Thursday, May 31

Vaccination Detox Part 4: Fighting Back With Food

When fighting back against the onslaught of junk dumped in your body by vaccination, a few aspects of the Weston A. Price Foundation's dietary guidelines are especially important to abide by. 

Homemade Bone Broths
- Be generous with the bone broth in your diet! Whether you eat soup or just sip a cup of chicken stock at some point during the day, bone broths are packed with nutritious and immune system boosting properties you need. (Note: the stuff you buy in a box at the store doesn't count. If you have never made broth, pick up a copy of Nourishing Traditions. It's super easy to make - you can even use your crock pot!) 

Probiotics - This is one of the simplest ways to detox yourself! Many grocery stores now carry Kombucha in several yummy flavors, and you can buy cultures to make your own for $12. Yogurt - alone or in a fruit packed smoothie - is another easy option. (Make sure you're using full fat yogurt - preferably raw - with no artificial sweeteners!)

Reduced Sugar Intake - Refined sugars and artificial sugar substitutes damage the body and are especially hard on the immune system. Keep your sugar intake low and, where you need sugar, substitute a small amount of whole, natural sugar like honey, maple syrup or molasses. 

Eat the Rainbow - Greens and brightly colored veggies are crammed full of exactly the kind of vitamins, minerals and detoxing substances you want right now, so dig in! Eat salad (topped with a healthy olive or coconut oil based dressing), snack on raw veggies, or indulge in a green smoothie. (If you're really pressed for time or on the road, Bolthouse Farms juices are available at most grocery stores and any of their fruit/veggie juice combos would be a good substitute.)

Tip: If you have any interest at all, summer is a great time to start experimenting with making your own bone broths and kombucha! Bone broth can be canned or frozen, and (especially if you have a family to detox instead of just yourself) it will be significantly cheaper to brew your own kombucha rather than buying it pre-made. So start now!

If you can't or aren't interested in making your own, do a little scouting to make sure you have reliable sources for these detoxifying, nutrient-dense foods. Preparation goes a long way - especially if you're likely to get short notice from an employer on mandatory vaccinations.

Tomorrow's post: Wrap-up and Reminders

Wednesday, May 30

Empty Promises by Pete Wilson

Human Beings are created for worship; it's not a question of IF we will worship, but WHAT. This is the foundation of Pete Wilson's new book, and the point from which he begins a keen lesson on the idols we so easily (and often accidentally) substitute for genuine trust in God. Expecting anything to do or provide what only God can thrusts our entire lives out of whack, and Wilson gently explores how to identify your idols ( because we all have them) and get yourself back on track.

I enjoyed this book significantly more than Plan B; the pacing was perfect and the tone was like listening to a sincere friend over coffee. The book is deceptively simple. Calm, seemingly plain sentences struck to the very heart of issues that abound in churches and communities of faith – both online and off. The standard topics are there – putting career before family/faith, or being obsessed by physical beauty, for example. But also tackled in a quiet, powerful way are some of the biggest struggles that rip through Christian lives, leaving wide wakes of destruction: dissatisfaction with a current circumstance, frustration at being forced to wait for something, the heartbreaking longings to get married or have children, the exhaustion and burnout of over- serving, unbalanced money habits, and the subtle wars between denominations over practices and principles.

Don't be fooled by the modest package or easy tone – this book is a powerhouse and well worth the read.

Vaccination Detox Part 3: Using Oils

Today's post covers one of the more infrequently discussed detox tools: oils. 

Coconut Oil - Although this isn't specifically intended for detoxing, it is a vital part of a healthy diet. As pointed out in Part 1 of this series, starting out healthy is crucial to the fight! (Read more on this at The Healthy Home Economist.)

Oil of Oregano - I ran across this for the first time in Healing Spices (which I highly recommend). It is safe, very purifying and available for purchase online through places like Vitacost and Wilderness Naturals

Thieves Oil - A popular immune booster, this oil isn't cheap but it goes a long way. Many people swear by it. (Available through Radiant Life or Amazon.) 

Fermented Cod Liver Oil - Available as gel caps or liquid, straight or flavored with kid-friendly essential oils like peppermint and cinnamon, this is a fantastic immune booster and detoxer! Don't let the price fool you - a very little bit goes a long way! It's worth noting that the benefits of fermented cod liver oil far outweigh the regular stuff you see on store shelves, so consider investing in the good stuff, even if you only use during detox.

Using Oils

Obviously you should read the dosing instructions that come with whatever oil you choose to use. Some are recommended to take straight, and if you get them in gel cap form it's a no brainer. Others, like coconut oil, can be drizzled into your morning tea/coffee or stirred innocuously into breakfast options like oatmeal. Don't be afraid to get creative if you need to, but remember that heating (as in cooking) the oils will diminish their impact.

Purchasing Notes:
1. You'll notice I've given online purchasing links for most of these. Chances are you won't find good quality options at your local stores, unless you are blessed with an especially awesome health food store. To save on shipping and simplify your life, I recommend selecting the options you think are most appropriate for you/ your family and ordering them all at once. Stick the box in a closet or cabinet (nowhere too safe - you want to be able to find it again!) and clearly label it "detox". That way, when the time comes that you need it, there's no scrambling or temptation to shell out for more when you can't find something.

2. I am not making money on any of these supplier links. They are simply the most reliable purveyors I am familiar with, and I felt it was worth sharing. I do recommend starting with Vitacost; they don't have everything, but they do boast an excellent search feature that allows you to omit products with common allergens like soy and wheat. They also tend to run free shipping and frequent coupons and we can all use to save money where we can!

Tomorrow's post: Fighting Back With Food

Tuesday, May 29

Vaccination Detox Part 2: Supplements & Soaks

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, one of the keys to detoxing from a vaccination is planning ahead. You can't use what you don't have, after all!
There are a handful of supplements you can purchase ahead of time and keep on hand that will help your body fight back against the viruses, bacteria, heavy metals and other undesirables found in vaccines.

Vitamin C - big doses of Vitamin C for a week after being vaccinated (and even beforehand if possible) help flush nasty toxins from your system, specifically the mercury which is extremely important!

Milk Thistle extract - Protects and detoxes the liver. (Credit is due to the Amazing Glutathione website on this one, as I have not seen it listed anywhere else.)

Colloidal Silver - I've heard great things about this in general as an anti-bacterial and immune supporter, and it seems very appropriate here.

Sunshine - Technically this isn't a supplement, and you can't buy it bottled anywhere (I wish!). But sun exposure directly promotes your body's production of Vitamin D, which is a great immune booster and body/mood balancer. So, if at all possible, get some extra sun!

In addition to supplements, saunas and soaks can help your body detox faster.

Saunas - Half an hour in a sauna will cause your body to sweat out a lot of the heavy metal toxicity. Just remember to drink plenty of water before and after! (Note: I realize that not everyone has access to a sauna, and that they are not appropriate for everyone. I felt it was worth listing, however, and encourage you to use your best judgment.)

Soaks - Take a bath with epsom salts or soak your feet in an epsom salt solution. The salts will pull toxins out of your body, and you'll get to relax besides! Bonus points if you throw a few drops of a soothing or clarifying essential oil in while you're there. 

That's plenty to think about for today! If you thought there were some oils missing from the supplement list, it's because they're featured in tomorrow's post on using oils!

Monday, May 28

Vaccination Detox Part 1: Planning Ahead

Our rainy spring is beginning to roll in to summer (finally!), but it's a comment I heard recently about fall that has been nagging at the back of my mind. It was an innocent comment, really – just a passing note that mass vaccination days are already being planned for this fall. My husband is in the military which means, among other things, that opting out of getting vaccinated is not a choice for him. At least once a year, he comes home from work have been shot full of viruses, bacteria and heavy metals.

And that bothers me. A lot.

We eat a very clean, very healthy diet and my husband is in excellent physical shape. But I still wish every year that I could do something to actively fight back against this threat to his health. So this year, I did something!

I collected all the little bits of information I've seen various places on how to detox from a vaccination and wrote them down in one easy-to-reference spot. Then, I went online and bought a couple things that I don't tend to keep in the house but will want on hand specifically for this purpose when the time comes. I feel tremendous relief knowing that this time I'll be prepared.

I know that nurses, teachers and others may find themselves in same boat we do – unable to refuse vaccination and keep one's job – and I want to make the information I've found available so that you, too, can be prepared before next fall's vaccination season starts.

Because I found a useful tips, I've decided to break this up into a series of posts rather than one huge long one.

First, let's start with this awesome comic on the subject from xkcd. I had to laugh because I literally know people just like this!

Second, it is worth knowing that nearly all vaccinations are now combination shots. Most including two or three often very different things. It is worth asking beforehand exactly what you're getting so you can be informed and make good choices.

Okay, now the detox info:
only one tip today, because it's important enough to merit the emphasis - detox starts before you ever get vaccinated!

Dumping toxins into an already overloaded, overtired and under-fueled body is bad news. Summer is an ideal time to start cleaning up your diet and giving up bad lifestyle habits, because the sun is (usually) shining and the farmers' markets are piled high with fresh, nutrient rich (and delicious) summer produce. If you're not already on the road to eating clean and getting healthy, start now! Being healthy to begin with is the best possible foundation from which to launch a detox campaign against vaccination toxins.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2: Supplements

Wednesday, May 23

The Irony of Computer Passwords

Many thanks to my wonderful brother for introducing me to this comic from xkcd about the irony of computer passwords...

Tuesday, May 22

Insult & Injury: Teen Editions of Popular Christian Books

I've read more than my share of self-improvement and Christian lifestyle books. Some have been useless; others have been incredible. But, to be perfectly honest, very few were a challenge to read. Unlike works I've read in other genres, I never needed a dictionary and I rarely needed to figure anything out via context. As a category, self-improvement / Christian living books tend to be written in fairly simple language.

So I've been baffled by the "teen editions" of some of the genre's biggest sellers flooding the market lately.
It makes perfect sense from the production end, of course. For almost zero new effort they can vastly expand their sales.

But from a consumer standpoint, I have to wonder why people aren't at least indignant at an arrangement that costs them money and hurt their teens in the bargain. Let's take a minute to look at the facts, shall we?

1. Teen editions are a prime example of planned obsolescence. They are designed to be replaced by the adult version of the book as the recipient ages, prompting people to unnecessarily pay for the same material twice.

2. Teens want (& need) to be challenged. (See the amazing book Do Hard Things, which covers this in depth if you haven't read it.) Teens want to matter, and they want respect. Being given a teen edition of a book is like being told to sit at the kiddie table at Thanksgiving dinner - it's all the same food, but the message that you're not big/old/smart enough to be included in adult conversation comes through loud and clear.

3. Failure to read adult books robs teens of prime learning opportunities. During their teen years most people begin the move from blind acceptance of the faith with which they were raised towards a place individual faith. This almost always includes searching and wrestling with tough questions. What better time to teach them how to ask the right questions and sift out the truth with discernment? While they still have ready access to parents and trusted youth leaders is exactly when we want materials in their hands that will stretch them. This is when they should be laying the foundation of Bible study and utilizing Christian living resources that they'll use the rest of their lives... an unlikely event if they're breezing through a simplified, brightly colored booklet!

4. Teen editions amplify the age divisions in churches. This subject is much to big to handle effectively here, but the short version is that there is no precedent in the Bible for the modern practice of dividing church services and Bible study by age. This practice is much more likely caused by the overflow of Victorian/ industrial revolution era educational theory (reference Now You See It). This age division does not help churches but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it hurts them; teen editions only aggravate this existing situation.

5. Continuously lowering the reading level of Christian literature  pushes valuable classics increasingly out of reach. The KJV Bible is typically considered to be on a twelfth grade reading level, The Message estimated to be barely at fifth grade level, and the NIV around an eighth grade level. Using that as a rough guide, your average Christian living/ self-improvement book runs between sixth and tenth grade reading levels, with a few maybe reaching a twelfth grade level. Now think of the classics like the Screwtape Letters, St. Augustine, or the sermons of Jonathan Edwards that have informed Christian belief and debate for decades (or longer). If we give this generation everything - including their Bibles - at a tenth grade reading level or lower, how long do these valuable older texts have before they are ignored altogether as "too hard to read" and their wisdom discarded?

Am I just overreacting? Maybe. Are all teen editions a bad thing? Probably not. But it's well proven that people rise or lower themselves to the level of our expectations; maybe, then, we would be wise to raise our expectations when it comes to the books we hope will help us find truth and live well.

Monday, May 21

Menu Idea Monday: Kitchen Tips

So, today is short and sweet but I read a couple things over the weekend that I had never heard before, but that seem to handy not to share.

Tip 1: If you have a food processor, coffee grinder, spice grinder, etc. (especially the grinders that can be hard to clean or that aren't supposed to be exposed to water) that you find is starting to accumulate oils or an off smell, there is a cheap, simple way to fix it: grind/pulse some white sugar or rice!

It will absorb the off odors and excess oil and leave your grinder fresh and clean.

Tip 2: If you buy a mortar & pestle, don't get a wooden one! Pay the extra to get stone - preferably marble. Wood is porous and will absorb volatile oils - not what you want!

I don't know how I managed to never see these tips before, but now I know. And so do you. You're welcome.  :)

Thursday, May 17

Holidays: Good, Bad or Just Confusing?

Way back in January, I decided that one of my goals for the year would be to celebrate more. That decision has had a rather unexpected effect; I've started thinking a lot more about what we celebrate and why. (Not that I have gotten around to posting many of those thoughts here in timely fashion.) So, in the spirit of better late than never, I thought I'd share some interesting
thoughts on Easter.

I used to love to dress up for Easter, just like every little girl does. When I got a little older, I enjoyed going to a Sunrise Service Easter morning. I didn't really put much thought into the holiday until last year, though.

When I read The Liturgical Year (much more interesting than it's title suggests), I was amazed to find out that Easter - rather than Christmas - is the linchpin of the orthodox Christian calendar. Having been raised Protestant, I really had no frame of reference for Liturgy. (I have to tell you that after reading the book I almost wanted to be Catholic - the whole endless cycle thing seemed elegant and reverent in a uniquely beautiful way.)
So imagine my surprise, while mulling over the idea of Easter as being central, when I came across the assertion that Easter isn't actually a Christian holiday at all! I feel like I've heard that before somewhere, but it's one of those things you just tend to brush off as the mutterings of disgruntled atheists. The pastors presenting the idea this time around, however, had clear and logical points well backed up and compassionately presented. Perhaps most surprising was the suggestion that Good Friday and Easter Sunday aren't actually the days of Christ's death and resurrection at all.

There are lots of schools of thought on celebrating Christian holidays, from celebrating only what the disciples/ ancient church celebrated to celebrating everything with an intentional point-towards-God twist. I'm not interested in judging what other people choose to do, but I believe there's a lot of value in the debate and soul searching.

Do we dishonor God by celebrating made-up holidays with good intentions? Does it matter if the day is invented as long as we use it to glorify a real and worthy God? What does it say about us as a modern community of faith that we are so little acquainted with the roots of our practices? All valid questions worthy of our consideration.

While my answer will certainly not work for everyone, I have found that my standard practice continues to please me best of all the options I've seen: I celebrate what has meaning to me, and let the rest go. For me, that means that Easter gets relegated to the realm of un-celebrated days.

Instead, I celebrate smaller things. Things that come with no baggage or no fanfare, but that turn my eyes just as surely to the evidence of grace and reasons for thankfulness in my life.

What about you? Do you celebrate Easter? Does it's questionable provenance make any difference in your decision?

Wednesday, May 16

One Minor Tactical Oversight

I recently read (via audio-book) Now You See It by Duke University Professor Cathy Davidson. It was a richly layered book, discussing overlapping themes in the science of attention, educational paradigms, modern technology and global business.

Ms. Davidson made some excellent points, and certainly provided abundant food for thought. I won't get in to them here, but the book is well worth reading if you have the opportunity.

Despite the many valid ideas, it was a single assumption that she spoke aloud only once that most stuck with me: the information revolution is irreversible. This was a linchpin for many of her arguments - we need to embrace new technology because it's not ever going away. What does it really matter if we let go of a few clunky skills our machines have made obsolete?

In theory, it's a perfectly reasonable point. Except for one minor tactical oversight: it isn't true. The technology on which we so willingly depend is not guaranteed to us in perpetuity.

In fact, it's not nearly as stable and secure as most of us like to believe. Shut off the power for as little as a few days and you can watch the world begin to crumble. Remember the panic that people registered just a month or a two ago when it was thought that excessive solar flares might interfere with satellite access? Better still - think of the countries restricting access to the Internet and other technologies Western countries take for granted right now.

Or, God forbid, a One Second After scenario hits and an EMP shatters every electronic device we have. What happens to the young adults who have none of those "obsolete" skills to fall back on? Who can't read a map, use a compass, do basic math without a calculator or even know how to use a card catalog to look up survival books in their library? Let's not even think about how their brains are so wired for electronic reading that they'll struggle to read real books even if they find them! (See The Shallows for more on that.)

So while I appreciate the passion and good intentions of people like Ms. Davidson, I cannot in good conscience agree to let so many precious skills be rendered obsolete. It costs us nothing to learn the old skills alongside the new and in a crisis those skills could save countless lives. Let's not cheat ourselves out of a Plan B, shall we?

Tuesday, May 15

Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

Blaming herself for her best friend's death and haunted by nightmares, ballerina Brielle abandons her big city dreams and returns to her tiny hometown of Stratus in the fall of her senior year of high school to start over. Her attempts to lay low are complicated by the mysterious -and distractingly handsome- new kid in school, Jake. When events take an unexpected twist, Brielle finds herself in a crisis of faith, forced to make soul-deep decisions in the face of terrifying circumstances and brilliant truth.

I found a lot to like in this book. The angels and demons are strong, powerful and realistic – decidedly the best portrayal of them of I've seen since reading This Present Darkness years ago. The facts and details, as far as I could tell, lined up well with what the Bible tells us about heavenly creatures. Where creative license was taken, it was beautiful, creative and respectful.

The characters were well developed, especially considering the relative briefness of the book. They were consistent, and it was a blessing to find that the relationships modeled were reflect the kinds of healthy interaction we want for ourselves and our young people – loyal friends, on-target parents/ guardians, supportive teachers.

Perhaps amongst its biggest achievements is the book's handling of difficult subjects like human trafficking and dealing with loss. These elements are dealt with honestly but tactfully; not an easy task. I read this in one sitting and look forward to the sequel!

Dillusionment and Educational Paradigms

Way back near the end of March, I read an interesting post over on Rural Revolution about an article someone had posted on Yahoo titled How to Earn $100,000 and Still Feel Poor. While the outpouring of response was predictably derisive, I've found myself thinking back to it more than once since.

I think the core of that author's lament is too important to ignore because its echos are shaping the mindset of the next generation: he feels cheated. He did everything he was "supposed to" do - worked hard at his career, raised a family, bought a house and saved for retirement. Now, just when he expects to being reaping the payoffs of his diligence, life seems startlingly thin and unsteady.

That theme shows up again in a video by Sir Ken Robinson of TED and the RSA. He points out that children these days are much less invested in school than their parents were because they feel the same disillusionment that the Yahoo poster did. They are seeing their grandparents and parents are on shaky ground after a lifetime of doing everything by the book, and have stopped believing that academic success is the route to a desirable future.

Likewise, in Now You See It, Duke University Professor Cathy Davidson argues that modern schools and businesses present incoming generations of workers with a tense paradox. Structurally and behaviorally, they continue to run on practices designed to meet the needs of the Industrial Revolution. But they reward out-of-the-box 21st century solutions. Students can't help but notice that many of the most brilliant, most successful (and richest) entrepreneurs in of the last ten years never completed college - if they even went at all.

Personally, I think that this makes one of the best possible cases for home schooling. What better venue to teach children crucial skills like time management, self-discipline, and flexibility early on? How better to expose children to the multitude of potential jobs available to them, and to help them dabble in those opportunities early?

More importantly, however, I believe that this widespread disillusionment should be a critical factor discussed in every school district in America. Traditional public schools can have a lot to offer, but they need to be on the same page as their students. Recognizing that many of these kids won't - and maybe shouldn't - plan to attend college right out of high school (or at all) will fundamentally change how schools approach curricula, guidance counseling, internship programs and extra-curricular activities.

My guesses? If these ideas are taken seriously, we should expect to see:

* An increase in the number of students attending BOCES or similar programs that prepare them for a trade immediately upon graduation.

* A shift from considering music, art and other extra curricular activities as optional to using them as a core factor in students' educational plans.

* Widely expanded internship programs, getting high schoolers hands-on experience in real work places as early as possible.

* A re-shaping of college recruitment, admissions and academic programming as fewer students enter with "exploratory", "undecided"  or liberal arts majors and more students enroll after time in the workforce, motivated by with specific goals and pursuing more technical majors.

There's a lot of room for discussion and dissension when it comes to education, but when the same idea surfaces repeatedly in vastly different arenas it's usually a sign that it's time to sit up and take notice. I'll be interested to watch and see where this one leads.

Monday, May 14

Menu Idea Monday: Lemon Garlic Chicken

Crock pots are wonderful - there's great peace of mind in knowing throughout the day that a healthy, homemade dinner is already under way and will be ready when you walk in the door. As a bonus, they're an easy way to have hot meals in summer without turning on the oven.

The latest addition to my crock pot recipes collection is Lemon Garlic Chicken from the Six Sisters' Stuff blog.

(Gorgeous picture from original site, of course.)


This is a keeper! It had a very rich flavor and the different elements were impressively balanced (something often lacking in lemon recipes). I didn't find the cream cheese to add any value, and the sauce was rather thin at the end. In the future, I will omit the cream cheese entirely and thicken the sauce a smidge before serving.

My Modifications:

I diced the chicken instead of leaving it whole, which worked out well for serving over rice. I also subbed my favorite Organic Better Than Bouillon for the bouillon granules. As noted above, I plan to omit the cream cheese next time.

Dietary Mod Friendly?

This one is pretty much everybody friendly from the get-go!

Monday, May 7

Menu Idea Monday: Donuts

I'm not a big donut eater, but every once in a while the idea of something decadent for breakfast really appeals. I was quite excited to find Chocolate Covered Katie has a donut recipe.

(Gorgeous picture from original site, of course.)


There is a lot to like about this recipe - it's quick, simple, healthy and tastes good. The biggest thing not to like is that it requires a donut pan. While you might get away with using mini muffin pans, mini bundt pans or some other small specialty pan it is not conducive to any standard pans. (Mine spread widely, ending up more like donut cookies than anything else.)

My Modifications:

I used raw whole milk, 1 egg and honey in place of Katie's non-dairy milk, fake egg and sugar, respectively.

Dietary Mod Friendly?

This seems to be pretty flexible, and should be able to accommodate everyone. It should even work with gluten free flour!

Sunday, May 6

Expanding the Arsenal

I am not known for sharing well. I don't share my husband with the floozies who hit on him while he's deployed, I don't let almost anyone else drive my Jeep, and I have been known to close the gate to the driveway for an entire day just to enjoy the solitude.

So you can imagine that when I found out there were mice in my house I was NOT happy. I might have felt a tiny twinge of discomfort when we found the first one dead in a trap in the basement (I'd never used mouse traps before), but when we found evidence of one in MY kitchen it was officially war.

The gentleman who lived here previously seemed nice enough, but he was not exactly what I'd call pro-active. Mouse-proofing the property apparently never occurred to him. So between the basement and garage we killed nearly 20 of the little monsters. I'd hoped that my beloved Arthas would be of help in this; some border collies love mice. They're crunchy (at least at first) and they squeak - just like toys, right? Unfortunately, while he's vigilant and ferocious in protecting us against other people, turkeys, deer and a host of other things, Arthas is completely unconcerned by mice.  

So we decided to expand the arsenal.

Meet Archimedes. He was born on a local dairy farm and we expect he'll take to mousing like a fish to water. We brought him on board yesterday, and as soon as he gets comfortable around here the responsibility for decimating the mouse population will rest in his capable paws.

He's a bit petrified of Arthas still (though Arthas is wonderful with him), but coming around. He's spunky and curious and adorable. This will be a bit of a new venture for us. My husband has never had a cat before, and this will be the first intentionally outdoor cat I've ever owned. Not having a proper barn, I don't know if we can call him a barn cat, but that's the basic idea.

For now, though, he's prowling the house and getting used to us. I have high hopes that he will settle in and be a great addition.

Saturday, May 5

Homestead in the Misty Moutains

People have been asking for pictures of our new homestead in the misty mountains, and I finally found the camera and got it to cooperate. It's amazing here, though I can't stay and gush as my (very long) to-do list is sitting impatiently beside me. So here's a sneak peak...

It's a little blurry, but this is the awesome gate across our driveway - we are our very own gated community! Can I tell you how much the introvert in me loves that?

I love having a fireplace! The carpet, on the other hand, I don't understand. Who intentionally chooses a mottled, rusty brown carpet for their house? It's okay. My take-no-prisoners vacuum has whipped it into shape so it's clean and that's all that counts for now.
 I have never seen anything quite like my ovens here, but it's an excellent set up. Being smaller than standard size, each oven heats up in a fraction of the time. With two, I can bake bread and make dinner at the same time! (Yes, I know. I get excited over the most random things.)

Incidentally, the color on the wall that you can see a little bit of is Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter. It's a gorgeous, silvery shade that looks very clean and elegant. It works perfectly and I'm delighted with it. (It's also scrubbable, in case someone leaves muddy streaks from a wagging tail across it... not that we'd know anyone who might do that around here...)
It's technically part of the drainage on property, but if we'd wanted to incorporate a decorative "water feature" we couldn't have done any better than this. When it rains (which it has - a lot) overflow creates a little waterfall running over the shale and in a runnel along the driveway. It's beautiful.

Now that it's stopped frosting at night, several trees like this one are budding. I have no idea what they are, but I suspect they're going to be lovely.

Incidentally, pretty much every view out of our windows looks like this - all trees. It's gorgeous!

The house still needs plenty of love, but the scrubbing and elbow grease are starting to pay off. It's starting to look more like us, and already feels like home.

Sorry I'm not much of a photographer, but I hope you enjoyed the sneak peak!