Upcoming- Organic Gardening Carnival!

Organic-gardening-carnival-small

As I've been working to clean out my garden and prepare it for the winter, I've been mulling over the lessons I learned this summer. So many successes and things that turned out wonderfully, and yet so many things that I would do differently- start my seedlings earlier, use some type of protective cover for my hot weather plants in the beginning, not plan quite so many squash plants, start my fall seeds in August not September, destroy anything with blight immediately before it spreads rather than holding on to the hope that some of it might be ok (because it won't be- just trust me!)…

I imagine I'm not alone. Each year of gardening brings with it new lessons and insights gleaned. The goal is to record or remember those lessons, so that we won't repeat the same mistakes next year, but build on our successes instead.

One way that I'm trying to do this is by keeping a garden notebook, where I record what I planted, when and where, how much of a yield I got, any particular issues I had, whether we liked eating that variety or would prefer something different, etc. Only problem is that in the midst of the busyness of gardening, I often forget to record things, and only now am trying to remember to record many of my observations that were forgotten during the summer!

I'm sure that many of you have also made your own observations of what did and didn't work, and learned many things during this past year of gardening. As I've been making a mental note of all that I want to remember, I thought how much I would love to glean from everyone else's experiences as well, and thus, the idea for this carnival was born.

Here's what I'm envisioning:

  1. Take some time to think through what we learned from our gardens this year- things that worked really well, and things that definitely didn't, vegetable varieties that were as prolific and tasty as could be and those that you wont' be growing again next year, tips and techniques that were helpful or timesaving, or ways that you dealt with pests and plant problems naturally.
  2. Write a post, sharing the things that you think would be most helpful for others, or that you most want to record for your own sake for next year. It may be helpful to share what zone you live in, how long you've been gardening, how big your plot is (or if you're a container gardening), etc.
  3. Come here on Thursday, November 6th (not this Thursday but the next) to share the link to your post.
  4. Enjoy the useful resource we've created together, to help us this winter as we plan out next year's garden, or as a place to turn to next Spring or Summer when we stumble upon a question we need answered or a problem we don't know how to solve.

Sound good? Any other suggestions or things that you would like to see covered in this carnival?

I can't wait to read about your gardening tips and tricks, successes and failures (of which I will definitely be sharing a few of my own!). If you're planning to join in, why don't you grab the graphic I've made for the carnival and share the love on your own blog? The more people that join in, the more useful this carnival will be for all of us- thanks!

Baby Purity Mother’s Conference Overview

I had such a fantastic day, attending the first ever Baby Purity Mother's Conference in Vancouver! I wasn't really sure what to expect of the conference, but it definitely surpassed my expectations!

The morning began with a 40 minute Skytrain ride in to downtown, where I peacefully watched the glorious fall leaves, with a hot drink in one hand, and John Piper's “Don't Waste Your Life
”  (an excellent read, btw) in the other hand. An enjoyable 15 minute walk through downtown Vancouver, in the brisk Fall air, and I was there.

Baby-purity-booths-2

I finally found the ballroom where the conference was being held, signed in, received my cloth shopping bag full of goodies, and made myself a cup of steaming hot Tazo tea. As I sat down to listen to the conference introduction, tea and notebook in hand, I suddenly realized… I'm here, all by myself. I hadn't really planned on coming as a way to have a "day off", but suddenly there I was, enjoying my morning immensely and feeling so refreshed and excited to be there.

The day's lineup of speakers was excellent, and I took notes fairly furiously through many of them:
Lisa Frack (of EWG)- "Why and How We Should Reduce Our Everyday Toxic Exposures"
Dr. Chantelle Mitchell (local Naturopath)- "Childhood Allergies: The Gut Connection"
Margaret Evans (Healthy Child Healthy World)- "Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Rewarding Adventure or Daunting Disaster"
Nena Baker (author of The Body Toxic
)- "Getting Rid of Toxics: It's Personal and Political"

Panel-talking-2 

During the breaks, I was fortunate to be able to speak with some of the speakers. I was also able to grab an interview with Dr. Mitchell, with I've recorded and plan to transcribe and share with you all, along with some of her great insights into allergies and their causes!

Lisa-frack-and-nena-baker 

(l to r, Lisa Frack of EWG, myself, and Nena Baker, of The Body Toxic)

Additionally, I had a wonderful time meeting and networking with many of the women who were manning the booths representing many companies and organizations with natural and green products. I'm excited to tell you that there will be some great giveaways coming up in the near future, once I sort out the details (some natural kids and baby products, stainless steel water bottles and more)! As well, you can look forward to some product reviews, including a trial run I'll be doing with the product Xango (similar to how Kimi is trying out Maca powder).

I think one of the best parts of the conference for me was a renewed excitement and some new inspiration for posts and series on this blog. Some topics to look forward to in the coming weeks include: allergies and their causes (a la Dr. Mitchell), digestion (this will be a full series), reducing toxin exposure in your homes, detoxification (some of the why's and methods out there), along with a few other things percolating in my brain. :) 

For anyone in the Vancouver, BC area, I would highly recommend that you check out the conference next year. This was just it's first year, but it was done so professionally and had so much to offer, and I know next year will be even more worthwhile. I was blessed to be able to meet Syndey Carlaw, the founder of Baby Purity and organizer of the conference. She's also a believer and part of a church in our area, and it was so encouraging to be able to share a little with each other.

Sydney-and-me

Make sure you visit her site, as well. It's BabyPurity.com, and she's got some great articles and tips on green and natural living, baby and child topics, a library of common childhood ailments (and natural remedies), and a new feature called Sweet Wonders, where she's looking for moms to share their stories of how they dealt with their child's ailments or illnesses.

Sooo much more to come this week, if I can slow my brain down enough to start getting it out on paper screen…

One chilly Monday morning

I'm attempting to type this post with half-frozen fingers, and on a very few minutes of poor internet connection (brought to me by some mobile wireless device my husband has lent me for 10 minutes until he leaves for work).

Our internet is down, once again, and so I don't know when I'll be posting next. If any little moments of connectivity occur, I will do my best to get on here and finish the post I've started on the Baby Purity Conference I attended on Saturday (there is so much to share, and I have post information and inspiration for the next couple of weeks!).

The book giveaway ends this afternoon at 3pm, so get in while you can (although if I can't get on here, then I guess a few more lucky people will squeak in before I draw a name)!

I have a quick question for you before I sign off… Since things are tight financially (I don't mean particularly for us at this moment, but just in the economy in general) we are trying to hold off on using our central heating this winter as long as possible, because in our large, drafty (rental) house it is ridiculously expensive.

So far, we've purchased a portable electric heater that we've been using in whatever room we're in, but it takes a little while to actually warm up the whole room (though it does a great job if your'e directly in front of it). The kids room has been pretty warm at night, as long as they're well-bundled, though last night was the first time that I felt it was really too cold. In our room, we've been using an electric blanket to pre-heat our bed, and then we turn it off when we get in (our room is an ice-box, though, as it has especially drafty windows, a high ceiling, and is above the garage).

My husband and kids seem to handle it better than me, but I get chilled particularly easily and I must admit, I find it hard to not feel a bit grumpy when I'm shivering in my house. I'm wearing warm clothes, and I try to keep the heater in the kitchen/family room with the door shut, but then I'm so hesitant to go out into the rest of the house all day, which really doesn't work well with having clean bathrooms and getting the laundry done!

I'm wondering if any of you have any advice for me on how to weather the chilliness of the house. What do you do to keep yourself and your kids warm, without cranking up the heat? Any tips from those who are also in drafty homes that you don't own and can't do much about? Any heater recommendations (we're probably going to buy one more soon)?

I'm thanking you all in advance through my chattering teeth. :)

Living Simple Saturdays- Ditching Discontentment

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To stay true to the theme of Living Simply Saturday, I need to keep this post short and sweet, to stay focused on what is most important for me today (that being the needs of my family above taking more time to blog!).

This week's chapter in From Clutter to Clarity is on contentment, as Nancy begins to address the heart issues that add clutter to our lives and get in the way of simplicity. I thought it was perfect timing, to reread this chapter this week, as just last week my ladie's group was discussing the issue of contentment and I realized how much I'm struggling with it these days.

Here's one quote from the book that I thought was particularly good,

"Just like other unhealthy thoughts that litter our minds discontentment is a form of clutter Satan uses to throw us off course. Our enemy loves luring us into this kind of inward focus so we won't have an upward focus. Life is filled with so many things we will never understand- things we were never meant to understand. Discontentment is counterproductive because it causes us to waste precious time and energy asking "Why?" in situations for which there are no answers." (bold mine)

I find it so easy to be distracted by a discontent heart. To begin to moan over job or financial situations, or a season of being too busy and tired, or having to deal with challenging relationships, or not being able to buy something that I would like, or wanting to control if and when we will have more children, or having to wait to buy a house or move to the country…

I'm so quick to look at what I don't have and what I want (instead of all that I have and ought to be thankful for), and my eyes are often diverted from looking upwards, towards my Savior. I lose my Kingdom focus, and instead become focused on the very small and insignificant "kingdom of Stephanie" (What? You mean you've never heard of it??? But it's such a very important kingdom!)

The discussion of our ladie's group last week centered around one of the best talks I've ever heard on contentment, by a lady named Janis Shank. I was so blessed to realize that I had written a detailed post about it while it was still very fresh in my mind, so I will leave you with that post, full of the wisdom that God has graciously given Janis to share.

Cultivating Contentment

Have a blessed weekend, enjoying your families and worshipping the God of hope, who gives all good gifts and never changes. Let us cultivate contentment in Him alone!

_______________________________________________________________
Living Simply Saturdays
are an opportunity to share what is bringing more simplicity and
purposefulness to your own life, and to glean from the lives of others.

To join in, post your contribution on your blog, then come back
here and add your link below. Please make sure that you link to the
specific post, and not to the homepage of your blog, and make sure that
you include in your post a mention of the carnival and a link back to this post.
I do check each post, and if this isn't done, I will unfortunatley have to delete your link, which I would very much prefer not to do.Thanks so much!

If you don't have a blog, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section!

Blogiversary Q&A- Round 5

I've been working frantically to get these questions answered before the end of the week, and I've finally succeeded! I hope you've enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about me, and maybe your curiosity has been somewhat satisfied… if not, you know where to find me! :)

Alisa asked- My other question is about homeschooling. You mention homeschooling yet your oldest is only 3 or 4. Why do you choose to formally school your child at this point?

Abbie-with-pigtails
Well, I'm not sure that I would say we are "formally" homeschooling quite yet. At this point, we keep things pretty relaxed and free of many expectations, except that our daughter will obey and participate with a good attitude. You're right, though, in that we are purposefully choosing material to expose her to, activities for her to complete, and spending specific time working on not only heart and character training, but also on some academic foundations.

But I suppose the truest answer to the question of why we've started so early is this: We believe that education is a lifelong process, and not something that begins when you're 5 and ends when you're 18 (or after university, or whatever). We want for our children to love learning and to be internally motivated, lifelong learners, and in our opinion, the best way to do that is to make learning a constant in life, not something that happens only when they reach a certain age or between the months of Sept-June (we plan to homeschool through the summers as well).

You will often hear me refer to homeschooling as "home education", and I suppose we prefer that term because it lends itself to the idea of someone who is being thoroughly educated (a diverse and complex process which can take many forms), as opposed to being "schooled" (which gives the impression of tasks to be completed, and a concrete start and end time).

Do you plan to homeschool when your in subsequent years? If so, is it because you think homeschooling is better than a traditional school setting or because it would be too expensive to send your children to a christian school?

Yes, we plan to homeschool our children all the way through!

And that second question would take me so long to answer as thoroughly as I want to, so suffice it to say this:
1) We want our children at home, with us, most of the time. This is how we plan to accomplish the kind of discipleship and teaching talked about in Deuteronomy 6:5-7, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and
when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." How difficult it must be to do this when your children are away from you for 5-6 hours a day (or more)! We definitely know families who are raising wonderful, Godly children, while having them attend school, but this is the way that seems best for us.
2) We don't want our children to be influenced by students and teachers who do not have a Christian worldview, during their early, formative years (particularly when we cannot be around to know what is being taught and said and to help our children work through it with a Biblical framework).
3) It is definitely expensive to send our children to a Christian school (especially when I'm already at home and capable of teaching, and have no intentions of going back to work). But even if money wasn't an issue, they would be exposed to many things that are questionable (there may be some good schools out there, but I think all of us who have gone to school, even Christian school, know that no school is without it's issues and without questionable students and even teachers).
4) I want the privelege of being with my children, and I don't want to give it up to someone else, no matter how wonderful of a teacher they may be. They're our kids, given to my husband and I to raise (as well as to answer to God for!) and I want to soak up the years that I have with them!
That still didn't do the question justice… Oh well. :)

Alison asked- Are you a native Canadian? What about your husband? (It sounds like his mom lives in the States?)

Yes, I was born in Canada, in the Vancouver, BC area. My husband was, too. His family is actually Canadian, but his Dad has been working with a couple of American companies and living in the US for about 10 years.

How did you two meet?

We met while working at a social services agency, where we were both a sort of Foster Parent. We took turns living with a troubled 12 year old boy (who was in the custody of the ministry), 3 days on, 2 days off. What a way to check out a potential spouse- just become a parent with them! I loved seeing his heart and his love for the Lord, and one thing led to another. We dated/courted for 8 months, and were married 5 months later, and just celebrated 5 beautiful years!

What did you do before you married? I know I read this somewhere on
your blog, but I can't remember now. (Did it have something to do with
museums? Or art?) And how did you choose that career, and you would you
ever go back to it?

Actually, I am so completely hopeless at art, but you may be remembering that my sister-in-law is a beautiful artist. Before we were married, I finished my BA in Psychology and Biblical Studies at Trinity Western University. After that, I spent about half a year at the social work agency where I met my husband, then went back into autism therapy, which I had begun doing in my 4th year of university. I did that, as a behavioral interventionist (ABA) for another year, before we got married and moved to Japan. There, I became an ESL teacher, something I had never studied in or done before! Randomness. It's all just completely random, I know! I have to say, I'm just loving my current career as a mother and homemaker, and I'm pretty sure I'll just stay put where I am! :)

If I were to ever get another job outside of the home (which would be very far off when my kids are out of the home or at much, much older), I would not go back into my previous fields. Instead, I would complete the diploma that I began and become a Holistic Nutritionist. I would do private consulting, and teach seminars, and write books (hmm, I guess my blog is good practice, isn't it?). I've also thought of becoming a Bradley childbirth instructor. Or a midwife. So many good options out there, but it's really not something I think about too much.

Thanks for asking all of these great question- there were fun to answer, and a nice change of pace. And thank you so much for your kind words and encouragment on my 1 year blogiversary! It's been a good year, and I'm looking forward to many more.

See you tomorrow for Living Simply Saturdays!

Blogiversary Q&A: Round 4

 Enamel cast iron blue
Jo Ann asked: I do have a question…what would you recommend when it comes to cookware? I need some new pots and pans and would love to know your opinion on all that's out there.

Oh, that's a whole post or two in itself! I am in the process of replacing my cookware this past year or so. I've replaced my Teflon pots with a stainless steel set, and I've also been given my first cast-iron pan (though I still have several Teflon pans that I am seeking to replace). I love the enameled cast iron cookware that's getting more popular these days (though you have to know what's in the enamel coating), but I also think that a good stainless steel set works really well. For frying pans, stainless steel just sticks so badly (it does with pots, too, but you get better at using them the longer you have them), so I would really prefer to head in the direction of all cast-iron and get them well seasoned so that sticking isn't an issue. Anyways, this will have to get added to my list of posts to write!

Jeannine asked this: Question for you – if you soak
your grains, wouldn't the phytic acid end up in the soaking liquid that ultimately stays in the recipe? Just wondering if it really make a
difference nutritionally to do this. Thanks, and keep up the great work!

My understanding of the way that it works is that the phytic acid is neutralized (though not removed), so that it's no longer harmful to our bodies. So I suppose it is still there in the soaking liquid, but because of the soaking process it has been altered in such a way that it is fine to consume it. The rest of the difficult substances are broken down into simpler components so that they become absorbable and digestible. See this article, and this post, for better explanations than I can give!

Alison asked: When/how did you first encounter Reformed theology?

Our first exposure to Reformed theology began a little over two years ago, when we left our previous church and began attending the church we currently attend (not specifically because it was reformed, but God just led us there through a series of events). We were part of a membership class, where we were so blessed to dig deep into the doctrines of the church, and it was coming into contact with this solid, reformed theology that was a major part of our decision to stay and become members of the church. Understanding the Gospel through this lens has impacted our lives in indescribable ways. We are so grateful for the teaching that we have received.

Our church is part of a family of churches called Sovereign Grace, and the basic way that we have had the values or beliefs of the church explained to us is that they are essentially reformed in theology, with a significant charismatic dimension (meaning that we believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still active in the Church today).

And yet another from Donielle: Does saying looney and tooney make
you laugh? I used to work at a bank and people would try and bring them
in to exchange and I giggled every time:-) (Totally no offense to
Canadians out there, we Americans have our own silly things.)

Nope, but I can see why it would make others laugh! Guess we're all just used to it. I got a good laugh out of this question, though, so thanks Donielle! If you come visit Canada, you might see some of our dollar stores, with names like Amy's Loonie Toonie Town. You've got to admit, it's a whole lot more fun to say than "I'm going to Dollar Tree this afternoon". :) Try it youself… "Loonie Toonie Town"… it just kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Blogiversary Q&A- Round 3

Love coffee Donielle asked- If you didn't have to worry about
the ingredients or the fact that it was super unhealthy, what is the
one junk food you would eat every day?

Coffee and ice cream, hands down! Oh wait, that's two. Can I add chocolate to the list as well? :)

Willow asked- Do you take vitamin supplements? If so which ones? What about your kiddos?

I actually did a large series on using supplements and what our family uses maybe 6 months ago. Here are the links:

Isn't good food good enough? Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

At this very moment, we're pretty minimal. Cod liver oil and greens (everyone), a multi-vitamin that my husband's Naturopath recommended for him (plus some digestive enzymes), and a herb that helps with hormone balancing for myself. Oh, I almost forgot… in September we started taking some intramuscular B vitamin shots. That's an interesting tale all in itself. I'll have to tell it sometime (suffice it to say that they really, really made a huge difference!).

Also, I thought you mentioned something about a cleanse after your exchange students left….did you do one? or have you done one that you like? I hear all this hype about Advocare and when I looked at the ingredient lists there is artificial stuff in there. Not quite sure how that can be "cleansing"!

We did briefly do a cleanse, but honestly, I was a bit too exhausted from a summer full of students (and cooking to keep up with their pickiness) that I didn't continue it for too long. A couple weeks. We did the Maker's Diet again, which we have done multiple times before, and love doing it. We always feel so fantastic when we finish it. Here's a link to a post I wrote on how we do it and make it work for us. 

I've never heard of Advocare before, though I did google it and check out the ingredients. Most of them are fine, some are unnecessary for sure. I'm not really into buying supplements for cleansing, in general. There are some that can help, but it's very difficult to distinguish those on your own, and it's easy to waste a lot of money. If you really want to use something to assist in a cleanse, I would recommend working with a Naturopath who can recommend something that will truly help.

Otherwise, a good cleanse can be done simply through eliminating foods in our diet. There are many different types- Candida diets, fasting, juice cleanses, mono-diets, lemonade cleanses, etc. They all have pros and cons, and different people will do better with different types. It is not an area I claim to know enough about to really attempt to advise people in, though we have personally tried most of the above with some success.

Nola asked- My question that I have always had is not directly about you but about do you have any more healthy baking and homemade bread recipes that you can share that you haven't shared in the past? You probably have many…a few more at some point would be great to see. Especially if you have one to make whole wheat/whole spelt/whole grain bread/buns that doesn't include dairy.

Actually, I do! I have recently come to love a couple of recipes, mostly from my Sue Gregg Whole Grains book. Only thing is, I don't want to post too many of her recipes, because I'm sure she'd rather that you buy the book (and I really do recommend her book). I've been loving her yeast bread and buns recipes, as well as slightly altering her sourdough bread recipe.

There's also a non-soaked bun recipe for the breadmaker that I recently used and found nice with spelt (it would be best to do with sprouted flour). As well, my sister-in-law has given me a bread recipe to try, using sourdough starter and yeast and applesauce. I tried some at her house and it was amazing, so when I try it myself (which I think I might this afternoon), I'll share it. I've added bread/bun recipes to my list of upcoming posts. :)

Rebekah asked- Do you eat snacks?? If you are
going to buy snacks what kind do you buy? We have trouble getting full
at our meals especially if we don't eat a lot of carbs. I make snacks
for us but I was wondering what you do.

Do I ever eat snacks! One thing that I love about being a stay-at-home mom is that I can make myself a snack whenever I need/want to, LOL!

Common snacks in our house include fruit (apples, pears, and grapes are my favorites, and my kids love plums, peaches and bananas too), smoothies (usually yogurt or kefir based with fruit), a piece of toast, a couple slices of raw cheese, a bowl of homemade yogurt with nuts, a glass of kefir, hummus or salsa with crackers or tortilla chips. I do try to find alternatives to grains because they're just so convenient, but I find it very easy to over-indulge. However, I still enjoy snacking sometimes on homemade baking like muffins, zucchini bread or coffee cake.

Blogiversary Q&A- Round 2

Here's a break from the short and simple Q&A, to answer a few questions that took a bit more time and thought:

What
do you like best and least about blogging, and what do you consider
important to your blogs success?

I think one of the things that I love best about blogging is having a place to really work out my thoughts and ideas. For me, writing is a bit therapeutic at times, and also helps me to clarify things in my mind. Even though I'm a talkative person (would you ever have guessed it? :) I still prefer writing as a means of communicating things that are particularly important to me.

A second, unexpected thing that I really like about blogging is the interaction with readers and the sense of community that exists in the blogosphere. I didn't intend to blog for the purpose of making friends or connecting with others, necessarily, but was surprised to find that's exactly what happened. I really enjoy a sense of camaraderie with other Christian mom bloggers who have similar ideas and values, and from whom I learn so much as well!

What do I like least? Honestly, I think just the amount of time that it takes to write posts, maintain my blog, do emails, etc. I wish I could be superwoman and do it at lightning speed, and have more time leftover for loving on my family, gardening, keeping my house cleaner than it is right now, etc. :)

As for what I think is important to my blog's success, I know that whatever level of "success" my blog may have achieved really has nothing to do with me. God has blessed it beyond what I ever expected, and though I struggle with pride sometimes and wanting to take credit for it, I know that the only reason my blog has any success at all is because He allows it to, and because He gives me the opportunity and ability to write. It's such a blessing to be able to do it.

On a practical level though, a few things that I think have helped my blog to grow are simply a consistency in writing often and writing well (or at least, attempting to). I don't know that my writing is the most entertaining or brilliant out there on the web (in fact, I know it's not- I can think of several others bloggers far more well-written than myself- for instance, Amy, Shannon and Jeana), but I always try to write to the best of my ability, to be clear, to be thoughtful, to be thorough, and to carefully edit my work.

The other thing that has really made a difference is just getting out there and participating in the blogosphere. Quite frankly, I think that it's difficult to maintain a successful blog if you're not willing to be a part of the community to some degree. Now I am very much not a social networking type of person (ie. Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and I certainly don't spend hours reading and commenting on blogs every day (or even every week, for that matter). But I do make an effort to visit those who visit my blog, to read other blogs so that I am aware of what others are doing and writing, commenting whenever possible, and just developing positive relationships with other bloggers. I think that willingness to engage with others can make a big difference for a blog.

Here's another one of  Donielle's questions,
When are you going to get on twitter?! :-)

LOL! I'm not so sure that I ever will!

I know how much social network can be a time drain, and maybe others don't find it as hard as I do, but I get very (very) easily distracted. To really stay focused when I have precious computer/blog time and to not let the computer interfere with my much more important priorities of serving and loving my family, I've chosen at this point to not join anything at all. Lately, I keep hearing so much about how helpful Twitter is for business networking and increasing blog traffic, but I think I would really, really need to be convinced that it's worth it and that it doesn't require a huge time investment. I'm not sure that the latter is possible, so I suppose that makes my answer "not anytime soon!" :) But thanks for asking (you're certainly not the first!).

Nola also asked: I guess I am also curious about
why you do your blog- I realize that could get into a lengthy post but
I just mean a simple answer of why you decided/how you decided and why
etc. What gave you the idea as your blog seems to be very different
than most (although I really haven't read many at all) as yours seems
to be more of a ministry than just a comment on life.

Nola, this is such a big question, but I'll do my best to answer it briefly!

Well, I didn't start my blog just as something for myself, or as a sort of journal, or place to record family happenings. For me, this blog had been developing in my mind for about a year before I did it. When my husband got sick, the idea went on hold for nearly a year, but once he was well again I felt even more excited to develop the idea again and really get something started.

There are two basic reasons that I blog (there are more than that, but I'll try to simplify my answer by saying there are only two):
1) As a ministry, to teach about things that I am passionate about, and to encourage other women
2) As a business, to earn money for an international adoption

I don't think I've ever talked about the business side of my blog before, and it never seemed relevant as it's not much of a money maker when you first start out. The idea for me was a way to have a business I could do from home, completely on my own hours and schedule, doing something that I loved doing and that I thought was valuable, so that I could build up a fund for our first international adoption.

Ever since we began dating, my husband and I have talked about adoption. It has long been something that God has laid on our hearts. We talk about having 12 children one day, but I don't expect that they will come primarily through birth, though we hope to have as many birth children as possible. We have a strong burden to be a father to the fatherless, and a mother to the motherless. My heart aches when I see orphans on tv or in a video, and when I hear of other's adoption stories. I absolutely cannot wait to see how and when and most importantly, who, God is going to bring in to our family.

On the business side, Keeper of the Home is just starting to be a bit more profitable (I've been working for pennies on the hour this past year, so I'm glad that I love what I do!). I earn money through my BlogHer ads, through Amazon books, and through the affiliates on the right column of my blog. Whenever you purchase something through one of my links, that money either goes towards further developing the business side of my blog and just recently (now that it's getting more significant) into a fund to save for an adoption, which absolutely, truly thrills and excites me!

More questions to come as the week goes on…

A Nostalgic Giveaway

As a way to say thank you to you, my lovely readers, and to celebrate my one year blogiversary, I thought a giveaway was in order since it's been a couple of months since my last one. :)

Probably most of you don't remember or weren't reading yet, but way back when last Fall, I did my very first giveaway. In fond memory, I'm going to do a giveaway of the same nature once again.

Here's how it works: I'm going to link to a handful of books that I am either into at the moment or that I just love and want to share or that I'm eager to read myself, and you can take a look through them and let me know which one you would most want to receive if you were chosen! Next Monday, I will randomly choose one lucky reader, and she (or he, if I actually have any male readers!), will receive the book that she has selected. Sound good?

Here are the options:

Cluttertoclarity
 
From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out

- This is the book that I am loving right now, and working my way through for Living Simply Saturdays.

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
- I couldn't not include this book. I've owned it for a couple of years now, and continue to delve deeper and deeper into it, learning to incorporate more of it's principals into the way I prepare food for my family.

The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity
- Thanks to Lindsay's book study series, I'm thinking this book sounds like an excellent read to add to my list for the new year!

A quest for moreA Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger Than You

- I'm not finished with it yet, but this book is deeply challenging, as it encourages us to truly live for the Kingdom of God, rather than our own little kingdoms.

Big Truths for Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live for God
- The fantastic children's catechism that we are using and loving.

 Relationships mess worth making
 
Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
- One of the many, many books on my next-to-buy list!

Rodale's Vegetable Garden Problem Solver
- The gardening book I fell in love with this summer, for it's incredible practical suggestions, simple layout, and for answering so many of my questions! If you're a fairly new organic gardener, you'd love this resource!

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
- I've offered this before, in my first giveaway, and due to the current economic situation, I felt it appropriate to offer if once again. If you are drowning in debt and payments, struggling to manage your money and not live from month to month, or wanting to learn how to steward your finances more carefully in light of difficult financial times, this book is for you. It's principles are invaluable, and I believe, quite Biblical.

I could add many more to the list, but I think I'll stop there! Hopefully everyone will find something that appeals to them in that mix! If you're unfamiliar with any of them, check out the link and read up on them a bit, then come back to enter the giveaway.

Here's how you enter:
1) Choose the book you'd love to win (if you can choose just one!)
2) Leave a comment with your name, and which book you want and why you want it.
3) Make sure you include your email address when you leave your comment (not in the comment itself, just in the comment form)
4) Giveaway will end Monday, October 27 at 3pm, and I will announce the winner the day after.

Note: This giveaway has now ended. Thanks so much to all who entered! The winner will be announced in a day or two.

Blogiversary Q&A- Round 1

Let's get these questions going…

Melissa asked:

I don't know if you've answered this before but how old are you?:O)

I'm 27, going on 28 this December. I'm in denial that the big 3-0 is looming on the horizon.

Do you have any favorite t.v shows?

I was so tempted to not even answer this question, but I promised I would answer anything, so here goes. I'm embarrassed to say that I somewhat enjoy watching Lost .

We're actually not a tv kind of family at all, and haven't had cable for the bulk of our marriage, though we ended up getting it by accident this year so that our tenant could have it. We still don't really watch it, but we got started on Lost a year and a half ago, when Ryan had his surgery before his chemo treatments. He was in a lot of pain and couldn't really move much, and he found it difficult to focus on reading, so he wanted something more mindless. A friend recommended Lost, and we rented the first season, and got a bit hooked.  Mindless entertainment, it most certainly is!

What is your favorite blog?

Gosh, I don't think I could narrow it down to one! When I have time, I really enjoy GirlTalk, Biblical Womanhood, The Nourishing Gourmet, Amy's Humble Musings, Passionate Homemaking, Tammy's Recipes, Heavenly Homemakers, Frugal Granola, Preschoolers and Peace, and so many others. My bloglines is rather, um, full. :) Unfortunately, I don't have nearly enough time to read all of the great blogs that are out there!

Donielle asked:

What's your favorite color?

Blue… or maybe pink… but probably blue. Yup, I'm pretty sure blue is my favorite. Did I mention I also like pink? But only for certain things (clothes, things for my daughter, flowers, my iPod Nano), and not things like furniture or decor, cars, walls, etc.

Do you ever say "Eh" (you know "ayy") since you live in Canada? :-)

If you ask me, I would say nope, I don't say "eh". However, my husband informs me that I do, indeed, partake in this Canadian phenomenon. Most Americans who meet me say that I don't really sound Canadian to them, but I have a feeling that it occasionally (very occasionally, mind you!) enters my vocabulary. I prefer to say "hey", as in, "Ohh, that looks really yummy, hey?" Similar, yet not quite as stereotypical. :)

If you could vacation anywhere, where would you go?

Where wouldn't I go? Ever since I began travelling when I married my husband (first living in Japan, then Italy and Scotland, then Florida and Georgia, and most recently Arizona), I've totally been bit by the travel bug. We dream of taking our children so many places one day (you know, homeschool on the road!)… Turkey and Greece, Africa (anywhere, really, or more accurately, everywhere!), Panama, back to the UK, New Zealand, Israel… you name it, we want to go there!

For me, the more history, unique culture and/or interesting landscapes (like the Grand Canyon, for example), the better. I'm not so much into vacationing just to vacation. I want to travel to experience things, to have my horizons broadened, to learn, to see, to do… beaches and cruises don't do much for me.

Lots more questions and answers to come! This is fun for me, and a nice change from the usual stuff I write about!