Saturday, August 29, 2009

Little Bit of Sunshine


Our sunflowers are blooming! Ever since first planting them quite a few years ago, they have been re-seeding each year, and then growing again the next. I always look forward to their cheery flowers!

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Cross-stitch

Evenings in our home generally find us gathered in our living room and reading, writing, or working on some project. All of these have been occupying my evenings as of late (depending on which I feel like doing at the time :), and the project that I am currently working on is this cross-stitch . . .

The front of the pamphlet

We found the leaflet at a garage sale awhile back, and it was put on my list of 'cross-stitches to do'. And as my last cross-stitch is now finished . . .

Finished and ready to frame

It is time to begin another one . . .

In Progress . . .

This one has been enjoyable to work on so far, and I look forward to many pleasant evenings cross-stitching!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Deep Cleaning

With the garden winding down and things seeming to slow to a more normal pace, it was decided that it was time to start in on deep cleaning the house. I had been thinking about doing it for awhile and now had the opportunity to focus on it this week. As the kitchen is the most time consuming room to deep clean, I started there yesterday and finished it up today . . . First came cleaning out all of the cupboards, wiping them down inside and out, and then reorganizing and putting everything back into them. Next came cleaning all of the appliances, wiping down the walls, vacuuming the cedar beams, and cleaning everything on top of the cupboards . . .

This is everything that had been either on top of the main kitchen cupboards or had been hanging from the beams.

It's looking a bit bare now! Once everything had been taken off of the cupboards and the walls (save for the antique potato masher - it is stapled on so I cannot get it off :), then it was time for vacuuming and wiping down the walls . . .

Finished!

Once that side of the kitchen was done, I did the tops of the other cupboards, then cleaned the refrigerator/freezer (my least favorite part!), and finished up the kitchen by cleaning the pantry. Deep cleaning the house is something that I enjoy doing (though, it can get tiring at times, like it did today), and I love the feeling of our home once it is all finished! And now that the kitchen is cleaned . . . it is on to the other rooms of the house!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Garden Clean-Up

It is that time of year again . . . after growing and producing for months, many of the plants in the garden have finally reached their end. Because of that, I have spent some time out in the garden pulling out old plants, raking up the mulch and hauling it to the compost pile, and other such things . . .

A load of tomato plants

Tomato cages - cleaned up, stacked, and ready to be stored until next year

All of the tomato plants except for three were pulled out as were all of the pickling cucumbers, yellow squash, and zucchini plants (except for one of the latter). The onions have all been harvested and the beans are finished. What is left is a few sorry looking slicing cucumber plants (that amazingly enough are still producing), winter squash, scallions, pumpkins, gourds, and green peppers.

Part of the garden - it is looking a little sad now! The pumpkins and winter squash plants have begun to die back, and before we know it, it will time to harvest those.

We are going to have a small fall garden this year which will include green beans (they are already planted), lettuce and spinach. Other than that, there is not much garden work that will need to be done over the next few weeks. Another gardening season is coming to a close, and with it, the anticipation of the delightful season of Autumn which we are all looking forward to!

One of the varieties of winter squash that we grew this year with a watermelon behind it

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our First Watermelon!

After watching the watermelons grow larger and larger and slowly begin to ripen over the past month, I was finally able to harvest our first ever watermelon from our garden today . . .

Out of curiosity (and because it felt so heavy!), I weighed the melon and found it to be 25 lbs and 11 oz! Once getting it inside, Mom and I eagerly cut into it wondering what it would be like . . . sweet? juicy? under-ripe? over-ripe? 'mushy'? We took a bite from that still warm melon, and oh, was it ever good! It was sweet and juicy, but was a little on the over-ripe side, yet even with that, it was still very good (especially after it had cooled off in the fridge :).

The watermelon was enjoyed for dinner tonight, and we are looking forward to being able to enjoy melons from our garden over the next few weeks! (And now I'll have a better idea of knowing when they are ripe. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Glorious Day

What glorious weather we are enjoying here in mid-Missouri! The beginning of the week brought with it much needed rain. It rained and rained and rained . . . gentle rains, downpours, drizzle . . . all of which the thirsty ground, plants and trees appreciated I am sure! It has been dry here for the past month or so (up until this week that is!) The trees had been loosing a lot of their leaves, the grass was beginning to turn brown, and plants were beginning to show signs of stress. Occasionally over these weeks, a light rain shower might move through, but it only proved to raise the humidity in the air and, more often than not, didn't even dampen the ground. Then there were the times when looking at the weather map, it seemed that we were going to get a good, long rain here, but the large storms either dissolved before getting to us, or split and went around us. But no longer!

The refreshing, cool rains not only brought the needed moisture, but also beautiful weather. The rain has now left leaving in its wake temperatures in the 70's, sunshine, and cool breezes . . . it feels
like fall outdoors! As I hung the laundry on the line this morning and felt the damp towels flapping in the wind against my hands as I attempted to secure them to the line with the clothespins, I could not help but have a smile break across my face. What is it about such beautiful weather that seems to make everything seem brighter and fresher?

In addition to enjoying the beautiful weather, here is a little glimpse into some of what has occupied my time today . . .

Laundry :)

Picking wild plums

Making bread

Reading

Sewing

And now it is time to head back down to the kitchen and finish up the salad that I am in the process of making for dinner! (It needed to cool before the next step. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Birthday . . .

Happy 21st Birthday, Leah!!!


What a sweet blessing you are to our family! I am so very thankful to the Lord for blessing me with a dear sister like you!

The State Fair

For several weeks, our family had been looking forward to a certain upcoming event that we always enjoy going to when we have the opportunity . . . the Missouri State Fair! This past Saturday was the day that it worked out for us to go (Ryan was not able to go, however, as he had work that he needed to do), and we had been greatly anticipating its arrival (especially Leah and I :). The early morning hours of Saturday found us taking care of our animals in the dark, loading up the truck with coolers of drinks and food, and then heading out. The reason for leaving as early as we did is that the cattle judging began at 8:00 and that was something that we really wanted to see! The hour long drive went by quickly and before we knew it, we were pulling into one of the many fair parking lots. After making the long walk to the entrance gate, we made our way to the arena where the Hereford cattle were being judged . . .

Some of the Herefords being shown . . . what beautiful animals they are!

Whenever we watch cattle being judged, we always enjoy trying to 'judge' the animals ourselves and give them placings. It is always interesting to see how closely our 'results' match the real judges' results! Leah and I are not terribly good at this (though, we are getting better!), but as Dad showed and judged cattle when he was growing up, he placed the cattle correctly just about every single time! It is always fun to listen to him explain to us the strong and weak points of the animals, and then to try to 'see'
ourselves these things in each of the different animals .

After watching the Hereford judging for awhile, we headed to the rabbit/poultry barn. This place was way on the other side of the fairgrounds so it was quite a walk to get over there, but as there is always so much to see, the walk was very much enjoyed. One thing that is nice about our State Fair is that the vast majority of the buildings are very old and so neat to look at (I wish I would have thought to take photos of some of them!) The old buildings lend a more 'old-fashioned' feel to the fair which seems to fit in so well with all of the 'farm' type of things that take place there.

Leah looking at the turkeys

The week that we went to the fair was the week that the chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese were judged (the rabbits are this week), and what a noisy place that building was! It was interesting to see 'in-person' so many of the chicken breeds that I had looked at in the catalogs that we have. Some of them I was surprised at their large size and others were on the opposite extreme . . . I never imagined that a chicken could be so small as some of them were!


After walking through the chicken barn, we were more than ready to move on - if for no other reason than to give our ears a break! A few roosters crowing is always pleasant to hear, but when you are in a huge room with concrete walls with who knows how many roosters crowing all at the same time with a wide variety of crowing sounds (some of which needed significant improvement), it can quickly grow to be a little too much! :)

Next on the 'agenda' was to visit the sheep and swine barns as they were just over the way . . .




The sheep judging was fun to watch! Though, I know nothing about sheep conformation so my 'judging' was pure guessing. My favorite part of the sheep was watching the children work with their animals. Unlike cattle and horses, sheep are led through the arena by holding onto their heads (they don't have halters on), so many of the sheep had two children working with them - one to hold the sheep and the other to pose them. This little girl was so cute with her sheep . . .


The sheep barn was so crowded with people that we could not walk around in it much, but we were able to see many different breeds of sheep as well as watch some of them being groomed which was interesting.

Time on the clock was quickly ticking away, and the time to head to the exhibition center for the horse show (which Leah really wanted to see) was fast approaching. Before heading there, though, we made one more stop . . .



The swine barn! :) Most of the pigs were sleeping and were not cooperative for photographs save for this one who was intent on looking at me. Watching the pigs being judged was more entertaining than any judging we had seen as of yet. The reason why is that pigs are not led around like other animals while they are judged, but instead, however many pigs are in the class (there were about ten in the one we watched) run around in the arena with their handlers using 'sticks' (I am not sure what they are called) to try (note the try!) to direct the pigs where they want them to go. Meanwhile the judge is trying to look at the pigs' conformation, keep the pigs all straight with which is which, and then try to place them while they are all running around. It does not look like that would be an easy task!

As pigs are not terribly high on everyone's interest list, we did not stay there long before heading to the horse show. On the way, we passed the FFA display and stopped to look at the different things that they had made and/or refurbished. The tractors were impressive! Dad especially enjoyed looking at them as they were similar to ones that he had used when he was a boy . . .



And finally, to Leah's delight we made it to the horse show. What a vast array of different classes there were! There were not many horses in each class so it went by pretty fast, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. And here again we acted as 'judges' and had such a fun time seeing who could get the closest to being right. :) Probably the most fun part of the horse show was when they did the driving classes . . .

All of the drivers were dressed up in period clothing which made it more interesting and fun to watch.

The most enjoyed part of the horse show, however, was the western pleasure classes . . .

Once the horse show was finished, we were all feeling a bit hungry so we decided to head back to the truck to have lunch. On our way, we passed the coliseum (one of the places where they show livestock), and they were showing cattle there! We had thought that the cattle judging was over for the day, so I was excited that there was more that we might be able to see. So instead of continuing on to lunch, we stopped in at the coliseum and watched black and red Angus cattle being judged . . .



We did eventually make it back to the truck and enjoyed a quick lunch, and then it was on to the next event that we had hoped to see which was the draft mule hitches. We had seen and very much enjoyed the draft horse hitches one time many years ago when attending the state fair, and so we thought we would probably enjoy the mule hitches as well. And we were right! It was so much fun!


First the teams drove around the arena at a walk and a trot. (there were five teams), and then each team had to individually work through a series of maneuvers to demonstrate how well the team could handle. One of those was having the mules, without moving the wagon, side-step all the way to the left and then all the way to the right following the commands of 'gee' and 'haw'. This team was the best and was the most enjoyable to watch . . .


Moving to the right

Success!

Now that we had seen all of the animals, it was on to looking through the buildings (which is Mama's favorite part of the fair. :) The home-ec building was my favorite with the 4-H building coming in a close second . . .

A produce disply showcasing the winning produce that 4-Her's grew and then showed at their county fairs

Our favorite parts in these buildings was all of the many quilts and afghans. We had fun finding and photographing the ones that we liked the best . . .

Some of our favorite quilts

In the home-ec building, there was a display of antique garments, linens, and other such things with labels on them giving the history of the item. It was very interesting, and in the below photo, Mom and I are looking at some of the items that were displayed . . .


One of my favorite quilts

Looking at the canned goods.

One could hardly help feeling hungry when looking at this delicious display! It was the 4-Her's baked goods, and my! did they ever look good!

By the time we had finished looking at all the buildings, the crowds were greatly increasing, we were beginning to feel tired, and as we had also looked at everything that we had wanted to see, we decided to call it a day and head home. What an enjoyable and fun day we had had together and what special memories we have of it now!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mornings

Early morning is a part of the day that has come to be a favorite of mine (evenings are another :), especially when it can be spent outdoors . . . from the coolness in the air, to the cheerful bird songs, to seeing the sun gradually light up our yard and the neighboring pasture, to seeing the dew drops glisten on the spiderwebs as the sun's rays hit them, to feeling the freshness of a new day lying before me ready to be enjoyed. There is something about a new day that gives one an eager and excited feeling . . . what things will be able to be accomplished that day? What special memories will be made? What fun times will be had? What things will be learned and experienced?


Each new day is another step in this exciting journey called 'life' . . . and the thought that comes to my mind as I sit here and type this is, am I making the most of my time? As I go about my day to day tasks, are they being done
with a cheerful heart of service? Are they being done for the Lord's glory? In Scripture, we are exhorted: "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31) . . .


Above all, our heart's mindset and earnest desire should be to glorify the Lord and to walk in obedience to Him . . . day by day, moment by moment, "when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:7b) . . .


Tomorrow a new day will dawn . . . it will be fresh . . . and may we seek to make the most of our time tomorrow and all the days that follow, all the while striving to grow in the Lord and seeking to please Him and glorify Him first and foremost in our lives. For what greater calling and what greater joy have we than this?


This post took a completely different turn than what I had originally intended, yet it holds within it many of the thoughts that the Lord has been impressing on my heart as of late . . . . now if I can just remember all of this and put it into daily practice! :)


*All of the photos were taken during a pleasant walk a few mornings ago, thus the impetus for the post in the first place :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Catching Up a Bit

Thank you all once again for all of the kind and thoughtful comments left on the previous post! Each and every one was a blessing to us. Thank you!


It is difficult to believe that the month of August is already here! And not only here, but we're already over a third of the way through it. My, how time has flown! That is what happens, though, when the days are full of busyness, pleasant times, and excitement! And we have had all three of those things going on here (the latter being rather obvious given the last post :) . . .

The Garden and Canning

It seems that just about every day for the last little while has found me in the kitchen for at least part of the time putting up produce . . . grating and freezing zucchini, juicing wild plums and canning jelly (which I did more of today), chopping and freezing peppers, and canning salsa, relish and ketchup. And in addition to that, it is Leah's and my cooking weeks (Leah is joining me on my 'two-week cooking rotation', and it has been quite fun doing this together so far! :) Needless to say, the kitchen has been a busy place!

Leah peeling tomatoes and me chopping them in preparation for making ketchup
Mom helped chop the tomatoes, too . . . It went so much faster with three sets of hands!

The garden has slowed down considerably now, and I'll be canning the last of the tomatoes tomorrow and then that should be it for canning until the fall (save for some more wild plum jelly). It will be nice to have that all over with! I enjoyed the canning while it lasted, but I will be glad when it is all finished. :)

Out at Ryan's

We've also had the opportunity to go out to Ryan's place quite a few times in the past week
s . . . from simply walking and exploring, to sawing down trees (Dad and Ryan did this), to some of us shooting guns for a bit again, to simply enjoying each other's company . . . . what enjoyable times those were!

Leah photographing

Ryan

The view of his land from the road

Monday, August 10, 2009

*Announcing a Courtship*

It is with great joy, thankfulness and excitement that I am able to share with you all that my brother, Ryan, is courting a special young lady from South Carolina . . .

Ryan and Ashley
(and Sawyer too. :)

To think that only a little over a year ago, Ryan and Ashley did not even know that the other existed! Yet now, we have been blessed with such close friendships and fellowship between our two families as well as a courtship between Ryan and Ashley. It has been exciting and amazing to see how the Lord has worked in both of our families' lives over the past year . . . we are all so thankful for the blessings that the Lord has given to us!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Time for Review

The last time that we met with the girls was such a beautiful day. Because of that, we decided to spend our 'lesson time' outside instead of indoors. Once the girls arrived, we chatted for a bit, and then headed outdoors with some sheets and our box of 'bottles' (which we use for review). We picked a nice shady spot and then spread the sheets on the ground . . .


Then came time for review! We try to review from time to time the attributes that we have learned about so far, as well as all of the Scripture verses that we have memorized. While it isn't as exciting as a regular and new lesson, we try to make it enjoyable as well as interesting for the girls . . .


One of the girls during the "bottle toss" review game

Reviewing one of the attributes - in this photo, she is reading the Scripture verse that is on the bottle labeled "Thankfulness". Once the verse was read, the girls shared about what thankfulness is, how to express it, etc.

The time outside was very pleasant, but before long, it was time to head inside and finish up the vegetable reference sheets that the girls have been making . . .


The sheets are all finished now, are in sheet protectors, and are in the girls' notebooks ready to be used as needed. They did a great job making them, and not only will the sheets be helpful, but they look nice, too! Before saying our goodbyes for the day, there was just a bit of time to cross-stitch and/or crochet. The youngest girl in our group whom I have been teaching crochet to for the past several weeks, was able for the first time to crochet a row without any help or assistance from me. I was so happy for her! Her diligence and patience has paid off. :)

Well, this girls group post is going to only be about one of our times with the girls instead of being about two, as we are taking the month of August 'off'. We are in the process of changing schedules so that girls group and the sewing lessons that I teach will be on the same day, and Leah and I are also going to be planning and preparing for a new year of girls group as well as planning for our 'anniversary'. The last week in August marks three years since we first began girls group and each year on that week, we always do something special with the girls. It will be fun to plan and prepare for!