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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Hello, my name is …

I blinked back a tear reading this. It is so important to fill your heart with the truth. The rotten lies of the enemy are always trying to sink in. Mom, YOU are so important!

Backyard Missionary

hello my name is
Hello, my name is

nobody.

At least that’s what it felt like I said last night as I introduced myself to this new group of people in a class my husband and I are taking.
Identity is something I’ve struggled with since quitting my career as a journalist and leaving all volunteer posts nearly four years ago.
I used to be able to add tons of titles to my name. Hi, I’m Melissa, and I am a reporter for such and such newspaper, or Hi, I’m Melissa, and I am in charge of such and such organization. I wore alot of hats.
But there came a point when my heart just left those loves. I started to panic about how fast my kids were growing up and what I was missing out on. All I wanted to do was be at home with my kids and take care of them…

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Naptime Bribes

Naptime Bribes

Can I pay my toddler to take a nap? I justify it. It is so good for her to get a rest, and it is so good (!) for mama to get a break. You can’t put a price on a few minutes to read a Proverb, brew some fresh coffee, and regain the Happy Mom face!

I give her a chocolate chip. One to stuff in her mouth as soon as her head hits the pillow, another for her cute little hand to grasp as I make my exit.

My little tot is not excited about naps. A little incentive, in the form of chocolate chips, is worth the minor sugar buzz. (And yes, it is Kirkland brand. I am not going to apologise for trying to save money on something that is consumed in small amounts!)No more devastating cries when I announce, “The time has come…” Instead, it is, “Chocolate chip time!” Happy kids, happy mom.

That is all I have to say. (Except that, when Mother Dearest breaks into the chocolate chips, she takes a couple handfuls for herself. She works hard. She is entitled.)

What do you have to say about this confession? Any tips and tricks to add? Teach me. I am your student.

Cheers! (As I sip my homemade wine and conemplate a little chocolate treat… after all, it is my bedtime in a few hours. Don’t I deserve some incentive to fall into bed?)

Christmas Budget: 10 Ways to Save

Christmas Budget: 10 Ways to Save

We are not poor, but why should we pretend to have money to burn? Christmas boot ornament

 

 

Some ways I am saving this season;

  1. Finding a budget and sticking to it. In our case, about $50 for us, the same for Operation Christmas Child.
  2. Shoeboxes: We wanted to give the same away as we keep for ourselves. We were able to fill our shoeboxes full on a budget by finding items we already had. You can use things like new TY bears, etc. I also dipped into our personal food budget and donated some packaged dried fruit to the boxes.
  3. Myself and my husband love quality time, especially with his occupation taking him to North Dakota for the majority of the time. You have to think if your giftee’s love language is gifts, or something else. We chose very small, practical gifts for each other. Socks and slippers. We will get creative and give each other something else besides that doesn’t cost money. It may include a movie, massage, popcorn, and more quality time!
  4. The girlies are easy to please. Sparkly, fancy, and lots of (recycled) wrapping. I ordered them each a fancy fan for about $4. I also have a free dollhouse coming their way from my friend Nancy who cleans houses. She has scored me a number of free things, which is a blessing! I might also find some other little presents for them–free items I already have, or that I can make. I think they would like a chocolatey treat as well.
  5. For friends and family, I try to be mindful of who needs a gift?  Again, love language. My sis Ruthie is big on giving and receiving gifts, so it is super-fun to give things to her. The rest of the family may or may not get something. A hostess gift is always nice, but I like it to be something very useful, like a consumable item. Food, wine, artisan soap, etc.
  6. Gift exchange is the way to go for the extended family. We will do a White Elephant Gift Contest. Whoever gifts the funniest, most outrageous, worst gift will get a prize! The prize will probably be a dressed rabbit, some fresh eggs, or something I can produce. Someone suggested the winner gets all the white elephant gifts, but I draw the line. No one has room to store that much stuff!
  7. Consumables  are great, because everyone loves free food, lotions, etc. and it will save them money, rather than giving them something they were not planning on buying (or maybe the didn’t even want it!?) Cheese, homemade bread, preserves, wine, coffee, chocolate, fresh eggs, fresh produce artfully displayed in a basket… all of these are a very nice gift that will almost certainly be loved. Remember, your giftees are probably on a budget too, and the little extras to put on the table help out!
  8. DIY:  Remember the space issue. If someone is short on space, don’t give them a wall hanging or a knickknacks for the mantel, unless you just know them that well! Can I stress Consumable? I will be making wine (pretty, frugal, and fun; be discerning, because not everyone drinks wine); Fresh Bread is always a hit; Cheese is fun, easy, and not too expensive to make; I will be gifting some dressed rabbits, fresh eggs, and eggnog. If I get really ambitious, I may DIY some Christmas tree ornaments as well–frugal and commemorative, but not something that will add clutter to someone’s room if they are limited for space.
  9. Go green! Anything you give will need to be stored somewhere. Does your giftee have room for it? Also, is it wrapped with a lot of plastic? Shop smart, or don’t shop at all. If it might go in the landfill, don’t waste your money. If possible, buy used. It’s ok, really. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, then buy something consumable–always a safe bet. Sometimes you can give something you already own, like a clothing item to a sister (we always do this! So fun!) or a family keepsake. Save money and the environment at the same time.
  10. Last of all, give a gift of time. Coupons for back massages, decorating or painting a room, babysitting, etc. are amazing. I have only ever received a couple of those, and would love to see some more come my way! Free, fun, and totally my love language.

If someone in your life is worthy of a gift, be creative. Figure out their love language before stressing about what they might want–that only makes sense! Some people simply need the cash. Others really would prefer an intangible gift. But don’t burden yourself with something out of your price range. Do what works for you.016

Meat Rabbits

Meat Rabbits

Sustainability was never simpler. Rabbits taste good, require very little upkeep, and they “breed like rabbits.” We have had the rabbits for a few weeks and already have our first kits. I will not offer suggestions at this point on how to start out, as there is plenty of information out there; check youtube, books from the library, etc. I will tell you that the meat really does taste like chicken, they are lower maintenance that chickens, and they are easier to slaughter than chickens. (Think about plucking feathers… Our layer hens will be a once-in-a-blue-moon stew hen when they get old, and plucking won’t seem so bad if it doesn’t happen all the time. For our current needs, it does not pay for us to buy a plucking machine.)

So how does one actually eat something they raised? Hmmm. Do you feel better about eating something that was raised inhumanely, eating who-knows-what? I cannot afford to pay premium prices for ethically raised meat. I have financial goals! If the quality of meat, price, and sustainability is worth it to you, then you are strong enough to program your mind. In most cultures and centuries past, the idea that “you can’t eat your pets!” would have been a silly and irresponsible notion.

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Michael and the girls move the rabbits to their new home. The whole endeavor is fun and educational for the whole family.

 

 

026Newborn rabbits are naked, and warmly bundled in a thick nest of mama rabbit’s fur. In a few days, they will have thick coats themselves. The kits should be handled carefully to help them become tame. Caged animals need a lot of affection. The alternative is to let them run wild, but most likely (in our neck of the woods) fall prey to coyotes and hawks.

 

 

030My amazing husband Michael built this wonderful rabbit hutch. He adapted plans from youtube, and from our helpful neighbor. I helped with the painting, and have the scrapes to prove it. How does one get hurt painting? Well… I did. No matter.

They did a wonderful job! It looks pretty and is functional. A hutch does not have to be this fancy. You can find the plans online or make your own.

If you have the resources, bigger is better. Give them space to run if you can. Otherwise, give them a lot of love if they have a smaller area. Kits (baby rabbits) get a quality life before they are big enough for slaughter.

Check Craigslist! We found a send hutch for free (to use when the kits are ready to leave their mama)! Google the breed of rabbit for the appropriate sized hutch.

A rabbit needs clean water and food every day. They are messy (they seem to think it is a great joke to poop and pee in their feeding dishes!) so they require daily maintenance. They love apples, carrots, and leaves. Their diet is primarily alfalfa. You can buy bags of feed at the farm supply store,  or connect with local farmers for 3rd crop alfalfa and timothy grass.

We have 5 does and 1 buck. We plan to rotate the buck around, giving each doe a 3 month break in between breedings. incest is not an issue for meat rabbits. (Show rabbits are more picky as far as lineage, but we are not worried about that.)

Killing, skinning, and butchering is quick and easy. Here is one of many youtubes on the subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpDmHG_8pwE

Some of your guests will not like to know they are eating rabbit. If they assume it is chicken, it is ok not to say anything. Your picky friends will know better than to ask!

More updates to come.