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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

Raspberries!

Surviving Raspberries.JPG

Last fall I was given the opportunity to get free raspberry plants from a gal in our church. So I took my spade, 5 gallon buckets and headed over to her place to dig some out. They had a huge patch that they wanted to get rid of as she said they just didn’t use them anymore.

As I wouldn’t know a sugarplum (reference to “Twas The Night Before Christmas” for those who are wondering.) if I fell over one……the visions dancing in my head were of raspberry jam, raspberry smoothies, raspberries on ice cream……..yeah raspberries for many things!

I dug up quite a few canes that afternoon and headed home with my prize.  I put them in a bucket of water like google told me to do; and then my husband spaded up 2 areas for me to plant them. (Out logic was maybe one place they would grow better than the other.) We put them in the ground, put fencing around them to keep out rabbits and watered them some more.

The canes didn’t do anything last year as we put them in quite late in the season. This year when we went to check on them after the snow had melted; we were jolted by the discovery that the rabbits had indeed found them. They had not only found them; they had chewed the canes down to nubs in several places.

I was certain there would be no raspberries coming to my freezer from these plants, no jars of jam and no raspberries on ice cream.  It made me kind of cranky at those rabbits……..actually, it made me real cranky at those rabbits.  You would think, living by the river like we do, there would be plenty for them to chew on without sampling my new raspberry canes!

Just the other day my husband came to the house and told me he thought some of the canes were alive. So we headed out to the two areas where we had planted them and Surprise!!!!! there are canes with leaves on them!  I was so excited to see that some had survived the late planting, winter season and pillaging by renegade rabbits.

I am always amazed at the tenacity of plants. It seems they can hang on through anything. They may be slightly (or a lot) battered by storms and/or pests (yes, I mean rabbits…sorry to my rabbit-loving husband) but a lot of them always seem to pull through and thrive.  There might be a life lesson in there somewhere…..hang on through the storms….better times are coming.

We also got our potatoes in the ground today so I am feeling really fulfilled. We usually try get them in sometime during the Good Friday/Easter weekend. We usually plant the Yukon Gold as we have found them to be very good keepers through the winter and we love the flavor of them when made into mashed potatoes.

Spring is such a great time of rebirth and the greening up of plants. I love the feeling that the earth is coming back to life. I realize that life has always been there, just quietly waiting to be warmed back to life after the cold winter. It brings such hope for those warm summer days, fruitful gardens and full pantries in the fall.

May you have a chance to dig in the dirt, experience the green grass under your feet and enjoy all the “surprise” plants that come back to bless you. May you find hope in the rebirth that is spring and may you be as tenacious as transplants.

“I believe in process.
I believe in four seasons.
I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming.
I believe that there’s a growing season.
And I think that you realize that in life, you grow.
You get better.”
–Steve Southerland


 

Security Under a Corn Tunnel

Tenacious Rhubarb.JPG

I was really surprised today when I looked out my patio door. I could see rhubarb growing underneath it’s “cages”. I had not expected those plants to be that large already. It did not seem that long ago that my husband suggested I put some corn tunnels over them as they were just starting to break through the soil.

Rhubarb is a tenacious perennial; but I think the “girls” out-tenacious the rhubarb.  Before we put the protective corn tunnels over them the girls would spend hours just scratching and digging for whatever they could find in the dirt around those plants. It was getting to the point that the poor plants were losing the battle against the chickens.

I have found that if I want to have any rhubarb to freeze for muffins or use to make jam I had best protect them till the leaves are really big. A few years ago my husband brought me some corn tunnels to use to protect them.

I should probably explain what a corn tunnel is for those of you who have never dealt with storing ear corn in a corn crib. When you put ear corn (field corn that is picked and not combined) in a crib you put these wire tunnels along the bottom of the crib to help with aerating the crib so the corn will dry on the cob and not rot and turn to compost.

We have found these corn tunnels work great for a lot of garden plants and flowers that you want to protect from rabbits and chickens and who knows what else. Once your plants are mature enough you can remove the protective tunnels and let them thrive on their own.

I think there are times in our lives when we are like those new shoots coming out of the ground in the early spring time. We need “corn tunnels” to help protect, shield, and give us security from the things that would scratch and dig at us before we are ready to handle that kind of treatment.

In these last few weeks of recuperating I have felt like those rhubarb plants with their corn tunnel protection. I have been shielded, nurtured and protected by so many friends and family. It is truly a humbling experience; but oh so very appreciated!

I have observed others during their times of needing that same kind of help and it is wonderful to see people close in around them to take care and nurture. I have also found that it is such a blessing to part of the nurturing crowd.  It does take a conscious effort to do that and I find you cannot blindly ignore those hurting around you.

In this week before Easter I would encourage you to be the security……. be the corn tunnel for those put in your path. Be the one to step up and nurture them, give a word of encouragement, and be the blessing to someone else.  I have a feeling you will be greatly blessed in return.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:4

Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verse-about-helping-others-21-top-scriptures/#ixzz4dtpppWYn

 

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully,
everyone is blessed.”

Maya Angelou

 

 

 

Promises of Spring

Flax

The last couple weeks in our area have been dreary, gray, chilly and wet. Today we finally broke out of that pattern and ended up with temps in the 50’s, sun and beautiful weather. It was the perfect day to wander around outside and just suck up some of the wonderful, warm sunshine.

A part of the afternoon was spent, head bent down, searching to see if any little purple violets have decided to make an appearance. I didn’t find any of those, but I did head back for the camera because when I strolled past my flower garden (which at times can also be known as a weed garden) I noticed the little green shoots of my flax plant trying to break through.

I began to dig through some of last years growth and the old leaves and discovered that the sedum, iris, and a few other things were also beginning to pop through the dark wet soil. It did my heart good to see these small promises of spring. It also did my heart good to just be outside and absorb the smells of spring, the sound of birds and the feel of warm sunshine.

I love this time of year…..it is so full of promise. After a long winter (which has it’s own beauty) it is like a revival to see the green shoots of plants and grasses make their way from their winter’s sleep. I am filled with hope when I see those green shoots coming up through the debris of last years plants……hope that life continues even when things looks dreary and dead. Hope of the promise of new life that chooses it’s own time to reveal itself.

My husband pointed out a pair of cardinals that were dancing through the bare trees. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera on hand at that point! The brilliant red was such a contrast to the brown of the bare branches. It reinforced the idea that life has so much beauty so close to what appears to be dead, brittle and ugly.

In looking closer at the branches of a tree in the backyard I discovered that the leaf buds are starting to swell with new life…..another promise in the process of being fulfilled.

Promise of Life

Life, like the swelling buds on the tree is full of hope if you just take the time to search. Sometimes the search is harder than others to find that small grain of hope and life. Sometimes, it seems to take more than one lifetime to see and feel that hope that brings a sweet breath of freshness into your soul.

Hope and Life, like the seasons, are on their own timetable…..they will not be hurried or wished into being. They will arrive at their appointed time and the older I get the more I am finding out……that timetable is perfect. I am also finding out that life without hope is stark and meaningless.  Maybe that is why all the little promises of Spring speak to my heart and soul.  It is a tangible reminder that life wins, hope springs eternal and God is good.

 

For behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Song of Solomon 2:11-12 ESV