Simply Joys

There are so many things each day to be thankful for that I can hardly keep up.  Our family is so blessed.  We really have found a good balance in life and keeping life down to the simple needs of living makes for precious fellowship as a family.  Days are so full.  We work.  We school.  We sew and bake.  We wash and sweep.  We prepare meal after meal.  This week was my husband’s birthday, so we decided to make a very special meal in his honor.  We baked a whole chicken, one that we butchered ourselves a few weeks ago.  The potatoes were peeled and cooked until fluffy, then mashed until creamy smooth.  Molly mashed and mashed with the hand masher and added some sour cream.  Each of the kids wanted to bake something but we had just enough flour to make a pie crust.  A pumpkin pie sounded perfect!  Molly creamed together the pumpkin and sugar while I rolled out a buttery crust.  Megan prepared the pie plate and said, “This is just like a thanksgiving meal, mom!”  I replied quickly, “Oh, yes, it is!  We are so thankful for daddy!  His hands are gentle and loving.  He is not harming anyone, nor misusing any of us, he leads and guides us according to the truth he holds in his heart.  He protects us and provides our every need.  He is a Godly man.  We must never forget what a wonderful daddy we have.”  They nodded in agreement and could not wait to suprise him after he was working in the shop all forenoon.

When he walked into the room filled with all kinds of wonderful smells, he wondered what all the fuss was, for he is a humble man, indeed.  We then told him how thankful we were to have such a wonderful daddy and for me a loving husband.  He smiled and said a humble thank you.  Mark is a simple man, he is slow to speak but his every word is tempered with wisdom and truth.


Here is Mark’s generator, it is a diesel generator.  He still keeps busy making the wooden drying racks and enjoys learning more and more about how to generate enough power.  Right now he is working on hooking up some solar panels as well.  He visits, Eli, one of the Amish men of the community.  Eli is a master furniture builder.  He makes cabinetry and lots of gorgeous pieces incorporating logs and finished wood.  He has been a wealth of information to my husband during our time of switching over to the off grid life.  Being in an Amish community is really a great place for anyone looking for the off grid living.  They really have tested and tried so many ways and come up with great gadgets and rig things together in the most interesting ways.  It is fascinating to all of us.


Here is Mark’s stack of hand made side pieces for the drying racks.  He just keeps plugging away at all of his orders.


WE HAVE A BUGGY HORSE!!!!!  Her name is Abby.  She is as gentle as June.  Joe gladly went to a horse sale and looked for the perfect buggy horse for our family.  It just so happens that Abby was from another Amishman in the community here.  She is 11 years old and suits our family just fine. She backs up on command, she picks her feet up without asking when you near her hoof, she harnesses really good, and does not spook on the road for anything.  The first evening that Joe helped us hook her to the carriage, she did great.  No sooner did the kids and I get on the road, when Joe threw the reigns into my lap and told me to drive.  I drove in the brisk twilight of the evening.  I held the reigns tight with my cold fingers.  I had the biggest smile on my face, that you can imagine.  The kids were sitting happily in the back of the carriage.  It was funny when Joe said, “Do you know the difference between a beginner driver and an experienced one?”  I said “No.”  He puts his hands high in the air and made a funny grin on his face and said that was what a beginner looks like, as I found that I was doing it just that way!  How funny it was.  I then tried to ease up and place my hands trustfully into my lap just like Joe did.  That was really a fun ride.  I look forward to nice fall days when Mark and I can drive Abby with the carriage filled with our children.


This is the carriage.  It is an open carriage.  Joe thought it would be best that we could see all around us to start with.  It would not be a good ride if it were to be raining, but as we learn for now, we can just take her out on lovely days.   Mark is going to be taking some lessons on hitching her up and driving.  He is also going to make some benches for the back so the kids will have something to sit on.  What an adventure.


Here is my new brace!  I have been breaking into it for the past month or so.  I had a prosthesis doctor hand craft this for my leg.  It is something he does not do very often but because he could see how frustrated I was for sitting most of the time, that he wanted to help me get up and around more.  This brace is designed to lift my bad foot off the ground and take the weight off it.  A lot of my pain is due to weight bearing so this has helped some.  Instead the weight is pushed onto my knee cap.  That takes a lot to get used to and makes for a sore knee after a couple hours.  I am so thankful that I can stand on my leg more than usual and I hope that after I get used to it more, I may even be able to take a walk.


THE TREADLE SEWING MACHINE IS GOING NOW!  I was given a very special gift from a special friend… this amazing sewing head for the treadle table.  It is a vintage commercial grade upholstery head from the 1950s or so.  I drive it with my good leg and I like to get the extra exercise using it each day.  What a blessing to have.  I was able to mend about 10 pair of pants this week and am looking forward to making some winter coats with it very soon.  I love to hear the clicking.  What a neat sound comes from a treadle sewing machine!


One evening this week, we made some delicious caramel corn.  The healthiest way possible.  I got this recipe from the Amish here.  We have made it together at hen glookens for a mid afternoon snack.  The recipe is modified to use healthier ingredients:

Delicious Caramel Corn:
2 cups sucanat, rapadura (brown sugar is what the Amish use)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup honey (karo syrup is what the Amish use)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
5-6 quarts of popped corn

Combine the sugar, butter, honey and salt.  Boil 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in soda.  Pour immediately over the popped corn and mix really well.  Bake in 250ºF oven for one hour.  Stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and spread on large surface to cool.  This will not stick. It is so good!  Enjoy on a slow evening with your family.

Just enjoying the simple simple things that God has given each of us each day.


Here is the hymn we have been enjoying this week.  The children whistle the tune while they work and sometimes I sing all the words to the family when time allows.  Here are the words, they minister to my heart and I hope they do the same for all of you this week.  May God bless each of you today and always.

Text: Joseph H. Gilmore, 1834-1918
Music: William B. Bradbury, 1816-1868 

1.He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, he leadeth me,
by his own hand he leadeth me;
his faithful follower I would be,
for by his hand he leadeth me.

2. Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
by waters still, o’er troubled sea,
still ’tis his hand that leadeth me.


3. Lord, I would place my hand in thine,
nor ever murmur nor repine;
content, whatever lot I see,
since ’tis my God that leadeth me.


4. And when my task on earth is done,
when by thy grace the victory’s won,
e’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
since God through Jordan leadeth me.


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5 thoughts on “Simply Joys”

  1. Inspiring and encouraging as always Erin….The thoughts that go through my mind these days, as we simplify our lives, trending towards being off grid as soon as possible; are played out in your blogs. You are a few years ahead of us, so it’s such a blessing to see that “it is in fact possible”…. I have a few questions to ask on the details of your clothing, as we are trending in the “plain” direction. I will send you a regular email about those.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts & lives with all of us….blessings to you and your family!

  2. I was curious if your family has ever considered converting to Amish? It seems you are so close to being Amish while still being “English”. Hopefully this doesn’t offend you!

  3. I am always so thrilled to read about your families lives, you are truly blessed. Thanks for the inspiration and positive thoughts and comments.

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