Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Gifts

For any of you who are still looking for good Christmas presents to get people, I have some ideas for you...

Consider purchasing fair trade products. For those of you who are not familiar with Fair Trade here is a quick description...

Fair trade is an organized social movement
and market-based model of international trade which promotes the payment of a fair price as well as social and environmental standards in areas related to the production of a wide variety of goods. The movement focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts and agricultural products. Fair trade's strategic intent is to deliberately work with marginalized producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency.

There are several websites devoted to selling these products. Some of our good friends Dylan and Molly have a company that sells some products from India online. It is called Asha Imports and they have products that are made by poor people in India to enable them get out of the slums and out of the sex trade. Their products are really cool. You should also check out all the free trade product websites below and consider buying some of their products for your friends and family this Christmas.
By purchasing fair trade products, your helping to free more and more people from impoverished circumstances.

Another great thing you can do this Christmas is to give to World Vision or Heifer International. You can go on their website and buy practical things for impoverished individuals in other countries. Things like livestock, clothing, medical kits, etc. You can even buy a goat for an impoverished family, in honor of the Farm of Hale. For any of you wanting to get Margo or I a gift, this would mean more to us than anything else. Why not consider giving to those in need this year for Christmas.

Monday, November 26, 2007

New Toy

This past weekend Margo and I bought our Christmas present. The reason we bought it so early is because it was on sale this past week. We bought a foodsaver vacuum sealer. It is pretty awesome, it helps prolong the life of food for a lot longer. For instance, beef in a normal freezer container stays good for about 6 months, with the foodsaver it is 2-3 years. One bonus we got with it was a canister set that you can vacuum seal, so we can put chips, coffee, or other like things in them and it keeps them good a lot longer, like 3 times as long. It will really come in handy when we freeze our fresh produce from the garden or if we butcher animals. Here is a pic of Margo displaying some of our vacuum handywork tonight. No we did not vacuum seal our own poop, is is actually some leftover refried beans we made tonight from leftover pinto beans we made the other day.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

I mentioned a few posts ago that I would feature one of my vacation purchases in an upcoming blog entry. Well here it is.

We got it in Lancaster county, at this little Amish shopping village. There was a sign shop that would make customized signs. So, if you come to see us, this will greet you at the end of the driveway.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hand Update, Awesome Gift, and Video

Yesterday, I went back to the doctor for follow-up from my surgery. They took off the big bandage, took out the stitches, and put some steri-strips on. The stitches kind of hurt coming out. I have to take it easy with using that hand for another month but at least I can use it some and get it wet and stuff. It is still sore and a little bruised and swollen. Here is a pic of it now, the reason the incision is purple is because they marked where they were going to cut with a marker.

I got some good gifts for my birthday yesterday. One of them I wanted to highlight on here because it is really awesome. It is a Star Wars pop-up book that my friend Rebecca gave me. It is called Star Wars - A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy. I know some of you may think it sounds stupid but even if you don't like Star Wars, the pop-ups are amazing, they are very intricate and detailed. The last page even has Luke and Darth Vader pop-ups that are holding light sabers that actually light up. It is so awesome (have I mentioned it is awesome).

And finally here is a political video for all of you. For those of you who don't know I am a fan of Huckabee, I will probably devote an entire post to him at some point but I thought I would go ahead and post this, his first political TV ad.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Final Day

Yesterday was the final day of our vacation. My sister drove us around Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, which is where all the Amish live. It is really awesome because there are lots of really nice Amish farms. We saw some buggies going down the road. They even have buggy parking at the Wal-Mart there. We went to this touristy place where they have lots of little shops where they sell Amish goods. It was pretty cool, we bought a few things, one of them I will post about in the next few days. We stopped at some other Amish furniture stores and other stores along the way and found some stuff we really liked but could not buy because it would not fit in our suitcases. Back at my sister's that night, her husband Philippe made crepes for dinner, it was so good and a good finish to our week.

We had a really good time in Pennsylvania with my sister and her family, it was lots of fun and lots of good food. We are back home now after leaving at 5am this morning and flying to Nashville and then driving 8 hours home. It is nice to be home. We had a great vacation both in Nashville and Pennsylvania.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Yesterday was one of the best days of our vacation in my opinion. We just relaxed at my sisters house for the morning since it was raining outside. For lunch we drove to a nearby town called Phoenixville. It was a lovely town with a great old downtown area with little shops and restaurants. I could totally live there. We ate at a little Irish Pub for lunch and the food was amazing. After lunch we drove around a little, this part of the suburbs of Philadelphia is really nice with lots of huge old houses and farms, there is like no bad or ugly houses. It makes for a great drive. Our drive took us to Valley Forge Park which was the winter encampment of George Washington during the Revolutionary War. There was a small welcome center with a museum that had lots of tools, weapons, and other things from that period. They also had a short video about Washington's stay there. Then we went on a driving tour (it is a huge park, approx 3500 acres) of the park and it had stops along the way to show you significant things. It was a really nice park and the leaves are still changing here so it was beautiful. We had a great time and a great day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Country Tis of Thee

Yesterday on our trip, we saw historic Philadelphia. Here is a list:

Independence Hall-Place were they signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Liberty Bell Center-where the Liberty Bell is housed.

First Bank of the United States
Carpenters Hall - This is where the First Continental Congress wrote the Declaration of Rights and Grievances and was a hospital and arsenal for American Forces during the Revolutionary War.

Franklin Court- place where Ben Franklin's House was and there is a museum dedicated to him, an old printing press like he used to use, and the post office he ran when he was postmaster general.
Christ Church- First Anglican church in the U.S. and place where the American Episcopal Church was born. It is where Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, and George Washington among others went to church.
Christ Church Cemetery- lots of signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried here including Ben Franklin
Declaration House- Place where Thomas Jefferson lived when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.
U.S. Mint - where coins are made
National Constitution Center- Museum about the Constitution and how it affected the U.S. from past to present. There is also a room with life size sculptures of the signers of the Constitution.
Betsy Ross House- Betsy Ross created the first flag and this is where she lived

Overall, it was a fun and interesting day. This part of the city was a little odd because all these major historic places where right in the middle of the city with huge buildings all around. The most interesting thing was learning more about Ben Franklin. He did amazing things and was a genius. I couldn't believe all things he did and invented. I really liked the epitaph he wrote for himself when he was 14-
The Body of B. Franklin. Printer. Like the Cover of an old Book. Its Contents torn out And Stript of its Lettering & Gilding Lies here. Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be lost. For it will as he believ'd appear once more In a new and more elegant Edition Corrected and improved By the Author.

I am not sure what is on the agenda for today, you will just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The second and final leg of our trip is in Philadelphia. My sister and her family recently moved here. We have never been here before and I was excited to come because I really like history. We got here yesterday and are flying out on Saturday. Yesterday we just relaxed at the house and played with the kids. We had to get up at like 5:15am to catch our flight so we were kind of tired. One of the good things about visiting my sister is that her husband (Philippe) is French so they make lots of good French food. Last night we had lamb which I love but we also had good wine and a large selection of cheeses. It was very good. Here is a pic of the plate 'o cheese.

Today we went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was a very large museum and had lots of good exhibits. They also had a special Renoir exhibit that was extra good.

The best thing about this museum though is this is where Rocky runs up the stairs and pumps his hands in the air. There is also a statue of Rocky outside the museum. I love Rocky.

After the museum we went down to Reading Terminal Market which was started in 1892. It was fun to walk around and see all the vendors and we ate lunch there - Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches of course. After that we walked to a building we had seen while driving. It is actually city hall. It is a really cool old building that looks like it got brought over from Europe and dropped in the middle of the city.

That was all for today, tomorrow will be a big day of sightseeing so stay tuned and don't forget to check out the rest of the pictures.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The First Stop

We are officially on vacation. We are going to be gone for like 10 days. We told people we were going to Nashville, Tennessee and Philadelphia but we actually are in Greece right now, surprise. Here is a picture of us at the Parthenon.

Just kidding. This actually a full size replica of the Parthenon that they have in Nashville. We got to Nashville on Friday evening, we are staying with our friends Ben and Erika. On Friday night, we got to go see Ben's band Heypenny play a show. It was really good and fun, I highly recommend checking him out and buying a CD. On Saturday, we watched the Razorbacks suck at a really cool sports bar in town (as a side note, I hope Houston gets fired soon). On Saturday night we went down to the main street in Nashville and walked around and ate dinner. Then we went to one of the many honky tonks. It was a lot of fun and one of the most white places I have ever been.
Here are the honky tonks

This is inside

This is Margo and I honky tonkin like crazy, notice the boots in the background, the is the first place I have seen that uses cowboy boots for decoration.

Today, we went on a hike which was nice because the weather was good and the leaves were still changing. Then Margo and I went to the Country Music Hall of Fame. I don't really like very much country music except older stuff but it was fun and interesting. We also walked around downtown some and saw the sites (including the Ryman Auditorium).
Tomorrow, we fly out to Philadelphia for the rest of the week. As always, you can check out other pictures from the trip by clicking on the link on the right or click here. I will leave you with one more pic of Margo and I and Nashville in the background.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Attack of the Ganglion

I had surgery today. I had a ganglion cyst removed from the base of my left ring finger. It was not too big of a deal, but my wedding ring irritated it and using tools like shovels, rake, and splitting maul made it swell and hurt also so I decided to have it taken out. Here is how it went down...They gave me some sedation medication to put me to sleep briefly, then made an incision and cut it out, then stitched it up, put a bandage on and woke me up. It was a pretty quick procedure and I was not too loopy afterwards. I have to keep the bandage on for a week and then I get my stitches out, but it takes about a month to totally heal. I will try to put up another picture when I get the stitches out. By the way, it is very difficult to type with one hand.

Be sure and stay tuned to the blog for the next 9 days or so because we are leaving on vacation tomorrow and I will try to do daily updates of what we are doing.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Farm Equipment Designer

Margo was out of town for most of the past week at a conference. It was just me at home doing what I want to do. So, you may ask, what did I do with all my freedom and time to do what I want to do with no one to answer to. Well, I built a hay feeder for our animals. We needed something to put our hay in (we use square bales) to keep the hay covered from rain and also keep the animals from wasting it by laying on it or pooping on it. I found a few feeders online for sale so I used the pictures of those to design and build my own. It turned out pretty good I think. Maybe if this nursing thing doesn't work out, I could be a designer of farm equipment.

It is also on skids so we can pull it around with the truck to move it where we want it.

You put the hay in the V that the wire panels make and the loose stuff falls down into the trough below, so the animals can eat the hay in the V and the loose stuff that falls into the trough.

It has a flip top for easier loading of hay