Monday, June 30, 2008

Who Needs a Pillow??

We try to purchase things that have an array of uses. I don't have a lot of storage area so I don't like gadgets that are just one use products. I think we have gotten more than our money's worth out of the English Mastiff. Seth has once again found one more use for her. I caught him using her as his personal pillow while enjoying a movie. She doesn't seem to mind at all. They both look content and out of trouble!!!

grace and peace,

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Scripture

"Behold children are a heritage from the Lord..." Psalm 127:3

Saturday, June 28, 2008

First Canning of the Season

After dinner last night, I decided I had some extra time to can the green beans that had been waiting in the refrigerator. I ended up canning 7 quarts and freezing another 2 quarts. I don't generally like to freeze green beans. However, I do love Green Bean Casserole made with frozen green beans. I had the extra beans and I did not want to go through the whole canning process again for only 2 quarts so I chose to freeze them. I do wish canners would hold more than 7 quarts at one time, but I have yet to ever see one of those.

Here is a look at the first flower bouquet out of the garden this season. It was made up of baby's breath, pincushion flowers, and zinnias. I am headed back out to the garden this morning. I haven't picked out there in 2 days so I am thinking I will have some lovely surprises waiting for me.
grace and peace,

Friday, June 27, 2008

Flower Beauty

When we left for vacation, we only had a few flowers showing their beautiful colors. When we returned, they were all starting their summer show. I made my first bouquet yesterday. I so love the privilege of having fresh cut flowers in our home.
I also enjoy using the sunflowers to fill up a basket for the house. I will usually use a filler like cosmos foliage and then add a few sunflower blooms to that. It is always a cheery basket. My kids all enjoy the fresh flowers too. My boys almost always comment on a new vase or basket of flowers.

When I was planting the garden this year, I did something different. If I had a hole to fill in a raised bed, I would fill it with flowers. It makes my garden pretty. I love looking out the kitchen window and seeing the different splashes of color all throughout the garden. However, it wasn't the most productive way to plant. For example, I will be tilling up the squash and zucchini bed soon to reuse. I have several zinnias sprinkled throughout which makes tilling the bed a nightmare. I also realized that I didn't plant near the amount of flowers that I normally do. I thought I had a good amount because there were some in most beds. The fun part about gardening is that you learn something new each year. What I thought was a terrific idea in the beginning, has turned out a mediocre idea at best. I keep garden notes so that I can remind myself next year. It is amazing how much I forget about the garden through the winter months!

I will be starting more broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and lettuce seeds in the shop this week. I want to get plants ready for the fall planting. I am not for sure if I am on a good time table, but it has been my experience in the past that you want the plants to be a good size before planting in the fall. Last year, they were too small and they did not survive. So I am going to try something different this year.

grace and peace,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back To the Daily Grind

When we got back from vacation, we had green beans ready to be picked. We all headed to the garden and started picking. I was so happy to be back home in our garden. I was looking forward to getting back to our daily routines of life. It was great to get away, but it was even better to come back home! I am so thankful to be able to have something that I enjoy as much as this farm with this family. I remember when Michael was in the Navy and we took leave time to visit our family. We always dreaded going back to the every day grind. We usually spent the entire drive from Kentucky to where ever we happened to live at the time talking about our future after the Navy. It was so good to pull into our drive way and look at our farm and know we were in the exact spot that the Lord had planted us. It just feels...right.
grace and peace,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vacation Moments

Here are a few shots from our vacation. We rented a cabin at Cedars of Lebanon State Park. We had a wonderful relaxing time. We grilled almost every night.
There was time for Dad to teach Hope how to play Chess.
Time for hugs...
And time to swim...

And of course time for BASEBALL. Our boys did a great job. Although they did not reach the first place spot, they played great. Jacob had a wonderful ball tournament which made me a proud Momma.

grace and peace,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Laugh Often

As we were away this past week, I found myself laughing out loud often. My teenage boys are always telling me I cackle. They aren't much better. We are a family that laughs loudly and often. I also think that is something that has made a difference in our marriage. We both have a sense of humor and we aren't afraid to laugh at ourselves. I can't tell you how many church services I have been to and something would be said that I knew would end up sending Michael and I into roaring laughter. If it was an appropriate time to laugh that was fine, but often times it was an inside joke just between me and him so nobody else would be laughing. I have had to cross my legs and look away just to keep myself contained.

I have heard our children tell their friends on more than one occasion while Michael and I were laughing hysterically and nobody else was even smiling, "Don't worry about them. They always do this!" We enjoy being together and it shows. He is my best friend and best friends usually laugh together and often. I encourage you to find something to laugh at with your spouse today. Sometimes I am in a hurry and I just don't have the time to see the humor in a situation. Slow down and smell the roses together so to speak and while your smelling them....LAUGH!!!

grace and peace,

Poor Missy

Missy returned home from the vet yesterday afternoon. I expected her to be full of herself, but she still seemed a bit down. She was obviously happy to be back home after being boarded for an entire week. She moped yesterday. I would liken it to a child's sulking because he didn't get his way. I think she purposely tried to make us feel guilty. Well it worked...we all felt bad about leaving her.
grace and peace,

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Madness

Our family has been on vacation this past week. We rented a cabin at Cedars of Lebanon State Park in Tennessee. The original purpose of leaving was Jacob had to play baseball in Mt. Juliet over the weekend. We decided to combine a little rest and relaxation with some ball. We spent the entire week there and we were all ready to head back home. We had a wonderful time. Michael's mom and my mom live about an hour and half away from were we stayed. Michael's mom came down on Thursday to spend some time with us. She was having a huge family reunion and 3 of our children ended up going back to Ky with her. This included the 4 year old. I spent the next day huddled on the front porch of the cabin reading a book. It was glorious.

The Lord answered my garden prayers. Before we left it looked as if we would be gone when the June apples and green beans were ready to be picked. I was concerned we would miss the whole thing. I really struggled with this and I asked the Lord for a bit of delay. He answered my prayers and we came home to picking green beans. We picked half a bushel and there are some apples ripe today. I will use all of our garden bounty to make dinner tonight.

I was so very surprised at what a week of neglect will do to a garden. We had a friend come over and turn on the drip works for water. She took care of all of our animals and did a fantastic job. We would have never been able to leave for a week without somebody helping us with the farm. I would have never suggested she need to weed the beds. We just asked her to water and pick anything she wanted to take home. When we came back, the beds were over run with weeds. I don't know where they came from to be honest. I know every time I go out there to pick, I usually stop for 15 minutes or so and weed something. It will take several days to get it back in order.

My day will be filled getting the house put back together and doing laundry. We unpacked most everything last night. I have a week's worth of laundry for 7 people so you know that will consume a lot of time! I also need to continue to break beans and get ready to can them tomorrow. I also will have to go to the vet's office and pick up Missy, our English Mastiff. She has never been away from us except the time she went for surgery. She probably thought that the world has come to an end. Our oldest son took her to be boarded the morning we left. He asked if he could come with me to pick her up. He said that was a terribly hard thing for him to do, and he never wanted to have to leave her again.

grace and peace,

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Baseball Weekend

We are in the throws of a big baseball tournament this weekend. This is our state championship tournament, and our team went in as the number one seed in the double A bracket. I have spent my entire time being a ball mother thinking everybody was saying number one seat. Which by the way, makes a whole lot more since than number one seed!!! My young ball player informed me that I was saying it all wrong so for the record now I have my terminology fixed! Off to the ballgames I go...

grace and peace,

Friday, June 20, 2008

Garden Veggies

We always get a lot of squash and zucchini coming in at one time. This year I am going to try a second planting of these wonderful veggies. I have discovered a way to fix them that just about every one in my family enjoys. We all love fried zucchini, but you can only eat so much of that. I often substitute fried zucchini for the meat in a meal. I did that so much last year that my 2 older (carnivore) boys informed me that just because I bread a vegetable and fry it doesn't magically turn it into a meat product. I took the hint and made some meat. Just in case you have squash and zucchini running out of your ears, here is a great way to use it! Hope you enjoy!

zucchini, cut into 1 inch slices
squash, cut into 1 inch slices
1/3 cup olive oil
a clove of fresh garlic minced
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh pepper

Mix all of the above in a large bowl. You can also add fresh mushrooms or onions if you like. Grill on wooden skewers or stir fry on stove. When I stir fry these, I add a little extra oil to the skillet. We like ours still crisp so it only takes a few minutes to cook this. You could also turn this into a full course meal by adding cooked chicken.

grace and peace,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Please Pray Today

Please pray for Tnfarmgirl today. She has had a hard road to hoe and today the final decision is left in the hands of a judge. I have stood by her these last few years, and I have watched her cling to the Lord in the midst of the storm. Please pray that the judge will have wisdom. (By the way, he is a Christian judge who happens to value family. This is already an answered prayer by us all)! Please pray for her children. Also please pray for her Mom. With this decision today, her mom's world is also left up to the judge. If you think about it, feel free to go to Cheri's blog and leave a comment of encouragement. (Her link is on our sidebar under TnFarmGirl). I know it would mean a lot to her to know others are praying on her behalf.

"In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge". Psalm 14:26

Cheri, I am praying for you today!!! Hold fast to the above scripture and KNOW that the Lord is in control! As I am writing, I am reminded of the 3 Hebrew children who the king threw in the fiery furnace. Their hearts said, "We trust the Lord NO MATTER WHAT....if He saves us GREAT, but if He doesn't we will still trust HIM."

grace and peace,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Can You Believe It?

Yesterday we were out for a family time. We had a great afternoon all being together. Michael offered to treat our children with milkshakes from Steak N Shake. Everyone was thrilled except our oldest son. He NEVER does those kinds of things. It is rare that he will even partake of dessert. He is our weight lifter/football player. He is the nut in the family. I guess every family has to have one. Truth be told I wish I had his dedication to staying fit, but I don't. As we were getting milkshakes, he (the nut) saw a Starbucks. He loves coffee and sweet tea, but again he never drinks it because caffeine is bad for him. (Buhumbug)!! He cracked in a moment of weakness and asked his dad to get him a cup of coffee at Starbucks instead of a milkshake. Michael agreed and each of them enjoyed something that none of us could pronounce. I tasted both of their drinks. They were good, but not that good. 2 cups of something that nobody from the country could ever pronounce cost $8.58!!!!! Can you believe that...and if that wasn't enough they don't even fill the cups full. I guess they are watching out for our well being because you know that we might spill some of that hot stuff on ourselves! See we don't get out often and go to places that sell food because we do that nicely at home, and apparently for a whole lot cheaper!

Let's add up the cost of 5 milkshakes ($12) and 2 something coffee that nobody from the country can pronounce ($8.58) equals a whole lot of money for a few drinks. Hey, maybe we should all open up restaurants and convince people that a plate of beans and cornbread should be valued at around $15!!!! Hey, we could even throw in an onion slice and a small spoonful of homemade relish! All we would have to do is to get the city mice to come to the country and we could all be rich! Nahhh... I couldn't do that. I would rather share my beans and cornbread and homemade relish anyway!!! I will even make an entire pitcher of sweet tea for a lot less than $8.58...and that includes all the sugar I use. We always have an extra glass left because our oldest nut won't ever drink that!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Southern Blush Limeade

This simple refreshing drink is fast becoming one of my family's favorite for a hot day. It is a beautiful drink to serve and it really hits the spot when the outside temperatures soar! Enjoy.

3/4 cup Lime juice (I use the juice in the bottle, but you could use fresh squeezed)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice
2 liter Sprite
Maraschino cherries and lime or lemon slices for garnish

Mix above in a glass pitcher. Beautiful. You could do a low calorie version and use a sugar substitute like splenda for the sugar. If you do that, up the sugar substitute equivalent to one cup of sugar. Instead of using Sprite, use 2 liter of lime carbonated water. I don't use sugar substitutes but it is just a thought!

grace and peace,

Monday, June 16, 2008

Quick Garden Update

I took two days off from going in our garden. I still sent the kids to pick squash and zucchini, but I have been so swamped in the house the last few day. I was surprised when I walked back out yesterday and I found green beans almost ready to be picked. I also had baby cucumbers and even little tomatoes. Our apple tree is almost ready for the picking. I see apple sauce making in the near future. Our two apples trees are what we call June Apples. There is a more specific name for them, but I can't remember at the moment. They are ready by the end of June. They aren't the type of apples that you pick and eat. You have to cook them to really enjoy them. When they are ready, they have a white/pale green look about them. Oh my, do they ever make nice apple sauce and cooked apples. Add some pork chops, garden green beans, and green onions and you have a fine meal!! We have a tree at the back of our yard that we thought was too out of hand to ever produce apples again. Michael has worked on this tree the last few years and there is still much work to go. However, it is covered in apples this year. They are producing smaller apples than our other tree, but I am just thrilled that it is producing anything at all. I did finally get some okra planted and all of my tomatoes are now in the ground!!!

grace and peace,

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Scripture

"And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers..." Malachi 4:6


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Are Your Willing to Drop Your Ball?

Our pastor in Florida spent some time teaching marriage principles and this was one that spoke to my heart. He started his teaching with the question "Are you willing to drop your ball?" Now if you play sports you know that dropping the ball isn't usually the goal of the game. Well, I guess if you are a bowler that would be one of the goals, but for baseball or football players they want to keep their ball. In football, a dropped ball is considered a fumble. In baseball, a dropped ball can be the catalyst for many unearned runs for the other team. Aren't you impressed of how much sports knowledge I have gained over the years being the mom of 4 boys???

This particular marriage principle is different from the usual sports analogy. Are you willing to drop your ball intentionally and LET the other person have his/her way? Is there something REALLY worth fighting over enough that you can't give in for your spouse? I started realizing that most of the arguments that Michael and I had were not that big of a deal. If it was something REALLY important then I could wait until the heat of the moment was over and talk to him when we both were more rational. (Not that I would or could ever be irrational or anything)!!! We both have defused many arguments by just dropping our ball. It is an intentional and on purpose kind of thing.

Too often in the past, I have had this look on my face when I wasn't getting my way...

Sometimes Michael will drop his ball for me, and other times I will drop my ball (wants, ideas, plans, desires, dreams) for him. It is a give and take situation. When we first moved to Tennessee, I found a house that I really wanted. It was a foreclosed home and it had many issues. (One was the fact that the kitchen was pretty much gone, but that is such a minor dilemma when you are married to a cabinet maker)! The house was also crooked, but it was so FULL of character and I really loved it. It was like the doll house that I had always wanted...well minus all the yucky color paint and other minor details that needed to be repaired. Michael wasn't as sold on this 100 year old farmhouse as I was. I saw all the potential in the house and he saw all the work. We talked and prayed about it. The final decision was his to make because when we can't agree on something we go with his decision because he is the head of the house. Now that doesn't mean he always gets his way. He has to go back before the Lord and find the heart of the Lord on the particular matter. We did buy the house, and I was thrilled with it. I loved that house so much and I loved living there with my family. He was willing to drop his ball for something that meant a lot to me. Just for the record, I had to drop my ball when we bought the farm we are living in now. I wasn't interested at all in it, but it was important to him.

I find that the big issues in life are easier to lay down for my husband than the small ones. Some times I get irritated if he wants something from me or if he has made plans without my knowledge. I could let him have it on that one! I then have a decision to make...will I drop my ball for him... if the answer is yes, then I choose to do it with a good attitude even if I am less than thrilled about his request. If it is something that we need to address further, then I can talk with him when I am not upset. The same holds true for him. We were in a heated argument one day, and I realized that I was holding my ball very tightly. I wasn't about to fumble this particular siree...I was right...he was wrong.... I was going to stand my ground. (By the way, I really was right). Then I heard the Lord speak to my heart and He asked me if I was going to drop my ball for the man that He put in my life. UGHH...I looked straight at Michael and I told him that I was dropping my ball. He could win the argument because it didn't really matter. He looked stunned...kind of like a calf in a hail storm. I won his heart instantly because I was willing to lay my life down for him.

Are you willing to drop your ball for the person that you are married to? Are you willing to lay down YOUR ways, YOUR will, YOUR desires, YOUR dreams, YOUR wants for your spouse? Ask the Lord to help you in the areas that you need help in letting go of your will. He may just surprise you!!!

grace and peace,


Baseball Weekend

Off to the baseball games we go!!! We are coming to the end of our travel baseball season. We have this weekend and next of tournaments and then we have several weeks without ball. It has been a great season and Jacob has grown leaps and bounds...both in baseball and in character.

Doesn't he look cute as a button? My kids are always telling me that they have yet to see a cute button, but you know what I mean!!!
grace and peace,

Friday, June 13, 2008

The How's and Why's of Freezing Cabbage

I spent some time yesterday afternoon freezing our cabbage. This is an easy job that requires little expense other than freezer bags. You may be wondering why I would freeze cabbage. After all it is cheap in the grocery store. The reason I do it is it is cheap and convenient to put up our own. Plus I know that there won't suddenly be a cabbage recall due to some nasty disease. I like to know where my food has been and who has handled it. Let's get started....

First, select solid green heads with crisp leaves. Wash and discard the coarse outer leaves. Cut the head into wedges. While doing this, cut out the core. Scald wedges in hot boiling water for 3 minutes. Cool. (I cool mine in a sink full of cold water). Drain and pack into freezer bags. (I use either quart size bags or gallon size bags). Freeze.

I use this cabbage to add to soups of all kinds. It is a great addition to any vegetable soup. You don't even have to thaw it...just grab out the amount you want and add it straight to the pot.

I also use frozen cabbage to make Fried Cabbage. Take the frozen cabbage and let it thaw for a bit. Place in skillet with about 2 tablespoons butter or bacon grease. Add about 1/4 cup of water so it doesn't burn. Cook on medium high stirring often. I use a couple of tablespoons sugar, salt, and pepper to add some flavor during the cooking time. When the cabbage is almost done, I sprinkle some Cayenne Pepper on it to add a bit of zing!!

grace and peace,

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Marriage Principle to Live By

I have been thinking a lot about what makes our marriage great. I have had a few major threads of principles that Michael and I have learned to live by over the last 21 years come to my mind. I can't say that we learned them all at once, but we grew into these ideas and they really have worked for us.

The main thread that we have used to weave our marriage cloth is a principle that will work in any relationship that you have. It helps if both people using this principle are on the same page because it makes it work much better. We sum it up like this: YOUR GOOD AT MY EXPENSE.

When I walk out this principle on a daily basis, Michael's day is made much better. He feels that I value him and care for him. He SEES it in action. However there are many times that he doesn't even realize that I am doing this. The day he asked me to go golfing with him is a prime example of this in play. He really wanted me to go. I really didn't want to go. I had a huge garden afternoon planned out, and I had really been looking forward to my afternoon. I made sure all the household chores were done that morning so I could enjoy the time in the garden. I was looking forward to the garden time and I was looking forward to the garden chores being completed. Then came my husband... "Hey, since you have all the inside stuff caught up, would you like to come golfing with me?" In my head was a loud "NO!!! I have long since outgrown spending time getting frustrated hitting a little ball into an elusive hole!" I saw the look in his eyes and I realized it was important to him. Just to make sure that I wasn't mistaken, I asked him if he was serious. He was and I went. I put my plans and wants down to do what he wanted. Turned out we both had a great time and I enjoyed spending the time with my best friend ever so much.

The flip side of this principle is that Michael lives his life in the same way. He looks out for my good at his expense and I get blessed with that each and every day. I think the Biblical way to say this is do unto others as you would have them do unto you! It really works.

This principle has to also be seasoned with grace. Michael isn't a morning person. He has a hard time starting his day with a smile on his face. I don't expect much from him in the mornings. I give him grace to get a slower start on his day than what I would like to see. On the flip side of this is I am not a night person. After 9:00 p.m., I am tired and I am getting irritable with everybody in our house. Michael knows this about me and he gives me the grace I need during the hardest part of my day. He usually puts the younger kids to bed for me and any discipline that needs to be attended to at night is his responsibility. We didn't write a formal set of rules that say he is responsible for all children issues after 9:00 p.m. We just kind of evolved in it over the years. It works for us. He saw my weak area and he laid down his wants and desires to allow me what I need.

The tricky part is when one of us changes our normal behavior or pattern unexpectedly. For example, if I am having a hard time starting my day and I just am plain grouchy, that usually catches Michael off guard. A simple request for a cup of coffee can put me into a tizzy. Michael isn't at his best in the morning, and we have a situation ripe for an argument. One of us has to "drop our ball" so to speak and be willing to give the other person a little extra space. Sometimes we hit the mark...other times we don't. One of my children's favorite stories to tell on me is that one morning neither Michael or myself was willing to give for the other one. I was angry...he was angry. He walked out the door and I was still so frustrated. I happened to have a cup of coffee in my hand. As he drove off to work, I threw my cup of coffee at him while he was driving down the road. He never knew, and I felt better. Of course I had to go pick up the coffee cup bits out of the road. My kids still talk about the day I threw a coffee cup at their dad!!! We both blew it on that particular day. But a few minutes into his drive, he called me to tell me he was sorry. I too was sorry and we talked about it for awhile realizing how silly we both had been. All it would have taken that particular morning would have been for one of us to give for the other one. To this day I have no idea what each of us was so upset about. It really didn't matter.

I do find a proper way to deal with things that bother me. His good at my expense doesn't mean I have to live with things that cause me irritation or strife. I have to be honest with him and tell him when things bother me. If he asked me to play golf every Saturday, I would have to tell him that I don't really want to do that. If he still wants to play, I would give him some suggestions on how we could make that work for him that didn't involve me always having to go. That is living life honestly with one another which is very important.

I hope and pray this little glimpse into our life may help spark thoughts to help you think about ways to improve your own marriage. Please know that we aren't perfect...just ask our kids...they will be more than happy to tell you about me throwing coffee cups or the time I threw the meatloaf out the back door. Just come to our dinner table any time that we are having meatloaf and you can hear the story in full living color!!! After soon to be 21 years of marriage, Michael and I still are looking for ways we can improve. Marriage isn't something that stands still. It isn't suppose to be is suppose to be full of life and growth...even in the hard times of life.

grace and peace,


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Be Idle and Blessed


Swarm of Bees

There was a knock at the door yesterday that yielded a gentleman to tell me that our bees had swarmed. I called Michael at work and gave him the information. He told me not to worry about it because they would be gone by the time he came home. Much to his surprise, they were still on the fence. He got dressed in handy dandy bee suit and went to catch the hive.

He took his high technology cardboard box for carrying the bees. He tapped tapped tapped on the fence...

And then he shut the box and carried them to their new hive home...

He shook them out into the hive and went for another load.

While he was having all the fun, I was across the street in the shelter of the Big Red Truck with my magic weapon....

The window up and down button!!!! It was great because I got to see all of the action, but I was able to roll the window up any time I felt the need or the urge. I practiced with my trigger finger a couple of times because bees REALLY don't like me....I had to be ready just in case. However, no action was required on my part. According to my husband, he captured the queen and the hive should do great. Now we have 4 hives and hopefully soon we will have gallons of honey!!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Just yesterday I was having tea with a friend and we were chatting about marriage. She has children at the marrying age all the way down to eight years old. I would consider her and her husband to have a great marriage. She would agree. The problem is that I don't know many people who I could really say that I think they have a great marriage.

I have always felt so overwhelmed by the fact that Michael and I have a wonderful marriage. I am so full of thanksgiving to the Lord for this. It isn't something that we have done on our own, and I am not quite for sure what made it a great marriage. I know that a three fold cord isn't easily broken and we have the Lord and each other making up our three fold cord. But there are many Christian people that have the Lord, and their marriage isn't good let alone great.

As I sat with my friend yesterday, I asked her what did she and her husband do to make their marriage great. She looked at me and chuckled and said, "I really don't know." I asked Michael the same question the other evening when we were alone. We spent some time chatting about it, but I don't know that we came to a single conclusion. Here is what I do know...

When we got married, we moved from a town of 3,000 and 2 stop lights to Orlando, Florida. What a culture shock for both of us! We both had just turned 19 and we were on our own. It was just him and me. We were 13 hours from our home and anything familiar to us. We poured ourselves into one another because we had nobody else. We have always lived away from our family and we have learned how to depend on each other.

We started out with a great friendship, and it has only grown from there. Michael is my best friend and he has been that for many years. There isn't any person in the world that I would rather spend the day with than him. We enjoy being with one another. He does some things that I don't enjoy, but I will do them if he asks me to. The other day he asked me to go golfing with him. He doesn't golf very much and he thought it would be fun. I personally did not want to go, but I went anyway. I didn't want to golf so I told him I would drive the golf cart. We had a ball that afternoon. We laughed and talked for several hours. I walked around the golf course barefooted because the grass felt so good on my feet. He wasn't embarrassed. He knew that was something that would make me smile.

I know there are things over the years that we have done to make our marriage great. I am considering posting some of those ideas that have worked for us in several different posts. My heart is to see husbands and wives walking in a great relationship with one another. We have had to learn how to disagree in the right way. We have even had to learn how to fight things out in the correct manner. We don't always agree. There are days that I could just shake him, but those days are few and far between.

What about you? Do you have any ideas to share with others on how to make a great marriage?
grace and peace,

A Few Quick Thoughts

It has been very hot here in our area. It seems we went from a cool spring right into a hot hot summer! Missy is always trying to find a way to beat the heat. She loves to be with me in the garden, but she hates the heat. I am up as early as possible to work in the garden before the major heat comes every day. Yesterday found me pulling up broccoli plants and preparing the bed for tomatoes. Today I pulled up cabbage plants and planted watermelon and cantaloupes. I also planted more rutger tomatoes. We are out of beds. I can't squeeze any more space out of the beds we have. I talked with Michael and he suggested that we till up 2 more beds, but we will not actually build them. We are running out of time and materials. If the rain holds off today, I will have my son till the beds. Even though we won't have the wood around them, they will still serve the purpose. At least they will be located with the rest of our raised beds so we can water them. You know it isn't the perfect plan, but it is what it is...and it will work for now.
Today I found our first zinnia in bloom. How glorious it was to walk out early this morning and see a beautiful new flower waiting to greet me. As I was in the garden, I was reminded of the old hymn "In the Garden". I found myself humming and praying while working the soil. Now put a cup of coffee with that and you have the perfect start to a perfect day!

grace and peace,

Monday, June 09, 2008

Bees and Honey Update

Michael checked the bees last week. They started off fine... And then we noticed them getting a bit more aggressive.
Every hive was doing well. The supers that were on the hives were full of honey, but the honey had not been capped yet. When the moisture is out of the honey, the bees cap it to seal it.
He added another super to a hive. He was looking for extra queen eggs, but the bees were so aggressive that he didn't take the time to comb through them. Usually on a hot sunny day, bees don't even notice when you are in the hive. However our bees were very stirred up. The only thing we could think of is that Michael hasn't been in the hives on a consistent basis. We know that one of the hives hatched out an extra queen because that hive swarmed. It is always frustrating for us when that happens. In an ideal world, one would catch the swarm and put it in an extra hive. We even keep extra hives for that purpose. In the real world, it doesn't usually work for us that way. The bees always swarm when Michael is at work. By the time he comes home, they have already left. Whenever he sees new queen eggs being laid, Michael always smashes them. When doing this, you are taking a chance that your old queen may need to be replaced, but there will be no new queens to do this. We have had to go order new queens from the bee supply store before. However if you leave those queen eggs to hatch out, then you know for sure that a swarm will take place. Just remember...2 queens can't live in the same home!!! A swarm causes your number of bees to go down in the hive which causes less honey to be produced.
I am hoping that we will have a good crop of honey this year. Last year we didn't get any due to the drought and the late freeze. We even fed the bees through the winter months because we weren't for sure if they had enough honey stored for their own survival. I have rationed my honey this past year and now I am down to my last quart. In times past we have sold our extra honey, but if we have extra this year I think we will keep it. I enjoy using it to bake my Whole Wheat Bread!

grace and peace,

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday Scripture

"For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us."
2 Corinthians 1:20

Saturday, June 07, 2008

We Now Have 9 Lambs

We have 5 boys and 4 girls. We are still waiting for our last sheep to have her baby. She is obviously pregnant, but she still doesn't look like she is close to going yet.
My pincushion flowers are starting to bloom. I noticed buds about to open on the zinnias. I can't wait to start making flower arrangements!!!

grace and peace,

Sleeping Boys

This is what I woke up to yesterday morning...

Why is my big baby (the 17 year old) sleeping with my little baby (the 4 year old) on the couch? What did I miss in the middle of the night???

grace and peace,

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Summertime can be a challenge to mothers at times. Each child has his own view of what a summer day should look like. Our 3rd son seems to think that summer is about going and DOING fun things. Just the other morning he crawled out of bed and started hounding me to go do something fun. Later in the day, I was just about at my wits end so I picked up the phone and called our oldest son who happened to be in the basement.

Me: "What are you doing?"

Matthew: "Nothing."

Me: "Your brother is about to drive me crazy!"

Matthew: "Which one?"

Me: " know the 11 year old."

Matthew: "What do you want me to do about it?" (My son knows me well enough to know that I don't just call him on his cell phone when he is downstairs just to chat. I call when I want something from him)!

Me: "I don't care...take him something with him...anything...just make sure he is good and tired when you bring him back home."

Matthew: "How about I take him to the gym to work out?"

Me: "Great...just don't bring him back until he is too tired to cause anymore trouble."

Moments after I hang up the phone I hear my oldest son say, "Hey, Jake. You want to go to the gym and work out with me?" The next sound I hear is shouts of joy from Jacob. (I sure wish I could get this excited about working out)!!

They say you can't buy peace. Well, I beg to differ. I didn't buy that eternal kind of peace that only the Lord can give, but I did buy the kind that is called peace and quiet!!!! It was glorious.

When they came back home several hours later, Jacob was tired. He had worked hard and he had lost some of the bounce in his step, but I noticed something way more important than that. He had gained a twinkle in his eyes. He was needing to be poured into that day, and Matthew did just that. He had time to be with his brother and do something that they both enjoyed. Matthew encouraged him, taught him, laughed with him...he filled him up. Jacob came back home beaming because of the time spent with just him and his oldest brother.

I have found that siblings need time to develop their relationships and that sometimes they can give each other things that I could never give. Please don't misunderstand me...I don't think that siblings should replace time spent with the parents, but they can add another dimension. We don't live close to grandparents so at times it feels like Michael and I are the only ones pouring into our children. It is such a relief when I see my children pour into each other. It's good for them and it's good for me. I also believe it helps make a strong family. Just this morning I heard Matthew ask Jacob if he wanted to go back to the gym and workout again today. No phone call from me was needed to encourage the two of them to be together this time.

grace and peace,


Gardening Isn't Free

I have heard a lot of people insinuate that because produce is from the garden it is the same as being free. This isn't the case at all. When we first started a garden, I was shocked at the hidden expenses. We were on a tight enough budget without adding extras to the mix. Here is what I learned about some of the hidden expenses...
First, be prepared to pay for the cost of seeds. This amount will be determined obviously by the amount of seeds you purchase. This year we spent about $120 on seeds and strawberry plants. We ordered them from Heirloom Acres. I bought enough seeds for this year and next. We store our unused seeds in an old refrigerator and they stay nice for several years. Since Heirloom Acres sells heirloom seeds only, I had to buy Ambrosia Cantaloupe Seeds somewhere else. I chose to buy them at the feed store. I about had kittens when I saw that a pack of seeds was $1.99! (I really like Ambrosia)!!! I had another litter of kittens when I realized that there were only 6 seeds in the pack!!! It would be fine to purchase seeds in small packs if you are planning a small garden, but for the size garden we grow it would cost a small fortune!
Another obvious cost is the price of plants. This can get very expensive depending on your supplier and the amount of plants you intend to purchase. It was getting so expensive for us to buy plants that Michael set up a grow center down in the shop. We grow most of our own plants from seeds so we have eliminated the need to purchase most of them. The grow center was made for around $70. He used an old table and leftover wood to make shelves. The majority of the money was spent on light fixtures and grow lights. It has saved a ton of money for us plus I really love growing things!
This brings me to the next hidden cost. I have probably spent about $100 this season in potting soil and jiffy pots. I meant to go to the wholesale place that we purchase our supplies from, but I just didn't ever make the time. I purchased jiffy pots as I needed them and the cost did add up! We did not add any thing to our beds this year so we spent no money there. Since we grow in raised beds there were obvious dollars spent to construct our beds. We felt it worth the money, but it wasn't a necessary expense to raising a garden. This expense was pretty much a one time getting started expense.
Don't forget to add the extra water usage to the upcoming water bill. If we didn't water our garden these last few years, we wouldn't have had a garden at all. However it does cause a large amount in our water bill. We know to expect the increase so we plan for that during the summer months.
If you have already purchased your canning supplies, you are one step ahead of the ballgame. Our first year we had to purchase a canner and all the extras. Jars, lids, and rings don't come for free. I am more than willing to purchase jars from auctions or yard sells. However, I wanted a new canner. I didn't want to take the chance of something being wrong with the canner because this could result in a serious accident. If you are canning green beans or dill pickles, the cost is minimal. However when you can tomatoes take into consideration that each quart of tomatoes needs 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice added. (Today's tomatoes just don't have enough acid so adding lemon juice helps). If you are canning 100 quarts of tomatoes, this one thing can get expensive.
I had a person ask me if I would sell jam to her. I thought about it and decided that I didn't want to do that. I would have to sell it for an enormous amount just to get my costs back. Jams are expensive to make. There is the fruit and sugar purchase. If you make freezer jam, you also must take into account the cost of Sure-Jell. I KNOW it is cheaper to buy jam at the grocery store than to make it, but the taste is so much better with homemade.
After I about broke our budget the first year, I came up with a few ways to make it a bit easier. I plan ahead of time and spread the cost out over several months. I know I want to freeze cabbage and peppers in ziploc freezer bags. These bags are not cheap so I start buying a box each time I do my grocery shopping starting in March. By the time I am ready to put up these things, I have a well stocked amount of bags. If strawberry season is just around the corner, I start buying extra sugar in 25# bags so that expense is spread out over several weeks. It is easier to spare $10 extra every 2 weeks than to cough up $100 in one fail swoop. I also start purchasing canning lids each time I go grocery shopping. I can reuse my rings, but I have to use new lids each time.
Now the good do save money when you are not having to purchase produce from the store. The extra money you save can go towards the extra things needed to grow and can food. The best news of all is that you KNOW what your family is eating and you KNOW exactly where it came from and what is in it. You also KNOW that the taste is unbelievable compared to the grocery store equivalent. I won't even think about purchasing tomatoes or cucumbers from the grocery store because we don't like them. They have no taste and the mouth feel is unbearable to us.
As long as you understand that gardening isn't free, you can plan ahead and work it into the budget. The first year that we had a garden I felt kind of duped because I had the notion that I could take the extra from my food budget and use it for something fun. This wasn't the case, and now that I know the extra costs I am willing to make the plan to absorb them into our monthly budget. If you have any other great money saving tips for the garden, please leave a comment and share it with us all! I am always looking for a good tip on saving money.
grace and peace,

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Now What Do I Do?

In times past, I have not really known what to do with all the garden produce that we have grown. I remember one year not having a clue what to do with all the different varieties of peppers that Michael grew. I kept looking at them thinking they were pretty, but that thought didn't turn them into dinner. I did the next best thing. I turned them into flower arrangements and gift baskets. I also learned that one of the keys to using the garden produce is to clean it at one time if possible. I clean enough lettuce to last me a week. This saves so much time during dinner preps. If I am in a time crunch, I won't use the garden produce if it isn't convient. If I plan ahead, then I will use it.

Here is a picture of my sink full of lettuce soaking in water to be cleaned.

After I have washed and picked through it, I then use my salad spinner to dry the lettuce. I store it in large plastic containers or plastic bags. I put a paper towel in the bottom of the container and one on top of the lettuce to help soak up any moisture.

Whenever I have green peas or green beans, I make sure I break them ahead of time. I also go ahead and wash up the broccoli or cauliflower. I bag it in meal size portions in small plastic bags. Last night I was in a huge time crunch. I was able to prepare cauliflower in no time flat because all of the prep work had already been done. There is nothing more frustrating than pouring all that time, energy, and money into growing a garden and then having to feed the produce to the chickens because I let it go bad. It still happens some, but not near as often as it use to.

grace and peace,


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Warning Warning all Gardeners

I found the dreaded potato bug on our tomato plants. If you find this bug, kill it immediately. They will eat your garden plants down to the stems if left unattended. We do not use chemicals so how do I handle the little problems? Well, it is a nasty job, but somebody has to do it. I use my fingers and smash them to oblivion. Sometimes I will collect them in a jar and feed them to the chickens, but most of the time I just squish them between my fingers. Always be vigilant with looking for bugs and eggs. If you get them before they get a good start, you will be much more successful in combating them without using chemicals. Turn the leaves over and look for little yellow eggs on the underside of the leaf. If you find them, squish them. This will also help control the bug population in your garden. It is time consuming, but I think the rewards are well worth the effort! By the way 3 and 4 year old boys usually really enjoy this garden job!!!

By the way, I ate my first garden cauliflower this evening. It was full of flavor. Our pastor in Florida described cauliflower as being a broccoli want a be without the flavor. I don't think he has ever eaten fresh garden cauliflower. It is not short of flavor! I boiled it just until fork tender and added some salt and cheddar cheese. It will be in our garden from now on.

grace and peace,

Come Take a Walk With Me Through My Garden

The weather is beautiful this morning. I woke to a gorgeous pink sky with the sun just peaking out from behind the mountains and the sounds of sheep in the pasture. There is a slight breeze and the temperature is near perfect for a walk. Grab your coffee and let's head out the back door to the garden... Our zucchini and squash are coming along nicely. I will be enjoying some fried zucchini and squash casseroles very soon. I will also make some zucchini bread with the extras in the near future. I have a friend who begs me for the flowers off of my squash and zucchini plants. Apparently you can do some wild gourmet thing with them. I like my flowers right were they are at...making more squash and zucchini!
This is my first time to grow cauliflower...isn't it just beautiful?

Here is my cauliflower and broccoli bed. If you look closely you can see I used my daughter's rubber band hair holders to tie my cauliflower in a bunch. This is done in order to make the cauliflower white and not be bitter. When I was in Tnfarmgirl's garden (link at the sidebar), she used clothespin to pin hers together. I thought that was even a better idea, but I didn't have any clothespins! With all boys in her family, I guess she didn't have any little girl ponytail holders!!!
Here is another full bed of broccoli plants. They are almost finished for the season so in the next few days we will be pulling up this bed and feeding some of it to the chickens. Out with the old and in with the new!
Here is our bed with the strawberries that we planted this year. If you watch closely, you can almost see them grow right before your eyes. They have done wonderful this year.
And next you will see my green bean bed. These are bush beans that my dear son and his friend Kolin planted for me. They planted about double the amount of beans that they were suppose to plant that day. They told me if some was good more was better! The bed is full to the brim and there are already blooms on the plants. I hope those boys stick to their philosophy of some is good more is better when we are picking and breaking these beans!!!
This is one of 3 tomato beds that I have planted. I will be putting in one more bed of tomatoes in the next week. I have the plants, but no room in the inn for them! These tomatoes are our eating tomatoes. I have Super Sweet 100's and Cherokee Purples and a few Big Boys in here. We should have already staked them, but that will get done today.
Here is a view of our cabbage bed. I also wanted to share my harvest basket with you. I had always wanted one of those handy dandy harvest baskets. This basket was my last birthday gift from my dad to me. He knew I really wanted one and he ordered it for me from a catalog. It was also one of the only gifts that he and my mom ever gave me early. He gave it to me the month before my birthday because he wasn't for sure he would be alive on my actual birthday. You see, he was dying of cancer. Anyway, whenever I take my garden basket to harvest from our garden, I often stop and think of him. It always brings a smile to my face...just a small token of a love of gardening that was shared by him as well.
Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the world. I hope you enjoyed your walk with me this morning!
grace and peace,