Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Glorious Evening

Ryan, Leah and I had been wanting to go out to Ryan's place and spend some time together, but as of last evening had not had the opportunity to do so. Well, yesterday afternoon everything came together for us to be able to go, so as soon as Ryan got home from work, we loaded up and headed out. The drive there was very pleasant, and we enjoyed visiting along the way . . . once arriving at Ryan's, we quickly piled out and started walking . . .

This is not the greatest photo, but it is the only one I had that gives an idea of what Ryan's place looks like. The photo is taken from about the top of his driveway looking down the center of his property. The dark 'line' in the grass straight up from Ryan and Leah is the pond; way to the right, trees and gullies border the pasture land; to the left is a neighbor's field (he grows corn or soybeans each year.) The white 'spot' at the treeline at the top left of the photo is the hay stack (down there is also the food plot for deer and also where all of the fruit trees are.) So, there is a bit of an explanation of the "lay of the land"!

We were pleasantly surprised to see a small flock of Blue-Winged Teal on Ryan's pond! They did not stick around long, though.

Ryan and Leah walking along the dam (I tried to take a photo of one of the many big bullfrogs that were around the pond, but they never let me get close enough.)

On one side of the dam is a little 'puddle' that has cattails in it and lots of little frogs

Ryan and Leah

After walking around the pond, we headed over to the woods and took a look at one of the gullies that Ryan is working on filling up with hay bales . . . it is big! But he has made a lot of progress in filling it up and stopping more erosion from taking place. Once we started walking through the field again, I was startled by seeing this right in front of me . . .


I did not exactly scream, but I was startled! I do not mind snakes too much (especially non-poisonous ones), but they always give me such a start when first happening upon them. Once getting over the initial surprise, though, I had fun photographing it and getting closer and closer until finally I got too close and frightened it away. I was once again startled, though, as it was not one snake, but two. I was not expecting to see two snakes suddenly dart off! They headed in opposite directions, and one came just a little too close to me for comfort. Snakes are fascinating and are often beneficial creatures, but I appreciate if they keep their distance!

While at Ryan's, we had the opportunity to see an abundance of varied plant life. I especially enjoyed all of the flowers blooming in the woods. Once getting home, Leah and I had fun trying to figure out what they all were. This one is called Wild Sweet William . . .


The Sweet William seemed to be the most common flower that we saw. The delicate blue flowers were so pretty especially when backed by the green undergrowth of the 'forest' floor. The below flower, though, was my favorite, and it is Trillium recurvatum (or Prairie Trillium) . . .


It was blooming in abundance down in the woods by the creek, and they were just beautiful!
Once we arrived home, we enjoyed researching about this plant (which was made easier after we finally figured out what it was!) It is always so interesting to study different plants and see the detail and complexity that the Lord, the Creator, in His wisdom placed in them.

Leah took the below photo, and not only captured a picturesque scene, but also included in it another type of wildflower . . . see the little white ones in the front? They are called Spring Beauties . . .


Okay, enough about plants :) . . . Another part of our walk took us down by the creek and how remarkably beautiful it was! I absolutely loved our time down there! Due to all of the rain, the creek was more full than normal, and it filled the air with the lovely sound of running water. Combine that with the glorious scenery; the abundant flowers, ferns, and other interesting plants; and two of my favorite people, it was indeed a delightful time!

Looking up the creek - can you see the Wild Sweet William on the bank?

Part of the creek

In this photo, I am standing where the above photo was taken

Alas, we could not stay at the creek forever, so we climbed back up the banks out of the gullies and walked a bit more through the woods before getting back to the field . . .

Leah walking along a deer trail (there are a lot of those in the woods!)

Ryan and I

Stopping for a smile (I found it interesting that we are both holding our hands the same way!)

By this time, we had circled up to where the fruit trees are. I had not seen them since they had leafed out, and they are looking so good!

One of the apple trees

All good things must come to an end, though . . . well, maybe. :) We prolonged our wonderful time together by taking a different way home. We went through another little town not far from Ryan's (where Ryan surprised us by stopping to get us all something to drink!) before driving home on a curving, hilly road through beautiful farmland. It was definitely a delight for the eyes! Here are a few (very poor quality) photos that were taken from the back seat window where I was sitting . . .

A field of Herefords grazing (there were also some adorable little calves, too!)

A farmer putting out hay for his cattle . . . Ryan made the comment that he would not mind owning that tractor. :)

One thing that I love about this time of year is seeing all the little calves in the pastures . . . this Black Angus cow and calf we enjoyed seeing!

We were all a bit sad when we reached the end of the little country highway that we were on as it was then time to turn onto the 'regular' roads to finish the drive home. Once arriving home, Leah and I quickly put supper together and got it in the oven before heading out with Ryan to do the evening chores. The majority of the remainder of the evening was spent gathered around the dining room table simply enjoying each other's company as we visited together. How very thankful I am for my dear family . . . and how thankful I am for evenings like this. Relaxing. Enjoyable. Fun. Uplifting. But most of all, is the building and strengthening of relationships between us through these special times.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Adventures with Painting

This week with the girls found us having fun 'stencil painting' the pots that they had painted last week. This was such a fun project, and I loved seeing the girls' creativity!

Everything is set up and ready - all that needs to be done now before starting to paint is to tape the stencils onto the pots which is what Leah is helping the girls do in this photo.

Some of the stencils were too large to tape on so I held them while the girls painted.

Having fun painting

A work in progress

The girls had such concentration while they worked!


Below are a few of the finished pots . . . the girls did a fantastic job!

A butterfly

A Bee and Ladybug

Flowers

Instead of having a 'regular' lesson this week, we reviewed together some of the different character qualities that we have learned about (such as obedience to parents, love, and patience) and we also also reviewed our memory verses. Once the pots were finished being painted and were drying, we also managed to fit in a bit of cross-stitch and crochet towards the end of our time together.

Now w
e're all looking forward to next week when the girls will be planting flowers in their pots - then they can take them home to enjoy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sowing Seed

The time of year has come to once again plant the seeds in the vegetable garden. Tiny, dead-looking seeds that will, in a few months, provide for a harvest of food. But before the planting can come, the garden must be carefully mapped out . . . implementing crop rotation, considering soil types and light (both vary in our garden), and more.


Ryan tilled the garden last evening for me so that I could get started on the planting . . . I just love the look (and feel!) of freshly tilled soil!


Once it was tilled, Ryan and I put in the stakes and then I stretched twine to mark the rows . . .

Marking the rows with twine

Planting came next! First raking away the top layer of soil to a
chieve the depth needed to plant the seeds; then scattering the seeds, tamping them down, pulling the soil back over them with the rake, and then once again tamping. Doing this over and over, the beets, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, spinach, radishes, turnips and scallions are all planted!

The carrots, however, needed a bit more work. Before planting them today, I made a raised bed (using a hoe to pull the dirt up) which should help them to grow long and straight . . .


The raised bed for the carrots

Now all that is left to plant is the green beans (which will take awhile!), the vine crops, the tomatoes and the peppers.

Another activity in the garden which was done today was putting up the trellis for the cucumbers . . .


This was fun to do, and it was made fairly easy with the post-driver 'thingy'. (I am not sure what its 'technical' name is!) It sure is loud to use though!

While I was working on planting the vegetable garden last evening, Leah and Ryan had fun with Mandy and my camera . . .

Leah grooming Mandy

Resting for a bit after all her running around

Ryan petting Mandy after a retrieve

Other things that have been keeping me busy the past few days (other than 'regular' things) have been pretty much all outdoor tasks as it has been so beautiful out! I have been working on some more clearing and then also filled in a bunch of trenches that we had to dig awhile back for something. Weeding in my little herb garden also occupied some of my time . . .

The Oregano

It feels so good to be working outdoors in the warm sunshine again. Spring is definitely here, and I have been enjoying it to the utmost . . . so much so that it is hard to come inside! Here is just a glimpse of the beauty on our little place right now . . .

A wild plum tree all in bloom

Little Daffodils

Our first 'standard' Iris of the year!

Lily of the Valley

Friday, April 17, 2009

An FYI

This is just to let you all know that I am going to be absent from the blogging world for a bit, but I should be returning sometime next week!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Favorite Cookie Recipe

Awhile back, my Mom came across a delicious cookie recipe that quickly became one of our family's favorites. And with having oatmeal, dried cranberries and pecans in them, they end up being sort of 'healthy' . . . for a cookie anyway! (They also make great 'traveling' cookies as they stay soft and moist for at least several days.)

So the next time you have a craving for something sweet, perhaps you might want to try making these . . . they could end up being one of your favorites, too!



Special Oatmeal Cookies

-3/4 cup butter (softened)
-3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1/4 cup milk
-1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1/2 tsp. salt
-2 1/2 to 3 cups old fashioned oats
-1 cup flour
-2 to 2 1/2 cups of dried cranberries, vanilla chips and pecans

Cream butter and sugars. Beat in milk, egg, and vanilla. Mix together baking soda, salt and flour and then add to butter/sugar mixture. Mix well. Stir in the oats, dried cranberries, vanilla chips and pecans. Roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes. Once removing from the oven, let sit on cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing to wire racks to cool. Enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Planting!

This past Saturday was a beautiful one! The bright sunshine and a temperature around 60 (which was much better than our previous days of in the 30's) beckoned one to come outdoors to enjoy the day. So while having the pleasure of birds singing around me and a fresh spring breeze blowing, I spent some time working in the garden and was able to plant all of our onion transplants and onion sets. I have only grown sets before, so it will be different and interesting growing onions from plants . . .

The onions after being transplanted - they look kind of sad with their tops all bent over to the side, but they should straighten up before long!

Preparing to plant the sets (except I did not use the shovel :) - sets you can just push right into the ground)

The freshly cultivated rows of broccoli and cauliflower

The broccoli plants have been growing quite a bit as of late and have gotten a lot more leaves. I love watching them grow and change!

While I worked in the garden, I had Lassie out, and she enjoyed running around for a bit. Before long, though, she laid down in the shade near me and watched me until I was finished planting . . .


After everything was planted, watered and cultivated, I went to see what everyone else was up to and took a few photos along the way:

It is so close to flowering!

Ryan using a chainsaw to cut some of the roots and the taproot of this stump that he has been working to remove

Mom weeding a little Iris bed that borders our driveway (all the red/brown is fallen pine needles)

Another variety of daffodil that is blooming in Leah's garden