Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An Update and Garden Work

Thank you all for your prayers for Emily! I just talked to her mom, and her too in fact, and she is doing very well. :)


Mom and I had thought about caning another chair today, but due to a stretch of days without rain and the nice temperatures, we decided to plant the tomato and pepper plants instead. After a fun time together, we now have 19 tomato plants (8 Roma, 7 Beefsteak, 4 Cherry) and 12 pepper plants (8 bell, 4 jalapeƱo) planted. I also was able to plant the cucumbers (some for fresh eating and some for pickling), the zucchini
and the yellow squash.

Dad tilling prior to our planting.

Not only did Dad till the area we planted, but he also did another tilling over the future corn plot and an area for the girls in our girls group to plant flowers.

Mom planting one of the tomato plants

Me with Dad tilling in the background

It is difficult to believe that this little plant will be producing tomatoes in a few months!

And even though it doesn't quite fit in with vegetable gardening, I thought that I would share a photo of our first standard iris to bloom. They are one of my favorite flowers that we have.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Request for Prayer

One of my little friends, Emily (age 8), is having surgery (a minor one) tomorrow. She had mentioned to me that she is a bit frightened about it; I tried to encourage her as best as I could and told her that I would be praying for her. If you all could also please pray for Emily it would be appreciated. Specifically that the surgery would go smoothly and quickly and that the Lord would give her comfort and strength during and after the surgery. Thank you so much!

*Frost Advisory*

That is what we were/are under last night into this morning. Last evening, after dinner, Ryan, Leah and I went and covered all the plants that are sensitive to a frost. It was a bit difficult considering how windy it was, but we got the job done. Ryan was so sweet as he did the least enjoyable part of the whole process - kept us supplied with bricks to weight the sheets down. My flower garden is not far from the vegetable garden, and it is lined with bricks - I think that we used every one of them! Hopefully this will be the last cold day of the spring.

Another thing that we are preparing to deal with with the garden is:

Photo taken two years ago in our front yard.

deer. All during rifle season this past fall, not a deer was to be seen - you put in a garden and . . . I am sure that you can figure out the rest of the story! We have seen upwards of seven deer at a time in the neighboring pasture. Last year the deer about leveled the green beans, but after someone advised me to put soap out around the bean patch to deter them, not one more deer ventured in. This year however, wise me thought to do the same thing again. If it works once, it will work twice, right? I was proven wrong though, as a few days later, the garden had many deer tracks in it . . . right next to the soap. So we have been trying to figure out alternative methods. We have a few ideas that we are trying/going to try, but I don't think we will do Dad's. :) He suggested that I sleep out there to scare away the deer and raccoons, but I did not quite care for that idea. ;) (Just so you know, he was teasing when he suggested this! :)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Joy of Children

This afternoon, after our morning time of fellowship, teaching, singing, and sharing a meal together with brothers and sisters in the Lord, I spent some time playing with one of the little girls. (The littlest one in the above photo). We have a game that we play where she will 'hide' somewhere, and then I will find her. However, she always tells me exactly where she's hiding! Sometimes the hiding consists of simply covering her face and sitting next to a couch or such. :) After she gets hidden, she calls out "Sarah, come find me!" I then begin looking in different places wondering out loud where she could possibly be, and eventually I do find her amazingly enough. ;) She just loves this game, and we play it over and over. Today, however, after a few rounds of it, she told me that it was my turn to hide. She proceeded to take my hand and led me behind a door and told me to hide there. After she got me well-hidden, she walked around the room saying in her sweet, lisping voice "Where's Sarah?" It was so cute! After a bit, she came by the door where I was hiding and said "There she is!" Aren't children precious!?


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mom's Recent Project

Sometimes in families, precious heirlooms will be passed down from generation to generation. Items with not only historic value, but also sentimental value. It may be a letter, photographs, perhaps a piece of farm equipment or furniture. This is what happened when my mom was a teenager when her grandmother gave her four old, battered chairs. Mom learned the art of refinishing and removed the dirty-looking, black-colored varnish, and then used a light-colored stain and varnish, which then showed the natural beauty of the wood. The chairs needed only one thing more, newly caned seats which a gentleman did for her.

These four chairs, which were around a hundred years old, were loaded and unloaded and u
sed across the country as my parents, with their growing family, moved to and/or lived in Nebraska, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and finally here in Missouri. These chairs went under a lot of abuse as my brother, sister and I were growing up. So often we would sit on our knees on them, gradually breaking out the caning. Once this occurred the chairs were put in storage . . . until recently. With some trepidation, my mom decided that she would try to cane the chairs herself. She borrowed some books from the library; figured out what supplies she needed; ordered the supplies; and finally began the caning process:



After many hours of labor . . . it is finished!


She did such a good job!


One down, three more to go. Now that Mom has learned how to cane, she is going to teach Leah and I how to do it on the next chairs. I am excited about that!

Today's Happenings

Today was one of those days where it feels like the day was profitable and much was able to be accomplished. I love that feeling. After a very busy sewing week (actually several - I have been quite busy filling orders), I decided to take today off from it. I even slept in. :) Till 6:15 anyway. I love to spend time reading the Scriptures first thing in the morning, but if I get up too late then it is difficult to follow that schedule. I do fairly well with being consistent during the week (I get up at 5:30 then), but sometimes weekends are a different story! This morning, I was able to not only spend time in the word, but to also read a bit in one of the books that I am reading regarding scriptural issues. (Often in my life, different situations will arise that urge me to spend time in research and study (which I love!) in order to have a response to certain types of beliefs that are contrary to Scripture, such as Mormonism; Hebrew-roots and sacred name movements; water baptism necessary for salvation, etc).

After spending time reading, I tended to the 'normal' morning activities such as tidying up, animal chores, and responding to e-mails. Mom, Leah and I also went on our weekly shopping trip for groceries which was fun. I always enjoy spending this time with the two most special ladies in my life! :)

This afternoon was spent making rolls and potato soup (recipes below), mowing the lawn, and cultivating and weeding in the vegetable garden. It has been quite exciting (as always) to see the different plants begin growing. So far a few potatoes, beans and peas have poked through, and the cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli plants are doing well.


The onions, lettuce (except for the red lettuce - I am not quite sure what is going on with that!), spinach (this sprouted sporadically), turnips, beets and radishes are all up and the
green onions are just beginning to show their tender stems. And it is not only the vegetable plants that are growing . . . the weeds are too . . . and lots of them! Thus it begins. :)

For supper this evening we had as mentioned homemade rolls and then also Potato Soup - this was a good meal for today as it was quite a bit cooler due to the cold front that moved through yesterday.

The rolls with the vegetables for the potato soup in the background

Light Wheat Rolls
:

-2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 Tbsp.)
-1 3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)
-1/2 cup white sugar*
-1 tsp. salt
-1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
-1 egg, beaten
-2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour*
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-4 Tbsp. butter, melted, divided

In a large bowl, dissolve yest in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Mix sugar, salt, 1/4 cup melted butter, egg, and whole wheat flour into yeast mixture. Stir in all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough onto a well-floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled again, about 30 minutes. Grease two dozen muffin cups. Punch dough down and divide into 72 small balls (hint: divide dough into two, divide into two again, divide into two again, divide each of these into three, and then divide each of these into three again - hope that makes sense :) Place three balls into each muffin cup. Brush tops with 2 Tbsp. melted butter. Let rise uncovered in a warm place for 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush again with the remaining 2 Tbsp. of melted butter. Enjoy!

*For this recipe I use honey instead of sugar and use more whole wheat flour and less all-purpose flour than called for.


Potato Soup (recipe from tasteofhome.com)

-
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
-2 carrots, chopped
-6 celery ribs, chopped
-8 cups water
-1 onion, chopped
-6 Tbsp. butter, cubed
-6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. pepper
-1-1/2 cups milk

In a large kettle, cook potatoes, carrots and celery in water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid and setting vegetables aside. In the same kettle, saute onion in butter until soft. Stir in flour, salt and pepper; gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Gently stir in cooked vegetables. Add 1 cup or more of reserved cooking liquid until soup is desired consistency.

*(I generally use more vegetables and cooking liquid than called for so that there is enough soup for another meal.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Making Pancakes

We had a small group this week for girls group, but we had a wonderful time! We made pancakes together and the girls greatly enjoyed this.

Cracking an egg

Measuring out the baking powder (she has such a look of concentration on her face!)

The girls (the youngest is on a stool, so that is why she looks so tall :)

Pouring the pancake batter onto the griddle

This was probably one of the girls' favorite things to make in the kitchen, and they were quite excited when they were able to eat them!

After we made the pancakes, we had some discussion relating to planting the garden last week. Here it is summarized:

First, we looked at Proverbs 31:16 "She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard". We discussed how she was providing food and earnings for her family through her labors in tending to her field and vineyard and growing food. We related this to our own gardening ventures. The purpose is to learn how to grow food so that we too can help provide for and serve our families. By planting the flowers, we are providing opportunity to serve and bless others with pressed flower greeting cards, flower arrangements, etc. In all that we do, we are to have a heart of service and love towards others, especially to our families. We are to serve even when we do not want to or it is uncomfortable. An example with the garden would be in/with heat, rain, mosquitos, when we have something else that we would rather do, etc. We then read Philippians 2:14 "Do all things without grumbling or disputing:" We talked about how this also includes when we are doing things such as pulling weeds. :) At the end of our discussion, we talked about this summer working specifically in growing in this area of not complaining and helping to keep each other accountable. The girls had excellent thoughts to share throughout the discussion which is always a blessing!

All in all it was a special time with the girls . . .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Favorite Season

Spring is my favorite time of year (with fall coming in a very close second). I love taking walks outside during this time: smelling the scent of the blossoming wild plum trees, hearing the call of the Meadowlark and the buzz of the Chipping Sparrow, seeing the tender buds before they break into flower, feeling the gentle breeze blow, watching a newly hatched Tiger Swallowtail dry its wings in the bright sunshine . . . wherever I look, the hand of the Creator is seen.

Wild violets (that my mom transplanted) blooming in our woods

One of the Pansies that the girls in our girls group planted

Getting closer! This is the first year that our lilac bush will have flowers on it. Last year a late frost killed them before they opened fully.

One of the many wild plum trees on our place that are all in flower.

And even though he doesn't quite fit in with this set of photos . . . one of our mallard drakes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Potatoes, Peas, and Pansies

We planted these three "P's" (Potatoes, Peas and Pansies) with the girls this past week, and they had SO much fun! We had been planning on doing this with them, but it was forecasted to rain this day, but fortunately the rain held off until we were all done.





Saturday, April 19, 2008

Planting

Last weekend, amidst quite unseasonal snow and sleet showers, Dad, Ryan and I planted three Red Haven peach trees at our place. I can almost taste the fresh peaches! Too bad they won't produce for many years . . .

The trees soaking in water prior to planting

We have also been busy planting the vegetable garden. So far we have planted Broccoli
, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Green Beans, Beets, Lettuce, Spinach, Radishes, Turnips, Green (Bunching) Onions, Purple Onions, Yellow Onions, Potatoes and Peas (the potatoes and peas we did with our girls group - I will try to get a post up about that soon). I also planted my little herb garden with Cilantro, Parsley, Basil and Oregano. I do not have much experience growing herbs, so it will be interesting to see how it goes!

Dad getting a row ready to plant
Leah planting Green Beans

Thursday afternoon, after Ryan got home from work, he, Leah and I (Dad wasn't feeling well and mom wanted to stay home with him) went out to his place and planted four apple trees, two plum trees and two cherry trees. It was a lot of fun, but very tiring! After marking where the trees were to be planted, we all started digging holes. Once a few holes were dug, Leah and I began planting while Ryan finished digging. He also kept us supplied with water. Leah held the trees and kept them straight and level, while I crumbled the dirt and filled it around and underneath the roots. Once the roots were covered, we watered them, and then Leah shoveled in the rest of the dirt. As we finished up the planting, Ryan built the cages to go around the trees. It looked so nice after they were all planted, but I was sure dirty!

One of the trees (before pruning)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rain, Rain, and More Rain

This is what our yard looked like yesterday after receiving around 2 inches of rain. And this doesn't include the rain that we received on Monday!


After a very wet winter, the ground is so saturated that there is nowhere for all the water to go except to either sit there or run off. One area on our property has a bit of a low spot and occasionally when we have very heavy rains it will get some water in it, but yesterday it had about 1 1/2 feet of water there, and it covered quite a large area!


Our poor garden. I don't think we'll be planting within the next day or so! :) It has been, and will be, quite windy over the next several days so that should help the soil dry out a bit.



(Photos taken from an upstairs window)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Spring Beauty

One of our many daffodils. These just began blooming in the past few days.

One of Leah's hyacinths

The lilac bush is beginning to get its flower buds! Last year we were unable to enjoy its flowers as a late frost killed them. I am looking forward to when it blooms this year!

Garden Work

After wanting one for so many years, we finally got a garden tiller! What a blessing! I was not looking forward to turning the garden soil by hand this year like I did last year, and now with a tiller that thankfully won't be necessary. Since we got a tiller, we also decided to move the garden to a new location so that we can enlarge it. The old garden was around 800 square feet, and the new one is around 2300. A lot bigger! It will be nice this year, though, as we all plan to work on the garden together as a family instead of just Leah and I. I am quite excited about it!

Dad getting ready to break the sod for the first time.

Leah trying her hand at tilling
And me tilling. It was fun to till, and it sure goes quickly! There is no comparison between a tiller and a shovel!

After many stump removals, moving of brush piles, two tree removals and many tillings later (mainly by Dad and Ryan), it is starting to look like a garden! The soil has dried out quite a bit and with each tilling is getting finer and finer. The biggest problem with this soil is that it has a lot of clay in it. We hope to improve the soil over the next several years by working in compost and growing green manure crops.

We had planned to plant all the early crops this week, but starting last night it has begun to rain, and by the end of the week we are forcasted to get between 3 to 6 inches of rain. I can just imagine what the garden will look like then!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Bean Project

This past week as Leah and I tried to plan the lesson for girls group, we just couldn't come up with an activity to do with the girls. What a blessing it was when Dad gave us a great project idea! The project fits in perfectly with our long term plan as we will beginning to garden soon.

With his idea and an accompanying lesson, girls group this week went very well! Though it certainly started out interesting. About thirty minutes before we were to begin, we were put in a severe thunderstorm warning as there was a large cell headed right for us. We hoped that it would be through our area before girls
began arriving, but instead it saved the worst for right at that time. The rain and small hail was pouring down in torrents, and we could barely see out of our windows as it was coming down so hard and fast. Our driveway looked like a lake (or river!) and our yard was quickly filling up with hail. Thankfully, it only lasted a short while and everyone was able to arrive safely.

After visiting with the girls for a bit we began:

Step 1: Explain the project to the girls and use photographs/diagrams to show the inside of the bean seed and to identify the different parts of the bean and their uses.



Step 2: Dampen paper towels and insert them into bags.



Some of the girls got quite creative when they wrote their names on the bags!

Step 3: Now it is ready to insert the bean seeds!


Step 4:
Partially seal the bags.

Once all of this was done, we made one bag of beans and covered it with aluminum foil thus keeping out the light.


Another one we made and sealed it completely leaving out oxygen. It will be interesting to see what happens with them!

Afterwards we had a lesson which paralleled the bean project. Just as the beans need water, light and oxygen to grow, in our walk with the Lord, we need the right 'ingredients' to help us grow (i.e. reading God's word, studying it, practicing what we are learning, praying, etc.) As part of the lesson we read together Psalm 1 and discussed it:

Psalm 1

"
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish."


After our lesson, we did a quick bottle toss review on three of the topics that we have learned about recently (obedience to parents, forgiveness, serving others).




Then came journaling and cross-stitching!

Outdoors Work

This past Wednesday, Mom and I worked outside moving brush piles, and we had so much fun together! Though it was tiring. :) Mom raked things into piles, and I loaded the wheelbarrow and hauled it down to where we burn.


The reason for this project is that we are going to be moving our vegetable garden to a new location this year which will allow for a bigger garden. The ground, however, needs some work before then! The soil isn't the greatest there, but over the next few years we hope to be able to improve it a bit. Where our old garden is, we are going to plant grass and then put up a clothesline which will be so nice!