Jan 012013
 


[By Wolf]

Have you ever had that feeling of flavor filled nostalgia?

We recently took a trip to Disney World and had a wonderful time. During all of our planning we each thought about what things we really wanted to do that would make us feel satisfied after the vacation was over. One thing on the list was to go have pineapple Dole Whip at the Tiki Room.

Well, we did have some Dole Whip at the Magic Kingdom and to our extreme satisfaction, we were able to have it 3 times. We found that the Polynesian Resort had self serve Dole Whip at one of its eateries. There we created MOUNT DOLE WHIP.

Now it’s in our brain … and taste buds. We are looking for Mr. Dole Whip.

I tried a recipe tonight that left us wanting. It tasted more like pineapple ice cream. It wasn’t tangy enough and was too creamy and too sweet.

The recipe used:

1 quart of pineapple juice
3 cups of whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 cups of sugar
and top it off with milk

The family all agreed that it was really good pineapple ice cream, but not the elusive Dole Whip.

So, the search continues. Perhaps we need to start with a sherbet or sorbet recipe?

 Posted by at 7:08 pm
Oct 142011
 

[Tiffany: I discovered this post by Wolf while trying to wade through my overstuffed "Drafts" folder. He wrote it a year ago, but somehow it never got published! Our timeframe had shifted somewhat, but the principles and thought process remain.]

Contentment on a shoestring budget.

And on a two year timeline.

We are setting a two year timeline for the project because of our oldest son. He will be old enough to move on to college or wherever in two years. Two years sounded like a good timeframe for trying to get a lot of things ready for us to move out to the homeplace.

I will be doing most of the work myself (with help from Tiffany and the kids, when possible).

I have worked construction and I’m a pretty handy guy. I have no problem with the labor and I can grasp the concepts if I get some input and counseling for the engineering parts.

Heck I can even do a fair job if I can get my hands on a good book.

We need to build out the home my father built, to suit our family and lifestyle.

  • We want a summer kitchen and a stone wall and tower.
  • We plan to build the building around a courtyard style structure.
  • After that, we will need to build all the animal and equipment structures needed. A barn for the animals and for the equipment we will have. We want a fenced perimeter to keep the animals from wandering away.
  • And of course don’t forget about the things needed for a self-sufficient life: We are figuring on having a mill (water wheel) to supply some of the power we need. Solar and wind power would be good things to have, too, for alternatives.

The first thing I’m looking for is the best foundation to have in the area.

I’ll be building a stone wall about one to two feet thick around the outer perimeter of the building we will live in.

I don’t know if it’s best to build the floor inside the walls on footings or to have the floor joists run into the walls. Maybe not even do the joists at all, but I think it would be cheaper than a concrete slab.

I also want to make sure it lasts for a long time. I would like for my kids to take over when I get too old and their kids after that. The construction should be easy to repair when needed.

I guess the first thing I will need is a sawmill. It will be a great benefit to have our own lumber capabilities. I’ve seen those portable bandsaw things around. Or I could go the John Walton way and hook up an old car engine to a big circular saw blade.

We’ll just have to pray and study on these things for a while. If you have any helpful ideas or materials, let me know.

(Photo from Homesteading in Tennessee)

 Posted by at 11:30 am
Jun 192011
 

[ By Wolf ]

It’s nice to be a little handy around the house.

I can do a little plumbing and a little electrical and a little carpentry. I have specialized training to be a shade tree mechanic and to create rustic furniture. All in all I guess I’m what most people call a jack-of-all-trades.

And occasionally I get the chance to do something special.

Last night Tiffany showed me a cool little tray she found in a magazine that covered the stove top and made it a nice work space.

The next morning she got up and took the kids off to Vacation Bible School. I took advantage of the time and took tools in hand.

I had to run a few other errands, so I included a quick stop at Lowe’s to grab a piece of wood. After taking a few minutes to show my oldest son a couple things about carpentry, we had a custom stove top cover!

I had to do a little extra thinking about the dimensions, since the whole reason we needed this was that our tiny kitchen doesn’t have much usable space. I didn’t want to have yet another thing to take up space when it wasn’t on top of the stove.

We have a pair of ridiculous little narrow cabinets on each side of the stove (which we use for cookie sheets and stuff), so I made the stove top cover just the right size to fit into one of them.

I love you, T.
Happy Birthday.

 Posted by at 5:58 pm
Feb 192011
 

I have been looking into different means of lowering our energy costs. The two biggest expenses seem to be heating and cooling. The three places that this is applicable are 1) heating the clothes dryer, 2) heating the house, and 3) cooling the house.

The first thing to do is to make sure the house is adequately insulated and sealed for holding in the heat and cool that we produce. There are several places to get information on this, so I will go on to other things to help.

1) Heating the clothes dryer.

This is a huge drain on our electricity. Using electricity to produce heat is the most inefficient way to use electricity. I actually documented my power use and found that running the dryer uses 5 times the electricity used on an average day. We solved this problem by installing a gas dryer. Burning natural gas to produce heat is much more efficient and less expensive than using electricity.

Another option here is to hang some clothes out to dry naturally. We have an indoor rack that we can hang a few things on and we have an outdoor line (like mom used to have). Hanging things out to dry is good for the bulky things we have.

2) Heating and cooling the geothermal way.

This is a good discussion topic for later. For now just imagine heating and cooling with the same temperature air from an underground duct system. Just like caves stay a constant temperature because of their massive earth insulation, we can have a buried duct system that bring constant warmer than the ambient air temperature in during the winter and cooler than the ambient air temperature during the summer. This is really simplified and these systems are usually supplemented with other methods.

3) Heating the house.

This is the same huge drain on electricity. So, of course, we use gas. This cuts the electric bill by about $200 per month during the cold months and only adds about $35 per month to the gas bill.

4) Cooling the house.

This is my biggest concern right now. Everyone who lives in a region of the world where it is hot for 3 to 6 months out of the year (I know, some are longer) knows how expensive it is to run a central AC unit or window units. This isn’t as easy as just “switch to gas”. Gas units are expensive up front. But if you can afford it and will keep the house for many years then go for it. Heat exchanger units with natural gas are a great alternative. I am going a different, kind of extremist method. I’m going to build an ice cooling system.

In its simplest form we could just put an ice block in front of a fan and turn on the fan. But the ice would melt and get all over the floor. OK, let’s put it in a tray to catch the water. We can even reuse the water if we retain it in a collection system. This would still put a lot of moisture in the air and in some parts of the world that’s the last thing we want. Let’s go a step further and put the water in containers (like a 2 liter soda bottle) and freeze it. Now when the ice melts it is inside the container and we can just freeze it again. We might even incorporate fins on the containers that would conduct the cool over a larger surface area. If you put water in bottles and freeze it, remember to leave a little space at the top of the bottle for expansion of the freezing water and leave the cap off while freezing so the bottle doesn’t burst.

OK, that’s one method.

What if we used the ice a little differently? What if we had an insulated container lined with hose and in the container we had ice and in the hose we circulated liquid that was transported to a cooling coil on a fan?

Take a container (maybe a large Styrofoam cooler) and line the inside with a hose that can circulate liquid. If the hose is a material that conducts (like copper pipe) it will work better, but PVC or garden hose will work. Fill the container with ice and circulate the liquid in the hose using a small pump. Connect the ends of the hose to a cooling coil in a central ducted system or a stand-alone fan. You will need the ice to actually come in contact with the hose for best conduction. This makes the reusable bottle method not as good, but we could drain out the water and refreeze it into ice cubes for reuse. For a little more efficiency we could get rid of all the extra space in the middle of the container. We could actually fill that with smaller containers (like a few 2 litre bottles).

We still need fans to circulate the air, but like the heating, we can save about $200 on the electric bill per month by not using the big central AC unit and the fan will add about $35 back into the bill. The more efficient the fan is, the better.

Taking it to another level …

What I propose to do at my home place is a bit more extensive. I plan to start with a 4 foot by 4 foot pit in the ground. The bottom of the pit will be tapered down in a cone mostly to give a little more surface area. Line the pit with a heavy plastic to capture the water from the melting ice that can be reused or repurposed. I was thinking about putting a small hose and pump down to the bottom of the pit to pull out the water as it accumulates. Next is to line the pit with hose starting about two feet below the top edge. This is much like the Styrofoam cooler method, only this uses the ground for the insulation. This also allows me to have a much larger holding container. The last step is to fill the pit with ice and seal it up. As in the Styrofoam cooler method, I will pump liquid through the hose to a cooling coil used to cool the air and a fan to circulate the air. I will need to get on a regular schedule of draining out the melt-off every day to freeze back into ice for the next day. Usually this type of water cooling system is piped into each room in the house where you can connect a coil and fan setup in any or all of the rooms.

If you live in an area where you can collect ice all winter and store it in a barn or shed, you wouldn’t have to make or buy as much ice during the summer. And if you built this as a large container above ground you could insulate it and ice it for cooling in the summer and build a fire under it for heating the water in the winter.

…There’s much more to come as I investigate this topic further…

Oct 202010
 

I am not trying to put everyone into the same mold as me, but I think God expects our best.

How many of you just said, “yeah, of course He does”?

Well, I don’t think we are giving it.

I know that we are all in a fallen world, and we are sinners, and, and, and… How we can strive to be better through all that is definitely material for plenty of other posts, but what about one “simple” specific example:

What about on Sunday in church?

That is our one time to shine and put our best foot forward. We can take one day out of the week to really give it our all in all the little ways that make a difference.

Instead we look for somewhere to “be ourselves”. Where we don’t have to behave according to others’ opinions. We try to find a church that will accept us for whatever we are the other six days of the week.

And the church is trying so hard to get people to come to service and “be comfortable” in worship that they have begun to accept a little more, and a little more.

I absolutely agree that we should accept people for what they are, but we should not keep it a secret that God is in charge and we are presenting ourselves to Him and He has higher standards. Higher standards than blue jeans and flip-flops.

We could take this down a dozen other trails from here, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask to start with this. We are presenting ourselves to God, to worship Him. We aren’t going down the street to meet our buddies.

A personal relationship with Christ doesn’t mean he’s your drinking buddy.

He’s still God.

Maybe you don’t have a suit or even a tie. But I do really think that we owe God at least as much respect as we show to…

  • A potential boss when we go for a job interview.
  • Or that “special someone” of the opposite gender who we want to impress at a nice dinner.
  • Even a judge who is going to condem us for parking too close to a fire hydrant.

If we are going to be putting our best foot forward at any time, for anyone, shouldn’t God be on that list?

Shouldn’t God be at the top of that list?

And don’t forget to wash behind your ears.

 Posted by at 10:17 am
Aug 232010
 

Now begins the quest for a simpler life.

My wife and I have been wanting a simpler lifestyle more and more over the past few years. We are both used to the big cities of California.

She has come to long for a simpler life for us and our children. I was born and reared in northeast Mississippi and hunted and fished and heard stories of farming and having animals.

We felt that if we could ever buy a decent-sized plot of land with running water it would be a dream come true.

I grew up spending lots of free time at “the farm”. My uncle had purchased upwards of 80 acres of land outside of town. After he died in the Air Force the land went to my grandfather, and when he passed away my dad got the land and eventually built a house there.

My father passed away on August 16th, 2010 and my brother asked if I had any desire to move onto the land when our step-mother moved away. She will stay for a while, but eventually retire to the town further north where her family lives.

I thought about the 80-plus acres with a creek running through it.

I think our dreams have just begun to come to fruition.

Our plans are to have an essentially self-sufficient life on a small homeplace. We have planned out little bits and pieces of it over the years; we have lovingly come to call this place “Contentment” after Paul’s description in the Bible.

I plan to document and pass on the things that work and the things that don’t.

The journey will begin now for me and my wife Tiffany (in our 40′s), oldest son Nick at 16, Jewel at 5, and R.T. at 2 years of age.

The following months or years will be planning and preparing the land.

On some undetermined date in the future we will move to the homeplace and start our new life … one step at a time.

So, here we go … on the road to Contentment.

 Posted by at 8:17 am
Sep 252009
 

This is a “Parallel Post”! Be sure to check out what She Said

If you asked me to pick out the Amish or the German Baptists or the Jews walking down the street or in a restaurant, I would probably not have a problem.

But what about the Christians?

I would have to say “probably not”.

I know there is no one thing that really makes a Christian stand out. Our clothing doesn’t need to mark us as different from any other morally centered group, but it should mark us different from the common sluts.

I am really sorry to be so harsh, but the sad truth is that we are accepting more and more each day.

Take a look around you when you are in the store or at a restaurant. We recently went to an amusement park and took time to notice the clothing on the people around us. The women of some religious groups are easy to pick out because of their modest, and obviously so, style of dress.

I know that in our Christian walk we have many things to focus on. I don’t even condemn folks to Hell for stepping out of the boundaries of God’s standards. It is by God’s loving grace that we sinners are getting to Heaven.

I’m just concerned about this sliding standard we (as Christians) have accepted. A thousand years ago women wouldn’t have dressed like they do today. And don’t tell me that times have changed. Even 60 years ago women were more modestly wrapped. For thousands of years women were covering and concealing more.

As for me and my house, we are trying to keep well within standards Biblically mandated by God.

Women should not be revealing more than is proper.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.
- 1 Peter 3:3-4

Our rule in its simplest form is this:

Clothing should not emphasize, reveal, or draw attention to the body’s form.

And guys, that goes for you too.

I’m not looking for everyone to wear a pink shawl down to their knees, but I would like to see a difference between a Christian and the girls and guys in the bars and nightclubs on the weekend. I’m talking about the “meat market” type of place.

Stating it again in plain English:

We might not be able to identify ourselves as Christians by our clothing, but we shouldn’t identify ourselves as sex crazed animals. Our Christian witness is the most important thing we can share. In the things we do and say and the way we live, all things should be for the glory of God.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31

And now I come to the other side of the coin.

Even if you think it is OK to dress a bit worldly, you should never intentionally cause your brother to stumble.

Something I say to my oldest son from time to time is, “is it worth it?”

So maybe you are saved and you want to dress like that because it makes you feel good about yourself. What kind of thoughts are going through other people’s heads about that low cut neckline or those tight jeans?

Is it worth being the cause of others’ sin?

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God …
- 1 Corinthians 10:32

People might not see that you are obviously a Christian, but they should see an honorable lifestyle. Our daily witness in all things, every day is the true portrait that God gets of us.

If Jesus was your best friend and was with you and watching you all the time day to day, would He want to use you as an example to others?

Because remember, He is with you all day every day.

And you are an example to others about how a Christian lives.

 Posted by at 3:15 pm
Sep 222009
 

You might not have noticed, but we have “Topics” for our blog posts that include the perhaps-mysterious titles He Said and She Said.

If you want to read things from a male point of view, you can click on He Said over on the left side, and you will see all the posts written by Wolf and Nick.

Clicking She Said will give you the female perspective, showing all Tiffany’s posts.

But we also have a fun plan: He Said / She Said Parallel Posting.

Wolf and Tiffany will agree on a topic, but not discuss it. Then each will write a post about the subject, from their own unique point of view…

Make sure you read both sides of the story!

Sep 222009
 

I am so glad I live in a country of freedom. I know we as a nation are struggling with some issues as to whether the government should regulate and manage things, but we are free to own property and raise our children in the ways of the Lord.

Get ready to be shocked.

A 10-year-old homeschool girl described as ‘well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising and intellectually at or superior to grade level’ has been told by a New Hampshire court official to attend a government school because she was too ‘vigorous’ in defense of her Christian faith.

Let me get this straight …

A young girl is being forced to go to public school instead of homeschooling because she loves God and is proud of it.

Is that what I’m hearing here?

The decision from Marital Master Michael Garner reasoned that the girl’s ‘vigorous defense of her religious beliefs to [her] counselor suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other point of view.’

Freedom of religion DOES NOT mean that you can tell me and my family what to believe in. I thought that was obvious. Are they thinking it means they can force me to consider other cults and religions?

“As for me and my house we will serve the Lord”, Joshua 24:15 (in case you missed it along the way)

Once I was talking with a friend of mine about opinions and beliefs when he said, “well, you wouldn’t want to be around a bunch of people who think like yourself.”

Well … yes I would.

Just because we have differing opinions, our basic foundations should be very closely tied. I’m not saying that every friend and associate and even some family members at times won’t be from the other side of the tracks, but we do want our closest relations (family especially) to be like minded.

You know … steel sharpens steel.

Now, let’s get back to the specific issue:

If my 10-year-old daughter hasn’t been exposed to other religions, I have committed no crime, and a court of the United States of America should not have the right to tell me to introduce her to cult religions and “I’m OK, you’re OK” kinds of thinking.

That is all for when she is over the age of 18 and can LEGALLY make independent decisions of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Is the government going to tell me what medical treatment I need, too? I guess we’d better not go there…

Is the government going to tell me I have to try homosexuality because I haven’t been given the opportunity to seriously consider it?

What about my job, my diet, my patriotism? Am I now not allowed to be driven and focused? Is dedication to a cause going to be illegal now?

I guess this is the next step from a society that is promoting “trial marriages” as the answer to high divorce rates and abortion as the answer to promiscuous sex.

The thought of letting my kids “explore other religious options” is not even something I have ever considered. Even for non-Christians I don’t think the idea is to go out and explore the options. And especially when a young child without the complete understanding of the consequences of the choices made might be lead astray.

Marital Master Michael Garner and Judge Lucinda V. Sadler, the key instigators of this decision, need to consider a swap option:

How would they like it if I took a child from a “too liberal” household out of public school for a year to explore my Christian values and lifestyle?

 Posted by at 7:59 am
Sep 082009
 

(By Nick)

Let me start off my long road of Evolution vs. Creation by refuting one of the theories that I have frequently heard.

God did not have use the Big Bang to create the universe. The way Evolutionists say the Big Bang happened does not fit with the Bible’s version.

First of all, the Big Bang seems highly improbable. There was infinite energy in zero volume, which was therefore infinitely hot and dense. At some random point it randomly blew up, and one second later, the temperature had gone from infinity to 10 billion. Furthermore, it does not explain why this energy existed.

Second, the order things happened in. Evolutionists say that there was this big nebula of gas and particles which gradually condensed on itself, making stars, which where followed by planets, followed by water, followed by life. God says, first there was light, not from anything, just light, and a planet of water. Then, he made an atmosphere, grew plants, and then created the sun, moon and stars and distinguished night from day.

There is also an inherent flaw to the Evolutionist model. Physics tells us that when matter is created from energy, an equal amount of antimatter is also created. In reality, there are only trace amounts of antimatter compared to matter.

Finally, the Big Bang can only account for the lightest three elements known, leaving ninety percent of the periodic table to be explained. According to Evolutionist science, the other elements came from supernovae of stars that only had these three elements. These stars’ life spans were calculated to be much longer than has passed since the Big Bang. Yet, they can find none of these hypothetical stars. Gosh, I wonder why?

So, they are willing to put aside rationality to believe something that can be disproven, but criticize us when we put faith in something that cannot be disproven. The logic here is…?

 Posted by at 9:45 am