Goose Chasing

I often feel like I am “chasing geese” (or goats). Sometimes the geese are necessary to chase, and sometimes they are not. I struggle not as much with stepping up to chase the geese as I do with knowing which ones ought to be chased.

Prayers for diligent and graceful living today!

Blue Cotton Memory

A Mother’s Day remembrance from 2012.

duckspond “Lo, as a careful housewife runs to catch
One of her feather’d creatures broke away,
Sets down her babe, and makes all swift dispatch
In pursuit of the thing she would have stay;

Learning how to balance the multi-tasking roles God put inside us challenges me. I learn a lot through my failings, my gracelessness, my inability to do it all. That feather’d creature Shakespeare talks about could be my dreams, my dinner menu, needing to attend to child one’s needs whether it is class work, heart work, discipline-work while another’s need may need to wait 20 more minutes. Being a mother is often graceless like goose chasing.

Whilst her neglected child holds her in chase,
Cries to catch her whose busy care is bent
To follow that which flies before her face,
Not prizing her poor infant’s discontent;

My littlest guy, he’s hit…

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Children – All That They Are Cracked Up To Be?

Friday afternoon, my two eldest children stayed home with daddy while baby and I went to an appointment in town.  After my appointment, I thought I would stop at one store in the mall to look for a specific item–in and out.  While on the out, I passed by the check-out counter and overheard a customer rather loudly saying “I have four kids; they are NOT all that they are cracked up to be!”.  My heart gasped.
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Still walking, I held my Ergo-hugged baby close; and I looked down into her sweet, completely-trusting-in-me baby eyes and whispered firmly, “Yes they are.”
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Thank You, God.
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I’m writing this post weary-eyed after a long night of broken sleep.  I was awakened several times by hungry, cold, or otherwise growing-pain-stricken toddlers.
In the circles where you’ll find me, my children are “all that they are cracked up to be”.  Not because they are brilliant or cute or award-winning athletes (they’re tots), but because they come from the Lord.  They’re worth it not because of their merits and behavior (which ebb and flow) but because God says they are worth it.

Psalm 127:3-5

English Standard Version (ESV)

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children[a] of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

I choose to spend the majority of my time in circles where children are known as blessings, rewards, and wholeheartedly worth the lifetime of tireless work.  Circles in which parents and their children are lifted up in prayer and encouragement.  Circles of armor-bearers in this fight for our children.  Circles of people who have received tear-choked, midnight phone calls from me wondering if I’m doing all I can for my child blessed with an iron-strong will.  Circles where a strong will isn’t a curse, but a blessing that needs to be shepherded.
You see, I subscribe to the belief that I am in a battle for my own children; a battle that is constant and tiring and takes all I have, and that it is completely and unquestionably worth it.
There are other circles where many have forgotten the value of work and just want the gratification.  We’re in a society full-steam-ahead in self-seeking.  Therefore, children aren’t what they are boasted to be in the media: little dolls to dress up in designer duds and competition ribbons who are on this planet for our self-satisfaction.  Absolutely not.  Is that why people have children?  Maybe more often than we recognize.

1 Corinthians 13  (NIV)

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

There is also the pit of putting down our children, constantly.  In many circles, children are considered (I have a hard time even typing this out; I’m getting choked up) worthless parasites that just suck all the life and money and time out of us.

1 Corinthians 13  (NIV)

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

When I prepared to give birth to my first child five years ago, I knew there would be trials, but oh, I had no idea what they would really feel like or the extent of the kinds of trials!  I had no idea how painful it would be to make mistakes, to fear for my children, or to realize I’m so ill-equipped without seeking God’s guidance.  And yet, I am so well-equipped, because I have Him, the Father of Knowledge, Giver of Peace, and my Strong Tower.
With children murdered daily under the politically-correctness of “abortion” and a host of other terms of which I am ignorant (praise God), and with the more subtle sacrifice of our children by parents enlisting for every possible way to “get away from the kids”.  I will stand.  I don’t have the strength to do it on my own–physical, mental, emotional–especially with the nastiness that surrounds opinions regarding children and “our rights” on what to “do with them”.  God stands; therefore, I will stand.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
So, when I’m weary, I seek the Lord and take joy in His rich blessings.

Nehemiah 8:10  (ESV)

10 do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

In this thing called Motherhood, I take joy

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The Newbie Homesteader

I’m thankful I’ve mastered the art of milking goats so that’s one less thing I have to learn.  I love learning new things, but there’s something about springtime on a farm that makes me feel like there’s just not enough time for everything.  It’s the season of “hurry up” before the “wait”.  Not that there’s a whole lot of waiting on a farm, with so much work to be done all the time.  But this weather has me feeling the urge to get the garden tilled and fenced (from the deer), the greenhouses ordered and up, and the seedlings started.

I love it all.  But I am new.  And sometimes my love for it (and my sense of urgency) gets ahead of my knowledge.

  • What to plant: What do I know how to grow and what do I have room for?
  • How much to plant: How much to do we need and what will space and time allow?
  • How much to plant: Should we plan on extra?  I’ve only canned salsa and apple sauce!
  • How to plant: What soil, temp, water, and room does each plant need to grow properly?

My homesteading adventure thus far has pretty much been built on crash courses.  I think it’s fun!  My husband has a very good full-time job, so our lives don’t depend on our crash-course farming (Praise the Lord).  However, we are in this for the real deal–to save money, to pay off our home, and to live off our own land one day.

I’m pretty sure I’ve overplanted cabbage.  I have a whole flat planted… by the way, that’s 20 sixpacks with 2-3 seeds each (just in case).  That’s 120 if only one seed grows per slot.  Hey, half of those are late bloomers!  But that is still 60… do I even have room for 60 cabbage plants?  That would be a lot of sauerkraut and kim chi–which would be amazing!  But realistically… I don’t know what is realistic.  I haven’t done this long enough, and we haven’t had enough cabbage in the past to be blessed with winter storage.

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Baby Steps of The Newbie Homesteader: on Farming

  • Go ahead and plant it and don’t fret over it.  If you throw out some seedlings this season, oh well.  It’s not a waste because all learning has a cost involved.
  • Ask if anyone would be willing to buy extra seedlings that come up.
  • Don’t bury yourself in books and study while spring passes you by.  Read what you need to do, but don’t get mad at yourself for not meeting every criteria perfectly.
  • Grow fewer things better.

Learning Is Not A Waste

When my daughter was 13 months old and we discovered we were expecting again, my breastmilk was seriously drying up.  We were spending $100 per month shipping raw milk to our door because the sale of it in-store or on the farm is illegal in our area.  I mentioned to a friend that I was considering getting a goat, and within minutes she had found a craigslist ad and I was on the phone setting up a time to meet some doelings just five minutes from home.

Crash course.

We brought home our doelings, and while we nurtured them into adulthood, the previous owner offered to pass on her goat-keeping knowledge to us.  The very first time my husband ever milked a goat was when our new friend needed to go away for a week and asked us to do the milking for her.  My husband’s lesson was a one-time shot and then he was on his own for the rest of the week!  No room for fear or giving up here!  That’s the beauty of crash courses, they teach you to keep going on ahead and not turn back.  Isn’t that the character of farming, after all?

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

Or unused seedlings, or rotten tomatoes, or bug-eaten cabbage.

When the goat would put her foot in the bucket and taint the whole gallon, or catch the edge of the bucket and tip it all over the floor, our friend used to say “don’t cry over spilled milk.  I figure, it just goes back into the ground to nourish the soil for my garden and the grass that grows to feed them anyway.  It’s never a waste.”

I tell you, we have spilled a lot of milk in our dairy-goat days, but we have saved and drank a lot more!

May this be the same at harvest time 2014.

Happy planting!

~Melissa

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Story Time Favorites: Great Books for Little Listeners

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We are very enthusiastic about books and reading in our home, and we don’t read just any book that comes along.

I’ve always read aloud to my children from infancy, never assuming they don’t know what I’m saying just because there are words they don’t say or that we don’t use commonly or that I haven’t specifically defined for them.  Children (and all people) pretty easily pick up the general meaning of new words just by the context surrounding them.  In fact, it’s the best way to introduce new words, because it becomes familiar and normal rather than isolated.

Children also pick up the story you are reading, and this is why I choose books with historical, moral, or innocence value.  Some books are just innocently fun, like just about any book by Arnold Lobel. Others are historically fascinating, like the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  And of course all books are written with some worldview or another in mind, and I need to choose those which fit into our worldview to pass on to my future generations.

There are some great books to be found, as well as not so great books.  There is a lot of, well, “twaddle”, as Charlotte Mason would call it.  I think the way the word sounds pretty much sums up what it means.  Useless, amusing filler.  Therefore, I really appreciate when others put together lists of books they have personally enjoyed.  I really want to give you a list (in no particular order) of just a few books on our shelves that have been favorites at story-time.

I advocate staying within your budget!  Many of these books may be found at your local library, used bookstore, or thrift stores.  Just look around.  Your library may have an online database you can search from home.

My children are currently ages 5, 3 and 9 months.  These are the books they enjoy:

Charlotte’s Web

I spotted this book at a garage sale–in with the dozens of other books destined for the trash heap.  I’ve always heard Charlotte’s Web referred to as a classic but had never turned the pages myself or even known what the story was about–until now.  Last fall I read this book aloud to my children (then 4 and 2), and we all thoroughly enjoyed it!  My children have no problem sitting quietly through the reading of this book and are actually the ones who will set it in my lap, eager to listen.  This is a fairly long chapter book with few, albeit delightful, illustrations.

The Bears On Hemlock Mountain

I got this book from the library and was planning on it lasting a while as it is another chapter book.  However, my son (3) really, really wanted to get to the part where it talks about the bears (he looked ahead at the pictures), which isn’t until the end.  So, we all sat down and went through the book… it took half an hour.  Yes, they sat through it, and they loved it, and they wanted to do it again…

Stone Soup

This book is one of my all-time favorites.  Just read it, and you’ll know why.  It is a fun, lighthearted story we all enjoy.  Our children get a kick out of it, and my husband and I laugh to ourselves every time.  Read about how these pigs turn hearts of stone soft again with Stone Soup.

Owl At Home

My parents read this book to me when I was a little girl, and I loved it then!  Though this book comes in a paperback, I highly recommend investing in the library binding.  The paperback I purchased for our family has been loved to pieces.  When my daughter was a little over one year old, my husband and I had read this to her so many times that when she requested it while laying her in the crib at night, we could recite it to her from memory.  Owl At Home is my children’s number one story-time favorite (four years running).

Mike Mulligan and More: Four Classic Stories by Virginia Lee Burton


Two years ago, we first borrowed from the library and read The Little House (not to be confused with the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder).  The book was so delightful, I was eager to see if the author had written any other stories and found this collection on Amazon.  My son brings this book to me almost every story time.  His requests go back and forth between Katy and Mike Mulligan, and when it’s not one of those, it is…

Choo Choo by Virginia Lee Burton

If you and your children ever visit the Sacramento Train Museum (or any other cool train museums), then I recommend having this cute book about a “naughty runaway engine” waiting at home for your little ones.

The Christian Mother Goose Big Book

We received this hand-me-down from some new friends at our church, and it is so cool!  I’m not a fan of Mother Goose, I’ll tell you that right now; but a Christian version?  This is very well done.  Done well enough to turn a book (Mother Goose) I won’t let into my house into a family favorite.

Last for this list, a bedtime favorite board book with beautiful illustrations..

When Will It Be Spring?

I have the board book because that is what I found at the thrift store, and I really like how well it holds up, but it also comes in paperback and hardcover.

Happy reading!

Blessings ~

Melissa

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How to Build a Strong Christian Home – ebook – get a FREE copy this hour!

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I will just come out and make it plain:  I am posting about this e-book because I will get a free copy if I do so.  You can see the details on A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and maybe even get a facebook post, tweet, pinterest thingy, or blogpost posted in time to get a free copy for yourself too! 

mombutton1I have not read the e-book, so I cannot recommend it with that much knowledge.  However, I have been a long-time visitor of the author’s blog and have found numerous articles and resources valuable and beneficial.

It is my daily prayer to grow into the Proverbs 14:1 woman who builds her house.  And as this is the focus of Mrs. Fuentes’ blog, I am very interested to see what wisdom she has to share in her new ebook How to Build a Strong Christian Home.

Have you read the book?  I would love to hear your comments and reviews!

 

Five-Minute Friday

Lisa-Jo Baker’s prompt was the word “small”.  Being a mother of three, I almost need to say “don’t get me started on the word small!”  I have too many blessings in small packages to name!  I will try to restrain myself =)

I’m staying up late just to write this post.  I figure it’s better to stay up Thursday night than to stare at a screen for five minutes Friday morning when my kids are awake.  Five minutes might seem like small potatoes to us grown-ups, but to the five-and-under crowd, it’s all about the small things…

Staying up late the night before Valentine’s to cut out red paper hearts to surprise my daughter.  I scrounged up some old ribbon (from someone’s bridal shower) and tiny play clothes-pins (from another’s baby shower before any of mine were even a pea in the pod).  Then I found some thumb tacks and hung the long strands of love-cut hearts in the two archways of our home.  Princess woke up early, beaming.

Daddy took princess out to dinner on Valentine’s Day.  I wish I could have caught on camera her bashful, beaming smile when she saw the dress shirt and pants I handed to daddy, which he only wore on very special occasions.

I remembered Rachel Jankovic’s words, and my purpose for this blog… heavy branches.  Bearing fruit.  Even if that means staying up all night cutting out paper hearts.  Doing little (or majorly time-consuming) things to bless others.

Small gestures with big thoughts behind them.

Small things like making bread.  My daughter’s been asking for weeks “When will we make bread?”  But I haven’t made any in so long, I had forgotten that it’s really not that big of a burden.  In fact, I noticed something the day we made bread together, and I stopped to think about it the next time we made bread together just a few days later.  My children sit patiently and wait, regardless of how long it takes me to prep, when they know I’m going to do one small thing that they have really been wanting to do.

So I have a challenge for you–something I began over a year ago and have been inconsistent about myself since but will tomorrow morning pick back up again.  Print out this month’s calendar, and next month’s calendar (and so on), and each day purpose to fill in one small thing (or one big thing!) that you did to make that day worthwhile.  Granted, loving, feeding, and caring for your family makes the day worthwhile, but I’m talking about that little extra thing.  My old calendar has things like, “let kids stay up to see stars”, “had a picnic in the grass”, “met daddy for lunch”, and “read books together”.

Speaking of small, how can such a small, eight-month-old person have such a big voice?

And how can that same, small person have such a big impact on my life?

And how can a small, three-year-old boy, have so much love for God?  “Mommy, when will I go to heaven?” “Why do you want to go to heaven?” “because I love God”

Happy Friday!

Five Minute Friday

The Discouraging Wife’s Role in The Torment and Testing of Job

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For convenience, I’m writing this post with the assumption that my audience has a basic understanding of who Job is and where to find the book of Job in the Holy Bible.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I would love to help.  Please send me an e-mail!

Every Saturday, my husband and I participate in a fellowship group at my friend’s house where we share a meal and discuss Scripture.  A few weeks ago, we were reading through the book of Job together.

The next morning, my husband and I woke up and began our day as normal for weekends.  Except one thing was different.  For whatever reason, everything I said to my husband was laced with poison.  My few sharp words were so piercing, they gave me a jolt.  But each time, my sharpness and jolted conscious were immediately followed by justification.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  Proverbs 12:18

I was demeaning my husband.  If he was an earthen stone, I was chipping him away.

As my husband walked outside with our 3 and 4 year-old in tow, I closed the door behind them and checked on the napping baby.  From the kitchen to the bedroom, God convicted me.  My thoughts went back to the book of Job:

“Why didn’t Satan kill Job’s wife?”

“Satan isn’t merciful, and he wouldn’t have forgotten anything.  His mission was to torture Job enough to cause him to reject God.”

“Satan destroyed all ten of Job’s children and all of his possessions in a single day.  His body broke out in horrible sores.  Satan took everything but Job’s very life (because it was the one thing God forbid).”

“Why not his wife?”

“Was it worse to have a discouraging wife than no wife at all?”

“Why not take his friends?  Was it worse to get beaten down by his own friends than to be left all alone with God?”

I am no theologian, and I’m open to correction if you have it!  But I believe that by leaving Job’s wife and his friends physically on earth, Satan used them as living tools to torment Job.  Satan used them to cut straight through to Job’s very mind and soul.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.  Proverbs 18:21

The words of Job’s wife and friends were intended to chip away at the one strength Job had: his faith.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity?  Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak.  Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.  Job 2:9-10 (emphasis mine)

Ladies, let us not be used as tools in the torment of our husbands!  Or anyone!  Let us not only encourage one-another, but encourage one-another to be encouraging and to be the help-meet’s we were created to be.  Let us live in such a way that the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:36-37 does not make us wince with worry

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Let us pray at the beginning of our days

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3

Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Let each step be beautifully laced with this prayer on our lips

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.  Psalm 19:4

And let us say at the end of our day

You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.  Psalm 17:3

Let us try.

The most encouraging, uplifting and honoring thing we can do as wives is to pray for ourselves and for our husbands.  There was a time when I didn’t know how to do this.  Then, a number of lovely ladies kindly recommended The Power of a Praying® Wife by Stormie Omartian, and I am so thankful for this book!

A note to the discouraged wife:

Dear wife and mother, if you are discouraged today, that was not my intent!  Your husband is not better off without you.  You two were brought together and united as one flesh.  If you are feeling discouraged this day, take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.  Put on the armor of God, and ride it out.  Let the Lord fight for you.  Take one step at a time, do the next thing, and let the waves pass over you and be gone.  Rest in the shadow of the Almighty’s wings.  Talk to your mother, sister, friend, or your pastor’s wife.  And feel free to send me an e-mail.  I will pray for you!

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Tuesday Links

My Tuesdays are on-the-go busy, with Bible study from 9-11am and then ballet classes (I teach in the gym at our church) from 3:00-5:00.  And we’re 15 minutes from town, so driving back and forth with children 5 and under does tend to make me tired by the end of the day and not leave much time in-between for blogging.

So today I’m just sharing what others took the time to write–links that I remembered after looking at them!

I know Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and I’m sharing this now on purpose.  Love is every day.  That’s the point: Real Love   and   When You Think Your Love Story is Boring

Kelly Crawford, a former high school teacher turned homeschool mom of nine wrote “An Open Letter of Apology to My Former High School Student

Have a great Tuesday!

Romance Your Man With Minestrone (Easy!)

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Valentines Day is approaching, and if you are planning a date night at home, or you would really like to plan a date night, period, a delicious and easy-to-make recipe is a must!

I have three small children at my apron-strings (ages 5, 3, and 8 months), so any preparations need to work around constant interruptions.  Also, my  husband would much rather have a simple meal with a cheerful wife, than a fancy meal with a pots-and-pans strewn house and frazzled family members greeting him at the door.  (Oh I love him!)

Frequent date nights out are not a reality in our home because of the season of life we are in, but we date continually.   We have our own time after the children go to bed and we don’t go a week without at least a couple of these times together.  On special occasions I try to be more intentional.  Day-in and day-out, our children know their parents love each other because we make an effort to scoot the kids aside so mom and dad can share a warm hug and kiss.  Our marriage is important.

Now for a recipe you can prepare around children, with a cheerful heart, to be ready hot and delicious when your husband walks in the door.  Maybe this Valentines Day, you can serve the children early and save dinner with him until some candles can be lit.

Happy Valentines Day!

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This recipe is easy for our family, and I’ll explain why

  1. All of the effort is in chopping vegetables, which only takes about 15 minutes and can be done at any length ahead of time (hours, days, or even a week if need-be).  I often will chop up everything and put the chopped and frozen veggies in a bowl covered by plastic wrap in the fridge until I’m ready to cook.
  2. The actual cooking only takes 40 minutes at the most.
  3. The recipe doubles (and quadruples) easily.
  4. The recipe freezes exceptionally well.
  5. The recipe is extremely adaptable.  As long as the seasonings are there, many of the ingredients can be left out if I simply don’t have them on-hand.
  6. My husband and children love it =)

Melissa’s Minestrone

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. In an 8-qt. stockpot, heat coconut oil over medium heat.  Cook onions for a couple of minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add ground beef and cook until browned.
  3. Add all other ingredients and cook 30 minutes, give or take, until vegetables are tender.
  4. Enjoy! =)  Extra may be frozen or saved as leftovers; it only gets better the next day!

 If you have tried this recipe, would you care to leave a comment and let me know how it went?        I would love to hear about it!

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(ENDED) $9.99 Ultimate Frugal Living and Homemaking Package – Molly Green Magazine

This Sale has ended, but you can still see many great deals on educents!

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I just found out about Educents and the featured 97% off coupon for Molly Green Magazine.

Save money, be inspired; learn about homesteading in the city or country with NEW Molly Green Magazine: homesteading, homemaking, backyard farming, frugal, natural living, homemade, DIY, green. $9.99 for 3-month membership including benefits. Save 55% on digital magazine. Plus receive ALL back issues and E-Book bundle FREE–$300+ additional value

Educents

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Using the links above will take you to my “refer a friend” page on Educents, where, if you sign up and order, I will receive $1.00 in Edubucks and YOU will receive $10.00 off your first order!

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