Fresh Starts

With the New Year well underway I wonder how many people have decided they need a fresh start. Perhaps you are looking for a fresh start with your physical health. That seems to be a big priority at this time of year.

My husband always laughs at the fact that prior to the holidays the ads everywhere; are all about food. They show Christmas cookies that can be made. There are recipes for new side dishes at Thanksgiving and lots of ideas for beverages for the New Year celebrations.

After the holidays are done; all the ads seem to be for gym memberships, weight loss plans, exercise equipment and on and on. I must confess my mind was running along those lines this year.

After all the celebrations, my clothes were feeling a bit snug. I am too tight to buy new clothes for my “fatter” stage. I started pondering on the fact that perhaps I should move a bit more.

There was a simple challenge put out by Young Living for it’s members. They call it #NewMeIn90.  The idea is to intentionally move 30 minutes a day. They want you to make small workable changes that will leave you, not just in better health, but feeling better about life in general.

As I was thinking on this concept a friend, Kim, put out a challenge and a link to a 30 day journey into yoga. She did this on Facebook. I quizzed her by asking if this was something an out of shape (very out of shape) older fat woman could do. (I figured I had best start out the year being honest!) She assured me it was doable.

This week I set out to give it a whirl as I figured it would benefit my balance, flexibility and strength. I am happy to report it was going well…..till I hit Day 6. Day 6 is titled, Ignite.

Adriene, the yoga gal (who shall now be named YG) told us we were going to ignite the fire in our belly. I mumbled under my breath that the last 5 days had already been doing that, as I was starting to discover my long lost core. (I had previously not been sure I even had one anymore.)

Day 6 did not go well. After three, crunch- leg and head lifting type things (that started a roaring bonfire in my belly) I gave up that move. She ended that session with smushing up into a small ball with her knees tucked under her and her forehead on the ground.

I am here to tell you, that last pose was another move that didn’t quite work out properly. When you have extra mass around your middle it gets in the way of smushing and doing the deep breathing that YG kept reminding us to do.

Plans are to finish that 30 day challenge. It might not be done gracefully, but I have Kim holding me accountable and that makes me keep going.

It is good to have someone to hold a person accountable. Maybe that should be my goal this year. Be accountable. Do what I say. Finish what I start. Do what I can with what I am given and realize giving your best is good enough.

Perhaps the fresh start the New Year gives us is not just about getting into better physical shape. Perhaps, it is about persevering…..taking the next step….doing the next pose and keeping on even when life is hard.

Maybe YG is right….maybe just taking the time to breathe in and breathe out and being still is a great goal. Maybe it gives us the time to hear that still small voice. Maybe it gives us the space to really see what our Creator has laid out before us. Just maybe, it gives us the peace we need to embrace the gifts we have been given….whatever they might be.

Let us take this fresh start and receive it with joy.  Let’s relish the gift of life and delight in the steps along the way. Let’s take our cue from children….they don’t worry about tomorrow….they just live in the space that is now and enjoy that time.

When you dance,
your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.
It’s to enjoy each step along the way.
-Wayne Dyer

 

 

Tangled

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It is already December 13 and the tree is finally up and it actually is totally decorated…..except for the candy canes that will get put on at the last minute. For some reason Christmas decorating at our home seems to take a while to wind up and get started.

I am thinking it is because I kind of hate to take down the fall decorations and give in to the fact that it is the winter season. But…..the day arrived and my husband retrieved the totes that held the tree and all that is needed to make our house festive and lit for the holiday.

As I took the strands of lights out of the freezer bags I had stored them in; my husband started laughing. He thought my balls of light strands resembled something from the movie Christmas Vacation. Since he was right on that thought, I let him share in the joy of untangling those strands of lights.20191211_165750125099464.jpg

My Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas holiday seem to tangle all through each other and this year has been no exception. As I was making Christmas cookies I was also finishing up baking out my pumpkins from the garden.

I can probably justify the pumpkin baking as I do make a pumpkin pie for dessert for Christmas dinner. We have some die-hard pumpkin pie lovers at our house that day.

There is something wonderful about the tangling of seasons and holidays. It seems to reflect the tangling of life and the tangling of days. At least my days and my life sometimes resemble that strand of lights that come out of the bag as a ball.

It takes patience to unsnarl that strand of lights. It takes a gentle touch and a sense of calm. There is a lot to be learned when untangling strands of Christmas lights. Things like handling life with patience.  Treating others with a gentle touch.  Remaining calm when faced with situations that look impossible to straighten out.

Let’s take time this holiday season to deal gently with those around us…..you never know what they are dealing with or how snarled their life is. Let’s be patient and calm when the world seems to be going to fast and seems cruel…..let’s untangle those strands and let our lights shine.

 

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a man
by the way he handles these three things:
a rainy holiday,
lost luggage,
and tangled Christmas tree lights.
~Anonymous 52-year-old,
quoted in H. Jackson Brown, Jr.,
Live and Learn and Pass It On, 1991

 

 

 

 

Canning For The Year

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This has been a wonderful busy fall season. It is amazing what a difference one year has made. Those of you who know me, know that I spent last fall recovering from a bout of West Nile.  I was so grateful this year to be busy with canning, spending time with family and friends and just celebrating how good life is.

For me one of the great things of life, especially the fall, is the canning season. Years ago my grandma canned every bit of produce she could get her hands on. She instilled in me a love of seeing the produce come out of the garden, journey through the canning/preservation process and end up on the pantry shelves.

Sometimes Fall can feel like an ending to a season. I am not sure why, but canning does not feel like giving up on a past season. Canning feels like preparing for a fresh start. Lining shelves with the summer’s bounty is strangely fulfilling and highly addictive.

What starts out as just doing some batches of peaches, applesauce and pizza sauce turns into a hunt for a new recipe to try….a new way to try preserve the produce.  Canning is kind of like putting Summer in a jar and opening it to enjoy on those cold winter days.

For me…..canning is hope….hope that you are prepared….hope that you are ready for what comes…..and the hope that by the time your jars run out, you also run out of cold winter days.

Seeing the shelves lined with filled jars gives such a feeling of contentment. I may be weird in that thought but I am okay with that. I love going into my pantry and just standing there looking at those filled jars.

I tried a new recipe this year. We had such an abundance of watermelon that we could not keep up eating them. We gave melons away, I juiced a couple melons and they still kept producing. Even the chickens got to eat watermelon!

So this year I made watermelon jelly. It is so pretty in the jars and really tastes like watermelon in a jar!  I am so excited that in the middle of a cold dreary winter day I can open a jar and feel like summer is not so far away.

Watermelon Jelly
Yield: Makes five half pints

Ingredients: 
5 cups white sugar
5 tablespoons powdered pectin
6 cups pureed watermelon (remove any seeds prior to pureeing)
1/2 cup bottled lemon juice

Instructions:
Whisk together sugar and powdered pectin until they are fully integrated. Combine watermelon puree, sugar/pectin and lemon juice in a large, non-reactive pot.
Bring to a boil and let cook until the temperature of the nascent jelly reaches 220 degrees. This can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on the width of your pot, the heat of your stove and even the weather you’re having. Check set using saucer test before removing it from the heat, to ensure that it will set.
Remove from the heat and pour into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and screw on bands. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
When time is up, remove from canner and let jars cool. When they’re cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. You can eat immediately or store unopened jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Notes:
*This jelly can take up to one week to set. Please give it time.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and here is the link:
https://foodinjars.com/recipe/watermelon-jelly-recipe/
My notes: 
I used the low sugar pectin so it would set up better. Also, make sure to boil till you reach the correct temp as this also helps with setting this jelly.
Do NOT omit the lemon juice or use fresh lemon juice.
this is needed to properly acidify the watermelon for safe canning.
I wait 24 hours before removing the rings.

 

I love having full shelves, but I also love to gift some of the bounty to my children and others. It is fun “shopping” my shelves and filling boxes to send home with them.

I love the fact that, for me, those jars speak of faithfulness. The faithfulness of my Creator in providing for every need. They are more than just food….they are a visual reminder.  Those jars are a way to connect with those that I love and a connection to those who have gone before.

Food is our common ground,
a universal experience.

James Beard 
Read more: http://www.searchquotes.com/search/Food_Preservation/#ixzz63Pz248Hn

Days That Are Keepers

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Some days just start out good and just keep rolling along that way. The weather today is beautiful….sunny, dry and the tinge of fall in the air.

It is really a perfect day to turn 62. Yep…I just told you my age because I really don’t care!  I know they say a lady never tells her age, but this lady does, because to me…it is just a number.

On my way to town this morning the sky was so pretty. The clouds against the blue of the sky and the sun shining through. The sight of it made me  a bit late for meeting one of my sisters. I just had to stop and take a picture because beauty like that does not last all day.screenshot_2019-09-27-13-42-391442967960.png

My sister took me to Le Meilleur this morning for the most amazing pastry. It was a cinnamon roll made from a croissant. Our tea was the perfect beverage to go with it.

Le Meilleur is a small bakery in our small town. Unfortunately it is moving to the south of us; to the town where my sister lives.

I am glad it is not going far as I would miss this fun meeting place! The fact they have delicious pastries is a huge bonus as well.

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The day just kept getting better. Once I returned home a package arrived in the mail for me.

I had totally forgotten that I had put my name in a drawing at the Veteran’s Booth at the Clay County Fair a few weeks ago.

Today, I found they had drawn my name and I had won a beautiful stitched American flag!  I was thrilled and it was even better that it arrived on my birthday.  I have not yet mentioned to my husband that I just may need a flagpole to fly this flag.

I did have to take some ribbing from my husband this morning. I showed him a birthday wish a friend had sent on Facebook. The post included fireworks. My husband commented that of course there were fireworks. With that many candles any cake would blow up!

He also reminded me I am now eligible for Social Security.  I reminded him that I had finally caught up with his age! (I am also kind of hoping I am like a fine wine and just getting better with age.)  That may or may not be true, but I kind of like the logic.

One thing I have learned in my 62 years is to make sure to live while you are alive. Maybe I have learned more than one thing….I also know that it is good to find joy in a  sky filled with beautiful clouds and streaming sunlight.

I know that each day is a gift because I am not assured of the next. I have learned that life is good…if you let it be…attitude counts for a lot and there are good people everywhere.

I pray that when I am all done with my birthdays and have reached the end of my days…that I am greeted with the phrase, “well done…good and faithful servant.” And I pray that when my friends and family think of me….it brings a huge grin to their face and maybe leaves them wondering….just a bit.

 

And in the end,
it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years.

-Abraham Lincoln

 

Someday Just Might Be Today

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There is an old song by CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival) titled “Someday Never Comes”.  It might be true for the lyrics in that song but I have found that Someday is Today!

I am going to back up a bit….well a long bit. When we first moved here about 15 years ago we had sheep in our back yard. Yes, you read that right…sheep. It was hard packed dirt and when you slept with the windows open at night the sheep were right by the window.

We decided we should probably have a back yard, so the sheep got penned in somewhere else and my husband chewed up that hard earth and we planted grass seed. That first crop of grass was promptly eaten by a small flock of chickens.

We went back to the farm store and purchased some more grass seed. The seed was planted and it did not take long and those same chickens had once again cleared it off as it came up.

At that point my husband decided we would seed it one more time and if they ate it again he was done….no grass….no backyard.  I petitioned for a fence to keep the girls out.

We put up a fence quickly, as we figured, someday we would do it right. Someday we would make it nice and straight and put a gate in that actually swung easily and wasn’t just wired to the fence.

This time the grass grew as it was protected by our temporary fence. The years kind of slid past, as they tend to do, and temporary was starting to look kind of permanent.

This past spring my husband purchased a very nice garden gate at a farm consignment auction with the intention that someday we would put that in when we redid that piece of backyard fence.

The somedays seemed to go past and this week my husband decided that someday had arrived! Yesterday the gate was put in with cement around the poles to make it sturdy. Today we redid the piece of fence that attaches to the garden gate and goes to the chicken coop.

To say I am excited about it is a bit of an understatement. I am excited to have a fence that is straight and stands firm. I am excited to have a gate that will latch and swings easily in both directions. (It is amazing what using the correct hardware will do for a garden gate!)

I love the look of the old gate and the old fence. The fence was some that used to go around the front yard when we bought this place many years ago. I have a feeling that piece of fence could tell a lot of stories about the children it kept in and the critters it kept out. (Probably chickens!)

There is probably a lesson in here somewhere. It probably has to do with being patient and how that is a virtue or something like that. I must confess I did not feel virtuous. I just kind of got used to the wobbly fence and less than stellar gate set up.

There is probably a lesson in that somewhere too!  It probably is a lesson that we should not get so complacent when things are not as they should be. Maybe we should work a bit harder to make them right. This is true with fences as well as things like relationships and other things needing to be straightened out.

Whatever the lesson. I am just happy that someday did come to our farm! May your someday show up soon and may it leave you as excited as my someday did for me.

One day,
you’re 17 and you’re planning for someday.
And then quietly,
without you ever really noticing,
someday is today.
And then someday is yesterday.
And this is your life.

John Green

 

Porch Conversations

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It has been a bit since I posted. For some reason life just got in the way of writing anything. Somewhere between gardening, canning, sitting with a family member in the hospital, birthday parties, baking cakes for birthday parties, family reunions, picking beans, canning again, splitting wood and pressing apples for cider…..a post just never got written.

The other morning my husband and I had a chance to sit a bit and reflect on the busyness of the past weeks. We were starting our day, sitting on the porch, having our first of the morning cups of coffee and tea.

It was beautiful…a bit chilly for this time of year. It was quiet with only the migrating blackbirds to disturb the peace. It was the kind of morning where porch conversations take place….those conversations where everything gets discussed.

The past weeks were rehashed and relived. Some we laughed about and thought we should do again. Some we decided we really didn’t want to repeat. Porch conversation meander (at least ours seem to). They seem to take their sweet time and sometimes end up in places you had no idea they would go.

We pondered on contentment. We wondered why it seems some people never are content; and how those people always seem to want more. For the life of us, we cannot understand that thought.  I am kind of grateful we don’t understand that concept.

It was decided that, perhaps, we viewed life more as a cross country race than a sprint. When our sons were in cross country we noticed that winning was important…but even more important was beating your own time….running your own race…but running it better than the race before.

We kind of liked that thought. The thought of living life; to live it better than the day before was kind of good. It seems to be a way to live without competing against everyone else and without comparing yourself to others.

Living life by just trying to do your own stuff better, really frees a person up from wanting what everyone else has or wanting more than everyone else has. Maybe time on a porch just makes for being content. Maybe it is the slower pace that sitting on a porch seems to bring.

There is just something about sitting on a porch, starting your day with a good cup of tea/coffee and connecting with someone you love; that lends itself to a very content state of mind. Whatever it is….I am all for it.

May you have time to sit with a loved one this weekend. May your conversations meander and bring a smile to your face…..and if you can do this on a porch….may it bring a sense of contentment and a feeling that all is right with your world.

 

 “Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want
but the realization of how much you already have.”
Anonymous

 

 

 

 

 

Vacation – Part Two

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Wyoming Landscape

There are days when it feels like you are hours behind before you even get started on the tasks for the day. Today was such a day….Actually the last weeks seems to be running in that same vein.

I finally had time to start mowing the lawn again. It was about 5 days past due, so the grass kind of blew out of the mower in clumps. I do have to admit that pushing a lawn mower is not only a great workout, but it is also a great time for thinking.

As I mowed I did think about playing the chore catch up game and how that ties in with having been on a vacation. Do not get me wrong…I LOVE vacations. For some reason it just seems that the time spent preparing for them is a lot funner than the time spent catching up from taking them. At least when preparing for a vacation there is the anticipation.

I did a bit of pondering on how I prepare and how my husband prepares. My husband usually makes sure to take tools for any mechanical issue that might happen. I am thinking a plier, hammer, and a few other things are probably good. (Pretty sure I am wrong on that one!)

I tend to worry about having enough clothing for every weather event….food for any possibility…and everything that falls in between. If my husband was in charge of packing he would walk out the door with a plastic grocery bag containing a change of underwear and a clean shirt, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a towel.

He would also make sure to pack the Johnny Horton CD so he could belt out the favorite family traveling song, “North to Alaska” while traveling west.

I did pack lighter for our last vacation as I knew we could wash clothes before my husband and I went on the second half of vacation. I call it the second half because our children left on a Sunday to head home and we stayed a few days longer.

We pulled our camper further north (I guess we do head North occasionally) toward Deadwood and Spearfish. We decided we would again do dispersed camping. We found out about this a couple years ago and really liked it.

The national forestry has Motor Vehicle Use Maps that are available and those maps show where you can camp for free.  Of course you are on your own…no water…no electric. You also often camp on a logging road. It did make it interesting watching the trucks go past with all those logs.

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Bridal Veil Falls 

On the second half of our vacation we spent time driving through Spearfish Canyon, It is a beautiful drive any time of the year. Bridal Veil falls is always beautiful and the water in the stream is always cold enough to make your feet go numb if you choose to wade in it to cool off. We had thought of hiking to a place called the Devil’s Bathtub to swim; but after freezing our feet we were reluctant to freeze our entire body.

Time was spent in Deadwood watching the reenactment of the shooting of Wild Bill by Jack McCall. There is a lot of history in those towns that are in the Black Hills.

We also decided we needed to do a day trip to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. It had been 25 years since we had been there and it did not disappoint. (We also decided that at our age we probably should not wait 25 years again before we go see stuff!) As we hiked around the tower we ended up talking to a couple who were there with their 10 year old grandson.

We found out how small this world really is…..they were the in-laws of a gal who was raised in the same town as us and had attended the same church as us!

Our entire week of vacation…with our kids and with just the two of us was a wonderful time of reconnecting. It was great, to just spend time and be together.

My husband I have come to realize that time and vacations spent with those you love are well worth the investment. At the end of the day; or the end of a life; it does not matter how much money you made. It does not matter what position you held in the company. It does not matter if you never missed a day of work…..what matters is the relationships you leave behind and the legacy that is your family and friends.

“Nobody ever has,
“He was a good worker”

written on his tombstone.”
John S. (aka~my dad)