Friday Blessings

IMG_3711 Red Headed Woodpecker

Red Headed Woodpecker

 

Today was a marvel, weather wise. The last while, we have been sweltering and today, the day just kept getting cooler and cooler. One weatherman thought we should tell people we are in the month of Junuary. I think he might be right!

As I sat on my porch enjoying my cup of tea and breakfast this morning; I even had to wear a coat….that is really unusual for this time of year. I will say it does smell nice and fresh when it is cooler out in the morning.

My husband and I really do enjoy the quiet start to the day. We get to share the outdoors with lots of wildlife. It is so interesting that these animals don’t even seem to pay attention to us as they go about their morning rituals.

We had a wonderful time watching the Red headed woodpecker clinging to the tree in the front yard. I hope he is eating a lot of bugs and ants…..it makes for less bugs and ants that get into my house!

This morning we had a very enterprising little squirrel join us. He was so busy digging up previously buried corn kernels that he did not even care that we were sitting so close and taking pictures of him. I think he felt very sure that we would not meddle in his affairs.

It didn’t take long and a rabbit decided to make his appearance. This was really no surprise as we seem to be overrun with rabbits of every size. The rabbit population is a running argument conversation between me and my husband.

IMG_3707 Cottontail

Cottontail/Bean Eater

 

He thinks we can’t have too many rabbits around…….I think we have waaaay to many to be compatible with my flowers and vegetables.  So far, the rabbits and my husband are winning. (Can you hear the big sigh from where you are?)

I must confess the baby bunnies are cute….but eventually they turn into bean eaters and that is not cute whatsoever! I am hoping my husband commits to doing something this fall about the rabbit population. (He does like rabbit soup, so there is hope.)

Watching these animals this morning was a great reminder of trust and faith. None of these animals worried where their next meal was coming from. They just figured that it would be provided when they went looking.

They do have predators to think about, but it doesn’t seem like they live their lives in fear of what is coming. I sometimes wonder if we spend so much time and energy in fear of what the future will bring, that we find it hard to live in the present.  I think if we could live the way these small critters do……..full of trust and faith; life would be so much easier.

I am sure they have hard times……times where food is scarce, times when they are cold and uncomfortable, and times when they have to run or fly for their lives. And yet, they live and enjoy the moment for what it is. They bask in the sun when it is shining to warm them. They eat their fill when food is present. They live fully in the time they are given.

May your weekend be full of life lived fully. May your life be lived in the present and may you enjoy the small things that can be hard to see. Have a blessed weekend!

Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Matthew 6:26-27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Day of Summer

IMG_3676 Red Sky in the Morning..

Today is officially the first day of summer.  It is also the longest day of the year… at least that is what they tell us. We woke up to a sky that looked like it was on fire with the reds and oranges. I attempted to take a picture through the window that had a screen on it as I didn’t feel like standing out in the rain.

Once the rain had quit, I let the girls out of the coop for the day and took my camera with me on a little tour. Everything looked freshly washed……. the grass greener, the sky bluer and the clouds whiter. It smelled wonderful too!

The flowers were beautiful with the raindrops still fresh on their petals. The blossoms of reds, purples and yellows were so vibrant they begged to be photographed and shared.

Even the mud on the driveway had the neatest texture to it and made me stop and pause just to look. There was an odd beauty to it and the stones were wet with the morning rain.

IMG_3683 After the Rain

It was a great start to a day….it was cool and beautiful but the cool was only temporary and transient. Then the day must have realized we were still in Iowa and it was the first day of summer. Once the sun was fully up it quickly became steamy with warm temperatures and lots of humidity. I guess I should not have been surprised.

As the wind blew today it felt like liquid air flowing over my skin. It was thick, heavy and felt like you should be able to reach out and touch it. I have a feeling it is good preparation for the summer days to come.

I am in awe of the variety of weather we have here in the Midwest.( Some weather I like better than others). I am also in awe of the beauty that is there for the seeing. The colors of the sky, the grass, and the flowers.

It is like a love letter from the Father to all of us here on earth. A letter that tells us that we are His. It tells us He loves us enough to create and surround us with beautiful things. It is a letter of faithfulness. And it is a letter of grace.

May you be surrounded by His love letter and may your eyes and heart be open to read it.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Psalm 96:11-12

Liebster Award Nomination

liebster-blog-award.png

A big thank you to Patricia over at  kindergartenknowledge for nominating me for the Liebster Award. She has the most amazing blog over there and writes on any number of topics. She has become a wonderful friend and I cannot wait to meet her in person some day.

I found out there are some rules to this award so I am going to post them here for those of you who wonder what they are:

*Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
*Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
*Give 11 random facts about yourself.
*Nominate 11 blogs.
*Notify those blogs of their nomination.
*Give them 11 questions to answer.

Time to answer my questions:

  1.  Why are you a blogger?
    I had always toyed with the idea of trying this because I always enjoyed writing.  My kids decided for me that is was time to blog. My daughter-in-law set it up for me and I have been blogging and enjoying it ever since. Since blogging I have made so many amazing friends from all over the world.
  2. What is your greatest accomplishment as an adult and why?
    I would have to say being a wife and mom has been and still is my best accomplishment. Loving and honoring my husband, raising my sons to be men who would make great husbands and dads has been rewarding in ways I never imagined. We are all still works in progress but we are progressing!
  3. What was your favorite subject in school? Why?
    I loved Creative Writing and Literary Experience. (Sorry I could not choose one!) It was wonderful to write everyday in class and then going to another class where all I had to do was read books and make reports was absolutely the best!! I love words!
  4. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
    I would have to say Mrs. Hester Vande Garde (5th grade elementary school). She taught us geography by showing slides of her travels around the world. It did put a wanderlust in me that continues to this day. She also had us color maps of every state in the USA. These maps were detailed and had pictures on them of what every region produced and what they were known for. I still have my maps in a three- ring binder. She is a teacher who opened up our eyes to the possibilities of places to go.
  5. If you could travel anywhere in the world…where would you go? What made you make this choice?
    I don’t really care where I go as long as I get to go and can go with people I love and/or really like. I love to see new things and new places. I enjoy going to historical places as I like history. I like museums. It doesn’t have to be spendy for me to enjoy being there. I also love to go visit family and friends. Road trips are some of my favorite things to do with my husband. Getting up before the sun, throwing a couple sandwiches together, and heading down the road is a wonderful thing….the joy really is in the journey!
  6.  Do you enjoy sports? Which ones?
    I am not an athlete whatsoever!!! Unless reading a book is a sport, or gardening or crafting LOL. When my sons were in high school they ran with the cross country team. That was a sport I really loved as it was one sport where there were no negative words. Everyone encouraged all the athletes, no matter what school they were from. I always felt anyone who finished one of those races was a winner if they came across that line first or last.
  7. Do you play any musical instruments? Which ones? Did you take lessons?
    My mom made me take piano lessons for a couple of years. This is not to say that I play piano!  I know the notes but am not proficient at all!  I quit when I was in the Second Thompson book and I clearly remember the song was “The Bee and The Clover”  I hated all those staccato notes!  When I hit 40 I purchased a guitar (that may have been my mid-life crisis!) I started teaching myself but did not pursue it. It would be cool to be able to play “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” .  That guitar is still hanging out in the back of our closet….maybe someday……
  8. If given the opportunity would you travel in space. Why or why not?
    Nah….I don’t think so. There are so many places I want to see on this ball of Earth…I don’t think I have enough time to even see all of the ones on my bucket list!
  9. What is your favorite season? What is that season like where you live?
    That is a hard one because I have favorite parts of all the seasons where I live! I would probably have to say Fall. The hot days of summer are past, the harvest is coming in, the air smells like fallen leaves, dirt and bonfires. In the evening hours you can hear the hum of grain dryers, combines in the fields, and dry leaves rustling on the trees. The colors are beautiful in reds, golds, and yellows. Fall is really quite wonderful!
  10. What advice would you give a teenager about achieving success in life? How do you define success?
    I would advise them to find humor in every day. I would tell them life is too short to stress about things you cannot change. I would want them to know that who you think you are; is more important than who someone else thinks you are. I would encourage them to find a job they love and that fact is more important than the paycheck they will draw. (Being in a job you hate is an awful way to live). I would tell them relationships mean more than material things. I would also tell them to keep their eye on God and the rest will fall into place in His timing. Achieving those things are how I define success.
  11. What is your favorite meal?
    This one is also hard!  I happen to love most food (unfortunately, it loves me also and sticks around on my waist, my thighs…..) I like Chinese, I like Mexican, I also love good old American hamburgers on the grill with a side dish of Taco Salad or Deviled Eggs.

Alrighty…..11 random facts about me. (Nuts, thought I had covered that in those questions!!)

  1. Way back in 1977 I spent a month backpacking around Europe with 5 other gals. This did not decrease the wanderlust in my soul! (See question 5).
  2. If I had gone to college after high school, I would have been a teacher. I think I would have liked teaching junior high. You don’t have to teach them to use a scissors and it would be fun to make them think out of the box.
  3. Driving a tractor in the ditch for baling scares the daylights out of me. I am relieved when I am done with those slanty areas that make me nervous!  I am getting better at it…..slowly.
  4. If I need to get something accomplished I cannot make a visit to the local library. Once I get a book, I want to start reading it immediately. Once I start reading it I usually cannot put it down till I am finished!
  5. I loved reading words so much as a kid that I would read the ingredients on the cereal box, catsup bottle, cake mix box etc!
  6. When I was a child I loved the program “the Flying Nun”. I really wanted to be a nun because I loved the outfit and the fact she could fly!  My mom informed me that we were not Catholic…therefore I could not be a nun. I made the mistake of telling my husband this one time and he has never let me forget it!
  7. I enjoy being outside mowing the lawn or in my garden more than I enjoy being in my house doing housework….unfortunately you can tell that. I really need to find a sign like my mom had in her porch, “If you come to see me….come anytime. If you come to see my house….make and appointment.”
  8. I would love to be able to paint beautiful pictures.
  9. I do enjoy crafting of any kind…..card making, crocheting, knitting, scrapbooking, sewing……
  10. I enjoy cooking…this is one good reason to stay in the house! It is also a great thing to do in the wintertime as it warms your kitchen up and makes the house smell wonderful!
  11. My family is my pride and joy. I love having them all around as much as I can! I love the fact they enjoy being together. It does scare the willies out of me when my three sons do their annual mountain climbing thing in Colorado’s 14’ers. My heart’s desire is for them all to know Jesus and live their lives in a way that shows that fact.

I am now to the part I need to nominate 11 blogs. There are so many out there that I so enjoy. I know some of them are award free so I will try leave them alone! (If I did nominate you and you are award free…I apologize!) If I do nominate you and you have already done this award or do not want to do awards I totally get that…so not too worry. This nomination is meant to be fun and not stress you out. Only do it if you really want to. I will not be offended…I promise!

I nominate:

atimetoshare.me

Leadership2Mommyship

Al

samanthamurdochblog

whitneyibeblog

Ame

susieshy45

George

Anne Mehrling

Tales From the Cabbage Patch

And now (drum roll) …….My questions for my nominees…

  1. What is the top item on your bucket list? Why?
  2. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
  3. What makes you cry?
  4. What makes you laugh….hard?
  5. Who had the biggest impact on you in your life so far? Why?
  6. Most embarrassing moment?
  7. What is a hidden talent that others would be surprised to know you have?
  8. What advice do you wish you had listened to when you were a teenager?
  9. What would make the perfect day for you?
  10. What is your favorite song and why?
  11. Do you have a favorite quote and if so …what is it?

Once again….thank you so much Pat for the nomination! I encourage everyone to head over to her blog and stay for a visit…you will not regret it!

“Don’t do something for recognition.
Do it out of kindness ..because out of giving,
it will make you whole and complete.”

Angie karan

“Never pass on an opportunity to say thank you
or give recognition for a job well done”

Mark W. Boyer

 

 

 

 

 

Gardening, Weeds, and Sugar Scrub

IMG_3535 Tomatoes and Weeds

Healthy Tomatoes & Healthy Weeds

It is definitely the gardening season in our part of the country….or should I say it is definitely the weed-growing season? In the heat of our late spring, the weeds have become overly prolific. The sheer volume of those growing, generally worthless things can be a little overwhelming.

I thought I would share the picture of my tomatoes……before weeding. The weeds are still there due to having gotten 1.2 inches of rain in a couple days ago. The rain was great even though it did put a halt to my weeding for a bit. I cannot honestly say I really felt to bad about having to wait to do more weeding!

I knew that those weeds would not disappear if I waited an extra day to get rid of them. It would be nice if there were a weed fairy who just waltzed in overnight and took off with them! Alas she did not, and I spent time hoeing and pulling said weeds this afternoon.

I do have some milkweed plants that I leave grow behind my summer kitchen/garden shed. I figure the monarch butterflies need all the help they can get so I leave a small patch just for them.

IMG_3538 Milkweeds

“Everything has it beauty, but not everyone sees it.”~Unknown

 

I hope to be rewarded with beautiful monarchs floating by on the summer breezes. I remember as a kid there was nothing quite as exciting as a watching the caterpillar turn into a chrysalis and then into a butterfly.

We used to take the branches they hung on and put them in an old aquarium so we could watch them when they emerged. Once they started the process, we carefully put the stick with the chrysalis outside so the butterfly could unfold and dry it’s new wings in the sun. It was one of the best hands on science lessons I have ever witnessed.

I also remember getting the liquidy stuff of the milkweed on our hands as kids. I have no idea what that stuff was but it stained our hands just as much as dandelions did. I have also found that weeding in the garden can be hard on hands and fingernails and leave some serious stains on skin and under fingernails.

This week I made some sugar scrub that should help with getting those stains off my hands and help get the dirt from under my fingernails. I am going to share the recipe with you so you can make some yourself!

Lemon Sugar Scrub.JPG

Lemon Sugar Scrub
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
20 drops Lemon Essential Oil
8 ounce glass jar
In a glass or stainless steel bowl, mix all ingredients.
Spoon into glass jar
Top off with more grapeseed oil so mix is not dry.
Use whenever you need for greasy hands, paint-spattered hands and anytime you need
to really scrub them.
This smells wonderful and is a great all natural alternative to other cleansers.
NOTE: you can also use sweet almond oil in place of grapeseed oil.

If all else fails with stained fingernails, you can always go ahead and use some dark fingernail polish to mask those stains. I am not sure how this would go over if you are a guy…but as a female gardener….I find that dark purple works wonderfully!

May you have a wonderful weekend. If you are a dad or grandpa may you have a blessed Father’s Day and enjoy your family. And may all your vegetable gardens and flower beds be weed free….. or at least have weeds that are pretty when they bloom.

 

A good garden may have some weeds.
~Thomas Fuller

 

 

 

Busyness and Bonfires

IMG_3542 Mallows.JPG

I have to confess.  I started today’s post at least three different times. Each time I ran stuck and my brain headed down a different track. I started out with the fact I was privileged to go to an amazing concert the other night, detoured into weeding my garden, headed down the path of the hot muggy weather and ended up at the end of the day by the firepit.  Okay….maybe I had four topics!

For some reason, focusing was not my strong suit today when it came to writing and I still feel a bit scattered.  I think I will stick with the fire pit topic and work my way backwards on those other topics over the next couple posts.

This week started out in a busy fashion that is typical of the late spring season that is Iowa and farming.  We started out the week with grass hay down in the ditches and in the waterway. Once we heard the forecast for possible rain we decided we needed to give out attention to getting it baled up before it got rained on. By Tuesday night we were so glad we had baled as we actually had 1.2 inches of rain.

For us, lately that is a pretty good amount as rain has been kind of hard to come by around here.  It is amazing what a nice rain can do to refresh the earth and your spirits!  The rain also gave me a break from weeding in the garden and let me catch up on other jobs I had been putting off.

When I look back at today I have to really think to figure out what I spent my day doing. There were so many little odd things like cleaning out a couple drawers and getting ruthless with the stuff that was in the back of those drawers. It was a day spent doing things that no one else will notice…..but I will!

By the time it was evening the wind had died down and I talked my husband into building a fire in the fire pit. I have had a stash of tree branches mounded up in the back yard since last fall. They have been waiting a long time to be burned…and tonite was the night.

I love that the bonfire served a two-fold purpose – time to sit and relax and also a great way to finally get rid of those branches.

There is something so very relaxing about just sitting in the darkening evening and watching the flames dance skyward. It was especially sweet after the busy start to the week. It was a good way to taper off the busyness of the day.

Sitting there, listening to the frogs singing and watching the fireflies dance through the night was one of those Aaaahhhhhh moments. We watched the chickens head in for the nights. We listened to the snort of a deer as it bedded down in the grass behind the grove. We got to enjoy the first stars as they came out for the night.

Life is indeed good when you take the time to slow down and enjoy the small things.

Some of the best conversations I’ve had
are sitting around a camp fire.
Robyn Davidson

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/robyndavid704971.html?src=t_fire

Those Summer Nights

IMG_3501 Fencerows

Fence Rows

The last days have been real corkers around here.  The sun has shone brightly, the wind (that ever-lasting Iowa wind) has been blowing steadily and the temperatures are a toasty 90 plus degrees. For us this is really unusual as our normal temps are in the 70s at this time of year.

The wind blowing and no rain has been pretty hard on my garden. I have had to enlist the aid of my husband, haul out the hoses, rig up the sprinkler and water everything. I typically do not water my garden. I usually wait for the rain. This season I couldn’t wait for rain. If I had; I have a feeling my tender seedlings would have just toasted to a crisp.

The constant heat and wind can be draining but there has been one upside to the overly warm days…..the nights. The nights have been cooling off…..so far.( I hear that is going to change this weekend and even the nights will be toasty.)

For now, I am enjoying the beautiful evenings.  There have been beautiful clouds…..big puffy white clouds, gray windy looking clouds, clouds that look like they will finally drop rain and thunderhead clouds.

IMG_3500 the Coming NIght

The Western Sky

I am amazed at the beauty that can be found in the heavens. It is wonderful compensation for the blistering hot days. It is a gift to sit on the porch, a cup of iced tea in hand and just listen to the last calls of the birds, the rustling of the leaves in the wind, and watch the sky turn from royal blue to the deep blues and purples of night.

IMG_3503 Clouds

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1

 

It is even better to be able to sit on that same porch with someone you love! Quiet, end of day conversations can be some of the best conversations around.

IMG_3506 The West Sky

The Coming of Night

 

There is something magical about sitting outside in the hush of the pre-night hours. There is wonder in watching the moon rise in the darkening sky.

IMG_3509 The East Sky

Day’s End

 

I will try to remember the beautiful evenings that have been and that are still to come. I will try hard to keep them in mind when I am working in my garden mowing the lawn or helping my husband bale grass hay.

It is good to have the anticipation of good things to come. It is sometimes what keeps you going through the everyday stuff of life.

May this weekend find you anticipating the good things. May it find you looking forward to the wonders that are to come and not looking back at the difficulties that have been. May you be blessed, may you find joy and may you have time to enjoy the simple pleasure in life…..like a cold glass of iced tea at the end of a long hot day.

“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day,
and they’re absolutely free.
Don’t miss so many of them.”

Jo Walton

“If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman,
I shall feel that I have worked with God.”

G.K. Chesterton

Blooms and Blessings

IMG_3390 Blue Flax

Blue Flax

 

I learned a new word the other day…Evanescent…..it came from the dailypost photo challenge. It seems I have heard this word, but never in a sentence where it actually seemed to have a meaning.

I actually looked it up to make sure I would know what it meant….temporary….things that fade away….fleeting. There are so many things that fit into that category.

The blue flax plant I have is a definitely an evanescent plant. Every day it blooms…. profusely….every night the petals all fall to the ground where they lay a carpet of bluish purple petals. The first time I noticed this I was kind of worried that the thing was dying. The next morning it was once again loaded with flowers!

When I looked around my yard at all my flowers  I know I had better enjoy them now….while they are beautiful. Come winter, they will once again disappear for a season. (yes, I know, it seems winter is in the very distant future….but in this part of the country you just know it will be back!) They are seasonal, they are temporary.

Today I am going to share some of my wonderful, beautiful, very temporary flowers with you.  The purple spikes originally came from my Grandma’s flower garden. When she passed away; we all got to take pieces of her perennials. She always called this one Veronica and I cherish them because of where they came from.

IMG_3391 A Perennial from Grandma's Garden

Grandma also used to have Bleeding hearts in her garden. I never did get one of those from her but I found this white one on a clearance rack at a garden center and just couldn’t pass it up. It was so close to dying so many times…but here it is blooming!

IMG_3394 Bleeding Hearts

The fact it lived and is blooming restores my faith in so many things. It seems like a message to never give up, to  give yourself time and you will surely find your way and become something beautiful that will bless others.

I have also been known to scavenge for my perennials. The iris were found growing in a ditch where there used to be a homestead. It seemed too sad to just leave them there with no one to appreciate them any longer.

 

My husband helped me dig some of them out and transfer them to our farm place. Every year I get to enjoy their beautiful blooms.

The hosta was given to me by my mom. She had to split hers as it was getting too big for the space it was in. She asked if I wanted pieces of her different varieties……I have a feeling she knew I would never turn down perennials!

IMG_3404 Hostas

I love the cool green foliage of hostas. I love the fact they flourish in places where other flowers don’t. They do well in the shady, dark places…..places where the sun is dimmed.

There is a lesson in there somewhere. Even when times are less than sunny we can flourish. Even when life seems dry and dark….we can survive. We can not only survive, we can flourish, we can be a blessing to those around us.

So many things, like flowers, are temporary. So much of what we do may seem temporary, like flower blooms, but in reality have far-reaching effects. It is good to remember that we can flourish where we are. It is good to remember that we even when the day seems to be a total loss….the next day we have the chance to bloom again!

Years ago I heard a song by Don Moen called “When It’s All Been Said And Done.” I love the lyrics of this song. It speaks of the temporary and it speaks of the eternal. May you be as blessed by it as I have been.

When it’s all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for you?

When it’s all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I’ve done for love’s reward
Will stand the test of time

Lord, your mercy is so great
That you look beyond our weakness
And find purest gold in miry clay
Turning sinners into saints.
Hallelujah

And I will always sing your praise
Here on earth and ever after
For you’ve shown me heavens, my true home
When it’s all been said and done
You’re my life when life is gone…

Don Moen