Farmhouse Project Update – That Old Tree

As usual, there are plenty of things to do around here. Yesterday, my husband finished clearing up the mess from a previous storm, tons of branches that have been around for a while. Then, he decided to tackle the old tree that fell during the same time. We had estimates done, but he decided to do it himself, especially during this economy. He tackled the job in a couple of weekends. We will save the money for the trees that are too large and require professional handling. In the meantime, we will stop all projects until next year, because you never know. As for the veggie garden, it is done for the season. I picked the last of the tomatoes yesterday. The garden is starting to prepare for a deep sleep during winter. All the work from now on will be clean ups, mostly, not new projects.

The old tree and brush from a previous storm.

The old tree when it fell.
Debris and branches left from a storm.

The wood from the large tree is good wood that we gave to someone. It will be picked up sometime this week to be used as heat for the winter. Especially now that a cord of wood has gone up in price, I think in the range of $300, and many people are installing wood stoves because electricity will go up more, most likely, hence it will probably go up more with demand. We are happy that the tree will be used in a good way. Eventually, we will install a small wood stove in the kitchen.

Plenty of wood for heat.

Many critters that used to perch on that fallen tree will certainly miss it, and I will miss looking at them.

Nature recycles itself; maybe we should learn from it.

Monstrosities

October is finally here, and with it, a few cooler days. We will have our first frost by Sunday, according to the local meteorologist. Those little birds were right once more. Nature knows best. If we would listen to it, we would know best too. I will be collecting what’s left on the veggie garden before Sunday, green or not. The Halloween vibes are louder this year in the stores. There are a few monstrosities on the shelves as well as on the food isles, pricing continues to go up. This weekend we will be cleaning up tons of leaves and branches left by the remnants of Ian. Thank God that is the only thing we have to clean up, because my heart truly goes out after the victims of its devastation in Florida.

Once October arrives, one tends to think of frightful things and pumpkins; it has been engrained in our culture for long. One of my favorite movies, if not my favorite, is Silver Bullet (Stephen King). When we bought this farmhouse, I found an old wooden baseball bat amongst the tall weeds. I cleaned it up and kept it, but I immediately thought of “the peacemaker” in that movie and named it so.

Inspired by Silver Bullet. Photo by M.A.D.

We got another dose of October fright when we went to pick up the pellet fuel. The increase in pricing will translate to $100 more per month ($2 more per bag) on a ton (50 bags/2,000 lbs.). We use about a ton per month. Is this type of heating worth it anymore at that increase? The electric companies are saying that the average customer will see the electric bill go up by $40-$60 a month, depending on who you listen to in the news. Will pellet stove fans revert to electric heating as a primary source? I think a wood stove or fireplace is the best choice, that is, if you chop your own wood. A cord of wood used to be around $250 on the cheap side of things, not anymore.

A month’s worth of pellet fuel. (Photo by M.A.D.)

There are lovely monstrosities as well. A week or so ago, I found the biggest mushroom I have ever seen. It was bigger than my hand, so I had to take a picture and send it to my sister.

Monster Mushroom that resembles a loaf of bread.

All this accelerated increase on the cost of living, a monstrosity, has me thinking and evaluating the way we do things around here, and looking for better alternatives. It looks like the whole nation is about to wake up and reevaluate its path, its core values, and at the home level, the paths we have taken so far, and the need to ponder and redirect our lifestyle.

Autumn Vibes

At the time of this writing, it is nine days until the first day of Autumn. I am already welcoming the season and enjoying many of its sights. Soon I will enjoy its colors. We had our first temperature change in the upper 50s last night, and today there is a crisp in the air. The only thing I am not looking forward is the soon to arrive in waves, clouds of ladybug-look-alike Asian beetles that will cover the area. It is one thing that I truly dislike about living here. The process should take about 1-2 weeks depending on the weather. In the meantime, I will enjoy the weather transition and all the blessings that a new season brings – the ongoing song of excited crows, oranges, reds, yellows, all kinds of crimson … unexpected critters, autumn candy, hearty meals, darker nights, and the magic of another season.

Looking Up to God

Photo by M.A.D.

Have you ever felt so discouraged, disenchanted, challenged to your maximum breaking point, and ready to quit it all? I believe that at one point, every one of us will confront “the big test” of life, and if you haven’t, then count your blessings because these are many. It doesn’t matter how responsible, good person, perfectionist, excellent planner … you are, one day your challenge will come. It is only designed to make you better, to teach you, if you are willing to learn, to show you, if you are receptive, to open your eyes, if you want to see. However, when human strength and courage doesn’t match your hope, look up to God, and accept the help that is already there, waiting for you to extend your hand and grab it. God will see you through; He will help you conquer your challenge.

I once heard a speaker say, “It is not over till’ you quit.” “It is as you will it.” I believe it is so, but when my human strength fails or doesn’t seem enough, there is peace in knowing that the one who made me stands beside me.

I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.

Jeremiah 1:5

The Crossroad

Photo by M.A.D.

One of the joys of living is not being able to tell the future. In that sense, today is the most important day of one’s life. People live and die, and whatever they live in between, that “life road” is different for everyone, even for the most dedicated and perfectionist planner. Life doesn’t give you guarantees but it may give you surprises, good and bad. How we interpret and respond to those surprises will determine the road we will take when in a crossroad. Some people go through more challenging times than other people, but no matter who you are, at least one time in your life you will be standing at a crossroad. Sometimes, the options are more generous and better than other times; however, there are times when none of the perceived options feel right.

When going left or right doesn’t seem to make sense, there is always a third road. It is the one you make when you don’t like the options. It is like leaving the paved highway and cutting through the tall grass to get to the other side. It might be rough, full of weeds and stones, and you might even encounter a few snakes here and there; however, it will be the right road taken, that is, for you, because you will pave that road with every step you take and with every lesson along the way. In the end, the solution was part of the journey. “You have arrived.”

On Home and Country, One Day at a Time

Photo by M.A.D.

When I feel that my life is lacking balance in a certain area, I feel out of control; I think most people do. When a bad or out of the ordinary situation happens, people find themselves off-balance, in fear, and experiencing many other emotions. Most of us deal with the situation as best as we can, everyone in their own way. The repercussions throughout the many areas of life, sometimes leave you numb or in shock for a while, paralyzed, fearful … But there is a time after, when it feels as if a bit of sunshine is coming through the cracks. It is then when we can take control and keep living. The current state of affairs worldwide might leave people feeling afraid and hopeless. Unfortunately, no one is going to take care of our “house,” and no one is going to fix it for us. One has to find and create balance, whether one finds it through faith or not. It is up to me to keep on living and tend to my “house.”

Every person is dealt different cards, some people have to deal with very bad situations, many from infancy. For those people, balance might sound different, and they must fight for it, many times, throughout their whole lives. It can only be done one day at a time, but it can be done. Many times, we are sent an angel here on Earth, a person that makes a significant difference in our moment of need.

I hear about inflation every day, and how bad the economy is, and I see so many local businesses shutting down. I see the almost empty shopping carts at the supermarket, the stress in people’s faces. At the same time, I see the kind, and the giving, and the good existing alongside the bad. There is nothing I can do about many of these things except the things that are in my immediate control – adjust my budget, grow food, shop less or tweak a grocery list, clean up my pantry and freezer by using what I have instead of letting it go bad, donate to my local food pantry, pray, help someone I might be able to help … and so much more. We all can do something tangible (and spiritual) one day at a time, and that is how we take back control, how we tend to our house and country, how we find our balance points, and how we keep our spirits up. Do your own Declaration of Days. One day at a time.

Love and Light.

Needful Things

Hurricane Sandy, the monster storm that happened off-season (October 29, 2012) in cold weather, and devastated the Jersey coast, taught me many things, one of them, preparedness. During that time, we were two weeks and a half without power, and it was cold. We had a generator, but finding gas and propane was a bit of a challenge, long standing lines at the nearest operable gas station that lasted 3-4 hours plus. I still remember the hum of the generators at night throughout the neighborhood.

Around here, we are 100% powered by electricity. In the event of a power outage, we would have to change the way we do things. We will be working in a few changes for the future, such as the installation of a small woodstove that has a feature for cooking as well, and we are looking into a solar generator, and other power options. Looking for options, I found out that there are many great items, which have gone in price considerably over the years. As people think more about climate change and the state of the economy worldwide, the prices of “doomsday” and preparedness items have gone up. I came across this very inexpensive small collapsible camping stove. It was only $9.99 + free shipping on Ebay. In the event that one would need to heat or cook something quick and simple a candle would suffice, or even a tiny can of fuel underneath. I think it is a good option when propane and gasoline are not available, or the temperature outdoors is too cold to cook on a grill or fire pit. There are many other larger size camping stoves that can be used with a variety of fuel options, but this was just something small to have around the home. It fits in a drawer, and you can fold it and pop it open, as needed. It is also very sturdy.

Two pieces make the whole thing.
What it looks like ready for use.

I am not a prepper or a doomsday believer, but I like to have options available if needed. I am not affiliated with any company, but when I find something I like, consider interesting, or of benefit, I like to share it. From candles to solar powered items, there are many budget-friendly items available if one cannot afford the very expensive ones. I hope you enjoy this post. Feel free to contribute with any ideas.

When Your World Crumbles and Your Truth Vanishes

I didn’t plan to write this blogpost, but deeply felt that I needed to write it. Life is just life; it is not perfect, and it is not guaranteed; it just is. Life can be all that when we decide that we want to receive all the gifts that God has readied for us. Life can be a real mess, or it can be sweet. This world is far from perfect and expecting others to be perfect is expecting something I cannot deliver myself; I am far from perfect. I can only love because God loves me first, otherwise, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I am an imperfect decent person that once thought she had it all together but did not. I am happy that I found that out. When your perfect world crumbles, when your beliefs, habits, everything you knew as truth, or everything you knew as “you” comes toppling down, the only thing left is the real you, sometimes, the real scared you. That is a good thing; believe me, I have been there. Now, you can sweep away the pieces (don’t even bother to pick them up) and continue your journey (don’t even have to start a new journey, there is no such thing, just your journey).

This world is loud and fast; don’t pace yourself to it. This world is unfair; don’t expect fairness or righteousness from it. Instead, be for others what you were expecting for yourself. Don’t let the noise be louder than your faith. Faith in what anymore? In the only one that lived through it all, the unfairness, the rejection, the let-downs, the hate, the noise of the times … Jesus lived through it all. When in doubt, ask Him directly in a real imperfect but sincere prayer; He will answer you. I know. If you want to know Him a bit better, find him in the chronicles of His life (in the pages of the bible.) Don’t take anybody’s word for it; you find Him yourself! If you really want to know Him, you ask Him for help, and it will be given to you. He will reveal who He truly is to you. You’ll get your answer.

So don’t let this imperfect but beautiful and lovely world rob you of your peace, light, and love, instead, live like you have never lived before – connect through Him. It makes all the difference.

Love and light.

The Simple Life – Sweet Satisfaction

Photo by M.A.D.

There is no “perfect life,” only life surrounded by circumstances and what one makes of it all. A simple life is as simple as one makes it, and as sweet as one wants it to be, despite the ups and downs that living on this imperfect world brings. One can do it alone or approach it simply with faith. It is then that it becomes sweet. As a person of faith, I understand that there is so much I can do on my own, and when my efforts are not enough, I give it all to the one that makes things sweeter and simpler, Jesus Christ.

Realizing my human limitations and weaknesses has made me understand my spiritual strength and power in Jesus. It truly changes perspective and expectations. We are about to enter a new phase for this country and the world. Depending on your stance in faith you will find it a blessing or not. Simple living isn’t devoid of challenges and troubles; it is not perfect, but it can be sweet. The difference is simply faith. The shifting of one’s focus to see the everyday blessings instead of the troubles, and the certainty and knowledge that God is always a prayer away, and that is next to you.

The pursuit of a simple life is what you make of it, and you don’t have to move to the country to find it. It is a knock-knock away, when you answer His call.

I hope you have enjoyed The Simple Life series of posts, and that somehow you have found simple inspiration. I wish for you a blessed life of sweet satisfaction.

Love and light.

The Simple Life – Blessings in a Box

One important aspect of living a simple life is realizing the blessings that one receives every single day. It leads to gratitude and gratitude leads to abundance. When one realizes how abundant life is (abundance doesn’t equal money) the natural response is the desire to give, to bless others. A blessing comes in many forms like helping someone in their hour of need, monetary or not, materially or not, or giving of yourself in whatever capacity you can do so. Whether you help someone cut their grass, share the fruits, veggies, or flowers of your garden with a neighbor, lend a hand or console someone, donate food, money, or a service … it is all giving.

These days are calling for people to bless others. Inflation in every area of daily life puts households in a very tight spot and many people are having to cut basics such as food, heating, cooling … One way in which anyone can benefit is with the gift of food or basic staples. If you don’t have much but want to bless someone, having a blessing box with basic supplies on hand is something you can do. You never know when you will meet or hear of someone who is in need. A blessing box is simple and not necessarily large or expensive. It is filled with a few items that a person can use. It can be any size. Here’s an example of a simple blessing box.

A can of milk

A box of crackers

A jar of peanut butter

A package of rice

A can of beans or veggies

A jar of jelly or cheese

A can of meat or tuna (spam, chicken …)

A can of soup

A box of pasta

A can of sauce

A package of flour

A package of sugar

Tea or coffee or powder drink

These are staples anyone can use, and last long in storage. Whether your blessing box contains four items or more, it will be appreciated by the person who needs it. Having one at hand facilitates a blessing for someone. This is just a simple example on how one can be a blessing to someone else. A blessing box can contain anything useable (school supplies, paper goods…) but food is important and always welcomed.

Sometimes, we hold back blessings because we think that we have to be rich, prosperous, or have it all together to be able to start blessing other people. An act as simple as putting a can of soup in your town or church’s food bin is a blessing to another. We are conditioned to think that bigger is better, instead of thinking that blessings come in all sizes and for all people. Living simply is understanding that you can be a blessing in many ways, in unlimited ways. When you give of yourself you are blessing someone, but also blessing yourself.

This little one is receiving its daily blessing.

Love and light.