Monday, July 6, 2015

A Special Meal for the 4th (plus a recipe)

The kitchen was busy for part of Saturday, and it was fun making a more special meal for our 4th of July! And being able to use so much of our own 'homegrown' foods and ingredients, too . . . Porcupine Meatballs made with our own goat meat, Sally Lunn Batter bread with homemade honey butter, green beans and beets from the garden, sweet pickles that I had canned, and deviled eggs made with eggs from our chickens.

The bread before cutting

Meatballs browning . . . and afterwards they were put into a sauce and then simmered

As food was cooking in the kitchen, a flower arrangement was also made with Leah's daylilies, a tablecloth pressed and laid, and more. I really enjoyed doing everything! And especially as I knew the rest of my family was hard at work outdoors getting things done before the next rain (mowing, hoeing/weeding in the garden, cleaning goat pens, etc. - they got so much done!) which made it all the more enjoyable to create a restful atmosphere inside and a satisfying meal.


After dinner, dishes, and chores, we enjoyed a family night with ice cream and an old TV western (have any of you ever seen Rawhide? We enjoy many of those!)

Our 4th of July berry pie was saved for the Sunday meal with our church . . .


I had found the recipe on pinterest, and Leah and I had a lot of fun making it together! It, too, was a 'homegrown' pie with strawberries, blueberries and wild raspberries all being either grown or harvested here on our little farm.

The recipe for the pie will be coming soon! And here is the recipe for the bread and honey butter . . . .


Sally Lunn Batter Bread

-1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
-1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
-1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1/4 cup evaporated cane juice (or sugar)
-2 teaspoon salt
-3 eggs
-5-1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour (I tried making this before with all whole wheat and also half wheat/half all-purpose, and neither worked successfully so now I use all-purpose when making it.)

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter, sugar, salt, eggs and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Do not knead. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Stir the dough down. Spoon into a greased and floured 10-in. tube pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Honey Butter

- Equal parts of softened butter and honey

Stir together and enjoy on bread!

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Did you all do anything special for the 4th?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Following Jesus . . . No Matter the Cost

Last week, Leah and I watched one of our favorite movies, God's Not Dead, together again. It's one that never fails to encourage and inspire us in our walks with the Lord, and one we both love to watch when we feel in need of a bit of encouragement (and at other times, too! :)

Each time I watch it, one particular thing always stands out to me profoundly . . . what choosing Christ first in your life looks like lived out, and following Him no matter the cost. And since watching it this last time, I have been thinking about this quite a bit.


Many of the characters in this movie had loss of some form or another due to their choice to love and follow Jesus Christ first and foremost . . .

Josh lost the girl he had planned to marry, risked failing his philosophy class, risked never realizing the future career he was pursuing, and through it all, his family was not supporting him, but were instead discouraging him from doing what he knew God wanted him to do, specifically, standing up for his faith in Jesus. Yet even with all of these, his love for Christ came first! And that love led to many hearts and lives being profoundly impacted.

Ayisha lost her entire family, including her parents, brother, and grandparents, her home, and all of her possessions. She did not deny her Lord and Savior, but testified of Him, even when going through such a painful loss.

Mina had to make the difficult choice to end her relationship with the professor in order to obey God and not be "unequally yoked."

Martin risked, and may have experienced, the loss of his family when he chose to become a believer in Jesus Christ.

(And while this is just a movie, these are very real scenarios regularly being played out in many lives today.)


Throughout the movie, each one of these individuals was faced with difficult choices and the potential (and then often realized) loss of people they cared about or things that were important to them. It was hard, and at times there were tears, yet they took up their cross and followed Him (Matthew 16:24.)

And as they did so, there was an underlying strength that carried them through . . . the strength that each one realized: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13.) Through that, they came to have joy in their lives, despite the cross they might be bearing. They were following Jesus Christ despite the cost, and were leaning on the firm and immovable Rock. Their trust was in Him; their God, Savior, Strength, Trust, Shepherd, and the One who "daily bears our burden" (Psalm 68:19.)

As I thought about all of this, a quote I shared awhile back came to mind, and it seems to fit . . .

"As we endeavor to follow God’s leading, we should proceed as best we can discern the situation (assuming there is no scriptural teaching to the contrary), all the while praying for wisdom and clarification. He may shut the door and redirect, or He may confirm our decision. We can proceed in the confidence that He will go with us, and when the time is right, He will lead us on." (From Creation Research's devotional "Days of Praise" (which can be read in its entirety here.)


We may eventually face, or be facing, similar things in our own lives. Perhaps not to the extent that many of these people did (i.e. rejection/loss of those we love), yet no matter the extent of our 'cross' or how heavy it may be, we have a God strong enough to bear it for us. A God that will direct our steps in the paths He has for us . . . and as the quote shared, we can go forward with complete confidence knowing that He is going to guide us as we seek to follow Him according to His Word.

And there are glorious fruits that come from that obedience! Just as each one of the characters in this movie realized, whether directly or indirectly . . . and many fruits that may never be personally known.

So let us go forward with confidence and in faith, joyfully serving, obeying, and loving our Savior, seeking to be His light and witness in this ever darkening world. Letting Him use us to impact and touch the lives of those around us, knowing and trusting that He will faithfully guide us and go with us each step of the way!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

41 lbs . . .

. . . of produce harvested yesterday!

32 lbs. 10 oz. of beets were harvested and washed and will be canned today (and I'll be starting on that in just a bit!) . . .



3 lbs. 10 oz. of blueberries that Leah picked and that are already in the freezer . . .



4 lbs. 13 oz. of green beans picked which will also be put up today . . .


And so begins the much enjoyed summer harvests and preservation of produce from the garden!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Learning to Love Homemaking

Thank you all so much for your caring and encouraging comments on the last post! You all are such a blessing . . . thank you!
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This post came to be after a dear blog reader asked a question awhile back in a comment about learning to like and enjoy certain aspects of homemaking . . . her question got me thinking more about how to cultivate a love for homemaking and hence, this post! (which is kind of an expansion of part of my comment reply to her) . . .

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When I was a little girl, I loved having things clean and organized . . . to the point that I would get up in the night to line my shoes all up in a straight row . . . and when we would visit friends or even acquaintances' houses, I would ask if I could clean them!

My Mom tells the story, though, of one day coming into Leah's and my room, and it was a disaster. She asked us what happened and my response was "I don't know, Mom, I just don't care anymore." :) 

Thankfully my Mom (and Dad) didn't let me keep that attitude! My parents strove to instill a work ethic and a love of work in us, and we grew up helping clean, cook, garden, work outside, take care of animals, and more.

Though, it wasn't until we began learning about godly womanhood when I was in my teens that I really began to love homemaking, realizing that it is a part of the beautiful role of godly womanhood that God has given to us, and a significant part of being a wife and mother if I should ever be blessed with those roles.

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"Older women . . . encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, workers (or keepers) at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands so that the word of God will not be dishonored." Titus 2:3a, 4-5

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As much as I love homemaking, though, there are still those tasks I don't love to do . . . I can't even say that I particularly like the task itself (ironing and scrubbing out the shower come to mind!) There are also those days, too, when it sounds more pleasant to curl up on the couch and read or work on a fun project, or things like that, instead of putting into order the messy kitchen . . . or conquering the mountain of laundry . . . or tidying up the disorderly rooms . . . or any other number of things. And there are those days when it is a struggle to have a joyful, servant heart while doing these tasks.

Can any of you ladies relate? :)


So how do we cultivate a love for homemaking even when we don't feel like it?

Here are some things that I have found helpful, and I would love hearing anything that you would like to add!


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Remember that homemaking is a part of the beautiful role that God has given us! Whether you are a wife and/or mother, a daughter in your parents' home, living in your small apartment . . . wherever you are, God has a special role for you to fill. At times it may seem very far from special, but it is indeed a beautiful and important part of our role as women.

Another thing that helps me is when faced with doing a task I do not feel like doing, to remind myself . . . "this is part of what I love! So put a smile on your face and enjoy doing this!" It may not seem like much, but just this simple reminder is quite a help!

Remember also that doing these tasks is a wonderful and important way to show love to our families (or those we open our home to) by providing a clean, comfortable and happy home, good and healthy food to eat, clean clothes, and much more. Keep in mind, though, there is a difference between doing a task grudgingly and doing the same task with a joyful, happy heart and countenance!


And most importantly, remember that doing these tasks is a way to serve the Lord. As He says: “whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord” . . . each dirty dish washed, each load of laundry done, each floor swept, can be done for Him. As we serve our families through doing these household tasks, we are loving God and serving Him! Isn't that an encouraging truth? And again, these things also communicate love to our family. It shows that we care, that we value them, that we want to bless them.

Remember to also pray! Asking God to help you have a heart of love, service and joy towards Him and your family. Praying for hands willing and eager to work and to serve those we love.

All of these relate to the condition of our heart, and there are some practical things that we can do to help us as well. One is to simply beautify . . . if doing laundry is hard for you, or dishes are the tasks that you struggle with, put something by your washer, dryer, sink, etc. that is typically something that brightens your day or warms your heart . . . a fresh or artificial flower arrangement, your favorite candle, a family photo, or something like that.


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"She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:26-27

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Something else that I like to do is to make or get pretty Bible verse cards/pictures and put them in places where I can see them regularly. Perhaps by your kitchen sink you can hang up some verses that would be an encouragement to you and that you can meditate on while you wash dishes . . . or in the laundry room hang verses that remind one to "work with [your] hands in delight" (Proverbs 31:13.)

Sometimes the verses may not necessarily even relate to work or having a joyful heart, but can simply be a help and encouragement to you in other areas of life. At one point back when we were milking, I was struggling with a certain character aspect in my life and made some small, handwritten verse cards that related and hung them up above the milk stand. Then during milking time, I worked on memorizing them, thought about them and how they could be applied to my life, etc. This was really a help and blessing to me!


And sometimes just having something like music helps! Some nights after dinner when Leah and I look at the seemingly insurmountable mountain of dishes on the kitchen counters :), we say “it's a music night!” We'll get the CD player, put on a CD of gospel music or something like that, and then listen to it and often sing along while we do the dishes. Sometimes we end up having so much fun together that we wouldn't mind if there were even more dishes!

At the heart of the matter, though, is again, love for God and love for family . . . a heart not focused on self, but on our parents, siblings, husbands, children. A heart that joyfully works at the tasks to make our houses homes and havens for our family. That out of love for our families and our Savior, seeks to have the atmosphere of our homes centered around Christ and warm with joy, love, caring, laughter, peace, and everything that can bless and enrich the dear ones that call our houses 'home.'


". . . only the spirit of Christ in a household makes a truly Christian home . . . There are some fields of grass from which in summer days rises a sweet fragrance, although not a flower is anywhere to be seen. But when you part the tall grass and look down among its roots, there, close on the ground, hidden under the showy, waving grass, you see multitudes of small flowers, modest and lowly, yet pouring forth a delicate and delicious aroma filling all the air. There are homes in which there is nothing remarkable in the way of grandeur or elegance, yet the very atmosphere as you enter is filled with sweetness, like 'the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed.' It is the aroma of love, the love of Christ shed abroad in human hearts." (Homemaking J. R. Miller pg. 231-232)

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Major Beekeeping Change ~ Bee Sting Allergies

It is amazing how quickly things can change sometimes! The day after my last post (in which I mentioned how much I love beekeeping with my Dad, etc.), I joined the ranks of those who have systemic allergic reactions to bee stings.

Always before I have had localized reactions (which for me includes a fair bit of swelling, itchiness, and achiness of the joints near the sting), but that changed this week . . .

After being stung on Wednesday, I had not only the localized reaction, but also a systemic allergic reaction that quickly developed from just my ears itching to much of my body breaking out with very itchy hives and feeling light-headed and a bit dizzy, too. Very thankfully, two Benadryl stopped the allergic reaction from getting worse! (And I realize now that with some of my last few stings, I had very mild systemic reactions then, too.)

After this, all of us did a lot of research on bee stings and allergic responses! With how I reacted this time, I have a fair chance of having an anaphylactic shock reaction the next time I am stung (if I am remembering correctly, somewhere between a 30-60% chance.) Which means I need to have an Epipen with me at all times now. My doctor prescribed them for me, and my parents will pick them up today while they are in town so I am set there other than getting a special cooling case so they can be brought with me in the heat. (They need to be kept between 59 and 86 degrees.)


Now we are in the process of figuring out what to do with our bees and how to go from here . . . as of now, we are planning to try to find a farm or someplace that the owners would let my Dad move the hives out on to. That way he could at least continue beekeeping! (And I may possibly be able to help again at some point as there are some options out there [such as bee venom immunotherapy which my Dad has been researching about] . . . we're still thinking about those things!)

With all of this, Wednesday and part of Thursday were harder days, as again, I really enjoy beekeeping and particularly doing it with my Dad! We have had so much fun with it, and it was a special thing that we could do together. We also had so many big plans for growing the business together, and we were excited to see how things were going so far. I am really going to miss it and those times of us both out there suited up, going through hives, problem solving, and everything else that we did with it!

And life is going to change at least somewhat with needing to avoid as much as is reasonably possible being stung and also carrying an Epipen with me everywhere.


Even though all of this is relatively a 'little' thing, I will admit to struggling in my heart with discouragement as things were unfolding . . . the question of 'why?' was in my mind. There has already been a fair bit of hard things in the last year or so (and much more significant things, too!), and now this . . . 'why?'

As Leah reminded me, though, count my blessings. There is still so very much to be thankful for! And yes, while there have been some hard things, there have also been so many blessings that God has poured out on us. Blessings that are easily seen if I take my eyes off of the hard things and take in the big, broad picture of life. And one blessing is that the reaction wasn't worse!

Another blessing is just seeing my family's love, care, provision and protection of me as we went through this and as we plan for the future. They are pretty amazing!

The post I did awhile back on being Thankful for His Promises keeps coming to mind . . . and again, I am so thankful for His promises. God continues to be faithful, He continues to guide, this didn't catch Him by surprise . . . why He allowed this into my/our lives I do not know, but I do know: all things "work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." He'll work it for good someway! It is so wonderful and encouraging to know that we can trust Him fully and always . . . in both the little and the big things.

And if all goes as we hope, at the least, I'll be able to enjoy 'beekeeping from afar' and still enjoy some aspects of it with my Dad. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Snapshots from the Everyday

Just a few days ago, summer made its official entrance, and it certainly feels like it here! Yesterday the high was in the low 90's, yet the heat index reached 114 . . . all of the rain has made it quite humid! It definitely feels like a Missouri summer. :)

The days have been fun and profitable ones, though! We've all been busy around home with each of us doing various things such as house cleaning, organizing, cooking/baking, inspecting hives, hoeing and weeding in the garden, harvesting and putting up blueberries, cleaning out goat pens, building beehive woodenware, and a host of other activities.

 Leah organizing her candle making area after getting these white shelves today. She is in the process of developing a candle business, and she makes some of the most delightfully scented soy candles!

Mom, the faithful weed puller :)

Our blueberry bushes are producing so well! I have been picking at least every other day and so far, have a little over 8 lbs put up in the freezer, and we've been enjoying fresh ones in yogurt, too. There are still a whole lot to harvest so I may end up turning some of them into either jam or syrup, too!

Another of Mom (and the garden. :) You can see some of the fruit trees in the back, and they are doing so much better after Leah sprayed them with the fungicide

Dad has been building a lot of woodenware for the beehives . . . so far frames and bottom boards (and there is a bottom board in progress to the left of the chop saw.) He has a talent for things like that, and it's fun to use the things that he has made!

As a little aside, can you see the small creature in the above photo? It blends in!

 Very busy bees!

Dad has been doing most of the beehive inspections the last few weeks as when he has time to do them, I have been busy with other things. It was a lot of fun this morning to be able to do some together again! I love being able to do the beekeeping with him, and we both really enjoy it . . .

The two near hives are the ones we were working with . . . it's kind of confusing what all we did, but the short version is we split one hive into two, and then combined a tiny hive with one of the splits. 

As you can see, someone (i.e. *Sarah*) needs to get busy and mow around all the hives again! :) Not my favorite job in the world this time of year since it involves being suited up while mowing as the bees DO. NOT. like the mower. 

 These are the hives we combined using what is called a 'newspaper combine' . . . the bottom three boxes are full of brood, the queen, and worker bees from one hive, and the top box is the now queenless, teeny tiny hive. Between the two is a couple sheets of newspaper which the bees will eventually chew through, but in the interim, it lets the scents from the two hives blend together. By the time the bees are through the newspaper, they have accepted one another and are combined into one hive.

While out photographing the hives (of which we now have 10!), I saw this array of wildflowers and stopped to take pictures of them as well . . . it's such a treat to have so many flowers blooming around our place!


After snapping the first one, I noticed that there were two beautiful Fritillary butterflies on the coneflower . . . .


 In flight

 The story of my life . . . (that might be a *slight* exaggeration :), though I have been doing a LOT of laundry lately! With heat like what we have been having and all the outdoor work being done particularly by my Dad, it doesn't take long at all for the laundry to be piled high!

The beets are almost ready to be harvested and canned! 

Some of the kids lounging in the hay feeder 

 Dad moving two of the big boys to a different pen

This evening, Dad, Leah and I did a bit of fencing work with the sound of thunder rumbling far in the distance . . . yes, more rain on the way!

A female cardinal and a friendly little gray squirrel obliged for a photo

There is something so rewarding about working around our home towards common goals together as a family . . . teasing and laughing with one another while we work . . . enjoying solitude during those times we are working alone . . . having thought-provoking conversations . . . problem solving . . . and then at the end of the day, much enjoyed times around the dinner table . . . sometimes playing music and/or singing afterwards . . . gathering in the living room in the evenings and (sometimes) enjoying homemade ice cream and an old TV western or movie. What a great blessing family is! And I am particularly thankful for mine. :)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Heart is Full . . .


My dear friend, E., and I had such a special and enjoyable time together at the nursing home along with another sweet friend, K. visiting and singing so many hymns together (and a few others came by occasionally, too.) At one point as I played and heard their voices join mine in singing "How Great Thou Art" (per K.'s request :), I could not keep the happy tears from welling in my eyes.

And then when telling them goodbye and after giving E. a hug, she told me she loved me and asked me to please, please come back. (Which I assured her I definitely would!) When first starting to go to the nursing home, I did not realize how quickly I would grow to love these dear people and how very much they would enrich my life. E. has especially been a blessing with her firm faith in Jesus Christ . . . every time talking with her is always encouraging.

Thanking God tonight for these very special people He led into my life!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Special Times at the Riding Center

I had the best of intentions to take photos this week, but our time at the riding center was so busy, I came away with only one! (And then one of Leah and I when we were heading out.) So you'll just have to imagine the words into pictures. :)

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Last week was the start of the summer session at the riding center, and Leah and I had signed up for the same shift we had done last time which is for three classes. The center was so short of volunteers, though, that we helped them with an extra shift one day and then stayed after our regular shift on another day to help with an evening shift (the latter of which we'll be doing every week now.)

We had such a wonderful time there! I cannot put into words how very much Leah and I both love volunteering there . . . it is so very special and so rewarding working with both the precious children and the adults.

For our regular shift, we always arrive early and as we were visiting with other volunteers last week, who should come walking up but the veteran that I had worked with the most during the spring session! That was a pleasant surprise! He is a really nice man, around my parents' ages, and it was so good to see him again. When I went up to greet him and asked him if he had come to ride, he told me that he had signed up to be a volunteer! I didn't think we'd see him again, and now we will each week. :)

Heading out! 
(As this photo was really washed out thanks to the bright sun and my cell phone, I tried different photo editing options, hence the sepia color. :)

Soon after, the riders began coming, and then began some very full wonderful hours. Leah and I sidewalked together save for one of the five classes which was fun! We work well together as a team as we can 'read' each other really well which is especially helpful when working with children that need a lot of assistance. All the riders were new ones for us to work with save for 'my' Will and 'Leah's' Will (there are two special little boys with the same name in the same class so we call them 'hers' and 'mine' to help tell which is which. :)

Our first class was the veterans, and our job with them is pretty simple. Just walk alongside the horse, visit with the rider as they ride, and then help with little things like getting their feet back into the stirrups after exercises. The veteran we worked with was a really pleasant man, and we had an enjoyable time working with him!

While we waited to start the next class, Leah and I were looking at the clipboard which lists the riders and horses used for each class. The head of the center came over to us, smile on her face, and asked if we were looking for Will. :) She knows how much I love working with him! There was still one more class before his, though . . .

The next little rider we helped was a quiet and sweet boy who we enjoyed working with! His family would wave and cheer him on just about every time we came around the arena. He loved that and would light up with such a sweet smile and wave back! We talked with him and helped him with the exercises and simply had fun spending time with him.

Then came the class with both Wills! It was so good to see 'my' Will again! And his mom and little sisters, too. His mom told us that when the little girls found out they were going to the riding center to see the horses, they asked "and the goats, too?" It was cute! It was so nice to spend that time with Will, and we had fun together . . . he was being a little tease part of the time!

Next we had a quick break between shifts so after an enjoyable time visiting with Will's mom and holding and talking with her little girls, Leah and I took the opportunity to get something to drink. It was a hot and humid day with the temperature in the low 90's and the heat index higher than that so the ice cold drinks we had in the cooler were refreshing!

Horses and arena all ready to go!

As parents started coming for the next class, I noticed one couple with their adorable little two (edited to add: now three :) year old son who has Down Syndrome. I went over and started talking with them, meanwhile Leah helped them find a helmet that fit him better. The poor little guy was having a hard time as this was all very new to him! Before long, the instructor lifted him onto his horse, Leah and I were on each side of him holding him securely, and off we went. It was harder for the first little while as he would lean way over to Leah or I, crying and trying to pull himself off into our arms. It kind of breaks your heart, though you know that it is for his good!

Each time, after a bit of time of him holding tightly to us, we would gently pull him back up into a sitting position, help him find the handles, and then repeat the process over again. We sang to him, too, as that always seems to help soothe the little ones who are crying. As time went by, the crying lessened, and before long, he was sitting up all by himself holding on! We were so proud of him! The entire class session was spent encouraging him, singing at times, doing the therapy exercises with him, and by the end of his class . . . he waved to his parents with a tiny smile on his face!

While we waited for the instructor to come dismount him, I started playing with him . . . tapping his hand, running my fingers up his arm and tickling his neck, and he started grinning and grinning, his eyes all lit up. It was so special and definitely a heart-melt moment! When one of the instructors (who is head of the center) came to take him off, he didn't even want to come down. The instructor told Leah and I "You two have to sidewalk with him next week." We can't wait! (edited to add: he did great this week! And I was able to hold him and play with him a bit, too, which was special. :)

Our last class of the day was with a sweet girl with Down Syndrome who is around 7. We really enjoyed working with her! She had ridden there before so this time, she graduated to a faster, bigger horse. The girl who was leading the horse did such a good job keeping the horse moving at a fast pace, and we ended up spending most of the class in the center of the arena passing the other horses. Our little rider sure liked it. :)

We loved working with the veteran and each of these very special children! What a great blessing to have this opportunity . . . and how thankful we are for God opening this door for us!

So there's a summary of what one of our days was like at the center last week, and what we are going to be able to very much enjoy each week. If you all lived closer, I'd invite you over to come help volunteer, too! :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tips for in the Laundry Room

The post about the riding center will be coming soon! I have it all typed, but then decided to wait to post it until getting some photos to go along with it. So it should be up by the end of the week!


When posting the tutorial on how to make your own liquid laundry soap, several of you mentioned that you, too, have hard water. I can sympathize. :) Hard water makes things more difficult when keeping your home clean and doing laundry!

Hard water not only contributes to soap scum and hard water deposits building up in your washer, it also will gradually gray and fade clothing, and especially whites and lights. Both are problems that we have had, and I had searched for things to try to help minimize them and then experimented. The result of that was success! The washer is staying cleaner, and our whites and lights are staying much whiter and brighter. And I thought I would share a few of those things that we found to help . . .

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Tip #1

Clean your washer regularly. This is pretty basic, but it is easy to let time slip away and then build-up begins! Build-up that can transfer to your clothes when washing.

Every couple of weeks, right after running a load of laundry in the washer, I'll scrub it out with paper towels (both the drum and the agitator, including underneath of the 'blades.') Sometimes, if needed, I'll then spray it down with vinegar, scrub with a scrub brush, and wipe clean.

If done regularly, it only takes a few minutes to get your washer all clean again!



Tip #2

Put vinegar directly in your wash water and also where the fabric softener would go. With our active and outdoor/farm lifestyle, we go through a lot of laundry so we do not do this every load as that would end up being a lot of vinegar! Whites and lights always get about a cup of vinegar in the wash load, and towels and washcloths often do as well.

The photo here of it measured out is just for the post :) . . . I never measure, but just guesstimate!


Tip #3

With hard water, it is a challenge to keep whites white and lights bright, even with adding vinegar to the wash and rinse cycles and with using the liquid laundry soap recipe (which again, works much better than the powdered version with hard water!)

As much as I like to do things as naturally as possible, I have found adding Oxiclean (which from what I have read, is still pretty natural) to the wash loads of whites and lights to really help. And occasionally, I'll soak our whites in it as well.



Tip #4

Hang your whites out on the line as the sun does a great job of gently bleaching them!

(I was wanting to have a photo of whites on the line and the sun shining, but thanks to the weather, that's a little impossible as rainy and overcast days are continuing here. :)


Tip #5

This tip isn't related to hard water, but it is a helpful one for line drying. For those of you who, like us, primarily dry your clothes on the line during the spring, summer, and fall months, turning the darks and lights inside out helps minimize bleaching by the sun. And as knits tend to get stretched when hung on the line, all of our nice knit tops are dried on a drying rack indoors which works well!

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For all of you other homemakers, do you have any laundry tips to share? I would like to hear!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer is Coming

There is much to enjoy about this time of year and a lot to keep one busy, too! This week was particularly busy with all the regular things around home, and then Leah and I also volunteered for two days at the therapeutic riding center (a total of three sessions - we usually do one) as they were really short of volunteers. We had such a special and very enjoyable time there! And a post should be coming soon about it. :)

Then this afternoon, I was able to go to the nursing home again, too. It had been awhile since I had last gone as I had hurt some fingers on my right hand so had to take a break from playing the piano for awhile. Right after getting there this afternoon, I saw E., and her face lit up as she told me that she had been looking for me and hoping I would come! I was so glad to be back, and she and I and quite a few others had a wonderful time of playing the piano and singing and talking together.

With how full the days have been, this month of June has been slipping by quickly . . . in not so many weeks, we'll already be halfway through 2015!

And with the summer days just around the corner, comes the summertime activities and changes of the season on our place . . . yesterday morning before the rains started again, I went for a much enjoyed walk with my camera and captured some of those . . .

The garden is doing quite well overall so far! Though, we are starting to have some fungus problems in the potatoes and onions thanks to all of the rain (which keeps coming and coming and coming - as of now, our entire ten-day forecast has rain for each day, and it is thundering and raining yet again as I type.) 

A growing cucumber plant. The tepee trellis in the first photo is for the cucumbers which were just recently planted. Last year they far outgrew our old trellis system, so I thought I would try one of these this year.

Long rows of potatoes . . . and the stepladder in the background is due to the fact that Leah used it when spraying all of our fruit trees again with a fungicide. Like the potatoes and onions, they have been struggling with fungal diseases, too.

The spinach has reached its end, but we are still enjoying salads nearly every day as the lettuce is still going strong.

The carrot bed looks much better now! Mom patiently weeded the whole thing last Saturday.

Mom in the process of pulling hundreds of little weeds

Carrots, onions (looking a little sad), beets, and potatoes
(And on the other side of the garden to the left of the carrots are all the celery, tomato and pepper plants, plus some flowers and herbs that are just starting to grow, but I didn't take any photos of those things, nor the green beans, yellow squash or zucchini either.)

Cheery flowers on the potato plants

The blueberry bushes are loaded with berries, and they are just starting to ripen. Yesterday I picked over a pound of them from two of the bushes (the other ripens later in the summer.) Those went into the freezer to be enjoyed in future baked goods.

The strawberry patch continues to produce, though is slowing down now. I canned another batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam earlier this week, and then all the other berries since, we've been putting in the freezer to be used in smoothies, yogurt, and desserts.

When I went over to pick strawberries, this dragonfly was perched on a piece of straw in the bed. Even the tiniest of creatures are a testament to the One who created them!

Fresh-picked sweet deliciousness

Not only did Leah spray all of the fruit trees, she also thinned the peach tree. Considering how very well pollinated it was this year, it was a big job!

Our puzzlement beehive. :) When Dad and I opened it up at the start of spring, it was queenless (the queen must have died over the winter) and had become what is called a laying worker hive (if there isn't a queen, workers can begin laying, but since they only lay drone eggs, the hive will eventually die out.) 

A laying worker hive can be difficult to get requeened as the laying workers will typically kill any new queen. Dad tried the method of putting in frames of eggs and brood regularly hoping that eventually they would raise up a new queen. And sure enough, they did! But she never started laying . . . so now we're back to putting in frames of eggs so they can try again.

Hostas flowering

Some of the ornamental grasses that Dad planted quite a few years ago

There is a lot of plantain growing around our place this year! It is a medicinal plant, and I am planning to try making a salve with it soon.

Future wild plum jelly and syrup :)

Black-eyed Susans
Mom planted a wildflower garden years ago which is still so beautiful, and one benefit of it is that the flowers are spreading all over our place now!

Clover

Wild raspberries . . . unfortunately, the goats ate all the other bushes I picked off last year. I was glad to find this one, though, and a few others somewhere else on our property, but they are too small to produce many berries yet.

The conclusion of my walk . . . coming back up our driveway

With summer just around the corner, before long, we should be in the midst of harvesting and canning produce from the garden, harvesting honey, and much more! And some of that 'more' is doing unexpectedly necessary projects like running a strand of electric fence rope inside the goat pen where the does and their kids are (which Leah and I helped Dad with yesterday.)

Part of it

Some of the goat kids started putting their heads through the fence in order to eat grass on the other side, only then they can't get their heads back out again which is a potentially dangerous situation with other adult goats in there who aren't especially gentle with another goats' kids! Now with the electric up, though, that problem is fixed! Life certainly isn't boring here. :)

A little visitor that came walking across our driveway the other day

I hope that you all have been enjoying your last few weeks of spring, too!