Sunday, March 3, 2019

Randomness // Some Thoughts to Share

Winter is persisting with another 4 inches or so of snow today and near zero temperatures forecast for tonight, though spring is coming as these daffodils attest to! It made me happy the other day to see a bit of green peeking up through all the brown! And on a rare evening when we actually had some sunshine . . . .

The second sign of the coming spring . . . the first was seeing the honeybees bringing pollen in on a recent warmer day!

February has now ended and March has begun, and other than celebrating Ivan's and my birthdays and a special birthday outing that Leah took me on, life continues with the simple and regular beauty of the everyday. The days are filled with work, home tasks, enjoying God's creation, learning and growing, and times with friends and family.

Surprise visitors at the farmer's market a couple Saturdays ago! And shortly after this picture was taken, my parents made a surprise visit, too (which turned out to also be a surprise to them since they didn't know Leah and Meagan were going to be there. :) It made my day to see everyone there! I am so blessed with the family and friends I have!

Evening visitors out in our yard during a recent snowfall

And quite a few of them! It is always a treat to see these graceful creatures.

Some of them didn't get along too well, though. :) These two were rearing up and kicking their front legs at each other.

Changing topics now . . . one of my goals this year (which is the same as last year, though I didn't do so well with it in 2018!) is to memorize a verse of Scripture a week. While I have missed some weeks so far, I have memorized quite a few verses of which this is one of my favorites:


What a convicting and encouraging passage this is!  Each time I review it, it seems it goes even deeper into my heart . . . ourselves as living and holy sacrifices to God . . . not being conformed to this world . . . being transformed by the renewing of our minds . . . There is so much depth and far-reaching meaning in each verse!

(As an aside, the picture is from a recent visit out to a conservation area.)

Changing topics a bit again . . . with all that has been happening politically the last few months (especially regarding abortion), there has been much on my heart and mind regarding being a voice for the precious unborn children, speaking truth - and with gentleness and love, and much more.

I keep thinking of these words of Jesus Christ which are so sadly true: "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold." (Matthew 24:12) I think we are seeing this especially evidenced by recent legislation removing even more protections for unborn children and promoting the murder of the most innocent and vulnerable . . . including babies born alive during an abortion!

With this (and a number of other areas), on my mind, I posted the below on facebook awhile back, and have been meaning to share it here as well (and it actually fits in some ways with the verses from Romans) . . .

Image may contain: 1 person, text

"This is very true!

Secular Christianity – or – Biblical Christianity

Pro-abortion – or – Pro-life

All faiths/religions lead to heaven – or – Believing in Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven

Socialism/Communism – or – Capitalism

Evolution – or – Creation

Just because the majority might be for the former and/or might speak the loudest, doesn't make it right or truth. We have the responsibility to investigate and examine to determine what is indeed truth, right, and good. Yet where/how can we find and determine these? From One who is Truth and who has given us His Truth in His Word!

"Examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21)"

May this be our heart and practice!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Sister Day and a Photo Shoot

A Sister Day a couple weeks ago ❤️ (and we have since had another one for my birthday :)

- Lunch out at a fun little restaurant with country style cooking

- A walk in the park

- Running some errands

- A quick photo shoot with Leah and Eva

- And of course, lots of great conversations and time with Eva, too (plus with Ivan after he was home from work!)

It was such an enjoyable and special day!


A number of people had shared with me (in a kind way to prepare me :) that after Leah married and moved away (about an hour from us), that our relationship would change and likely we wouldn't be as close or our relationship as deep, since we wouldn't have the daily interaction anymore and she would have her own life and family. The potential for change and understanding it is something she and I talked about as well.

Instead, though, our close relationship as sisters and our friendship has only blossomed, deepened, strengthened, and become even more meaningful!

One of the times Leah and Eva were at our house - Someone is getting sleepy and snuggly! 

We certainly don't see each other every day like we used to, but we talk on the phone and text regularly, and get together often. Those times are always so nice! Even if it's just for a short bit of time, enough for some chit chat and playing with Eva, or running errands together.

Maybe we have a couple of hours while Eva sleeps to delve into one of our deep, heart-to-heart conversations about life, faith, wifehood/motherhood, singlehood, goals, dreams, daily household things like meal planning and budgeting, and more.

Maybe its all of us gathered around playing a game such as Rummy, Hearts, or Ticket to Ride.

Whatever it is, it is sure to be wonderful. I am so thankful for the sister that God blessed me with! (And now her family, too!)

Now back to our sister day :) . . .

Out for a quick walk in the park 

Little Miss Eva all bundled up and shielded from the wind 

One thing we hoped to do when we got together this time was take some pictures of Leah and Eva, but the wind made it too cold at the park, so we opted for a few quick ones back at their place. I love how they turned out! These two are so photogenic . . .

~ Beautiful Mama and her adorable baby girl ~

I was playing peek-a-boo with my camera to get her to smile for this one! 




Once it finally decides to warm up, we'll have to get together for a 'real' photo shoot outdoors somewhere!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

It's Finished!

I finished the actual crocheting on Eva's afghan a week or so ago, and over this past weekend, the last loose yarn ends were woven in. Which means . . . it is finished!


Leah, Abel, and Eva came over on Monday (which made for a fun afternoon!), and I was able to give it to her then . . .


She wasn't overly thrilled about it :), but she did love to stick her fingers through the holes and put it in her mouth! I sat with her in my lap for quite awhile as she played with it, with an expression of fascination on her face. I love being her aunt!

 Snuggles and Kisses

So now with that project done, it is on to the next!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Times with Family // Ice Storm

It was a glorious afternoon this past Sunday, and we thoroughly enjoyed it! After a week of very cold temperatures, we had an unseasonably warm day of around 60, and the sun even ventured out in the evening . . .


"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained . . . O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! . . ." Psalm 8:3, 9

"Great are the works of the LORD; they are studied by all who delight in them." Psalm 111:2

A Northern Watersnake. Wasn't expecting to see one of these! And on the ice!

A Red-tailed Hawk that was quite content to sit for awhile and let us photograph it

The remains of a bird's nest

Evening sunlight

The sunset was so beautiful!

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Times with family are the best! As always, we are loving any and all times we get together . . .

Eva and her Grandma having a conversation

And sucking/chewing on her fingers, too :) One of her favorite new things to do!

A fun game of dominoes with Abel

Love these two!

It's never too early to start learning the piano, right? ;) I am not sure who enjoyed this more, mom or Eva!

Her first puzzle! Maybe she'll follow in her mommy's and grandma's foot steps and love doing puzzles.

Love this precious girl so much!

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Last night, we had an ice storm go through leaving in its wake a coating of ice covering everything. It is beautiful! Although damaging to the trees, especially with the strong winds we are having. I enjoyed a walk this morning capturing some snapshots . . . .

A lone River Birch leaf still clinging to a branch



The girls are even less thrilled about the effects of the ice storm than they were the snow storm. :) They have barely ventured out of their shelter today! 



My poor pine tree . . . I planted this tree when I was a little girl, and it has withstood the storms as well as the years when a disease was going through wiping out so many White Pines. This year, though, the heavy snowfall took a toll and broke a bunch of branches near the top, and the ice storm hasn't helped it any! 

Blueberry branches and buds in their icy coating

It has certainly been a wintry winter! Slowly but surely, spring is creeping closer, though. Anyone else looking forward to this season?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Making the Most of a Spiral Ham // Recipes

This post has been a long time in coming! As in, since December. :) At the end of one of my mom's weeks of cooking, she had made a spiral ham which meant my week began with a lot of it leftover. Thus began a creative week of nearly all the dinnertime meals utilizing ham, and I thought I would share some of the recipes with you all!

1. Hashbrown Egg Quiche

This recipe is versatile, and I simply use whatever is on hand. Sometimes it has peppers and/or onions. Sometimes mushrooms. Sometimes it is meatless. Sometimes just ham. This time it had ham, cooked/crumbled bacon, and chopped peppers and onions.



-3 cups frozen shredded hash browns, thawed (or peel and shred your own potatoes which is what I do)
-1/3 cup butter, melted
-1 cup diced fully cooked ham, optional
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-1/4-1/2 cup diced green pepper/onions/mushrooms
-2+ eggs (I usually do 4-6 since we have a large quiche pan.)
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. pepper

Press hash browns onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased quiche plate. Drizzle with butter. Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Combine the ham, cheese, green pepper, etc.; spoon into crust. In a small bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over all. Reduce heat to 350 degrees; bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean. (If you do more than 2 eggs, it will need to bake longer.) Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

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2. Ham Chowder

This soup is one of my favorites, and is especially good with fresh, homemade bread!

-2 cups diced potatoes
-1 cup sliced celery
-1 cup chopped carrots
-1/4 cup chopped onion
-salt and pepper
-1/4 cup margarine or butter
-1/3 cup flour
-2 cups milk
-1 cup Cheddar cheese
-Diced Ham
-1 can (14 1/2 oz.) corn

Place potatoes, celery, carrots, onion and seasonings in Dutch oven. Cover with water and cook until nearly done. Do not drain. In another kettle, melt margarine and add flour. Heat until bubbly. Gradually add milk while stirring, and then cook and stir until thickened. Add cheese and allow it to melt. Slowly stir this cheese mixture into the vegetables. Add ham and corn and allow to heat (do not boil.)

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3. Deep Dish Ham Pie

An out of focus picture, but you can get an idea of what it looks like anyway :)

- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground mustard
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp. dried minced onion
- 2 1/2 cups fully cooked ham
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 hard boiled eggs - chopped
- Pastry for 8-inch pie pan

Melt butter in a saucepan; stir in flour, salt, mustard, and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk and add onion; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in ham, peas, and eggs. Pour into an ungreased 8-inch square or 11 x 7 baking dish. On a floured surface, roll pastry to fit top of dish and place over filling. Seal and flute or roll edges; cut slits in the top. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

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4. Pineapple Ham Pizza

-1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
-1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
-2 ½ cups all purpose flour
-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
-1 tsp. sugar
-1 tsp. salt
-sauce (recipe below)
-Fresh or canned pineapple and ham
-Cheese

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add flour, oil, sugar, and salt. Beat vigorously 20 strokes. Cover and let rest about 15 minutes. With buttered fingers, pat crust into a greased pizza pan. Cover with pizza sauce. Sprinkle with toppings. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until crust and cheese is lightly browned.

Sauce: (for two pizzas - when making 1 pizza, I'll use about 1/2 to 1 1/2 of this)
-1 can can of tomato sauce
-1/4 cup water
-1 Tbsp. sugar
-1 tsp. olive oil
-1/4 tsp. lemon juice (I don't add this since our homecanned tomato sauce has it)
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. oregano
-1/8 tsp. basil
-1/8 tsp. thyme
-1/8 tsp. garlic powder


Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

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So the next time you have leftover ham, here are some easy to prepare, yet delicious, recipes to try!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

A New Name! // And an Outing

There had been an idea for my business floating around in the back of my mind for quite awhile, but I didn't think about it too closely as I knew how much work it would entail and I wasn't quite sure I was up to it. :) At the start of this January, though, with the seasonal business slow down and wintry weather, I started thinking about it more seriously.


The idea was, changing my business name! I still wasn't sure about it, though, and then one day, Leah (not knowing what I was thinking about) asked me if I had considered changing the name and shared some thoughts as to why she thought it would be a good idea. That was the encouragement I needed to finally say 'yes'!

I already had a name in mind which spoke more to the heart of my business - handcrafting not just skincare products, but ones that are all natural . . .


Thus began a month of intensive work . . .

- designing a new logo and labels for every product
- printing the new labels and relabeling everything
- re-photographing every.single.product (around 100 total with multiple photos for each one, and I am nearly done!)
- editing the photos for each product
- changing out all the photos and text on my Etsy store and website
- transferring my website to a new domain name: www.NiobraraNaturals.com and redirecting the old one to the new

Whew! It was a lot of work! But so worth it, and now . . . it is nearly finished!

And here is a sampling of the results of some of the work . . . .






It feels so good to have this nearly done, and I am excited about the new name!

With how busy the month had been with work and with it now winding down, I was feeling in need of some relaxation and refreshment one day last week, and some time outdoors seemed just the thing. Only, it was quite cold out with a biting wind so I opted  to drive out to a favorite conservation area which is a drive through.

The drive there takes a bit and since I was alone, I had a lot of time to think and pray and enjoy the beauty of God's creation as I drove through the rolling hills and then the flatlands. Once I arrived, the enjoyment continued with soaking in the quiet beauty of the winter scenery and bird life that was there. I love seeing the diversity that He created!

 A Swamp Sparrow hopping around down on the ice, eating fallen seeds I am guessing. Reminds me of the verse about how not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing and how much more precious are we than sparrows!

A Wilson's Snipe . . . in a tiny patch of unfrozen water 


Swans! It isn't often we see them around here, and it was a treat . . . even though they were just a tad boring sleeping with their heads tucked in nearly the whole time. :) They did lift their heads up for a brief bit when I got out of my van, giving me time to snap this real quick

Enjoying the cold winter day! (And the swans are way in the background.)

 Beautiful - even in the winter