Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Dreaded Post and A Gooseberry Pie

Okay, here's my confession.  I've been putting this post off ever since I figured it would make sense to clue you all in on it.  So here it is.  Please don't judge us too harshly.

Up until two and a half years ago, Jeff and I were entrepreneurs in the new home construction business.  I would design the houses and Jeff would build them.  We were both doing what we absolutely loved and having so much fun with it while it lasted.   Can you already guess where this story is going?  If you haven't heard (ha ha,) the housing market kind of turned into the Titanic and is now resting at the bottom of the ocean.  We were on the ship when it went down and barely made it out alive.  Okay, maybe that's a little dramatic.  We went bankrupt and lost a lot including our house.  I don't care to relive the details but that was a major turning point for us, naturally.  It lead us to where we are now though, which in a lot of ways, is exactly where we always wanted to be...building a modest (albeit weird to some) home in the country.  I say it's weird to some people because there are those out there who just don't get it.  "Country???"  "Wood plank walls???"  "Corrugated metal in the shower???" And the biggest conundrum, "SMALL???"  You all get it though, don't you?  Yes, I'm sure you do.  It's not half as "weird" as we'd like it to be but it turns out weird can also be quite expensive.  Now, I have to stop saying weird because it's almost convincing me that my home is w... well, you know.

(I'm going to interrupt this dreadful post occasionally with pictures of a gooseberry pie my 11 year old daughter made from scratch all by herself today, including picking the gooseberries from a few bushes on the property.)   

Two cups of freshly picked, green gooseberries.

Just days after the bankruptcy closed, and due to some strange mysteriously divine intervention that I won't go into right now, we were jobless and also facing homelessness literally within a day or two (although we had both family and friends who all offered more than once to take us all in (4 little ones at the time, no less!))  Jeff's first day of joblessness we spent hunting for a place to live and by the end of the day we found a home and began moving in the very next morning.  Two days later, Jeff had a successful job interview and was able to start the following Monday morning.  I can't even begin to explain how or why God laid everything out in the way He did so I won't even try, but just let me say, it was amazing.
Gooseberries with 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of flour and 1/8 tsp. of salt heated over medium heat until thickened.

About a year and a half later, Jeff's sweet grandma passed away leaving him an inheritance that we used as our seed money to finally move out to the country and build a house we can hopefully stay in till we die!  We moved a lot while we were in the business.
Our original goal was to use $15,000 (not including the price of the land) to build the house to the point that it was livable yet unfinished.  During the building process, which was done by Jeff and a few friends and family members on weekends and after work, we decided to push it just a little further than we planned and went ahead and built all but one of our interior walls on the first floor which cost a few more thousand dollars doing it. Yes, we were planning on living in a house with no interior walls (except around the bathroom.  Even I have my limits.)  It was money well spent even if it put us over our budget a little.

Pre bake a pie crust.  We like to use a no-roll crust that tastes similar to a shortbread cookie.  Yum!

Now that we're living in the house, we thought we were ready to finish it.  The weather is nice and the days are longer so we decided to finally go to the bank and get a smallish construction loan to finish the house that would convert into permanent financing in a certain amount of time (six months, I think.)  It would mean another summer of long hard weekend work, but I'd be able to help out since I'm not pregnant.  That's a rare thing for me.  Soooo, about a month ago, Jeff met with a banker who said he thought he could help us and we started getting plans lined out to finish it...hence the May 10th "Recap" post.  Welp, it was a no go "due to the current status of the economy..." we now have to be four years away from our bankruptcy to qualify for a home equity loan.  A decent one anyway.  Jeff thought about looking elsewhere but then things really, REALLY picked up at work and he just got too busy.  As usual, it has turned out to be a blessing that the loan didn't go through because Jeff won't have time to work on the house for several months.  Don't tell Jeff, but I'm alright with not having a home loan, even if it means living in an unfinished house for longer than planned.

Pour the gooseberry filling into the baked pie crust and top with meringue made from two egg whites and four tablespoons of sugar then bake it at 350 degrees F for twelve minutes.

 One of these days I may get the courage to show you pictures of just how unfinished parts of our house really are...but don't hold your breath.  Confessing our financial statuses past and present, has caused me a little mental discomfort and strangely desiring to suck my thumb.

That's were we are in a nut shell.  A big nut shell.  Things will move on as time and money allow which both will result in slow progress.  That's okay though.  I feel like I've kind of left the rat race and it's been nice.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go suck my thumb eat a piece of gooseberry pie.

P.S.  Is Blogger acting retarded or is it just me?


  1. Great post and I love your honestly! I'm fairly certain your not the only one in that boat nowadays! And yes, blogger is acting very strange. Yesterday I couldn't leave anyone a comment. Odd.

  2. I've been lurking for a while and never left a comment here. Thanks for your honesty. You've probably helped a lot of people who are discouraged and scared because of their financial situation. God works in mysterious ways.

  3. Wow, what a scary thing to go through! I agree with the others, thank you for being honest. I think a lot of times, we all try to gloss things over and it's just great to see this kind of honesty. You seem to have such a great attitude about it all and I like that too. I don't know how I'd be.

  4. You have made it through a lot!

    *hugs* Your new home that you are building sounds like a dream! Though, I love a country home...which is why we just bought a 160 year old farm house.

    Can't wait to hear more about it! = )

  5. What a lot to go through! Thanks for sharing this. That pie looks so delicious!!!!

  6. I appreciated reading about your reality. How many times do we all try to act like we have it all together; no problems, all is great? Being real is what will help us make it through. When we are real, I believe we are humble.

    Your pie looks wonderful. Hope it tasted good to you all.

  7. Blogger is acting up.

    I'm glad that you are able to feel comfortable with what has happened. There is no shame in admitting that the economy got the best of you. I think it makes it a lot easier for people to talk about finances.

    And like Amy said, Be Real! We relate to that!

  8. You're writing a heartfelt confession and giving a gooseberry pie recipe at the same time? That's pretty wei.....oops! I forgot we're not using that word anymore.

    Seriously, we have been there too. And we live in a small house in the country. It's not the life I envisioned for myself. The economy has hit us hard in the past year and while we're not in bankrupcy, just tonight we had a long family discussion. This Friday we are having a graduation ceremony and a bunch of out of town guests are coming here for the weekend. Our lawn mower isn't working and we were discussing how we could make ourselves look like we are NOT the white trash of the street while spending no money. It's a challenge! I hope you'll keep blogging. I do really enjoy hearing from you! Lisa~

  9. I grew up in an unfinished home and got to watch it come together. Maybe that's why I have a love for home projects now. As soon as we can afford some land we're gonna build a modest country home. Excited to see your place!

  10. What a wonderful testimony to share with us! Your honesty is humbling and a great reminder to the majority of us in the world that we are not alone and there are others who are struggling as well! I think it is wonderful that you are able to embrace what you have and enjoy your new life. I believe that we have a tendency to be too materialistic and forget that stuff doesn't provide true happiness and contentment. Thanks for sharing and have a great day! xx

  11. By the way I am so impressed with your daughters pie! I wish I could create yummy looking food! xx

  12. Celeste, it's wonderful you brought this up, and seriously, you are not the only one. I'll be sending lots of good toughts into your life the same way I do to many others in this world!
    We really need to appreciate life more and enjoy every moment!
    By the way, your pie....looks delicious!!!
    Peace and love to you!
    Li :-)

  13. How brave of you to share such a personal journey. Honestly? In envy you. It sounds like you have a good strong marriage, lots of kids and a house in the country. Sounds like absolute Heaven to me. I’m only sorry that you had to go through such turmoil and heartache to get there. And what’s a little sheetrock between friends? From what I can tell, you are making a beautiful home for your family. Enjoy every glorious bit of it. And that pie looked mighty tasty. :)

  14. Well...that took a lot of guts to share I'm sure. And you look pretty skinny. ;) Sorry, just had to throw a little humor in there. I believe I've told you before that you are living my dream, unfinished home aside. I would love to sell this home and be able to move on some land and simplify and yet, the economy being as it is, I don't think we can sell and make anything. I did wonder, though, where do you put your homeschool supplies...That was one thing I *thought* I needed when we were house hunting, a room-to store the stuff-to actually "school" in and here we are and when I did school it was at the kitchen table. The things we think we need...
    Thank you for your honesty. You are refreshing.

  15. These things build character, which is what I see being built in your life--integrity is more important than "things" for sure. Family and love are things that will last forever. I am proud of you and your family.

  16. I think we all have our truths that we are concerned about sharing. I appreciate your honesty. It sounds like you and your family are really able to focus on what is the most important...family, gardening, baking...quality time. The other life stuff is minor in comparison.

  17. Wonderful post! I believe things happen for a reason, even though sometimes you have to wonder "Exactly, what is that reason?" And maybe living in your home unfinished for awhile will help you make all the right choices when it's time to wrap it up. And is your stove turquoise?

  18. Thanks for sharing with us. Several years back, my husband lost his job. About two weeks later we found out we were pregnant with number 5. For the next year, my husband had a part-time church job at $50/week (which didn't even cover our rent). God did the most miraculous things to supply for us. The same week the baby was born, my husband's part-time church job came to an end and even without insurance or job, we paid all our doctor/hospital bills within 2 mos. of the baby's birth. A few months later, God gave my husband a good job. Looking back, it was one of the scariest, yet one of the sweetest, years of my life. I would not trade that year for anything. I am sure that one day, you will look back and think the same. God is good like that. My favorite chapter is Psalm 37, and one of the verses from that chapter was constantly on my tongue that year - "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." That and a poem by Amy Carmichael with the basic idea of how can my boat sink, when God is in the boat with me? Thanks again for sharing, and I will be praying for your family.

  19. Thank you for your honesty. So many people are in the same boat right now, myself included. My husband just went back to work after being laid off for a year. A YEAR! Thanks for letting us know that we're not alone and everything DOES happen for a reason :) And, um, lovelovelove that turquoise stove!

  20. All the pictures of your house are perfection so if that means it's total chaos with bits and pieces of your dreams... i thinks that's just wonderful.

    You are inspiring you know. I'm glad things have really turned around for you :)

    Also, I've never seen gooseberry before! i want a slice of that pie!

  21. First let me say that you will come through this minor set back, and it is a minor set back, you have your husband, your children, your extended family, you friends, and our wonderful GOD, and when it is all said and done that is all we need to get throught this journey we call life... Thank you for being so open and honest will all of us you have no idea how many of us are in the same boat as you and your family. My wife and I went through similar circumstances a few years ago, and you come out the other side much wiser, and able to keep things in perspective. You will survive, you will flourish, because you are a child of the KING.
    Blessings to you and yours
    Curtis & Sherrie

  22. Oh, I just love you!
    Thank you for your sweet honesty!

    When the economy sneezed 5 years ago it took us out.

    I too now live in a tiny house with lots of people. Sometimes the only way to find refuge is to go out side. (Doesn't hurt us.)

    I miss my bigger house, but I appreciate the little things.

    And if you should feel the need to suck your thumb, you are not alone.

    Thank you for fighting courageously. It is truly inspiring.


  23. I just found you via Pinterest and can't stop reading. You know what the means...I'm going to follow! I too appreciate your honesty. We have been through very tight times and even now we struggle when we have a big bill to pay.

    But God is good and never fails to wow me with his blessings pressed down and flowing over. Just this week we got a call that a farmer had a couple thousand pounds of hamburger to sell for $1.00 per pound! We are picking up 75 pounds tomorrow. God is good!

    I've never tried gooseberry, but recently made ground cherry jam and pie. The pie was runny (needed more flour), but oh so yummy! It's so neat that your daughter can bake a pie!