Tuesday, May 29, 2012


He's finished...with High School that is! This past weekend was the North Carolina Homeschool Conference and Graduation. There were excellent speakers, a huge book fair, and lots for teens to do from dancing to a talent show.
When Cameron's name was announced, he came across one side of the stage and Danny and I from the other side to present him with his diploma. It was such an honor and so exciting to have a part in his ceremony. Cameron isn't the only one who's learned a lot over the last 10 years...I have too. Times haven't always been fun or easy, but I wouldn't trade any of the moments we've shared for a million dollars! We are so proud of him and look forward to seeing him spread his wings. I was listening to a preacher a few weeks ago and he was talking about youth and he said, "Healthy birds fly away." We look forward to watching our healthy bird soar!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


We love to go fishin'! Friday when Dan got off work he asked if we'd like to go and of course we said YES! We ventured out to a friend's berry, grape and fig farm to fish their canal banks. They have a beautiful place out in the swamp that's full of wildlife. We headed out about 6:30 and when we got there, the fish were jumpin'...that's a good sign! After we dug up some worms we got the hooks baited and lines in the water.

It wasn't 5 minutes and Colin yelled, "I got one!" He pulled in a nice speckle.

Miss Independent wanted to do her own casting and wouldn't you know, she got one all by herself! She did panic a little trying reel it in, but she did it and was SO excited!

"YaHoo, I got another one!", shouted Colin. This time it was a large mouth Bass.

Cassie had her fill after reeling in her Sunfish and went to play with the dogs and visit with the chickens. So, I got a turn to fish with her little pink rod! I avoided catching a turtle and it wasn't long before I reeled in a Large Mouth Bass too!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Non-stick Stainless Steel

Non-stick Stainless Steel? Who knew? Last summer I was shocked while making yogurt because there were little black flakes of Teflon floating in the milk! YUCK! I only noticed it because I was heating milk. I thought to myself how long have we been eating this stuff...I'm just glad I started making yogurt!

Anyway, switching all of my pots and pans to Stainless Steel took relearning how to cook. Using non-stick pans meant I could cook everything on high real quick! Not really, but I did have to adjust the way I cook!

Yesterday, I came across this video and my jaw fell to the floor! No more eggs in the pan...WOW! You know I'm doing this! Halle Cottis is a genius!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Chica-ma what? Chicamacomico was a life saving station on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the village of Rodanthe on Hatteras Island. The station was commissioned on December 4, 1874 with Benjamin Pugh as Keeper. Before the US Coast Guard, there was the Revenue Cutter Service and the US Life-Saving Service. The two services merged in 1915 and became what we know today as the United States Coast Guard.

Danny is still in the process of indoctrination for Chief. I am SO glad to say that indoctrination is not what it used to be! They are team building and community service oriented. Last week, Dan and his team volunteered to do the reenactment of a rescue at Chicamacomico. If you're interested, the Chicamacomico reenactments are done every week throughout the summer months.

Here the team is wheeling the rescue cart out of the boat house. Danny is on the far front handle of the cart in this photo.

They had to push this cart to a sandy clearing. The post in the distance on the left will be the focal point of this reenactment. It represents the mast of a ship that has wrecked.

You can see that each man has a very important role: A rescue line must be strategically placed on the each side of a pulley; several men take turns digging a 3 foot deep by 3 foot round hole for a sand anchor; and the cannon must be set up and loaded.

Keep in mind that this was normally done during a storm in wet sand. The purpose of the cannon is to shoot a rescue line over the mast of the ship.

The line is then tied to the mast.

After the line is secured to the mast, it must also be secured to the sand anchor.

Here the line is lifted off the ground and a Bosun's Chair is sent up to the abandoned crew.

Here the weathered crewman is brought to safety! This process took these guys 20 minutes from start to finish and they were movin'! The crowd was impressed with their perfect performance. However, back in the day if a team couldn't do it in 5 minutes they no longer had a job!

The event wouldn't be complete without an H60 flyover. The team burst into song singing the Coast Guard Anthem!

The kids were excited when they were given the "go ahead" to dig up the sand anchor! Colin worked up a sweat digging until the anchor was free.

The shovel weighed almost as much as her, but she gave it her all! Eventually, resorting back to using her hands.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Easy Carrot Cleaning!

It's spring garden time! Which means I'd better get what's left of my winter garden out of the ground to make room! All I had left was carrots...a lot of carrots! So many carrots, I dreaded the thought of scrubbing them all! The kids and I got them all pulled and I started the process of sorting and scrubbing. After about 2 hours, and not even a dent made in my mound, I called it quits...for the night! I was determined this morning to get these carrots done, so I stood over the sink a while longer and thought surely someone has an easier method than this. A lot of what I read said, you just get a veggie brush and scrub...I have too many other things to do and at the rate I was going, it would have taken me two days to scrub all my carrots! Then I found it....

Someone wrote, "Just toss them in the washing machine!" This person is a genius! Why not? Since I was at the point where I just wanted to toss what I hadn't cleaned, this was something worth trying! So in they went! I washed them on a normal cycle, no cleaners of course, with cold water.

Now those are some clean carrtos! I was very impressed with how clean they got...now I just have to cut, blanch, and freeze them! I read that this process works well with radishes and green beans too!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cards and Clips

I haven't posted any of the recent projects I've worked on because I just seem to have to many going on at once!

Recently, I received two birth announcements from friends having little boys. I'd also seen a very cute quilt card idea that I wanted to try, so I thought now would be the perfect time to give it a try!

Here's a close up. I just used a marker to make faux stitches and then clipped a button and tag to the bow.

I turned this sample in for the place cards for our church ladies banquet. It got a unanimous thumbs up from the committee! Last year I made 86...wonder how many I'll have to make this year? Our theme for this years event is hats! This is one of the biggest events that our church hosts each year. Every year improves a little more and gains more interest. It's been a blessing to watch it grow and I can't wait to see how everything comes together this year!

Cassie and Colin went to a friends birthday party this weekend and had a wonderful time. The birthday girl, Evelyn, likes accessories so I decided to make her some yo-yo hair clips.

I have several jars of assorted buttons, but you might be surprised to find out that all but the grapes are scrap booking/card making brads...not buttons! If you look closely, you'll see where I attached the brad. The clip blanks have a hole in either end that you can attach the yo-yo to. You can make them in assorted sizes for endless possibilities!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Beautiful Bees

The kids and I took a field trip to our neighbors house for a lesson in bee keeping! Remember those jars of sweet golden deliciousness, well this is where I got them from!

Bees are so fascinating to watch.

Here's my little man smoking the bees. I have to say, Colin followed directions very well and showed no sign of fear...at least while he was in his suit!

I was very impressed with Cameron facing his fear of bees head on. In fact, Dave told Cameron the reason he took up bee-keeping was to overcome his fear of bees...and pollinate his garden! That's Cameron holding a frame full of bees.

The little hive that Dave and Colin are near is what our project was. We inspected each frame of both larger hives for a brood that could be separated in hopes of producing a new queen for the new hive.

Here's my little peanut. She didn't want anything to do with the bees, so she stayed busy with the chickens, fish pond, and swing set. She did ask questions from a distance.

Now it's my turn to visit with the bees! As you can see the bees were very active at this point. We were looking for the queen in both hives, because we wanted to make sure we didn't transfer her to the new hive Dave was building. It was amazing to see the bees up close and how they work. At first I thought they all looked the same, then I saw a big fat bee which was a drone. Now I can tell the difference between a worker (all females) and a drone (all males). There aren't too many drones, so they are easy to see once you know what you're looking at.

Can you see the queen? She was hard to find, but once you find her, there's no mistaking her. She's long and skinny with a brown abdomen. If you're having trouble seeing her, she's right in the center of the photo.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Chief's Academy Formals

Isn't he handsome? He's worked hard over the last 17 years in the Coast Guard and I'm proud of all that he's accomplished. I'm proud to call him my Chief Dan!

We've seen and done some pretty awesome things over the years. Formal dinners hasn't been one of those things. Getting to attend Danny's graduation ball with him was very exciting, but not something I was prepared for. I don't have classy dresses or ball gowns tucked away waiting for an event to roll around and anyone who knows me well, knows that I don't enjoy shopping. Can I just say what happened next was perfect timing! My mom's neighbor came by with this dress and asked my mom if she knew anyone who could wear it because she didn't want to put it in her yard sale or take it to a thrift store. My mom said it looks like my daughters size. It was perfect for the occasion. Now all I had left to do was find a pair of shoes! That was the biggest challenge, but I weathered it well.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Basic Whole Wheat Bread -Guest Post

I was so excited when Michelle from Simplify, Live, Love invited me to share my bread technique on her blog! Today she is featuring the blow post and did I mention that I'm so excited! I'd like to invite you to check it out along with some of Michelle's other fantastic posts like The Top 10 Ways I Keep My Grocery Budget Low or her out of this world 9 Grain Bread post! We'd love to hear your comments.

Today, I'll be sharing a basic whole wheat bread recipe using the Whisper Mill (known now as the Wonder Mill) and Electrolux DLX. Like Michelle, I grind my own wheat and have for almost 10 years. Now, the health benefits alone are worth the effort. However, not only is it healthy, but grain can be stored indefinitely, it saves us loads of money, it teaches our children to appreciate and understand how food and the body work together, and best of all there's no need for an air freshener when bread is baking!

My ten year old Whisper Mill and 5 year old DLX are my favorite kitchen companions next to my kids!

12-14 cups fresh milled whole wheat flour
5 cups warm water
1 1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup honey
2 TBSP dough enhancer
5 tsp salt
2 1/2 TBSP yeast

***NOTE***I use a 50/50 mixture of hard (bread wheat: higher gluten and protein) and soft (pastry wheat: lower gluten and protein) wheat which results in an all-purpose like flour.

My mill will grind about 7 cups of grain in under 2 minutes. The wonderful thing about fresh milled flour, is none of the "good stuff" gets sifted away! There are 3 parts to a grain of wheat: the bran or fiber, the germ or seed embryo, and the endosperm or starch (AKA...white flour). The bran is the protective coat of the grain which is generally sifted away and used in animal feed. The germ, which is also sifted away, is what would become the sprout and is a very rich source of vital nutrients! Once the grain is broken, the germ begins to oxidize and will eventually spoil; this is why the healthiest parts are sifted away. Within the first day it will lose about 45% of its nutritional value and 90% after about 3 days. Finally, there's the endosperm which serves as food in the form of starch for the germinating plant. Keep in mind that it lacks any significant nutritional value, but is the most common part of the grain that's used in the average American diet.

Let's move on to making bread! You'll start by adding all of your wet ingredients, 4 cups of flour, and the remaining dry ingredients. Turn the mixer on med-high speed and continue to add flour.

When the dough has pulled away from the side of the bowl and I can touch the dough without much sticking to my fingers, I know I have added enough flour. Keep in mind; the amount of flour will vary depending on weather, temperature, and altitude. From this point I mix for approximately 7 more minutes. One very helpful hint I recently found out about the DLX, is to take the scraper out of the mixing bowl and the dough hook will require less assistance.

After my dough has finished mixing, I transfer it to a larger container for the first rise. Let it rest in the oven with only the light on for approximately 45 minutes or until double. Once it is double I begin preheating my oven to 350* and shaping my dough for it's second rise.

I could make 4 12in.x4in. loaves of bread with this batch of dough but normally I do not. Instead, I make a pan of dinner rolls, a pizza crust, a pan of cinnamon rolls, a loaf of bread and a couple of flat breads.
The rolls, pizza, and flat bread are baked for 15 minutes, cinnamon rolls for 20 minutes and the bread loaf takes 30 minutes.

As you can see, we get several meals out of a basic dough recipe and what you can do with it has endless possibilities. Some more ideas are pretzels, pigs in a blanket, and cinnamon raisin bread. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "Whether then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Thank you, Michelle for hosting my first guest post!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Last week I was watching Pets TV on SkyAngel (our TV service provider)and they were featuring a little ranch in Temecula, California called The Alpaca Hacienda. Was it coincidence that this program aired just before I was to head out to California? I think not! Some of you may be aware of my blossoming love affair with alpacas. Anyway, after watching the program, I immediately contacted Danny to ask him if it would be possible for us to visit while we were in Los Angeles. Being the sweetheart that he is, we made arrangements to visit Beth and her alpaca herd for Valentine's Day.

Here, Beth was introducing me to the ladies in her herd. They are pretty shy animals, but very tender and affectionate when they are comfortable.

While I was sponging up all the information I could about these gorgeous beauties, Danny was getting friendly with the girls.

Here's another lovely lady...

and another!

These girls would have gotten in Danny's lap if he were sitting down. They loved the attention and allowed us to rub, scratch, and hug them!

This tiny little girl was...I hope I get this right...a rose grey Suri. There are 2 types of alpaca; Suri (surrey) and Huacaya (wah-KI'-ya). The Suri has long silky locks while the more common Huacaya has short dense fiber like a teddy bear.

We can't forget about the gentlemen. These are the young fellas and look at that view. Beth and Mike have a little slice of heaven tucked away in the hills of Temecula.

This guy is the prize of the herd...Crown Royal. He was pretty funny because he just looked at us with a look saying, "Yes, I know I'm beautiful." And he was! They all were!

Here's just one of the amazing things that Beth did with her alpaca fiber. These felted scarves were works of art that would make a stunning addition to any outfit. Check out Beth's Etsy Shop to see more of her amazing creations.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chief's Academy

Forgive me for neglecting my blog. I spent so much time preparing to visit Danny in California where he's been for the last 6 weeks. Now that I'm here, he's had to show me everything he's experienced since he got here.

This is the view from our room of the morning fog rolling over the hills.

I was walking to the coffee shop and these guys crossed my path. There were 8 total and they just danced back and forth across the path in front of me.

While I was enjoying my coffee and the entertainment of the turkey, Danny was running a 10K. He crossed the finish line at 54 minutes and a few seconds. Yeah, Danny!

This pole that Danny is standing on is about 15 or so feet high (correction...30+ feet). Want to see what he had to do next?

He had to jump from the pole to that trapeze bar!

There is a spiders web of cable in the tops of these giant pine trees! I was amazed when I saw this COPE course. I couldn't believe how high the cables were. This was an important part of their training because, it challenged their abilities, they worked as a team, and it was fun. You'd think they were wearing hard hats in case of a fall, but there was a secondary purpose...to protect them from the 5 pound pine cones that fell! Wouldn't want that to fall on my head! OUCH!

That's about all for now. We have to get ready to go to the ball! I'll be back on track soon!