Sewing Project (DONE!!)


This was the first set of dresses. The bulk of both dresses comes from one skirt that I wore last winter. Most skirts aren’t big enough for two dresses. :) This one was. The sleeves come out of two different t-shirts that I no longer wore. The pink one I almost never wore. So this was fun! (Did I just say “fun”?)


This one was the most fun to piece together! And I did need to piece. :) A retired skirt of mine, two t-shirts, and the polka dot fabric was left over from a maternity blouse I had made. I shortened the middle section of Hazel’s dress later. In a way that I can lengthen it again next winter.


The last set! A blue t-shirt, a grey t-shirt, a pink skirt, and left-over dark grey fabric from a maternity skirt. Oh yes the striped sleeves come from a girl’s size t-shirt I found. :) Three sets of warm dresses for free, in a week’s time. I am feeling very happy! And very happy that I am done!!!

Now I am scheming on how to pass the winter with my three…what to occupy our time with. I’m excited!


More of Life!


I think it is terribly cute at this stage. :)


First time for the princess dresses. :)





View into the batch box and the oven.


I made a rather fantastic version of black bean cake! I used molasses and stevia instead of honey and stevia. I took out the cocoa and added gingersnap spices. And then, since I made it too spicy with spices, (I was afraid the kids wouldn’t eat it!) I added more eggs, and a pkg of cream cheese. It was sort of like gingersnap pumpkin pie. Oh yes, I also added a can of pumpkin.


I’m not telling you how quickly we ate a 9×13 pan. :)


This is our favorite way to eat curry. Layer: rice, peas, curry, and then a mixture of fresh peppers, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, with vinegar, red pepper flakes, and salt. YUM!


So, Bomani threw his football down the heat riser. The result? We were stumped as to how to get it back out. :) Until Grandpa came. He used the vacuums sweeper and suctioned it out!



Two of our Yorkies are about to have a litter of pups! So we turned a part of our outdoor shed into a nursery for them. That meant bringing all our stored house items, clothes, etc., into my laundry room. This is until the Yorkies make us enough money to set an Ulrich barn into our yard!


Around 11:00…we were ready to go to sleep…and I remembered that we had not yet harvested my lemongrass! And it was supposed to freeze that night! So Craig got up, went out into the cold, and chopped it off for me. Now THAT is true love. :)


Grandpas came!!!!!!! We had a fantastic weekend…



We drank a lot of tea.


On Saturday mom helped me make and can pizza sauce! My sister Dorcas’ sister-in-law had frozen her extra tomatoes for me. Dorcas stored them until Dads came to see us. The result?


A delectable pot of pizza sauce. It turned out really well. We thickened it with tomato paste. Spices. Seasonings. Raw garlic. Simmer. Yum.


Dad helped Craig with the heater.


The heat riser got a blanket of ceramic insulation!




See, I don’t know how to can. I lived in Kenya from age 16 until I left home. Canning has always frightened me. It was awesome to have mom’s expertise! She did the bulk of the work. :)


Gettin’ ready to lay the “skin”! Also called the “bell”, I believe. Please don’t ask me why. :)



She got serious about the gingersnaps. :)





Their love tanks were full and running over…


True beauty.




Today I got inspired. I still don’t have enough warm clothes for the girls for the winter. Suddenly I thought of a few skirts and shirts that I no longer wear. Why not cut them up and mix and match with scraps and left over pieces…?


I was very happy with the result. (I did shorten them a bit!)  I have another set to make yet.



Have a blessed week!

Masonry Heater Again (For Men Only) (JK. Craig’s Idea to Write That)

Okay! Time to catch up!!!


This metal tube that Craig welded is called a P-channel, named after Peter Vandenberg in the Netherlands. This is the secondary air intake.


This is called the port. It restricts the flow of air which increases the velocity.


You can see the end of the P-channel just above the door frame.




Where the P-channel will fit into.



P-channel in place. That is the floor to our oven part. Can’t wait to bake!!


Laying the walls to the oven.



Putting “icing” on the brick.


He is cool. :)


There you can see both the inside of the batch box (where we will burn the wood), and the inside of the oven, above it.


The little platform to the left is where he will build the heat riser.


Here he is forming up to pour some castable refractory to seal off the top of the door.



This now is inside the heat riser. Craig cast that little triangle out of castable refractory. It’s there to help direct the gases up the heat riser.


This is looking into the batch box. You can see the end of the P-channel toward the top.


Building the heat riser.



Attaching the oven door frame.



Here he is laying the “roof” of the oven with left over firebrick.


He adopted my technique (when I work with whipped cream on a beautiful dessert) to pipe morter into the cracks using a bag with a corner snipped off. :)


More to come!

If this is enough to convince you never to build one of these, yes. Be duly warned. :) There’s nothing simple about it is the conclusion I am coming to. But it sure is fun! And it’s going to be awesome!


A Blog Post in Pictures (For Women Only)

Ha ha! Think if I write that every time, it will mean only women will read my blog?


Here’s life for the Texas family! I will post an update of Masonry Heater pics in a separate post.


He loves his gloves. Especially because Craig wears gloves a lot as he works on the masonry heater.



That would be Hazel. :)




Hot Chocolate weather. I capitalized it because it’s made with real cocoa, real raw honey, and real raw milk. :)





I’ve been challenged recently by someone to “make my mission every day to make everyone I meet feel valuable.” Part of that was making a fresh batch of playdough… :)


Bomani brought me flowers. What a treasure!


Yes. We love tea in the winter time! But we didn’t know that 12 ounces of organic peppermint would actually nearly fill a gallon jar…


Rolling the last of the apples!


I wonder what all he is going to cook for me in the bright future…


That sort of makes you wonder what Hazel is going to cook for me…?


This is what meets us every morning…stumbling sleepily down the hall… And it melts me every time…


Okay. I got inspired to do a 23 week photo shoot! I did it fast, with my camera timed on the window sill. So excuse the lack of quality. :) The blouse I found at Goodwill. Burleson Goodwill has blessed me in numerous ways. God has blessed me!


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May your Sabbath be blessed with worship to our Father…and peace.

Ladies Only, Please.

I’m not stupid enough to think I can post something on here for only ladies.


Here’s the deal.

Yesterday I wrote a long, scary blog post. It’s about money. And a breakdown of emotions and soul. And what God’s doing.

I’m not posting it.

But any *ladies* who would like to read it, please comment or email me or let me know somehow. Along with your email address.

On a different note, it’s 68 degrees in our house this morning. For us, that is cold. The kids and I are mumbling around and wrapping in blankets. Cold always has the same effect on me. I don’t want to move.

We still have several weeks of work on the heater until it’s ready to fire up. Unless Craig is able to take off work a little more. He’s considering getting up early to work on it mornings before going to his job, and then working evenings until late. If so, you can pray as much for me as for him. :) Doing 100% of the kid work every day has a certain effect on me. :)

Last evening Steve and Dorcas Stutzman family had an evening of music, praise, and worship at our church. It was an incredible blessing.



I know…I have been delinquent. But there are reasons. :) Three primary reasons.

1. With the work on the heater, it has been too dusty to keep the computer on it’s customary, distress-painted, black desk. And so it’s been floating about the house. And I feel disoriented. And so I haven’t blogged.

2. I have developed some bad varicose veins just behind and below my knee. This means that sitting for long moments can be painful, as bending my knee is not good for them. These veins have been my nemesis this pregnancy. I am now feeling so good! I am energetic. I am inspired! But then my 34 year old veins decide I’m too old to be pregnant (or something), and they give me problems. I never had this before…even while carrying twins. So yes, I gave in and bought some compression thigh highs. Anyone who knows me well, knows the depth of my dislike for any sort of nylon stockings. And so, needing to wear these things for 4-5 months, every day, is enough to make me crawl the walls. Crazier than normal. Unhappy, in an understatement. And yet, I love my baby…more and more…and I will wear compression stockings and smile. :) :) I did order some with open toes, so then at least I will have my toes back!

3. Our fantastic camera is dying the death. Either that, or we need new batteries. We really didn’t think it was the batteries, so we were in despair. We do not want to lose this slice of our life in photos, especially with building the Masonry Heater! And every spare and not spare cent is going into the heater, so no new camera coming up. We decided to order good batteries and just make sure that is not the problem. So pray. :) Because although this is not an iphone, and it is not a jazzy, complicated camera, it takes very good pictures. And we love it dearly. :)

So there are my main three reasons that I have been sadly lacking in blogging power. There are more…

1. I have been sewing. Anyone who knows me well knows that I do not enjoy sewing. But I was having a hard time finding winter maternity wear that I liked and was in my price range. So I ordered some fabric, more was given to me, and I settled in for an entire new wardrobe. A month or two later, I have it. I am very, very happy. Comfort. Not heffalumpy. Kind of pretty. I love this wardrobe! And the cool thing is, at least the dress part I can turn into skirts for next winter. For you seamstresses out there, here is what I did.

I cut the sleeves off of t-shirts that had nice, small neck holes. Then I cut the lower half off the t-shirts. I used some of those lower halves to lengthen sleeves on short sleeved maternity blouses. The skirt part I made two different ways:

A. I started out with a normal skirt pattern. I cut it taller than for a normal skirt. I put darts in until it fit onto the t-shirt top I had ready. But at the waist, I added a half circle of stretchy fabric. This gives me a nice, large bubble of fabric that on most of the dress things, will last through the 9th month.

B. I cut a normal skirt, only more narrow because for this one, I didn’t add darts.. The back I cut taller, to come up to the t-shirt I had cut short. The front I cut to stop below my tummy. I took a large rectangle of stretchy fabric and gathered it on all four sides to fit into the tummy space of the dress.

I liked both ways. There are pros and cons for each. This, by the way, once you have your pattern down, takes very little time. The darts gave me some fits, but otherwise, very simple.

For my maternity blouses, I made several with a pattern my sister gave me. Most of them I sewed into peasant blouses. I made the sleeves long enough to keep me warm this winter. I made all but one blouse and one skirt out of warm, stretchy, comfy fabric. So there are the details for any curious seamstresses.

This all sounds simple. :) Laugh. Because it wasn’t. There was an enormous amount of trial and error. An enormous amount of groaning. And by the end…I admit…some words would escape that should not be heard around here. My very last blouse went together like a dream. :) My very last skirt didn’t. But in the end, with enough tweaking and fixing, I love this wardrobe. So that, I suppose, is what counts.


This morning I got up. I felt very happy. I felt as though several tons of bricks had fallen from my aching back. I fixed some clothes for the twins. I copied a pattern, as I may be sewing a summer blouse wardrobe come spring. (Do NOT mention that to me, though!) And then, officially done, I cleaned my purple room and put it back together.

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Notice the small computer station, with even a little ledge to slightly elevate my feet. :)

2. I have been doing apples. At $10/bushel, how can one go wrong? I ordered three bushels. And now I want to say those other words at the sight of them. I am weary of doing apples every day! But at the same time, I am very grateful for them. Our favorite apple product (besides apple crisp), is apple chips, so I keep the dehydrator running. It’s small, so it takes about a dozen apples every day. I’ve also been doing applesauce to keep up with the ripening ones. I still have about a 3/4 box to go. :)

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I made the cake for the mom’s night out party with my vbac group. It is mostly made of eggs, (8 of them), almond meal, and honey. We had such a lovely evening! I took the twins with me, and they thought a pj party was awesome. We all sat around, talked about babies and birth stories, and did jamberry nails. These ladies are lovely. I am grateful for new friends!

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3. The Masonry Heater Saga Continues.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had moments of temptation to hate the guts of the heater. But I just can’t. :) We are so excited about it! It’s one of our dreams to build our own heater, and it’s coming true! The down sides? It takes nearly every minute of Craig’s time. He comes home from work, eats, and hits the heater. Saturdays are big heater days. I am not used to this! My husband spends time with his wife and children! He sits down, and we talk…we go on walks…he helps me with dishes…he helps me train the kids in the evenings…he plays ball with Bomani. But all that is up to me right now. And I’m squeaking under it. But lest I overstate my case, he does still help me with some of that! :) The other thing is, it’s taking money to build it. A fraction of the cost of buying one. But still–money. So we scrimp and we save, and I buy bits of food at the supermarket.


Ahhh. Sometimes it just feels good to complain. :)

But! Let me catch you up in pictures on the heater saga!


So, not only did the mud floor crack, but the twins had a heyday on it one evening while I was sewing and Craig was occupied outside. They danced around on the still damp mud, and scratched gleefully with their little fingers. :) But Craig repaired it, and it’s now a super, solid floor.


Here he was working on sizing and counting to know how many firebrick to buy.

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Firebrick! These high quality bricks you need to use for the firebox and oven part of the heater. This was a pre-run outside.


And now the real building begins!!!

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The exact precision that is necessary for this part of the heater blows my mind. If Craig were not such a super careful, expert builder… But he is!

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The above picture is going to be the floor of our oven, where we will bake. :) The groove is made for a metal air intake pipe, which Craig is welding and creating out of scraps. Have I mentioned that he is amazing?


And that is the…okay. I forget the name for it. :) But this is opposite the fire box door, where air will circulate out into the rest of the heater.

If anyone has burning curiosity, call Craig. He knows what he’s doing. I’m learning as he goes. :)

And yes…I still have kids.


She is playing basketball. :)

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They are fishing.

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I Chronicles 16…

David appointed some of the Levites to be ministers before the ark of the Lord, to celebrate the Lord God of Israel, and to give thanks and praise to Him.

He appointed some to play harps, lyres, cymbals, and others trumpets. Every day. He decreed that thanks be given to the Lord by a certain group of people.

For His faithful love endures forever.

I am thoughtful. Every day…God was lifted up, thanked, and blessed by this group of people.

What does this mean for me today…?

Lord, Your faithful love reaches to heaven.

Your faithfulness to the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the highest mountains;

Your judgements like the deepest sea.

God, Your faithful love is so valuable

That people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.

They are filled from the abundance of Your house;

You let them drink from Your refreshing stream,

For with You is life’s fountain.

In Your light we will see light.

More of the Masonry Batch Heater


Yum! :) So, Craig made four bricks out of different ratios of clay (dug out in our field), sand, and perlite. Something makes me wonder if I spelled that right. :) Then he baked them slowly in the oven to dry them out. After that, he and the kids tested them by whacking them apart! The kids thought it was awesome. Then he knew which ratio he wanted to use. I believe he used about equal amounts of the three.


Craig works until 6:00, which means that a lot of his work on the heater needs to be done after dark. Keeps it interesting!




He finally got in there with his feet (in boots!) to mix it. :) Time tested method!



Although it may seem strange that we bring mud into our house to build our heater, really, cob is a fantastic material! We think we’re too rich to use it, but it works and it’s good. Concrete, of course, would just powder under high temps.





It looked great when it was done! And even with a fan blowing over it, it is taking a really long time to dry. Unfortunately, it’s also cracking. Craig wonders if he should have incorporated straw as well.


The next step? Building! This, my friends is fun.




She is such a beautiful friend. Aunt. Sister. I so miss her gentle influence on my soul…

I miss her sudden laughter…

I miss her turning her nose up at a naughty brother…

I miss her delight every time I walk in the door…

I miss hanging out with her.

I love using her ceramic pie pan. I love having her lavender accents in my extra room.

But I don’t want those things. I want her back.

“We would never wish her back”???

Sorry. I wish her back.

I wish her back, God…

Be with us, God…