Christmas ~ Take Two

Most of our Christmas Day centered around the house fire of our elderly neighbor, but after we had a really nice visit with another neighbor and Ben rolled out of bed we did share our love for one another by giving and receiving gifts of love. And although the day started early with the 3:00 am fire, we still had a very peaceful and sweet day with each other. We ditched our traditional Christmas Breakfast because Ben slept till 10ish and I was just so dang tired that we opened gifts and then ate left overs from Christmas Eve Dinner. We watched TV, napped and read. We went over to the farm house to offer our help with whatever the family needed and enjoyed time being together.

Ben has left for New Orleans and will be back in a week. He loves to serve others and it does my heart good to see him so much stronger and healthier this year. We have so much to be grateful for this Christmas. Please pray for their safety as they travel to LA.

Becca spent Christmas in Prague with one of her friends from YWAM. Life is very different this year as we have all of our firsts without Becca. She will be leaving for Africa the first week of January. Please also pray for her safety and her team as they go.

Prague (isn’t this a gorgeous picture her friend McKenna Anne took!)

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My in laws were here to share Christmas Eve dinner with us and boy was it good. Honey requested another Turkey from Jehovah Jireh Farm and it proved to be even better than the one I cooked for Thanksgiving. There wasn’t anything fancy, just good whole food that taste good and is good for you. My father in law was particularly glad for food that didn’t come from a box….sorry Gma! Of course nothing we eat comes from a box. Most of it comes from our garden or near by farms.

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Honey brought me beautiful red Christmas roses!

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Gma and Gpa

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Honey, me & Ben

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A great gift!

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Food always works in Ben’s stocking. Yes, those are sponge Bob PJ pants on a 20 yr old!!!

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Honey with some new sleeping pills (DVD’s)

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Honey loves denim shirts. They keep him toasty in his computer rooms at work.

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Honey gave me this sweet Willow Tree.

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This was my favorite gift. Honey bought this sweetie calendar and wrote captions on each month. Tears welled up in my eyes. It’s how he sees me that brings me to tears.

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I’ve been wearing my steel toed boots for a month, but Honey wrapped the box. It was heavy but Honey always puts weights in empty boxes, so I didn’t open it all day. Then before we went to bed, Honey asked me if I’d opened it. Nope. He thought maybe I should……oh, right I forgot my Muck Boots!!!!

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I know they really are too pretty for manure, but that’s what they are for. A girl’s gotta look good even shoveling manure! By the way, I also got a manure fork and shovel!!! 😀

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After the fire I came home, took a shower and did something fun. I made fresh butter for the first time. It took 5 minutes in my Bosch with cookie paddles. It is absolutely way better than the fresh butter I buy from the farmer, even though it’s from the same cream. Maybe they let theirs sit longer. So simple, you really should try.

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I got a pint and a half of butter from 1 qt of heavy cream…..it’s cheaper to make my own.

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Another interesting thing happened on Christmas Day. Wacky Waldo, my previously named Waldeen chicken, discovered that he could fly over the gate. He spent most of his day outside the chicken pen walking around the edge trying to get back in. Yes, he is a he. And it’s confirmed that Roxie is Rocky! I saw it!!! So, we have two roosters. I got three eggs today which verifies that the others are hens!!! Yeah, now what to do with the roosters.

Lady was really almost going crazy watching that chicken walk around the chicken fence. He never came near her or else she would have had a wonderful Christmas Dinner too!!!

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Photo of Prague from facebook…credit to McKenna Anne

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My 2008 Christmas Letter

From our Home To Yours, Merry Christmas!

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I decided to write my annual Christmas letter here on my blog since just about everything we do has gone electronic. So why not my Christmas letter. Besides that, I have so many new friends from near and far right here on the web.

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As we always start off saying, I can’t believe that Christmas is here again. Our family has seen big changes this year. Our children are taking some of those big kid first steps that will leave our lives here forever changed. But we embraced those changes, at first with tears and now with joy. “Hold on to everything with open hands!”

First we saw Becca accepted into the YWAM (youth with a mission) photography program in Germany. She was excited to spread her wings and fly off on her 24th birthday. After being in Germany for 4 months she is now preparing to go off to Africa where her team will use their photographic skills to document the extreme poverty in that part of the world. After returning to Germany in April they will publish their work in efforts to raise funds for those they ministered to. So, keep in touch with me here and I will of course let you know how you can contribute to this worthy cause if you feel led.

Becca and her friend Leah

Ben is at the community college where he’s just passing time. A dear friend of mine calls him a “rolling stone”. Ben has always and still does have a free spirit. He still has a passion for music and plays electric guitar for the worship team at his church. He still loves to serve the lowly and will be off to New Orleans again this winter break to help rebuild a strangers home that was destroyed by Katrina. His long term plans are always changing which is probably nothing new for a 20 yr old young man. And he is a man. He ventured off to hike the Appalachian Trail for 4 days alone this summer marking his 20th birthday. His health was iffy then but he conquered this giant. Only to do another hike with a friend covering 27 miles of mountainous terrain in 2 days! He is still battling Lyme Disease, but is improving with a stronger immune system. For the moment he’s “training” with thoughts of entering the Special Forces of the Marines OR joining the local Police Academy OR venturing to Alaska and living the wild life with the wildlife!!!! Gun in hand, living day to day! What a guy!!! That’s our Ben! He rolls in every once in a while to grab some food and clean clothes but is mostly on his own, working at the church and enjoying life!!!

Honey & I will celebrate our 27th anniversary this March!!! Wo how did that happen? God has done amazing things in our marriage and we are enjoying our time together in our empty nest! Not to say that this jump into an empty nest is easy after having my kids home with me forever! It’s getting easier to pass by their bedrooms and offer up a prayer for them without tears. The house does stay clean longer, but with Boomer and Lady it’s an endless battle with dog hair. Boomer has lovingly acquired the name Lazarus! Constantly keeping me caring for him. Lady is wackier than ever and now with our newest additions….5 chickens, she is on daily guard!

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Honey is still working on stuff that I can’t talk about…so I won’t. He’s busy around our little place trying to get the ground ready for a barn/shed to be delivered. We spent endless hours clearing our back 40 this summer. Tons of multiflora rose to be wacked out. A gazillion poison oak trees to kill. Hours of mowing. Home repairs. You know the routine. Now he’s enjoying his hibernation months sleeping and resting for the upcoming spring and summer. He is the love of my life and one woman shouldn’t be allowed to love this much!!!

Me, well I’m enjoying and rejoicing in my new found gloriously miraculous healing. It’s been almost a yr since I’ve had huge breakthroughs using herbs and food to heal my body from Chronic Lyme and 3 co-infections. My doctor has proclaimed me his “healthiest patient’!!! How cool is that!!! See miracles still happen!!! I’m a living testimony and I hope to give others hope to heal! I’m enjoying this Christmas like no other. I have energy and motivation that surpasses many years past. I also turned 50 in October!!! Dance on!!!!!

Becca and I launched my website, Butterflies & Bumble Bees; my labor of love for Dalit women in India. I’ve been studying herbalism for the past year and am developing some of my own remedies which includes my favorite Chai Tea that I learned to love in India. As well as preparing my own tinctures and lotions and salves that seem to be a hit with my sisters friends.

AND now I’m becoming a cowgirl!! We bought 2 Jersey heifers so we can have our own supply of raw milk, raw cheese, raw cream, raw butter……..Raw dairy has played a huge roll in my healing! Of course since we have to have calves to have milk, I’ll sell my calves to help pay for hay or we’ll put meat in the freezer! And who knows I just might throw in a sheep or two!!! I do love lamb and you know I love fiber!!!

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JOY is 2 months old. Isn’t she the cutest ever.

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Gerdy and I were introduced in a torrent of rain! She’s almost 2 yrs old.

Wait till you see my new pink Wellies that Honey is giving me for Christmas! Oh I’m going to hate to mess them up!

I’m already enjoying my Christmas Ladies Artec Carhartt coat.

I told Honey that now all I need for Christmas is a BIG FORD 350 with a red bow! He laughed HARD!!!

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Life here at Peaceful Acres is good. We worship a glorious God and His Son Jesus. We pray that you will find the peace that only He can give, because he is The Lord of Peace; Jehovah Shalom.

The Rose Of Bethlehem

This song by Selah is so beautiful. I hope that during all the hustle and bustle you can slow down to remember the sacrifice that was given for all mankind.

From the cradle

to the cross

Photo Credit linked to Flickr.com

Toy Packaging Anger Management!

Back to our regular scheduled programming……

This is such a funny song. We’ve all been there.

Charlie Brown’s Christmas

As a kid, I really hated Charlie Brown’s Christmas. I’m not sure why. It seemed to drag on and on for me. I watched it last night for the first time in ages and I loved it! I do feel for Charlie Brown, he must have spent millions on therapists! Maybe that’s what I didn’t like, the constant put down. Most of us as kids already struggled with our self esteem. And then we had to watch another kid get beat up on incessantly. My temperament is very sensitive to others so that must have been it. I still feel for poor Charlie Brown, and am made aware of my own thoughts towards others.

Christmas Cheer

Many will find this time of year extremely challenging. With diets and temptations abounding. I encourage you to not fall off the wagon during the Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years celebrations. Instead plan a course now to prevent failure. Here are a few tips.

Stay away from refined sweets. I know easier said than done. But, I’ve done it and I know that if I can you can too. Pass that cookie tray in the break room or the cookie exchange. Remember it’s not about food—-it’s about people!

Stay away from grains. Yes, that means breads, cookies and pies! That ought to make the first one easier to follow!

But if you’re going to indulge remember a few things…….

Make it a different kind of year. If you are going to use grains then soak your grains and flours in kefir or whey to break down the phytic acid which prevents digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients and blocks enzymes. Use sourdoughs as much as possible. Stay way from refined sugars. Use raw honey for as much as you can. Adding a little maple syrup or even Rapadura or Turbinado. But not too much, they still affect ones blood sugar. I find that raw honey has the least effects on my blood sugar and never puts me back into the craving sugar mode. And I use it in equal amounts when baking.

Try using a variety of flours. For instance coconut, almond and rice. You can replace them for equal measurements. You can find these from Bob’s Red Mill at your local health food store. I used coconut and almond to make a pie crust and it was delicious.

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Indulge yourself instead in Eggnog. Using raw milk, raw cream, raw free range eggs and some raw honey or maple syrup with a dash of organic nutmeg, dash of salt. There’s nothing like it. In fact you can make this one of your favorite morning shakes. Try adding frozen blueberries for extra antioxidants. Many suggest only using the raw egg yolks, since too many raw egg whites can cause a biotin deficiency. A biotin deficiency can increase problems with diabetes, poor pituitary and low thyroid. Even toss in some good oils like coconut or flax and you have a powerhouse drink!

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Macaroons are a wonderful treat and are a good way to use up those egg whites. You can freeze your egg whites in a container and keep adding to them. Make sure you write the number on the container. The recipe from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions is great.

Sally Fallon’s Macaroons

Beat 4 raw egg whites with a pinch of salt until you have stiff peaks.

Add 2 Tbsp of Arrowroot. And slowly add 1/2 C Maple Syrup and 1 Tbsp Vanilla. Fold in 2 Cups of dried unsweetened coconut.

Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper.

Heat oven to 300 and bake for 1/2 hr. Reduce oven to 200 and bake an additional 1 hr. Allow to cool before removing from parchment paper. Store in airtight container. Makes 2 dozen.

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I’m only planning one dessert for Christmas. I’ll be making my favorite Blackberry Cobbler. I froze several bags of berries this summer and it will be a wonderful treat. Plop on some raw cream and yummy! No need to sweeten the cream since it’s already sweet heavy cream!

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There is also a delicious recipe for Gingerbread in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. Try it with a lemon butter! Mmmmm! OR raw whipped cream!

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And then if you are a chocolate lover, you must try my healthy chocolates. Chocolate is full of antioxidants and it’s a fermented food. However, most chocolate is also full of sugar! And I suppose that is why most folks with Lyme say they can’t eat chocolate. My solution is to make my own which are to die for. You can switch out the almond butter with peanut butter, or leave it out entirely. Although the opinion around here is that they are better with a nut butter. Enjoy.

Guiltless Chocolates(all measurements are approximate, tweak them as you like)

1/2 Cup raw butter softened

1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil

1 Tbsp almond butter

2 heaping Tbsp “Really Raw” honey (or whatever honey you like)

2 heaping Tbsp organic cocoa (or raw chocolate)

Mix all these ingredients together and drop by the spoonful on a plate lined with waxed paper. Place the plate in the freezer till hardened. Eat quickly because they melt in your hands. The idea here is to eat raw, so use as many raw ingredients as possible. ENJOY! Variations: unsweetened shredded coconut, nuts (crispy), whatever tickles your taste buds!

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Last but not least is homemade ice cream. I’ve made Mother Linda’s recipe for Jeffersonian Ice Cream and it’s really, really good. Try to use raw dairy, even though it’s cooked. It only takes about 25 min’s for it to churn with an electric ice cream maker. It is so worth it!

Remember that the holidays are not an excuse to eat poorly. They are a time to celebrate our Saviours birth and to enjoy family and loved ones. Learn new habits for this New Year and you will begin to see your healing quickly appear!

I also encourage you to invest in Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions. It will be an endless resource to your cooking library. Make this New Year a time to recreate the way you see and eat food. Make food your medicine and have a purpose for each bite.

Photo Credit: Flickr linked to original artists.

Fewee!

My garden is busting at the seams! Today I made a batch of fermented salsa. Now, I’m truly not a salsa gal, but when I tasted this stuff….well, I ate a bowlful before I put the lid on to ferment! It is absolutely great! See the recipe at the end of this post. I ate it with these marvelous chips that Mother Linda brought to my attention. My family loves these chips now and refuses to eat anything else. They are prepared using the ancient Aztec method of stone ground corn soaked in lime made into a dough called Nixtamal. Then they are baked thin and crispy and using no hydrogentated oils! See everything that’s good for us is worth the wait.

Tomatillos, tomatoes and Jalepeno for salsa

They carry them in our local health food store! Lucky us.

I also made my first batch of brine sour pickles from Sandor Katz book, Wild Fermentation. The jar was pretty packed and I didn’t have anything to weight the cucs down….Sandor suggests using a rock….I asked my Honey if he had any ideas and he said, “how about a rock”! So, I got the rock that I brought home from VA that Ben used to sharpen his knife before he went out on his adventure hiking the Appalachian Trail for 4 days. I washed it well and then boiled it for 10 min’s…then I popped it in the freezer to cool it down. I pushed it on the top of the cucs and covered it with a paper towel held in place by a rubber band. Now to check them daily and let them sit for a couple 2-4 weeks! Can’t wait!

I also made up the last fresh batch of blackberry cobbler! I froze several quarts of berries for cobbler later this winter….oh won’t that be good in Dec or Jan! It will taste like summer and hopefully give us something to look forward to during the long winter.

Now a batch of blueberry muffins as per the request of my daughter Becca! Since she’s leaving for Germany in 1.5 months I am trying to meet all her little requests. After all she’s going to miss Thanksgiving and Christmas with us, and her 24th birthday. Besides that, I really do love serving my family and bringing them simple joys even if it is food. I never rewarded my kids with food when they were young and they’ve never had weight problems. Becca has been a part time athlete this summer and dropped to a size 2!!!!!!!! Make me sick. I think I was a 2 when I was 2! Period. Never again in my life!!!!

I just came in from pulling my onions….2 bushel!!! My first onions ever and I am so tickled! Thank you Melinda over at The Growing Challenge!!! By this little challenge she presented I was motivated to try new things and to push myself to the limits. I think I did. With this came motivation that I needed to come out of this “coma” I’ve been in with the Chronic Lyme Disease. I found a great quote embroidered on a sampler and could kick myself for not buying it…

“When I awoke, life was dusty.”

That so describes my life during this battle. But I am living proof that there is life after Lyme! Never, never, never give up!

The onions are drying this afternoon and then will cure for a few weeks. I’ll keep them in the basement when it rains, then I’ll put them back out under a shade tree. Here’s a good reference on curing onions.

I also blanched a batch of green beans to freeze.

I love the emerald green color when they are blanched. They are so pretty.

Sandy’s Fermented Salsa

(don’t ask me who Sandy is I have NO earthly idea, but it’s her recipe!)

2# Tomatillos or Tomatoes

1/2# onion

8-10 cloves of garlic

4 Jalepeno (2 seeded)

1/2 C cilantro

1/4 tsp cumin

2 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp Celtic Sea Salt

1/4 C whey

Process in food processor and pack in canning jar. Leave on counter for 2 days. Then refrigerate and enjoy!

Makes approx. 1.5 Qts