Pleasing him

Well the month of February is about to an end. I didn't manage to get a post written every day on little ways to show love to your husband but there were quite a few. It was a fun project for me and I think a neat one for our marriage.

I was trying to decide what was appropriate to have on this last day (though actually I do want to keep writing on this regularly) I decided that this verse is a good and needed one:

 "Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 1 Cor. 7:3-5

I think this verse is pretty self explanatory and I don't want to go into it on this blog but I thought I would mention this thought I had, past the obvious meaning of this it seems to me that if the wife's body is for her husband, I think we should present ourselves in a way that pleases him (and of course that pleases God as well!), meaning do you wear things and do your hair in a way that your husband likes? That is something that we often put a lot of thought into before marriage but sometimes can not be thought about so much later on. When I am picking clothes (especially getting new ones) I like to think about what kind of things Ken likes to see me in. Also if I am thinking about a new hairstyle I like to consult him first and get his opinion. I want him to like the way I look and to please him in that way.

Have fun loving your husband!

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I Spy Quilt

I've been collecting various fabrics with all sorts of animals in it as I've always wanted to do this quilt. Its called the "I Spy" quilt - as in I spy with my eye . . .

I've got about 8 different fabrics of interesting prints (children fabrics) and cut them up into 4.5" squares. Put a 2" solid black fabric in between - I've never worked with black mind you.

I made them in 6 rows across and 9 down yielding 63 blocks of 4" colourful "I Spy" fabrics.

For the first time I have decided not to have any finishing border and went straight to binding. Chose a bright red for binding and a polkadot very dark blue (almost black really) as the backing fabric.

Love the colours!

Measurement : 41" W X 51" L
Made up of 100% American cotton
Price : RM160
Status : SOLD!

Getting Up Close and Personal With Our Food

One of my goals this year has been to find a local source for responsibly raised meats. After watching Food Inc. and reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, I became aware of the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals and the consequences to our health, food system, and environment by those factory farms. While at a factory farm, cattle are fed a ration of corn (which their bodies aren't meant to eat), beef tallow (rendered beef fat) and other liquefied fats, antibiotics (due to their living conditions and diet, they need antibiotics constantly to survive), and other roughage. Cattle are meant to eat grass. Not only are they healthier when they eat grass, turns out that we could be healthier too when eating grass fed beef.

Grass fed beef has as much fat as skinless chicken, is much higher in Omega-3s, and 4 times higher in Vitamin A. Here's an article that explains the benefits of grass fed beef further.

In my search for local, pastured beef, I found Upper DC Cattle Company , only 11 miles away. Micheal and Christal Beeson's cattle have 18 acres of pesticide-free pasture to roam. They're never fed antibiotics or growth hormones. They are fed grass/hay and a small amount of grain.

We got the chance to go out to visit the farm yesterday, on a cold, muddy February morning, to see the animals ourselves.

They raise cross-bred cattle that I was told tend to be healthier. This heifer is about 75% Black Angus.

If you look closely, you can see a cream colored calf out there with it's momma.
This year's calves will be named after state capitals since Mr. Beeson's daughter is studying state capitals in school.

There's a donkey in the field with the girls. He/she let out a bray for us while we were there.
Finding humanely raised pork was also a priority for me. In the movie Food Inc., I learned about Smithfield and how it abuses not only the pigs but also their workers. Workers are paid very little and treated as though they are expendable. This article goes into more detail.
Upper DC Cattle also raise pastured pork. Though pigs will eat just about anything, their hogs grass and grain. They have 4 acres to dig up, root through, and run in. Like the cattle, the hogs are never given antibiotics, growth hormone, and their pasture is pesticide free.

Here is Cookie (the boar on the left), his sow and their babies piled up on top.
Apparently, Cookie is quite the trouble maker and escape artist.
After talking to Mr. Beeson for a while, I went inside to pick out the meat we'd be taking home.
A bag of beef bones (for beef stock), a bag of pork fat (I'll tell you about what I'm going to do with that another day), and a bag of pork bones (for soups and beans). These aren't on his normal order list and I was thrilled that he had them in the freezer.

Thick sliced, uncured bacon, and mild sausage.

Ground beef and stew beef.

You can see how little fat is in that ground beef. He said it was close to 97% lean.
Seeing the animals that I may eat one day didn't bother me. I'm happy that those animals get to live a good life while they're alive and I feel better about eating meat from animals that are fed a healthy diet.
We cooked a package of sausage last night and topped our homemade pizza with it. It was the best pizza I can remember eating. Charlotte even put some on her pizza and she is a cheese-only girl. Jon and I fought over the leftover sausage.
For those of you who haven't read Michael Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" or watched Food, Inc., I highly recommend that you do. There is so much that the food industry doesn't want you to know about what you're eating. It's important that we all get this information so we can help to change the food system. We get to vote for the kind of food we want and how we want that food raised by buying real food that is raised/grown responsibly.

The Olympics Are Over

I am half way thru knitting my coat...should get alot done today watching an entire day of 'the last day' of the Olympics. GO CANADA GO for the hockey game! Can only imagne how amazing the closing ceremony will be.

Making Jam In February

Doesn't everyone make strawberry jam in February?

Recently, I noticed that I had a lot of fruit purees in the freezer leftover from last summer. I pureed and froze local strawberries and peaches when they were in season so I could add them to the applesauce I made in the fall. I still had several bags of strawberry, cherry (not local), and peach.

I use Ball Fruit Jell Freezer Jam pectin. I find it in Walmart near the sugar. Read the instructions in the box if you're making anything but strawberry jam since different fruits require different techniques or recipes.

In a large bowl, I measured out 1 cup of sugar and 1 package of pectin.
(I use 1 1/2 cups of sugar if I'm making plain strawberry jam but with the addition of cherries in this jam, I didn't need as much sugar since the cherries were really sweet)
Have your 2 year old rest his nose on the bowl while he mixes the two ingredients together.

In a separate bowl, I had strawberry and cherry puree (4 cups total). Pour the pectin/sugar mix into the fruit.

Stir for 3 minutes. Then pour it into freezer safe containers. Let it sit on the counter for a while until it sets up. You can then put it right into the fridge to use soon or freeze it for up to a year. I froze my jam in larger containers this time around since we love it so much. Charlotte said that Evan makes the best jam. Be warned that when you cook with a toddler, they'll take all the credit.
My favorite thing about this recipe is that it doesn't have much sugar. It tastes like fruit not like sugar. I make sure to use fully ripe, in season fruit so it's as naturally sweet as possible.
Since last year's peach freezer jam never fully set up, I'm trying a different pectin/method for a smaller batch of peach/strawberry jam.

This time around I'm using Ball Natural Gel "No Sugar Needed" pectin. You can use this to make freezer jam. Again, you need to read the instruction sheet inside the pectin for specific instructions but here is what I did.
I put 1 3/4 cups of apple juice and 1 packet of pectin in a sauce pan and boiled it for 2 minutes.

Then I added my fruit (3 cups peach puree and 1 cup strawberry puree) and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. I also added 1/2 cup of sugar (I wish I had added a full cup). I boiled this for a while and then put it into freezer safe containers. I let the containers sit on the counter to cool and set. It set very firmly but still spreadable. The jam is pretty tart so next time I may skip the juice and just add a bit more sugar. I'll definitely use this pectin next time I make peach jam since it set firmer then the regular freezer jam pectin. The reason I used No Sugar Needed pectin is because I wanted the flexibility of using much less sugar then most jam recipes call for.

At the rate that we're eating this jam, I may need to make jam in April too!
My goal for this upcoming fruit season is to make enough jam so that we never buy store-bought. I think I'll need to make about twice as much as I did this past year to make that happen. We eat a lot of PB&J around here.

Blue All Over

Remember the 'Pink All Over'? Well, this is the same thing, but in blue.

I cut up 4.5" squares of various lite & dark blue fabrics and put a 2" white sashing in between them. Made 70 such blocks altogether.

Finished it off with a 4" flowery blue fabric.

Binding was a dark blue marbled fabric and backing fabric was white with blue lines. All went perfect together.

Lovely! and pretty big too.

Measurement : 45" W X 60" L
Made up off 50% Japanese + 50% American cotton
Price : RM180
Status : Reserved for Anisaqilah

Ease his workload

Here is another idea from Alysia:

"Try to look for stuff you can do to ease his workload-even if he doesn't ask. My hubby used to do groceries all the time for me, and still does not mind doing it. But I thought, I am able to do this with the children, and then he won't have to use that time on week-ends to do it anymore-so now we all go Friday afternoons, and it's great!=)"

This is something I have done some (scooping snow, mowing the lawn and various things like that) but not as often as I would like. I want to do this more. I think it is a great way to show my love.

Don't Throw Out Those Orange Peels

The week before last, we were responsible for bringing a healthy snack to Charlotte's preschool class. I sliced up a whole bag of navel oranges to go with the graham crackers I made. I had a huge pile of discards from the ends of the oranges. I put the ends into a pan of water, added a cinnamon stick, and let it simmer on low most of the morning. It smelled fantastic. I think I may try freezing our orange peels from now on so I can pop some in a pan whenever the house needs some freshening up.

Getting rid of set stains

Recently I had a breakthrough with getting set stains out of some of our clothes so I thought it would be fun to share what I found out.

   I had a cotton knit white shirt that I really liked but had stained the elbow of at some time. (I guess I put my elbow in something without realizing it.) I was wanting to wear it the other day but didn't want to wear it with the stain so I tried to figure out what I could do to get the stain out.

    I am all out of bleach (and trying not to use it much anyway) but I remembered that Hydrogen Peroxide can remove stains at times. I put some H.P. on the stain (that was well set at this point- it had been through the wash many times) and it started to fizz and seemed to be working. I worked with it and then rinsed it out. The stain didn't all come out but it seemed to be a bit lighter. Then I sprayed it with shout and put it through the wash and YEA! it was all pure white again! (and I didn't think to take any pictures of that one!)

   Later I tried it one various different stains on white things. It didn't work on everything but it did on some.
This stain on Mara's shirt....

....disappeared.  Yea!

Sorry I wasn't able to get very good pictures but I was excited about the results so I wanted to tell you all too! It seems like inevitably we end up with stain white clothes and then though they may be perfectly good in any other way they are basically ready to be turned into rags. If I can get the stains out instead that will be a very good deal!

Removing set stains certianly works for me!

I would love to hear your greatest stain removing tricks!

Say "I love you"

There is this story I have heard about a couple that had been married 25 years or so and one day the wife asks her husband "Why don't you ever say you love me?" The husband replies "I told you I loved you when we got married and if that ever changes I will let you know."

That is funny to laugh over but it wouldn't be very funny if that was how it was in our marriages. We can't make our Husbands say "I love you" (and I have no need to) but we can certianly tell him that we love him.

Ken and I like to say those words pretty often. We don't always say "I love you" when he leaves for work but we often do. We don't always say "I love you" when we talk on the phone but we often do. We don't always say it just before we fall to sleep at night but we often do. I don't want it to be something we just say automatically without thinking about it but I do want to say it often! Throughout the day in many ways it is fun to remind our husband verbally that we love them.

Another thing that I think is fun to do is send a little e-mail to him at work just to let him know that I love him. Do you have any special ways of communicating that message to your husband? Lets not ever assume that they know that already, lets tell them!

It Sounded Like a Good Idea At The Time

**Warning... the following pictures may lead you to believe that our 38 hours in a hotel room were full of fun and sweet times shared together. Full of yummy mac and cheese...
Eating happily while watching TV...

Drawing on steamy windows....

Coloring with your sister...

Listening while your sister reads to you...

Watching TV.....

Eating breakfast in bed with your Dad while Mom takes a weird picture...

And listening while Mama reads a book....
What you do not see in these pictures is both kids crying at the same time and me telling them that neither of them are leaving their beds until they stop crying, both kids staying up 2 hours past their bedtimes rendering them both so cranky the next day that getting them to play nicely was torture, and me with a stomach ache of unknown origin.
In hindsight, I'm glad we went. It certainly got us out of the house but I'm not sure why I thought the cure for cabin fever was a small hotel room with 2 small children. We did have some fun and there were some really sweet moments but come Sunday morning, I was thrilled to be going home.

The mountains in Boone, NC are beautiful! The snow on the mountains made for great views while we drove home. Note to self... next time you travel to the mountains in the winter... remember your coat!

Be thankful for your husband

Something that I have found to be good for our marriage is to come up with a list (either written or in my head) of things about Ken that I am thankful for. For example:

  • I am thankful for Ken being such a hardworker.
  •  I am thankful that Ken is careful with our money.
  •  I am thankful that Ken really enjoys playing with and spending time with our children.
And on and on!

Being thankful is always good and I think it always puts you in a better frame of mind after you practise thankfulness. This little exercise is especially good to do at times when your husband may have done something that you don't feel so thankful for. After making the list you realize that even though you feel unhappy about one thing there are so many other things that you are happy about.

Have you done this before? What are your thoughts?

Little Creatures

Still into whites you see. And trying to use up all my scraps. SO, I cut out white blocks of 7.5" and put 2" log cabin scraps all around it.

Went around to my friend A and said please please please draw me some lil' creatures - like the dragonfly, ladybug, butterfly, etc.

And so she did! Did a splendid job as well if you ask me. So I have 12 white blocks with lil' creatures on it and colourful scraps all around it.

Found a nice terracota-burnt-orange fabric that I thought would be a nice break-away from all that colourful scrap strips and put it as a 4.5" finishing border and its binding fabric. For the backing fabric, used up my left-over orange flowers on white.

Im SO IN LOVE with this finished work! Thanks a bunch A for your hand in it.

Measurement : 44" W X 58" L
Made up of 100% American cotton + JoSonja's fabric paint
Price : RM200
Status : SOLD!