Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An Evening Walk

Last evening it was beautiful outside, and I had opportunity to enjoy it by taking a walk through our woods with my camera in hand. The sun's rays were lighting up the trees, there was a gentle breeze, birds were flitting around in the underbrush, and the crunch of fallen leaves sounded underneath my feet as I walked.  Times like this in the peacefulness of the outdoors, enjoying the beauty of God's creation are always so nice!


Autumn colors in the leaves

The sun lighting up seed heads of wild plants

Spent thistle heads

Berries on what I believe is Japanese Honeysuckle

Discovering these berries led to a fun photo session experimenting with the sun's rays!


A few lone flowers blooming

Woodland mushrooms


The sun is sinking . . . another day coming to a close

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"O LORD, how many are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of your possessions."
Psalm 104:24

Monday, October 28, 2013

Walk as Children of Light . . .

"There is such joy as a child of God in knowing that what we were formerly, darkness, we are no longer . . . but we are Light in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! He has shed abroad His love and His light in our hearts, having redeemed our hearts and transformed us into blood-bought children of the Father. As His children, it but follows that we receive the exhortation that Paul gives not only to the Ephesians, but to us as well . . ."

To read more, you are welcome to visit my other blog Follow in His Steps!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How to Dry Herbs

When first beginning to grow herbs many years ago, I had researched about how to dry them and everything I read said something along the lines of: "dry in a dark, cool, dry place that is well-ventilated" . . . something that we didn't have! I have since learned that while this might be the ideal, it certainly isn't necessary in order to dry fresh herbs from your garden.

Drying herbs is really quite simple, and in case any of you, like I had been, are unsure how to successfully dry them without the ideal conditions, here is a simple 'how-to' to help you get started drying your own fresh herbs!

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~ Harvest your herbs, rinse them, and spread them on a towel to air dry (I usually let them dry like this for about a day.)

~Tie the herbs into bundles - sometimes I've done small bundles, sometimes larger ones. You just want to make sure that they are small enough for the herbs to dry fairly quickly so they don't mold.

Parsley that is tied into bundles

~ Now that your herbs are tied into bundles, it's time to hang them up to dry. Sometimes it can be hard to find a place for this, but you can be creative! Right now I am using a vacant closet clothes rod and a small clothes drying rack. The latter is put wherever we have a place at the time, and it is currently in Leah's and my room with the above parsley drying on it.

Oregano hanging and drying

~ The time it takes the herbs to dry is variable as it depends on the moisture content of the herbs and the humidity where they are drying. For example, parsley dries fairly quickly while basil takes quite a bit longer! Usually I'll give the herbs three or four weeks, but you can go longer than that, too. (The oregano in the above picture hung in bundles for a couple of months before I had opportunity to tend to it!)

~ In our more humid location, it can be difficult for herbs to dry fully simply by hanging them. (Especially when drying during the summer months!) So if the herbs don't dry to the point that they crumble easily, here's a quick and easy way to finish drying them . . . set your oven to the lowest setting and pile the herbs onto a cookie sheet (you can leave them in the bundles if you like) . . . .


~ Once your oven is preheated, turn it off and put the herbs in the oven. Depending on how dry your herbs are at this point, it can take as little as just a few minutes in the oven before they are dry enough. Once the herbs are to the point that the leaves crumble easily between your fingers, they are dry enough for the next step.

~ Crumble the leaves into a bowl.

Dried and crumbled basil . . . one of my favorite herbs to use!

~ And then put the herbs into jars to be used as needed.


 Enjoy using your own home-grown and dried herbs!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Canning, Ryan's Birthday, and a Few Thoughts to Share


As I type, Autumn's chill is in the air, the leaves are crimson and golden in color, and the wind is blowing briskly . . . a combination that has made for cozy and pleasant days spent indoors canning apples, sewing, making soap and a host of other things. This has been a wonderful week so far with a great deal being able to be accomplished!

A bit of hand sewing was done today

After several long (yet fun!) days in the kitchen, Leah and I have nearly all of the apples canned . . . 

Some of the fruits of our labors . . . applesauce!

All that is left is apple jelly (some apples have already been juiced for that) and apple cinnamon rings . . . the latter is something new so it will be interesting to see how those turn out. I'm hoping to can both of these things tomorrow and thus bring apple season to an end for us.

One day in the midst of canning applesauce, we enjoyed having Adelyn and Gracen come and stay with us for an afternoon. They always get so excited to come to 'Poppy and Grandma's' house! And we rather like it as well. :)

These autumn days also included a special day all together celebrating Ryan's 31st birthday . . . how thankful I am that he is my brother!

Back when Ryan and Ashley were courting, they did a lot of puzzles together so Dad and Mom gave them a fun gift of a puzzle! Ever curious Adelyn was fascinated by it. :) And Ryan and Ashley are looking forward to doing it together!

Gracen was trying to figure out how to get the wagon to roll and wasn't having much success since she was pushing it sideways! Once I helped her get it turned around, she had quite the fun time pushing it all around.

Mom singing "Jesus Loves Me" with Adelyn and Gracen . . . they both know it, and Adelyn was singing along with Mom. So sweet!

Adelyn and Gracen found some of Dad's books so were 'reading' Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words and a lexicon :)

A few day before his birthday, Ryan and I were talking about how quickly time has flown and reminiscing some back to the days when we were kids. And look at us now . . . all in our twenties or thirties, and Ryan married and a father of precious daughters! Over these years, the Lord has led us all down paths and in ways and means that have shown time and again how very good and faithful He is. Looking back, it is amazing to see what He has done and how He has used different experiences to grow us and mold us, and it will be exciting to see how He leads and blesses in the years to come!

"Blessed be the LORD,
Because He has heard the voice of my supplication.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song I shall thank Him.
The LORD is their strength,
And He is a saving defense to His anointed.
Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever. "
Psalm 28:6-9 

These verses that I read in Psalms last night before bed fit in perfectly with some of the contemplations of my heart as of late . . . indeed, blessed be the Lord! He is worthy of all praise, glory, service, trust, and worship. And I love the last part . . . "be their shepherd also, and carry them forever." . . . what joy there is in knowing that He is the Shepherd of His children and that He will indeed carry us forever!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Little Glimpses of Life at Home


It's that time of year for fall beehive inspections! Dad and I checked all of the hives early this week and overall they look great, but we discovered that they were light on winter stores. This was a surprise to me as there was a strong nectar flow this fall (the strongest we have had since getting bees), but it must not have been enough. So now I've been doing a lot of feeding to prepare them for winter! Mixing up large batches of sugar syrup, going and filling the feeders, checking to see if they are empty yet . . . and then repeating the process again and again. It's somewhat comical when we go to the grocery store and all we get is bag upon bag of sugar! The cashiers look at us kind of strangely, but we quickly explain that it is for honeybees not for us. :)

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 Mozzarella cheese curd in the whey

I finally came up with a process that works well with making mozzarella so, when making it again this week, I thought I'd put together a 'how-to' post to share here. I learned something though . . . don't experiment with the recipe when photographing and planning to share it! The process was going smoothly, and I had some of the best curd formation I'd had which resulted in quite a bit of cheese. 

All was well, but then I came to the last step which is to ladle hot water over the cheese curd in order to heat it to the point that it can be stretched. The recipes I've seen call for 180 degree water, but that was always too hot when I've made it so I have been instead using 160 degree water. But this time since I had so much cheese curd, I thought maybe I should heat the water to 170 since the larger amount of cheese would cool the water off faster. At least that was my reasoning. :) Needless to say, I learned that wasn't the best idea as the water was too hot and melted the cheese! Next time, I'll make sure to stick to my tried and true recipe and not try something new!

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One thing I love about milking is it gets me outside at times of day that I might not otherwise be . . . which gives opportunity for seeing some beautiful night skies, glorious sunsets, brilliant stars and constellations, and more. An evening this week, when I went to let Dixie and Willow out to bring them in to milk, I stopped and admired the moon and clouds which were so beautiful! After we finished milking, I got my camera and captured a few photos . . . my lens really doesn't do well with nighttime photography, but this photo gives at least a taste as to the night sky we were able to enjoy. The heavens truly do declare the glory of God!

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Our favorite biscuits were made for dinner last night
(The recipe can be found here.) 

And Leah made the delicious gravy to go with them.
(In the background is a sink full of beans that Mom was washing in order to snap last evening. Our fall crop has been abundant!)

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With a potential frost in the forecast last night, yesterday Mom and I brought in all of the remainder of the warm weather crops, and I also harvested all of the parsley in order to dry it . . .

 Sorting through it to remove the yellowed/dead portions

Today the parsley was tied up in bundles and hung up to dry. After it is dried, the leaves will be crumbled, put in jars and ready to use in cooking!

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Leah started setting some of our chickens' eggs in our incubator, and we're looking forward to when they hatch in a few weeks!


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This week also found us driving to an orchard to pick up apples to can. It was a fun little outing for all of us, and we came home with four bushels of apples. A 1/2 bushel we put in cool storage for fresh eating and all of the rest will be turned into applesauce, apple jelly, apples for pies, and apple syrup.


It was a busy day in the kitchen, and Leah and I were able to process about a bushel of apples and turn them into 13 quarts of applesauce. Next week, we'll get started on the rest!

So there you have a little glimpse into some of what filled our week! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Scents and Swirls

There has been a lot of soap making taking place here lately! Lavender, Peppermint/Tea Tree, Lavender/Orange (which was made just today), and yesterday I did some experimenting with a new scent. Not only that, but I also tried using a natural colorant (cinnamon) and swirled the soap, too. When cutting the soap loaf into bars today, I was excited with the results!


And the scent? So good! The clove essential oil was quite strong when smelling it straight from the bottle, so I wasn't sure what we'd think of it as a soap scent . . . but the experimental combination of peppermint and clove turned out well! And is perfect for fall. :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Just a Note to Say . . .

There is a new post up on my other blog!

“Have you ever noticed that no matter how many times we read and study God’s Word, there are always more truths to learn and discover? Always more ways to apply His Word to our lives and grow in Him? I find this especially true when studying individual words and phrases as well as how they are used elsewhere in Scripture . . . .”

. . . to read the rest, simply visit Follow in His Steps. The post is about something I’ve recently been studying/learning in Scripture, and I hope it will be a blessing to you!

A Walk Through a Garden

Back in September, Leah and I met a friend of ours whom we hadn't seen in awhile at a local garden and enjoyed several hours together walking through the garden, and for myself, photographing a bit a well. It was so nice to catch up with Ellie again and spend time visiting with her and then also enjoying some of the beauty in God's creation together!



There is an old schoolhouse on the grounds which is always a treat to see. If only rooms could talk, what stories they could tell!

Ellie especially enjoyed watching the fish in one of the ponds. It was so pleasant there with the sun filtering through the trees, and standing on the bridge with a cool breeze blowing while we visited.



This Fox Squirrel entertained us for a bit while he carried his rather large load of nuts!

One of the few remaining roses that was still in bloom


An old well pump at the garden


It was a pleasure to be able to enjoy this time together as well as to enjoy the many diverse flowers and plants before they finished blooming for the year!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Our Time for Him


Quite some time ago, a friend of mine, Joy, shared a quote on her blog . . . it struck a cord in my heart, and I printed it off and added it to the front of my homemaking binder. Each day when I open the binder to the day's tasks, or in the evening as I plan out the coming day, I see the quote and it reminds me, and refreshes my heart, as to my purpose. Not simply going through each day, crossing things off of my 'to-do' list, etc., but striving to make each moment count for the Lord, each task being done for Him, each pleasurable outing enjoyed with a heart seeking to please Him. Having a heart and mind "set on the things above" and "making the most of [my] time" for Him. 

It has been a wonderful reminder to me, and I hope that it blesses your heart as it did mine!

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"Our days are like beautiful summer fields as God gives them to us. The minutes are blooming flowers and silvery blades of grass and stalks of wheat with their germs of golden grains. The hours are trees with their rich foliage or vines with their blossom potentials of purple clusters. Oh the endless, blessed possibilities of the days and hours and minutes as they come to us from God's hands! But what did you do with yesterday? How does the little acre of that one day look to you now? What are you doing with your time? Every moment God gives us has in it a possibility of beauty as well as something to be accounted for. Are we using our time for God?" ~ J. R. Miller

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Autumn in the Garden

As the days become shorter and nights cooler, many summertime plants in the garden are nearing, or have reached, their end, yet others are relishing the cooler weather. It's that time of year to begin putting parts of the garden to bed while tending to the fall crops and preparing them for overwintering. We're hoping to start on that project soon! Meanwhile, this is what the garden looks like now . . . 


It's rather full, isn't it?! And in need of some TLC now that some of the summer crops have finally reached their end such as the tomatoes. We had around 50 tomato plants in the main garden so it is going to take awhile to clear out that section!

 Yesterday morning when the sun was just beginning to peek over the treetops and the plants were heavy-laden with dew, I went out camera in hand to capture some of what is currently growing in the garden . . .

Green beans are our largest fall crop, and they are producing abundantly right now! My Mom has been putting up a lot of beans in the freezer to be enjoyed over the winter and spring months.

Green bean flowers

There are a lot of salad fixin's in the garden . . . lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes and more! And some of each made our first fall salad last evening which was much enjoyed.

Grandpa Admire's Lettuce - a new variety we tried this year, and one of my favorites

Some spinach . . . due to hot and dry conditions shortly after planting, our spinach had a poor germination rate, but we are thankful for what we do have!

Basil that missed being harvested and started flowering . . . the honeybees are enjoying it! And I'm hoping to try to save seed from it as well.

A new herb that I tried growing this year was Borage as I had heard that it was a good pest deterrent. Turns out it is not only that, but also that the honeybees love the blossoms!

The flowers are beautiful and especially when covered in dew!

These were the first pink ones we had bloom

Parsley that is ready to be harvested and dried

 Fall cucumbers climbing up the trellis

And a cucumber! We've never grown fall cucumbers before and usually our plants are well spent by this time of year. With planting a second crop later, it has been really nice to still be having cucumbers!

The Cosmos are still flowering prolifically and have filled up the
area where the cantaloupe had been.

There are still a number of watermelons on the vines, and they are slowly ripening

The nasturtiums have flourished this year! In this photo you can see mist rising from them . . . that was neat to see! Unfortunately a photo can't quite capture it. :)

A spider enjoying its breakfast . . . only I wish it would have chosen a different dish . . . something other than one of our honeybees!

 There are a few remaining peppers on our plants . . . they did very well for us this year and not only produced enough for all of our canning, but also enough to well stock our freezer.

One season in the garden is coming to a close and another beginning . . . in the coming weeks, we'll be pulling out the old and finished plants, covering those areas in thick layers of compost, and then setting up shelters/coverings over the crops we hope to overwinter such as the celery (which is still growing really well!), lettuce, and spinach. It's so fun to enjoy the different seasons and the different work that accompanies each one of them!