Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Springtime Delights

I'm so sorry dear friends... I didn't mean to leave you hanging for the past month or so but time slipped away from me, as spring descended upon our world, and it has been a glorious time!  

We also took a quick trip to Texas to be with our families, especially to see my husband's mother who had been in a nursing home and unable to leave for the past year.  Texas lifted restrictions for nursing homes, and we were able to visit her and take her out for little day trips. It was so wonderful to be able to do this, after such a long hard year that she went through! 

We struggled to rent a car in Texas, as the car rental places were sold out. Thankfully, the Lord put us in contact with a kind lady who found us a rental car despite the empty parking lot! So many people were visiting Texas that weekend, that availability was incredibly low. 

We had a lot of ground to cover in our short time there. We met my parents for dinner before heading on to stay the night with my sister.  My parents' "room in the inn" was full with other family members who were in a transition phase of moving, so we stayed with my sister, who lives nearby. 

Enjoyed short and sweet moments together! Nothing like sister time! 

A favorite treat in Texas is eating at Whataburger... 

We stopped at the Strawberry Farm in Marble Falls and enjoyed about an hour there picking strawberries, enjoying the beautiful flowers and sunshine. 

We picked these strawberries in a matter of minutes! They were SOO good too! Nothing like fresh home-grown strawberries! We took some to Dan's mom, and the rest my Mom made into strawberry jam :) 

Bluebonnets! We saw these along the roadside as we traveled to see Dan's mom.


Our first time to see Dan's Mom after she had been in the nursing home and not able to 
leave for over a year. 

We took her out for a drive, and stopped at the city park and we 
were delighted to see the goslings out with their parents. 

Her joy at being out and about with us!


We enjoyed scenic views of the magnificent Texas bluebonnets!

Gorgeous, aren't they!

Dan and his mom :) 


We enjoyed lunch at Cooper's BBQ.

Beautiful roses in bloom.

Closeups of the bountiful bluebonnet


Bluebonnets everywhere!


On our drive, we saw this old tractor parked behind the old cedar fence. 

An artist painting his rendition of the beautiful scene

A beautiful scene in every direction! 


Back at home, spring had arrived!
These beautiful wild trout lilies are the first signs of spring in our woods.

These lilies face downwards, so I caught a different perspective of this lily 
with the forest in the background. 

Daffodils in bloom! 

Hyacinths blooming in the garden



Some beautiful blooms in front of a local business. 

My neighbor had a brick planter put in just so she could grow tulips. Around here, the gophers/ground squirrels eat every tulip bulb in the ground.  I love her choice of tulips! 


The last picture I took of my sweet Mister Simba. Our hearts were broken when he didn't return home one night a couple of weeks ago. We've had coyotes around our place and he was well acquainted with them, but for whatever reason, he was not able to outrun them.  He was 9 years old. 



For about a week, I held out hope that he would come back home. The dogs and I walked miles and miles calling him, and hoping perhaps he would hear us and come back.  Neighbors were alerted, and let me walk their properties to search for him, in the hopes that maybe he had climbed a tree and couldn't get down, or was injured and couldn't make it back home. 

 One day, I let Riley off the leash, and followed her, wherever she went.  After an hour of following her, we found Mister's fur, all that remains after a coyote attack. It was so, so hard. My heart is still so broken, but I am thankful for closure.  We have so many special memories of our 9 years with Mister.  



Our dear Mister Simba will never be forgotten, I will remember and cherish his love and antics always.  Losing a pet is never easy.  In time, I want to get another cat, but for right now, because we have an ongoing situation with a coyote that has become a predator of domestic animals, I am going to wait.  

Today I went to help a friend clean her daughter's home, as her daughter has cancer, and has been in a cancer center treatment for the last several weeks. She has no immune system because of the treatments.  She is coming home, and needs to have her living quarters cleaned and free of anything that would inhibit her immune system. As I worked with my dear friend, we talked about many things. My friend is a precious prayer warrior and as we finished cleaning, we prayed together. It was a really sweet time. 

I know that we all have our private struggles, and difficult things to face, and some face giants in their lives. It always makes me thankful that no matter what our struggle, sorrow, or situation may be... if we turn it over to the Lord, the situation changes, and we can look at it with a different perspective.  As I was preparing to leave, my friend and I both felt encouraged, and I reminded her of the scripture that says "He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think." Her face lit up, and I know in my heart that the Lord is with her in this situation and all will be well. 

Ephesians 3:20-21  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Isn't it wonderful to walk with the Lord, and to know that no matter what situations we face in life, we have a hope in Him that reaches beyond the darkness and despair of this world, and it turns the sorrow we face here on earth, into a joy that cannot compare! 

If you don't have this hope in Christ, this peace that passes understanding, this joy that turns sorrow into something beautiful, I pray for you today, that the hope our Lord Jesus Christ brought into this world will transform your life in  a powerful way. 

Another scripture comes to mind as I write this: 

Yet all this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 
because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, 
for His compassion never fail, 
they are new every morning; 
Great is Your Faithfulness." 
Lamentations 3:21-23

In these trying days that we live in, my prayer for you, and for all who trust in Christ Jesus is for 
His hope to sustain us, 
His peace to refresh us, 
His mercy to comfort us, 
His love to encompass us, 
and for His truth to endure forever, no matter how man may try to pervert it. 

Be encouraged in the Lord, and know that He is with us!
Great Is His Faithfulness! 

I want to leave you with a little video I made of a visit I had with a friend recently.  This friend and I had met last year on an airplane. I was traveling to be with my Mom after her knee surgery, and my flight had been canceled shortly before we were to board.  After long minutes on the phone, I was able to secure a different flight, and was barely able to rush into my seat before the plane left. As I settled into my seat, I began a conversation with the lady next to me. We had so much in common! Both she and I were nature photographers, and both were in the process of publishing a book to share our photography. We chatted for the entire plane ride, and it was just a remarkable thing how the Lord changed my plane schedule just so we could meet. 

We agreed that soon we would get together, but little did we know how covid would change the world just days after we had traveled (it was the first week of February 2020). A week ago, she and I were finally able to meet at her beloved wildlife refuge where she photographs so many beautiful wildlife pictures.  We share a love for the Lord, and for the beautiful world He has created for us. What a wonderful day we had, and we even got to hear the trumpet swans, as you will hear in the video.  She told me that they normally will not let you get very close to them, and yet, this particular trumpet swan let us walk all around him, and photograph him as he relaxed. It was an amazing experience.


 I'm thankful for the little "detours" in life that the Lord allows just to bring about even more special things in our lives. I hope you enjoy the little video, and feel encouraged to know that if life has you on a detour or a road block is in your way, it may just be that the Lord has a reason for the roadblock or detour! This video is a testament to that fact :) 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Sourdough Bread - How to Make it Yourself!

I had mentioned in a previous post that I make my own sourdough bread.  Making your own bread is quite satisfying in so many ways.  So today I wanted to share the sourdough recipe that I have perfected over the years.  This one is so simple, doesn't require much kneading at all, and the bread turns out incredibly light and tender every time. 


Sourdough Bread Recipe

 ½ cup sourdough starter (approximate)

3 cups flour, divided

Warm water

2 Tbsp honey

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp olive oil

You will use a large glass or plastic bowl (never use metal bowls or utensils). The night before you want your sourdough loaf, mix together starter with 2 cups flour and approximately 1 cup warm water.  You want the dough to be like a thick smoothie, not runny, but not doughy either. Water amounts will vary, depending on the starter, so add water slowly. Cover the bowl with a linen or cotton tea towel (you don’t want any fuzzy towels). Let it sit overnight on the counter.

Early in the morning, stir the starter. It should have doubled in size overnight.  Add in the remaining 1 cup flour, honey, salt and olive oil.  Mix in enough warm water now to create a dough. You may need to add more flour. You want the dough fully incorporated and spongy. Knead the dough until soft, spongy, and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Form the dough into a round loaf, tucking edges under.  Cover the dough with the tea towel, and let it rest for 2 hours.  Use a rubber spatula or your hands to fold the dough from the outside to the middle clockwise, about four turns.  Let rest again for approximately 2 hours.  Do this several times throughout the day.  Around suppertime, after folding the dough, grease one large loaf pan or two smaller loaf pans.  You can make one larger loaf, or two smaller ones. Shape dough into a loaf and place in loaf pans, and let rise another hour.  



Preheat oven to 375.  Before placing loaves in oven, score lines horizontally across the loaf to allow steam to escape.  Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from oven, drizzle with butter and then remove from the loaf pan and place on wire cooling rack, and let cool completely before slicing.  I store mine in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator.  Enjoy! 



Sunday, March 21, 2021

Delightful March Greens

 

This is such an exciting time of year.  Seeds that were started in my greenhouse
are now sprouting, and growing quite happily!  

You may have noticed that I don't use the black seed pots.  I started using plastic containers (spinach, strawberry, salad containers, etc) several years ago, and have had great success planting like this.  I start the seeds first in seedling soil, and then once they grow two strong leaves, I transplant into Black Gold organic soil. What you see in this picture are my sunflowers transplanted into the Black Gold soil.  

The chickens had a scare this past week.  Something attacked one of my hens, and my rooster, Pepper.  When we first saw the feathers, we thought for sure he couldn't have survived the attack, but he did! We believe either the hawk or a stray dog may have attacked them, but we really don't know. We never saw or heard a thing. I'm just thankful that they are both doing ok! 

Here is Pepper, without his feathers.  He looks quite forlorn! But, he is alive, and for that I am thankful. His feathers should grow back. 

Here is my hen with the gash under her wing.  She has recovered and healed almost completely as well. I'm so thankful! 


Earlier this month, we enjoyed corn beef brisket soup...
it was so delicious, always a treat to enjoy in March! 


Something new I tried recently was a 5-minute chocolate microwave cake.  It really tastes more like a brownie, with the rich ganache frosting and pecans.  If you'd like to try to make it yourself, here is the video on youtube that shows you how to make it. It really does cook in 5 minutes and is delicious! If you have company arriving and need a dessert, this definitely will please :) 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2OpqAe-cEY&t=18s


A couple loaves of my sourdough bread, I enjoy baking these loaves once a week. If you are interested in the recipe I use, let me know. It is such an easy recipe, and produces amazing bread every time :) 

Springtime chores!  Burning brush that has come down during the winter.  It was a beautiful spring day with bright sunshine, and burning the brush was a great way to enjoy the gorgeous day! 



My chickens enjoyed helping me in the garden this week.  Early in spring, and late in fall, I do let the chickens in to help do some early spring cleanup.

My brother saw this hoodie, and thought it had my name on it, and sent it to me.
What a sweet surprise in the mail to receive this! 

Our daughter and her husband celebrated birthdays within just a few days of each other, so his family held a birthday party for both of them. It was so much fun! And as you can see all three of my kids are in this picture.  Ryan made them a coat rack for their home. We joked at the party that they will never celebrate birthdays alone again... {smiles} They did get a lot of really nice gifts for both their home, and themselves. It was a wonderful evening. 

Zak's family's home sits on a hill and overlooks the mountains.  I enjoyed the evening's sunset immensely.  Whenever I see the beauty from the sun's radiance ending the evening, it makes me breathe a deep sigh of joy... because I know the Master Painter's handiwork in the skies was for our bedtime delight. How Great is our God! 


Now the sun is coming up in the mornings right through my living room windows, and splashing on the world, as well as my heart as I have my morning devotions.  Such joy in my heart to begin the day with both sunshine, and His Word in my heart. 


Our dear Mister Simba taking his nap in my chair.  It always amazes me how cats have perfected the art of complete and total relaxation in their sleep! 


With the season of Spring being announced as here, Winter has declared... "not so quick young lady", and we are expected to get several inches of snow tonight and tomorrow.  We, of course, know that this is always the case, and also know that it will melt very quickly.  I have been enjoying the sunshine we've had lately, getting spring chores done, and working in the garden.  The seasons pass quickly, and we certainly have looked forward to spring coming this year, and all the blooms and delights that it holds for us.  

Enjoy the beauty that Spring brings, look for it in the sweet and simple places.  No matter how dark and difficult the world seems around us, we must always remember that the Lord Jesus reigns over this world, and the tactics of the enemy will only serve as a stepping stone to mighty miracles that only He can perform. Keep your hope and your heart set on Christ, He has a plan, and purpose for your life.  

I want to share Psalms 37 with you, as it has become a precious chapter to me recently.  If you are fretting because of evil-doers, this chapter gives us insight into how it will all end. May the blessings of the Lord be rich in each of your lives today :) 

Fret not thyself because of evildoers, 

neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

 Trust in the Lord, and do good; 

so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

 Delight thyself also in the Lord: 

and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

 Commit thy way unto the Lord; 

trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 

 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:

 fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, 

because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Psalms 37:1-7







Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Rounding that Springtime Corner!

 

Can you believe it is that time of year again? I know... I really can't either!  But, the middle of February has passed, and it is time to start our tomatoes and peppers here in the northwest.  We have such a short growing season that we have to give our plants a huge headstart. I did not start seeds last week, as the entire world, it seemed was in a deep freeze!  


We did get some snow here last week, but it was very minimal, and while our temperatures hovered around 7 at the lowest point, with a windchill in the minuses, it was not too bad.  We are used to those kind of temperatures here this time of year and are prepared for them. I walk no matter the weather, and just bundled up with a few more layers, and I was perfectly warm and cozy as I walked in those temperatures.  Of course, the dogs are so blessed... they are perfectly suited to this kind of weather as well! In fact, they loved every minute of it! 

We own a Mr. Buddy propane heater, and use it for added comfort and warmth on cold days, and as a source of secondary heat.  As you can see, Riley enjoys this heat as well! The Buddy heater is a very safe alternative for heating in the case of very cold weather, we have used it for many years. 

My heart went out to those living in Texas and across the south who suffered from far more extreme temperatures than we have even seen here this winter, and lost power!  It would be miserable even for us here, should that have been the case.  But having lived many years in Texas, I know how unprepared homes are for such weather, and how unbelievable that such cold weather came, and stayed for so long. Thankfully all of my family and friends survived the miserable weather.  Some had pipes burst, but those can be fixed.  Were any of you affected by the extreme weather this past week? You all were in my thoughts and prayers throughout the week.  It was such an unusual, really historical event. 

Today it was so wonderful to see the sunshine and blue skies! 

As the dogs and I walked, we lifted our faces to the sun, and enjoyed every bit of it! We get little precious sunshine here in the winter, and when we do get it, we love it!  

I spent time in my greenhouse today planting peppers and tomatoes, along with some greens, sunflowers and sweet peas. I am allowing myself to get excited about spring now, although we no doubt have more winter weather before spring truly arrives. 

February always brings warm weather during the day, and freezing at night, which means... ice.  So February is the month where we are very careful when walking, because ice is always underfoot! I enjoyed the glorious sunrise one morning as it colored the world in bright orange rays! 



I was blessed to see this local herd of elk recently.  This was before we got our last snowstorm, and you can see what a mild winter we are having... no snow on the ground in late February! Aren't they magnificent creatures though! 

It is always such a treat to see wildlife in our area. 

During the winter, I take the time, if I have the time, to make myself a cup of tea, and it is a perfect opportunity to sit, pray and talk to the Lord as you drink the tea. 
Tea and prayer are great companions :) 

Here we are, in the last week of February, and spring is around the corner! I am sure that the first blooms of spring won't be far away now, as I've already seen a few green shoots coming out of the ground!  I look forward to seeing crocus, daffodils and tulips before long! How about you? Are signs of spring arriving after the cold freeze last week?  

There is an old saying that says "springtime snow is poor man's fertilizer"... well... I hope that rings true for all of us this year, don't you?! 

May the sweet blessings of the Lord be with you 
and keep you in His peace in these trying times!