Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Cows = Healthy Teeth

When we came to Belize I took our oldest two to the dentist and heard a very disappointing diagnosis: One needed 7 fillings the other 5. How did this happen? Was I really such a bad cook, feeding my children all sorts of junk foods that made their teeth rot that fast...I decided we would just have the worst ones filled, and have another checkup soon...that checkup didn't happen till another whole year had passed, and I was nervous about the outcome. Jessica had 4 cavities that we hadn't taken care of last time. We went back, and he said she needed 4 fillings. What? I couldn't believe I had heard right. But she needed 4 last year, and its been a whole year since then! Joseph; now I don't remember how many he still needed last year but it went even better: after a little while in the chair, the dentist says he's ok. He doesn't need any fillings! Well, if that ain't a nice surprise! I started wondering, is it just unnecsesary to have those baby teeth filled, or is there another reason?

 When I look out of our window I see our neighbor's cows grazing on lush green pastures all day long. Morning and evening the cows come home to be milked, but are let right back out to pasture to graze to their hearts content. When our milk supply is low, I hop in the car, drive on over and get 4 or 5 gallons of milk weekly. Yes, weekly. I make yogurt and buttermilk and other goodies from that milk. And we drink a lot of it, I am not ashamed to say. I figured here in Belize the milk is so affordable AND so organic, it would be a good food for the children.  I am just pleasantly surprised that one year can make so much of a difference! Milk is very affordable if it means less dental work! YaY!I believe I even notice a difference in my teeth. The last two checkups have revealed nothing new needing to be 'fixed'. For a person like me with a really bad-teeth-history, this is good news.

Not only have we been drinking a lot of milk, we have also been eating lots of bone broth. I sometimes order meat from a farm wife who sells freshly butchered meat, and when I do, I usually get bones with it for free. Free bones! How good is that!  Ranch cattle is also mostly left to roam in pastures here in Belize, so I am very happy with the beef we can get a hold of. I will jam my big pot full of bones, pour water over with a squirt of white vinegar, and let that bubble all day and night long on low. 12 hours is the minimum recommendation, but 24 or more is ideal to get all the good nutrients out of the bones. When done, I ladle the stock into jars and seal them. I refrigerate the jars after they are cooled. I add this to soup, stews, or make a gravy out of is with some added green peppers and onions and pour over rice.

So, everyone, GOT MILK? Or bones? :) I encourage you, go find an organic minded farmer and get yourself some fresh unpasteurized cows milk and drink to your hearts content. You will do yourself and your children a huge favor. And maybe, hopefully, one day we will all be able to buy raw milk legally everywhere in North America.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The way we lived in Tennessee

When we lived in East Tennessee, I did not yet have a blog, but I have often thought the time there would have been worth blogging about, so I decided to go ahead and start!

Life was not always easy at first; we moved from Winnipeg Canada right after my sister-in-law passed away in a car accident, so those first weeks after leaving all family over thousand miles and another country behind, in a strange place with no place to call home at first, proved to be challenging. However, we made it through those times with more pleasant than unhappy memories. Many are the moments I find myself wishing I was back there, but then I come back to reality and am thankful we are where we are at the moment. 

We had bought an old property with an old house that my husband wanted to renovate part time while he went to school. We were offered this camper by some church friends, which was to be our temporary home the first few months. It was quite the experience, making this our home with two small children. It was one long summer camp, that's for sure!

Most of my daily life happened outside. The laundry had to be taken to the laundromat or a friend's house. Sometimes I would take it home to dry on the lines. Then I would fold it on the small picnic table. 

 There was a little stove attached to the outside of the trailer which I mostly used. If it was too rainy, I could move it indoors. And rain it sometimes did. Those were the special times which we remember so well. Too well! Then I would loose all joy of cooking, and sometimes we would get to eat out if it rained. There was a tarp covering the outdoor kitchen, but it was not always enough to keep out the rain. It was also hard to keep all rain out the windows when it got stormy. Those were the nights we just had to ride it out and hope the next day would be sunny again.

Sometimes when it rained, we would hop in our car and go for a drive. At times we picked up McDonald's breakfast and had a picnic in the car. Here in Belize when it rains in the morning, I sometimes suggest that we go for a drive and take coffee or pick up breakfast so I can relive those good old times again. No McDonald's in this country, but I can make my own biscuits and gravy, or we can buy burritos. We never got tired of seeing how green everything was and the beautiful mountains and rivers never failed to entertain us. I especially loved the mist on the mountains after a rain.

 The children had no lack. They were happy and healthy, always finding something entertaining.

The backyard. We lived right on the edge of the forest, and the setting was perfect. We have had many a bbq on this barbecue pit. Once I even turned it into a baking oven, because I wanted to bake something so badly but didn't have an oven! I baked some biscuits that didn't exactly turn out very fluffy but were edible.

 We found out, to our big delight, that we had wild blackberries growing in our backyard at the woods edge. I remember going over to our friendly old neighbor asking if they were blackberries! We sure enjoyed the jam.

 Once some friends came over to help Daniel with the house, and I served them watermelon. It never tasted better.
Bathtime is always fun, no matter where it happens!

This bird visited us regularly; it was wonderful to be so one with nature out here in the 'wild' parts of Knoxville.
Yes, even the raccoon didn't fail to make his rounds at night, snooping through our things trying to find food.

I would put Joseph in this basket to play, and then Jessica would climb in the other one. Perhaps needing attention?

We could always go to the mountains when we felt like it. Thankfully gas prices were good back then and there! (Here going for a drive for fun is out of our financial reach, unless it is within a few miles of us.)

As you can see, we had a great life.Challenging, but I would not exchange what I experienced for anything in the world.

To be continued...- how we lived in our old house before renovation was complete. It was every bit as interesting.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Teacups and Roses

I have a teacup collection. It's not very big, but every cup is precious and behind almost every one I could post a story of how I came across it. I also can't resist buying decorations or fabric with teacups or teapots when I see something I 'need'. 

 The cup with the pink wild rose is perhaps my most special one. We lived in Iowa at the time I bought it, but I bought it in Winnipeg while visiting my family there. Wild roses grow in Iowa in the ditches in summertime, and how we enjoyed them.

So naturally, when I saw this beautiful cup and saucer, I had to buy them!

 I once told my mom, who likes to visit thrift stores, to keep her eyes open for teacups. She did, and brought us two lovely ones on her last visit here. Then my sister found out I like teacups, so she gave me these two cute lil cups she had picked up in Tawain, where her husband went to school. Aren't they just adorable? (Hi Susie, come on over sometime and we'll have some chinese tea.)
 This little night light was just not going to remain hanging in our store for someone else to grab. I had to snatch it while it was available. It adorns my kitchen at night.

My bare windows above my kitchen sink were needing something to dress them up real bad, and I found this at the store. It fits the window real well, and adds the perfect touch to my country kitchen.

When the weather is rainy as it often is lately, and it gets stormy and overcast, there is nothing better than turning on some lovely music, and brewing a cup of coffee or tea, and sipping it from one of my special cups. My daughter loves to join me when I do.

 I took the above photo at the end of the dry season. The below photo looks amazingly different after some rain. The rain cleared away a lot of smoke; the smoke was worse than it has ever been in the history of this country. Fires are usually made by people clearing land.
I love the rainy season. Sure it means I have to hang my laundry in the basement to dry, but that is ok. If I hang it out in the rainy season I risk being attacked by fire ants, as they are worse during the wet season, so the basement is not a bad place to hang laundry. There are many other reasons to like it; clear air, thunderstorms at night, green grass and trees, and an excuse to drink hot tea and coffee...I am sure there are more.
I think I need a cup now!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Recycled Lids

By now you probably know that I like to recycle whatever I can, and save money where possible. One yard sale I went to not too long ago had a bunch of yogurt containers with lids in the free box so of course I took them all..... The containers have come in very handy but many of them have already been discarded. I used them to freeze water in and often they didn't stand the pressure so they ripped. But now I am left with all these colorful lids that I can still use. I use my half gallon jars a lot, but not for canning, so I don't necessarily need the metal lids. These plastic ones are just perfect, and look great too!

 Just take a metal lid, place on a plastic lid, and draw around it with a pen, and cut it out!

Linking to these parties: 

The Shabby Nest

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bible Camp Week

Last week was the long awaited bible camp for the children. It was every bit as enjoyable as last time. My brother who rents a house close to the meeting hall is away at this time, so the children and myself stayed there during the whole time of the camp. We were so happy to be able to do it. Besides saving lots on gasoline, we were right there and just had to walk a few minutes to get there on time. There was one drawback though. I have killed four scorpions last week, two of them being on the yard, and one in our bedroom on a pillow I lifted from the floor. Not that I enjoy the job, but you just cannot let those creepy things get away with their life. I didn't sleep too well after that bedroom incident but then my sister reminded me we all have angels watching over us. They did a good job, cause none of us got stung. (But you can be sure I checked under all pillows and blankets thoroughly before bedtime from then on.)

 Three smiley faces I had in one of the classes I served. (Joseph's class.) The day began with singing songs about Samuel, then they went out in different groups to separate rooms for their lessons, and after that they had a snack and came together for bible sword drill. All the children were put in four groups called Nazarites, Priests, Prophets and Judges. They were asked to stand in front in groups of 4 at a time and asked questions about the lesson. Whoever answered first, their group got points. The older ones were sometimes given a testament to see who could look up a verse the quickest. If they could say it by memory, they got big points for it. After the drill they would again separate and go to their rooms for crafts. That was it for the day. They went home for lunch, and in the evening it was the parents responsibility to review the lesson and to help them learn their verses and a bonus paragraph. It always amazes me the energy these little ones have to learn about God's word.
"And that from a babe you have known the holy scriptures which are able to make you wise unto salvation..." 2 Timothy 3:15
 One day I took the children to this neat little hut for supper. We ordered puposas and burritos. I like these simple affordable places to eat. 

 The last day after lunch was time for outdoor games. Here they made groups and one child from each group was hidden. The group was to find the child and carry her back to the starting point without letting go. Since one of the themes of the camp was cooperation, this was a very fitting game to play.

 They got lovely forest colored shirts with these words on the back.

 The gifts on the last day were special as always. Even the little ones got something, and the joy shows on this little guy's face. 

One morning I even went to the market. It was a rainy day... It was somewhat a rather new experience for me. You see, if you want good clothes in Belize, you might go to the market and buy gently used brand name clothes for a very good price. Belizeans open their tents in the morning before the sun is up and it is still dark, so if you want good stuff, you get up early on market day. I went at 5:30 in the morning while a friend stayed at the house with the children. You shop under a tent out of the rain, with the light bulbs overhead to lighten the 'store'. I cannot imagine putting all those tents up twice a week, hanging up all those clothes every time, setting up the tables, lights and all. Shopping is definitely very different here than in the US, buy hey, I thought it was even a little bit fun. Especially because I found pretty much everything I had on my list to buy, and the price and quality can't be beat! I hear people say that you find better options here than if you go shopping in the US, and even if I might not like it, I would have to agree.

I have taken some videos at the camp but I don't always have success with uploading them. I want to share at least this one precious little song they learned to sing in round song in four groups. It sings to the melody 
Row row row your boat.

Samuel served the Lord
Anyway he could;
Eli's sons the lazy ones
they weren't any good.

I'm not such a one
I will serve my God
Clean the glass and cut the grass
With a happy nod.

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