Friday, July 29, 2016

Out for a Run

Outside early to beat the heat (though the humidity was 97% so still made it feel warm!) and enjoying a morning run as the sun slowly rose higher in the sky . . . white fluffy clouds drifted across the brilliant blue . . . flowers bloomed along the way . . . and I could hear our rooster greeting the morning enthusiastically as various birds sang in the trees around me . . . (I brought my phone with me this time, hence the photos) . . . .

Looking up our driveway

Zinnias blooming (earlier this year Mom had scattered seeds of different flowers along our driveway)

After the run

Looking down our winding road

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thirsting for Him

Posting today on my other blog Follow in His Steps . . . .

"One morning this week as I read in Matthew, a passage that is well familiar to me as it has been read and studied a great many times, caused me once again to pause: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matthew 5:6.) 
The two words that particularly caught my attention were "hunger" and "thirst." And the object of this hungering and thirsting is "righteousness" . . . firstly, being made right with God through believing in Jesus Christ as one's Lord and Savior and being born again, and secondly, it is growing in righteousness, living in such a way that is in keeping with being a child of God. 
This "hunger" spoken of here in Matthew is to . . . " read the rest here

Monday, July 25, 2016

Crockpot Cowboy Casserole Recipe

Crockpot meals are favorites around here (particularly for the cook :) as it is so nice to get most of dinner prepared in the morning, have the crockpot cook it all day, and then it's ready to eat in the evening! They are also especially nice for Sundays since we share a potluck meal each week with our church.

This particular crockpot recipe is really simple to put together and is delicious, too . . .

(The spice/herb amounts are guesstimates as I don't measure much when making this!)

Crockpot Cowboy Casserole

- 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½-inch cubes
- 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef, browned and drained
- 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (we didn't have these so I used a can of mild Chili beans and rinsed them so they wouldn't be so spicy)
- 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
- ¼ cup water
- a bit of additional dried basil, pepper and salt
- 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

Place the potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil. Add onions and minced garlic. Layer ground beef over onions and garlic. Top with beans, diced tomatoes, and water. Sprinkle lightly with additional basil, pepper, and salt. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. When there is about 15 minutes of cook time left, sprinkle the cheese on top, and cover again until cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Precious Little Blessing & A Renovation Project

10 tiny toes, 10 little fingers, delicate eyelashes, soft dark hair, wondrously knit together . . . an adorable, so very precious little blessing from the Lord . . . .

Holding our friends' sweet new baby for the first time

Thank you all who had been praying for our friend and her upcoming delivery! She had her baby last week and all went well. We met the new little guy on Sunday at our house church, and there was a 'waiting list' of all of us wanting to hold him as he was passed around from person to person to person.

I so loved my times of holding him! Looking into his adorable little face, watching the change of expression flit across it, seeing his little eyes flicker open as he woke from a deep sleep . . . . so precious! I could have held him all day. :)

So that was the wonderful start of our week!

On Monday, Dad, Mom, Leah and I drove down to a bulk-food store to stock up on groceries again. We always enjoy those trips together, both the lovely drive and our times there . . .

Dad, Mom, and Leah having fun together while we shopped

Then Tuesday dawned warm and humid . . . and quickly became hot and humid! The high was in the low-90's with heat indexes above 110 degrees. That didn't keep us and a friend of ours from a major house renovation project, though! He is renovating one of his rental properties so we went and helped him for the day (he's helped my Dad a lot on some projects which has been a blessing to us, and it was nice to be able to help him, too.)

The project for the day was . . . prepping the house for painting! It is an older home and needed all the window trim and the porch ceiling/framing scraped of the loose, old paint and then be brushed off; the window glass and door taped/papered over; parts of the porch papered over; plastic taped over the block foundation; and cracks in the stucco caulked. We spent nearly all day (with quite a few breaks!) working on those tasks together, and little by little, things were crossed off the to-do list . . . .

Leah brushing off the wood trim after she finished scraping it

Mom brushing off the old paint dust/flakes after scraping

Dad caulking while our friend removed the window-air unit 

Me scraping the old, loose paint off of the window trim

It was a big and tiring project, but it was fun to work on together! Particularly when it finally came to the point when he began spraying on the new paint. The part he was able to get done yesterday looks so much better now. Definitely makes all that hard work worth it!

With all of us hot and tired, we finished out the day by going and getting fruit slushes which were a perfect treat to bring a close to our work day!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Friends, Family, Food Preservation, and More . . .

So much filled the last week! And here is a taste (plus a number of flower photos as there are many blooming beautifully right now) . . .

~ We had a friend over for the fourth of July which was enjoyed by all! Especially the close of our evening with two guitars being played, all of us singing hymns together, and after a bit, I played along with the fiddle, too. How wonderful it is to be able to play music and lift our voices together in song to the Lord!

~ Mom was able to come with me to the nursing home last week which was so nice! She played the piano and I sang, and what a special time it was with a circle of residents around us with some of them singing along or tapping their hands in time to the music.

One (of many!) wonderful moments there was this one . . . I had been praying for an opportunity to speak more deeply about the gospel with one dear lady whom I have become good friends with. She is 99 years old and loves hearing the old hymns. While Mom played "What a Friend We have in Jesus", and I sang, her eyes filled with tears which began slipping down her cheeks. I knelt before her, my hand on hers, as I finished singing the beautiful words. Then followed a very sweet and special time of talking with her more deeply and intimately than we have before . . . it was an answer to prayer! And during part of the conversation, what joy filled my heart to find out for sure that yes indeed, Jesus was her Savior, He was to her this glorious "friend" that the hymn speaks of.

When I gave her a hug goodbye, she squeezed my hand and said "thank you for helping me." So thankful for this door opening!

~ Mom, Leah and I went to a friend's house to help her make freezer meals before her baby is born. She is due this coming Sunday, and we're all getting quite excited to meet their little guy! Needless to say, our time together was so much fun! And now she has a well-filled freezer of many meals for her and her husband to enjoy after baby arrives . . .

Peppers chopped and meatballs browning

Leah and Meagan finishing up with the lasagna

 ~ Mom worked on restoring and revitalizing the finish on our dining room table, chairs, the piano, and a few other wood furniture pieces. They look so nice now! The piano and table especially.

~ The garden continues to grow and produce abundantly which is a great blessing! We've been eating fresh garden produce just about every day for quite awhile now . . .

Part of the garden . . . beets (the few remaining ones), green beans, potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, various herbs, sunflowers, and tomatoes.

Cheery sunflowers blooming 

One of the rows of tomato plants. They are full of tomatoes, and they should begin ripening soon which means tomato canning will likely begin around the beginning of August or so

A growing tomato on the vine 

 The cattle panel trellis that Dad made this year is working really well for the cucumbers!

A honeybee on a sunflower with the setting sun behind 

Dad and Mom out in the garden at dusk

 Mom next to the giant sunflower plant we have this year! It is a volunteer one that just kept growing and growing and growing. Surprisingly, it has withstood the strong winds that a couple of severe storms brought through, though Dad did eventually put a t-post next to it and tie the plant to it.

~ Business work and making more product happened again which is normal for every week. And then as always, there was Farmers Market on Saturday . . .

  Photo from quite a few Saturdays ago . . . and with my new banner sign!

When at the market this past Saturday, I went on the search for sweet corn since we don't grow it ourselves, and got 13 dozen ears from a farmer there. Any guesses what we did after we got home? :)

The pile of corn

Leah and I husking it

58 ears husked and ready to be boiled . . . 98 ears to go

Mom boiling the corn for 5 minutes before putting it into ice water in the sink

Me cutting the corn off the cobs

 All ready to be bagged! Which Leah did. And now we have 44 bags of corn in the freezer - some in meal size portions and others with the amounts needed for using in casseroles and soups.

 ~ And to close, here are a couple of random photos from around our place . . .

A few of the beehives . . . notice how tall the one in the back is? Honey extraction isn't too far in the future!

Wild blackberries . . . there aren't enough to make anything with, but they sure are good fresh


At the close of another day . . . Leah taking care of some of our goats

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

First Canning of the Year

Dad and Mom were planning a trip out to the Creation Museum for their anniversary (which they celebrate the beginning of this month), and Leah and I were thinking that while they were gone, it would be fun to do another 'sister time' of furniture restoration/refinishing. But then as the time for their trip came closer (they went last week and had a wonderful time!), a number of 'must do's' came up for us so our plans changed!

One of those change of plans was turning this . . .

Into this . . .

Yes, canning has begun! The first produce ready this year was the beets, and we began by first harvesting all of them save for the really small ones . . .

Cutting off their tops . . .

Washing them . . .

Then boiling them, peeling and chopping them, and finally, canning them! Of which there are no photos so you'll have to imagine. :) Leah and I had a lot of fun together with the canning, and many hours later, the kitchen was all cleaned up again (beets are so messy!) and there were 20 quarts of beets canned and ready to be enjoyed in the coming months.

Then this afternoon, cucumber relish was made and canned . . .

Mom prepared all the onions, peppers and cucumbers . . .

. . . and then I made it and canned it

Pickles are next on the list to make and can as our cucumber plants are producing prolifically right now! And so the furniture restoration/refinishing will have to wait just a little longer . . . . :)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, "Thus saith the Lord."

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
Just in simple faith to plunge me
'Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

I'm so glad I learned to trust Him,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that He is with me,
Will be with me to the end.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

Words by: Lousia M. R. Stead


"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:5-6

"And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You."
Psalm 9:10

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
and whose trust is the LORD.
For He will be like a tree planted by the water,
that extends its roots by a stream
and will not fear when the heat comes;
but its leaves will be green,
and it will not be anxious in a year of drought
nor cease to yield fruit."
Jeremiah 17:7-8

" 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.' " 
Jeremiah 29:11

"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, 
because His compassions fail not. 
They are new every morning: 
great is Thy faithfulness. 
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; 
therefore will I hope in Him.
Lamentations 3:22-23