Friday, April 3, 2015

When God Answers.... (an update on the housing plans)

For a few months now we have been talking about how we were working on clearing land and finding plans and literally building a bigger house on the land. 

You can watch our latest video here....



Or skip it if you already watched me running around like a chicken with it's head cut off about how I need to MOVE everything.  It's all moved by the way.  ;-) 

How far have we gotten?  As far as God wants us to get.  If you remember, you heard me say at the end of the video I only wanted the house if it was God's will.  I didn't want any of it if it wasn't His will.  I stand by that.  Still today... Even after yesterday. 

Yesterday we got a call from the lender asking us to come to the office for a conference call as soon as we could.  Our appraisal came in and they needed to talk.  I've been alive long enough to know that if you ask someone to come to the office... it's not good news.  So we stopped and prayed... We prayed for God's will, a clear sign and knowing lenders and wanting to get the deal closed... we added.. that if there was a way that added any monthly expenses to the deal.. we would take it as a sign it wasn't meant to be.  Then drove over. 

8 minutes later we are sitting in front of the lender and were conferencing with the person in charge of our loan.  She is telling us that the value of the land came in 52,000 less then what it was once appraised for in 2008!!

My mind literally stopped!  How could that be?  I could see several thousand less... but 52,000 is a lot of money!!!  Our property dropped in value well over 1/3 of its value.. in under 6 years! 

It also meant that we would need to come to the table with 25,000 if we wanted to move forward. 

Money we didn't have.

 There was a way we could swing it if we wanted to get mortgage insurance and pay an extra 100.00 a month..... But remember our prayer???


Then we started crunching numbers.. the final numbers of what we owed on our first and what we were actually going to have done.. and we came to the final look that if we wanted to do this the only way we could... was not to have the garage built... and a few other minor details... and we would still have to come up with 10,000.

Again, Money we don't have... and a clear answer to the prayer we just prayed moments before. 

I sat in the office.. You could tell they were feeling horrible and I felt so bad for them.  To have to tell us what they thought was bad news... and dash our hopes and dreams...

But my hopes are in God.  And my dreams are to live the life that he wants for us.  Not to live the life I want and think I deserve. 

Lord, I meant it when I said I only wanted to live the life you want for me!!!! 

And I leaned over the phone and told the lady it was OK.  I believe in God and His plan and if there is a way... then He will find it.  But for now, I am totally fine with the info. 

Totally sad that our property has decreased that much in such a short time.. But, I know the economy of the world today... It's not as pretty and rosy as they are all letting on it is!

Hubby and I head home.  There is a slight silence in the car... (those that know me are laughing... but really there was).  And hubby looks at me and says he is sorry.  My heart fell... because I know he is not saying he is sorry for not getting the house.  I know he is saying he is sorry for other things.  And I want to reach over and hug him.

With permission from him I am allowed to share this:

Growing up, I was taught by my parents 'cash on the barrel'  I was given an allowance for everything.  I wasn't one of those kids that got to go shopping every weekend with her mother for clothes.  I was given a small amount each month to use on clothing as I chose to.  It was never enough, and I scrapped by on cheap clothes that while clothed me... never got me asked out or invited anywhere.  And to be honest... most of the time I looked down right hideous! 

I would like to stop for a moment and just say.... I blame the 80's.  It was not good to us girls!

I can remember asking my father for something and him asking me... "How's it feel to want?"  No matter how I answered he had an answer for everyway... If I said good.. It was "well I wouldn't want to spoil that" If it was bad... "Well start finding a way to earn the money and save for it."

He taught me to save!!!!  It was a lesson at the time I hated!!!

The only time he 'helped' me was when I wanted my first car.  I can remember the search for the car.  I needed a loan... I was sitting down at the dinning room table getting the lecture of all lectures... The speech that led to them shortly later co-signing on the loan for me to get the car.  They wanted to help me build my credit.. and this was there way.  If I missed one payment they would own and sell my car.  And since they clearly had followed through on everything else they had said in my entire life... I was in fear of missing even one payment.  So much so, I was always paying 2 payments ahead.... Just in case something happened I would have a month to get a new job and earn enough to make the now, tiny car payment. 

He taught me finances!!!  I paid that loan off early.  Because they taught me that having debt wasn't the in thing to do.. That working hard and paying everything off so you didn't have to pay interest on anything was the proper thing in life.....

My husband, I have recently learned, was taught this about finances and money......

(silence)

His words -  The bills were paid.  There was always food on the table.  We knew we weren't well off and if we wanted something we had to use our money.  But we were never taught how to save or handle money to benefit us for the future. 

To which I tilted my head, much like a dog tilts there head and starred at him with the look of 'how is that even possible?'  And then I asked.... "You mean to tell  me you never experienced the joy of saving for something for MONTHS and MONTHS and the feeling of elation the moment you went to finally buy it?"

To which I got the blank stare.  But more like the "Crazy woman what ARE you talking about kind of stare!"  Which answers the question I have always had of when I would say... Oh I want to save for that.. and he would buy it right off for me.... BUT I WANTED TO SAVE FOR IT!!!!!!  :-(

And this is how it has effected us.... I like saving. 

Wait.... I LOVE SAVING!!!!

I also love empty shelves but I am learning to not live with that. 

My man on the other hand wasn't taught the consequences of saving for the future.  Or why you should when you have the money now to make the payment.  And while we had been doing awesome for all these years.. and even saving money... When we moved up here, running a homestead takes more money to get it off the ground.. then one would think. 

A lot more money!

A lot!!!

And I take the blame for wanting this parcel of land that we purchased.  I can see now how actually moving on to a property that actually had a house on it... and buildings that needed fixing would have been the way to go. 

A little late... I know. 

So, here we are... very little savings and not enough to pay what they want us to pay.  A tiny house loan on our property that we are now working on paying off quickly... to once again be debt free. 

We came home to work on the bee's... only to discover our last hive died... Never once did we exclaim 'why us God?"  That's not for us to ask. 

Instead we praised Him.  For through this all He is showing us what He wants from us.  We worked side by side yesterday cleaning and painting old hives, in prayer and talking. 

God is clearly saying wait.  We don't believe He is saying No.. at this time.  As for now, we will save the money and slowly do one thing at a time that needed to be done on this land to get it ready for the house... On our own.  Paying for it as we go. 

We won't have a huge kitchen to can the veggies in... for now.
We won't have a large library to display all our books...  for now.
We won't have a workout room... for now.
We won't have a guest room for friends to stay in... for now.
We won't have another dog.. for now.
We won't have ....... A large monthly payment to worry about.

We will have God's love and favor and blessing.  And each other!!  And those alone are worth more then any house large enough to walk in without bumping butts with the other.  

Then in the evening as we were cleaning up I was adding up the figures in my head and stuff that we were doing and weren't doing and it hit me.... We haven't looked at all the alternatives.... There is a way out there.. but we haven't been shown the main door...

So for now... we are waiting.

And really, I am perfectly fine with it all.....

I would like to show you houses that are ready for our resident's to move in to next week.....



We are expecting 3 bee hives to move in... and their boxes are ready.... I call it "Bear Camo".  In reality the base color was the color of our cottage.. personally it reminded me of the color of a babies first poop.  So I labeled the unlabeled can of paint...

I took a picture for you because I knew you wouldn't believe me......

We were using the paint color because really.. its just bee hives... but hubby turned his back on me for a moment and out came the other paint colors I had gotten from Lowe's when they had the 'free paint sample' coupons in the magazines!  (Thank you to those that are reading this that had sent me some!!!) I grabbed a few colors and a brush and started painting....

You should have seen the look on my father-in-laws face when he came over and asked me "What the heck are you  doing?" and I exclaimed....

"I call if Bear Camo!!!  I'm bear proofing the hives!!!"

Hehehehehe   LOL  ROFL!!!! 

Oh come on.. it's funny!!!!!!

As for now.... Since all the bee's are dead... I will be out clearing the land in the area they need to go.  So much to do.... I wouldn't have time to be in a large house with my feet up!!! 

God is awesome!!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Types of Gardening and which one is right for you?


Remember we were working on a series about gardening?

It was really hard... talking about gardening all the time...

Really it was! 

Naw, I'm just pulling your parsnips!  Hahahaha

You can look back at The Secret to Gardening.... Part one.. where we talk about really, my history of gardening and.. we take a look at failure. 

Remember, there is no failure in gardening... Ever.. at all!

We then learned that we just need to start planting... forgetting about all the rules.. rules will come later.. first we must learn to crawl... walking comes later... You can read Where to Start in the Garden Part two... here..

And now we are ready.. to learn about the different types of gardening.  I can't cover all of them.  I don't know all of them.  But I can give you just enough to understand which one you need to research for yourself.  And maybe a little bit to understand what is right for you.. may not be right for me. 

Remember in part one... where I talked about my growing area being drastically different then yours?  Where I live and how I grow things is actually unlike any where else in the USA... quite possibly the world.  I am truly in the Pacific Northwest  along the coastline.  I won't go in to details.. You can read and research about them for yourself if you live here...

Or you can catch up with me at the local coffee shop and I will be glad to talk your ear off.  :-)

In the meantime...

1.  Container Gardening.  I use this one... for things like peppers and eggplants that are perennials... I know!! I didn't know they were either till last year.. and now I am trying to keep mine alive through the winter... Yipee!!

I built a container on the side of the stairs....

A large container planter near the house.. for specialty crops I needed to keep an eye on.


Literally... you can plant in salvaged trash!!!!
This is simple and easy for the new gardener.. you take a pot and simply plop some soil and plant your plants... The upside is you can move them... Into shade or sun.. whatever you need.

The downside... if you live in the south.. or a hot area.. you are shaking your head saying.. ya... we don't grow like that here... And all of us other people are scratching our heads and asking why??

Let me explain it... In some areas.. it gets so HOT.. literally.... for hours... that it would be near impossible to keep the plant adequately hydrated.  I know... I lived in Fresno, Ca for 21 years and I was rarely successful at it.  The sun comes out at 0700 hrs the heat is unbearable at 0930 and for several months out of the growing season.. it never cools down... Not joking.. 90' at 0200hrs is very common!

So, depending on your area.. container gardening may or may not work for you...   I'm dancing right now.. because I can garden this way!!!! 

But, I am showing sympathy for those that can't... seriously!  :-)

2.  Row planting... Into the ground... Some of us can clear the ground and plant in rows.  Leaving space between the rows to walk down and harvest the fruits and veg.  Your plants are directly in the ground at ground level.   This works for a lot of people.  And usually I would say it's a waste of space.. but last year I saw a garden planted like this.. and it was jam packed with produce.  and productive produce. 

People in hot and cold and wet and dry can garden like this... putting down a drip irrigation system would be a fabulous idea if you live in the south to give water directly to the plants roots... and lessen the evaporation.  Also, mulching the ground with wood chips... can help keep the moisture in. 

The downside to this... moles and voles have total access to your garden, from underneath.  And they can be destructive!  We finally killed the one that was tearing apart our fruit garden.  Darn boogers!!!

Some say that there is a lot of wasted space between the rows that you walk through... I disagree.. I mean your going to have to walk through or around the plants anyways... so ... choose knowing how you set it up.. you need a path of some type. 

The few reasons I don't garden like this.. is Maggie... Who has never met a nice comfortable patch of spinach she didn't like to lay in... Or any patch she didn't like to walk in... So, since she is my best garden buddy (sorry hubby) I chose another type of gardening.  I also live on a steep hill!!! Steep!!!!  So I pretty much have to terrace everything. 

We tried to grow potatoes and corn on a partial cliff side but the water just ran down and everything pretty much withered once the warm weather came.  It was a nice idea however. 

3.  Aquaponics..... Sounds like a disease.. I know.. but it's really a cool way to grow produce.  You don't use dirt.  It does take time to understand the workings of it and how it waters... feeds... and such... So, if you like the sound of it... study up. 

Basically you are growing your produce in rocks or some sort of medium other then gritty soil.. Water is filtered through a system of pipes and containers and fills up the planting area and drains out several times a day ... hour... so on... You can fertilize the plants via using fish.. or you can add your own fertilizer... I will be looking more in to adding this method of growing to our garden... Mainly for lettuce type growing.  and things that are hard to wash off the soil from. 

You need power to the system.  However you want to get it there..

It will not be my main system for growing... But I do want to try it... The reason for it not being the main are simple in my mind... 1.  I am working my soil to be self sufficient.  I don't pump a lot of store bought fertilizers and such into my soil and on my plants... I want to learn to grow without them in case I actually HAVE to grow without them.  2. I don't want to have to worry about the power to the source.  In the winter we can and have and do lose power often and for (the longest so far) 5+ days.  Usually those are during huge storms where the sun never pops out for that whole time... So, I can not depend on the sun... to power anything.

Now, down the road when I have a lot of money... I might be able to build a solar battery back up system that collect during the few days we have power and use it when we don't... but for now.. I want to concentrate on gardening consistently with what God gives me. 

Now... I would first check out this guy... and all his videos on Aquaponics and his set up...


Rob Bob is amazing.. at gardening and the set up and explaining!  Highly recommend! He is also a common name here in the USA.. how do I know that?  I was talking to someone about setting up a system and we both commented on this mans videos... and we both said his name at the same time!!!  That happened more then once....


4.  Permaculture.... Think Permanent Agriculture... this method is simple... It's creating a 'food forest' on your land and have it be self sustaining... I actually practice this method believe it or not.  I have quite a few people contact me because they hear me 'weeding' and they have read books on the topic that this is a no weeding method and very easy... let me just burst a few bubbles... it is not as easy or non labor intensive as is being talked about.  To establish a garden like this takes time.. and time and planning and time.. I know.. I am doing it now on parts of our land .. and .... sometimes my raised beds require less attention then this type of farming does.  So, read up and watch a ton of videos about it before you think.. this is perfect for me!!! I can sit back and rock in the chair and watch the food fall!!!

And, keep in mind.. most of this is done down south.  If you garden like this in the northern USA please contact me.  But most of this is down south with tropical plants... and most of these people still have regular veg plots they work.  I know... I talk to a lot of people! 

Now, I said everyone can garden this way and they can.  But not everyone can garden this way successfully!  the same way.  I get 70+ inches of rain a year and remember that hill I live on... don't email me telling me I need to build berms and capture the water... and save it.. in my area.. I need to wick it away from the fruits and veg as fast as I can.  I have a constant water source that I water all the garden with... So water isn't my main concern.  God already set it up for me.

The other thing to consider... when we lived in Fresno, Ca.. I could pull a weed and drop it and it would wither and die... It never dawned on me.. when I spent 2 days pulling weeds in the garden and dropping them in the path that they would be laughing at me and just continue to grow in the garden path!!!!!!!  Wicked I know... But up here.. you pull a weed and you put it somewhere you don't mind it possibly living... Usually I dump them over in the chicken coop area... Chickens love them.. and they don't stand a chance at survival! 

I am sharing a video with you.. I did a lot of research on this.. and well... you have to see if for yourself.  Realize that this farm he is at  is ten years old.. Yes, there are parts that are 'little maintenance' involved.. but .... there are also high maintenance area's...  I have been working the food forest garden on our land for 1 year now.. I still have a lot of work to do with it to get it self producing.  But that's the joy in gardening.  Watching your hard work take over and produce for you. 

So, watch the video.. and count how many helping hands you see in this video... and remember... it's just me up here... plus 16 chickens that work all day long.... But someone has to install the fencing to keep them in... :-)


5. Raised Beds.... This is the main way I garden.  The only flat part of this land is literally pit rock covered for a future house... everything else is a terrace or cliff .... So, I built planters to plant everything in.  I got the wood for free from our local dump that allowed me to go up and take whatever I wanted..... Literally!!! Score!!!  I built the planters filled them with good soil and they never get stepped in or compacted or ran in via a dog.. and bonus ... rain water quickly drains through them.  Which right now as I watch the rain pour from the sky.. is a good thing. 

Oh look weeds??? How did they get there!!!!





They are also raised up so I don't have to bend over that much and my back hurts less... Maggie no longer runs through them when they are at least a foot above the ground.. and I am happy.  However, chipmunks and squirrels hide in them and eat all the butternut squash.. But they would have hidden in the rows also... So it's all fair.  

The down side to this if I lived in the south would be I would have to water more... They do dry out a little faster.   But for where I am... they are the way to go.

6.  Square Foot Gardening is the way to go if you are doing raised beds and very OCD or like that look.  I tried it one year and one year only and it drove me nuts that all the plants I planted were not listening to me on how they weren't supposed to be encroaching on their neighbors square foot space... That and the end of the year when I needed to rotate crops.. it was literally a pain for me. 







If you want to read more about it... Check out this book..  Either from your local library.. which I got mine.. or from amazon... which is where the picture came from..
http://www.amazon.com/Square-Foot-Gardening-Second-Edition/dp/1591865484


In my defense I also had other people at the time attempting a community garden.. and they totally didn't understand it and weren't interested... so the bed saved for several types of plants... turned in to all squash... and cucumbers.. because one person didn't label they planted it all full of squash and the other person came by and planted half of it with cucumbers.. and well....

I don't offer community gardening on my land any more...... at all!!!!!!

7.  There is the Back to Eden gardening method.. where people throw the wood chips down... which I use to maintain my moisture.. and they plant straight in that... I do a small variation of this.. but I haven't turned my whole garden area into it... I need the raised beds at this time.  

There are a ton of videos on growing this way on YouTube.  Just search it.  I spent a whole evening watching them... If you would like to watch a video.. click here.. The owner doesn't give permission to embed..


8.  You have Intensive Gardening where you grow a ton of stuff with each other.. I wouldn't do this for my first garden.. or second one either.  The research of what to plant where and what doesn't like what.. is enough to pull out a few mustache hairs.. So for a beginner... just stick with small and simple... It wins the race... But when you want to challenge yourself more.. you know its there..

Interesting article on it here... 


9.  And then if you are like me.... there is always terrace Garden.... Where you literally terrace and plant on the slope of your land...
What you see in the picture above is literally hundreds of Strawberries... blueberry plants, currents, Red and golden Raspberries... and plum and pear trees.  All on the downward slopes...

Everything in our garden moves.. nothing has found it's permanent place just yet.  But hoping that this is the magical year that it all happens.  So for now, we garden where we can. 

Each person's needs are different.  Don't get hung up on the 'type' of gardening and what is right for you..... just plant a plant in the ground and watch it grow... then experiment from there..

If you don't like your results one year... change it up the next.

Like I said... My goal in gardening is not to purchase any fertilizer... or amendments.  People literally spend hundreds of dollars on soil amendments.. like rock dust and minerals and fertilizers.. and mix up huge concoctions.. and feed their plants.. making them dependent on the additives.  Look into the Mittleider Gardening method.... Yes they get huge results and they brag about it non stop.. but if they couldn't get or afford the additives??? 

I want to use what God gave me.  And He gave us this land... with the ability to grow peppers and eggplant.. which a lot in this county can't grow.  I am perfectly happy to pull a few weeds for that trade off! 

Ok, ask me that in a few months when the weeds really start coming...

Yes, I will do a post on weeds!!!  Because they are not always bad.. and if you use them correctly they can be a benefit! 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Perfect Plan... for a Homesteader



By now, most of you know that I am far from normal.  And that we are building our forever home on our land.  See Part 1 here.. In the Beginning There was Dirt.

What is normal anyway?

But when you talk lifestyles and ways people live and try to fit them in spaces that are all designed the same way... for me????

It just plain doesn't work!!!!

Some people can live and work in a 10X10 kitchen.  I can not!

Oh Dear Lord... let me clarify PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

Dear God,
I can work in that size of kitchen and I now work in a very small kitchen.. But my dream kitchen to make me fully functional would be slightly larger then that.   But, I will work with whatever you want me to have!
Sincerely, your servant.

To be honest I need a place for all my tools... Think of me like a produce farmer.. and chicken farmer and soon to be goat and rabbit farmer.. and processor... and butcher and researcher and workout enthusiast and seamstress and computer techie .... I could so go on.. but in the end.. after having room for all of the above.. I still would like a small space to sit down and relax.

I think that's called a couch... I'm not sure we haven't owned one in over 5 years!  I did sit on one a few days ago though... with an awesome little girl that read books to me...

It was so nice!!!!

SQUIRREL!!!!!  (You know you were thinking it!!!)

So I have been told we need to pick out a floor plan first... and let me just stop you right now and say.... I have been dreaming and researching for this moment for 5 years or more!!!!

Literally!!!  I have a whole board pinned on Pinterest.. actually several for this very moment!!!

We were going to wait and have a stick built home built on our land... but we realized with some changes that happened recently, and quickly, we actually can't wait.  We need one soon... and the sooner the better.  And then there is money... we can't afford the stick built at this time... So, while praying about it heavily we are realizing this is actually the way we are to go...

Especially since after a prayer I opened a newspaper and there on the first page is the full page article on buying and designing a modular home... Can you just say... Hello Lord I hear you????

So, while hubby was off tending to business I sat down at the computer and kept myself busy pulling off house plans from manufactured homes that would work, somewhat, for us!

Maybe I should stop here and let you know that I used to tour new construction open houses for the fun of it!! Shout out to my friend Brenda who went with me!!!  and might as well tell ya, I was a realtor for 16 years.....

So, ya, this was like torture!!!!

Not!!!!! 

Yipee!!!!

Initially these were my 6 must/needs... I printed literally anything that would work...

1.  Master bedroom away from main living area.  With some things that have occurred I realized how horrible it is if one is sick and the master is off of the living room.  Literally you can not rest.  and everyone needs to be whispering.  Nope, we want to keep the master bedroom in the back of the house where we can close it off while the other person either sleeps or gets well!

2.  LARGE kitchen!!!!  That is a must.. I need to process the produce from the garden can up all the items, be able to own a meat slicer and have it stored somewhere and grind wheat and bake awesome goodies while roasting a chicken and have room for others to come and help me if they want to!!!!

3. Storage.... pressure canners don't just poof into hiding when you aren't using them.. Everything needs a place to be!  I need that to be in the house... somewhere!!!I should mention I am usually soaking wet most of the day since it rains 300+ days a year here.. and everything is scattered in far away buildings!

4.  Guest Room... because there are people that we love enough to invite in our home.... I still go by the adage of quests are like fish... they are only good for three days!!!!   :-)  But my adopted Sister can stay way longer!!  Hehehe

5.  A library/den for all our books.  and office work

6.  Front door must be on the short side of the house.... It's just because of how the land is placed... I don't want people feeling free to wonder around without first being hit with the door.... Seriously, you would be amazed how many people feel free to just SHOW UP and wonder around 300 feet into the land... down private stairs and all around!!!  CALL FIRST!!  Geesh!

So with those 6 items listed out on a sheet of paper we took each plan and went through them.... Hubby and I made columns on each sheet and scored them on a 1-10 scale... 10 being the best we loved...

It was like the lightening round.... 30 plans getting numbers written on them.. and passed back and forth...

Then we came to a halt... I liked one.. giving it a nine.. and hubby gave it a zero!!

Zero isn't even on the scale I cry out to him... why don't you like it????

In the end I submitted... mainly because he was right.. and because I love him... and because he was right....

But I still really like the plan!

 I could have really made this work!!!  But hubby said one thing that made me take this from a 9 to a zero in a matter of pouting moments....
"I don't want you hidden away in a far off kitchen when we have guests."

The whole reason he didn't like it was because of me!!!  So score points for him.. and shed a tear for the covered porch off the kitchen!!! 

Man I loved that idea......

So we kicked around several floor plans... Not wanting to go too wild or huge and keeping it respectable and within reason.  The last thing we want when people come into the house is to feel like they can't afford the air in the place.. let alone be comfortable... So we tried to restrain ourselves...

And in the end... We found and fell in love with this....




Without the optional deer gutting tub nor the 4th bedroom. 

But we didn't leave this plan as it is.  It needed a little bit of tweaking!  partly because a living room and a family room???  To me is wasted space.  We like to be together all the time... So....

This is where the green pen came in handy.  Hubby took over that part because he is used to drawing out plans or details.... That and every time I came close to making a mark on the page he flinched!  It was rather cute!!!! 

Actually is was really really cute!!! 

We contacted a lady from the manufacturer to help us design what we wanted and get the changes from our idea's to actual plans and start the process for building it. 

They didn't have their model available to walk through.. but they did have this one... which was close..

Close enough we knew it was what we wanted... You should have seen the expression on her face when we told her we wanted to bump the dining room into the family room and enlarge the kitchen!!!  Hahahaha.. Priceless!! She was awesome to work with.. She literally NEVER said no!!!

So what were the changes we actually are making???
Ummmm.. nice straight lines there my lover!  :-)


For starters the house has to be mirrored.. to fit our land..  cabinets along the entire kitchen wall.. 2 deep sinks.  and taking away the family room and creating a hallway with a room off the kitchen for storage.  and then as you pass the storage room you enter into hubby's library!  With the master bedroom in the far back corner. 

There is no center island in the kitchen.  I plan on building it somewhat like the Downton Abbey kitchens.. with the big long tables down the middle.  I actually have a large 7' library table that will go there.. along with several other tables.  and benches underneath for sitting on to shell peas!  Hooks for a pot rack, Finally!!!!

Yes I have it all planned out in my head!!!!!!  I've already made several batches of cookies in the kitchen!  I can almost smell them!!!

Those are the big changes.. the little changes are just minor upgrades... You know like a switch for a generator... when we lose power...

Well that and a whole house fan.  We don't need an A/C unit we just need a way to open the windows and pull ALL the cooler air in and push all the hot air out the roof area. 

There turned out to be an extra bedroom and we are turning that in to Hubby's workout room.  OK, mine also... But it's for Hubby!!!!  And the view that he will have of the bay... is going to be awesome!!!!!! 

OK, the view the kitchen and living room will have, will be of the long driveway... But you won't ever see me complaining...  EVER!!!  Because I can work a garden on the cliff that's on the other side.. like no ones business!!!!!  A cliff of flowers!!!!!!????

Oh and we were able to move the front door off to the far right end of the home. 

So, we have it all planned and drawn up and by the time we actually got home Pamela had it sent off to the builder to see if it's all doable and how much it will set us back...

So I am asking for prayer... for the figures to be workable.. and doable for us.  And for us to be ok with the things that we won't be able to afford...

As always, I am praying for God's will!  If he wants us to have it as we feel it would work best for us.. then He will make it clear.  If he doesn't... then I don't want it. 

I want only what He wants me to have.

Seriously!

He knows me and my future better then I do.  I depend upon Him to design the house around what will come in the future.

With that said... What do you all think?

Oh and here are pictures of the kitchen from the home that we saw... the kitchen and dinning room combined... are slightly smaller then the new kitchen.

Picture towards the left...

Picture towards the right....


I'm getting the feeling that I might just be a little crazy for wanting a 23.5" by 13" kitchen!!  Not including the laundry room that is just through the door!!!!  Crazy??? 

Naw!!!!!!

I'm perfectly normal!!!! 

Perfectly normal!!!!!

(just let me pretend!!)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

In The Beginning..... There was dirt.....

Here it goes... the post that starts all posts... and sets us up for a series of posts that a lot of you are wondering.

We were wondering also 6 years ago as we were starting the process to move up here.

You find the piece of land.  You wonder, where do we put the house?  The septic, the well, the outbuildings?

And how do we go about getting permits.. and inspections.. and...??

Your head starts to swim and you literally go into overload...

Then after all the running around you do, you actually end up with a house.  And the rest is total history and it's like labor pains.. you forget how utterly painful most of the process really was.

6 years ago we built a small.... very small little cottage on our land.  The county knew (fully aware) that it would become the studio in the future when we wanted to build our main house.

For now, we just wanted to move up here and we needed a place to put our head while we worked the land and built the sheds and oversaw the whole process.

Well, things moved along and some good and some horrible things happened in our worlds.. and one thing led to another and we found ourselves living in this little cottage for 5 years.

Way to long if you ask either of us.

WAY TO LONG!!!!!!!!!

We had a modular home built and designed for our immediate needs... which was 5 years ago!  And we have sense grown out of that.. but lets look at the plan for the heck of it.

This is basically our floor plan now...  The heater is in the wrong place and there are to many upper cabinets in the kitchen and the fridge is in the wrong place.. and.. the sink is not stuck in the corner... and the front door is in the wrong room..  But it's basically the same as ours.

I like this plan so much better!!!!!!  Except I would still make more changes to it...

Our Cottage
The small changes that we made were as follows...
1.  Added a pocket door from the living room to the hall.  I highly recommend!  It not only cuts down on the noise in a small house... but it allows us to close the door and use a space heater to heat just the living area... and we can sneak off to a cold bedroom to cuddle under the covers!!! Love this!!  Totally worth every 600.00+

2.  We put the closet door to the small bedroom opening to the hall.  Making bedroom #2 an office.. but also allowing me a place to put food.  There is no pantry in the kitchen...

3.  We had the whole place sheetrocked... I just couldn't live in a modular that was going to 'look' like a modular.  I know... I am shallow... Let me pretend!!!

4.   Put linoleum throughout the whole house... Totally recommend it.. It's wood colored so it looks (if you pretend) that you have wood floors..  We did this because the whole area was surrounding us in dirt.  Actually Mud staining clay!!!!!!!  It was all mud all around us.... And I know myself.... and we have a dog... I wanted to be able to mop up the mess and not worry about anything else.

There were a few other upgrades.. but those were the ones we needed to have.

What I wish we would have done... was raise the window in the kitchen and put lower cabinets all along that window wall.  I love the window in the hall idea option on this new plan.... Awesome idea they have there.


So with all that said... we are now on the adventure of building a new house.   We actually NEED to.  other then we both love books a little to much and we now live in what we call a 'sleeping closet'  because this isn't California and you have to have 'real' coats in this area of the woods.. and you actually have to dress in layers and stay warm.. and having multiple jackets and large coats and fleeces.. and.... you have to have a set of clothes for work that are going to get muddy and icky and a set for actually going out and seeing people.. and...

No.. I refuse to wear the muddy clothes into town!!!!!!!

Foot down stomping yes, I still want to look nice when I go out in public.

Even though my style has morphed into something closely related to what everyone else here wears.... I still want to be clean and smell good.

So, I need separate clothes for that.  And this all takes larger closet space... So last month we changed the small bedroom into a large closet.. with a bed in the middle.

Don't laugh...

It actually works...

Ok...

LAUGH!!!!!

Hahahahahaha  It is funny!!!!

And let's not even talk about the kitchen... There is no storage for anything!  Most all of my tupperware hasn't seen the light of day in the 5 years.  It's all still stored away in the shop.  And the food is literally in multiple spots on the land.  A tiny closet can not hold what a family needs for a few weeks!  So when I want to can up some produce... I march up to the shop to get the canning jars.. gather all the items from ALL OVER the house in secret spots... can everything up... then hide the completed jars all over the land.. in any building that has a spare spot!

You think I am joking.. I know... I can hear it in your giggles!

:-(

I really wish I was kidding.... Somewhere on this land is awesome pineapple squash that I can't remember where I stuffed it!!!!!!

Proof I made it!!!! 

But back to the land.  We want to build a new house on the land... and to do that we have to finally move the dirt mound on the top of the hill... There are actually 2 of them.

We also need to get rid of all the dirt!!!!  using it to create level areas.. and fill in areas.. and so on...

I need to move the garden.. but I need to know how much of the garden I need to actually move.. I also need to create a garage pad.. but again.. how much of one do I really need?

We need to pull permits and either decommision the cottage from a living area to a plain studio or go and see if they will give us a waiver if a family member needs to move into it.

 We need to do a lot of things... but what to do first.. is the question.  And while I have tons of things that I need to do first on my mind.. And I usually save the best for last...

In this case.. we actually have to do the best first!!!!!

Meaning?

We need to pick out a floor plan to see how much space we actually need to clear to build!!!

Doesn't that sound fun???  


So next time...... Picking the perfect floor plan for the homesteading lifestyle!!!!

I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!







Monday, January 26, 2015

A quick update....

Well, a lot has been happening on the homestead and with family.... Here are the changes that you can look for...

We will be praying for and have been getting serious bids for a new much larger home.  693sqft for 5 years is just to long.  I was asked to do a podcast about living in a tinyish home and I said yes... because we learned so much.... and literally it would be a good idea to do if it helps others...

We have a lot of trees that must come down... we have 2 major piles of dirt that need to be removed... relocated and areas that need to be graded and filled in.  We have the temporary garden that needs to be removed and relocated down in the chicken yard area... ... and a chicken yard that needs to be relocated... More Bee hives that will be arriving in just a few months.  And....... well.... today we ordered an incubator... looks like we are going in the chicken making business!!!!

This morning we hopped in the car after choosing the floor plan we loved online the most and making major changes to it... we drove up the manufacturer and started the process to have them design it.  We got to view one that looked very similar to the one we are making the changes to... and .....  

Please pray that it's not overly expensive for us.. That God is in the middle of it all and that the county continues to smile as we walk in asking stupid questions. 

I have a garden to plant and seed and no idea where it's all going to go..... (can't plant in the beds that need to be moved!!!!!)

These are the changes that are currently occurring on the land...   I could go on.. but I will be posting here about all the details... so if you are looking at buying and setting up a home.. and don't have a clue as to how to do it.. or where to start.....  Stay tuned... there is more to come!! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year (Said while gritting my teeth!)

Happy New Year!  




I mean that really..... Maybe because I am on my second pot of coffee... Yes, you read that right.. the second POT!!!  Not cup.

2015 (which was following 2014 that wasn't very nice to us) needed to be welcomed in with a pot of coffee!  Or two...

Quite possibly 3....

I will pay later for all that acid burning a hole in my stomach! 

:-)

Yesterday I posted this to my personal FB page:

2014... I wasn't going to post anything.. but.... As I sit at the computer to order a new bread machine.. because ours just cried out in unfixable pain... I must.... 

Dear 2014... you were the worst year of my life... Seriously... You brought illness and disease and pain and death to our family. You required more of me then I was willing or able to give. More things broke or needed repair then in any other year. You sucked away very precious time from me, that I will never get back... You kept the punches coming even while I was begging for them to stop! 

It wasn't till my Savior stepped in at my plea's for help that you gave it to me full force.... But by then it was to late. The force field was up and I was once again captured and protected. 

So even though you gave it your all...... I am still standing! Even though I am pretty sure.... 2015 isn't looking much better. I will continue to move onward towards the goal. 

Dear 2015, You can find me at the corner of Saved and Grace clutching on to my bible while praying. Pretty sure you will have to take a number and wait in line. 

You are both warned.... I read the last chapter.... I know who wins!!! And I am always carrying.

While I meant every word... I realized by some of the messages that a lot have no clue what it was really like being me in the year of 2014.  And while I share a lot... I don't share everything.

I know you are stopping right now and gasping with the look of "There's more that goes on in your life??"

Kind of like, "How do you have time for MORE??"

If we were sitting around a table having a cup of coffee I would totally agree with you.  There isn't time for more. 

There really isn't!

This morning I woke up to all the "welcome 2015 posts" and I actually sat and read the one's coming through my feed.  Sometimes I skip them.  Because focusing on others and doing the 'why not me' game is down right depressing. 

I sit here today with a neck that will not move.  for the last 3 days.  It happens from time to time.. But never for this long.  I know, it won't last forever, but the pain can be unbearable at times.  And while I start to whine and play the why me game, I remember my friends that have much worse permanent issues and pains then I do.

And that grounds me into being thankful for the neck ache.

And reminds me to sit up straight.

This year started out to be promising.  Hubby was on the path to starting a new job.  Same line of work but in a new area.  And that was looking out to be a blessing.  God was totally at work in our lives and we were excited.  Even to the point of the first test in the process being physical and watching God literally carry my man through it all.  What happened this year was a blessing.  Painful blessing but a blessing.

I never voiced it out load because in my past every time I voiced what I wanted, Satan would swoop in and crush it.

So imagine my surprise when 4 weeks before he was to start the rigorous part of his job (a training like no other) he suffered a work injury that appeared to be knocking him out of the running.  

This is where good medical care comes in to play.  All the research we were finding stated that this was a several month long recovery, if that.  It could have knocked us over the edge.  If we let it.  But we did what came naturally to us. 

You see, since we have been together, rarely does anything go our way.  You see us arm in arm dancing in the store and you have no idea the pain we are suffering from our kids each singly trying to break us up. 

Or the pain of the ex's taking us back to court for more custody time or money.  Or the suffering from the stress of our jobs... 

I could literally go on.  But happiness is what we choose.... That and dropping to our knee's.

So this time we spent more time on our knee's!  We did not pray for God to heel... Or God to do what we wanted.  We simply prayed for God's will....

For I do not want to do ANYTHING that you are not blessing and wanting us to do.  You lead the way Father.  You show us the door and we will walk through it.. You lead the way and we will give it our all. 

To say we prayed hourly would be an understatement.   Prayer was constant.  Even while we were sitting in the Doctors Office waiting for the occupational doctor to come in to the room we were praying. 

Sit down.... Before you read the rest....

In walks the doctor.  He is a prior Navy Seals AND their prior Doctor!  What he was doing in this small town working in this exact office with the first available appointment for Hubby to see him... is a total God thing!!!  To top it off.. he was a strong Christian and that was when I started crying...

Because sitting in that room... I felt God pouring love all over us... running down us and between our clutched fingers holding on to each other.. God was making it known to us that Hubby would continue. 

The Dr spoke words of encouragement and pain... "I see no reason why you won't be able to perform what needs to be done... but you will be in pain the entire time.  You can do it!  It will hurt like hell but I don't believe you will have any more damage then what you have now." 

And that set us on the path of physical therapy appointments and home therapy and icing and essential oils and prayers and......

My world stopped to take care of the man that I loved and get him as healthy as we could. 

The day he drove out of the driveway to start his new position, to take the pass or fail exam, was excruciating.  To say I trusted God to take care of him... was a total understatement. 

I spent most of that month flat on my face... on the carpet, on the linoleum, in the garden dirt, and even the concrete in the shop.  My best half was gone for a month and I knew he was in pain while going through the most intense training he would ever go through. 

It felt as if no one could possibly understand but my God.  And all I wanted to do was sit with him curled up at his feet in tears till my man came home. 

What I did, however, was run electrical and tape and texture the studio.  Planted and seeded the garden and.... entertain his sister that came for a visit while my in-laws were moving up here to be closer to us. 

I was busy! 

So there was house shopping and dinners cooked and plans to be made and in the middle of it all.... 2 days with the man of my dreams...

He walked in the door for his 2 day visit and I fell into his arms.  He winced at the pain... Bruises covered his body all shapes and sizes and one that took up most of his thigh.  Those 2 days we didn't leave the land. 

He came home for 4 months to start the training process... during that time of changes was when we discovered his mother's cough was getting worse and as she wheeled in for a biopsy we learned she was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. 

2 months after they moved up here... House has just closed and she has lung cancer.. and the next week we find out she has cancer throughout her body.  She is slammed into Chemo.  And hubby has to go back to away schooling. 

For 6 weeks! 

During this 6 weeks we discover another member of the family has to have surgery.  We are still waiting for that one to take place.  It won't be as easy as everyone believes it will.  I had the (can I even say this) honor of being their when the bad news was delivered... And I keep quiet.  Because I respect people being adult enough to make their own decisions.  And while you and I might do one thing..... We can't make that choice for someone else.  So I pray.

During this same time I learn of a dear friend having issues with her love doing things to one of their children he shouldn't.  I watch a marriage ripped apart and am not even close enough to sit on her couch and have a cup of coffee with her... So in her honor I drink a pot of coffee and weed the entire yard while praying for her.  

At the same time I get a call that a friend of mine, whom I have never met, but know through another website that I ran.... is dying.  She has lost her fight with breast cancer.  We always talked of meeting.  I was waiting for her to come visit her family in the town next to us.. But she never made it.  So I dropped everything, my parents took over the basic 'feed the animals daily just to keep them alive' chores and I hopped in the car to see her.  Hubby still in school, I made it there in time to see her.  But not in time to have a conversation with her.  She passed away before I even made it home.  

I am pretty sure I could tell you the exact moment God took her.... The whole way back I was praying for her not to be in pain.... Till I felt the words "She isn't".  It's hard to drive in California when you are going 75+ legally on the roads over there.  So I turned up the music and just started praising God for His goodness and love and mercy and strength.

That next morning as I was taking the last few hours of my journey I snuck onto campus at the school my man was at and got the hug that I longed for.  I do not do well without his touch.  So with 4 hours of sleep I climbed out of the bed and got back on the road with the hope I would have a chance to see him.  Even if it was for 3 minutes. 

It was the best 3 minutes of my summer!

It was during the summer that I hated FB... Watching each of our kids destroy their lives as they go through the young adult stage of growing up..... was much easier on parents when it wasn't plastered all over your FB walls.  So with much prayer and pain.. I deleted them, while I love them.. I felt it was best to let them do what they were doing in peace... I can't stand to watch them destroy themselves.. and since they are old enough to not have to listen to me... I took the route of praying for them... Constantly... and not watching their every move towards what I felt was their destruction.

It was hard.. but in the end.. I am much happier.. and watching God restore them into beautiful young ladies that they are.. I can love on them when that happens without knowing everything they did.  They can call me and tell me what they want me to know about them... and I don't know anything other then that..

Parents should not know everything their kids do once they leave the house..


I got further and further behind in my farm chores.  I totally believe I was crazy in ordering and raising chicks while I was going to be spending the summer alone!  But even crazier to add a new dog to the mix that disrupted my entire schedule. 


Including ripping out one by one each seedling of Rutabaga and Parsnips that I planted for our winter crop!  I saw him.... Standing in the planter... pulling each one by his teeth up.....

But he stays... because Maggie is eating and happy with him.. So he stays.

Hubby comes home finally and gets to really start his work.  What he loves.  We start trying to get back into a new routine when my own parents call that they are having to put down one of their dogs... To cancer. 

We head out just after that for a 10 hour long tour to find the perfect new rescue dog for mom.  Ellie joined the family, only for it to fall in love with Dad.  

Shortly after that, I got the next call.. that they are having to put down their other elderly dog.  Dear Lord how much more can I take???

BTW, don't ever ask God that question.  You really don't want to know the answer. 

My mother in law is being rushed in for emergency hip surgery and I feel as if I am standing in the middle of a field spinning....

and spinning....

And screaming "Joey get out of that planter!!!!"

We head out for a massive 11 hour long tour of traveling the Northwest part of our state and southern part of the other state to look for the perfect dog.  Molly.  Who lived an awesome 34 days with my parents till she suffered slipped disks while barking at a deer and became paralyzed.  Last week she was laid to rest.

The Toaster broke.... Thank goodness the oven can toast toast or hubby wouldn't have had his morning breakfast.  Back ups are important... The house phone died... but batteries fixed them... except when the neighbors cut our phone line.. It's still not fixed.. but that's a huge mess of a story.. I miss the blackberries!!!!  (Same long story!!)

I learned to make wheat thins, and graham crackers.  The hand mixer died on me while I am whipping cream!!! Just as the guests to my dinner party are walking in.  It was only 19  years old... 

Both our cars needed major work on them.  The tow driver in our area knows me by name and pretty sure if it wasn't for the honey from our hives we gave him... he wouldn't ever answer our calls if we needed him again.  Let's just say.... taking off road roads that are off the off road probably wasn't the best idea in our old beat up pick up.  And the fact I ran back in the house to grab an old pair of tennis shoes (which I never did before on this journey... was a total God thing!!!)

We have lost 2 out of 3 of our bee hives.  But we aren't giving up.. we have 3 more on order.. and will continue to raise and support the bee population! 

The iron is no longer playing fair and heck it's only 18 years old... It will need to be next.  And last night... As I was making sandwich bread for my mans lunch.... I thought the bread machine sounded funny... and poof... the loaf is a pile of half stirred dough and flour on the other side.  It no longer mixes or turns.  Since I already called them this year to ask about a replacement part for the machine.. I know the answer... "That model isn't made anymore and we no longer offer replacement parts for it" 

Seriously??? It's only between 20-15 years old!!!  I am beginning to see a pattern here!!! 

So Hubby pulls out the visa, knowing I use this machine to make all the hot dog and hamburger bun dough and his sandwich bread and our pizza dough.... and tells me... "Go order the replacement!  Now.  You can't do without it." 

Love that man..... I sat down... pulled it up.. found the model that replaces the one that is calling uncle out on the kitchen counter and put it in the shopping cart.... hovering over the 'place order' button he walks in sees that I am second guessing myself.  Knowing that I am going to cancel it and resort to kneading the bread by hand.. while trying to simultaneously plant an entire years worth of fruits and veg out in the yard... and he taps my finger.... which hits the mouse.. that hits the 'buy now' button..  sending the order off into the magical brown van. 

And that is when I sat down at Facebook and posted the post I shared above.  Because 2014 hasn't been very fair to us here.  My mother always told me when I was little ... ."No one ever said life would be fair" and I always hated it when she said that.  But it was a huge life lesson that replays over and over in my mind as things go wrong.  Or maybe not wrong.. but sideways... from what I want.  

A couple weeks ago I had two separate people who I trusted enough to tell even more then I did in this post about our year and life... and the expressions on their face still cause me to stop and think. 

Both asked me how I handled it all..... How I could get up and keep moving. How I had time to do what I did.  (what they saw me doing.  You know. the fun stuff the volunteering and classes to learn stuff!)  And that got me thinking.....

First, I am going to just finally admit.. I do have a touch of CDO (OCD for those that aren't and don't have to have the letters in perfect order).  I am actually considering it a gift.  God allowed me to have this funny issue that causes me to have to do things in a certain order.  Research things till I know for sure it's a good deal and keep myself so organized that it would probably cause a normal person (is there really such thing as normal??) (Squirrel!!!!) to go crazy!!!  But for me... it works.  I have check sheets and to do lists that keep me organized and baskets and shelves that put everything in this tiny house that we have outgrown .... in some type of order...

And in the whole scheme of things... it works for me.  Because without it... I am pretty sure I would be a mess of a person on the floor screaming in tears with Maggie licking my tears and Joey pulling out my hair .... strand by strand. 

Instead, I use the extra energy and constant thoughts of how to do something ... to make it all better...

Having a husband that understands me... and know that I do everything for a reason... is priceless to this type of person! 

So if you have a specific thing that makes you different.... use it to make yourself better. 

But to answer the people that asked me earlier... how I do it all without falling apart.... ??? 

I have no clue.. My man has found me several times on the floor in tears... I have come to understand that anxiety attacks are just a part of my life.  I can tell they are coming.. I can head them off most of the time.. but when the world keeps pushing me... I do lose it.  Those are the times I am quiet.  Those are the times that Hubby steps in... picks me up... brushes me off... and holds me... Till I stop. 

Those are the times that he lets me ramble through the tears and scream to God about how life isn't fair and tell Him everything I want... and crumble into a heap of mess in my man's strong arms... As he brushes my hair aside... wipes my tears... and kisses me... whispering he loves me.. and we have each other.. and we can do all things together.. through Christ. 

And as always, I get up.... grab a pen and paper and start reorganizing my life...this I will continue to do till I have this thing called life down.   

I am by far perfect.... and for some reason God thinks I can handle way more then I think I can.  Which is why I cling to Him so desperately.  Because this I know for sure.... I am exactly where He wants me to be... With exactly the man He made for me.... and I am not alone....

And seriously.... my keyboard just broke... Ok.. to be honest we have to guess for the last few months where the N M D F are.. but now the Arrow keys no longer work....

Have no fear!!!!!  I have a back up keyboard on the top shelf! 

Sigh....

See... this is the life I was meant to live. 

Just roll with it...   That's my answer!!!!  I just roll with it!!


 And may I do enough rolling that I work off all the chocolate I just ate!!! 

Happy New Year everyone.. May this be your year!!! 
 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas 2014 is here!

 Merry Christmas!!!!

You can always borrow someone else's tree for your Christmas pictures!


Whether we like it or not time keeps rolling past. 


I wish I could stop the clock and wind it back to 2007.  The year we had all our children under one roof.  The task of decorating the Christmas tree in our annual tradition with our eldest.  Placing the ornaments on the tree with the eggnog sitting on the mantle waiting for us to sip it and laugh about each year and what ornament was added to the tree then.

The history of tradition.

Growing up and sending your kids off to build their own.....

Traditions. 

Moving away...


Can be hard. 

But I think, as I sit here, listening to my man sing to a Christmas song in the front room, while I am back here typing a hello, means we need to set a new Christmas tradition.   Our house is small and we aren't able to set up a tree... so we settle for decorating the chicken coop this year.  But as we look out the window, we see the lights, blinking.

 That is if we are up at 0400 hrs.  Thats really early in the morning! 


Life on the farm is different.  And someday I will have a house that is larger then 693 sqft.  Or I will learn how to get a Christmas tree in this one. 

For now, I think we needed this time of not over decorating, and over buying and over spending and over everything......

To learn....

Just what Christmas is all about. 

Jesus.

That's it. 

Jesus! 

He is the reason for this season.  He is the reason we are here!

And as I prepare Christmas dinner for tomorrow... (Because we celebrate on off days... In our world this is normal!)  I contemplate on the tiny pile of present that sit in the corner of our banquet.  They are all handmade.  Every one of them. 

Handmade by us.

Well, most of them. 

And as I get the bread ready to sit out overnight and rise and prepare it's dough.... I am thinking of Jesus and his love for us.  To come on this earth.  Live a blameless life and die a criminal death on a cross for us. 

So that we can live. 

And all of a sudden the fact we don't have a tree is ok. 

The fact we don't have a ton of presents and people all over the house is perfectly fine.

We have our parents here and I am excited to have them all with us tomorrow and sit around and share the love that this season is all about. 

May you all have an awesome Christmas. 

And may the reason for the season, (that's Jesus) be the center of your world.  And may everything else that matters fall into place.. and all that doesn't matter vanish!