Baby Celebrations

IMG_4031 Opening Gifts

Sometimes things in life do not go quite as planned. We had this experience this past Sunday. We had planned for a beautiful sunny day to hold a Baby Celebration for my son and daughter-in-law and our soon to come grandson. What we got was a day that started out drizzly.

We had planned to set up tables and chairs outside and have everything ready to go by 11:00, so we could get started on the grilling of burgers and hot dogs.  What we got was drizzling till about 10:45, waiting till 11:00 to make sure it really was done dripping all over, and then scrambling to get things set up outdoors so we would be ready for the guests. We had planned to have this be a casual event; and it was a casual event so that went according to plan!

Lots of prayers were sent up, on my part, for there to be a couple hour break in the drippiness.  (I struggled with that prayer as we really need the rain in this area.) We did get a break and it was long enough to fit in everything we needed to.

The day, while not warm and sunny, was a wonderful day of celebration. Lots of laughter, joking, playing games (Corn Hole and Badminton) and opening gifts. It was a wonderful day to celebrate life, family, friends, and the celebration of a new life on the way.

 

There was plenty of food for everyone….(though the frozen fruit cup was a little bit chilly for the day). Grilled burgers and hot dogs, salads and a S’more table, more than made up for the slightly damp atmosphere.

 

We decided that we would still have our homemade root beer and floats. (It was National Root Beer Float Day on Sunday so we needed those floats!) They were great with the S’mores and no one seemed to mind having a chilly dessert.

 

I had bought the duck a few years back at a garage sale. At the time I purchased it I thought it was a floaty for a pool. I found out later it was a blow up baby bathtub! I am really glad I found a great use for it at the party. It made a great root beer and water bottle holder. (I must thank the mom-to-be for taking pictures of the set up…..I had totally forgotten!)

There was lots of mingling and catching up with family and friends during the afternoon. It was a time to retell old family stories and make new ones. I may be the mom of sons…but I am blessed by the women they have brought into our family! They were the drive behind the planning, food and decorations.

We did have a really good laugh when my daughter-in-law shared that my grandson had been quizzing them on their way here about what happens at a baby shower. He was firmly convinced that this was the day the baby would arrive and we were all going to be together to witness the birth and have a huge celebration! He wanted to know all the whens, whys, and whats on how that was going to happen. I am not sure what they actually told him…but it still makes me grin.

In the end….the day was perfect in it’s weather imperfection. It was a celebration that did not hinge on circumstances like foggy damp rain. It did not hinge on “if everything went according to plan”. In the end…the day did go as planned….people had fun, we celebrated and we enjoyed being together.

It was a day that celebrated family, life, new beginnings and love.  It was a day that celebrated blessings and what they really are. When it all comes down to it I guess that is what really matters…..and it was good.

 

The best times are always found
when friends and family gather round.
Unknown

If you so choose,
even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities.
If you so choose,
you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance.
Ralph Marston

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Strawberry Pie and Fellowship

IMG_4017 Fresh Strawberry Pie.JPG

Our weather has been absolutely beautiful lately. The rains have missed us, which is not good,but temperature-wise we are cooler than normal for this time of year. That is a welcome relief after the hot, sweltering weeks we have just had.

The weather was also perfect for a picnic the other night! Our care group in church was invited by another care group from church to come to a picnic…..all we had to do was bring our own lawn chairs, make a treat to share and show up.

I decided to make a fresh strawberry pie to take along for our treat. This decision was made easy by the fact that our local grocery stores had an amazing sale of fresh strawberries.

When I told my husband that I was making pie he got kind of a hang-dog look on his face. He then questioned me why I was making pie to bring somewhere else. I assured him I had planned to make two so one could stay home for him!

The recipe I used comes from a cookbook I received as a bridal shower gift over 37 years ago. I am pretty sure it was also the one my mom-in-law always used and her Strawberry Pies were always the best!

I will share the recipe with you and I think you will find it very easy to make and pretty much no-fail….which is the best kind of recipe.

Fresh Strawberry Pie
Crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oleo or butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Mix and pat into pie plate.
Brown at 350º  for 20 minutes.
Filling:
2 1/2 cup strawberries (about 1 pound)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 heaping Tablespoon cornstarch
3 Tablespoon Jello(not sugar-free)
Blend sugar, cornstarch, and jello in saucepan.
Slowly add water while using whisk.
Boil till clear, stirring continually.
Let cool.
Mix well with strawberries and pour into baked pie shell.
Refrigerate till firmly set.
NOTE: If you want Fresh Peach Pie; you can use about 7 fresh peaches and 3 Tablespoons peach jello.   I have done this and it is also amazing.

 

The pie was a hit at the picnic and was just one of the many tasty treats that were available that night. The food was great, but the evening of games and fellowship was truly a gift.  It was a blessing to visit with fellow church members of all ages. It was fun to see everyone, young and old, enjoying themselves on a beautiful summer evening.

One of the games we played was a lawn game called Kubb (or Viking Chess). It was a lot of fun and challenging. It is kind of hard to explain so I am posting a link where it not only tells you how to play, but how to make your own set!  This Old House   (I am thinking I need to try make one of these.)

I have decided I will never be a tournament quality player of that game ( I would actually say my level of playing is substandard!), but it didn’t really matter…..fortunately.  I think my skills are probably more in the pie and food making category.

When it comes to food and food making….I love to use the old cookbooks that I have used for years. I love the fact that those old recipes have been tested by time and were used years ago by women who wanted to feed their families and others with wonderful tasty food.

There is something comforting about using an old cookbook.  The pages are tattered around the edges (at least mine are), there are spots on those pages from splatters while mixing a recipe and there is writing by the really good recipes so you know which ones to use and how you should maybe alter it.

Life can be the same way…..there is comfort in the familiar even though it is tattered and worn. Our lives can be splattered with the things that have happened to us. We show that we have been used by life and made it through. We are a testimony to faithfulness and a richness of the blessing that becomes more valuable with the passing of time.

May you live your life in such a way that your life is a “recipe” for others to follow…..perhaps a little frayed….a little splattered….but still blessed.


Your lives are a letter written in our hearts;
everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.
2 Corinthians 3:2b
New Living Translation

 

 


 

 

 

 

Surviving the Heat and Humidity

IMG_3907 One of My Favorite Corners.JPG

My Favorite Corner

We are now officially in the weather pattern in Iowa that has two temperature settings…..hot and muggy or hotter and muggier. When we walked out our door this morning it didn’t feel too bad as it had cooled off slightly during the night.

We decided we had better walk some beans (also known as swinging a hoe in the soybean field and whacking weeds) before it became too hot and unbearable. We were fortunate in the fact that until 10:30 it was overcast and we had a breeze. You learn very quickly to ignore the heat, humidity and grit that sifts into your shoes.

By afternoon, that overcast sky had left and the sun beamed bright and hot in it’s place. I found this out when I ventured out again to weed in the vegetable garden. This has been a prolific season for weeds around here! As I was plucking out weeds and finding the carrots back; it quickly felt like I was cooking in the sun.

By evening, my husband even had to admit that it was indeed humid. He usually seems to be immune to the mugginess. When he mentioned how bad it was…..I knew it was indeed like swimming through the air when we walked outside.

I will have to admit that this weather is excellent for growing things.  The melons in the garden are vining out and I noticed some of the watermelons had marble sized melons on them. I have lettuce, that for some reason, seems to want to hang out in the carrots….and I am good with that as long as they all keep growing and get along!

My peas are spotty, but the ones that are there, are blooming. They had to be planted twice due to rabbits eating them the first time. I think they munched them to the ground as fast as they came up.

I have a feeling that is why the second group I planted came up pretty thin also. I did have one plant with a few pods on it and those pods were an excellent snack while working in the garden.

Once I had done enough weeding, I wandered around to see how the flowers were faring in this heat. It turns out they are doing wonderfully!

The elecampane is hugely tall and I think I will have to move it this fall as it is really too large for the space where it is now growing. I was given the seeds from my friend Sara; and had no idea what this plant would look like….now I know and it needs a little more room than I have given it.

IMG_3887 Elecampane

Elecampane

I had to stand on our porch to get a picture of the flower of the elecampane…..it was that tall!  If I remember right Sara told me they are of some medicinal value but, for the life of me I cannot remember for what….I may have to turn to my other buddy – Google.

My lilies are also doing wonderfully this year and have lots of buds, promising lots of blooms.

IMG_3886 Lilies

Lilies

The phlox are also in full bloom at this time. Every time I see those beautiful blooms I think of my friend, Darlene, who sent them along with my daughter-in-law (her daughter) for me to add to my shady area. It just makes me smile.

IMG_3903 Phlox

Phlox

The flowers and growing vegetables make all the heat and humidity worthwhile. I know they would not flourish like they do without the sticky weather. It is kind of a trade off but a lot of things in life are like that……two sides of the same coin.

It is good to remind myself that, if not for the sticky weather, our crops wouldn’t grow like they do…….nor would my flowers be as beautiful and scent the air with that wonderful sweetness that I get to enjoy.

It makes the heat of the day more bearable when there is beauty to be found. It helps through the uncomfortable seasons when you get to enjoy something as simple as flowers in bloom.

We all have obstacles.
The feeling of satisfaction comes by overcoming something.
Marta

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

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

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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