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Glory Moments: Our five blessings have been amazing on the crazy journey we've been on . . . they have been the reason for most of our glory moments.

Glory Moments: Our five blessings have been amazing on the crazy journey we’ve been on . . . they have been the reason for most of our glory moments.

If you missed the first part of our past year in pictures, you might want to skim it right quick before you read on.  We are hoping to catch up with friends and family through a series of posts with mostly pictures, recounting some of the “glory moments“, challenges, and lessons learned so far on our journey into a whole new way of life . . . agrarian community living.  As you can see from the photo above, our youngest has had the toughest time on this journey, but he is walking now and discovering that life isn’t so bad when you can get out of the travel trailer and explore.

Lesson Learned:  It really hasn't been that bad living in a trailer considering that we have all learned to love even when times are really, really tough.

Lesson Learned: It really hasn’t been that bad living in a trailer considering that we have all learned to love even when times are really, really tough.

Lesson Learned:  Don't try to muster up fake joy, turn your eyes on The Joy Giver and He will give you the real deal . . . don't miss the moments.

Lesson Learned: Don’t try to muster up fake joy, turn your eyes on The Joy Giver and He will give you the real deal . . . don’t miss the moments.

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One of the first little wild treasures to pop up on our land, truly a glory moment. Many were “stolen” to transplant around our new fruit trees.

We prayed for years for land and God blessed us with 20 acres in the rural Missouri Ozarks, just outside of Goodhope. Little did we know at the time that we were just a little over a mile away from a family endeavoring to live like us.  It took a mutual friend and a Baker Creek festival for us to finally meet them, months after purchasing our land.  We still deeply long to have our best friends from California with us here on our land (in His time), but so praise God for the blessing of the family down the road.  Lesson Learned:  Perhaps one of the biggest lessons we have learned so far is that the agrarian way of life cannot be lived without true community, at least that’s how we feel about it.

Yes, community is essential . . . our old barn was the only structure we had to work with from the start and we couldn't even use it to protect our building materials due to how dirty it was.  Having a close community would have made our beginnings so much lighter.

Yes, community is essential . . . our old barn was the only structure we had to work with from the start and we couldn’t even use it to protect our building materials due to how dirty it was. Having a close community would have made our beginnings so much lighter.

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Glory moment: This sawdust “house” may not look like much, but if you use a composting toilet, you know how excited I was about this handy little shelter that fits nicely as part of our garden fence line. The other side of it has a small opening along the bottom to get sawdust from inside the home garden area. My husband can back his truck up and dump right in . . . love his handiwork!

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Challenge: How do you grow food on hard old rocky pasture land? Huglekultur Back to Eden . . . until the bugs come . . . and the drought . . .

. . . and we still  had more tomatoes than we could find the time to put up!  We are definitely going to have to build a solar dehydrator!!  Lesson Learned:  Less is more in so many areas of life.

. . . and we still had more tomatoes than we could find the time to put up! We are definitely going to have to build a solar dehydrator!! Lesson Learned: Less is more in so many areas of life.

Enjoying our spring fed creek before it dried up for the first time in years.  Lesson Learned:  We should have set up our water catchment as soon as the roof was done instead of depending on our spring.  Water must always be a priority!

Enjoying our spring fed creek before it dried up for the first time in years. Lesson Learned: We should have set up our water catchment as soon as the roof was done instead of depending on our spring. Water must always be a priority!

Glory Moment:  We just recently extracted almost two gallons of honey!  Getting to experience some (sweet) fruit for all of our labors has been so joyful.

Glory Moment: Kip set up two bee hives this past May. We just recently extracted almost two gallons of honey! Getting to experience some (sweet) fruit from all of his labors has been so joyful.

Glory to God for all the glory moments, challenges, and lessons learned . . . they have all deepened our love for Him and each other.  More moments in pictures to come, God willing . . .

Blessings,

Carrie    ><>

“Glory moments” are what I most often read about when it comes to the agrarian way of life . . . the perfect chicken coop, the amazing garden harvest, the healthy baby calf, the children all working peacefully as a team, the community sharing their bounty with each other.  It’s encouraging to read about all those wonderful moments in time that people share about, but the truth is that “glory moments” come and go . . . all too quickly sometimes.  Over the past year, the scale, for us, seemed to be most often unfairly tipped toward the go . . . and so we learned during the most crazy times, to fix our minds and hearts on the One Who will never go.  We found that His peace and joy were abounding if we would simply embrace HIM.  Though we are weary and tired, because of Jesus, we won’t give up.

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There couldn’t have been a much more beautiful place to have had daily truck and/or trailer break downs . . . Canada.

We could easily fill a 1000 page book to recount the main events of the past year of our lives, but time is too precious for so many written words, not to mention the time it would take you to read them.  So instead, how about some pictures that captured some “glory moments” (yes, we did have many), some challenges, and some of our biggest lessons learned through the day to day real life experience of moving from Alaska to Missouri to build a homestead, from scratch, with very little money, no income, no experience, no close community, and a family of 7 all living in a 27 foot travel trailer . . . which we still live in.

Home sweet dirty, smelly,  crowded, everything in the same place, enter at your own risk . . . home!?

Challenge: Home, sweet, dirty, crowded, everything in the same place, enter at your own risk . . . home!?! . . . an experience we cannot recommend for a large family for more than a month or two at most.

Being that is takes quite a while just to upload one picture (that’s rural Missouri internet for you), we’ll have to divide this year in pictures into a few different posts over the next few weeks.  We are still undecided about when, how, or even if we should share anything beyond the past year in pictures.  We had hoped to have the Journey to Surthrival project up and running by now to document the agrarian journey of multiple different families, but it just didn’t make the priority list and some of the other families were lead in different directions.  There are so many people out there sharing their story . . . do we really need to share ours?  Should we say good-bye to internet all together to keep our time invested in our children and this land God has given us?  Or, would a little time at this keyboard make a worthwhile difference in some life out there?  We would love your thoughts . . .

We left Alaska early July 2013 . . . little did we know we would be stuck in Canada for two weeks, spend our nights in auto repair parking lots, get towed twice, and miss out on our family vacation to the Oregon coast.  Lesson learned: We are entitled to nothing, but in every trial, we can fully trust Him to give us all that we need.

We left Alaska early July 2013 . . . little did we know we would be stuck in Canada for two weeks, spend our nights in auto repair parking lots, get towed twice, and miss out on our family vacation to the Oregon coast. Lesson learned: We are entitled to nothing, but in every trial, we can fully trust Him to give us all that we need.

When the trailer is 100 degrees, it's a good time to find some cold water somewhere!  British Columbia, Canada

Glory Moment: When the trailer is 100 degrees, it’s a good time to find some cold water somewhere! British Columbia, Canada

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Glory Moment: She absolutely loves water!

From Alaska to Missouri, 8 months pregnant!  His grace is sufficient . . .

Challenge: From Alaska to Missouri, 8 months pregnant! His grace is sufficient . . .

Our first home birth . . . in our travel trailer . . . the best!  Joseph Luke, born September 24, 2013.

Glory Moment: Our first home birth . . . in our travel trailer . . . the best! Joseph Luke, born September 24, 2013.

Cherish the moments . . . love is everything when everything else is a mess.

Lesson Learned:  Cherish the moments . . . love is everything when everything else is a mess.

All tucked in for the harshest Missouri winter in years . . . waiting for our home in Alaska to sell, waiting to find land, waiting to have running water again, waiting, waiting, waiting . . .

Challenge:  All tucked in for the harshest Missouri winter in years . . . waiting for our home in Alaska to sell, waiting to find land, waiting to have running water again, waiting . . .

I guess we brought a little bit of Alaska with us!

Glory Moment:  I guess we brought a little bit of Alaska with us!

This is the reason we were often waiting for running water . . . when the hose from the friends water catchment freezes, the neighbors well freezes, and the only other option is to drive empty jugs one at a time into the tank, you really learn to appreciate water.  Did I mention it was a record cold winter . . . he's such a good man!

Challenge:  This is the reason we were often waiting for running water . . . when the hose from the friends water catchment froze, the neighbors well froze, and the only other option was to drive into town for water and then empty jugs one at a time into the tank, we really learned to appreciate water. Did I mention it was a record cold winter . . . he’s such a good man!

Our home finally sold in November, 2013 . . . we are debt free!  Land at last . . .

Glory Moment:   Our home finally sold in November, 2013 . . . we are debt free! Land at last . . .

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!  To Him be the glory . . . in every moment.  More moments in pictures to come . . .

Blessings,

Carrie     ><>

A Year In Pictures . . . Part 2

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The past two years here at Heavenly Homesteading have been quiet, at least the blog has been quiet.  The family behind this blog has been working away to fix up an old run down house, an investment, an opportunity to let go of this modern way of life and fly free.  I am excited beyond words to share with my readers that the old run down house is now clean and new in almost every way possible.  It is up for sale and we are getting ready to go . . . where?  If you would like to find out, you can follow our journey and continue to follow Heavenly Homesteading at Journey To Surthrival, our new website that we hope to launch in the next couple of months.

Please forgive the mess as we transition to the new website.  As posts disappear from Heavenly Homesteading, rest assured that many will reappear over at Journey to Surthrival.  I hope you will join us as we step out in faith and begin to live out our dream of being part of an agrarian community, where we don’t just survive, but thrive!

Blessings,

Carrie

Update:  After over a year into our journey, we are finally at a place where we can begin to share some of the “glory moments”, the challenges, and the day to day work of building our homestead.  The Journey to Surthrival website is currently not live.  Much has changed over the past year, so we are now at a place of prayerfully deciding what we should share and how.  For now, Heavenly Homesteading will be our outlet, but we hope to merge this blog with the Journey to Surthrival project.  For those who didn’t get a chance to check out Journey to Surthrival before it “disappeared”, it is a multi-family project intended to give real life perspective and encouragement to those who are endeavoring to walk in the old paths, otherwise commonly referred to as an agrarian way of life.

For those of you who remember that I said I would try to post some before and after pictures of our home that we have been fixing up over the past two and a half years, here they are.  Our home is up for sale now and we are getting ready for a new adventure that I can’t wait to share with you . . . soon!

Front entry before . . .

Front entry after.

Front entry after.

Living room before . . .

Living room before . . .

Living room after.

Living room after.

Formal dining before . . .

Formal dining before . . .

Formal dining after.

Formal dining after.

Main bath before . . .

Main bath before . . .

Main bath after.

Main bath after.

Knocked out wall between bedrooms before . . .

Knocked out wall between bedrooms before . . .

One of the now two separate bedrooms with new paint, closets, and carpet.

One of the now two separate bedrooms with new paint, closets, and carpet.

It has been a very busy past couple of years, but the end of this project is in sight.  We feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity to make something old into something new.  We wait now for a buyer and for the return on this investment that will launch us into our dream of living the agrarian way of life.  All glory to God for where He has brought us and where He is leading us next!

Water kefir soda has become a favorite drink in our home, but it took a while to learn how to make it how we all like it.  I almost gave up on it for a time until I discovered that water kefir could be used to boost sourdough starters.  My first wild sourdough starter took almost a month before it was active enough to use, so I was thrilled to see how quickly water kefir boosted sourdough starters became active (2-3 days!).  I love working with sourdough and am so excited to be able to make this healthy, probiotic rich, fruity, fizzy drink out of my new sourdough booster.  So, here is how I now satisfiy my cravings for fruity carbonation:

Raspberry Soda“:

Ingredients: (for making 1/2 gallon)

- about 2 T. water kefir grains (hydrated, not dry)

- 1/2 gallon room temperature water (filtered if needed to get rid of chlorine, etc.)

- 1/2 cup organic sugar*

- 1 slice fresh organic lemon or 1 t. organic lemon juice (optional)

- about 1/4 cup organic raisins (optional, but very helpful)

- about 2 dozen fresh or frozen raspberries

- some form of mineral supplement (ie. an egg shell, mineral drops, or molasses)

* You can also use rapadura or sucanat, which adds more minerals to the water, but our family didn’t care for the taste when I used sucanat.  Note that you can decrease the mineral drop amount to 1/16 t. or 6 drops if using a mineral rich sweetener.

Simple Process:

First Fermentation

- Fill a half gallon jar about two inches full with hot water and add sugar.  Swirl or stir to disolve sugar.

- Add enough cold water to take water level to about 2 inches from the top of the jar.

- Add water kefir grains, lemon slice (or juice), raisins, and mineral supplement choice. I’ve never tried using molasses, so I’m not sure how much to use. If using an egg shell, make sure to rinse it well first.  If using mineral drops, which I definately recommend, use about 1/8 t. or 12 drops.  My grains are actually growing like they are supposed to since I started using the mineral drops.  Water kefir grains love minerals!

- Cover jar with a cloth or napkin and a rubberband and let sit on counter for 24-48 hours, until the raisins all rise to the top (this is the first fermentation).  The raisins are a huge help to me, because I always seem to forget how long my jar has been sitting.  I love having the visual to tell me when it’s time to move on to the second fermentation and our boys love to see the raisins floating around in the jar.

Second Fermentation

- When raisins have risen to the top of the jar, carefully scoop the lemon slice and raisins out with a slotted spoon.  I put them in a bowl and then dump them into our compost bin.  If some of the raisins dart to the bottom of the jar when you go to scoop them out, be sure to taste the water kefir to make sure it has at least a hint of carbonation at this point.  If it is still quite sweet without any carbonation, I would leave it to sit a few hours more.

- Once you have a little fizz going on and you have removed the lemon slice and raisins, carefully pour the water kefir into a clean half gallon jar or two quart jars (or whatever other jar combination you have) without letting any grains out of first fermentation jar.  I like to pour it through a fine tea filter to catch any “sludge” that likes to float around with water kefir and to make sure no grains get into the new jar(s).  I also like to leave about an inch of water kefir with the grains so that I can easily store them in the fridge until I’m ready to start a new batch (they store this way for about a week). 

- Or, you can start a new batch right away, in which case I would carefully get as much water kefir out as possible, being careful not the let the grains fall out (they usually stay to the side of the jar in a group when pouring very slowly).  Then, I like to gently rinse them a couple of times with cold water while still in the jar, slowly pouring out the rinse water each time, being careful that no grains fall out.  Prepare a fresh jar of sugar water, lemon, raisins, and mineral supplement as before and simply dump the rinsed water kefir grains (with a little water to help push them out) into your fresh jar.

- Now for the fun part!  Add to your water kefir about 12 fresh or frozen raspberries per quart.  This doesn’t have to be exact, just try to get a good layer of raspberries on the top of the jar(s).  Seal the jars with airtight lids and leave to sit on the counter for up to 24 hours.

- After your water kefir has been infused with the raspberry juices, scoop the raspberries out with a slotted spoon, just as you did with the lemon and raisins.  You can now drink it right away or keep it sealed tight on the counter and drink it as you want it.  We prefer to drink it within a day or two because it is sweeter and has no alcohol taste.  If it sits out of cold storage for more than a couple of days it may get a hint of an alcohol taste, but I am very sensitive to that taste (quite dislike it), so many may not even notice it.  You can also store your raspberry soda in the fridge to make it last longer, but it will lose some of it’s carbonation.

If you make this fun drink we call raspberry soda, I hope you enjoy it as well as we do!

Some Of My Favorite Water Kefir Resources:

- This is a very helpful video: Sophisticated Peasant Video Tutorial

- Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS instructions: How to Make Water Kefir

- Kelly @ Kelly The Kitchen Cop: Is Kefir Soda An Alcoholic Berverage?

- Cultures For Health: This is where you can buy water kefir grains (you might also find these at Amazon) and watch many helpful videos about water kefir.

Esther, our 7 month old, is on the "let's taste everything diet".

If you’ve never heard of the GAPS diet, you will want to know that it is a diet designed to heal the gut.  Why heal the gut?  It happens to be where fully half of our nerve cells are located and 60-80% of our lymphatic system (the body’s first defense against infection and desease) is in the small intestine.  More than 80% of anything harmful in our bloodstream is from our own digestive system.  It is an amazing system that God created and what we allow into it is incredibly important for the health and wellness of our bodies.

Our family has been on a modified GAPS diet for almost three months now.  I say modified because we flew through the intro. part of the diet in less than a week and never gave up eating cultured dairy products.  We have also allowed small amounts of homemade sourdough baked goods and tiny bits of a few other little non-GAPS items (ie. baking soda, arrowroot powder, cocoa powder, and homemade whey).

A LITTLE HISTORY

To give you some history, our family has been on a journey of eating more and more healthy for over five years now.  By eating healthy, I mean consuming beyond organic (grass-fed/pastured), home processed, traditionally prepared foods and beverages as much as possible.  And yet, we have still struggled with lingering health problems, somewhat due to invironmental/situational issues, but also largely due to the poor diet of the years before the past five and the affects that had on ours and our children’s guts.  After doing a lot of research and being convinced that our guts needed healing, I prayerfully settled on the GAPS diet.

THE PLAN . . . CHANGED . . .

My original plan back in April of this year was to only do the GAPS diet for a month or two.  Having not read the book (I’m waiting for Gut and Physiology Syndrome to be completed), I just had all the great information I found on various blogs and websites to get me going.  I didn’t know that 6 months to 2 years would be more realistic for a good GAPS diet time frame.  I also didn’t know that my husband was going to be more determined than myself to stay on the GAPS diet for longer than planned.  So, with his encouragement and with the blessing of great results so far, we are sticking to it until at least the 6 month mark, possibly longer.

THE CHALLENGE

The challenge has been that you really have to prepare for being on the GAPS diet this long (or at all for that matter).  My pantry is fully stocked with buckets of GAPS diet “illegal” foods (I do bulk buying every 6 months) and we were not prepared for the added expence of all the meat, eggs, and nuts needed for this diet.  So, we have had to modify things to fit our current situation, making the results slower and less dramatic, but amazing none the less.

THE RESULTS SO FAR . . .

The result of this diet that I am the most excited about is the healing my husband has experienced with his sinuses.  From the time he was a young teenager (over 20 years, not to make him sound old), he has suffered from chronic sinus infections.  More resently, he got to the point of having to do a nasal rince twice a day, homemade nasal spray multiple times a day, as well as take daily herbs and medicines to help decongest his sinuses . . . all just to keep the infection away.  By the end of the first week on the GAPS diet, he no longer needed to do the nasal rince.  By the end of the second week, he had stopped taking the herbs and decongestants.  Now, he just uses the nasal spray every once in a while.  He feels like his sinuses are 90% healed.

Other encouraging changes we’ve seen so far (besides all the not so fun “die-off” symptoms) are:

My husband:  lost over 15 pounds.

Caleb:  has a much better appetite (he is very skinny, so the more he eats the better).

Joshua: can focus on a task and complete it now.

Nathan:  his bald spots on his head have grown back and he is sleeping much better.

Esther:  her eczema has cleared up almost completely (though the baby probiotic may be the reason for this).

Myself:  more strength and energy, less fatique, and also lost 15 pounds, but this is normal for me after having a baby.

HELPFUL RESOURCES

There are two books that I highly recommend that helped our family in being ready for the GAPS diet before we ever knew what it was.  They are The Maker’s Diet, by Jordan S. Rubin and Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig.  Then of course, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Natasha Campbell McBride, would be the best resource.

Here are a list of blog posts and websites that have also been very helpful in preparing for and sticking with the GAPS diet:

Why You Might Consider The GAPS Diet 

How To Prepare For Going On The GAPS Diet

GAPS Intro: For Gut Healing And Sealing

Full GAPS Diet Food List

Many GAPS friendly recipes

Kid Friendly Recipes

Do you have any experience with the GAPS diet?  I would love to hear about your experience if you do or your thoughts on the idea if you don’t.

     Our boys love to play with playdough, but I think since we started making and coloring our own, they like to make it even more than they like to play with it.  It is so much fun to make colored playdough at home!

It all started a little over a year ago when I started adding a mix of powdered herbs to some of our smoothies and drinks.  Some of those powdered herbs are so brightly colored, especially the beet root powder!  Some of them also smell wonderful, like the orange peel powder.  So, we decided to try using some of those herbs to color our homemade playdough and were very excited by the results.

TO MAKE PLAYDOUGH

You need:

2 cups flour

2 cups water

1 cup salt

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

4 tsp. cream of tartar

Simple process:  Mix all ingredients in saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until ball forms (or until stiff enough to knead).  Knead until smooth.

TO COLOR PLAYDOUGH

Choose 4 or 5 powdered herbs that are bright in color.  You may want to have these ready before you make the dough as they seem to mix with the dough better when it’s still warm.  We used the following:

Beet Root Powder = fire brick

Bilberry Powder = purple

Burdock Root Powder = light brown

Spinach Powder = sea green

Orange Peel Powder = golden rod

            Scoop 1 to 2 Tbls. of each powder into separate cereal bowls and divide your dough between the bowls (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of dough per bowl).  You can vary the amounts of powder and playdough to make lighter or brighter colors.  Just have fun experimenting! 


We store our playdough in ziplock bags and it lasts about 4 – 6 months, depending on how and how much it gets played with.  Hope you have as much fun as we have coloring playdough someday.

Blessings,

Carrie

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