Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Why

Emily left a great question on yesterday’s post: “Maybe this is a dumb question, but are you learning these skills to be able to live/eat in ET or to be able to teach others or for a business venture there?”

Great question and the answer is BOTH.

Many of the skills we are learning is for our sakes but also with a continual thought towards what can be applied on a larger scale and beneficial to the community.

Our model with SIM looks like this.


All three integrally important.

We are entering Ethiopia as Community Developers and this position is one that would be respected among the Awi people. Last week, while talking to an Ethiopian man, he told us that the “Awi people farm like Adam and Eve”.  We know there is a rich history in Injibara and centuries of wisdom and practices that have preserved the Awi and their traditions and we celebrate that wholeheartedly. We have no doubt we will daily learn much from them.

In addition, we hope to bring value to their community by possibly exposing them to small changes that can improve their crop yields, nutrition and positively affecting their every day life. I would love to be able to find something to teach the women that would encourage them to be in our home, working side-by-side, building relationships. Cheese making seems like a great fit as it would build relationships as well as improve the nutrition available to families. However, I can’t establish a need for cheese if they don’t want cheese. 

Prayerfully, we move and hope to discover what the Awi women would like to learn. Cross-cultural workers have told us that cheese is a powerful tool to preserve milk supply. However, we go to learn and discover the needs that the Awi people .

You can join us in praying about this. I so bad want to connect with these women.


And just for fun…A picture from a few weeks ago.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

That Day I Made Cheese

After a long day of driving from Texas, we are home. I love coming home. The Littles had a party at their grandparents but we are glad to hold them again!

Our training was helpful and fun…so much so that if there happens to be a cataclysmic event, you just might want me on your survival team. Unless of course that cataclysmic event involves tight spaces, don’t consider me.

Our Saturday morning started with a milking and then I was off to cheese making class.

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In class we ate our way through the day as we made:

Butter, cultured buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, labneh, cottage cheese, whey ricotta, milk ricotta, mozzarella, queso sauce, and goat chevre.

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Labneh preserved in oil can last up to six months

I have a secret about cheese making. It’s not that hard. The two biggest factors that are potential difficulties are the exact temperatures required and finding a source of milk (preferably raw, 1-4 days old). Both of these are problematic for me moving to Ethiopia as we will be in the mountains and I don’t know how to adjust temperatures to the altitudes accordingly, and then finding a safe milk supply. Eventually we may be able to have our own cow and then we could verify it’s safety.

Most of these cheeses can be made with store bought milk or cream, but not mozzarella.

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Both of these pictures were taken in the mozzarella process.

If you have access to fresh milk (can use raw or home-pasteurized) definitely something you should could easily do!

I am not a fan of goat milk or goat cheeses but if you are, it can be used. However, goat’s milk is homogenized (meaning cream and milk are mixed and cannot be separated without a mechanical separator).  For many recipes you only need the cream or the milk so this is a problem as goat’s milk won’t coagulate (separate).

I hope to experiment more with this in the coming days. The possibility of cheese in Ethiopia is a very powerful motivator for me!

Friday, April 26, 2013


This is a significant week to be Waco, Texas. However, we are staying out of the busy areas paying tribute to those who died in the explosion, but are here at the Ploughshare Institute for Sustainable Culture.

Jon and I are taking a three-day course on “homesteading”.  This course is an overview on a wide topic. We’ve learned loads and I am feeling more hopeful about our chance of survival in “down-country” Ethiopia. ;)

In our first two days we have touched on organic gardening, composting, orchards, vineyards, pastures, field crops, poultry and herb gardening.

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The white building is our classroom

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Jon takes notes while we learn about composting

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Outside the gristmill

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Jon learning about grinding wheat

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Inside the fiber craft/textile barn (we just toured this area, not learning this, just visiting!)

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Beautifully maintained grounds

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Learning about herbs and their medicinal and preservative properties.

Tomorrow we start the day by hand milking a cow and then we will divide and conquer as Jon is going to cover fences, the family cow, beekeeping and designing a homestead and I am going to learn how to make yogurt, butter and soft cheeses.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Speaking of Ephesians 3:20-21

Check out this gem I found while sorting through old keepsakes.

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Crazy, huh?

And then to add onto that blessing, this handsome face finished a week long training in Florida.


Hooray!  We had a fun “girls week” in his absence but we missed our daddio!

Friday, April 19, 2013

three years, babies


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“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Forward Motion

They say the kids do only as well as the parents are doing. The Littles are doing great, processing the future in a simple, factual way.

As I have been packing up bins (Yay for travelers to Ethiopia willing to haul totes for us!), The Littles are onboard, helpfully bringing items, “Mama, can we take this to Ethiopia?” Sometimes I can answer yes and other times I explain the spacing issues.

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(They were playing so nice outside so I paparazzied them with the long lens and discovered they were eating dirt!)

Little A brought me a picture of themselves. She told me who she was going to give it to and then said, “So they don’t forget what I look like when I move to Ethiopia”. I took a deep breath and around the lump in my throat said, “That is so cool you’re thinking this through. Maybe they could give you a picture of them to take with you.” She smiled and skipped off.

Praise the Lord, The Littles must feel all of our travel and transition is the new normal, that everyone is packing up their lives, one Rubbermaid at a time.

Packing our possessions, I am again, a heart divided. Sometimes I pack with joyful anticipation at life ahead, the people we will meet, watching God work in big ways. Other times, I am surprised by my own tears, silently sliding down and I wonder how my eyes knew I was sad before my brain did.

We are chipping away at The Littles’ books that will help them say healthy goodbyes.

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Remember how I said that grief is emotionally painful work?  This is proving to be true but as we walk this path, one foot in front of the other, we gain momentum and joy to press forward.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Princess Truly

Little A tells me how she wants hair that “touches her cheeks”. The Littles have discovered scarves to use as wigs and they drape them over their heads, proclaiming, “I have long hair”.


We babysat last night and Adilynn joined right in the long-haired fun. 

A prince and princess purge has happened around our house, out with the long-haired, light-skinned beauties whose end goal is a prince, at least for a time. Yep, even packing up our classic children’s fairy tales that came with our homeschool curriculum. Little A bemoaned to me the other day, “Mama, but my face doesn’t look like a princess! My hair does not look like a princess!”


Yes, yes it does. We are just comparing ourselves to the wrong ones. I see three little curly-headed daughters of the King, created in His image. Three princesses here.

Enter Princess Truly and The Hungry Bunny Problem. She is kind and smart. She reads books to solve problems and help people. Her hair is “magic”. 

When The Littles saw the book, Little J exclaimed, “She looks like me!”


We finished the book and Little A smiled and said coyly, “She didn’t even have a prince”.

That’s right baby, and you don’t need to worry about them for a long time. :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Make ‘Em Yourself Magnets

Roadtripping with kids demands creativity. Magnets on a road trip are gold around here.  This led to making some of our magnets and we use them with a magnetic dry erase board ($6). A cookie sheet would work too.

While magnetic dolls are fun…

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The game goes longer when the magnets are people we know. I am working on a complete family set but need to track down a lot of people. :)

Me doing a creative project and then showcasing it is laughable, but this one is too helpful to not pass along.

Here’s the process…

1) Convince a member of your family to stand in a dress up doll way.


Actually, this is even better if they stand with a wide stance and arms out a bit and their body fills the frame.


Print adults out at 5X7 and kids at 4X6

Purchase a roll of adhesive magnet at your nearest craft store.

This is what it looks like from Hobby Lobby


Cut a piece the size of your picture (Belle is a cut out from a book)

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Peel off the back and cut around the person.

And then the fun begins. See below…

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The Littles go on a trip with their uncles (selected for this purpose because they are my three little brothers).

Added bonus if you have dress up magnetic clothes. You can make them yourself out of magazines or buy cute sets at Cracker Barrel.

You never know what you will find on the fridge. Again, see below…

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It looks like the uncles dressed up and took The Littles to the pet store and Josiah tagged along!

(I may have dressed the men in this picture. The Littles wouldn’t dream of ruining a potential prince by placing them in a dress)

These are so fun. The Littles spend lots of time with their magnets. I am glad they will pack to go to Ethiopia, hopefully a fun way to continually interact with family and friends.

And just because I am on a magnetic roll, here is an idea for your extra magnets (From my Aunt Pat), you will never pitch those free business magnets again.

We won’t have room for a lot of frames in our luggage to Ethiopia, so some of our favorite pictures I have made into magnets.

Just use any freebie magnet around (that you don’t actually need the information of the front) and snag a favorite picture.

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Wa-lah! Your newly magnetic picture!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

For The Record

Watching The Littles stomp through the mud and regularly bring me spiders with their bare hands, it would be hard to guess their princess obsession.

Remember how I shared here that Little J was always the prince and I wasn’t sure what to do? I need to make a public amendment that about 5 days after that post, Little A (self-initiated) asked to be the prince and has not been the princess since, even when she is offered the title.

I think I have a situation on my hands with this prince/princess thing. Maybe another post for another day.  

We are so ready for Spring to spring!

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