Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Basement Entrance

It's old news to the locals driving by, but to those of you around the world waiting in anticipation for a house renovation update we can now walk in the back entrance, down the stairs into our basement!!

With the walls securely in place, we were finally able to pour cement for the pad, build stairs, and frame in the entrance door.




Welcome to our Home! Come on in!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankfulness Blog #2 New Image

As I stated in TB#1, my list will include the things that I've been so thankful for that I've been brought to tears.

Today I am reminded, as I wait in the realm of the unknown about my future with the New Image Thrift Store, how thankful I am that God has allowed me to use the gifts He has given me to start and be a part of a ministry that has filled a void in our community for over 5 years now. I tear up at times when I reflect on the people I have had the privilege of befriending that I may have never "rubbed shoulders with" had we not started the New Image Thrift Store (formerly known as "The Light").

Our mission at the New Image is to find innovative ways to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of individuals and families in rural Woodbury county and surrounding counties in Iowa. I love this ministry so much I don't have to look at the mission statement to copy it down, it is truly a part of me. Off the top of my head, for the most part, I can give you some pretty accurate stats about whatever you'd like to know from the number of families we have visited with in the past 9 months (98 families, approx 270 people) to the dollar amount of free items that have been given away in the past 2 years (approx $15,000 worth). Although my involvement has been more or less at different times, my heart is at the store every Saturday morning from 9am - noon.

If you've never had the privilege of visiting the store, I can only tell you the atmosphere that is created by the volunteers and the guests who come to see us is absolutely contagious. I am so thankful to those who have chosen to open up their lives to let us in enough to pray with them and check-in on how they are doing each week. I am thankful to be part of a ministry that takes "hearing the Word" to "doing the Word" seriously. The fellowship, worship, and unity is stronger there than many Sunday morning services I've been a part of in the past. As my time there may be coming to an end, I can't help but shed tears of thankfulness for God allowing me to be part of something so great.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankful Blog #1

I've seen all the thankfulness spreading around on facebook, so I thought I'd join in my own special way.  This time of year I always start having conversations in my head about thankfulness.  I don't know why I can't just take things at face value and start listing some things I'm thankful for.  Instead, I start asking myself questions like:

What does being thankful feel like? Like how do I know if I'm thankful?
Am I thankful enough or do I take too many things for granted?
How can I be more thankful?
If I don't make a weekly list of things I'm thankful for, does that mean I'm not a thankful person?
Do I have to verbally express thanks to God for him to know I'm thankful?

Wellllll...I did answer one of my questions. For me, I KNOW without a doubt that I am thankful if I get teary-eyed over something. I am a bit of an emotional sap, so sometimes it doesn't take a whole lot. But I'd rather be a little tenderhearted than not be able to feel the emotion that goes with gratitude. My answer to being MORE thankful is simply asking God to make me appreciate more things and have my eyes opened to the things I should be thankful for.

So begins my Thankful Blog. I have no plan for how many items will be on it or for how long or how often. No fun pictures (yet). I just know I've had some thankfulness lately and wanted to share it with the world...because when you're thankful, you just can't help but blurt it out to everyone! Well that's me anyway.

The items that make my list will be things that I have been sooooo thankful for, it brought tears (small or large) to my eyes. I hope you know what I'm talking about.

First and foremost (sounds like an oscar winning speech), but seriously, something I have cried tears of joy over is my thankfulness to my God who created me and saved me from myself. Though I have worshipped other things and people, made those things or people into my god for a time, the ONE TRUE God always has hold of my heart and wins me back with his love and mercy.

He made a way out for me through His son, Jesus, who I sometimes affectionately refer to as JC. I wanted to type, “He is my everything” but it’s more like He SHOULD BE my everything and when I make Him my everything, my perspective on everything else changes because He is awesome like that.

I get a little or lot teary-eyed sometimes thinking about how, until I found my identity in WHO HE says I AM, I was trying to please a whole lot of people and found myself saying yes to a whole lot of stupid things.

My life is truly not my own and I’m thankful for that because I make a mess of things when I do it my way instead of the way I was created to be.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Herbology Highlight - Cayenne (Capsicum)!

I had the blessing of attending a wonderful "Herb & Apothecary" class through our Homeschool Coop this fall put on by Amanda Husmann.  I was a bit overwhelmed that first class and thought I might steer clear of diving in to the land of Herbology too much.  I've dabbled here and there, but never dove in far enough to do anything other than buy a few fancy-named teas....which I have quite the collection of by the way.
By week eight, inspiration had taken flight within me and I placed my first herb order through our Food Coop.  I don't want to give out ALL the details of my herb endeavor ALL at once, so I thought as I experiment and research...I will slowly share my findings and experiences with the wonderful world of herbs.  I have several things brewing as you can see in the pictures.
One of the first herbs I have been experimenting with is Cayenne.  Yes, the hot pepper Cayenne!  Is it an herb, a spice, or something else?  Not sure, I just know it is the actual pepper that is dried and ground into powder that is used and I am having fabulous reactions to it!!! (and the Latin name is Capsicum)

While browsing through the Bulk Herb Store website, I stopped on Cayenne and read the description.  They listed Cayenne as a "staple" to their apothecary collection and I had to know more.  Having an uncle who has just gone through having a heart attack, the first use for Cayenne stood out to me right away:  It is touted as a necessary emergency herb used at the onset of heart attack or shock.  It is a quick-acting herb, lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, and in general is an excellent stimulant.
Aside from those great benefits, I was attracted to it for it's "warming" qualities. With all the work we're doing renovating our future home, we come home wiped out and sore from head to toe. I've been looking for something natural to massage into my aching body hoping for a little relief! Enter, Cayenne!

More about Cayenne can be found on the Bulk Herb Store website, but for now I will focus on what I have used Cayenne for this week.

First of all, I made this yucky looking salve right away. Here's how:
1. Dump some Cayenne powder into a little bowl (a Tablespoon maybe)
2. Cover it with Olive Oil (about 1/4 - 1/2 cup)
3. Stir and cover with paper towel held on with rubber band.
4. Leave to set 8 - 10 hours.
5. Strain as much powder off as possible using a coffee filter or cheesecloth.
6. Dump remaining oil into a sauce pan.
7. Add about 1/2 oz. Beeswax.
8. Heat gently until wax melts and blends.
9. Pour liquid into desired container (in my case back in the original bowl)
10. After it cools and solidifies, it is ready to use.

Now, I wasn't sure what to expect when I first tried the salve so I took a little finger-full and massaged it into one side of my neck. Within a few minutes, I noticed this nice warming sensation at the sight of application. Success! Next, I sludged that salve all over my body, wherever aches and pains were present which is pretty much everywhere at the end of the weekend. I wonderful warming sensation nearly took the pain away and definitely took the chill away that had been present since leaving the unheated renovation project...an added bonus!

So my parents came over a few days later to join in the apothecary fun and I tried the salve out on them right away. I did the one-side-of-the-neck experiment and neither one of them really noticed anything warming. BUT, low and behold, about 20-30 minutes later they were begging me to massage the other side because the massaged side now felt nice and loose and the not-yet-slathered side felt a little stiff. Hmmmmmm....I think it worked!

I would never recommend diving in and covering yourself in this stuff until you've tested an area for sensitivity. My "Herbal Mentor" informed me she blisters with the stuff and my husband complained bitterly about the burning going on for 3 hours after I applied it to his tense neck muscles. He is a bit sensitive, so personally I think it achieved the desired result.

The 2nd use I found for Capsicum is in a warming tea. The kids and I concocted what we named "Winter Warmer" tea. The recipe will be for a later blog, but I will tell you I added just a pinch of Capsicum. Afterall, I read that Capsicum acts as a "Catalyst" to other herbs externally and internally. Internally, it aids in digestion, speeds up the antibiotic activities of other herbs, normalizes blood pressure, takes the pain away from sore throats, just to name a few. For lack of more technical terms, it just makes you feel nice and warm...similar to how whiskey burns the back of your throat and gives you a warm feeling going down (so I've heard) ;)

Back to the "Winter Warmer" tea. The kids and I enjoyed a cup-o-warmth and we all broke into a small sweat within about 30 minutes. My lips were a little numb and my throat felt a little tingly. Let's just say, the next batch I added about 1/4 of a pinch and it was perfect!

Last up (wow this is turning into a lengthy blog), I woke up this morning with a sore throat, I quickly flung open the library book I checked out about herbal remedies, went to the index and searched "sore throat", turned to the remedy page, and lo and behold....Cayenne.

This was a fun little experiment as well. The recipe called for Apple Cider Vinegar, Cayenne Powder, and Eucalyptus Essential Oil. I just so happened to have all three ingredients! Here's how I did it:

1. Poured what was left of the ACV into a bowl (about 1/4 cup)
2. Shook 3 dashes of Cayenne into the bowl
3. Added 3 drops Eucalyptus EO into the bowl.
4. Took a cut piece of t-shirt material (a clean rag) and soaked it in the mixture.
5. Placed the rag on my throat/neck while I enjoyed a hot bath.
No joke, the pain relief was nearly instant. Six hours later, the sore throat has not returned.

Some other uses of Cayenne I plan to try include sprinkling the powder in my socks for cold feet, add to my "Vick's Vapor Rub" concoction, and gargle if needed for future sore throat. I don't know how to explain it, but when your body reacts well to an herb, you just know it was made for you. This is one of them for me.

I would love to hear how you've used Cayenne, or if you try it for the first time! Please be cautious using Cayenne with children...but don't rule it out...just start small and test their reaction.

Happy Home Remedy Making!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Grand Entrance Continues

I love the fashion of construction work, that mask doubles as a headband.

The entrance is beginning to look like an entrance, or maybe like a mini shed attached to our house.

My amazing husband framed that thing and sheeted it all by himself once he and my dad figured out the rafter angles. My dad got in on the tail end of finishing up the roof and rafter tails and is planning to single-handedly shingle that cute little roof this week. Wow, the men in this family are talented and amazing!

Hanging the "Typar" brought back memories of our South Dakota mission trip.

While my babe diligently worked on the entrance my dad and I worked on cleaning up the mess that has accumulated week after week. The forms are stacked and ready to take back to Dixon Construction and the wagon is loaded and ready to take to the landfill again. I am determined to have everything outside ready for the first snow to hit (which I've heard could be this week...NOOOOO!).
Before with the Mess                                                                After the Mess is cleaned up (and my mom in the hole)

After all that fun on the outside, my babe was not going to let the weekend end without getting his plumbing channels cut. So here he is showing off that he can cut and text at the same time. I think that women are supposed to think men operating power tools are sexy, but I'm just not seeing it. I don't get what is sexy about fumes being blasted into the air while sludge is being poured out all over the floor while the clothes he is wearing are going to have be washed in an industrial machine if he ever wants to wear them again which really translates, I'll be throwing those away and buying a pair at the New Image Thrift Store. Did I mention I will probably be the one cleaning up the mess on the floor and trying to blow that crap out of the house? But really, I AM impressed how he operates that thing. He cuts a really good piece of concrete (while texting).


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Frames Must Come Out!

The past weekend just didn't feel very rewarding. I'm sure a lot was done, but it just doesn't feel like there is a lot to show for it. And I don't know about you, but these exterior pictures are beyond getting old. I really need to see something pretty.

For one thing, getting cement frames out after the cement is poured and cured is not an easy task. My babe and a few others worked on these things every night in the hope of starting on building up the structure on Saturday. Ugh.

Construction Genius and yep that's ME working in the background!

Because of our cement mishap that caused cement to push to hard against the forms and seep out every crack and crevice, there was some extra sledgehammering to be done to loosen things up.


I have to say, my Uncle Jaret is a master form-remover. Master everything construction really. It was mesmerizing to watch him remove a form in less than 30 minutes by himself. His techniques are a little more professional then banging and jumping on the wall technique we had been trying for several days. You mean we should remove the stakes and loosen the cement around the edges BEFORE we start trying to sledge the forms out of place? Brilliant.


With the forms out, the holes were filled in with dirt and my dad sledged like a madman to get all of the overflow cement out of the entrance hole. Mr. Levine helped throw chunks of cement out of the hole with me. What a work-out!

Thor's Hammer?

Larry Levine

Darkness Falls

Here's my babe finally laying the first piece of green-treated lumber:
Yes, my dad is still working on getting the last of the forms out.