Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye Snow

It has been unseasonably warm here the past few days with yesterday being near 60 degrees! It was so warm out that in the morning, I gathered up all of the chair pieces and headed outdoors to sand them down, and to enjoy the warm weather while it lasted. Which is going to be brief as even though it is 52 degrees out right now, tonight we are to be back down in the teens again . . . quite a temperature drop!

The warmer temperatures melted all of our snow and ice so it looks quite different now than it did a few days ago when these photos were taken (the day the calves were play
ing :) . . .

"O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches." Psalm 104:24

"It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding He stretched out the heavens." Jeremiah 51:15

"For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20

"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Colossians 1:16-17

" ' Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.' " Revelation 4:11

"O may Your glorious name be blessed and exalted above all blessing and praise! You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, the heaven of the heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is on them. You give life to all of them and the heavenly host bows down before You. You are the Lord God . . . " Nehemiah 9:5b-7a

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Evening at Ryan and Ashley's

During the drive out to Ryan and Ashley's place we drove through the snow-covered, barren river bottoms . . . it is hard to believe that not so many months ago this field was full of tall, green corn!

This past Sunday evening, Ryan and Ashley invited us out to their place, and what a very special and fun time it was! From the wonderful conversations, to the laughter, to Dad and Ryan working on a project together, to us ladies working in the kitchen, to the delicious meal (Ashley is a wonderful cook!), to the sharing of tips and ideas, and so much more . . . .

Ashley chopping celery for the stuffing

Jasper was outside playing when we arrived, but he let us know in short order when he was ready to come in!

Ashley and I in the midst of meal preparations

Dad and Ryan talking together

Meanwhile the woodstove was burning keeping the house so warm and cozy

Mom, Leah and Ashley working on some things in the kitchen

Leah and Mom

Ashley explaining something to Mom

And last but not least, Ryan and Ashley . . . our wonderful 'host and hostess!' :) Love you both!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Simple Pleasure is . . .

. . . watching the little calves run and leap and play in the pasture . . .

This photo was taken right before they began

Yesterday morning it was beautiful out (although cold at 8 degrees!) with a thick coating of frost everywhere that the snow wasn't, and the air was heavy with freezing fog as well . . .

After the animal chores were finished, I went for a walk to enjoy the beauty all around and stopped at the pasture fence to watch the cows for a bit. The little bit turned into a fairly long time, though, as the little calf in the below photos was so fun to watch!

Off he goes! . . . running in big playful circles through the snow, kicking up his heels and racing around with his tail high in the air . . .

Only to eventually slide nose first into the snow! He was up and off again in a hurry, though, tossing his little head as he went

Meanwhile the other cows just watched him! While Mama cow tried to keep track of him . . . he'd disappear behind some tree or bush and she'd trot after him only to have him end up way off somewhere else!

Finally the older calf seemed to get weary of the little calf racing all around and found refuge here with its mom

Needless to say, it was a very enjoyable and fun beginning to my walk. :) After they had finished their 'playing' and began to move on to the other part of the pasture, I commenced my walk and took a number of other 'scenery' photos as well which I hope to share soon!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cinnamon Pecan Rolls Recipe

Back when our family was first beginning with grinding our own wheat and baking with whole wheat flour, this recipe was shared with me by someone that we knew, and it quickly became a family favorite! This recipe was made once again this past Saturday, and I thought I would share it here with you all. Whenever I make them, I double (and sometimes triple) the recipe and frost two of the pans of rolls, but then put the rest of the pans in the freezer for later use. Then whenever we are ready for more cinnamon rolls, we can simply pull them out of the freezer, thaw and ice them, and enjoy!

Cinnamon Pecan Rolls

-1 1/4 cup Warm water (115 to 120 degrees)
-1/4 cup oil
-1/4 cup honey
-1 1/2 tsp. salt
-1 egg, beaten
-1 Tbsp. Active dry yeast
-Approximately 4 cups whole wheat flour
-1/2 cup rolled oats

-1 Tbsp. melted butter
-2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 Tbsp. sugar
-1/2 cup pecans (
even though these are called Cinnamon Pecan Rolls, the pecans can be optional. :)

-2 cups powdered sugar
-1/2 tsp. vanilla
-enough milk for drizzling consistency

Combine warm water, oil, honey, salt, egg and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Briefly mix to blend ingredients. Cover and let rise 20 minutes. Add oats and flour until dough is slightly stickier than regular bread dough. Knead 8-9 minutes.* Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise 15 minutes. Roll out to ½ in. thick rectangle. Spread on filling, sprinkle with pecans, and roll tightly. Cut rolls 1 inch and place in round cake pans. Let rise 40 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 19-20 minutes. Cool and ice. Enjoy!

*As I knead by hand and the dough is sticky, I never knead as long as the recipe calls for as then the dough doesn't need as much flour and doesn't get as 'heavy' as a result . . . so far, with the less kneading time, the rolls have always turned out nicely!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Yesterday morning, I awoke early in the morning to a beautiful snowfall . . . the trees and ground were already covered and even in the darkness, I could see the snow still falling thickly from the sky. After reading my Bible and doing a few quick things on the computer, I headed outdoors in the darkness to enjoy the snowfall . . .

With the snow, it was definitely light enough to see, and with a temperature hovering around freezing, it was rather pleasant out. And what a delight it was to be outdoors during this time of day and to just stand and listen and enjoy . . . the feel of wet snowflakes hitting my cold cheeks, the sound of the snow as it fell, the crunch of it under my boots as I walked, seeing the cattle with snow covered backs grazing in the pasture next door, watching the thick snowflakes fall to the ground . . . so pleasant!

A cow and her calf . . . this looks so cold, but they didn't seem to mind it!

I didn't stay out very long this time around, but after morning light had come and the animal chores were finished, I enjoyed a walk around our place and photographing the snow in the daylight. Since the photos were taken, we received quite a bit more snow, and I think we ended up with around 6-7 inches!

The chicken coop, which the hens were very hesitant of leaving yesterday . . . even with the hoop house!

One of our blueberry bushes (that has yet to lose its leaves) thickly coated in snow

A snow covered Pine cone

Contrasts . . . burning bush berries and snow

Looking down our driveway . . . it was beautiful with the snow covered canopy of trees!

Yet another striking contrast

A snow covered tree . . . down in the woods, all of the trees were like this, and everything was so white!

Part of our yard

With snow falling thickly to the ground outdoors and everyone being at home yesterday, it just seemed like a special and cozy day . . . and thus, Mom and Leah pulled out a puzzle to work on, I worked on hand-quilting on my quilt and read a bit as well, and Dad did some computer work. We were all gathered in the living room together enjoying each other's company while oldtime Southern gospel music played in the background. By afternoon, there was a bean soup that Mom made simmering on the stove and bread rising on the counter filling the air with their delicious scents. What a pleasant day it was, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone!

The puzzle Mom and Leah were working on

Just getting started . . . sorting all of pieces and finding the edge ones. Mom and Leah are good at puzzles, and it amazes me how quickly they can get them put together!

Meanwhile, the snow fell thicker and thicker outdoors, adding inches to the snow already on the ground and trees (this was the view from our living room window.)

And progress continues . . . .

In the afternoon, I needed to head outdoors once again to check and see if the chicken's waterer had frozen over, and if need be, give them fresh water (they needed it. :) And while I was out there, I took a few more photos and did a few other things as well . . .

The chicken pen had a great deal of snow accumulate on the netting! . . . and with that much weight on it, there is the possibility that it could tear, so I used a broom and just gently hit the netting and off came the snow

Someone's watching me . . . . :)

Back indoors pleasant work continued . . .

Mom making the soup for dinner

Me hand-quilting a quilt that I am making . . . there are 50 diamond squares to hand-quilt and 3 of them are finished now . . . only 47 left! :) (Plus a bunch more machine quilting that is left as well.) This is definitely going to be a lengthy project!
The finished puzzle

So that is a glimpse into a day that was full of blessings . . . enjoying the beauty in God's creation which is something I always love, and always fills my heart with awe of the Lord, the Creator of all. How wise and awesome He is!

The blessing of family . . . how I love each member of my family and treasure such special times as these that we had yesterday!

The blessing of listening to Mom and Leah visit and have fun together while working on the puzzle.

The blessing of having a conversation with Dad regarding different scriptural topics.

The blessing of smiles and laughter and simply enjoying one another's company and much, much more.

The blessing of memories . . . which means that the blessings of today will not be forgotten!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chair Restoration - Part 1

This past spring when things had been super busy here for quite awhile, Dad sent Leah and I off for a 'break' one afternoon to the little antique store that is just a few minutes from where we live. We made our way up the terribly rutted and pot-hole filled drive and pulled into the parking lot, and I spotted some chairs sitting in front of the store in the midst of a bunch of other miscellaneous, more run-down looking items. From where we were, it was difficult to see what they were like, but I will admit, I was getting just a bit excited!

The chairs turned out to be a simple yet beautiful style, were priced very low, and I really liked them. Leah and I checked
the chairs over as best as we could, and they seemed sound and sturdy. The chairs were missing their caned seats, but since I have a bit of caning experience, I thought I should be able to remedy that! :) (Although this caning is going to be different than what I had done before, as these chairs have a groove instead of holes and thus, use prewoven cane seats.) I told Leah that after we went through the store, I'd give Dad a call and see what he thought. Well, I only made it down one aisle before the cell phone was in my hand, and I was dialing our number! Dad answered the phone and when I told him about the chairs, he offered to come down and take a look at them.

Once he arrived, he looked at the chairs, checked them all over, and liked them
as well. Needless to say, I got them. :) Dad loaded them up in the truck for me, and we had a wonderful time going through the rest of the store all together before heading for home.
And that is the story of how I came into possession of three oak chairs that are now in the process of being restored. The chairs while sturdy when I first got them, have now become wobbly - one quite a bit, one somewhat, and one not much at all. Dad believes that the reason for this is that there is less humidity in the air now, and thus, the wood has shrunk and the chair's weak joints are able to be noticed.

So the restoration process for the chairs will include: completely taking apart each of the chairs, removing the old spline from the groove, stripping off the old finish, putting the chairs back together again
with wood glue in all of the joints, staining and varnishing them, and then putting in new caned seats. Whew! This is turning into a larger project than what I had at first anticipated! But it will be a fun process to work on together with my parents, and hopefully the end result will be three nice, sound, usable chairs. :)

We decided to do just one chair first to see how the process goes . . . and to m
ake sure that we are able to get all of the many chair pieces back together again!

Unscrewing the screws that attached the seat to the frame

A couple of weekends ago, after reading online about how to take apart wooden chairs for repair, I attempted to try to disassemble the chair with the recommended rubber mallet, and was making very little progress. Dad then came to my rescue and took apart the the chair for me . . . it was fun working on this together! Though it was a bit nerve-wracking watching the process and seeing piece by piece the chair coming apart!

Dad "hammering the chair to pieces" :)

Completely disassembled!

Once the chair was all in pieces, I finished removing the old spline from the groove which was easier to do with the chair disassembled. I had also discovered a very helpful tip of using vinegar to help soften the glue. That combined with the handy dandy chair spline remover tool that I had gotten with the caning supplies makes it much easier to remove the spline . . . though it still takes quite a long time!

Removing the old spline

Now with the chair in pieces and the old spline removed, this past Monday afternoon, Mom and I donned our old "painting clothes" and stripped off the old stain. Mom has quite a bit of refinishing experience, but this was a first for me, and we had a wonderful time working on it together!

First the pieces needed to be coated in a stain and varnish remover . . .

Once they were coated with it, the pieces needed to set for at least thirty minutes . . . and then be either rubbed down with steel wool for the the dowels and legs or scraped (for the flat pieces.)

It didn't take terribly long for Mom and I to do that step as the old stain and varnish were quite thin. And while we worked, it was so neat seeing the old finish coming off and the beautiful grain of the wood showing through.
Now the next step is to sand down each of the pieces and then reassemble the chair!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Simple, Yet Profound

During the past several Sunday mornings when gathered together with brothers and sisters in the Lord, a number of the men have been teaching on what it is to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. How very encouraging and convicting it has been! There are so many different aspects to it, yet one of the men summed it up very well in but a few words . . .

" . . . walking by the Spirit is walking according to the written Word of God . . ."

Such a simple statement, yet it holds so much truth in it!

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh . . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." (Galatians 5:16, 25)