingredients, Rubber cake is the Quintessential Survival Cake.

Rubber Cake

1 1/2 C flour
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda

Sift together above ingredients into a 9" cake pan (or double the recipe and use a 9"x13" cake pan).  The pan does not have to be greased or floured.

Make 3 wells in the mixture.

Put the following in the separate wells;

6 T vegetable oil in one well
1 T vinegar in one well (I use white vinegar)
1 tsp. vanilla in one well

Pour 1 C of water over the top and mix well.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Serve cold with white, caramel or chocolate frosting.

Three indentations

Filling the wells

One overflowed a bit!

All mixed together

Just out of the oven

A lovely way to end the day!