Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Minnesota Wildflowers

The outside is covered with snow right now but that doesn't stop me from enjoying flowers!
We are blessed with many beautiful wildflowers that grow in our state. Since I got my digital camera I have had a blast taking pictures of some of them (I didn't take many nature photos previously because of the expense of film). As I am sharing about MN (okay, so I was sharing about MN but this post took a long time which rather slowed up my state reporting), I didn't think it would be complete without a section on Wildflowers. I am going to attempt to make this a usable resource. I will list each one alphabetically and add other information that I know about them.

Blue Flag Iris
Iris versicolor

It is in the Iris family. It blooms in Spring and summer.
Habitat is wet, sun or shade, edges of woodlands, lakes and rivers.
This is my original favorite flower and still the one I will name if anyone asks me what my favorite is. These do work well as a cut flower but don't really last that long. However there are many buds on one stem so when one closes another will usually open.
Canada Goldenrod
Solidago canadensis

It is in the Aster family. It blooms in the summer and fall.
Habitat is dry, sun, open fields and prairies.
Goldenrod works well in flower arrangements. It is commonly blamed for allergies but generally unjustly so.
Aquilegie canadensis

It is in the Buttercup family. It blooms in the Spring and summer.
Habitat is dry, rocky places, open deciduous woods, shade.
It works well as a cut flower, though as with many wildflowers it needs to be treated gently. I grew up calling this honeysuckle because there are little bags of "honey" at the end of each of the tubes. My children love to collect these flowers and bite off the ends as a treat.
Common Dandelion
Taraxacum officinale

It is in the Aster family. In blooms in spring, summer and fall.
Habitat is dry, sun, lawns, fields and about anywhere! :-)
This does not work well as a cut flower but go ahead and pick as many as you would like! I think nothing is sweeter that a handful of dandelions from a smiling child.
Common Yarrow
Achillea millefolium

It is in the Aster family. It blooms in Summer and Fall.
Habitat is dry, sun, deciduous woods, fields and prairies.
It does work as a cut flower. This is a medicinal herb and can be used to make tea. I have heard good reports for using it on wounds as well.

Creeping Bellflower
Campanula rapunculoides

It is in the Bellflower family. It blooms in summer and fall.
Habitat is dry, sun, fields and old homesteads.
As I recall it works fine as a cut flower but I don't think it lasts real long. It is another of my favorites! :-)
Giant Blue Hyssop
Agastache foeniculum

It is in the Mint family. It blooms in the summer. By the way, sorry the picture is not very good. I will try to get a better on next summer.
Habitat is dry, sun or shade, deciduous woods and prairies.
It works well as a cut flower. The leaves smell like black licorice and you can use it to make tea.

Campanula rotundifolia

It is in the Bellflower family. It blooms in the summer.
Habitat is wet, sun, rocky outcroppings along rivers, meadows and prairies.
This is one of the most dainty and beautiful flowers you will find. It does work as a cut flower but has a very fragile stem.


It is in the Buttercup family. It blooms in the Spring. We grew up calling them Mayflowers and we loved looking for them in late April and early May.
Habitat is dry, shade, deciduous woods.
These last pretty well as a cut flower. You need pretty small vases to put them in though. :-) They are incredibly sweet flowers and they come in shades ranging from white to a deep lavender.

Hoary AlyssumBerteroa incana

It is in the Mustard family. It blooms in summer and fall.
Habitat is dry, sun, open fields, along roads and disturbed sites.
This works fine as a cut flowers. It is a common flower. It is a host plant for Cabbage butterfly catipillars.

Hoary PuccoonLithosperum canescens

It is in the Borage Family. It blooms in the Spring.
Habitat is dry, sun, rocky soils, prairies and along roads.
It is a very sweet little flower and it works fine as a cut flower.

Large-flowered BellwortUvularia grandiflora

It is in the Lily family. It blooms in the Spring.
Habitat is wet, shade, deciduous woods.
This isn't the greatest cut flower.

Large-Leaved Aster
Aster macrophyllus

It is in the Aster family. It blooms in summer and fall.
Habitat is dry, shade, deciduous woods.
It work as a cut flower.

Ox-Eye Daisy
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum

It is in the Aster family. It blooms in spring and summer.
Habitat is wet or dry, sun, fields, along roads and pastures.
It lasts well as a cut flower. There is something so very cheerful about seeing a feild of daisies!!

Purple Fringed Orchid
Habenaria psycodes

It is in the Orchid family. It blooms in the summer.
Habitat is wet, sun, grassy marshes, damp woodland borders, prairies.
It has not been cultivated and thus won't grow in a garden. It should never be picked or transplanted.

Red Clover
Trifolium pratense
They are in the Pea or Bean Family. They bloom in Spring, Summer and Fall.
Habitat is wet or dry, sun, old fields and pastures.
They work fine as a cut flower. (To put in vases.)
Spotted Knapweed
Centaurea maculosa

It is in the aster family. It blooms in summer and fall.
Habitat is dry, sun, fields, along roads.
It does not work that well as a cut flower. It is considered a noxious weed but that doesn't stop it from still being pretty.

Spreading DogbaneApocynum androsaemifolium
It is in the Dogbane family. It blooms in the summer.
Habitat is dry, sun, along roads and edges of deciduous woods.
This is a close relative of the milk weed and also has a milky substance in it's stem.
Trillium, Large flowered
Trillium grandiflorum

They are in the Lily family. They bloom in the spring. They are incredibly beautiful!!
Habitat is rich moist woodlands, deciduous woods.
They last forever as a cut flower, but I shouldn't know. I found out afterwards that they are protected as they have a hard time coming back if they have been picked.


It is in the violet family. It blooms in Spring and Summer.
Habitat is wet, cool shade, rich deciduous woods.
This is a beautiful little flower that lasts nicely and looks so sweet in a little vase.

Wild Bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

This is part of the mint family. It blooms in the summer.
Habitat is dry, sun, fields, prairies, deciduous sunny woods, along roads.
This lasts well as a cut flower. It also has a neat scent. When reading I found out that this mint's oil is an essential ingredient in Earl Grey tea.
Wild Rose
Rosa spp.

Wood Anemone
Anemone quinquefolia

It is in the Buttercup famly. It blooms in the spring.
Habitat is dry, shade, openings and edges of deciduous woods.
This is a very common flower that is fun to see blooming all over in the spring. It does well in a little vase.
Creeping Charlie
These flowers below are ones I am not sure about. If you know I would love to have you tell me!

This is part of the Rosa family. (In fact the various roses do a lot of interbreeding so who knows exactly what species it is.) It starts blooming around June and blooms some throughout the summer.
It grows in sandy soil on the edges of woods.
It is a good cut flower. The rose hips are edible and a great source of vitamin C.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Puff Pancake

This is a recipe that we have enjoyed so I thought I would share it here. It is a pretty easy breakfast recipe but it does have to bake for 25-30 minutes so it isn't an instant breakfast.

2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
Generously grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie pan. In a mixing bowl combine flour, milk and eggs. Beat well. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or till puffed and golden. The picture below shows how it looks when it is puffed up but after you remove it from the oven it quickly falls down again.
To serve the pancake I made a warm raspberry sauce. It would also be good with warmed blueberry pie filling, sliced peaches or nectarines, sliced strawberries or whatever sounds good to you. Cut with a table knife. It makes 6 servings.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Exciting happenings at church

This Sunday was our first time to meet in our new building. This is happening after many years of prayer, dreaming and planning and it is an answer to our prayer. The building is not done but it has plumbing now and the pews were in place and it was warm and worked just fine! Also we had to be out of our old building because it sold. (Which is a very big praise, especially considering the market right now!)
Obviously it is not the building that is the church, it is the people, and the building doesn't really matter in the big scheme of things but we believe that God can use this building as a tool to reach more people for Him. One of the thing that really excites us about the new building is that it is handicap accessible which makes it much easier for our elderly. Also it is bigger with better class areas which allows for more activities. It is also more comfortable for fellowship times which we think is quite important. I am very eager to see how God will use this building for His Kingdom.

Some of the faces on Sunday were Keren and Tomisha.....
...Ed with a communion talk (notice, no carpet on the stage yet.)

and Irindee and Opal.
Since I had flowers coming last week for a wedding anyway I ordered some extras in order to decorate at the church building. It was a lot of fun to make it look very special for the first Sunday there.
On Saturday the old church building had to be cleaned. I went over to help after delivering my wedding flowers but they were done and getting ready to go, so instead I took pictures of my little (? no, younger) siblings doing something that wasn't really approved of for the last time.
Oh the excitement of sliding down the banister! We have no banister at the new church building.
There were some guests at church on Sunday and we plan on really using this opportunity to invite many to join us. I am excited to see what might happen.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My December Challange

You may remember that I was trying to spend only $100 this month, just for the fun of it to see if I could do it. Last Saturday was quite hectic and I didn't get an update done so I will update now.

I had $29.64 left for the month.

Some things that went on since that time was we went on a spur of the moment (well we did have almost a weeks notice) vacation. I did not count the gas for that trip as that was Ken's department (though I have counted gas money for the van otherwise this month). The vacation was actually really frugal though I ended up spending a few dollars that I wouldn't have had we been home.

Here are my expenses:
Walmart: $6.75 (vacation food and special toothpaste ($3.16!) that Ken requested)
Market Place: $7.14 (fresh veggies and a balloons and pump ($4) that Mara really wanted to use to make special balloon art for kids at the first church service in our new building.)
Dairy: $15 (5 gallons milk)
Walmart: $.88 (for juice, because I am bringing pastries and drink to church on Sunday mornings this month)

Total: $29.77 That puts me -$.13.

I didn't make it, but it was fun trying. Also today Ken picked up some milk and cheese at the store because we don't have enough to make it through next week. That should have fit in the $100 too. Oh well, I spent a lot less than I usually do. I will try to make it through the rest of the month without spending anything, which shouldn't be a problem.

Here were some of the challenges from the last 2 weeks:

  • Revising menus. There would be several times I would have a meal planned and then realize I didn't have everything that was needed. I would have to switch to work with what I did have. That included planning food for our vacation.
  • Low on eggs. We get the majority of our eggs from my parents (It is very nice to have farm fresh eggs!). Well they had company and so had less extra and then I was doing extra baking because of the holiday. I had to come up with a way to still do what I needed to do without so many eggs. Here were some of my solutions: ~1.~ We like to eat eggs regularly for breakfast but instead we had hashbrowns and sausage, pancakes with few eggs, oatmeal and stuff like that. ~2.~ In baking I used one of my eggless cookie recipes and then a friend mentioned that she had found one online that was Vegan. She sent me the link and I tried them (though I misread the recipe and put in 1/4 CUP blackstrap molasses instead of the TEASPOON that it was supposed to be, needless to say they had a very strong molasses taste!). That recipe got me to thinking that there were probably a lot of Vegan baking recipes that I could use. I found an eggless pumpkin bread recipe that we liked very much (though I reduced the sugar to 2 1/2 cups and would go even less next time. I would also like to try using a lot less oil.). When looking around tonight I found a site that is all about eggless cooking. For taking to church last Sunday morning I used this recipe for Biscuit twists that turned out to be quite yummy. ~3.~ I had decided on homemade pasta for our Christmas meal. Homemade noodles can take a lot of eggs. I decided to stretch them by adding either squash or pureed swiss chard to the noodles. They turned out fine.
  • We were running low on milk. I have had a recipe that I have wanted to try for a long time for rice milk. I finally tried it this week. It tasted all right but I think I still need to do some perfecting of it. This morning we used it and one egg to make french toast which the whole family enjoyed. Also I am seriously considering not drinking milk for a while. A book I am reading really thinks it is best not to drink milk but I feel a little sceptical and I really like it.
  • Potato salad without mustard. On Christmas Eve it is a tradition for us to eat Hamburgers. We like potato salad with them and I have oodles of potatoes so I thought I would make some. Well I had forgotten we didn't have mustard. For us that is rather essential! I looked to see if we had dry mustard but no, we were out of that too. However I noticed my container of turmeric and it was so nice and yellow. So I put that in as well as lots of other seasoning, dill pickles, onion and mayonnaise. Because of the turmeric it looked basically the same and the other flavors nearly covered up that fact that the mustard was missing. Everybody ate it fine.

Well that has been our adventure in finances this month. I don't think I will need to buy anything more, nor do I foresee any new challenges for the rest of this month but If I hit any difficulties, I will report. It is fun to figure out new ways to do things and make myself think outside the box. I think I will have to have more challenges throughout this next year. We still have a lot of food in the house (just missing a few of the things that we are used too. ) so I am looking forward to seeing how low I can get our food bill in 2009.

One thing that I found very interesting this month was the feeling of "I don't have enough money". That wasn't really true because it was just a "silly" challenge that I had made for myself but still it made me realize how some people actually feel, that they have to chose between things that they actually need. I realized how nice it has been to live in a very secure economic setting (not with a lot of money but where it is spent carefully so we don't run out) all my life. I have honestly never had that feeling that I don't have enough money to buy milk or toilet paper or any food that we truly needed. There have been lots of times however that I made the choice not to buy steak or roast or convenience foods or fruits over $1.50 a lb. because I knew that if I did that we would blow our food budget in no time.

Also this month I did make some unnecessary purchases (such as postage for Christmas letters, special toothpaste for Ken (I gets plenty of toothpaste free with deals at Walgreens) and balloons and pump for Mara.) but I weighed each one and decided that the reason behind each one (staying connected with friends and family, honoring my husband and encouraging my daughter in reaching out to others) was more important than any challenge of mine.

How is everything going with you? Are you finding the economic situation troubling or are you having lots of fun like I am trying to be prepared no matter what might happen? I think it is fun to practice in advance for any possible situations. I would love to hear what you are thinking! :-)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hello Again! ~ bits and pieces of our life

This past week (plus some days) has been pretty busy! I didn't really intend to take a blogging break but it ended up being pretty necessary. :-) I thought, for those who enjoy knowing what is going on in our lives, that I would share some of the goings on.

Last Thursday was our Anniversary. On Tuesday we had gotten home late from the Dells, On Wednesday we were quite exhausted and didn't do much. On Thursday I thought we would get busy and get things done. We got a start at that and then Mom called and said they were working on the new church building and would we like to help? So we thought that would be good and went over helped as we could and then had fun picnicking with them.

Then we came home and had short naps. Later while I was on the phone with my MIL I decided I would wrap my anniversary present for Ken. The problem was, I couldn't find it anywhere! I had bought it a few weeks in advance (for a great deal!) and then I had it in my office for a while and then I thought I had moved it to the Laundry room where we have the wrapping stuff. I tore both rooms apart looking for it and I could not find it anywhere! (But I left the rooms in shambles!) That evening I gave Ken a card and some candy but had to tell him the other part of his present was missing. I felt quite disorganized. A couple of days later Ken found it, in the wrapping paper box!

Friday and Saturday were busy days as well, spending time with friends and family and trying to get a lot done.

On Sunday after church Mom and Dad had us over for lunch. My sister Anna and family had come up to visit and help on the church building so there was a houseful there. Above are some sweet girls: Meggie (isn't she fancy with her swimming goggles!?!), Auntie Keren and Bea.
I also got to deal with a van that didn't want to start and had to be jumped.

On Monday Tomisha and Pei Lin came over to help bake and such for Christmas. We also worked at making homemade noodles. Tomisha thought it was fun to add a new item to her list of things that she can make from scratch.

Pei Lin also cooked for us a very delicious Malaysian lunch. We all really enjoyed it. Delicious marinated chicken and sausage on rice... Oh yummy!

The week has been filled with various finishing of projects for Christmas including baking, sewing, writing, typing, drawing and more. I also have been working on stuff for a wedding that is tomorrow. On Wednesday we did more baking (so we could give some away), got packages put together for a family we know going through hard times and prepared to go deliver them and buy some needed spray paint for the wedding project, however the van decided not to start again...
On Christmas morning we actually rather slept in, I think I was the last one out of bed. I had been doing some needed spray painting (Ken had bought the spray paint for me) for the wedding the night before and I did it in poor ventilation and ended up with a head that hurt rather badly.
We ended up eating breakfast first and then opening presents. I have a few pictures of that time.

Megan thought her finger puppets were pretty fun.

Here is Mara wearing the hair ribbons that Jonathan and I got together for her.

Some of Aaron's creative gifts for Ken. :-) Little kids and homemade gifts can get pretty interesting!
New socks for Mara. And not just any old socks, toe socks! These bring back great memories of my friend George (Stacy) and the toe socks she used to love to wear. Mara looked quite striking wearing these with her plaid jumper!
Oh and one of me. This new shirt set was one Ken gave me for our anniversary.

For Christmas Dinner (held fairly early because my Dad had a service to hold at the jail) we decided to have Pasta this year. We made homemade noodles for Chicken Alfredo. We also made little bow tie pasta for Pasta Primevara with Ham, and we made Ravioli and homemade tomato sauce. We also made Parmesan garlic bread sticks. We had 23 people over for Supper and I put nearly all of them to work to either help make it or clean up. We had a fun time.

Little David and Keren.
Today was moving day for us to go from one church building to the other! A bunch of us worked and it went pretty fast! It is very exciting for us all to see this project close to completion. The old church building has a closing date for early next week and so we are meeting in the new one on Sunday. The new one isn't completed yet (no cabinets in the kitchen yet and more) but there is plumbing and carpet and it will work.
Mom, Anna and helpers prepared a lunch for all of the workers today. Above are Anna, Mom and Ed.

This afternoon I delivered the result of all my spray painting. The couple that is getting married tomorrow wanted white branch bundles for the end of the pews. The above picture doesn't show how it looks that well. I thought it looked pretty neat when it was finished.
It is a very wintry, Christmasy wedding. Above is a sample of the flowers. The couple has been one of my favorite ones to work with, They and their family have been very sweet.
This week Ken taught the kids how to play risk. They think it is quite fun. I have never played it (I'm really not into war games) but I think it could be a great way for them to learn their continents really well. Another reason I don't play is that is takes to long. Case in point, they just finished the game a short while ago (around 11pm)! My attention span might not last that long.
Well I was waiting up for them so I could tuck some kids in, that is done so I believe I will head to bed as well. Goodnight!


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