Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Snow's Last Fling for the Season

Our daughter celebrated her 21st birthday this past week.  It is hard to believe our little baby girl is now an official adult!  The years have been wonderful, each one passing by more swiftly it seems than the one before!

To celebrate the big day with her, we chose to go have one last fling with winter...

We went to a local ski resort that has an amazing tubing hill.  We have come here many times and have always had such a fun time.  But this time, we all agreed it was absolutely the best we have ever had!

We have had days and days and days of rain and mud, and I was worried that the hill might not have enough snow.  However, the owners assured me that it was going to be just fine when I called to make reservations.  The very day we were to go, the sun came out in such a glorious way, just as if the Lord was smiling down on us! After enduring days and days of rain, we were thrilled to not be going down the hill in rain, but in sunshine!  We were going, rain or shine, but OH how glad we were to go with such glorious sunshine!

The little creek that passes by the hill was roaring today, full of all the water that had been falling out of the skies!

There was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the sun was so warm, we were soon stripping layers of clothing because we didn't know what to expect.  Hats, gloves, mittens, jackets, all were coming off!  It was still about 40 degrees outside, but with the warm sun, it was was like a heat wave!

The reason it was the best time we've ever had was not just because of the sunshine, but because we had the entire place to ourselves! Yes! That has never happened before!  For a full 2 hours we were able to slide down the hill, and not have to wait in line to be pulled back up in our tubes to slide back down again.  It was amazing!

Because of all the rain we had gotten, and the freeze the night before, the hill was crazy fast, it was almost pure ice going down!  Wheee! Oh my, it was a quick flight down! In a blink of an eye, that was it, it was over!

At the bottom of the hill they had spread straw to slow the tubes down.  It was a good thing they did that, because by the time you hit the bottom of the slope, you were almost flying!

My husband and I did about 10 rounds up and down, and then I decided it was time to take some pictures, so we sat on a bale of straw about halfway down the slope, and got some great shots of the kids and my daughter's friend who came with us as they flew by us.

Soon even they got wore out from all the fun zipping and flying, and I think we were all hungry too, so it was time to go.

We told our daughter we would treat her to lunch, and she got to pick the place.  Originally, she had chosen Panda Express.  My kids and I love Chinese food, but my husband doesn't care for it at all.  He is a meat and potato kind of guy, if you know what I mean!  However, because it was our daughter's choice, he was game for it.

When we showed up at Panda Express, our daughter noticed that a new restaurant had just opened up next door called "NUDO".  I had never heard of it, but apparently it is a ramen noodle Japanese restaurant, and our daughter changed her mind and wanted us to try this place out.  So we did!

Tonkotsu with fried Goyoza 

We needed an interpreter! Thank goodness for the lovely waitress who helped us understand the menu and put it into English context for us. I ordered the chicken ramen Tonkotsu with Goyza (fried spring rolls).

My husband and son ordered the beef ramen which was called "Shoyu". That seemed safe for them, lol.  And we were all amazed as we watched my husband carefully take his first bite.  My husband is known for being a picky eater, and this didn't look like his type of food at all.  However, with much gusto, he took his first bite, and ... his reaction was a smile... he LOVED it! We were all amazed, and glad that it passed his taste test.  Indeed, the food was excellent, and we really enjoyed the unique different taste, but it was very, very good.  Kind of like wonton soup with noodles and vegetables.  I would highly recommend it, if you've never tried Japanese ramen noodles, they really are good :)

Back at home, sweet little Riley had been outside all day patiently waiting for us, and she just collapsed in exhaustion when we got back inside, lol! It's hard work being on guard duty!

After such a fun day, we were brought back to the reality of the springtime world we are living in... mud, mud and more mud!

We were SO thankful that the clouds parted and the sun shone for our fun adventure together, we needed all that wonderful vitamin D, and good memories.

We have had to use 4x4 to get in and out of the driveway because the mud is horrendous.  We have a lot of gravel and base on our driveway, but not nearly enough apparently.  This is the worst year for mud that we've had here.  As soon as it dries up, we have plans to get several more loads of base and gravel hauled in.  What a lovely spring mess! But it is not all bad... because in the springtime...

... the most amazing rainbows begin to appear in the sky... this lets me know too that spring is well on its way!

This gorgeous rainbow showed up in the skies after another round of rain had passed by.

The world around us just sparkled from the light mixing with the rain drops, and the two glorious rainbows!

It was such a large rainbow, that from my perspective, I was not able to fit them into the lens of my camera.

This was other side of the rainbow, it was a large expansive one!

We can't have rainbows without the rain, now can we? And so, I give thanks for all things, even the mud.  For soon it will dry up, and the ground will be completely replenished and green shoots will break forth and an abundance of green-hued joy will abound in our yards quite soon... and for that I give the Lord praise... all seasons that come have the good and the bad alongside each other, and one can't exist without the other.

And so I remind myself to smile when I look out into the yard, because soon, very, very soon, I will have flowers... why indeed,  my tulips (just planted last fall) smiled at me today when I walked through my garden, as they burst forth from the earth...

Soon... soon... they whispered... spring will be here... and I nodded my head in agreement.

Yes!  Spring IS coming!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Bit of Sewing...and Promises of Spring

With all the wet weather we've been having, I've had a bit more time for sewing.  Just slogging through the mud to get to the mailbox is enough to cause me and the dogs to stay warm and cozy inside. Even Roger, who loves nothing better in life than to patrol our yard, has been just lying around inside with no desire to go outside.  Those muddy paw clean-ups are no fun for any of us, and we will all be glad when the mud has dried up!

So while "springter" is here with all its drizzly rain and gray skies, I remembered I had a darling pattern for a little elephant that had been saved in my to-do file for several years, and now it was time to put it to good use!

Lucky the Elephant is a darling pattern created by Virginia Lindsey Design.  The website where you can find (and buy) this pattern is here: Lucky The Elephant.

Lindsay's pattern calls for the eyes to be buttons, but because I was giving these elephants to small children, I decided to embroider the eye on instead of using a button.  Also, the original pattern that I had did not show the option for a tail, but I did add the tail.  Upon visiting her website to share the link here, I saw that she had updated her pattern to include a tail.

The pattern prints on two sheets of paper and then you tape it together.  It is a really easy pattern, comes with a great PDF and excellent instructions, and can be made in about 2 hours from start to finish. This is a wonderful project to make and give away.

I also found another pattern while searching through my pattern file, and decided I had the perfect fabric to make this apron.  I had been looking for a pattern for an apron but had never decided upon one. How glad I was to find this simple pattern (actually it was a free handout I picked up years ago from Hobby Lobby) and the directions again were very simple, easy to follow, and this apron was easily made in about two hours.

I used Pellon fusible fleece to first adhere the applique, and then stitched around the edges as well.

You may remember this fabric was a gift that I received from dear Cheryl at Homespun Devotions, and shared about in this post.  Oh how I appreciated her generous gift of fabric to me, and so this little apron made its way to Cheryl's home along as a thank you for her sending such a lovely assortment of fabric to me.

I've also had other projects that I've been working on... I was asked to make a birthday banner for the little girl who received the pink Lucky Elephant from me.

I was happy to make this for her, as I have a pennant die for my Big Shot die cut machine which makes cutting out dies for banners easy and fun.  I used some large die cut letters I had as well, and added some cute flowers and ribbons, and the cute birthday banner was done, easy and fun to do!

While at a thrift store recently, I found a ziplock bag full of fabric for $2.00, of which I couldn't pass up.  When I got home and opened the bag, I found this unfinished piece inside that had been sewn by hand.

You can see the hand sewn stitches.

The square was quite a bit off center, and perhaps that is why it was a leftover in the bag, but I thought it would make a unique little potholder, and so I finished the little lopsided square into a potholder that I will keep for my own use, and will always wonder about the story behind the little lopsided square each time I use it {smiles}. After all, it is better being put to some good use, rather than hiding in a lonely bag of fabrics... :)

I mentioned in my last post that our area has been inundated with heavy rain recently, and our county has been placed under emergency declaration because of the rain, flooding, and mudslides. We were on our way back home from town this past weekend when traffic came to a standstill, and we saw this scene in the distance.  Apparently several trees had fallen over the road just a few cars in front of us.

It wasn't too long and someone with a chainsaw began to cut the trees back off the road.  You can see off to the side that there were a lot of helpers!  Quite a few people, many of them children, helped carry the brush and limbs off the road. It took about 30 minutes of waiting for the road to be cleared, but we were very thankful that no one was hurt.

Another mudslide happened early Sunday morning on a main road in our area, that has only one way in and out, thus cutting off many people from being able to travel to their Sunday morning worship.  The road opened late Sunday morning, but you can see the devastation this slide caused.

An entire hillside gave way and rolled down the hill and onto the road.  It took crews many hours to completely clear away the debris.

Again, thankfully no one was hurt!

We saw this cute face peeking out at us in the woods one afternoon.  She wasn't sure whether to run or wait and watch us.  Eventually she wandered off, not too worried about us after all.

The sunsets haven't been as brilliant as they were during the dark winter days, but still, the soft pale colors were beautiful to behold.

You can see that our snow is quickly melting away, and it really is beginning to feel like spring is here.  Today we took our family vehicle to get the studded snow tires off and our regular summer tires put back on.  The roads now are clear of snow, and the grader came this week and graded off all the potholes, which makes it much easier to drive down our gravel road.  My husband and I worked today to clean out the chicken coop, and put the lovely composted manure in my garden.

So, things are looking up around here for spring, and while I know that the bright blooms of spring are still a month or so away, it is exciting to be putting away winter wraps, and exchanging them for lighter spring jackets, and looking forward to the promise of the beauty of late spring, when the mud has dried up, and the tulips, daffodils and crocuses are in bloom :)

Friday, March 17, 2017

As the Snow Melts...Springter is Here

We are fully into our early spring here, which is quite simply - a mess!  Lots of rain, lots of mud, and lots of gray drippy skies.  But the happy thought is that the snow is melting, and once the snow melts and ground thaws, then the happy faces of spring will be with us.  For now, we must just endure the messiness...

I took Annie and Riley for a walk and now the gravel road is completely free of ice and snow. The snowbanks are dirty too, all signs of spring melt.

Riley still thinks that walking herself is more fun (by holding her leash in her mouth lol), but when she starts to try to walk Annie, then we have problems!

Someone needed to be taught a lesson, and Annie gently growled at her to let her know that she is the boss, and does not need to be walked!

So our walks have turned into more of a circus than anything!  If we get a few uninterrupted steps in, that's progress!

 You can see the snow is gradually melting away, and patches of bare ground are appearing.


Spring is coming, it really is.  We just have to be patient while the ground thaws, and that is the hardest part.  So I got busy planning for spring!  I had begun this garden journal last year, but it needed some more work.  I used Heat-n-Bond to adhere a fabric cover to the little journal, and then "spiffied" it up with some scrapbooking stickers, lace, ribbon, buttons and a shabby rose.

Last year I kept track of when my seeds were planted, and when they were harvested along with a chart recommending dates of planting in our area.  It was interesting to go back and see that I am approaching the date for early planting.  However, I am not sure if I am going to start so early this year. I think I am going to wait until April because our spring this year is so much later than it was last year.

I kept every package of seeds I sowed, and then photocopied them (4 at a time) onto plain paper, cut them out and pasted them in my journal.  I decided this would be the easiest way to track how my seeds did, and which companies or particular plants did better than others.  I kept fairly good records, but hopefully this coming year with my journal in place and ready to go, my records will be even more precise.

Some years ago we were blessed to live by a neighbor who had gardened all of his life.  He was in his 90s and still gardening. He showed me all of his gardening journals that he had kept, handwritten, all those many years.  He could tell me which year was the best or worst, what weather conditions were, and what varieties grew best in the area.  I've always been inspired since then to try to keep better track of my gardening efforts, and I hope to continue to work towards that this year.  I still have notes to make in my journal from last year.  I took pictures of my garden in various stages and had the pictures printed in 4x4 format so I could write my thoughts beside the pictures.

Then I needed to write our sweet little child a letter whom we sponsor through Gospel For Asia. We are not able to send anything bigger than flat things that will fit in the envelope.  I decided to make him his own bookmark with his initial on it, along with my letter to him.  I can tell how much he has grown over the past several years that we have sponsored him, and he tells me that he is playing football now, whereas before he would tell me how much he likes to color {smiles}.  He always tells me that he prays for our family. And we do likewise for him.  It is such a special communication and blessing to be a part of this little boy's life in India.

On my way into town, I saw this rushing stream created by all the snow melt.  Normally there is little to no water here, but in the spring, things change quickly.

This year is posing a bit of difficulty with water runoff.  Since we had a very wet fall last year, the ground was very wet, and then we had an extremely cold freeze in November before we had any snow.  This has created a deep frost layer in the ground that is preventing the water from absorbing into the ground, and now it is just running off.  This year is a bad year for our county, and on Thursday our county was placed under emergency protection because of so many road wash-outs and flooding.

And of course the pot holes have turned the road into an axle disaster! Nothing like a road full of pot holes to keep drivers within the speed limit, lol!

The deep snow we had this winter is slowly but surely melting, and while I am sad to see it go... I am looking forward to bright green hues again soon...

The call of the ducks and geese are filling the air again... and the open water in the ponds are full of geese once again.  Such are the seasons of life... passing so quickly!

It is this in-between time of year, when it is not really spring, and yet not really winter, that one must appreciate the beauty one finds, wherever it is.  And these happy geese swimming in open waters free of ice made my heart happy to watch them enjoy the day.

Springter... as I like to call this season... has a beauty all of its own :)

The cold wind blowing off the snow-covered mountains, despite the sunshine was a cool reminder that the mountains know nothing of spring.. yet!  They will not lose their snow until May or June.

Cats have perfected the art of sleep!  A cold rainy day makes for perfect naps...

And this sweet face... has perfected the art of sleeping too! She plays hard, and sleeps hard too.

A peek of our yard... quite a mess!  Time for rubber boots!

Animals know nothing of boots, gloves, hats, scarves or coats.  They are always prepared, no matter what weather they face.  I never cease to be amazed at their resiliency in all the seasons and weather!

Happy songs breaking forth from Mr. Pepper's heart in the bright sunshine that lit up the afternoon skies.

Remember my 6 orphaned chicks that I took in this past December? Well, here they are.  Three hens and three roosters.  Anyone need a banty rooster?  {smiles}  We have reached our max capacity for roosters here, even though they sure are handsome fellows!

My garden is beginning to look a little lighter, but still, the snow melt has a long way to go yet before I can see if any of my tulips will come up this spring :)

We are all looking forward to spring, but I think my chickens are most glad that the weather is warmer, the snow is melting, and green grass surely can't be far off!

So there you have ... this in-between season that swings wildly between winter and spring hence my calling this season "springter", and yet the promise of spring is there... and while I forgave winter last week... I'm ready this week to bid winter goodbye and welcome late spring with all her loveliness, but I know we must endure early spring weather first, and so we are doing that as patiently as we can.  :)