Two-Year-Blogiversary Q & A

I can’t believe it’s been two years today since I started this blog!  I feel so blessed that God is using me in this way with this ministry and look forward to seeing what He does with us in the next year.

To do something different, in yesterday’s Monday Morning Survey, I asked readers to ask me questions.  So here they are.  No question went unanswered except one – and it will be its own blog post tomorrow morning.

Tammy asked:

Hi Halle, I guess my question would be…Where do I begin in regards to changing to a more natural foods based diet? My husband was recently diagnosed with acid reflux and my 14 yr. old son has recently had some breathing difficulties (he has no prior history of asthma). Now, I know my husband’s ill is caused by his extremely poor dietary choices (soda, energy drinks, chips, pepperjack cheese, hot dogs, hamburgers, extra portions of french fries-he is definitely a junk food junkie). However, my son doesn’t eat as poorly as my husband does-mostly milk and cheez-its though he does love cookies. But he’ll eat a good balanced meal and have a salad and fruit. So, I’ve recently started taking a closer look at the ingredients listed on packages and been researching the items online. So many of those are preservatives and some lead to hyperactivity, asthma, and cancer. So, now I’m thinking that this stuff has contributed to my son’s breathing problems (he has a doctor’s appt. on Friday). So, though my husband may take awhile to come around to healthy eating, I really want to start eating whole, natural, home-cooked meals on a regular basis. I will tell you that I have no idea how to make my own pasta or what to do with a grain mill, but I am seriously ready to learn. I am a stay-at-home mom so I know I could make the time if I just get organized and on a schedule of some sort. My kids (ages 5, 9, 14) will all be at school full time next month and I will be starting a home daycare business and I would love to incorporate healthier meals into the business as well so the little ones will benefit as well. I’m sorry this is such a long post but I’d really appreciate any suggestions or pointers you may have for me. Thanks so much.

I think it’s wise that you’re thinking your son’s breathing problems are food allergy related.  I don’t know your doctor, but many doctors would treat the symptoms and be done with it.  I would insist on seeing an allergist as well.

What we did first was cut out the pork and sodas.  Then we started reading labels for High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Those were our initial “never eat agains“.  I gradually started buying wh0le grains, and one dish at a time pulled away from processed foods.  We started seriously researching ingredients and started avoiding hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.  It was a gradual process.  In your case, with sons, I would cut out soy in the top of the list, too.  Unfermented soy is so very bad for boys, and it is in so many things.  Wesson vegetable oil, for instance, is just soy oil.  Oftentimes, canned beef has soy in it.  Soy flour is in a lot of things you wouldn’t ever think about.  The more we learned, the more we just never can go back to certain ingredients or processed foods.  But I didn’t wake up one day and go from Wonder Bread and boxed mac and cheese to what we do now.  It has been a process over the last six years to get to where we are right now.

Rachel asked:

I’m sure you have it somewhere on your enormous blog. I was wondering what was your original reason for starting this blog up? What encourages you to continue?

And Laura asked:

How did you decide to start your blog and determine the basis of the content? (All of which I have loved since I “bumped into” you a couple of weeks ago.)

I have always been me.  I remember when Kaylee was a baby, going to church on a Wednesday night.  I worked full time then and got off work at 5:00.  Church started at 7:00.  We got to church about 6:50 and sat and talked to some friends eating fast food.  My friend said, “Hallee probably went home, cooked dinner for her family, ate, cleaned the kitchen, came back to town [we lived about 20 miles out of town], and made it back in time for church.”  It was true – I’d done that.  But that’s just who I am.  While I was pregnant with Scott and Johnathan, I was involved very actively on a message board about pregnancy and early childhood.  My personality gradually emerged and people started asking me questions all the time.  “How do you get blue jean stains out of a white shirt that accidentally got washed with it?”  “How do I get Kool-Aid stains out of a carpet?”  “What can I  substitute for mace in a recipe?”  Once I moved from the  website to Facebook, my friends would post the questions on my wall.

I didn’t know that there was even a homemaking blogging “world” out there.  I had seen political blogs and such, but never anything like mine.  One day, Gregg was searching for something about praying for a wife and found a blog (I think The Happy Housewife).  He read her “how I met my husband” story and  sent me the story, knowing I would love it.  I looked at her blog, looked at her blog roll, and became super interested in these blogs.  I thought, “I could do this,” and one day, I just did.  I opened up WordPress, did some user agreement, and started writing.  I didn’t even tell Gregg I was doing it until I posted the first post.

Obviously, the Holy Spirit was moving in both of us because he became super enthusiastic about it and really encouraged me.

I continue it because I believe it’s a ministry tool.  I reach thousands of people a week.  Sometimes I feel like it’s pointless and no one really cares (I don’t have a lot of self confidence stored — confidence  is a daily struggle for me) but then I’ll post something like The Reversal and I’ll realize just how much God works in me, and I know I need to keep going.

The Chief Blonde asked:

I would love for you to post your favorite recipe.

I am a fickle person.  My favorites have to be narrowed down to categories.  I could  never just “pick a favorite” meal.  My tastes vary from day to day, season to season.  If I was picking my last meal right now, it would probably be my Spinach Lasagna.  But, I may only be saying that because it’s on my menu this week.  It could easily be 16-Bean-Soup another day.

The Chief Blonde said:

I would love to see your favorite Wordless Wednesday.

That one is easy.  Soldiers in the Snow.  Here’s a miniature of it – click the link for the full size:

I'm thinking I should have washed the grits pan right after breakfast.

I had the grits pan on the stove, and Scott poured an entire box of salt into the pan, then played with his toy soldiers in it.  His cleverness never ceases to amaze me.

Two weeks after I posted this, a friend who was stationed in Washington D.C. took this picture and gave me permission to post it:

Not all of Washington, D. C. was shut down this past couple of weeks . . . These are the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Old Guard keeping watch regardless of the weather conditions!

The fact that Scott had just been playing like that really was kind of neat.

The Chief Blonde said:

I would love to see some summary quotes of the best things you have said about Gregg.

I am my husband’s biggest fan.  I’m sappy and in love and I’m sure my friends get tired of listening to me talk about him.  He’s brilliant – the smartest man I know.  He’s loving, romantic, courageous, faithful, devoted, handsome, clever, witty — I could go on and on.  The fact is, I’m madly in love with that man and treasure the fact that he’s my best friend.

The Chief Blonde asked:

What is your favorite topic to write on?

I think being a wife would be first.  Matters of faith.  Parenting.  Gregg has to remind me to do recipes or will tell me it’s been a while since a posted a household tip.

In an email, a reader asked:

I have a 60 hour a week job (I am able to work from home but am stuck at a desk that whole time) and I rely on batch cooking.  With the diet that your family follows are you able to do batch cooking and how would you suggest doing so?

I don’t do a lot of batch cooking.  Since I buy such large quantities of food at a time, I simply don’t have the storage space for it.  However, once my children are all busy in a dozen directions, I intend to rely some on batch cooking and subsequently I have a book called Mega Cooking that is amazing – the author uses whole grains, fresh milled flour, and fresh foods.  If you were wanting to batch cook, I’d quickly recommend it.

The Chief Blonde said:

Love to see your best gardening shot.

The Chief Blonde said:

What has been your most revealing article? Which one really showed who you are?

I think Brokenness covers it well.

The Chief Blonde asked:

If you could only have 10 items from your kitchen (Utensils, gadgets) etc what would those be?

A saucepan, cast iron skillet, a bread pan, a cookie sheet, a wooden spoon, a spatula, my stand mixer, my food processor, a sharp knife, a can opener.  I think I can almost do anything with these items.

The Chief Blonde asked:

What is your favorite meal to prepare and why?

Chicken and roasted red peppers and basil pesto on homemade fettuccine and spinach fettuccine, with a garden salad and homemade French bread.  It is such a beautiful dish – all of the colors work well together.  It is SO healthy.  And the flavor is amazing.  I don’t think I’ve posted the recipe here for the pesto dish because the last several times I’ve made it, it’s been when company was coming over and I don’t take the time to take pictures.  I’ll try to fix that soon.

The Chief Blonde asked:

What has been your most revealing moment at the soup kitchen?

I had to seriously compromise my food philosophy to cook there.  And I really worked hard to start incorporating my philosophy as much as I had freedom to do so.  It worked for me.

Stacy Makes Cents asked:

Hallee, what is the ONE convenience food that you really miss?

The thing that came immediately to mind is: tater tots.  Don’t ask me where that came from.  HA!

The Chief Blonde asked:

What physical thing on this earth convinces you that God exists?

The perfection of our alignment within the solar system that allows life to exist.

In an email a reader asked:

My question is do you personally believe in speaking in tongues, like in the Bible? I grew up in a Baptist church and they don’t believe in it. We moved 6 yrs ago to Northern KY and I met a lovely friend that goes to a Pentecostal Church where they believe in it and also practice it.  I’m very curious on this subject and my husband and I have differing opinions.  I love to hear what other people think and it’s not like I can just come up and ask someone a question like that, LOL!  So I hope it’s okay to ask you, your post seemed warm and inviting!

I believe that speaking in tongues is a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:10).  The Bible says that when someone speaks in tongues, they need to be interpreted or they need to keep quiet.  (1 Corinthians 14:26-27 )  I don’t think a lot of churches pay attention to that verse.  I’m afraid a lot of churches focus on speaking in tongues and not on other things.  I personally believe that focusing on it as a church body makes it a very selfish type of worship.  “What will the Holy Spirit do for ME and how will It prove Its manifestation in ME?”  Rather than, “What can I do for someone else to show God’s love through the Holy Spirit’s manifestation in me?”

I also believe it is a teaching tool.  I have a dear friend who got into a conversation with the mother of one of the children who rode his church bus.  They had a long talk about salvation and she became saved.  The child, who was present, was amazed.  He was speaking English – the mother was speaking Spanish.  He didn’t speak Spanish and the mother didn’t speak English – and each one was hearing his and her own language.  I believe THAT is powerful speaking in tongues and I praise God that he was given that gift.

In an email a reader asked:

My husband dislikes squash and so every year when I plant my big veggie garden I don’t include it.
I love different squashes in soups, zucchini in tomato sauce or bread,etc. and I have successfully hidden some squash in things,but I realize catering to my husband’s wishes has left my children without much experience.
Do you have some great ideas for hiding or minimizing squash in recipes?
You can hide it in just about anything sweet – but then you’re pushing something healthy with something that should be eaten minimally, so that kind of counter balances the good.  Peeling it and grating it works well to add to just about any sauce -sloppy joes or chili comes to mind.  When you peel and dice squash to put in spaghetti sauce, to me it makes me think of mushrooms.  You could easily peel it, shred it, then put it in meatloaf or meatballs.

The Chief Blonde asked:
In one sentence, capture your life philosophy. It can be a quote from elsewhere.
‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27, Mark 12:30.

In an email a reader asked:
 I have trained my oldest dd in every homemaking skill needed. It is time to train my other dd who is 10. While I have always worked with a good attitude, I have vocalized my disappointment w/ big messes etc. I know sharing a love for homemaking will be tougher with this dd. Do you have some pointers on sharing the love for homemaking?  I am home, homeschooling but it always seems children’s needs and schooling comes first, then the scheduled cleaning/laundry etc.
I think the best thing you can do is to love it.  Be content.  I don’t personally mind big messes, because they can be cleaned up.  Let your daughter work with you and talk to her while you work.  Spend time with just her doing a task – let that be special bonding time with just the two of you.  I do my scheduled cleaning before the homeschool day begins and during breaks in the morning.  Assign your daughter tasks at those times and let her enjoy them.  Most of all, keep your home a haven against the world.  Your daughter will eventually long to duplicate that – and that is when she may fall in love with it.  At 10, she’s going to see it as either a chore, or the time she got one-and-one time with mom – it isn’t going to manifest as love of homemaking then.

The Chief Blonde asked:
What is your favorite bible verse? Top 10?
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
“ Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:2-10

The Chief Blonde asked:

What is your favorite worship song or hymn?

Kari Jobe’s Revelation Song.

In an email a reader asked:

Do you have a recipe for a refrigerator dill pickle? They are my family’s favorite and with a bumper crop expected, I would love to make this as we harvest them.

I have never made refrigerator dills.  However, I have a refrigerator full of cucumbers, so I’ll see what I can do in the next few days.

The Chief Blonde asked:

What THING in your house makes you the happiest?

My stand mixer.

In an email a reader asked:

My husband and I really want to do more for ourselves and our dream is to someday (soon) own a homestead where we can grow a lot of our own food.  Both so we can have some control over what we eat and to keep food costs down.  I keep thinking that we could take baby steps now and start down that path without having a larger plot of land.  We already have chickens (for eggs) and a tiny garden which failed this year because of the heat and humidity.  Any thoughts on to other steps we could take into growing or making our own food?  Would grinding grains, making all our own bread (we do some) be the best step?

We, too, desire a homestead.  We’d love to be self-sustaining – even growing our own wheat that we’ll ground.  That said, the best thing to do is just tackle one thing at a time.  I look at it this way – if I can buy it made, I can probably make it.  Then I try recipes until I find THE recipe that makes not buying that worth it.  If I can make it – I do.   And, yes, I started with bread.  I determined that I would make all of our bread.

The Chief Blonde asked:

Is Gregg ever going to be home all the time?

Yes.  Gregg will be home this Monday and will be home for good.  I’m announcing it in a post on Friday.

Phronsie asked:

I don’t remember seeing it, you’ve probably talked about it though. Are you going to homeschool the boys, at least until high school, or are they going to “real” school?  And, additionally, what prompted that decision?

We are undecided.  This is my test year.  If I can do it full time instead of sporadic, then I know I can do it at least in early elementary grades.  As time progresses, we’ll make  decisions.  I would be perfectly happy if Kaylee would decide to homeschool, but she won’t.  She’s incredibly plugged in to her friends and high school life, and at this time, there’s  no reason to pull her out of that.

Our decision was initially prompted by the fact that boys are being left out in early education.  Classrooms are designed around the way girls learn and girls think.  My classroom will be designed around the way boys learn and boys think.  It’s possible they’ll be ready to enter the public school arena in middle school age.  Or not.  We’ll see.  I’m flexible.

Karyn asked:

What individual(s) inspired you the most in becoming the wife, mother, and individual you are today?

My mom and her mom.  My mom is a homemaker and always was.  She had part time jobs when we were older, but still did the bulk of the work at home.  Even now, I walk through my mom’s home and wish I could do what she does and make it look as easy to do as she makes it.  Her home is beautifully decorated, clean, organized, and a place of love and comfort.  When we were stationed in Ft. Lewis, WA, and then in Oregon, we were able to spend a lot of time with my mom’s parents, including gardening and canning season.  My mom’s mom gave me a love for growing and preserving, and she’s my “go-to” for recipes or techniques.

Di asked:

Do you think people have become too reliant on others to provide the necessities in life (ie, prepared foods, hooked into the grid, allowing government to tell you what is healthy, etc) and if so, do you think this stems from apathy, ignorance or laziness?

Oh – totally too reliant.  Without a doubt.  In this country, at least, we’re so spoon fed that most people don’t have a clue.  There is a major social laziness about so many things in life.

I think it starts with ignorance.  Walk through a mega grocery store.  Aisle after aisle after aisle is packed with junk, packaged, processed food.  It’s awful that so much is readily available, and most of the time, people don’t know any better.  But, the more education that is out there (Food, Inc., for instance) the more people who speak out against it are labeled strange, fanatical, etc., and people choose not to hear it.  So, where ignorance starts, even with education comes apathy.  People don’t seem to care about how their bodies are being poisoned.  I mean – how can you hand your kid lunch money after watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution?  And yet, the majority of children buy lunch.  It is so frustrating!

In an email a reader asked:

Have you ever tried making any type of homemade cracker? If so, so share your favorite recipes!

Yes.  Here is my recipe:  Healthy Thrifty Homemade Crackers

Tiffany asked:

I was wondering about getting transitioned from white to whole grain (for bread, etc.) when the family isn’t going for it! Even small amounts of whole wheat flour in the bread make my husband unhappy with the taste…

I don’t really know what to tell you about this.  My husband is completely and fully supportive of our eating lifestyle.  I guess go to him with education about whole grains and maybe he’ll quit being turned off by it?  I do know that we ate some white rolls somewhere recently and neither one of us could really handle the taste.  They were just too — I don’t know – non-flavored and kind of gummy.  Palates take some training.

Bobbey asked:

What made you decide to hand mill your grains instead of just buying organic flour from the store? Is it more cost efficient to grind it yourself, not including the start-up cost of the equipment? How long does the fresh milled flour stay good for? What is the ratio of wheatberries to ground flour?

I talk about that in detail in this post here.

Kara asked:

How often do you get negative comments and how do you handle them?

I don’t get too many negative comments.  It’s rare for me.  Gregg gets negative comments all the time.  If they’re in accordance with our commenting guidelines (non-insulting, etc.), then I publish them and address them.  But if they’re insulting, we email the person and tell them that our guidelines are such and such, and if they want to reword the comment and resubmit it, we’ll publish it then.

Kara asked:

What Bible translation is your favorite?

The New King James version.

Jes asked:

What is your stance on immunizations as it pertains to whole living and also intentional living? I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews.

I think this question requires its own post.  I’ll write one and publish it tomorrow.  I’ll link here when I do.  Thank you for this question.

Nicole asked:

How would you recommend to begin the journey to become a Christian? For someone who was not brought up in it?

If I were speaking to someone wanting to become a Christian, I would say: Becoming a Christian is nothing more than believing in Jesus Christ’s resurrection, repenting(turning away from) your sins, and confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord.  (Romans 10:9 and 1 John 1:9).  Once you do that, the best thing to do is to go to a Christian bookstore and find a good study Bible.  I use a New King James Version.  The study notes are incredibly helpful.  Create in your day a time of prayer (simply converse with God – it will feel awkward at first, but you will learn to do it if you regularly do it) and Bible study.  I would start with the New Testament and learn who Christ was and what He did, since you weren’t raised in the church.  But, don’t forsake the Old Testament.  All of scripture is divinely inspired and the Holy Spirit will speak to you through it.  I LOVE the Old Testament and pour through the scriptures.  These were the words that Christ recited.

You should also find a good, Bible believing, neighbor loving church.  Pray for guidance from God and He will take you where you need to go.  Speak to the minister there and tell him that you are a new Christian, and he should help you find a mentor to guide you and teach you.  He should also arrange for you to be baptised.

Learn to set aside the things in your old life that were sinful and embrace your new life as a follower of Christ.  You will likely lose friends, but you will gain new friends.  You will lose old bad habits, but will have new joy in your life.

If you ever have any questions of a spiritual nature, you’re welcome to email me or Gregg any time.  If we don’t know answers, we have TONS of resources at our disposal.

Thank you for this question.

Jeri asked:

I’ve recently come across your blog. There are so many great blogs about living a Godly life, homeschooling, large families (these things are all us). I’ve been dying to ask someone…do you read blogs like your own and if so, how do you balance the time to read them with the rest of being a homemaker?

I honestly don’t have time.  I don’t even have time to read my Facebook feed.  I have people sorted in categories, and try to remember to check my family every day, but I fail at that a lot.  My lifestyle takes my free time away – I’m happy about that, but it really messes with my ability to blog hop.  Every few weeks I’ll find myself with a free hour and I’ll do it and really enjoy it and wish I had more time.

Kylie asked:

How do you START meal planning and then stick to it? I have lists of recipes that I know my family (I cook for myself, my husband, my daughter and my husband’s parents) will eat but not much idea of how to organize them. And also how to pack more veggies in, as they are often “forgotten” now.

Here is how I started and how I made sure the meals were balanced with vegetables and grains: Menu Planning

Lisa asked:

Are there any compromises that you are willing to make when it comes to food?? Sometimes I feel as though I spend several hours a day thinking about/preparing/cooking food and feel guilty that I spend that time “ignoring” my children even though I try to get them involved. I do know that there has to be balance… where do you find your balance??

It has become second nature to me.  It doesn’t occupy so much of my thoughts because it’s just what we do.  I meal plan.  I wake up in the morning and make sure meat is defrosting and that all ingredients are available.  I know when to make breads and when to start what I need for meals.  My kitchen time is worked into my daily schedule.  I’m not sure how to tell you to get to that point other than to maybe relax about it?  It could be that you’re stressing on something that is normal and natural and doesn’t require so much stress.  I don’t know, though.

As far as compromises go – yes.  I compromise, but not inside of my home with the meals I prepare.  Those are all whole food, real food all the time.  However, I’ll order a pizza if I have a babysitter coming (because I can order and pay in advance and have it delivered at a certain time.)  If we’re traveling, we will eat fast food (though less when Gregg is traveling with us – he much prefers sit down restaurants or diners).

Janet asked:

What is the next Bible study going to be?

I am still finishing The Power of a Praying Wife.  When that’s done, I’ll do a vote with the readers and see what we want to do next.  I’ll get a category consensus first, then find books to vote one.

At Seeds of Faith, we’re about to start Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy DeMoss.



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