Friday, March 27, 2020

Little Peeks of Springtime

Has spring come to your world yet? Spring has slowly been making its way to our little corner of the world. 

My windowsill stays lined with pretty pops of color in early spring until color arrives in our world outside. 
Someone else is enjoying the warm sunshine streaming through the window too! 
Pulling into the grocery store one sunshine-filled afternoon, I spotted these happy dogs in the back of the pickup, enjoying a nice day to town!  It was the cutest thing to see, but I just can't imagine having that many big dogs! 
 
The rest of the world has increasingly become a cauldron of chaos,
but I'm thankful for the chance I have every morning and night
to walk and see the splendor in the skies, and the world around me.   

After a cloudy day with little to no sunshine, the skies opened up to this
purple and pink decadent display. 
A late winter snowstorm moved through our area last week. It was a wild, windy and bitter cold day.  We didn't get much snow, but our temps dipped down into the low teens.  We walked anyway, bundled up.  The dogs were the only ones who were truly thrilled with the change in the weather! 

I'm sure the grocery shelves in your area have looked like this as well.  Thankfully the shelves in our local stores here have been restocked after the initial mass panic. Our home was not in panic, we have everything we need.  We've been stocking back extra for years, and I'm thankful we have.  It is in times like this that you appreciate having lots of canned goods, paper supplies, and plenty of wild game to eat!
We took a small hike a couple of weeks ago, and this was the view that met us at the top of the rocky outcrop - magnificent! 
We hiked at a friend's place, and also got to visit with their animals.  Meet Mr. Llama! Isn't he handsome!
I think he was even smiling for the camera!
Our friend showed how they like to get right up in your face space!  They don't know what #socialdistancing is! {smiles} 

Feeding the alpacas was such fun! Our friends showed us how much they loved their treats! 
I think I'm officially smitten with the alpacas!  They have the cutest personalities! 
Beyond adorable! They have the funniest personalities too... 

This beautiful butterfly flew by my window recently. I was able to capture a few pictures of it.  It was sitting, preening on a rock outside by the bird feeders.  I looked it up and found out it is a mourning cloak butterfly. It is one of the longest living butterflies, living 11-12 months! Wow!  
Another beautiful sign of spring in our area is the emergence of the buttercup.  Tiny and poisonous, yet these beautiful little flowers populate the hillsides with their bright yellow blooms. 
Always exciting to find them growing, usually next to a mound of snow! 


I've been making homemade kombucha for many years.  Kombucha is a fermented tea with probiotics and is a wonderful immune system builder.  Below I will share my kombucha recipe.  It is quite easy to make, and much cheaper than buying it! I make my kombucha with green tea but black tea works great too. 

BASIC KOMBUCHA
Makes 1 gallon

3 quarts water (filtered if desired)
4-5 tea bags (green or black tea, NO HERBAL TEA)
1 cup sugar (can add ¼ cup more if desired)
1 scoby
1 cup fermented tea

·         Wash all utensils with hot soapy water and rinse well.
·         Bring water to a boil, then add sugar, gently boil for 5 minutes.
·         Turn off heat, and add tea bags.  Let steep 30 minutes, then remove.
·         Cool tea for about 30 minutes, and then pour into clean 1 gallon glass jar. Add enough cold water to the tea mixture leaving room for scoby and tea starter. 
·         Add starter and then scoby.  More cold water can be added so that the scoby sits just at the mouth/opening of the jar.
·         Place a breathable cloth over the top of the jar (I use a tea towel that has no lint), secure with a rubber band.
·         Let the gallon of tea sit undisturbed at room temperature (best between 65-90 F) from anywhere from 6 to 15 days. (l let mine sit a week). You can taste the kombucha every couple days starting at the fourth day until the kombucha tastes tart, not sweet, and not overtly sour or vinegary (which can happen if it sits too long).
·         To enjoy kombucha, remove scoby from the jar.  Place scoby in a clean glass bowl, and add 1 cup fermented starter tea.  Pour remaining kombucha into glass bottles with plastic lids.  Store in refrigerator. 

Notes: After several months of regular feeding, the scoby will grow in size.  You can now separate it and give away the bottom layer of the scoby if desired.  If the scoby gets too big, you can always wait less time between fermenting periods, or you can separate it, and feed it to the chickens. They love it ๐Ÿ˜Š

·       Never use metal utensils, bowls or jars with kombucha. It is always best if plastic lids are used on the bottles as well. If you don't have a scoby, please see this link to   Make your own scoby

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Recently our bible study ladies put together care packages for the local nursing home.  On the day I was to deliver them, the Activities Director contacted me and advised that they are no longer accepting care packages per new guidelines.  We still had fun putting them together, and will look forward to the day when we can deliver them to the residents. 
 
While on the phone with the nursing home activities director, she asked if our group would make face masks for their health care workers.  I told her we would do our best, and we delivered 20+ masks to the nursing home,
 and plan to make more.... if we can get more elastic.  Local stores are out.
 It is amazing in the world we live in what things overnight become a hot commodity!  
I'm sure all of us have been affected by the recent Covid-19 virus that has crippled our world.  Since making the masks for the nursing home, I decided to make some masks for our family too.  In this world where fear is rapidly making inroads into our lives and homes, I want to encourage each of you that in the midst of all this fear, our faith will sustain us and get us through these days, and yet it is also good to protect ourselves as best we can. 

Our state is currently in a "shelter-in-place" mode, and it is strange to see businesses that were thriving even a week ago, closed for 3 weeks.  Store shelves have plenty for the most part, although there are a few items that are now hard to obtain, but thankfully we have been blessed to have a full pantry and our needs are supplied.

My prayer is that the Lord will bless and encourage each one of your hearts and give you wisdom, protection, and guidance to safely navigate through this situation we are all facing. Our God is able to sustain us through it all.  Many blessings to each of you!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Warm Spring-Shine, Delight Us Today

Most of you know how much I love Winter 
and all the beauty that it brings. 

But... there is something exciting about Spring when the snow starts to melt,
and we start to see the ground again. 
My chickens are thrilled to have mud to dig in again :) 

As the snow melts it compacts and on frosty mornings, the ice collections are intricate works of art!
I must have color in my world! 

Keeping color in my living room windows helps to keep color in my world
until the color arrives outside my windows. 
This one... she is sad.  She loves snow, and seeing it melt makes her sad. 
Her favorite thing to do is roll and play in the snow.  
Our bird feeders have been like Grand Central Station all winter.  I love watching the birds through my office window.
We have two stellar jay pairs that visit every day. 
It's comical to watch our resident squirrel battle with the Stellar jays. 
They chase each other all over the trees. And oh the chatter and sassing that goes on!

This frisky agile entertainer
Mister Squirrel in search of dinner 
Resident comedian  
Part acrobat and guardian
His funny ways are always a winner.
~ Marilyn ~

Yes, lots of sassing goes on.  I guess it's just as well I don't understand it {smiles} 
A dear friend had just gotten a new puppy, and wanted to take her out on a trail.
We hiked a local trail along the river. It was great to be out and enjoy the day together. 
It was a fun day of exploring with her new puppy.  

After our hike, we ate at a little restaurant that sits right on the beach. 

We enjoyed a delicious meal and sweet fellowship together. 

A friend of mine was going through a hard time, and some friends had teamed up to support her with a fundraiser.  I was able to purchase this precious album to support her. It is a beautiful work of art! 

A stunning sunset one evening... I never cease to be amazed at how the
Master Painter changes up the canvas each morning and night! 
We took a day trip to a local state park, enjoying the beautiful sunshine, brisk breeze, and gorgeous views. 

Here you can see the distant mountains still with some snow,
but it is exciting to see Spring making advances in our world! 

The skies were magnificent against the backdrop of the mountains.  It was such a beautiful walk along the beach! 

Some treasures found while walking the beach... love finding sea glass! 
No doubt someone had lost a hat at sea!

A brave fisherman was seen fishing along the banks of the river. 
The breeze was stiff, so I can imagine it was a pretty chilly fishing trip for him! 

After walking the beach, it was time for dinner, and we stopped at a local diner for a burger... delicious! 
As we drove home, the evening skies were beautiful, and this gorgeous layer of fog
dipped below the mountains and created an interesting scene for us as we drove. 
On my way into town one day, I saw this herd of elk cavorting in the field. 

They are very skittish creatures and quite camera shy. 
I was lucky to capture these two staring at me for a split second
before they disappeared into the brush. 


Their destination was the rocky hillside. 
Always a treat to see them, even if from a distance! 

In just two short weeks, Spring will arrive on the calendar, but in our world, it is already making an early appearance, and we are all quite thrilled about that! Snow is melting noticeably daily, and I'm making daily trips to my garden to see if I've got any spring flowers making an appearance.  So far I've not seen any, but I'm hoping it will be any day now.  

I had fun recently participating in a limerick challenge.  Have you ever written a limerick?  They are quite fun! The little poem above about my resident squirrel is a limerick.  

limerick is a humorous poem consisting of five lines. The first, second, and fifth lines must have seven to ten syllables while rhyming and having the same verbal rhythm. The third and fourth lines should only have five to seven syllables; they too must rhyme with each other and have the same rhythm.

Here is another limerick I've written about the sun: 

Oh look!  The sun has come out to play
Hurry let’s go and soak up the rays
Before the dark clouds come
Late winter winds make us numb,
Warm spring-shine, delight us today!
~ Marilyn ~


Would you like to play along? If you have a fun limerick to share, whether you've written it or not, I'd love to hear it  {smiles} 

Blessings to all :) 






Thursday, February 20, 2020

February's Winter Sunshine




My last post about Winter generated a lot of talk about the pros and cons of Winter.  I thank each of you for taking the time to share with me your thoughts about Winter.  Depending on where you live, Winter can take on a totally different perspective.  For us living here in North Idaho, our winter this year for three months has mostly consisted of dense fog and cloudy days, much like in the picture above.  Each day the dogs and I would walk, and lift our faces to the skies.  Many times, both at sunrise and sunset that would be our only glimpse of the sun.



During our evening walks, the fog would clear off, and the sun would peek through in an abundance of color to end the day with.



I can understand why many people dislike Winter's long dreary days.  But when the skies fill with color during evening's last curtain call, how can one not be thrilled at the sight? 


One evening, after the skies turned to liquid crimson flowing through puffy billowing clouds, I captured this picture of my neighbor's horse waiting to be fed.  


And when the sun was coming up one morning... the pine trees glowed as they soaked up every drop of that precious sunshine, creating a beautiful contrast between land and sky. 


And even many days, especially in January when the fog was our constant companion throughout the day... 


When the fog lifted... the sunshine was joyfully welcomed. 



Our resident entertainer spares a moment out of his busy day, to share a little smile for the camera.  

In the midst of our winter here, I took a little detour to Texas. My mother underwent knee surgery, and I flew down to be with her for a week after the surgery.  One evening while I was there, there was a magnificent sunset at my brother's home. 

I enjoyed the spectacular bloom of this beautiful plant that my dad was growing.  

Beautiful Texas sunset

Enjoyed several games of scrabble with my Mother, who is an avid Scrabble player. 

My dad and I visited a Texas tulip farm not far from their home while my Mom rested at home after a session of exercise. 

The tulip blooms were just beginning to fill out, and were beautiful to see. 

I enjoyed seeing all the beautiful varieties of tulips that they had planted. 
Enjoying the tulips and the sunshine! 

Also not far from my parent's home was the site of the horrific Sutherland church shooting.  

The memorial was open to the public, and was beautifully done. It was an incredibly horrific scene that had been painted white, and red roses placed on a white chair at the place of each one's death.  

This was the saddest rose to see, a pink rose placed under a cloche for a child unborn. In the midst of this horrific tragedy, though, the grace of the Lord was shining through, and through the generosity of the community, and the Southern Baptist church group, the church had a beautiful new building built for them to worship in.  The lady who opened the memorial shared with how the Lord continued to move in their community despite the tragedy, and it was wonderful to know that the grace of the Lord was at work in the midst of such sorrow. 

I enjoyed a tea party with my mother and aunt.  My aunt brought over a wonderful cream pie, and we enjoyed tea and pie together, using my mother's Lavender Rose china. 


Mom was gifted this china for her wedding present close to 50 years ago, and it is still in beautiful condition. 

My brother's home on a gorgeous Texas winter afternoon, with 70-degree temps and bright sunshine.
I enjoyed soaking up the beautiful rays of sunshine while I was there. 

All too soon, it was time to fly back home.  Mom was doing really well, her pain had lessened, and her rehab was going well.  I was so thankful to have been there with her as she recovered from her knee surgery. 
Back home, the mountains welcomed me as we drove towards home. 

And while I was gone... signs of Spring had sprung up along our daily walk! 
Sunshine had begun to melt back the ice and snow as blue skies opened up and allowed the sun to shine through. 
Perhaps I had brought some of that Texas sunshine back with me... as the sun had come out the day I returned,
and it has shone faithfully for two weeks now! 

I visited a local state park on a beautiful sunny afternoon and hiked down to the creek bed. 
One of my favorite places to visit, this little wooden bridge crosses the creek,
and is a delightful place to visit any time of the year. 
The sunshine had melted away much of the snow, and the creek was merrily singing along its way. 

A bit of a treacherous crossing over the bridge with melted snow that had turned to ice. 

Such beauty in the forest on this fine Winter's afternoon!

At the local city park, I watched the train as it passed through, and enjoyed the warm spring-like day. 

A miniature Lady Liberty statue stands tall in this park, a gift to the city from a local family's estate.  The statue had resided in the family's garden, and upon their mother's death, they donated it to the city.
She stands beautifully highlighting the incredible backdrop behind her. 

An adventuresome soul and his dog took to the waters to enjoy the beautiful day. 

As the snow melts, and bare ground appears, the chickens are out happily enjoying their reclaimed territory.  

Valentine's Day was enjoyed as a special treat this year as our church held a Valentine steak dinner. 

And speaking of Valentine's, my dear friend Cheryl shared some beautiful love stories of couples on her blog during the month of February. She was so gracious to share our story, and you can read it here. Be sure and visit Cheryl's blog, and be inspired with all the inspirational stories she has shared there. :) 

As Winter seems to have abated his claim over the landscape, and Spring's warm breath hovers in the distance, I am looking forward now to Spring, and that time of seed starting and planting, and all the excitement that comes with Spring.  I have enjoyed Winter so very much as it is a time of rest and quiet.  But now that Spring is teasing us with her arrival, I am indeed quite ready for spring blooms, flowers, and warmth.   How about you?