Wednesday, July 29, 2015

First Honey Harvest of the Year!

Last week when Dad was checking the hives and adding on more honey supers, he pulled ten frames out for us to extract (there are a lot more ready, though we'll do those at a later time.) So Leah and I had fun together extracting the first bit of honey of the season!

Using the electric uncapping knife to remove the wax cappings

In the process of uncapping which is fairly quick with an electric knife
(and the plate on the counter is to put under the frame to catch honey drips while I bring it over to the extractor and the clock is for Leah to keep track of how long she spins the frames in the extractor.)

Next is using an uncapping scratcher to remove any cappings the knife missed 

Then into the extractor the frames go, and Leah spins the honey out of the frames - about 30-60 seconds for each side of the frames. 

It drains out through the drain into a stainless steel double sieve which removes wax particles and any other debris as the honey flows through down into the honey bucket.

And that's it until we're ready to bottle it. It's a pretty simple process! And does the kitchen ever smell good when we extract as the deliciously sweet aroma of warm honey fills the air.

This honey has a bit different taste than our last spring honey which makes us wonder what kind of flower nectar it is made of. Until we began keeping bees, I used to think honey was just honey and tasted the same, but it can vary a lot and can have so many different flavors and colors!

Monday, July 27, 2015

By Request ~ Peach Crisp Recipe

This is for you, Elizabeth! (And anyone else who would like to make a delicious peach crisp. :) The recipe includes the changes that Leah made . . .

I didn't get a finished photo of her crisp, but these are some of the peaches she used

Peach Crisp

- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup butter, cubed

- 4 cups of chopped or sliced peaches (first boil peaches around 1 minute, peel, and remove stone)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water or peach juice

- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 5 Tbsp. butter

In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Pat into a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Meanwhile in a small saucepan stir the sugar and cornstarch into the water/peach juice until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in peaches. Pour into crust. For topping, combine the oats, brown sugar, and flour. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Masked Bandits

Last week, the peaches were so close to being ripe, and their sweet aroma filled the air around the tree. Leah and I were going out every day to check them, anticipating the harvest and putting them up. The tree was loaded with peaches, and while some were being damaged by insects, there were still a lot that looked great. It was our best looking peach year so far!

But then last Friday night while we unsuspectingly slept, masked bandits raided the tree and helped themselves to the vast majority of the crop! While they were rather cute little bandits, deterring future visits was a must . . .

One of the little bandits . . . this one was only half-grown and let me get pretty close to it

Saturday evening after Dad and Mom got home from their trip and after we spent a couple of hours sharing with each other about our weeks, Dad and Leah got an electric fence put up around the tree. That did the trick of saving the remaining peaches for us!

The other day Leah made a delicious crisp with some of them, which was very much enjoyed, and we have been enjoying some fresh as well. The peaches are so sweet and flavorful! And while our harvest was a lot smaller than expected, we were glad for at least some peaches from the tree, and now we know how better to protect them next year!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Refinishing and Restoration

Last week, my parents had the opportunity to go to Creation Ministries International's Super Conference in South Carolina. They left early on a Sunday morning, had a fantastic week there, and then arrived back home this past Saturday evening. It was so good to have them back home again! Leah and I had a wonderful week together, but our parents sure were missed. :) They took quite a few photos during their trip, and once I sort through them, I will be doing a post about their time there.

While they were away, Leah and I had a very full and fun week . . . taking care of all the animals, harvesting beans and blueberries and putting them up, making lots of soap (for me), training Kymber (for Leah), volunteering two days at the riding center, having very encouraging 'sister talks' about so many things, and much more.

A part of that "more" was working on refinishing/restoration projects! We wanted to do a fun project while our parents were gone so we each picked one - Leah decided to restore her Singer treadle sewing machine and I picked my chairs (which is one reason why we made sure to get them put together before my parents left as I knew we would need dad's help with that step!)

A friend of ours had thoughtfully given Leah the treadle sewing machine several years ago when she was downsizing. It wasn't in the greatest condition, and Leah wanted to keep the original finish so she researched how to restore it without refinishing . . .


We had so much fun working on these projects together! Leah started by removing the lid, taking the machine and drawers out, and then washing down the entire cabinet with Murphy's wood oil soap.

I did a bit of touch-up sanding on my chairs to remove some wood glue residue from when we put the chairs together, dusted them off, and then wiped them all down with a tack cloth to remove any bits of dust that remained in preparation for staining.

We had set up an area outside and spent our mornings out there working before it got too hot (most days, the heat indexes climbed to 110+ degrees - a little on the warm side!)

Our setup

Staining the bottom of the chair seats

The next step for Leah was wiping down all of the wood pieces with Old English Scratch Remover for dark wood which she is doing here. It worked amazingly well!

Staining the chairs . . . I love seeing the grain of the wood 'come alive' after being stained!

Rubbing off the excess stain

And it's all stained!

That was our first day . . . the consecutive days we didn't really get any photos so I'll just write a bit about the steps . . .

The chairs needed two coats each of Tung Oil finish applied, and it takes at least 24 hours drying time between coats. I love the look of this hand rubbed finish, but it isn't the easiest to work with! (At least the kind I am using.) It needs to set about 5-10 minutes on the wood and then be rubbed off, but by the time it is ready to be rubbed off, it is always so sticky, it can't really be done.

To get around that, I apply the Tung Oil onto small sections of the chair at a time, and then when the 'setting' time is up, brush a fresh coat on as that removes the stickiness. Then it is quickly rubbed off before it gets sticky again.

It was exciting to have those steps done! I had hoped to be able to start caning the seats as well, but ran out of time for that. Hopefully soon I'll be able to put those in which will be fun!

Leah's machine cabinet had quite a few large and small paint splatters on it, and Dad had suggested sanding those off. Leah was a little unsure about how best to do this, so I helped her pick out the sandpaper grit, and we worked on it together inside one evening. It was fun to do and exciting to see those green and white paint splotches coming off! She applied more Old English Scratch Remover afterwards to help blend the now lighter spots in.

Next she used steel wool to apply Howard Restor-A-Finish in walnut. That was then rubbed off with rags as well. This step really brought forth the original beauty and color of the wood and stain.

Last but not least, she rubbed in several coats of Howard Feed-N-Wax which polishes and conditions the wood. The difference in her machine after all of this was amazing!

Here are before photos . . .

And after . . .

Isn't it beautiful now? She did such a great job!

And here is a before and after on my chairs . . .

Before . . .

And after . . .

The two on the left are the ones I did this time

Now that we have these steps and/or projects done, we're already looking forward to our next ones (after I cane the seats that is) . . . our bookshelves? Leah's pie safe? My trunk? It will be fun deciding and working on them probably sometime in the fall!

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Heart-melt Moment

During part of our time at the riding center last week, I was sidewalking with a precious seven year old boy . . . talking with him and encouraging him, teasing and playing with him, doing the therapy exercises with him, and trying to help him forget his fears. He doesn't really have any words, but his smile and his laugh say so much!

At one point, we were stopped while waiting for our turn to trot when he slowly leaned down towards me, wrapped his arm around my neck while lowering his forehead to mine a sweet smile on his face, and gave me what I think was his version of a kiss. It was such a precious moment! I was reminded yet again how very special each of these children are and how thankful I am for this wonderful opportunity to work with them!

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Sneak Peek

. . . into some of what happened here this week . . .

Leah's treadle sewing machine and my chairs in the refinishing/restoration process! We have been having a lot of fun with these. :) And more about them will be coming soon!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

4th of July Berry Pie Recipe

It has been a very full and fun start to the week here! (More about which will be coming in later posts.) With that, here is a quick post with where to find the recipe for the 4th of July pie. I was originally going to post the recipe here, but then realized it is copyrighted. So . . . here's the link to it!

American Berry Pie ~

The only changes we made to it were to use frozen berries instead of fresh (which required the pie being baked a little longer) and used evaporated cane juice instead of sugar. (And Aldi butter and a fresh farm egg took the place of Land O Lakes butter and egg. :)

And to make it for other times of year, simply mix all the berries together and do a lattice crust instead!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Antique Chair Restoration ~ Reassembling

For quite awhile, I have been wanting to work on my chairs again, and this week, was able to do that! This past winter, I had finished taking them apart, stripped them of their stain, and sanded them, and the next step was putting them back together (using wood glue in all the joints.)

Dad was really busy this week so he wasn't able to be there for the whole process, but he helped me get started by helping put the backs of the chairs together. After learning from him during that step, Leah and I felt more comfortable doing the rest on our own. Though Dad still came to our rescue at times such as when we needed just a little more muscle to pound some of the dowels in all the way. :)

Getting ready to assemble a chair front (we started working on a table, but moved to a concrete floor part way through as the table had too much 'give' when pounding in dowels.)

It was a lot of fun to do this together! Though fast paced since the wood glue only takes thirty minutes to dry. There were a lot of pieces to get together, straightened, leveled, cleaned up of excess glue, etc. in that amount of time!

(That is one reason why there aren't many photos, and there would have been even less, but Mom had a few minutes and was so kind to take a few today while we were working . . .)

Leah and I spreading the glue up the sides in the dowel holes

With only having done anything like this once before (on the first chair that my Dad and I did several years ago), it certainly was a learning experience! It was a bit challenging at times, too, as parts of the wood and dowels were not in the greatest shape - some dowel ends were chipped and worn, others had misshapen ends, some parts were bowed, etc.

Leah pounding the pieces of one of the chairs together . . . she would pound, then I would measure until they were where they needed to be. This was the second chair, and one that we needed Dad's help with to get the dowels in the last little bit.

Both Dad and Leah have a knack for working with wood and 'construction', and I couldn't have done this without both of their help. The chairs wouldn't have turned out nearly as well without their skills!

As we worked, it was exciting to see all the different pieces coming together and then once we were done, seeing each chair all in one piece again!

All three! And please don't look too close. :) There are quite a few imperfections!
The one on the right is the first one my Dad and I had put together (which is already stained and had the Tung Oil finish applied), and the two on the left are the ones assembled this week. 

Even with their imperfections, for a first attempt at something like this, I am quite pleased with how they turned out. Now comes another fun step . . . staining! And then applying the Tung Oil finish, attaching the seats to the chairs, and then caning.

This has been such a fun project so far, and I am really looking forward to continuing to work on it. Which will be happening this next week, as well as Leah working on her own furniture restoration project. More about both will be coming in a later post!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Morning Drive to Market

Several weeks ago, on one of our drives to the farmers market, I brought my camera along. It is a beautiful drive, and this day, the rising fog and morning sunlight made it especially so!

Down the country road

The corn is getting tall. The farmers sure haven't needed to use their irrigation systems this year!

An old grain elevator that is by where an old railroad used to be

The river is high! It flooded its banks in some areas, but thankfully has gone back down . . . for now anyway. With all of the rain we have had this week (quite a few inches and counting), it will probably rise some again. 

And isn't the old railroad bridge neat? At one point, the center portion would raise for barge traffic, and then lower again for the trains. Ever since it was no longer used for trains, it has been in this raised position.

And at the market!

As usual, it was an enjoyable Saturday morning!

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Special Meal for the 4th (plus a recipe)

The kitchen was busy for part of Saturday, and it was fun making a more special meal for our 4th of July! And being able to use so much of our own 'homegrown' foods and ingredients, too . . . Porcupine Meatballs made with our own goat meat, Sally Lunn Batter bread with homemade honey butter, green beans and beets from the garden, sweet pickles that I had canned, and deviled eggs made with eggs from our chickens.

The bread before cutting

Meatballs browning . . . and afterwards they were put into a sauce and then simmered

As food was cooking in the kitchen, a flower arrangement was also made with Leah's daylilies, a tablecloth pressed and laid, and more. I really enjoyed doing everything! And especially as I knew the rest of my family was hard at work outdoors getting things done before the next rain (mowing, hoeing/weeding in the garden, cleaning goat pens, etc. - they got so much done!) which made it all the more enjoyable to create a restful atmosphere inside and a satisfying meal.

After dinner, dishes, and chores, we enjoyed a family night with ice cream and an old TV western (have any of you ever seen Rawhide? We enjoy many of those!)

Our 4th of July berry pie was saved for the Sunday meal with our church . . .

I had found the recipe on pinterest, and Leah and I had a lot of fun making it together! It, too, was a 'homegrown' pie with strawberries, blueberries and wild raspberries all being either grown or harvested here on our little farm.

The recipe for the pie will be coming soon! And here is the recipe for the bread and honey butter . . . .

Sally Lunn Batter Bread

-1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
-1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
-1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1/4 cup evaporated cane juice (or sugar)
-2 teaspoon salt
-3 eggs
-5-1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour (I tried making this before with all whole wheat and also half wheat/half all-purpose, and neither worked successfully so now I use all-purpose when making it.)

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter, sugar, salt, eggs and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Do not knead. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Stir the dough down. Spoon into a greased and floured 10-in. tube pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Honey Butter

- Equal parts of softened butter and honey

Stir together and enjoy on bread!


Did you all do anything special for the 4th?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Following Jesus . . . No Matter the Cost

Last week, Leah and I watched one of our favorite movies, God's Not Dead, together again. It's one that never fails to encourage and inspire us in our walks with the Lord, and one we both love to watch when we feel in need of a bit of encouragement (and at other times, too! :)

Each time I watch it, one particular thing always stands out to me profoundly . . . what choosing Christ first in your life looks like lived out, and following Him no matter the cost. And since watching it this last time, I have been thinking about this quite a bit.

Many of the characters in this movie had loss of some form or another due to their choice to love and follow Jesus Christ first and foremost . . .

Josh lost the girl he had planned to marry, risked failing his philosophy class, risked never realizing the future career he was pursuing, and through it all, his family was not supporting him, but were instead discouraging him from doing what he knew God wanted him to do, specifically, standing up for his faith in Jesus. Yet even with all of these, his love for Christ came first! And that love led to many hearts and lives being profoundly impacted.

Ayisha lost her entire family, including her parents, brother, and grandparents, her home, and all of her possessions. She did not deny her Lord and Savior, but testified of Him, even when going through such a painful loss.

Mina had to make the difficult choice to end her relationship with the professor in order to obey God and not be "unequally yoked."

Martin risked, and may have experienced, the loss of his family when he chose to become a believer in Jesus Christ.

(And while this is just a movie, these are very real scenarios regularly being played out in many lives today.)

Throughout the movie, each one of these individuals was faced with difficult choices and the potential (and then often realized) loss of people they cared about or things that were important to them. It was hard, and at times there were tears, yet they took up their cross and followed Him (Matthew 16:24.)

And as they did so, there was an underlying strength that carried them through . . . the strength that each one realized: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13.) Through that, they came to have joy in their lives, despite the cross they might be bearing. They were following Jesus Christ despite the cost, and were leaning on the firm and immovable Rock. Their trust was in Him; their God, Savior, Strength, Trust, Shepherd, and the One who "daily bears our burden" (Psalm 68:19.)

As I thought about all of this, a quote I shared awhile back came to mind, and it seems to fit . . .

"As we endeavor to follow God’s leading, we should proceed as best we can discern the situation (assuming there is no scriptural teaching to the contrary), all the while praying for wisdom and clarification. He may shut the door and redirect, or He may confirm our decision. We can proceed in the confidence that He will go with us, and when the time is right, He will lead us on." (From Creation Research's devotional "Days of Praise" (which can be read in its entirety here.)

We may eventually face, or be facing, similar things in our own lives. Perhaps not to the extent that many of these people did (i.e. rejection/loss of those we love), yet no matter the extent of our 'cross' or how heavy it may be, we have a God strong enough to bear it for us. A God that will direct our steps in the paths He has for us . . . and as the quote shared, we can go forward with complete confidence knowing that He is going to guide us as we seek to follow Him according to His Word.

And there are glorious fruits that come from that obedience! Just as each one of the characters in this movie realized, whether directly or indirectly . . . and many fruits that may never be personally known.

So let us go forward with confidence and in faith, joyfully serving, obeying, and loving our Savior, seeking to be His light and witness in this ever darkening world. Letting Him use us to impact and touch the lives of those around us, knowing and trusting that He will faithfully guide us and go with us each step of the way!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

41 lbs . . .

. . . of produce harvested yesterday!

32 lbs. 10 oz. of beets were harvested and washed and will be canned today (and I'll be starting on that in just a bit!) . . .

3 lbs. 10 oz. of blueberries that Leah picked and that are already in the freezer . . .

4 lbs. 13 oz. of green beans picked which will also be put up today . . .

And so begins the much enjoyed summer harvests and preservation of produce from the garden!