Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Summer's Recap

I wanted to update you on my family in Texas, and Hurricane Harvey.  I am very thankful to report that all of my family are fine.  My sister and her family did evacuate for the landing of the hurricane.  They went back home on Monday to no electricity, but to a home that was intact and safe.  They have no power but have plenty of food and water.  I visited with her today, and they are experiencing severe flooding in their neighborhood, and are pretty much blocked in, but so far, no water in their home.

Our hearts and prayers are with all of those in Texas who are enduring such terrible hardships because of the hurricane.  So many sad stories of people who are going through so much as the flooding is just devastating the city of Houston, and yet so many incredible stories of bravery, and people going out of their way to help their fellow man.

I read today of a man who owns a furniture store who opened his store to anyone who could get there, and they would have food and a bed for them to sleep in.  It is amazing to see the people of Houston come together and work to help each other in the midst of this terrible tragedy... and that brings great hope to my heart... to see the generosity of the American people helping each other in time of need.

We are still in dire need of rain here in the northwest, even as we watch the flooding waters in the southwest, but one thing that really stands out to me is that whatever the weather systems may bring us... it gives me hope to see men and women reaching out to their neighbors, helping them in any way they can, putting themselves in the line of danger to try and help each other... and it is a wonderful thing to see.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are suffering with these massive flood waters.

I was reading today that in South Asia in the countries of Nepal, Bangladesh and India the monsoons there have killed 1200 people, and displaced millions.  So many, many hurting hearts in our world!  I pray for them all!

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With my maple tree rapidly turning red, days getting shorter, nights getting colder... and squirrels busily working to stock their food for the winter, we know that fall is here, regardless of what the calendar says!  Shrubs are turning colors, and my chickens are starting to molt.  The signs of the times point to a season change, even if we have another month or so before it is official.

With the end of summer drawing to a close, I wanted to recap some of our summer adventures that I had no time to write about while we enjoyed the summery days...


A local town holds a logging festival every year, and watching the loggers compete is always a highlight.  The man on the hewn log plank had to use an ax to cut a wedge in the tree to place in his plank,which he then used to stand on to complete cutting the top of this tree.  This 70+ man was up against other much younger men using only an ax, but he beat them by a few seconds, truly an amazing feat to watch!  The old saying "they don't make 'em like they used to" seemed to ring true here! This man was truly amazing to watch his skill up against other much younger men.


Some of the first bounty that began rolling out of my garden in early August.  I've not had to buy fresh produce since the middle of July, my garden has produced it all!


Before the fires and smoke took over our area, my husband and I took a Sunday drive with Riley.  We found a quiet little creek to explore.


The quaint path down to the creek.


The water looks muddy here, but it was sparkling and clear, with a rocky bottom.  We had fun exploring the creek and letting Riley swim.  We did not come prepared to swim, so we just found a spot to sit with our feet in the water, and watched Riley splash around.  What a relaxing afternoon we had!



My dear friend T lives right on the river with this beach, so many times this summer we spent the afternoon at her house swimming in the river.


Fresh broccoli out of the garden... these are the main heads, and the side heads will continue to produce until frost, an abundance of yumminess!


I've really enjoyed hanging my clothes out on our clothesline this summer.  It is more work, but we love the smell of the sun-dried clothes.  However, maybe one of you has a suggestion for how to keep the clothes from getting so wrinkled?  Also the towels and facecloths are quite rough.  I tried washing them with a vinegar rinse, but still they are rough... could it be because of our hard water? I don't know... but regardless, while the summer sun is out, we will enjoy saving $$ by hanging our clothes out to dry... but the family is protesting a bit because of the hard, rough and wrinkled clothing coming off the line... lol!


Our local county fair was a delight, and we enjoyed walking around and looking at all the displays.  I thought this display of the cuts of meat on a cow were interesting.


The top quilt won the grand champion for the fair for its design and handwork.



The zucchini and squash in the garden are prolific this year!  I cut up both the zucchini and yellow squash, blanch them (dunk them in boiling water for a 1 minute, then cold water bath them) and then I freeze them.  We like to eat squash throughout the winter.


I've found that I can melt a tablespoon or so of butter in an iron skillet, add the mixed zucchini and squash, along with a bit of Mrs. Dash seasoning and a large sprinkle of brewer's yeast (this gives it great flavor), let it simmer until tender, and it is almost as good as it is right out of the garden.  This really helps to supplement our vegetable intake during the winter, and that is great, because squash is definitely a very prolific vegetable in the garden!  I also shred up zucchini and freeze it in 2 cup freezer bags, and this is nice to have on hand to make zucchini bread or cake during the winter as well.


Annie and Riley sharing a rare quiet moment together.


A happy red daisy blooming in my garden.


A peek at my happily growing garden. The zucchini and yellow squash are in the foreground, with corn and sunflowers in the background.


The marigolds are blooming amidst my tomatoes, and the bees are happily swarming inside my greenhouse... they love the marigolds, and visit my tomatoes and peppers after being drawn by the marigolds.  I heavily mulched with straw because our soil drains so quickly that even after watering heavily in the morning, the soil feels bone dry by noon.  The straw helps to hold in extra moisture.


Profusions of marigolds... oh how I love their happy faces!


Pumpkins are growing abundantly as well... we are looking forward to homemade pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving :)  These are Amish pie pumpkins.


Cabbage is growing steadily along, we should have a head or two ready before long.


Another peek at my Garden-Within-A-Garden... oh how I love this little space of mine! It is a quiet, peaceful and tranquil place to go....



My little wagon, a rescue from the dump.. is blooming happily away.


My rose begonia is gorgeous, I love its beautiful shimmery blooms.


A walk in the woods with the three dogs... we are amazed to see the shrubs already beginning to turn colors.


Roger is one happy boy out in the woods exploring.


Annie loves the woods too, and we let her off the leash for a short while, and she behaved very well. She has a tendency to chase her own trails, but she stayed right with us.  Perhaps she has learned her lesson?


We had a 94% eclipse here.  It darkened just a little as the moon overshadowed the sun, but we did not experience complete darkness.  It was a very neat experience though, and I was so glad my husband was home to experience it with me.


A pensive Miss Riley who now likes to sit atop the picnic table as her vantage point to survey the yard.


I think this is one of my favorite pictures I've taken of Miss Riley, what an expressive face she has.


These hanging baskets outside my windows bring great joy for me to see the happy hummingbirds who love drinking from the feeders and the flowers.


Homemade dill pickles using cucumbers out of my garden...


Homemade sourdough bread... finally it has cooled off a bit to where I feel like baking again!


And finally, I know fall is here when our resident Steller Jay shows back up at the bird feeders.  He spends quite a bit of time on this perch, and is letting us know he is here with his loud calls.  He is alone this time, and I wonder where his mate might be.

Well, I have quite a few more pictures to share, but will save those for another post, as this one has gone on and on and on!  I've been staying busy keeping up with the produce coming from the garden, and I'm thankful every day for the bounty we've been gathering and eating.  As I hear of the tragedy happening to our fellow Americans with the hurricane, I continue to pray and lift them up in prayer in the midst of this terrible event that continues to unfold day by day.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Summer Teas in the Garden

My little space in the garden has become an oasis, a special place to relax, and just enjoy the beauty of the flowers, vegetables,the fruit and the bees, the hummers and squirrels that also call it home.  I am thankful for the sweet presence of the Lord that is with me there, as I work quietly amidst all the plants and living things, and it brings my heart great joy each time I enter this haven I've been blessed to have.

One day this past July, a new friend and I were chatting, as we wanted to meet and get to know each other better over coffee.  After trying to decide where to meet, I thought... why not invite her to my garden? Now, any gardener knows and sees all the imperfections and things that need to get done, and I thought... my garden isn't quite ready yet for visitors, and then I thought... if I wait for perfection, it will never happen, life is just not ever going to be perfect!

So!  I invited my new friend over for tea in the garden.  This was a perfect place for us to meet and get to know each other better.


She made homemade Lemon Curd to go with the blueberry scones I made, along with some fresh blueberries that I had picked earlier. The Lemon Curd was scrumptious! It went perfectly with the blueberry scones.


It was quite hot out, and we sipped on iced lemon water while we chatted. In fact, we had so much fun talking, that I didn't get many pictures!


Then we filled our plates with the goodies, and sipped hot tea. What great fun we had drinking hot tea out of the teapots on a hot summer afternoon... ha! We also drank lots of iced lemon water in mason jars... :)


It was a lovely, wonderful tea, so relaxing to sit outside in my little garden area and enjoy our time of fellowship together.  She is a local pastor's wife, and their daughter is dating our son... so we had lots to chat about... {smiles}

It was fun to have tea in the garden with her... I am still planning to have a tea with my dear friend and neighbor A, but this summer has been extremely busy for her, so we are planning a fall tea, which will be lovely too!

And then... to my great delight and joy... days after my garden tea, another friend of mine invited me to a Garden Tea & Painting Party that her mother was hosting.


My friend's mother has a lovely home, and a gorgeous garden. She and her friends, and all the guests invited brought a little something to share... and oh my, it was a feast!


 Lovely delightful snacks...


 Fresh fruit... mini strawberry shortcakes, scones...


 A room with a view... her dining room has a huge window overlooking her garden.... you can see the little canopies set up with tables underneath ... I believe there were about 25 gals that attended, and there was room for all to sit comfortably.


Each table was beautifully decorated with little pieces of art that we could use as a starting point for our painting.  The idea was to sip tea, paint, and fellowship with each other... it was an incredible evening of fun!


A peek from the garden to the back of the house.


 Another table setting..



Love the purples, blue and yellow theme! I would not have thought to put those colors together, but they work really well!





Behind the tables, her garden extended to the back wall of their yard... filled with gorgeous flowers, and assorted vegetables.


 Love the blues at this table setting...


 Our table setting... I chose a dainty rose tea cup to sip my tea from...  the blank canvas in front of me was rather intimidating!  The lady who was to come and show us how to paint was not able to come at the last minute, so we were ... on our own!


I chose to use this flower as a starting point for my painting...
 


 One of the ladies at our table chose to paint the tree beyond the fence... it turned out lovely...


 Another lady chose to paint the teacup she had chose... isn't this a lovely piece of work!


There was a group of young children who participated as well, and they had as much fun, or more than all of us ladies!  Lots of talent at this table too!



I soon realized that my talents did not include being an artist... I felt like my painting looked like it belonged in a kindergarten class, so I chose to leave off where it was, and wander the dear lady's garden instead... oh how I loved the tin building as the backdrop with all the flowers! I'd much rather take pictures of the flowers than try to paint them, lol!


Love these gorgeous cosmos!... It was a delightful evening, and so wonderful to visit with other sweet Christian ladies, enjoying the fellowship, tea, goodies and having fun creating together.  There is talk amongst all of us ladies that we must do it again!  I do hope so, it was a lovely way to enjoy a hot summer evening, painting, drinking ice tea in gorgeous tea cups, with the background of the lovely garden, and taking a painting home to remind us of the fun of the evening... 

Here is a picture of all the lovely ladies with their paintings... what a special night it was :) 




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In other news.... the smoke in our area has been pretty horrible for most of August.  The picture below was taken in the middle of the day.  We currently have no severe fires in our area, but the smoke is drifting our way from the terrible fires in British Columbia, and Montana, as well as a couple of fires in Washington and Idaho that are north of us.  
  

It has been rather eerie to have the constant smell of smoke in the air, with the horizon barely visible, and the sun but a small orange globe in the hazy skies.


Both of these pictures were taken in the middle of the day, and you can see just how hazy, dark, and smoky it has been here.  The amazing and wonderful thing that we give the Lord praise for is that we have had no major fires here in our local area, but we are experiencing the heavy smoke from fires around us.  We did get a break from the smoke when a small rainstorm came through bringing a bit of rain, and clearing out the smoke haze for a few days.  However, it comes and goes, as the wind direction changes.


While I have enjoyed this summer immensely, when I saw my maple leaves turning red the first week in August, I knew the days of summer are now numbered!  The nights are much cooler, in fact, there was a frost in our area on the 15th of August, but thankfully we escaped it here where we live.  My garden is continuing to produce significant amounts of vegetables, and my strawberries are back at work, producing a fall crop!  So much to do in these busy, hazy, waning days of summer... I am spending as much time as I can outside in my garden, and in my yard, soaking up all the vitamin D I possibly can.  Fall is on its way as my red maple leaves tell me, and my children have started back to college... how fast the days pass, and yet, I know I've enjoyed each one of them to the fullest.  We have had many fun adventures this summer, and hopefully soon I'll get around to posting about them all.

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My dad just called to tell me that the hurricane out in the Gulf of Mexico, which is bearing his name, Harvey... is projected to hit their area this weekend.  One of my sisters lives in the direct path of the hurricane as it will come ashore, and the rest of our family will no doubt be affected by the path of the hurricane as it comes inland, so we are keeping everyone in our prayers as this massive storm makes its way to land, praying for safety for all who are in its path.