Friday, January 30, 2015

Using Reclaimed Materials: A Lesson in Liberty

As my husband and his father cut through an exterior wall to extend a closet, they tossed little chunks of gnarled wood into a heap in the grass.  As soon as I saw those worn scraps, I had a vision for them.  They were distinctive. They had history. They were going to be treasure!  I gathered them up and stowed them away until the creative juices could flow.  And flow they did. After a little hunting I discovered that what I had was some original Dutch Lap siding –the full 7.5” hardwood planks. Even with years of paint and dust, they had a sweet charm.   I made a set of word signs.

 And then another.

 And another.
I had so many ideas, I ran out of raw material.  I had exactly enough to complete five 3 piece sets.   I was eager to continue production. They were bold, beautiful, and totally unique.  They carried the power of God’s Word with such simple elegance.  I wanted to make MORE!!!  I’m not going to say the thought didn’t cross my mind. In fact, I might have even asked my husband very nicely…but, in the end, ripping the rest of the siding off the house just didn’t seem to make sense.  So, we set them aside and kept busy with other projects.   But, I couldn’t seem to walk away from the idea.  New verses kept presenting themselves as perfect candidates for my “salvaged siding signs”.  But, I had no more siding to salvage.  What to do? What to do?

I realized that this would be a reoccurring issue as we used up the materials we had on hand.  Some pieces were very old and very unique.  I felt very limited by the ability to make only one item when I had so many variations dreamed up.  Overall, I wanted our products to be genuine.  I wanted our shop to have heart. And I struggled with the idea of new materials mixed with the old.  Should we just use up everything we have and go hunting for more? Should we find local lumber and build our own “vintage-looking” items?  Or stick only to “reclaimed wood” and “salvaged hardware”?  Choosing a direction we felt comfortable with was a journey.  We walked the fence for a while, asking the Lord to bring clarity and peace.  And we know He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. So, it wasn’t long before we had our answer.  He made it clear that although the inspiration may come from reclaimed material, we are not tied to that.  He lovingly showed us that those salvaged items were there to inspire us, but not necessarily sustain us.  And they certainly weren’t there to bind us. We were free to find a new source.   I love that about God. He paid a great price for our freedom and spends a great deal of time reminding us to walk in that liberty.  I am learning to recognize bondage in any form as contrary to God’s will in my life. When I settle on that truth, it makes decisions so much easier. 

So, asking around our tiny town, we found a supplier that could order some Dutch Lap Siding in…and we’re back to work! 

This wood did not come from the side of an old farm house with rich historical value, but it is still treasure to me. It taught me a precious lesson: Liberty itself is a treasure. 

Now that I am free to create to my hearts content, the possibilities abound.  Single Word signs, color combos, Nursery d├ęcor, gallery sets, and more!!
And this time, we have enough materials to allow for custom orders – so, you can dream up your own variations!
Visit our shop and design your own!

A Real World Lesson for Your Kids - Making Geography Personal

I remember Geography being confusing, abstract, and even boring. Where were all those places? And why did I care?  It was distant and uninteresting.

I didn't want our daughter to be so detached from the greater world and have been trying to think up a way to give geography some substance.  Most of our schooling methods involved a hands-on experience approach...literally. Hands on chickens, Hands on power tools, Hands on messy, sticky, sudsy, dirty, cold, or hot. And when that isn't possible we try to make it relatable.  "Imagine living in the 17th century....we all just sailed to the New World and now we have to survive a winter on our own...."   It allows our daughter to "experience" abstract subjects like history in a personal way.  Science, Social Studies, even math are taught this way in our home.  But, geography had only been introduced on a small scale. She knew the 4 or 5 states that house our friends and relatives, but beyond that it was a jumble.

I came across this post on for a printable jigsaw puzzle of the US.  It was free and came in a few different options. Free Downloads Here.



The colorful one is especially fun. And there were lots of creative suggestions in the post like question tags and little flag markers. What a neat idea for a child whose Mother or Father travelled a lot. Keeping track of them with a little airplane pin would really bring the map to life.

But, I wasn't sure how to use it for our family in a personal way...until I had my light bulb moment.  Our little girl doesn't have parents that travel but, she does have parents that ship merchandise all over the country!! 

I printed the B&W version of the map to start with a clean slate. It printed on 4 sheets of 8.5" x 11" paper. I cut them out and mounted them on a foam board (moving Hawaii and Alaska in to relative geographical accuracy). 


Then we told our daughter that she is in charge of logistics for the Rehoboth Farm shipping department.  Every time an order comes in, she grabs her pen and makes a colorful dot in the receiving state.  She is quickly becoming familiar with the location of some of the states - and is even learning the abbreviations (by default), which I still get tangled up in - especially the "M" states!

Not only is she learning where the states are, but she is gaining an understanding of size, distance, weather patterns, and lifestyles as we discuss the characteristics of each city or state we ship to. She is eager to see which state fills up with colored dots first (and so are we!) and has enjoyed watching the map transform as more color is added.  It is a great learning tool.  So glad we stumbled on this idea.
Hope you find a way to use it in your home!

Paint Review - Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Satin Alkyd Paint

I refuse to work with oil based paints. They are messy, stinky, and too much hassle. I am a simple girl. If there isn't a simple way of doing something, I just skip it.  Unfortunately, we couldn't skip painting our kitchen cabinets.  All we could afford in the chaotic hustle to rebuild our kitchen were these unfinished sets from a discount supplier. 

They were beautiful and well built, but they needed paint.  And I knew better than to use any old paint on such an investment ( a lesson learned the hard way in our last kitchen). 
I wanted that beautiful professional enamel finish. I didn't want yellowing, dings, or a complicated application process. How could I get the best of both worlds?
After researching paints for several weeks I finally chose the Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Satin Alkyd. I was swayed by some comments on a professional painters forum that described it as "working with Advance is like painting with a latex paint, but getting oil enamel results. Its so simple."  That did it for me!

 The only place that carried it was a tiny paint dealer 40 minutes away.  So, we filed into the van and headed out.  Once we were there I had to wade through the color catalogs to find just the right white. I told the sales lady I was looking for a "plain white. Not too pinkish. Not too bluish. I just want a simple white."  After sifting through, we settled on the ironically titled "Simply White" - which is a warm, rich, beautiful white. Love it! 

(hard to tell on the computer screen, but it is actually a warm creamy white)

The paint was almost $50 a gallon. Yikes! I bit the bullet and bought two to avoid running out and having to drive back out for another batch. 

We had a Wagner Power Sprayer and was all pumped to use it, until I read several posts about the self-leveling property of the paint and how it really wasn't suited to being sprayed on a vertical surface (gravity, and all!)  So, after 2 coats of primer, I layed all 22 cabinet doors and 12 drawer faces (and a coffee table that wanted in on the action) out in the shade for the first coat.

I used a cheap brush with synthetic bristles - nothing fancy.  I was AMAZED at the paint application. I have worked with a lot of paints and this was just a dream. It self-leveled perfectly, eliminating bristle strokes, hiding touch ups, and creating a beautiful smooth surface.
I left everything to dry for about an hour.  When I cam back, to my horror, I found butterflies, gnats, and tiny little grasshopper-y things stuck in the paint - ON THE CABINETS!! 
I reached down to pluck one out and to my surprise the paint surface was dry to the touch, and with a little flick, the bugs just wiped right off.  The surface was smooth as class. I took a rag and wiped the others lightly.  Whew!! 
So, just to be on the safe side...we moved the painting operation indoors to my husband's workshop. Praise the Lord for this 20'x30' insulated workspace. It has been a blessing in so many ways!
I left the doors to dry over night. The next morning I sanded each door and drawer lightly with 220 grit sandpaper and wiped them down.  Then I applied another smooth, luxurious coat of Benjamin Moore Advance.  I repeated this process over and over until I could do it in my sleep (and might have once or twice).  I think it was a total of 6 coats (2 primer and 4 paint) when I finally felt confident that it was evenly coated and completely opaque. 
 I then did the same - very carefully - with the cabinet bases.  These were a little tricky because they were standing upright and were more susceptible to drips. Overall, light coats, and lots of sanding, I only ended up with one bad drip under a drawer opening that I needed to go back and touch up.  Pretty painless.

Here is a close up of the beautiful satin finish.

We waited about 2 weeks before bringing the cabinets in for installation (mostly because we didn't have any floors in the kitchen yet).  The paint was pretty tough at this point, but the official curing time according to the can says up to 30 days.  It has now been 3 months since we put our cabinets in and we are still COMPLETELY happy with the paint choice. It is as hard as any oil enamel and has taken a lot of rough handling (from transporting, installation, and daily use) without any sign of wear.  I absolutely recommend this paint for any DIYer who wants a simple (albeit a little pricey) paint to work with and a beautiful, tough (scrubbable) finish on their cabinetry.
And, best of all. I only used 1/2 a gallon! Which means I have 1 1/2 gallons left to do the trim and molding in the rest of the house....when I feel like painting again.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Expanding the Flock - 18 Chicks and Counting

Well, it's been an exciting few days with our new feathered friends.  The chickies only spent one night in their orginal cardboard box brooder.  We decided to upgrade since several of the chicks were already a week or so old and it was a little hard to control the temp in such a little space.
Here is their new Brooder Deluxe:
The plywood frame is 4' x 7'. We have the last 2 ft boarded off to allow for future expansion. We layed down a 1/4" sheet of foam insulation as a barrier between the chicks and the concrete floor.  We added a thick layer of pine wood shavings, 2 feeders, 2 water stations, and their heat lamp.  Just like home.  We took the box they were in and slowly tipped it on its side inside the new brooder. Nobody moved for about 15 seconds. Then one Ameraucana sauntered out.  He took one step out of the box and then suddenly took off running.  The rest of the chicks followed suite, running wild like inmates who had just cleared the barbed wire...flapping, running, and hopping around clucking, "We're free!! We're free!!"  It was pretty entertaining.   
 They have PLENTY of room for now...but, we know now will soon be later...and later means big gangly active birds. We had some wire shelving in the garage that we removed from a closet upstairs. It makes perfect sides to the brooder. Our daughter can peer through the bars like a visitor at a little chicken zoo. We will add some bird netting to the top in a few days before we get any flyers. 
It took us several hours to get an accurate reading on the thermometer under the heat lamp.  The chicks thought it was a chaise lounge and would sprall out on top of it to snooze. But, after some adjustments we got a nice even pocket of warmth for them to nest in. They sleep snugly in the warm light with their beaks tucked in to eachother's feathers. Adorable little mosh pit.

Our flock now totals 18 chicks.  There was (reportedly) a 6 chick minimum when my husband went to pick up our 2 Barred Rocks this, he came home with 4 extra Ameracaunas.
Our flock now consists of 2 Rhode Island Reds, 4 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Barred Rock, and 10 Ameracaunas (unknown gender).
These new Barred Rocks are the babies of the group. Just 3 days old and as soft as silk.  Don't let their size fool you. They are the loudest and most brazen of all.  They are super active, hold their own among the big guys and gals, and have a deafening "peep".
Everyone took to the newbies really well...except the Rhode Island Reds. They immediately turned in to playground bullies. The Ameraucanas are really even tempered and didn't tolerate any rough play. They defended the little BRs and even ganged up to form a protective circle around them until the RIRs lost interest. It was fascinating.
We decided to pull the 2 bullies and the 2 victims all out of the brooder and have a little lesson on playing nice.  Here is the stand off:
About 30 minutes of socializing and getting used to eachother (and me poking the RIRs in the head everytime they pecked at the BRs) and everyone is now getting along great!
And here are the newest Ameraucanas.  They are amazingly different.  Some look like little owlets, others like Eagle offspring.  Black, brown, tan, yellow, stripes, streaks, and Cleopatra eyeliner...Not a two out of the 10 are alike.

What a fun little brood.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Our First Flock - Bringing Home Baby Chicks to Rehoboth Farm

This post contains affiliate links.


Well...we did it...we brought home baby chicks! This is a moment greatly celebrated by this new-to-the-country family.  We dreamed about this moment so many times during our city dwelling days. It is very surreal to think we were paying HOA fees last year, forbidden from keeping any "farmyard pets". And now, only by the grace of God, here we are with our very own little flock.  God is so good.

We picked them up this morning at the local farm supply store.

Like a little happy meal box - but, with "real white meat" inside!

We picked out 12 baby chickies:

(4) Buff Orpingtons - I love how full and fluffy they are when full grown - and their pretty buff coloring.

(2) Rhode Island Reds - They are a good hearty breed I thought we should start with (and redheads, to boot!)

(6) Ameraucanas - they lay blue and green eggs! So fun.
Their coloring is so varied! We got a mystery pack of boys/girls, so only time will tell how many colored eggs we will get. Not sure what will become of the possible roosters.

**They were out of Barred Rock babies, so we will be going back on Friday.  They are a beautiful old-fashioned looking hen!

Here is a "peep" through their little cardboard window:

The Buff Orpington/Rhode Island Red box "cheep cheep cheeped" all the way home.  The Ameraucana box was silent and still. They huddled in a little heap in the corner and slept the whole ride - with an occasional "cheep" when we went over a bump in the road.

Here they are settled in their brooder box, complete with all the new chickie necessities.

We originally looked in to purchasing a Chick Starter Kit like this one:
It comes with organic chick feed and all the essentials. But, we were able to gather all the supplies locally and piece it together ourselves for quite a bit less. If you don't have a local Rural King or Tractor Supply, everything is available online. Here's a list of everything we used to get started:
Cardboard shelter - we used an old appliance box to create a barrier, but had to quickly graduate to a larger home made of plywood.
Brooder lamp (definitely get one with the lightbulb guard!)
Chick feeder (we used 2 of these as can use the plastic jar, but they are compatible with mason jars and we found that the weight of the glass helps keep them from tipping over when the food runs low and the chicks decide to perch on top of them).
Chick starter (this is a NON -GMO organic chick starter.)
Chick waterer (we used two for 18 birds and were refilling them twice a day)
Wood shavings (The pine shavings from the feed store lasted us a long time, even as we expanded their brooder. But, when we ran out we were able to use my husband's wood shavings from the workshop and they worked fine!)
 After they became acquainted with their new surroundings, we took them out a few at a time to get a closer look - and ooh and aww over their ridiculous cuteness!
Sophie, the official family representative, came to welcome the chicks to Rehoboth Farm.

"Don't worry, Little Red. You're going to love it here!"

" might be a rooster, so I can't really make you any promises."

They are soft, fluffy, sweet, and adorable. They are full of energy and life and will eventually supply us with beautiful rich eggs.  But, mostly they are a milestone.  They are a marker that makes our journey official.
We're farmers now.

We are very proud of our first flock.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

DIY - How to Make Beautiful Scripture Prints for Your Walls – Custom Typography with Microsoft Word

I just discovered a *NEW* trick and I wanted to share!
The Word of God has become so much more than just words to our family in the past few months. I now know why scripture is called "the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT" and our fight, a spiritual "BATTLE". I surely learned to wield that sword last summer. Dodging fiery arrows, however - I'm still working on.
I have grown to need God's Word before my eyes at all times as I desire to hide it in my heart, as the scripture teaches. I also want these truths posted "on the doorposts" for my daughter to see, learn, and to cherish.
So, I started out with tacky little post-it notes and torn out notebook paper with scribbled verses stuck in every nook and cranny of the house.

They were a blessing, but not necessarily a decorative statement - yikes! 
So, I started making these:

Aren't they BEAUTIFUL?
I can't print them fast enough! I want them in my kitchen, my daughter's room, the hallway, my bedroom....the post-it notes are coming down!
And guess what? They're easy to make...and cheap!!
Here's how you can make some for your own home:
Just open Microsoft Word (or any word program).
Use the fonts available and your favorite verse to complete your design.
Cut a piece of scrapbook paper to 8.5" x 11"
And PRINT!  =)
They can also be printed on white cardstock and framed in a colorful frame! Your creative collection can be push-pinned to a bulletin board, glued to a wooden block, or framed neatly for hanging. They would make a beautiful baby shower gift or something to hang in your own nursery. You can even  shrink them down to make stationary or fit smaller frames.

"And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt TEACH THEM DILIGENTLY UNTO THY CHILDREN, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." - Deuteronomy 6:6-9