Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Completed Book List: April 2013

One of my goals in 2013 is to read 24 books.
So far this year, I am way ahead of the game.  You may be wondering what I’ve been reading, and this is the list of all the books I’ve completed the first part of this year.

Hannah Coulter by Berry Wendell
Hannah Coulter is a novel about an older woman (Hannah Coulter) who tells her story from growing up during the Great Depression, meeting her husband who was shipped off to war shortly after they were married, and her experiences raising a family on the homestead.  This book made me think about our homesteading roots here in the United States and all that our ancestors lived through in the early 1900’s.  A great read!


The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm
May Amelia is a young teen growing up in the state of Washington with her seven brothers.  A tomboy at heart, trouble always seems to find her.   The book tells about the tales of this Finnish girl growing up on a homestead in the early 1900’s in an area with a majority of boys.  When a business deal goes awry, her father and family blame her. This isn’t a “must read” but the book kept me entertained.

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
I am not sure why I decided to read this book: maybe my curiosity got the best of me.  This book was extremely disturbing to know what Jaycee Dugard went through as an abducted 11-year old and her 18 years of life in captivity.  The best part of the book is how she has chosen to live her life now that she is out of captivity and her passion to lead and to give her two daughters the best life possible even after all they have been through. 

It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh
I love this book! A must read to anyone who is attempting to get rid of the clutter in their lives once and for all.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau
The sole reason I checked this book out from the library is because an author stated it was one of her favorite books.  I was curious to see what the book was about based on her recommendation.  This book is a book written by Henry David Thoreau in the mid-1800’s about his life of building and maintaining a homestead and living a life of solitude and simplicity at Walden Pond.  This book, though I found it difficult to read in the beginning, turned out to be a decent book.  There were long stretches of the book that I had a hard time relating to or even cared to read.  I wouldn’t say it’s my “favorite,” but Thoreau mentioned many things that are worth contemplating when it comes to living a simple life and several things that he stated still apply today, over 150 years later.   

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!  Live the life you've imagined.  As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler."  ~Henry David Thoreau 

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." ~Henry David Thoreau

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
I don’t really know how to describe this book.  It is a refreshing book of real-life conversations and reflections of experiences the author, Donald Miller, has had with people throughout his life as well as his reflection on how he noticed God’s work in each particular situation.  It is a very down-to-earth book that creates a lot of thought-provoking material on God’s hand in our lives. 

Oogy by Larry Levin
Talk about a story that pulls at the heart strings!  This book is about a pit bull (later learned that the breed is actually a Dogo) named Oogy.  Oogy was rescued from being a bait dog in a dog-fighting raid.  The story tells a tale of Oogy’s life as a mutilated puppy, how one veterinary and technician refused to give up on this seemingly happy and unaffected dog and the family who took him in and gave him the love he should have received from the very beginning.  This is a wonderful story about the relationship between a man and his best friend. 

To read more about Oogy (without reading the book), you can go here:

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall
Same Kind of Different as Me is a book above loving one another no matter where you’ve come from and what you’ve been through.  This book is about Denver Moore, a plantation worker and runaway and his relationship with Ron Hall and his wife, a prosperous art dealer and gallery owner.  How in the world did these two men meet and become friends?  It would be way too easy to give away all the details, but I will tell you that this book is definitely worth reading.  This book is an inspiration for me as to the type of person I strive to be and the faith I need to get there.

Nowhere But Up by Pattie Mallette
I could really relate with this book by Pattie Mallette.  This book is Pattie’s story about what she went through as a child, the trouble she got into as a young adult and ending up pregnant as a teen with her son Justin (Bieber).  This is an uplifting and inspiring story of true faith and resilience.

The Fair Tax Book by Neal Boortz
I try not to get into politics, but this book definitely makes me think that the way we pay taxes in America could be different (and better).  The FairTax is about implementing a tax on consumption instead of tax on income.  This book is a quick and interesting read in my opinion.

Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer
After reading so many non-fiction books, it was nice getting swept away with a book that is fiction.  This book is about three sisters who lost their mother at varying stages in their life and all coming back home after years away from their small little island town.  This book was the perfect book to read before getting ready to leave on a tropical vacation to Aruba. 

We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich
This book is written by Louise about her time in the woods without electricity or running water in the early 40’s.  As a homesteader at heart, I enjoyed reading the stories she tells about people coming to visit, how they attained their food and all of the little intricacies that took place while living alone with her family in a location deep in the desolate woods.  Their small town was made up of 9 people within a 25 mile radius. This is an extremely interesting story of living in the woods.

So, there you have it.
I just finished up We Took to the Woods this weed, and I'm looking forward to reading some fiction for a little while.

What are you reading right now?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Starting the Garden: 2013

Puppy is pooped after her vacation at the pet resort.
When we got home from vacation  last Sunday, the weather was beautiful in Northeast Ohio.  It was too beautiful to sleep the day away (which is what we wanted to do considering we didn’t get home until almost 1AM Sunday morning and had been traveling since 10:30AM Saturday morning).  After picking up the pup from the kennel Sunday morning, we went home and got to work on the garden.

Planning in Progress
The first thing I had to do was sort through the dozens of packets of seeds that I’ve purchased and had left over from previous years.  I didn’t realize how many seeds we had!  I then sorted the seeds based on what weekthey need to be planted so that over the next 4 weeks, I can slowly but surely get everything into the ground.  The only seeds I was able to plant were the cold weather seeds like lettuce, strawberry and asparagus seeds.


The Attachment on the Weed Eater

 Next, hubby decided to come out and help till the garden.  For the past few years, we’ve wanted to get a tiller for the garden; however, we weren’t willing to pay hundreds of dollars for something we would use a couple times a year.  Upon looking into renting a tiller, we found it would cost anywhere between $45-65/day.  Todd learned that his weed eater has an attachment to till soil and it would cost $99.99 new!  I will willing to shell out the money until Todd found a brand new one on Craigslist for $50!  Cha-ching!  NOW we’re in business!  We’ve already used it 3 times and it works like a charm!

This year, we have decided to plant some vegetables in the flowerbed in front of our home to utilize the space we’ve got.

Future Herb Barrels

These planters used to house perennial flowers, but this year, they will be growing herbs.  (I know they are really ugly right now, but I haven’t had a chance to get around and take out last year’s dead stalks.)

The "Salad Bar"
Even though this looks like an empty patch of soil, there are 5 varieties of lettuce planted in this area.  This is going to (hopefully) be our “salad bar” in the next month or so.  I have never had much luck with lettuce or spinach, so we will see if planting it at the proper time in the season and watering it once in a while will help.

Last year, the chickens scratched up our 2-year old asparagus plants, so this year they are going in front of the house.  I decided to plant them by seed in the front corner of the house fully aware that it will take 2-3 years to start producing asparagus.  I love perennials; however, patience is not my forte.

We have had a lot of rain over this past week.  After a couple of days of rain, I noticed our pear trees are getting their leaves!  I wonder if these 3-year old pear trees will produce any fruit for us this year or not.

Pear Tree
Our transplanted red raspberry plants are doing great.  We already have many new chutes coming out of the ground and some green buds forming on the canes.  Oh how I love my red raspberry plants.  No matter how much I neglect them each and every year, they always return the next spring.

Red Raspberries Have Leaves Already
This past weekend, I planted over two hundred peapod seeds.  We really enjoy eating peapods and I am hoping we have enough to freeze or can so that we can enjoy them throughout the year.  If a couple hundred plants doesn’t do it, we may have to turn our entire front yard into a peapod field!

So far this season, that is all I am able to plant based on our last frost date of the year (which will probably be mid-May here in Northeast Ohio). 

How is your garden coming along so far this season?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Back to Reality

Last week, Todd and I went on a family vacation to Aruba with my mom, her husband (very much a father-figure in my life), my 3 brothers and their significant others.  On most vacations we go on, I see the magnitude of consumerism that many people take part of and quite frankly, it bothers me.  I won’t sugar-coat it and tell you that my family didn’t take part in the consumerism because we did.  This is what Todd and I came home with:


Of these souvenirs, we purchased the change-purse (for $1) and postcards (again, $1).  The t-shirt and reusable bag are from a donkey sanctuary we visited – my mom bought these items for me.  The purchase of the t-shirt donates a bale of hay to the donkeys, which I love.  The reusable bag is something that I have started to collect when we go on vacations because they are practical and don’t take up a lot of space.

Aruba was absolutely gorgeous.
There is no way Todd and I would have gone on our own due to the expense involved in flying there and the general cost of everything on the island; however, it was a great vacation with family.  We are fortunate to have parents that are thoughtful and considerate enough to take the entire family on a dream vacation like the one we just had.  We had a lot of fun, many laughs, and made a lot of memories (and I’ve got pictures to prove it!)  This is the first time I’ve spent any length of time with both of my stepbrothers in the past 10 years my mom and her husband have been married and it was a blast. 

Here are a few pictures from our trip:

View of Venezuela (from plane)

View of Aruba (from plane)

Blue Crabs


Our Snorkeling Spot (we went twice - it was awesome!)

Sunken Ship From Underwater (1938)

Sunrise View from Across the Street of our house

Pool lit up at night (view from back porch)

Natural Bridge



Sunset (from sunset cruise we took the day
before we had to leave the island)

We are back to the reality of waking up to an alarm clock, taking care of the critters, going to work, and working on the homestead.  Even though I could have stayed in Aruba for another few months, I am happy to be back to our “regular” life in Ohio.  Bulbs are starting to emerge through the soil, there are buds forming on the fruit trees, and life is good.  I wouldn’t exchange my reality for anything.