Spring Cleaning

Freshly Cleaned Coop

This is the season that makes me want to actually do some spring cleaning…..outdoors!  I started raking the lawn and picking up the sticks that littered the lawn.  That is a never ending task when you have locust trees. I then decided it was time to start in the chicken coop.  It is so satisfying to walk into a clean chicken coop. Once it is done it smells wonderfully fresh.  I love the piney fragrance of the bagged wood chips I purchase for the floor and the nesting boxes.  The downside is cleaning the coop IS a lot like housework……it only stays clean a very short time.

My husband always helps me with this task, which I do in the spring and in the fall.  It really doesn’t take too much time and we have it down to a science. Once we get the roost out of the way, by putting it outside, we can get to work with the scoop and wheelbarrow.  In the spring the good “stuff” that I pitch out gets scooped onto the wheelbarrow, then dumped on the loader bucket for my husband to spread on his field.  When I clean in the fall, the garden is finished for the season and it gets spread on that. It is great stuff for the soil so cleaning the coop is a definite win-win.

For some reason, the girls do not appreciate having anything changed in their quarters.  They squawk and run around like we are doing something horrendous when we pitch it out.  Once the new bedding is put down they are incredibly cautious about coming back in and walking on the nice clean floor. They’re funny to watch as they carefully pick their way through the shavings, stopping every step to tilt their heads and check out the floor.

I sometime wonder if we act the same way when  “stuff” needs to be cleaned out of our lives? Do we fuss when something is changed, even if it is better for us?  Do we fuss because, while it is better for us, it is not familiar or comfortable yet?  I know I don’t like change and I am not fond of having someone else just come in and make those changes.  I guess I can sympathize with my chickens, somewhat…..

Change of any sort requires courage.
– Mary Anne Radmacher

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
– Lao Tzu

When looking for a good quote to end this with I came across this site that is full of really great quotes for pretty much any occasion.  If you are “into” quotes and sayings, like I am, you may want to check this one out. I am thinking, you might like it!


Egg Dishes and Bridal Showers

Brunch Egg Dish

This past Saturday we, as aunts, had the honor of hosting a bridal shower for a future niece.  It is an exciting time when your kids, nieces and nephews are starting out down the road of that great adventure called marriage.  Because of this event and the Easter weekend we had the fun of having out daughter-in-law and the grandkids come and stay at our home for the weekend. Our son, unfortunately, was not able to come due to illness

Our grandson, who is 4 1/2, (he makes sure to tell us about the 1/2) likes to get up early in the morning.  Usually when he is around he ends up crawling between grandpa and grandma in bed.  That morning we were having a little conversation about what the day would bring.  We mentioned he would get to hang out with Grandpa and the two uncles that would be coming that morning. He immediately picked up on the fact that his sister, mom, aunt and grandma would be doing something different.  I tried to explain that the ladies would be going to a bridal shower. We tried not to focus on the word shower as that brought on mental images of  literally showering the bride with water and that can be a dangerous idea for a small boy!  I explained that Kayla was going to be marrying cousin Ross. The response to that, from a 4 1/2 year old boy, was “Ewwwwww!”  That perspective still brings a huge smile to my face.  I am thinking I should remind him of that in about 12 years.

My perspective on the shower was a little different than my grandson’s view.  I found it to be great fun.  It was a blessing to connect with each other through fun, games, lunch, gift- giving and prayer.

As an aunt I volunteered to make an egg casserole as we were having a brunch.  (That one was kind of a no brainer as I have plenty of eggs on hand.)  This is my go-to recipe for gatherings with a brunch menu.

3 cups diced ham
3/4 cup cubed Velveeta cheese
1 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
3 cups milk
12 eggs beaten
42 soda crackers, crumbled
dash pepper
small can mushrooms, drained (optional)
Mix all ingredients together in 9 x 13 pan and refrigerate overnight.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (till firm)

Children are a gift from the LORD;
they are a reward from him.
Psalm 127:3 NLT

He Is Risen!!

Promises Kept

I just want to wish you all a joyous and blessed Easter Sunday.   I was introduced to a song at a Christian retreat that I would love to share with you. This song offers such hope and fits perfectly with the promise that is Easter.  Hope, life, restoration, resurrection and reunion with our Lord and Savior.  May you be as blessed by it as I was and may you find peace.


For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish
but have eternal life.
John 3:16



Reflection on Good Friday

Artwork by Joseph Kroese

Even as a kid I wondered why they called this day Good Friday.  In looking at the cross it never seemed like a good thing.  Reflecting on good things makes me realize that many things in life do not, on the surface or while in the midst of them, seem like good things.

I am pretty sure everyone can look at their life and the hard, dark places that come with living and wonder where that good part is hiding.  Sometimes you have to look pretty hard to find even a slight glimmer of the good.  This is true, especially when you are in the middle of a hard place.  There are some hard things that you may not see that shimmer of light for several years and some maybe never while on this earth.  I am guessing that is where faith comes in and the hope of things unseen. (my slightly garbled version of Hebrews 11:1)

Do you ever wonder about Good Friday? Do  you ever wonder if the disciples felt like their entire world was crashing down and dying on the cross with their Lord and friend?  I wonder how they found the courage to take that next breath and wake up the next morning.  Did they find themselves sighing deeply, hunching their shoulders to ward off the next psychological blow, swallowing back the tears and looking for anything to relieve the incredible pain?  Did they spend those next three days asking “What if”  or saying “If only”?  Did they for an instant see the glimmer of the good that would come from this violent, brutal killing of the one they loved? Or was the darkness just to deep and the hurt so bottomless that there was no comfort and there were no words?

As a mom I cannot imagine how Mary survived those days. The memories of Jesus as an infant, the images in her mind of him taking his first steps, saying his first word.  Did she remember if she was angry that he had stayed back in the temple, as a child, rather than leaving with his family on that trip home from Jerusalem? Did she ponder all these things and remember the words and promises that her son had told her? After having that horrible image of her son hanging on a cross stamped indelibly in her mind was there a small flicker of hope that he would rise from the dead or was it just to much to even think at all?  There is no way I can begin to comprehend the despair that she, as a mom, felt at that point.

If you are going through a hard time that seems so dark that no light can penetrate; remember the promise of this day….this Good Friday.  Yes, it is a good day.  The promise of this day makes the living through the tough times less difficult.  Not necessarily easier, just less difficult.   This good day has brought grace.  It has brought forgiveness. It has brought redemption. It has restored us to our place as God’s dearly loved children. That is a gift that is beyond imagining and I am ever so grateful. This day does not protect us from what life brings but it gives us hope for an amazing future.  It is a promise.

So look for that glimmer of good, that glimmer of hope, that little sliver of light in the circumstance you are in.  Hang on to the promise of this day.  Hang on to the One who loved you enough to die for you and more than that, who was raised to life and is even now  at the right hand of God and is interceding for us (Rom. 8:34)

May you be blessed wherever you are on this Good Friday and remember Sunday’s coming!!

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness
Jeremiah 31:3

The cross at the top of this post was drawn by my youngest son when he was in high school. I love the way how this drawing reminds me how much Jesus loves me and each of us. I love being reminded that I am free, really free because of what happened on that one day…..that Good Friday so long ago.

Trying Something New

Elderberry Cuttings

I have a friend, Sara,  from Lincoln who has been teaching me to expand my horizons.  I have always been fairly game to give something a try …. as long as it is not illegal, immoral or does not scare me to death! When it comes to gardening and plants I am always ready to try something new.  This friend has decided she wants to grown elderberry bushes.  She is a fountain of information about plants, their uses, medicinal value, and how to grow, use, and process them.  Since knowing her, I have even harvested and dried trays of stinging nettle or as our family has named it “fireweed”.

I told her I knew where there were some  elderberry bushes “growing in the wild”.  Our ditches, in this area, seem to have small patches of them growing here and there.  I googled (which, you know, I love to do!) about how to start elderberry bushes from cuttings.  There were several blogs, maybe way more than several blogs, on how to do this. Please do make sure, if you also try this, that the bushes you take your cuttings from are the edible variety.  If you question it you can check with your extension service.

I talked my husband into assisting me in this endeavor.  I am fortunate that he is really good about helping with stuff like that. He grabbed the “Lopper”, I grabbed the bucket, we climbed in the pickup and set out to a ditch around the section.

We arrived at the location where there were several bushes beside a wild plum thicket and we clambered down the ditch bank.  On the way down I made note of some really cool old red foundation stones that were laying here and there.  Note to self “come back and get them ….soon.”  We proceeded to cut off a bunch of pinkie-sized branches (those were the instructions in the posting) that had several leaf nodes on them.  We made sure to cut them on the diagonal, just like the blog post also said. Once we had a bunch of them in our pail, we climbed back up out of the ditch.  I did go back for that one rock ….the one I could actually carry.

At home I trimmed them and they are now soaking in pint jars on the windowsill; ready to make roots – in the next 6 weeks or so.  I do think I am also going to try make the all natural willow water that is supposed to help speed up the rooting process.

Starting Elderberry bushes

Planting things and starting cuttings are an act of faith.  I have faith some of these will make it and produce berries.  I can already taste the elderberry syrup, elderberry jelly, elderberry …… I will keep you posted on how these actually turn out.

The links below will take you to detailed instructions on starting your own elderberry bushes and making willow water.

Happy gardening!



Everything that slows us down and forces patience,
everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature,
Is a help.
Gardening is an instrument of grace.
May Sarton

Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/maysarton133734.html?src=t_gardening

Creamy Corn Hot Dish


Creamy Corn Hot Dish

Spring is here!  Soon it will be time for picnics and family gatherings and recipes for side dishes are good to have on hand.

This corn hot dish is a recipe that I got from a friend from church.  It is a handy one to make for gatherings of any sort as you can assemble it in advance and keep in the fridge till it is time to cook it.

Creamy Corn Hot Dish
1 stick oleo or butter
1 can corn, drained
1 can cream-style corn
1 1/2 cup spaghetti noodles, broken in 2-3″ pieces
8 oz. Velveeta cheese (can also use mild Mexican Velveeta)
Cut cheese into small 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes.
Mix all ingredients together and put in a
2 quart glass casserole. (I love my Pampered Chef deep dish cooker for this)
Bake at 325 for 45 minutes, covered.

The recipe originally said to cook for 1/2 hour.  I have found that my noodles are still somewhat hard if I only cook them that long.  I also did not fully drain the corn as my noodles used up some of the liquid.  If you want a creamier texture you may want to drain thoroughly.

When done…… sit back and enjoy and be ready to pass this recipe on to those who want to try it.

So, whether you eat or drink,
or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God
1 Corinthians 10:31  ESV



Good News on a Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday.JPG

I have a friend who gives me crosses.  She knows I love the reminder of how much grace and what a gift I have been given – that we all have been given.

We are in the season of Holy Week for the Christian community.  Where the fickleness of human nature is displayed, going from shouting “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him”  in one short week.  I like to think we would be different….but would we?  Would I?  And through the entire event; we are offered grace.  We are offered forgiveness and atonement.

For those going through circumstances that seem overwhelming, this week offers hope.  This week reminds, that no matter how bleak things look; God has a plan that will be delivered in His time.  May those of you suffering loss, medical issues, pain, and all the hurts this world offers be comforted by the love the Savior has for you.  May you be reminded that He understands and that He loves you  — always.  He loved us enough to ride in to a celebration; knowing the week would end in His torture and death.  And yet, he went, because “He so loved the world”  John 3:16

May you be blessed in this season of Grace.

Palm Sunday tells us that….
it is the cross
that is the true tree of life.
Pope Benedict XVI



The View From My Window

Stormy skies

I have been spending time trying to organize my digital photos.  So many, many folders and so many with only dates and no names.  I am attempting to label the folders so when I try find something later on it should be a lot easier!

I have discovered that I seem to have a fascination for taking pictures of the view I have from my kitchen window….actually our patio door.  Maybe, it is because we do have such a great view.  We see the storm clouds rolling in from the east and we get to see the rainbows that follow.


Our Iowa winters seem to give us very little variety in color of the sky we see.  We tend to have slate gray easing into slate gray that eases into a cold-looking slate gray.  Once we get to spring it gets much more interesting.  I am amazed at the blues, the reds, the oranges and yellows that we get to see.  Our sunrises can be gorgeous on those hot humid mornings.

Beautiful Morning.JPG

We also enjoy sitting out and watching the “moonrises”.  I am not really sure what the correct term is for that?  It is interesting to just look at all the stars.  On our place that is easy as we do not have a security light so it gets really dark!  We often wonder what are those really fast moving lights up there?  Why did those guys name the constellations what they did? Does that bunch of stars really look like a bear??  We like to imagine where those planes are heading to as they fly over with their blinking lights.

Lunar Eclipse #5

This past summer it was really interesting to sit out and watch the lunar eclipse.  I am not sure how long we sat out there and enjoyed that show but it was something to marvel at as the moon slowly turned blood red and then disappeared for a time.

Cloud watching is also something that has always been fun.  In Iowa there is a lot of open sky so this is easy to do.  It is interesting how the clouds can change, and grow, and build as you sit and watch them.  When we were kids we would spend hours laying on our backs looking up at the clouds to see what shape they would take next.

the view from my window.JPG

I sometimes think that, as adults, we should take more time to just sit and look at the sky. Maybe if we took more time to appreciate the beauty around us, the smell of the air, the sound of the wind as it rustles the leaves, we would be more content with where we are and what we have.  Maybe the free things, like the view from our window, are God’s gift to us and a message to just enjoy the little things that He has sent. What are your favorites?  Sunrises?  Stars? Moonrises? Clouds? Or something totally different?

Next time I think I am too busy, I will have to remind myself of that message, take a breath, and just enjoy.    Oh, I think I will also go grab my camera!

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




Top 10 Reasons For Owning Chickens


A Chicken Named Poof

A Chicken Named Poof


I love watching my chickens, or as I call them …my girls.  I have since discovered that other small flock owners also like to call them, their girls.  I have two friends in two other states that are very dedicated to their small flock of “girls”.  When I quizzed them on their top 10 reasons why they have chickens; one of them sent me her list.

My friend from Nebraska is actually the Grandma of my daughter-in-law.  I got to know her because of that family tie and am so blessed by it!  The chicken connection just solidifies that bond.  She and her husband also have a tree farm and she is a woman who has her own personal piece of prairie land.  You can check out the Prairie Woods tree farm on either of the links below.



I really had to smile when reading Judith’s top ten.  So many of them mirror what my list includes.  Maybe it is just a trait of chicken owners?  I have a feeling I will never know as I am pretty sure there haven’t been any studies on chicken ownership and the habits of chicken owners.

Judith’s Top Ten Reasons

1.  The eggs are the best ever.
2.  They are entertaining to watch.
3.  They are actually quite intelligent.
4.  They eat lots of insects.
5.  They run to meet me every day.
6.  They love to be petted and carried around, just like any good pet.
7.  They reinforce the idea that I’m a farm wife.
8.  I love looking out my window and seeing them toddling around.
9.  They are inquisitive and one has come up on the porch and tried to come into the        house for a visit.
10.  They talk to me

Vickie is another friend from South Dakota.  I got to know her through a Christian women’s retreat.  She is also a blessing to me and is the one person I know who has so thoroughly bonded with her girls that she can imitate them to perfection.  I wish I had a video of her to post here.  You would be amazed!  I haven’t gotten her top 10 yet but when I do I will update this post.

My top ten:

1.  The eggs are the best, nice yellow yolks and so fresh
2.  My grandchildren love to help gather the eggs (even though the eggs do not all make it to the house in one piece)
3.  I love to sit and watch them
4.  They keep the bug population down – I no longer get ants in my house in the summer.
5.  They use up my extra garden produce so I feel like nothing goes to waste.
6.  They follow me around the yard and sound like they are asking me  questions.  For some reason I find myself answering them. I am not sure if this is a problem or not…..
7.  They are great entertainment when you feed them watermelon seeds off the deck.
8.  They produce wonderful fertilizer for my garden
9.  They are always happy to see me. It could be the bucket of food but I prefer to think it is me they are happy to see.
10. They make me smile and that is all I need to know.

In the summer they love to drink rainwater from an old teapot that I set out.  It is kind of fun to watch them have their own tea party.

I would love to say there are only positive things to having a flock of chickens…..I would be lying.  They do require tending, protecting from varmints, and occasionally removing a “bully” from the flock.

We discovered one of the downsides to chicken ownership a few years back.  We decided the time had come to try seed some grass in our backyard.  We purchased the grass seed at the local farm store and borrowed my son’s grass seeder.  Some of the seed hardly hit the ground before those birds were scratching and pecking it right up.  During the next weeks, those hens, decimated that back yard.  Any new shoots that were brave enough to break through the surface were promptly plucked out by a chicken and eaten.  We began to develop large shallow holes in what was left of the growing lawn.  The chickens were using them for their daily dust baths.

Looking for Seeds.JPG

Come fall, we tried again to seed the back yard with the exact same results.  The next spring I wanted to try again and my husband told me this was the last time he was buying grass seed for that same lawn.  I convinced him to fence the entire backyard and garden area in with some “old-school” farm fence – the kind with the scalloped top.  This time all those little green shoots had a fighting chance and we now have a nice green lawn.  We can enjoy our back yard and have never taken the fence down.  It is kind of nice to have one area where you can walk barefoot and not worry what you are stepping in!

My husband will ask me every now and then how long I think I will keep chickens.  I just grin at him and tell him I will probably have them till I can’t get out there to take care of them. I am not really sure why (other than my top ten list) I am attracted to chickens…..I just know they make me smile…..and that is good enough reason for me.  Besides, if I would get rid of the “girls” …..what would my grandkids call me?


A little video of my girls when they were few days old.  Another great reason to have chickens —–they start as baby chicks.

“When arguing with a chicken,
a grain of corn is always wrong.”
— African Proverb