Sunday, July 26, 2015

Our LORD is in control!

I start my mornings each day with quiet time, the Lord and I.  It is the most precious and necessary part of my day.

David, the psalmist wrote in Psalms 63:1-3

"O God, thou art my God; 
early will I seek thee: 
my soul thirsteth for thee, 
my flesh longeth for thee 
in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 
to see thy power and thy glory, 
so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.  
Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, 
my lips shall praise thee." 

Indeed, just as David wrote, "early will I seek thee" is so true for me as well.  Spending this time with Him early is a true joy and pleasure.  While I was in my quiet time this morning, I opened one of my favorite devotionals and as I read the words found there, they ministered gently to my soul.  I want to share it with you.  I believe you will be as blessed as I was!  

This is from Oswald Chambers devotional "My Utmost for His Highest". 

THE CONCEPT OF DIVINE CONTROL

"...how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him." 
Matt. 7:11

Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct in this passage for those people who have His Spirit.  He urges us to keep our minds filled with the concept of God's control over everything, which means that a disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.  

Fill your mind with the thought that God is there.  

And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be easy as breathing for you to remember, "My heavenly Father knows all about this."  This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise. 

Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, 
you used to go from person to person seeking help, 
but now you go to God about it.  

Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those people who have His Spirit, and it works on the following principle: 

God is my Father, He loves me 
and I will never think of anything that He will forget, 
so why should I worry? 

Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him.  

At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not, 
He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; 
He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not.  

Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing.  Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God's will is behind it.  

Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him.  
Prayer is not only asking, but is an attitude of the mind 
which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural.  
"Ask, and it will be given to you..." 


What an encouragement this was to read today!  GOD KNOWS!  Indeed He knows, even before we know about life's difficulties and circumstances that threaten to steal our peace in Him.  And our job is simply this.... not to run to so-and-so and ask for their advice or input.... but instead to RUN TO HIM!   

Turning to Him in the midst of our difficulties is a training process that must be into place in the life of every believer.  

When we learn that we can take 
every.single.thing 
to the Lord that concerns us, 
this is when we will begin to experience 
the greatest overcoming victories in our lives 
than we ever thought possible.  

I pray that you turn to Jesus today, look full into His wonderful face... 
whatever it may... 
difficulties
turmoils, 
questions, 
hurts, 
pain, 
suffering, 
fear

RUN to Jesus with it.  Look immediately to HIM for the answer.  
He knows already.  He has the answer.  
HE IS IN CONTROL!  

Remember this... as the devotional said... "Ask, and it SHALL be given to  you..." 

May the blessings, peace, and rich presence of the Lord be with you today! 


Friday, July 24, 2015

Another House Update...

Anyone who has done any amount of remodeling will probably understand what I'm about to say... it seems you take a step forward, and two steps back when you begin to tackle remodeling a home!  That is what we have been experiencing as we attempt to ready the home to move into.

I busied myself painting the cabinets that were left in the home when we purchased it.  I had priced similar cabinets at Home Depot, for about $700.00.  I decided I would save the $$.  The Home Depot cabinets were base model cabinets, without finish or stain as well, so I decided to use the cabinets we had, which needed painting.



We began by removing doors and drawers...


Sanding them down, wiping off the dust...



And then began painting...


I was not pleased with the Clark & Kensington paint that we chose, because it required 3-4 coats of paint.  I wished I had taken the time to go back to Home Depot to buy the Behr Marquee paint, which goes on like a dream, and needs generally only one, maybe two coats.  But... since I had already bought the paint, we continued to use it...


... the process just took a lot longer though.


Here is the base of the cabinet, painted and ready to go.


... and with the doors and drawers in... there are two missing panels to this piece, but our dear friend, TS, created the two missing pieces for me, which haven't been installed yet.  He has been quite the genius at work, figuring out solutions for difficulties we encounter along the way!



So far, I am very pleased with the cabinets.  I have purchased the door knobs and drawer handles online, and when the time is right, those will get installed.... (I am learning patience is a virtue in this process!)  I would love to see the handles and knobs installed, but the holes have to be drilled out, and so this is a project that is on the back burner for now.



The cabinets were hung by our dear friend TS and our son.  We ran into a snag because the ceiling and walls are uneven.  We are currently trying to decide how to hide the gap between the ceiling and the cabinet!  I bought some 1/4" white plastic moulding to see if that would help hide it, and when we get a chance, we will see how that works.  Other ideas include fitting a piece of wood into that gap, or filling it with caulking.  Any other ideas out there for a solution?  :)



The cabinets are not fancy, for sure... but since we are trying to keep costs as low as possible, they will do!



Another snag that we have had to deal with is the placement of the dishwasher.  The previous owner must have been someone who never spent much time in the kitchen, or doing dishes!  For reasons quite unknown to us, the dishwasher was placed smack up against the wall, with a drawer bank in between the sink and the dishwasher.  This has created a lot of problems for us, in deciding whether or not to even have a dishwasher.  However, come to find out, the water to the sink is connected to the dishwasher, and a lot of plumbing would have to be changed out to disconnect the dishwasher.  Sigh.  So, even though I was willing to give up a dishwasher, it seems it HAS to be there, for now, because of the mess of the plumbing work.

This then poses another problem.  For the dishwasher to open, there has to be enough room for the door to open flat, and we are talking about inches here of room because on the wall underneath the hanging cabinets, our stove, refrigerator and small drawer bank need to go as well. We will have to get a small refrigerator, and stove in order to make it all workable.


Then, our latest project involved finishing the back of the bar area.  This area faces into the living room, and needed to be finished.


I found this bead board at Home Depot for $21.97 for a 4' x 8' sheet, and we are going to use this to finish out the side and back of the bar.  I was quite excited to see this come together!


It was nice to see how pretty the bead board is going to look, and gave me hope for the kitchen after all!


And so, that concludes  all of the progress that we have made so far!

There are several difficulties that we have encountered (electrical, plumbing and uneven walls/ceilings) that have still to be dealt with, along with the uncertainty of what appliances are going to work in that small space.  However... I've decided that this home is never going to be "perfect", and that there will be imperfections I will have to get used to, and the most important thing is that it will be our home, and a place where we can live simply, and where love abounds... isn't that the most important thing?!

It helps to remind myself of that when situations present themselves, and solutions must be found.  But... isn't that the way with all remodeling projects?  I've talked with different ones, and when the dust is flying, sometimes it is hard to believe it will ever be finished in such a way that will be pleasant and enjoyable.

I am continuing to be reminded that joy can - and must -  be found in the journey, and even if everything takes longer, costs more, and is different from what I thought it could be... in the end, all will be well!

Have any of you experienced this with remodeling?  Just curious, and want to hear your thoughts and ideas on this project... and many hugs to all of my dear readers today!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Oregon Grape-Blueberry Cobbler

I was taking a bit of a break from all the remodeling work going on at our place, and stepped into our forest for a few minutes last weekend to relax.  I had no sooner walked a bit into the forest then my eyes spied something.... blue!


The Oregon grapes were ripe!  When I first tasted an Oregon grape berry several years ago, it seemed like it was sour enough to pucker my mouth permanently!  They are a very, very puckery sour berry!


However, after doing a bit of research on them, I've discovered that they do have marvelous properties, and can be used in jellies, jams, and juices.  Their root has incredible healing properties, which the travelers of the Oregon pioneer trail discovered, and why Oregon named this berry as their state flower.

If you would like more information on the amazing qualities of this sour berry, you can read this article: http://www.thepracticalherbalist.com/holistic-medicine-library/oregon-grape-gentle-protector/.


It took me quite a while to find these berries, as they grow very sparsely, and you have to hunt for them. I found that many of them liked growing around our Douglas firs.


After about an hour of looking for and picking these berries, I ended up with just a little over 1 cup of berries.  Certainly nothing like the blueberry harvest I got in last week, lol! And I certainly ended up with more than my share of scratches!  The Oregon grape bushes are from the holly family, and have sharp little thorny edges, so trying to get a few berries into the bowl meant squatting down among other thorny pointy bushes to get the berries.


Because the Oregon grape berries are SO SOUR, I knew that if I was to do anything with them, some extra sweetness had to be involved.  When I did not find any recipes for cobblers made out of Oregon grape berries online, I decided it would be worthwhile to come up with my own.



The verdict was in!  You could definitely tell the distinctive taste of the Oregon berries, but as they were mixed with the very sweet and delicious blueberries I had just picked, the sour and the sweet mixed together, to create a tasty cobber!  Every once in a while, you got a bite of the sour Oregon grape berry, but it wasn't too bad!


I cooked up the cobbler in my trusty big iron skillet, which cooked the cobbler to perfection.


And I don't have a fancy picture to show you of the cobbler, because it was being served up to friends for dessert, and I was lucky to get a picture of it, before it was eaten up in a hurry!

Here is my go-to cobbler recipe, it is simple, easy, and turns out amazing every time!

Fruit Cobbler

1 large can peaches (can use other fruit with sugared sauce)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted in pan
Cinnamon/sugar to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put stick of butter in 9x13 pan, or large 9" iron skillet and place in oven to melt.  Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Pour in 1 cup milk.  Stir gently.  Take pan out of oven with melted butter.  Pour in batter over butter.  Do not stir.  Then drop in fruit on top of batter.  Do not stir.  Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over top of cobbler, and place back in oven.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Check to see if it is browned and bubbly before removing from oven.

For my Oregon grape-blueberry cobbler, this is how I prepared the fruit for the cobbler:

1 cup blueberries
1 cup Oregon grapes
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp cornstarch

Mix all together in saucepan, and cook over low heat just until mixture comes to a boil, and thickens. Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Use in cobbler recipe.

I wanted to cook the Oregon grapes and blueberries together to help sweeten the overall flavor of the fruit.  However, you could just add fresh berries to the cobbler batter, if desired as well!

This turned out to be a wonderful dessert enjoyed by all with a large helping of homemade vanilla ice cream.  I'm glad that my little walk in the woods turned into such a fun dessert!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I've got the BLUES!

Yes... I've felt rather blue today, but it was enjoyable, I'll admit!




I had planned to continue the work on painting the cabinets, but when I lamented about the quickly passing blueberry season, my daughter volunteered to work on painting the cabinets, which freed me up to make a quick trip out to the local blueberry farm for a taste of the blues, before the season is over.


I grabbed three of these red buckets, and a small wagon, and I was in business.


The lovely country surroundings, with the mountains, clear blue skies, and gentle breeze were invigorating as I began to pick.  Soon my hands (and yes my mouth, cause you gotta do taste tests you know!) were a lovely shade of blue!


There were spots for picnic lunches, and chairs for resting.  However, sadly enough, I had time for neither!



In two hours, I picked 19 pounds of blueberries (about 3 gallons).  Years of wild blueberry picking as a child helped me out.  I had learned a few tricks of the trade, one being that you tie the bucket to your waist, or belt, and hold the bush above your bucket, and gently roll the blueberries between your fingers.  The ripe ones fall off, the unripe ones don't.  Plop, plop, plop go the berries... a lovely sound as your bucket fills up!


I didn't spend much time gazing around at my surroundings, because I was on a mission, but... it was a beautiful place to be while I worked hard to gather my berries.


Maybe another day I'll come back when their blackberries are in season (sometime in late August), and spend a little more time here.  But for today...


... my mission was accomplished - to gather in enough blueberries to last us through the winter until next year.



Once getting the berries home, I washed them, and placed them in large flat trays to flash freeze.



After flash freezing for an hour or two, I place the berries in containers or freezer ziplock bags for storage.  Then... it was time to enjoy the blues!



I enjoy blueberries in my daily smoothie, and also there is nothing like a bowl of fresh blueberries, a bit of sugar, and some cream!  


A tasty reward after a couple of hours of hard work!


And maybe this weekend I'll find some time to whip up a batch of blueberry muffins, or scones, or cake, or pancakes, or.... something with some of those delicious blueberries ...  :)

If you have a delicious or easy blueberry recipe, please share the recipe or your blog post... I'd love to be inspired!  Until then... I'm enjoying my taste of blues!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

An Update on the Progress of our House



Last week, the second "part" of our house arrived, which is the porch addition.  It was a lot of hard work for my husband and the mover to get the addition loaded onto the trailer, and safely moved.  In fact, it took them all day to jack up the addition, get it loaded onto the trailer, and then moved here all in one piece.


However, thankfully it arrived safely, and all intact!


Meanwhile, inside the house, we were busy painting.  We started first with the ceiling.


A dear friend of ours, TS came over to help my husband install the subfloor in the kitchen and bathroom, and to repair some soft spots in the flooring throughout the house.


The painting progressed pretty quickly the first day.  We finished the ceilings, and began painting the walls.  Here is the living room wall accented in "Real Wood", a dark rich chocolate color!


The main portion of the walls were painted in "Scribe", and I was thrilled with this beautiful color, a soft creamy vanilla!


Here you can see the addition as it joins up now with the house.


A peek down the hallway where walls are still taped as we wait for the paint to dry.


I'm very pleased with the color of this room!  Our plan is to balance out the "blues" with some chocolate and vanilla accents.


Here we are in the bathroom.  You may remember, the bathroom was painted a bright, glaring neon blue color.  Happily, the amazing paint that I used even in the light "Scribe" color, covered the blue right up!  We also accented one wall with the chocolate brown.  There are still pieces of blue painters tape on the wall as we waited for the paint to dry.


This is the master bedroom, again with a chocolate accent wall.  I wanted to keep the color scheme rather simple, and we are pleased with the results!


This room faces east and south, and will get lots of lovely sunshine. The large windows continue to bring joy to my heart whenever I look outside, and see the beauty around us!


After the walls were painted, it was time to get started on the cabinets.  First thing to do, was to remove the hinges from the cabinets, and then to sand the veneer until the shine was removed.


It took quite a while to do all this!


 Doors, drawers, and hinges removed, and sanded down.


I lined the cabinets up on the floor, since these cabinets were not installed, and I wanted to see how they are going to work on the walls.


The home as it sits now, with the addition attached.  It still needs a lot of attention on the outside, with skirting, and a paint job, but all things in their time!


This little porch that came with the house will do for now.  It beats stepping on concrete blocks to get into the house!  My husband will build a better porch once we have finished with all the "necessities" that have to be done for us to move in.


Friends of ours picked up some free cabinets from craigslist, and couldn't use all of the cabinets, and offered them to us.  I was hoping this might work in my kitchen, but after looking at it, and calculating measurements, I think it is too long, once we put in the refrigerator and a table.  However, regardless of whether it can be used or not in the kitchen, my husband has said he could use it for storage in the shop he intends to build.


Back to work with the cabinets!  The fun begins with painting!  Because of the veneer coating on the cabinets, they will require at least 2-3 coats of paint.  So, patience is a virtue in this process!  Hurry up, paint... and then wait! LOL!


The color I chose to paint the cabinets was "Tahitian Vanilla" by Clark & Kensington.  It is supposed to have an iridescent shine to it when dry.  So far, I was not able to see that "shine", but I hope that it will show up!


Has anyone ever mentioned how much work painting cabinets is?  It took my daughter and I quite a few hours to put the first coat of paint on these cabinets.


However, once we got all the cabinets painted, and the doors painted on one side, we decided to let them dry overnight.  Tomorrow we will add a second coat of paint to the cabinets, and paint the other side of the doors.   This is a process of ... hurry up, paint, and then wait for it to dry!

Once we finish painting the cabinets, then the flooring will get installed, and then the moving can begin! Lots of excitement around here... and I will do my best to keep you updated on our progress!  :)