Crafting Day

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Fall Crafting

A while back two of my friends and I decided that we really needed to have a craft day.  Today was that day. All three of us have a penchant for trying crafts of various types. We had planned to make a fall craft and we did!

I had empty bottles from my Young Living Ninxgia Red that I had been saving because I thought their shape was so cool. This seemed like the perfect time to make use of them.

Paint was purchased at Menards.  Rustoleum paint plus primer was used and worked pretty good to cover the jars and their labels. We decided we would paint them without the caps on as we wanted to be able to put flowers, grasses and things like cattails in them for fall decoration.

The paint colors I used on my bottles were Rustoleum Claret Wine, Fire Orange, Strawflower and Oregano with a satin finish.

One of the gals owns a Cricut and she cut the vinyl letters for us to put on. A earlier visit to Hobby Lobby and Michaels yielded some extra stuff to bling our bottles up.

The plan was to spray the paint on the bottles outdoors; so we wouldn’t have to worry about fumes and overspray in a building. Unfortunately, the day did not dawn bright, sunny, clear or glorious! It was, instead, hazy, slightly foggy, damp, chilly and not conducive to spray painting outdoors.

Plan A was scrapped and Plan B was implemented. My husband backed the car out of the garage, put cardboard on the floor, and set up three stations for spray painting. His word of advice as he left the garage……”shake the crap out of the cans before you spray with them. When you think you shook enough…..shake some more.” So we did.

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Spraying commenced and before long we were inhaling the fumes from three constantly spraying paint cans. We did have the garage door open (complete with hog panel to keep out stray chickens) but the fumes did seem to hang out in the garage with us.

We were tentative sprayers at first. However, it did not take long and we were in the thick of spraying.  It also did not take long; and we noticed one gal’s feet had a nifty orange tinge to them. It kind of looked like a bad spray tan.

Once we were done with our spraying we had to wait for our bottles to dry. We decided we would head out to a nearby town for some dinner (or to the city people…..lunch). We found the little local drive-in was still open and we also found that Slade’s Drive In still serves amazing food!

We also decided we needed to check out the second hand store in town…..Lost But Found. It is a second hand store that is a non-profit and benefits a local charity. You just never know what you might find there.   That is what makes it so much fun.

Once we returned home we decided we would finish our decorating at our own homes when the paint was really dried nicely. Cars were packed up and it was decided we really needed to have tea and sample the muffins that the other friend had brought along. It was a great decision!

We also decided we needed to try our hand at a selfie with our painted bottles. I am not totally sure how successful we were on that score! But we gave it our best shot! And it is what it is!

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Selfie

Despite the gloomy start to the day it turned out to be a wonderful time! It was definately an “Ooh, Shiny” kind of day. I would argue that any day spent with friends turns out to be that kind of day.

It was great to craft with them, but it was also so great to spend time with friends that know who you are and love you anyway. We may not be sisters by blood….but we are definitely sisters of the heart.

I hope you all have someone who is family of the heart. I hope you all have someone who knows you well and loves you anyway. Life is so much better with friends like that.

“I have learned
that to be with those I like
is enough.”
Walt Whitman

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Beauty in the Barren Places

IMG_4739 Sunrise

Sunrise Over The Badlands

Sometimes beauty shows up in the most unexpected places. Barren, desert like landscapes are strangely beautiful when you really start to look closely at them. When the sun rises over them; they are cast in an amazing glow that makes the land take on an entirely different life.

The world takes on a feel of expectation….a waiting to see what the day will bring….a hush that borders on the feel of standing in a holy place.

As I walked through the crunchy half dead grass of the Badlands of South Dakota; I began to notice that this barren looking land was filled with life……blooms and plants that are fragrant and colorful.

Trees cling tenaciously to life in this land and golden yellow flowers bloom with abandon along the Sage Creek roadway. Perhaps it is the contrast of the lifeless looking grass that elevates the blooms of flowers to something so much more than mere patches of color.

The days can be amazingly hot, with a wind that never seems to quit. As we camped on the rim of the badlands, our pop up camper was buffeted by winds that seemed to want to tip us over the edge. The second night my husband actually chained our camper to our pickup for a little extra safety measure!

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Even with the downside of sudden storms and hot dry winds, this land has much to teach us. It teaches us, at least it teaches me, that beauty can be found in the barren spaces. I have learned that if you look closely you will find an abundance of beauty.

That beauty may not be flashy or showy, but it is abundant. The sage gives off a wonderful aroma if you happen to step on it and the sunrises and sunsets are some of the most beautiful I have seen.

IMG_4237 the Badlands

I am hoping that if you are stuck, waiting in a barren place, that there is one small patch of beauty  to be found. A place for you to rest your heart and feed your soul. May you take delight in a sunrise or sunset….and may it cast a wonderful glow over the barren spaces.

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Sunset Over The Badlands

 

 

“The desert,
when the sun comes up…
I couldn’t tell where heaven stopped and the Earth began.” 

― Tom Hanks

 

I cared for you in the wilderness, In the land of drought.
Hosea 13:5

Not Finished Yet

IMG_4367 Mt. Rushmore Avenue of Flags.JPG

We were gone last week. We decided to venture out to the Black Hills in South Dakota. (Which is why I have not been reading any blogs or commenting!  I will be attempting to catch up soon.)

One of the places that we continue to visit, when we get out that way, is Mt. Rushmore. It never changes but it is just something that seems to beckon us to stop and wander around. This time we were able to visit with the last known remaining carver of the mountain, Nick Clifford. He is 96 years old this year and still sharp as a tack.

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After speaking with him and reading the plaques along the trails, that wind around the base of the heads; we rediscovered the fact that the sculpture was actually never finished. They quit carving on it when the US entered World War II. Originally the presidents were supposed to have their coats as part of the sculpture.

It was a beautiful day to be outdoors enjoying the view. The flags were fluttering in the breeze, the crowds were thinner due to school starting, and we were able to stroll the trails in the sun and take our time reading plaques that helped to educate us.

It did really strike me that this project was never finished. My first thought was they should have finished it or should be finishing it now. My second thought was that this memorial is a pretty accurate representation of our country and of us as people….we are not yet finished.

We are constantly changing….sometimes for the better….sometimes not. We have gone through wars, riots, racial challenges, scandals, parades, cheering on our veterans, raising children, everyday life, etc.  Some good…..some not.

On this day, the 11th of September, it is good to remember that we are not yet finished.  This is a day that, as a country, and as a world we won’t forget. For my generation….it is our Pearl Harbor.

We have learned things since that day. There are still things that we, as a country, need to change. There are challenges still to be faced. We are growing and will continue to grow for years to come. Some things will change and others will not.

People will still be people with strong feelings and opinions about things. There will be wars, because we, as a world are made up of imperfect people. We will struggle with events and we will celebrate other events.

We will continue growing, with those four stone faces looking on. I sometimes wonder what they would make of this country and it’s people. I wonder if it would be what they had in mind when they were in charge.

I anticipate that my husband and I will make a trek to those heads a few more times before we are done….at least I hope to in the years to come. I also anticipate that we will grow as we are chiseled, hewn and shaped into what we were meant to be.

 

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May we be gracious while we are being shaped and carved into what we are meant to be. May we persevere and in the end stand firm as a mountain. May we realize that we are not yet finished……..

“When things do not go your way,
remember that every challenge
— every adversity
— contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.” 

― Roy T. Bennett

 

Organized Chaos

IMG_4152 Canning Season

We have entered the canning and preserving season full blast this past week. My counter is organized chaos pretty much every day. On any given day the garden is yielding tomatoes, green beans, bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, sugar snap peas and the melons have finally started to ripen.

I am not sure if anyone else has the problem that I have….I cannot bear to see any of that produce go to waste. I pick it and set about preserving it in some form.  Like I said, my kitchen counter looks like it has no rhyme or reason during this season. (Is anyone hearing the word “disaster” in their heads?) Fortunately, I know where I have put what I need to finish a batch of something.

These last days have been spent making and canning Pizza Sauce, Society Pickles (I have no idea why they were given that name!), and Hot Pepper Jelly.  Some recipes I have used so many times through the years that I have the ingredients memorized.

It is very satisfying to see the filled, canned jars setting on the counter, waiting for that “ping” that tells me the lids are sealing. (In a future post I will  have to get the recipes to you.)

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Looking at my counter makes me think, how that counter reflects my life. Many times it looks like chaos. Maybe because when it comes to my life I cannot see the entire plan. I only get to see the part that looks like my messy counter.

I know that God sees that chaos and knows exactly how all that “stuff” fits into my life….and how it will all work out.It makes me grateful that I am not in charge of what happens in my life. I am very sure I would not choose the correct plan but look for an easier, less chaotic way instead.

When I look back at some of those messier times of my life, I realize that in the midst of the mess, it felt like chaos. In looking back I can now see that thread of grace and a glimmer of the plan He has for me.

If you are in the midst of the “mess of life” I am praying calm and peace for you. Rest assured……it will not stay that way forever. Take a deep breath, hold it, and let it slowly out. (Yes for those who have gone to childbirth classes, I realize that sounds really familiar.) You will be amazed what a prayer and a deep breath can do.

May your week be filled with faith and hope…that no matter what…you will make it through. May you soon here that “ping” that tells you things are working out.

 “And me? I’m a mess.
I’m nothing and have nothing:
make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes
– but God, don’t put it off.”
Psalm 40:17 the Message

Dew on the Grass

IMG_4146 Sparkling Grass in the Morning

These last foggy mornings have been something wonderful. I have written before how I love the muted morning sounds and the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket of fog. I realize I get to feel that way because I am not forced to be traveling through that fog on a busy road.

I, instead, get to drink my morning tea on the porch and take it all in. I love the way the dew drops cling to the very tips of the grass. Once the sun starts to break through it looks like a sea of diamond tipped slender grass spears.

I am amazed at how that small drop clings so tenaciously to the end of that piece of grass. There doesn’t seem to be much structure for that drop to cling too and yet it hangs on.

It is beautiful how that small droplet sparkles and glimmers in the morning sun. It seems like one minute that drop is there and when you next look it has disappeared. Dew on the grass is one of those gifts in nature that is fleeting.

Life is the same. From breath to breath things change so fast. One minute your kids are babes in your arms, a blink later and they are in school, two blinks and they are walking down a church aisle and leaving your home. Before you know it a small child grins at you and calls you grandma.  Life is fleeting; but life is oh…..so very good.

Take time today to experience the small gifts around you…. the smile of a child, the feel of the sun on your face, the beauty of a fog-laden morning and a drop of dew sparkling like diamonds in the sun.

 

Life is fragile, like the dew hanging delicately on the grass,
crystal drops that will be carried away on the first morning breeze.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Dilemma

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I had a dilemma a few weeks ago. I had gone out to my garden to check on the progress of my tomatoes, green beans, scraggly peas and other produce.  As I was bent over picking beans, I saw a blob of dead grass underneath my plants. I started pulling it away and then discovered fur. I kind of knew what I would find when I kept carefully digging into that hole, in the dirt. I was right…..baby bunnies.

We do have a chicken wire fence around three sides of that particular area of the garden. I am not really sure how a mom rabbit managed to find a hole in the non-chicken wire portion on the last side of the garden….but, evidently, she had.

When I told my husband of my find, he asked what I had done with the bunnies.  I told him, that I had covered them back up. He really laughed at that as he knows I truly hate rabbits in my garden. He knows I rant and get really critical when I see a rabbit near my garden. He also knows I threaten to get the gun (pretty sure the rabbits would be safe even if I did!) and take care of the rabbit “problem”.

I found I just could not get rid of those baby bunnies. I can only hope they are as gracious to my garden as I am to them! I think I am going to have to keep picking my produce in a timely manner. I am going to have to beat those bunnies to the beans. I am finding, though, that they are not really much of a problem…..yet.

Admittedly, they are much too cute at this stage to get rid of. I recommended to my husband that next garden season we take care of the problem much sooner in the season. He has decided to make more chicken wire panels that should make it impossible to get through……I hope!

I have since discovered that those pesky bunnies are leaving my beans alone….much to my relief. They have instead found the flower pots on my porch!  I really didn’t think rabbits would enjoy geraniums…..but it seems they do.

IMG_4148 Geraniums as Rabbit Food

My plants are slowly being defoliated. They don’t eat the leaves but they seem to really enjoy the stems. My husband is slightly amazed at their liking of geraniums as he thinks they are some of the stinkiest flowers around.

Sometimes life is just like that isn’t it? You worry about one thing (my beans and bunnies) only to find it wasn’t a problem at all. Then you turn around and the real problem is something you never thought of! I never anticipated my geraniums turning into rabbit food.

Fortunately, being trimmed down will not hurt the plant. It may even be beneficial in the long run and make it bushier than before. I am going to have to remember that lesson when I feel like I am being pruned. You know…those times when stuff happens and is really hard to get through?

For now I guess I will have to sit and enjoy the cute factor of those bunnies. I will have to shut my eyes to the pruning and hope my plants get bushier than before. It can always be worse….they could be eating all my green beans!

May your weekend be filled with  hope and may you see beyond the pruning.

Pruning is a necessary part of life.
In order to move forward.
You must let go.
Unknown

 

 

 

Turning the Corner

IMG_4118 Swallows

Swallows in the Mist

There are so many signs that our seasons, here in the Midwest, may be turning the corner from summer to fall. The weather has been rainy and drippy.  We have also been noticing the bird population is changing.

The hawks seem to be plentiful and braver in the fall…or maybe they are trying to prepare for the coming winter when hunting seems to become scarce. We had a bird hawk decide our bird bath was a great opportunity to get a  drink and clean up a bit.

He stayed until he noticed us peering at him through the window. It was hard to stand still and yet get a picture, while he was watching us watch him!

I am not really so happy to see the hawk on our bird bath. I have seen one like him pluck a robin right off the ground as the robin was searching for worms! I like the songbirds we have around here and they are definitely not safe when there are hawks around.

For a couple weeks now, we have not seen the robins. The Orioles no longer inhabit the grove and sing in the trees.  The cliff swallows have arrived in a large group while on their way  through, to wherever it is they migrate to for the winter. We have had large flocks of blackbirds rest in our trees on their way to their destination.

In the misty mornings, the swallows fill the electric wires behind the house. They are quiet while they sit there waiting for the sun to burn off the fog. The entire world is hushed and still in the fog and the birds seem to sense this and not want to be the first to break the silence.

I love the misty mornings. The world is small and focus is narrowed to what is essential. The quiet morning lends itself to good conversation while sitting on the porch drinking that first coffee/tea of the day. It also lends itself to just sitting there quietly listening to the dew drip from the trees and the eaves of the house.

I really wonder how many of the world’s problems could be solved if more people would sit with cup in hand, on their porch and talk things out.  Or maybe if they just sat silently enjoying what God had set before them? I have a feeling it would be a much more peaceful place.

The quietness of the fog seems to take the harsh edges off the coming day. It seems to wrap us in a blanket of peace and blessing.

May you have time in your busy week to sit and enjoy the silence of the morning and may you be blessed by the little things in life……..like a quiet foggy morning.

 

“When you arise in the morning,
think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive
– to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
 Marcus Aurelius quotes 

 “a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak”
Ecclesiastes 3:7