Monday, June 5, 2017


Thought I'd take a break from my broccoli soup to give you a recipe for all natural insect repellent. The webs are full of these, I know. All I can tell you is that, having tried many out there, this recipe I developed is the one that works for us, and our dog. We live in rural south-central Kentucky, near a beautiful lake and wooded area, but with lots of ticks, gnats, and mosquitoes that can carry you off. Nonetheless, we love the outdoors, and this spray has made it all the more enjoyable.

Here's what you need for a super effective (especially against ticks!) insect repellent that is all natural and non toxic:

Witch hazel
Citronella Oil
Peppermint Oil
Orange Oil
Geranium Oil

Clove Oil
Cinnamon Leaf Oil
LemonGrass Oil
Dropper; 6 oz. spray bottle

The initial cost of buying the essential oils and other needed items to begin making your own insect repellant is about $65.  This will last you a long time. I am not terribly particular about which essential oil brands I use.  I don't have a lot of choice where I live, so I get what I get.  Most of my oils are NOW brand, and I buy them at a local store.

We get a lot of ticks in this part of Kentucky, especially Lone Star Ticks, which tend to be Bravecto resistant, putting the dog at risk. So, we needed a spray that would help our Davey, too.

It is well known that Citronella oil is very effective against Mosquitoes, and strong anecdotal evidence exists that Peppermint oil is effective in killing many types of ticks.  Geranium oil was recognized in a 2013 study by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry as greater than 90% effective as a tick repellent, especially Lone Star Ticks. View the study here. 

Clove and Cinnamon oils are also effective against ticks, and lemongrass and orange essential oils are mosquito repellent.  This combination is also effective against other biting insects and pests.

Here is the recipe that I have found works, and it has been tested repeatedly in the deep woods with wonderful success:

Fill a 6 oz spray bottle about 3/4 full of Witch Hazel. 
Add two large droppersful (or about 30 drops) of each: Citronella, Peppermint, and Geranium oils.
Add one dropperful (15 drops) of Orange oil.
Add 5 drops each of clove, lemongrass, and cinnamon oil.

Shake it up and it's ready to go!  I spray it on everything, including my hair.  I wet my hands with it, and rub it on my face.  Don't get it in your eyes.   Repeat every few hours. Safe for pets and children. I don't worry so much about washing it off, because it smells great and makes my skin feel fresh, and not many insect repellents can boast that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New York Style Bagels, for the Home Baker

Greetings!  I thought that all you fine people might like to make some bagels.  These are a New York Style bagel, a recipe I adapted for home bakers, without exotic ingredients you can't find, or measurements in grams only (ugh), and without the assumption that you have a giant walk-in-cooler that can accommodate sheets full of perfectly formed bagels.  And, just to be nice, I have included Nutrition Information and Weight Watchers SmartPoints.  This recipe was tested using All-purpose Ultragrain Blend unbleached flour, for both the bagels and in the sourdough culture.

The taste is phenomenal. They are chewy, crusty and delicious right out of the oven, or can be toasted if any happen to last until the next day (they won't). The sourdough gives it wonderful flavor and a nice tang.

New York Sourdough Bagel

My suggestion is that you try this out first with a small batch (4 bakery size bagels).  There is a bit of a learning curve, and some trial and error may depend on the conditions of your kitchen, your flour, your sourdough starter, etc.  So there may be a few tweaks you need to make.  Then double this recipe if you want a batch of 8. If possible, I suggest that you weigh your ingredients, such as flour and water.  The volume measurements given here are approximate.  If your dough feels too dry, add a few drops of water.  If it's too wet, add a little flour. If you are not weighing the liquid, please don't use a regular measuring cup to measure liquid.  Use your Pyrex liquid measuring cup.  They are different.    

Here's what you need: 

10 1/2 oz. (300g) or approximately 2 1/8 cup High Protein Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Sugar (or malt powder)
5 oz., or 150 ml (150g) or approximately 2/3 cup Water
1 oz. (30 g) or approximately 1/8 cup active sourdough starter

Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the water to the sourdough starter, and work it into the flour.  Knead by hand for AT LEAST 5 minutes, preferably 10.  When the dough is smooth and elastic, form into a ball, and oil a bowl lightly.  Plop the dough in, and turn it over, oiled side up.  Cover with plastic wrap and set out to rise overnight. 

Next day,  carefully divide your dough into 4 equal pieces.  Note that the dough should have risen, but probably will not have doubled.  That is ok.  Form the bagels into their shape by rolling into a smooth rope, and pressing the ends together and rolling to seal.  Be sure to make the opening wider than you think it should be.  They will puff a lot, and your hole might close up, and then you will have a bagel with the hole removed.  Those cannot be eaten, I'm told.  

Oil a baking sheet and set the newly formed bagels on it, cover with plastic wrap and leave them there for 2-4 hours.  They should look puffy and risen.  The time will depend at this point on the conditions of your kitchen and temperature.  Do not allow the bagels to over-rise or under-rise.  The boiling water test to follow will help you determine the precise rise time on your next batch. 

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F and set a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  Add 2 tablespoons of sugar (or malt powder) to the water.  Carefully, add the risen bagels to the boiling water, no more than two at a time.  The bagels should sink to the bottom, and float up to the surface in about a minute or two.  If they take longer to float up, or don't float at all, they didn't rise long enough.  If they float immediately or never sink, they rose too much.  In any case, once they float up, boil them one more minute, flip them, and boil another minute, and carefully remove them (I use the handle of the wooden spoon through the hole).  This is the time to add toppings, or brush with egg wash if you want to. 

Take some of the boiling water and put it in a smaller pot and place it on the lower rack in the hot oven.  Bake the bagels on a baking sheet on a rack above the boiling water.  Bake for 15-20 minutes. 


Nutritional Information: 

Calories: 257
Fat: 0
Sodium: 587mg
Potassium: 122g
Carbohydrate: 54g
Fiber: 3g
Sugar: 2g
Protein: 8g

Weight Watchers SmartPoints: 7

Sunday, March 6, 2016

It's a cracker. That's all.

I've been thinking about protein lately.  Specifically, how to get more of it, without eating more animals.  See, I've been pursuing a primarily plant-based diet of unprocessed whole foods.  Original, I know.  Me and everybody else I know.  Of course! So that's why you are still reading this blog post with the stupid title, right?

So here it is.  I don't want to buy crackers.  They are expensive, and also the dreaded "processed" food, even if they look like compost and a medical doctor invented an marketed them. But I love crackers.  Eating hummus just off my fingers isn't the same.  I think I probably NEED crackers. Ok, want.

And another thing.  You know those health-food crackers in the store?  They almost all have nuts and sesame, to which I am allergic.  Which also underscores the problem, posed in the first sentence of this blog post with the stupid title, that I need protein.  Plant sources.  So here's your cracker.

Amaranth-Flaxseed-Quinoa Crackers

1/3 cup amaranth, ground (you can use a coffee mill grinder, or buy amaranth flour)
1/3 cup flax seeds, ground (ditto)
1/3 cup quinoa, ground (ditto)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup each of whole amaranth, whole flax seeds, whole quinoa (raw), and dry roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup water

Yield: 100 crackers
Serving size: 10 crackers

Here's how to make them:
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Mix the dry ingredients together (first seven).  Mix the oil and water.  (Ha-ha).  Add the oil and water to the dry ingredients, and work into a dough. Divide the dough in half to have a workable lump. Lightly flour a work surface and pat and roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick and cut into squares.  Transfer the squares to a baking pan.  Repeat the process with the other lump of dough.
From here, you can lightly spray the crackers with water and salt the tops, or add additional toppings of your choice (this will change the nutritional information to follow).
Prick the crackers with a fork, and bake them for 12 minutes.
Now wasn't that easy?

Financial Analysis : This is the equivalent of at least three boxes of special health-food crackers. That saves you about $20.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 319
Fat: 14.54g
Saturated Fat: 1.76g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 6.25g
Monounsaturated Fat: 5.7g
Trans fat: 0g
Sodium: 705mg
Potassium 372mg
Carbohydrates: 40.29g
Fiber: 8.59g
Sugar: 1.47g
Protein: 10g

Weight Watchers Smart Points: 9

Fringe benefits: High in Omega 3 fatty acids, folate, and calcium.
Also perfectly fine to serve for dinner, with hummus, if you don't feel like making anything else.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to a week.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Electrical cord repair DIY

It's happened to the best of us. You run over your vacuum cleaner cord with the power head.  Or, you have a dog.  In our case, both.  I didn't know how easy it was to repair a frayed cord, especially when it was not just damaged, but completely severed.  When my husband graciously offered to repair the cord on my steam cleaner machine, which had been nearly completely severed by our dog, I decided to make this tutorial video, in the event that someone else could benefit from learning this easy and inexpensive repair.  Or mainly because I would forget how and I might need to read my own blog next time I need to remember....speaking of which...hold on a sec while I check on the dog...ok he's fine.  For now.
Here's the situation:

Nice, huh?  Remind me never to let the dog get bored.

Here's what you need to fix it: 

1. Replacement appliance cord (only required if you are making the cord longer, or plug end is damaged)
2. Terminal Wire connectors
3. Heat shrink tubing
4. Crimping tool
5. Scissors
6. Pocket knife
7. Needle nose pliers (maybe)
8. Hair dryer or heat gun

Approximate cost of consumable supplies:  $3.33
Approximate cost of appliance cord: $10.50
Approximate cost of crimping tool: $9.98
Approximate amount of time: 20 minutes

Step one: 

Remove damaged end of cord, slip heat shrink tubing over one end of either the original cord or the new cord that you will connect.

Step 2: Splice the wires using the terminal wire connectors.

Here's a picture of what you need: 

Here's the video process: 

Splice the broken wires

Step 3: Add heat shrink tubing and finish up


Isn't he nice???  I know this is certainly not the only video on the web for how to do this, but it is certainly the most entertaining and features the best looking guy. My opinion, but feel free to make it yours.

All the best!

Amy & Craig

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Boots and the Servant

Oh, the word Redeemed!  This is a word that is used so often to describe the event that takes place in the life of any person who chooses Christ.  It means to buy back.  The authority of God to redeem, or buy back the life of this person he created is rarely questioned by that individual.  But may I suggest that our status of redemption and the identity that comes with it is often assaulted by others? I think this can be adequately portayed in the following allegory.

A poor, pathetic, worn out pair of boots is thrown on the curb and makes its way into a flea market.  The owner of the market puts a very discounted price on it, and sets it out.  The boots are dirty, smell bad, and they have been in a lot of places that many people haven't ever gone.  They have been used by people that had the worst intentions for the boots.  They were torn, beaten up. Most people thought they had a good likelyhood of carrying a disease, too. They made people uncomfortable because they thought, if they wanted THOSE boots, you, know, they would really require a lot of attention, care, and repair.  And still even after that, well, they had this history, and who wants to be connected to that. It was too risky, I mean the boots might just fall apart when you least expect it.  After all, no one needs that kind of unreliability. Bottom line: these boots were just not suitable for polite society.  No wonder they were so cheap!  People reasoned that maybe some boots were just unsalvageable, and if ever any were, these were they.

One day a servant of a wealthy man came through the market and noticed the boots. He told his master about the boots, and the master came to see them. Tears filled his eyes when he saw what had happened to them.  He told the owner of the market that he wanted them.  Not only that, he wanted to pay the full price for the boots as if they were brand new.  He carefully picked them up, and brushed off the dirt and saw what he was looking for. Yes, these were the boots that he had made with his own hands so long ago.  He remembered with grief the day that someone had ripped them from his house, and how he had looked for them, and they were gone. With tears he recalled how much he loved those boots he had made, and how much he wanted them back no matter what.  They were special.  He had made many things, but these were one of a kind.  He had never made any other boots just like these, and there was no detail on them that he didn't place there on purpose. No wonder that wicked person wanted to steal them!  This wealthy man was so overjoyed to bring the boots back into his house.  Some of his servants rejoiced with him, too, the ones who knew the master's heart.  They were glad to see that the master of the house had them back, and had proudly displayed them in his mansion.  They even helped the master, as he toiled night and day to fix the damage that had been done to the boots when they were in the wrong hands. They often came by and oiled the scratches and rubbed out the rough places.  They could see the beauty of those boots coming through more and more each day.  The master had to rip off the sole and replace it.  That really hurt him to do, to see the boot so exposed like that, but there was dirt underneath that needed to be cleaned out.  The new sole was hard to get used to, and some of the other servants called the boots "phony." When the master heard people saying that, it made him cry.  They just didn't understand how much he loved those boots he had made.

Those other servants were not so happy to see those boots back in the house at all.  Especially one in particular.  This servant had left those boots on the porch one night, not bothering to bring them in, figuring they didn't really matter much anyway, and after all, he likelyhood anyone would take them was slim. This servant thought nothing about kicking the boots around even when they were in the house.  "They're just boots!" the servant thought.  "The master of this house has thousands of them!"  This unkind servant talked to other servants and some agreed with him that the boots really didn't matter that much, that when the master needed boots, he could certainly use another pair.

Day after day, the master toiled to restore the boots that he had purchased. The wicked group of servants decided that they had something to say.  They had seen enough of this work on a single pair of boots.  They decided to get together with as many of the other servants as possible, and tell them what REALLY HAPPENED with those boots. They got together in a group and began whispering about where those boots had been, and all the rotten things those boots had been exposed to, and all the filthy people who had touched them.  They talked about how "some damage is just permanent"  as if to imply that even the master who had made the boots couldn't fix everything. They discussed how "some things just have consequences" and surmised that it might even be WRONG to try to care for those boots.  More than anything, they just didn't want their hands dirty, and they had every right to feel this way. The servant who left the boots out, and the other servants who saw them out and did nothing about it, really felt guilty of how they had mishandled the goods of the master, and the boots coming back into the house were an awful reminder of that. But it was so much easier to get rid of the boots than to deal with what they had done. So they talked and talked about how horrible the boots were, talked about where they had been, and tried to make sure the other servants thought twice about caring for the boots or loving them. But all this did nothing to help the wicked servants feel any better about themselves, or the choices they had made. Even worse, the master overheard them saying one day, "The master ought to just throw those boots in the fireplace!" The master was furious with the servant and took his position and influence away. This infuriated the servant, and one day, he took a pocket knife and drove it into one of the boots and tore it badly. He spat on the boots and took out his aggression on them because of all the trouble and embarrassment those boots has caused him, all these years, hearing the master cry over the boots and halfheartedly helping the master look for the boots - even though the servant had spotted the boots occasionally, he never brought them home; he just gossiped about all the rotten places he had seen them. The master went about healing the damaged boots, grieving over the wicked servant who had injured them. He appointed special servants, who had loving and compassionate hearts, to watch over the boots until the damage was restored. The master knew it would take time. He also knew that he needed to make the boots stronger, to withstand any further mishandling. It hurt him to know that the damage that was done in his own house was worse that what had been done when the boots were lost.

If you know Jesus, you are his treasure.  Don't let any servants in the Master's house convince you otherwise.  You are redeemed, and Jesus paid full price for you.

 Be watchful of how you treat God's treasures.

 "If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him." I Cor.3:17   

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween - Why not make it a BLESSING?


Ahh!  The time of year so many little children look forward to!  Candy.  Dressing up!  What's not to love? Well, for many Christians, there is a lot not to love.  This, however, is NOT a blog post about that.   What I would like to do, instead, is offer you something.  Something FREE.  Whether you participate in the holiday itself or you don't, most of you will have people knocking on your door on October 31st.  Depending on your personal preferences and convictions, you will either hand out candy, turn your light off and ignore them, or plan to be somewhere else. 
This year, my son Josiah and I set to creating a Halloween tract and we are offering it to you as a free download.  You can give candy and give them something far more valuable and lasting, too.  The GOOD NEWS of eternal life.  I know there is no shortage of tracts for Halloween, and each writer brings his or her own personal character to the presentation.  We hope that you will like ours, and more importantly, if you don't have a tract to hand out, we hope that you will use ours.  At this time of year when so much focus is on death, our hope is that you can use this opportunity, when dozens of people will literally come to you, to share the good news of LIFE. We also hope that you will include your name and contact information on the back before handing them out.  Be a blessing! 

If you prefer to have a printed copy of this booklet, please contact me at  We ask for a donation of $2 per copy to cover the printing and mailing costs.

Download our free PDF version here  and BE A BLESSING!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bias Binding Tutorial

Now and then I find a great use for my fabric scraps. And by that I mean not very often. Usually it's a time consuming something-or-other that doesn't really benefit me much.  This is different --it passes my test for purposeful use of scraps!  Here's part 1:

I have fits with commercial bias tape, for various reasons. It's expensive. It may not always match exactly, or come in the width I want. I may want a different fabric than plain cotton, to give a garment a fancier look (how about silk?), and these specialty tapes aren't readily available.  I thought making my own bias tape was never really my cup of tea. I detest cutting long strips of fabric from a pattern piece, especially on the bias. That's why I was so thrilled when I discovered this technique. With a little math and geometry, you can EASILY make about 3 yards of bias tape, with any fabric of your choosing, from a 10 X 10 square of fabric. YES, 10 X 10. That's smaller than some of us even bother to keep. I've posted this video to make it all really easy to follow. Here I demonstrate how to make 1" tape (1/4" wide when double folded). You can use the same technique to cut wider tape, and use a larger square.

Here's part 2:

Now wasn't that easy?!