Monday, July 30, 2012

Abundance from the Garden!

 Oh how I love this time of year when our garden starts to produce like crazy. It can be overwhelming at times but I always feel abundantly blessed by my Father in heaven who loves us very much!

We were off camping last week and when we got home we discovered a garden that was full of good things. Here are some of the things that we have been discovering in our garden....
 Green Beans! The bush beans are in full production now (the climbing ones aren't quite ready yet). We had picked enough to take a meals worth on our camping trip but when we got home it was time to can! We did 2 canner-fulls of beans and I need to check them again shortly as we might need to do that again. What a blessing to have green beans set aside for the winter!

What I am especially tickled about is that we just ran out of the beans from last year. I was thinking that I would go ahead and buy a few cans but before I had a chance to do that this years beans were ready! So I didn't buy any green beans for the year. I find that pretty cool.

 When checking the bees lately I noticed some honey comb that looked like it would be easy just to slice off and take in for a snack. We sure are enjoying chewing on honey comb again! What a fun sweet treat.
Cold Cucumber Soup

Cucumbers!!! The night we got back from our camping trip was church night. We made it home just in time to go (and naturally didn't check out our garden before we went). After church Mom and Dad were sharing cucumbers from their garden and after everybody else had taken what they wanted Mom said I should take the rest (a couple of grocery bags partly filled). I hesitated knowing that my garden probably had some ready as well but she said they had a bunch more so go ahead and take them. We did and then we came home to find that yes our garden too was bursting with cucumbers. Thankfully we do really enjoy them! We have been eating them at meals, for snacks, and sharing them with those we are around. On baseball night I took a whole bowlful along for snack time and they went pretty well. (We also took a bagful along to give away). We haven't made pickles yet but that is in the planning. How we have been eating them is...
  • Just sliced up plain.
  • With cream cheese and sunflower seeds on the slices.
  • In cucumber sandwiches
  • In Salad
  • In Cold Cucumber Soup.
Here is how I made cucumber soup.... (It was to spicy for most of the family but my Mother-in-law and I enjoyed it very much!)

  • 4 medium cucumbers, washed and chopped up.
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped up.
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 hot pepper, chopped (I don't remember the variety- it was close to jalapeno size but yellow)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (more would be yummy but I was using what I had)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 -1 cup milk
I pureed all of it together in my food processor and then let it chill in the fridge for several hours. Yogurt would be a yummy addition too but I didn't have any plain yogurt on hand.

 We have been making raspberry jam thanks to a lot of berries that we have been able to pick at my parents place. We are experimenting with using green apples in addition to some old pectin that doesn't work all that well - in order to get it to set.

 We have some raspberries at our place as well that we enjoy for snacking.
 We always enjoy the beautiful morning glories!
We have quite a few grapes this year! I think I will turn them into juice (sweetened with honey) when they ripen.

We are also enjoying broccoli, onions, radishes, peas, zucchini and herbs from our garden. We are very blessed!

Are you eating out of your garden? What are your favorite uses for cucumbers?

I am joining the barn hop with...
and Amy @ Homestead Revival


Sunday, July 29, 2012

The evidence of God is everywhere

"In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
Incline Your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of habitation to which I may continually come;
You have given commandment to save me,
For you are my rock and my fortress."
Psalms 70:1-3

This past week our family (with my husbands parents as well) enjoyed a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern MN. We had never been there before and we totally enjoyed our time there and everywhere I looked caused me to worship once again the God who created all of this beauty.

  There were so many huge rocks which I just loved seeing and over and over again they reminded me of the Rock that we have in God. He is always there, unmoving- a place of refuge in our lives.

I took lots and lots of pictures and I do plan on blogging more about our trip later but I thought I would share just a few with you tonight.

Have you ever been to the boundary waters? Where do like to go where the creation of God continually reminds you of Him?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Treasures - the right ones!

 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do no break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

This verse is a great one that reminds us of where our priorities should be. I needed that reminder just now- I hope it helps you too!

My parents in law are visiting this week. I probably won't be doing much blogging as we will be busy enjoying our time together. So I will look forward to visiting with you all next week or whenever else I may be able to find a little time.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do you ever dream...

Do you ever dream of being superwoman?

Not in the meaning of having some special power like magnificent strength or flying or anything like that but maybe a list more like this....

As superwoman I would....
  • Always have meals ready on time and they would taste delicious and be completely healthy.
  • Have the bathrooms at our house always sparkling clean.
  • Never say a harsh word to anyone.
  • Spend one on one time with each child each day.
  • Have a craft area that is perfectly organized and I would put everything away right as soon as I get done using it (and so would my children- as I have trained them carefully).
  • Promptly answer each e-mail that I receive and never have a cluttered inbox that is overwhelming.
  • Have all of my photos (both digital and printed) completely organized and in their places.
  • Never have dirty dishes in my sink (unless they are in the process of being washed) or on the counter.
  • Have a weed free garden.
  • Would know just the right things to say to each person that I meet in order to encourage them.
  • Always be a perfect wife.
  • Never ever forget a birthday.
  • Not have any clutter in my home.
and so forth and so on. There are so many things that I would love to do and I do work towards doing better in my home but I do realize I am NOT superwoman. I am a sinner saved by grace and I am still growing.

  Even as I grow it is quite probably that I won't ever have all the things accomplished that are on the list above. Even though I think many of those are good things they aren't truly the most important things in life. More important is that what I do accomplish be done in love and in a desire to glorify God.

 Yesterday we had a very fun discussion on Hospitality at our homemakers group. In our conversation we did often mention how we would like to make things look "perfect" or "special" but then we visited about how what is more important than how clean things are or how wonderful the food tastes or how many special touches there are is that we are showing hospitality out of love. If our heart is in the right place people will feel far more comfortable than if we do everything according to the "book" with the wrong attitude.

 This is just something I have been thinking on as I try to declutter and clean up my craft room. Someday I do hope to have that perfectly clean craft room but meanwhile I will seek to have a good attitude, glorify God and do the best I can.

Do you sometimes try to be superwoman?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Around our homestead

Summer is such an active time for homesteading. Once in a while it can get overwhelming but I generally I really enjoy it. Here are some things that have been going on around our homestead....
The bees got hot. A couple of weeks ago now it was a very warm day and I looked out to see the bees doing this. I think they were just trying to stay cool but I did get a little nervous lest they might also be thinking of swarming. I did check on them promptly and gave them some more honey supers. I think the bees are doing pretty good. The small have had a rough start but the big hive is great and the other one is coming along too.
 We had a mighty storm come through our area. We lost quite a few trees including 1 1/2 nice shade trees in our yard and our tree house is no longer usable (hopefully we will be able to get it fixed up to be used in some way again but we haven't had time yet). We are a bit sad about what we lost but truly we were pretty blessed. Many lost way more AND none of us got hurt.

 We are berry picking! Mostly picking raspberries out at my parents but some here as well. We also went blueberry picking. What yummy treats! It is jam making time again.
 We are trying to eat "off of the land" as much as we can. I am having so much fun adding whatever fresh stuff that we have to our meals. I have been using a lot of purslane (and edible "weed" that grows in our garden) and green onions to our meals. We also love snacking on fresh peas, radishes and berries. Lettuce is another treat we are enjoying lately.

 This spring some friends gave us some extra squash plants. My garden was feeling a little full at the time but I had some flower puts empty up by the house. The squash are really looking quite lovely in them I think. :-)
 My garden is growing pretty nicely. The weeds are too! I have been trying to weed out at least 1 full 5 gallon of squished weeds each day. (I had gotten pretty behind after being gone most of 2 weeks). It has been really fun to get so much weeded out of there. As I weed I have been putting down as much mulch as possible to prevent as many future weeds as possible.

I do love working out in the garden. Time spent weeding is a time I really enjoy spending talking to my Heavenly Father.
This corn here looks a bit stunted - I think our sprinklers weren't working quite right and they weren't getting enough water.
I am working to remedy that.
How is life on your homestead?

I am linking this to Homestead Barn Hop at Homestead Revival

Don't make excuses

In my Bible reading lately I have had it impressed on my over and over again how in order to accomplish something it doesn't rely on our strength but rather letting God in His strength work through us.

This section of Jeremiah that I read yesterday caused me to remember that yet again:

Jeremiah 1:4-8
"Now the word of the Lord came to me (Jeremiah) saying,
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Then I said, "Alas, Lord God!
Behold I do not know ho to speak,
Because I am a youth."
But the Lord said to me,
"Do not say, "I am a youth,
because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
and all the I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,"
declares the Lord."

 So my lesson for this is- If God wants you to do something- don't make excuses! Just obey Him and He will give you the strength and ability. He did that in the old testament and I believe He will still do that today.

Does this verse encourage you?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I don't buy....Soda Pop

This is an exciting one for me to write "I don't buy" on. Though the kids or I have never drank much pop (that is what we call it here in MN), less than a year ago Ken was drinking at least 2 cans a day.

Not only is pop not good for you but it is also fairly expensive. I would keep an eye out for deals but the cost did add up.

Several months ago Ken decided to switch to coffee (even though neither of us had ever like coffee) to get his dose of caffeine and he hasn't looked back. He didn't even finish the case of pop that we had on hand.
I know there are many households like ours where you don't drink pop but if you are used to having it on a regular basis you might wonder what we have instead.

We drink.....
  • Water. We try to drink a lot of it. It is a very necessary part of living, it's free and I love it! This is basically all that we ever drink (at least the kids and I) in between meals.
  • Milk - we generally have that for breakfast and supper and we enjoy it. In the summer we enjoy goat's milk from my parents and in the winter I try to get raw cows milk.
  • Herbal tea- hot or iced. We do like them sweet (though not southern sweet/syrup) so we generally use honey or steevia. Our favorite is mint which we are able to grow very easily so it is a very inexpensive beverage and good for us too! Other herbs that I sometimes use are: Raspberry leaf, echinnacia, cloves, catnip, hyssop, wild bergamot and more.
  • Juice - Rarely.
  • Coffee - for Ken. He drinks it hot with creamer but no sugar. He did also discover he does like frappacino so I am trying out recipes to make that homemade. He thought my first try was okay, just a little too much vanilla.
  • Hot chocolate for a treat when it is cold outside (homemade).
As I mentioned before breakfast and supper are pretty much our only time of having beverages other than water. I have even come to the point that for parties I don't generally offer anything besides water. The idea of serving pop or koolaid doesn't really fit my idea of a healthy lifestyle and I really don't think you need something fancy to drink in order to have a good time. When there are a lot of kids (or just any sort of people) it is much easier to have water all over the house when if it spills is really no big deal.

What do you drink at your house?

I am linking this to Frugal Fridays at Life as MOM.

Family Reunion

 Last week we went to a family reunion- actually to be more specific a 3 family reunion. When my Mom was growing up her family very much enjoyed getting together with 2 other families. Now those three families get together every 3 years though various ones of us see each other more often than that as our families truly have been intertwined (though never so far by marriage- maybe that will happen in the 4th generation but it bypassed the 2nd and probably the 3rd ) together and many good friends are in this group.

The top picture is one of my family (4 generations). Not nearly everyone was there but we still make a pretty impressive looking bunch if I say so myself.

This picture is of my cousins (who were there) along with my grandparents.

There is a pretty good sized group of great-grandkids but in this picture I just zoomed in on Grandpa with Aaron and Mara behind him. Grandpa is 90 but still driving on trips regularly (he and Grandma have homes in both Nebraska and Indiana and they go back and forth) and doing pretty good. He is a wonderful man and I am blessed to have him for my Grandpa.
Our family is the largest but the Blanshan family is pretty big too. This is a picture of those in their family who were able to come.

The smallest (but still very important) family is the Williamsons.
 All together there were nearly 150 people at the reunion.

  We stayed at Ironwood Christian Ranch in Stuartville, MN. It was a lovely place though a bit expensive (but I think most establishments of that type are).
 One of the favorite activities at our get-togethers is singing. We are a group of people who love the Lord and love to sing and so we spent hours sitting around singing our praises to Him. What fun harmonies were heard while we were there!

We did have fun doing some other things as well.
 My sister Anna organized an interesting "Family Olympics" and the picture above shows Jessica, Betsy (two of the friends I have had the longest and dearly love) and I with our hair full of spaghetti- the result of a competition called "Javelin Throwing".
 Megan (and I- I enjoy kids crafts too sometimes!) doing crafts.
 Jonathan riding on the zip line. It was great fun though it was over very quickly. We did all get to ride at least twice.
 Dad was the last one to try it. Megan and Beatrice had fun helping Grandpa bring his harness back. They were having him make all sorts of animal noises since he was on a leash.
 We played games like "The Settlers of Catan". It was great fun though this particular game ended up lasting for hours and hours. I nearly won but then they all boycotted trading with me and then Ken snuck up to the place that he was going to win but then just before his turn Brenda surprised us all and won.
 The first generation. In the back are my Grandpa and Grandma. Grandma isn't my biological grandmother (She died when I was 6) but she and Grandpa have been married 25 years now so she is certainly a vital part of our family. In front is Bob and June Blanshan. They have lived in MN and sometimes in our town during my lifetime and they are like another Grandpa and Grandma to me. The first generation of the Williamsons have gone to be with the Lord. I am very grateful for the lives that those pictured and those that have gone on have lived because they have been a godly example to a whole lot of people.

I do feel very blessed with a wonderful family. Do you enjoy getting together with your extended family?

 Also do any of you know of good get-together spots that can house and feed 150 + people comfortably that aren't terribly expensive? (Preferably in the Midwest)

I do plan on getting back to my more normal sort of posting with homesteading activities (I have been having fun in the garden lately!), making things and such but I did want to write about the things that have been going on in my life too as this blog is a type of journal for me too.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bible Camp Fun

 Two week ago the kids and I were down in Southern Iowa at Junior week at Sharon Bluff Bible Camp. It was a very warm week (read HOT!) but we had a lot of fun. My sister Anna and her four kids went as well which makes it even more fun.

  While there Anna and I were dorm mothers, helped in the kitchen and with laundry and Anna was also the camp nurse. We also each took a turn of teaching a class the the pre-campers that were there. I don't prefer leaving Ken for a week (though he was horribly busy at work so he just spend every waking hour there so it was good timing) but it is fun to get be with my kids during their camp experience.

  I had a great time visiting and fellowshipping with the other adults there but I think the highlight of my time was probably  getting to spend time with and observe the kids. I loved watching my kids in this different situation but I also thoroughly enjoyed getting to know many of the other kids there and watch them.

Here are some of the things that I enjoyed.....
~ Watching the kids during Bible drills. I was very glad that we did practice ahead of time here at home. The goal of Bible drills it that the kids would be very familiar with there Bibles and be able to use them in life. The goal is to find the verse as soon as quickly as possible after the reference is said or to quote it. It was pretty fun for me when for the very first verse of the week (at Bible drills) Aaron was the first one up- able to quote it.

 ~ Jonathan being willing to sing a solo for talent night - and doing a pretty good job too. I am so glad he likes music! Aaron also volunteered for talent night, to do a drum solo. I found out about that before it happened and encouraged him to have others perform with him too so it ended up being him on the drums, some singers and I accompanied on the piano. I was happy that both of my boys were willing to do something though.

~ Mara narrating for her teams skit with her usual dramatic flair. Her cousin Margaret (on another team) also did a great job of narrating. It was fun to watch all of the kids doing the skits and how a different side of them came out.

~Being able to help comfort those who were homesick.

~Seeing a girl who has had a troubled life (and her new adopted Mama was nervous about how she would do) just thrive at camp. She made lots of friends and seemed to do just wonderfully.

~ Enjoying a sweet little girl who liked to give hugs and when I would check to make sure that everybody was brushing their teeth she would smile and say "It's minty fresh!" with a huge smile.

~Aaron volunteering to pray every morning at chapel.

~All the little girls who loved to pray before we went to sleep at night.

~The little boy who came up to me one night when it was time to head to bed wondering if he might be able to go home. When I asked him why he wanted to go home he seriously explained to me that at home he liked to watch TV and he was missing doing that. When I tried to talk to him about how things are different at camp but then I noticed his chin start to quiver and discovered that he was really missing more than TV and he was a little guy so he did end up going to spend the night at home and then came back the next day.

~The same little boy who came up to me after canteen one day holding two ice cream sandwiches and explained that he had bought an extra one for his brother and wondered where he should keep it in the meantime (his brother was not at camp). So sweet and cute. I was glad he didn't just put it in his dorm in that nearly 100 degree weather.
 ~ Going over to the nature center at the State park next door with all of the kids and enjoying at looking at a variety of animals and things that God has made. It was a little amusing to see how a bit group of kids can make such a noise difference in a place. I would imagine that the people in charge where more than a little overwhelmed. I had fun looking at the indoor observation bee hive.
 ~Hiking down to the river with some kids and then I had fun watching one of the boys that sometimes seemed a little sullen (but was really a pretty cute kid) solicitously offer to help everyone as we climbed up a bank- many of us wearing flip flops. He was such a little gentleman.
 ~The hikers that wanted to go on as long of hike as I was willing to take them on in weather that was in the high 90's. I loved their exploring spirits.
 ~The end of camp where everybody is lined up and I finally know everyone's name and feel I know a little about them. What a blessing to meet so many youngsters and hopefully help in just a little way to encourage them in learning more about Jesus and walking with Him.
~Traveling home and getting to just spend time and visit with my own sweet kids. All of us working together to keep me entertained so that I wouldn't get sleepy by playing silly games and even getting out and getting some exercise at little wayside rests that we had never stopped at before.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

God richly supplies

We just got home this afternoon from a family reunion in Southern MN. We have had a really fun and busy couple of weeks and I have thoroughly enjoyed them but I am very happy to have a couple of weeks ahead of us with hardly anything scheduled. How nice it will be just to work here at home and in the garden.

Here is a verse that I read today and think is a very good one:

"Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed." 1 Timothy 5:17-19

I love scripture that reminds us of what our priority in life should be. I feel blessed to be enjoying life indeed!


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