Monday, February 28, 2011

Making Cookies and Review

Last week we were blessed with nice weather and no snow or ice on the driveway, and thus the opportunity to get together with our girls again! We were a small group as only three girls were able to come (the other girls were missed!), and we had such an enjoyable time together. The last time we had been together, the girls had made roll-out cookie dough, and this time, Leah and I made the dough in advance, and they then rolled it out, cut out the cookies, baked them and then frosted them. What fun they had, and the laughter and smiles were in abundance!

Cooling cookies just waiting to be frosted

Making colored frostings . . . the girls took turns choosing which colors to make, and they loved mixing them up

Once all of the frostings were mixed up, we moved to the dining room table laden with plates of cookies, frosting bowls, and sprinkles, and the girls began. It was so fun seeing what different creations they came up with!

This girl was artistic in her frosting! Here she was putting whiskers on her rabbit . . .

Isn't it cute? Almost too cute to eat!

Slowly the plates of unfrosted cookies got smaller, and the pieces of waxed paper that were laid out were filling up with beautiful cookies.

Partway through the frosting, we took a little break and we each enjoyed one of their creations. They were so good! The girls also made up plates of their cookies to bring home to their families.

A frosted leaf

Once the cookies were all frosted and things were cleaned up a bit, we moved into the living room where the girls wrote recipe cards by copying the recipe off of the board . . .

Then we moved on to our lesson for the day which was pretty simple as we reviewed. Since it had been so long since we were last together, it seemed like a good idea to refresh our minds on what we had learned about with each of the fruits of the spirit. So we went through each one talking about it as we went . . .







Now with all of those reviewed, it will be time to move on to the next one . . . faithfulness!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Special Times!

~ First of all - thank you all so much for the sweet comments you left on my last post! Each one was a blessing to receive, and they did much to brighten up my day. Thank you! ~

This past Wednesday, we had the great pleasure of having four siblings come and join us for the evening while their parents had an evening out together. What a fun and special time we had! And it always amazes me just how much we can squeeze into only a few hours together. :)

These children we have known for many years (since the oldest girl was three and before the second girl was born), and they are like little siblings to us now. We love the times that we are able to spend together! And Wednesday evening was no different. :) Here is a little glimpse into some of what we did . . .

~ Legos were one of the first things requested, so we pulled out the box of those and they went right to work building things ~

The 'lamb puzzle' (one of my garage sale finds) was another requested item which the newly turned three year old did all by herself!

~ I had also brought down the two first Annie and Betsy dolls that I had made (and ones that I kept), and the girls all loved playing with them! From making up stories with them, to reading books to them . . . they were definitely a hit! ~

~ "How tall can we build a tower?" The brother and one of his sisters sure had fun seeing how high they could build a tower out of blocks without it falling over! ~

We also enjoyed . . .

~ Storytime together while snuggled up on the couch. ~

~Playing a game that Leah invented using the alphabet blocks . . . a number of blocks would be randomly chosen and lined up, and then the children had to make a sentence with each letter being the first letter of a word. They had so much fun doing this! And it was quite funny some of the sentences that they came up with. :) ~

~ Listening to a lovely piano concert by the oldest girl . . . and many encores as well. :) She is doing so well and is progressing a lot with her piano playing!

We also had the pleasure of a dulcimer concert. :) He really likes messing around with this instrument.

~ It was getting later and little ones were starting to get a little tired so . . . it was a perfect time to pull out the coloring books and crayons! ~

Finding and circling all of the "L's" and then all the "H's", etc. She's learning her letters!

So that is a glimpse into our very enjoyable and fun evening with our dear little friends!

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Quarter of a Century

Yesterday marked the day when I turned another year older . . . 25! A quarter of a century. :) It was such a wonderful and special day, though the end of the day turned out a tad different than what we had originally planned due to some unexpected weather . . . snow!

The morning began much like a normal day with animal chores, household tasks, etc., and then we had planned to take a special outing to Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area where we like to go bird-watching. It is a drive-through so it is a place where we can go when it is cold and rainy outside. And a lot of rain was in the forecast for the day so it seemed like a perfect thing to do!

We weren't far into the conservation area when it began to sleet instead of the expected rain, but it was pretty light so we continued on our way. It
generally takes us a couple of hours to drive through, and we had such an enjoyable time together looking at all of the different birds through the binoculars, and for me, taking a lot of photos as well. :) Daddy knows how much I enjoy photographing, so he would stop often to give me opportunity to utilize my camera, or to point out different things to photograph or different camera settings to try. He is so thoughtful!

We didn't see many different species this time around and no new ones for us (which wasn't very surprising), but it was such a treat to see all of the species that we did see. We also had about ten sightings of Bald Eagles which was really neat! Most of them were juveniles, and some even did 'acrobatics' in the air which were so fun to watch. I hope you enjoy some of the photos that were captured during our outing!

But be forewarned, the pictures are not very good, but at least they will give you an idea of what we saw and enjoyed . . . and there are a lot of photos so if you are not a bird enthusiast, well, this post may not be terribly interesting for you! :)

This is a very poor photo (so out of focus!), but it is a taste of what we saw a lot of . . . ducks taking off from the water. :) I enjoy watching them take off and land! In this photo, the Mallards took flight, but the Canada Geese stuck around.

A Belted Kingfisher . . . it was a treat to see one of these!

As mentioned, we saw a lot of juvenile Bald Eagles and one was especially neat to watch . . . he was sitting up in a tall tree and as we drove up and stopped, he then slowly took flight and thus, the following sequence of photos were taken . . .

Just about ready to take off

There he goes!

It is amazing watching those incredible wings flap! They are huge!

And he's off to a more secluded place to sit

Looking out towards the bluffs across one of the many bodies of water

A little Pied Billed Grebe that put on quite the show with diving and resurfacing. I always enjoy watching them!

A Coot (which is not a waterfowl species by the way :)

Leah looking at waterfowl through her binoculars

We were a little over halfway through our drive when the sleet turned to snow . . . which we hadn't been expecting!

The Great Blue Herons never let us get very close, but this one stayed long enough for me to take a photo of it flying away.

There are some beautiful views out at the conservation area! And it is very beautiful when everything is green and the sun is shining. :)

Another Bald Eagle only this one was in full adult plumage . . . it was so fun to watch this Eagle as he was doing 'acrobatics' in the air! It was amazing!

The snow is falling faster!

A group of mallards . . . these were by far the most common duck we saw, but we also saw Gadwall, Pintail (those are beautiful!), Green-Winged Teal, and Shovelers

Mom enjoying the drive

Can you see where a beaver has been doing a bit of work? :)

One lone Canada Goose amidst the falling snow

The last birds we saw before heading for home . . . three Canada Geese

As time went on, it kept snowing harder and harder . . . and before long, visibility was way down and the temperature was dropping below freezing so we decided to head for home. It took longer than normal to get home due to the snow, but it was an enjoyable drive.

The view (or lack of view :) from the window during part of the drive home

Because of the unexpected snow (and freezing rain which came later), we had to postpone the plans for the evening which was to have Ryan and Ashley over. It was disappointing that that didn't work out! But they should be able to make it out this evening instead, and I am looking forward to the enjoyable time that we will all have together tonight!

Anyway :), after returning from Eagle Bluffs, I was happily surprised to find a package in the mail from a sweet blogging friend . . .

Thank you so very much, Amy! (For the record, Amy makes beautiful cards :), and I am looking forward to using these ones!)

Once we had gotten something to eat, it was time to open presents after which Mom made a delicious peach pie (my 'birthday cake' by request :) . . .

And then we simply enjoyed spending time together as a family! Leah and I also utilized a few of the gifts as they were music books! What fun it was to play and sing together (both with fiddle and guitar, and then just the piano and our voices.) It was such a special and memorable day . . . how very much I love each member of my family, and I am so very thankful that the Lord has blessed me with them!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On Order!

Our package of honeybees is on order now! So in less than two months, approximately 10,000 of the above little critters will be arriving. :) I am so looking forward to that and also to installing them into the hive! There is a bit more left to do in preparation before they come such as painting a few pieces of the hive, getting a hive feeder, and building the hive stand. Once those things are finished, all we have to do is wait for the delivery date!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spring is Coming . . .

With temperatures this past week ranging from the 40's all the way up into the mid-70's, the snow has slowly been melting. There is still snow lingering in places, but in a few more days, all traces of our blizzard should be gone. I wasn't able to enjoy the warmer temperatures much at the beginning of the week as I was sick, but today and yesterday I was able to spend a lot of time outside working on some more clearing. It was so beautiful out, and so much was able to be accomplished, too!

And of course, walks during days like these are always things that I very much enjoy. :) And as usual, my camera came along . . .

The pasture next door slowly losing its blanket of snow . . . and as of today, it's snowless!

With how much snow was melting, there were many places where little 'streams' had formed . . . and this was one of them. It was the simple things, such as watching the water gently flowing, that brought pleasure to my day.

Little by little bare ground is beginning to show through!

Later on in the day, the sun peeked through the clouds and Leah and I went for a walk together . . . and we weren't the only ones enjoying the beautiful weather, as the chickens have loved being able to free range again!

One of the hens finding tasty things to eat

These hens ventured out quite a ways from the coop . . . little by little the girls are getting familiar with their territory again after being kept off of it for so long by the snow!

With the warmer temperatures and sunshine, it made me almost ache for spring . . . I am so looking forward to it! Though now it looks like we are going to be getting back to more 'normal' temperatures for February. :)

On one of the days this past week when it was so nice out, as I was taking the laundry off of the line, the sun was shining, a warm breeze was blowing, the sky was brilliant blue, and as I took in everything around me
and looked up into the beautiful sky, my heart thrilled within me . . . the song "In the Sweet By and By" came to mind, and I sang that and other songs as well to the Lord as I worked.. As much as I love spring, as much as I love living here on this earth, as much as I love the beauty in the world around me, I am looking forward to a much brighter, much more wonderful and beautiful home than this . . . can you even begin to imagine how incredible it will be to be at home with the Lord in heaven?!

There's a land that is fairer than day
And by faith we can see it afar
For the Father waits over the way

To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet, by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet, by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

We shall sing on that beautiful shore,
The melodious songs of the blessed;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.

In the sweet, by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore,
In the sweet, by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

To our bountiful Father above,
We will offer our tribute of praise,
For the wonderful gift of His love,
And the blessings that hallow our days.

In the sweet, by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore,
In the sweet, by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

So as I enjoy these delightful days, I am reminded of, and I look forward to, what is coming! What a glorious day that will be!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Butchering Time!

This post will be quite different from what has been shared here lately . . . as we did some butchering! Some friends of ours who raise cattle called us up awhile back to share that they had an older bull calf that had broken its leg, and as the calf had to be put down because of it, they wanted to know if we would like it for the meat (they know that we do our own butchering.) Yes! Most definitely we would! So we had the opportunity to butcher our first beef . . . we have done deer (lots of deer :), chickens, turkey, and rabbit before, but never a beef. We had fun working on this together, and it was so nice to see our freezer filling up with all of that delicious, grass-fed beef! We cut it up into steaks, stew meat, roasts, and then ground up some hamburger as well.

Daddy did all of the skinning, quartering, etc. of the calf, and then we cut up and packaged all of the meat together. Prior to that, though, came all of the preparations . . .

. . . freezer paper torn into many sheets, all ready to package up the meat . . .

. . . tape torn into pieces and ready to be used to tape shut the packages . . .

. . . the knives are all sharpened . . .

And then it was time to begin!

Mom washing a hindquarter . . . compared to the deer we've done, this seemed huge!

Steaks that Dad had cut up . . . we've eaten some of the tenderloin steaks so far, and oh! were those good!

Mom cutting off pieces to be used for stew meat

Leah cutting up the pieces for the stew meat

And now it's all ready for me to package. :)

Once Mom finishes getting the big pieces of meat off of the legs, I take over and try to get off as much as I can for hamburger.

Which Leah then ground up!

We had a fun time working on this together, and now we have a bunch of grass-fed beef in the freezer that we are all so thankful for and are also looking forward to eating!