Saturday, August 19, 2017

The {Very} Little House

When my brother's house burned down, he cleared the lot and began construction of a tiny house. 96 squ. feet, using the outside dimensions. Very tiny house!
It can be loaded on a flat-bed truck and moved.
You may well wonder why he has a sheet hanging in front of the opening. (I've discovered that, mysterious as Mark's housekeeping ways are to others, he always has a perfectly logical reason why he does (or doesn't do) what he does (or doesn't do). In this instance, the sheet protects the very pretty door from the effect of direct sunlight. See?

He built in nice ventilation around the tops of the walls.
See the handy shelf, plus an electrical box up there? I'll explain those later.
It's well insulated. In the West Virginia mountains, many people don't need A/C.
Because he's a handyman, one wall is adorned with all manner of tools, and please note the row of electrical boxes hanging on pegs down there. Mark likes doing electrical work, and he's a fan of having more outlets than you could need. We counted; he'll have 13 in this little room/house.
When the bed is down, the shelf and outlet (above) are useful up there. But the bed can be raised, allowing room beneath it for sitting comfortably in a chair. Here, Mark shows us how it's done:
Attach a bungee strap:
Secure it with a strong board:
You can barely see below the bed a chair, table, lamp, etc.
On the other end of the room will be a large glass window, giving lots of natural light and lovely views.
Well ... maybe not now. That view is of the half-burnt outhouse. But hopefully someday (we don't know when) and somewhere (we don't know where), Mark will be able to move this little house to a place with a better view. It could just be a good shed, or if need-be, it could be his home. He built it all himself, by hand, without plans.
The roof is interesting. It's a sturdy metal roof. Right now, I think he only has one-half of it attached. The two halves will fold down on top of each other (like 2 playing cards, being shuffled), to keep the pitch low while moving the house. But once in place, they're designed with hinges so they can be raised and form a nice, steep pitch, allowing more space inside and better air movement.
So there's the Very Little House. Good work, Mark!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Fan of Beverages (A Fasting Update)

Some words Adam pokes fun at me for using. One is "vehicle." Another is "beverage." Well, these days we're all into our beverages. That's what happens when you fast! Yes, Adam is still fasting about 2.5 days each week (from after Saturday supper until lunch on Tuesday), and yes, he loves it. He does not find it difficult. He says Sunday is a hungry day. Fasting causes his mind to focus much better. He is very productive on Mondays and Tuesdays. He enjoys not having to track every calorie -- there are no calories to track. He continues to do much research on fasting, and we are impressed with what we've discovered thus far. He's been to his doctor and has the "green light" to continue as he is doing. I'm more cautious dipping my toes into this pool, but I've given in a brief trial also and found it doable.

He's lost over 20 pounds on this regimen. The rest of the week he eats normally, which for us means lightly with little meat and home-cooked, small meals. And no snacking. We're convinced snacking is what has made Americans heavy and made their bodies insulin-resistant.

So ... beverages? They're mighty important when they're all you have! At our local thrift store lately I've scored some very fun beverage options. I found this lovely HuesnBrew tea pot for only $2. New, it would be about $20. I have lots of tea pots, but a small one like this is so nice for a private cuppa.
 Still, I wouldn't have bought it, except I looked inside ...
I have no tea pots with a built-in infuser. Plus a little scooping spoon :)
Not wanting to neglect the husband, I found another coffee pot for him.
$3 coffee pot; new it would be over $20
 He had a small Bialetti version of the one in the photo above, but this Primula brand is about twice the size. Sometimes you need a little coffee, and sometimes you need a lot. This makes the strength of coffee that Shani likes, so next time they come, he'll brew her up some of the good stuff.
And, to help keep us healthy, I also found a Magic Bullet machine.
Bullet machines were all the rage a few years back, and I knew if I waited long enough, some of them would drift into the thrift stores. This one looks brand new. If you want to watch their video about what this little thing can do, click over here. You can put whole veggies in there, kale, celery, etc., and drink your high-fiber supper. It's kind of a smoothie machine on steroids.

Adam's plan is to stick with his fasting schedule for now until he reaches a weight he likes, but he will continue to use intermittent fasting long term, perhaps adjusting it down to one day each week. Humans have safely practiced fasting for many thousands of years. God instructs fasting in the Bible, and it's no wonder, considering the health benefits. The body begins to consume sub-par components when you fast -- things like inferior white blood cells and protein cells like cancer.

You may wonder why there's not more hubbub about fasting as a medical practice. Why aren't doctors pushing this and the medical community prescribing it? Ask yourself: how much money is there in it? It's a simple thing any person can do at home. No pricey pharmaceuticals. No expensive hospital stays or high-powered machines. Just abstinence.

So far, we are fans.

Wolf River Applesauce

 Okay ... tricked you! That tree above is a peach tree, of course, haha! It is a very good fruit year at Max and Anne's farm, and they generously shared with me. I brought a bag of these peaches home with me, I chopped and froze them right away, and hope to make peach preserves soon.
Now, on to Wolf River! I'd never heard of a Wolf River apple. Max's tree was on a pasture slope beyond the main blueberry field. Some cows joined us there.
 The cows love the apples, and we had to protect our buckets from bovine thievery.
Max has a telescoping fruit picking device that allowed us to pick apples from the highest branch.

Wolf River apples are HUGE. They're rather dry, with little moisture -- not a juicy eating apple, but an excellent sauce apple. These apples were not sweet, so they needed a good bit of sugar and spices to make the sauce yummy. I put them into a good water/baking soda bath first.

I'd planned to make apple butter again, but I didn't want 7 quarts of a sweet topping for toast. This fall, applesauce will be more useful. Besides (as you see above), immediately after putting the cooked apples through the food mill, the sauce was already amazingly thick!  Why cook it down more?
I did put it all into the crock pot to get it hot before canning it. Three other pints are in the frig. These 7 quarts are just the first box of apples. I have another box to go! Gotta go dig out some more quart jars!
Update: six more quarts -- this time just pure apples, no sugar or spices. Adam is using this to make pancakes for dinner tonight.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Into the Misty Mountains

(Written sometime last week ...)
 I'm in West Virginia. It was a sprinkly drive up here.
 Aren't the mountains gorgeous?
I stopped at Chick-fil-A for an iced coffee along the way.
 I believe it was a flash of utter brilliance that a restaurant selling chicken should choose a cow as its spokes-animal. Seriously -- if you go to Chick-fil-A dressed up so they'll give you a free chicken sandwich, what do you dress up as? A cow! What's with that? I do wonder who came up with that idea, but it was genius.
This Chick-fil-A store was very pretty. A long wooden table was front and center in the eating area. This plaque was on it:

"Love, compassion, and grace are powerful tools." They have more than just the world's tastiest chicken sandwich in that store.
(As I write this post now on Sunday, I'm struck by the fact that this table plaque is in Charlottesville, Va., a city rocked by violence, unrest, hatred, and conflict. "Love, compassion, and grace are powerful tools." I believe they are more powerful than hate and violence.)
I stopped at that same store on Friday, the day of the violence and death, and redeemed my coupon for a free sandwich, not knowing what was happening so close by.

But -- more about my visit with my family. I have rather random photos and didn't do a good job of photographing everyone. Here are a few:
Katie and Anne
me, Marshall, Mother

Abraham and Grandmother

 This is my parents' front porch. It is prettier each summer. They sit here in the evenings together.
 My sister-in-law, DeVona, has this sign by her kitchen door. Her house, however, has been immaculately clean and beautiful every time I've been there :)
 The hydrangeas by her porch:
 The delicious salad she prepared for us for lunch.
 The wedding shower centerpieces she made by hand for a friend.

These flowers were not purchased at Michael's. They were made entirely from scratch by hand -- cutting the pedals, gluing on the tiny black beads. Everything DeVona makes with her hands (and she is gifted and makes many things) is perfect, beautiful, a treasure.

White Oak Farm, Max and Anne's home:
 Part of one blueberry field.
 The selling shed on their barn. The picking season is over for this year.


Max and I picked two 5-gallon buckets of Wolf River apples for me to take home.

I'll post more later on how I turned just one bucket of them into over 7 quarts of beautiful applesauce.
The cows were jealous.
 This is the view from my parents' porch. It is unparalleled, in my opinion. The mystical beauty of those mountains lures me back every time I go.
 Max and Anne's garden.


My brother Mark continues to soldier on with his life in spite of crushing hurt and pain from his wife, who has taken his children from him and used the family court to do so. It's horrific to watch, but it has become, in his sorrow, a time of enormous spiritual growth for him. Life as God's child is often that way.
When his house burned down, he began building this "tiny house" (less than 100 squ. ft.!) as a temporary shelter. It is mobile. Another post on that later also.
That's all for now! I'm home safe and glad to be so. I love my West Virginia family so, and each trip there I ponder how I am still a child and a daughter and a sister in those mountains.