Friday, April 13, 2018

A Ladies Spring Tea

While it seems that spring has taken a spring vacation... what with snow coming down out of the skies, this on the 13th of April... not unexpected of course, but as we have our hearts set on spring's blooms, it makes the season of "springter" seem more and more a reality. 

Just what we needed to brighten up the moody days of spring, our ladies Bible Study held their annual spring gathering with a tea, and it was a beautiful time of fellowship.  Each year the Ladies Bible study puts on a spring gathering with a different theme.  This year it was decided to hold a tea party.  So it was that each lady who attends the bible study was given a table (or two) to decorate with their own china, making it a very eclectic and special event for all involved. 

Setting up for the tea was pure delight, as each lady brought in their treasured china
sets and set their table up. 

I loved this delightful collection of china dishes. This sweet lady was gifted this set of
china on her wedding day over 40 years ago. 

I made fresh flower bouquets for each table. 

I printed up the little programs for the tea on some pretty writing paper one of the ladies
found at a thrift store.  

My china remains packed in storage, so I used teacups that I have been given through tea exchanges
and picked up at local thrift stores, as well as a set of 6 pretty pink Pyrex plates were also picked up at a thrift store.  

The centerpiece for one of my tables (I decorated two tables). 

I think we should dine on china every day, don't you agree? Food just tastes better on china :) 
The centerpiece for another table that I decorated. 

This teapot I found at a thrift store last fall.  It had no name on it, and I searched for a good while to find out what it was.  I finally spoke with an antique dealer who told me that it was a Coalport teapot circa 1860.  It still is in mint condition for being this old! 

Decorating for the tea was so much fun, putting different elements together on the tables.  
Well, I could just keep sharing picture after picture... but I think you get the picture... we had so much fun
just getting ready for the tea party, lol! 

Now the food... oh joy!  Such a lot of yumminess to partake and enjoy!
I made these cherry tartlets using cherries I had canned last summer. So good! 

Filling plates with delicious goodies... all the lovely hallmarks of a ladies tea!

Delightful finger foods eaten on china plates with a sip of tea... delight upon delight!
The tea was most enjoyable... each lady that came thanked us for all the work we had gone to, as we worked to make it such a special time for everyone.  We had a special speaker, along with a little skit and overall it was just a very enjoyable and special time for everyone.  We are already in the planning stages for another tea, quite soon.  All ladies from our local community bible studies were invited and it was nice to visit with each one, and put faces to names.  The Bible study I attend is an interdenominational Bible study.  There are 5 different churches represented at the weekly Bible study, and about 10 churches in the area had ladies attending, so it was really a special way to meet other believers in our community. 

I've come to realize that having tea with other ladies brings a special factor into the gathering, it just quiets and settles the heart to sip tea and fellowship with other ladies.  It takes us back to a gentler, quieter time without social media,  to just sit and visit with the lady beside you and share your hearts and lives together.  We didn't ask for this, but I was amazed to see that NO PHONES were in use during our time of fellowship.  Everyone was having such a great time visiting, sipping tea and sharing that phones/social media were set aside.  That was a beautiful thing to see! Most times when I visit any restaurant, at least several tables have phones laying on the table, or in the diner's hand while eating.  So I was quite thrilled to see each lady having such a grand time that phones were put away, and fellowship was a priority.  That in itself was a blessing, and I think it speaks of the quality of time that one has with fellowship over tea.  There is just something calming about a teapot, sweet and savory goodies, special friends, and chinaware that brings a soothing atmosphere to fellowship.  :)

That being said... I can't wait for spring/summer to get here so that I can have tea in my garden... soon, very soon it will be a reality!

These dwarf crocuses are popping up in my garden, and while they are tiny... their
color lights up the world around them!

Drops of pure sunshine they are!

Pockets of joy in the mostly brown world around them, bringing
the promise of spring. 
My tulips are now about 2" out of the ground, and so I think another 2-3 weeks, and I will see some blooms from the tulips, and I am really looking forward to that. 

All my "chickies" are doing wonderfully, and quickly growing new feathers.

Lots of springtime work awaits outside with pine needles that need to be raked and dead limbs and debris that have fallen through the winter that need to be picked up.  Now we just need some warm 60-degree weather for a few days to really feel like spring has arrived... until it does, I will enjoy my early spring blooms, the happy cheeps of my chicks, and the fact that snow is no longer on the ground (don't get me wrong, I love snow in winter... but in spring, I'm ready for it to go, lol!).  Blessings to all :)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Sheltered Under the Wings

Spring has been a busy time around here!  It is a time for new life to come forth, for the promise of spring to make her entrance, and for winter to bid his last farewell goodbye.  But as is quite typical for winter, reluctance to leave on his part is playing a big role in the whole endeavor, and we remain in the season of springter... for now.

With spring comes the nudging in the hearts of some of our hens to sit and hatch out their eggs.  Our little banty, sweet Bella began to sit on eggs late in February! At first, I felt it was too soon, but then decided to go ahead and see what would happen, so I let her sit on a variety of eggs.

Bella has been our Momma hen that we have had for 3 years, and she hatched out 5 sweet little baby chicks around St. Patrick's Day.  It has been a very cold spring here,
but even so, her fluffy feathers have kept her little chicks safe and warm beneath her wings. 

The chicks were hatched in our chicken coop, but after they were hatched,
I moved them into my greenhouse to keep them safe from the other hens, who are quite cruel to little ones.  
This little chick was injured during her birthing process and had crippled feet.  She would just sit on her haunches and cry and cry.  It was heartbreaking to witness this and so I researched how to help her.  
BandAid splints were recommended for chicks born with crippled feet, to help straighten their feet out. 
The BandAid is sticky on both sides and holds their feet straight. I left it on for two days and
noticed that she walked better after taking it off.  

Here is a closer look at how her feet looked before I splinted them. 

And here is how the BandAid splints looked.  She wasn't too happy with me for doing this at the time, nor was Bella!  

However, I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am to report that after removing the splints, she was walking on her feet, instead of her haunches, and now, about a week later, you can't even tell that she ever had a problem! Amazing! We are so thankful for the good progress she has made :) 

 As I've watched Bella nurture and care for her baby chicks, I was reminded of Psalms 91, one of my all-time favorite psalms that says this:

Psalm 91 
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High 
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: 
my God; in him will I trust. 
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, 
and from the noisome pestilence. 
He shall cover thee with his feathers, 
and under his wings shalt thou trust: 
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

When the Psalms says "He shall cover thee with his feathers and under his wings shalt thou trust"... I saw my sweet little Bella spreading her feathers and covering her little ones with her wings, and I saw such a beautiful picture of the Lord in that.  And then as I watched the little one with the crippled legs, I saw how Bella saved little scraps of food for her and took them to her when she could hardly walk.  And then she would run and hide under Bella's wings for heat, warmth, comfort, and safety.  And in this beautiful picture of the Lord, I saw myself, running to Him for comfort, safety, and protection in all situations.  As I walk each day, I look up to Him, up into the skies, and I feel the comfort of His wings around me.  How wonderful it is to know that just as my sweet little chick would run to its mother, we can run to Christ, and hide under the shadow of His wings when the world around us gets worrisome.  And once we are secure and safe under His arms, we can peek out and look around, and not be afraid.  He has us covered with His wings!  

My little thought for the day... it has been a beautiful picture to see each day as this little chick has grown underneath the constant care of her mother and to see the picture of Christ in that as I tend to my chickens.  I just wanted to share that with you, it has been so amazing to see! 


Did you know that you can make your own refills for foaming hand soap? I ran out of this lovely smelling
hand soap and decided to use the same bottle to make some more. It is SO easy to do!  Just fill the bottle
3/4 of the way to the top, and then pour in 1 tablespoon of your favorite liquid soap. I used Dr. Bronner's, but you could also use a bubble bath or shower gel soap as well.  Screw the lid back on, and voila, you have your own foaming hand soap! I also added approximately 4-5 drops of grapefruit essential oil, because I love the fresh scent of citrus. 

You can see the foamy soap that it creates... and think how much money you can save by making your own! 

Oh the sunsets - they have been few and far between as clouds hang low, heavy with rain.
 But when we do get to see a sunset, it is glorious! 

I've got tomatoes, peppers and peas started in my little mini greenhouse.  They have poked their heads out of the soil,
and are enjoying their warm comfy environment! 
On a nice sunny morning, this sweet girl looked out at me across from her fence, and I knew she wanted
to be petted, so I walked over and spent some time petting her.  I love my horse friends that
I get to meet as I walk! 

Spring run-off has created this seasonal creek, and the horses were taking advantage of the cold clear waters!

One sunny afternoon, I took my tea on the back porch to enjoy the sunshine and the sound of melting snow.
 Immediately a little beggar showed up!
 She was patient long enough until I gave her a piece of my shortbread.  Little rascal! 
While the snow has for the most part melted around us... still the mountains sport their white tops.  I love the contrasts of snow on the mountains, and spring in the valleys below. 

Since I'm pretty sure that Bella's brood is comprised of 3 roosters and 2 hens, I wanted to add more to my flock this spring.  After adding 12 chicks from the feed store, some of my friends heard about the wonderful place I have to raise little chicks, and asked if I would mind raising chicks for them as well.  So instead of 17 new baby chicks, I now have a grand total of 42!  Bella takes care of her 5 in a little enclosure in my garden, while the remainder of the 37 chicks run around inside my greenhouse.  I've enjoyed having all these little cuties to care for, they are so fun to watch! They love their new environment, as the greenhouse is completely safe for them to run around and stretch their legs, and some are even practicing flying and roosting now. It is amazing to see! 

Another sunset that I captured on a late evening walk with my husband. 

The layers of colors in this sunset are most brilliant now in early spring where green grass is pushing its way to the forefront and snow has finally taken a backseat.  Winter is now taking backstage and spring is prancing daintily around, much like my sweet horse friend does.  Soon a blanket of spring wildflowers and blooms will arrive,
 and I am awaiting that time quite expectantly!

Most of the snow has melted from my garden, and it won't be long now and it will be planting time!  We always look forward to this time of year.  All the bulbs I planted last Fall have begun popping their heads up out of the ground, and in about a month or so, we should have a bounty of color, and I can't wait!  This week it has been particularly cold, snowy and rainy.  In fact, when we had our Easter Sunday service, as we were singing about the blood washing whiter than snow, we looked outside, and it had begun to really snow.  The snow has not "stuck" as the saying goes, but has melted upon impact, but still, the fact that it is cold enough to snow in April means that we are going to have a late spring.

But there is hope in my garden, as I walk out there each day and check my bulbs as they shoot through the earth... soon ... very soon I will have masses of color in my little area that we planted last fall, and the promise of spring will arrive.  You can be sure we are all awaiting that time quite anxiously!  It seems that spring has been later this year for most places around our country, but when it gets here,  it ought to be glorious with all the extra moisture we have received this year.  It won't be long now :) 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Winter's Days are Numbered!

Indeed they really are.  We can see signs of spring everywhere here, in fact I have seen robins on my walk each morning this week!  The snow is melting and the wind has a whistle to it that sings of springtime.  Winter lingers, but spring is persevering. 

I have some more winter pictures to share with you, but we will be moving on to spring quite soon!

I finished my yo-yo project, and got it hung in my craft room. 
This made a great winter's evening project!

It took me a while to sew up 80 yo-yos, but I was thrilled with the finished result.  My thanks to my
sweet friend Jill who helped me get started with the yo-yos! 
One night before another winter storm came in, these glowering clouds spoke of the storm to come. 
Walking in the light of the sunset one evening, a glorious event to see!

These twin orphans have been coming to visit regularly. 

Annie-girl loving her walks in the snow.  

Snow makes all things beautiful, even this rather forlorn looking fence!

A winter wonderland!
Down at the river, I saw this eagle flying high in the sky.  I hoped he would come a little closer to me, but
alas, he chose not to.  Magnificent creatures they are! My camera lens was at its max zoom with this picture. 

The hoarfrost and ice sculptures along the river were stunning to see. 

This tree looked like a scene out of Narnia with the hoarfrost/ice melting away
as the sun shone on it, even though it was about 12 degrees outside.  

Looking across the river, this red barn caught my fancy! 

The ice sculptures along the river looked like little ice puppets dancing for joy! 
My husband and I took a drive up river.  We stopped to look at the water that is piped from a mountain spring
and comes out alongside the road.  Many people who live off grid depend on this free source of water that flows year round.

We went to visit the caverns at the Indian Reservation.  We've been here many times, but never during winter. 
We hiked through the snow to get to the caverns on the side of the mountain. 

The steps were encased in sparkling ice.  Since we weren't eager for a tumble,
we scrambled to get up inside the cave along the edge instead. 

Inside the cave, the dripping water had created these little ice statutes
everywhere... they were so unique looking!

The sound of dripping water was very loud, and echoed to where we could hardly hear each other speak.

Looking out on the world outside the cave.
I took a picture of this huge icicle, but definitely stayed away from it, it was huge
and would hurt if it happened to fall while you were under it! 

Underneath the huge icicle was this pile of ice that had created its own style of beauty
from each drop of water from the icicle. 
After our visit to the cave, we crossed back over the river, and drove back down the other side. 
It was a gorgeous day for a drive!
My husband and I took a quick trip to Texas last weekend to visit family there.  His family was having a family reunion, and there were several birthdays in my family that we got together and celebrated.  I was hoping to see some bluebonnets while we were there, but unfortunately, we were about a week or so too early to see any.  However, there were other flowers in bloom.

The mountain laurels were in bloom.  Unfortunately on the day I tried to take this picture,
the wind was blowing like crazy
and the picture is a bit blurry.  

Oh yes, we are in Texas!  Look at that traffic!  Bumper to bumper.
Thankfully my husband doesn't mind driving in the traffic. 

Jasmine blooming in my MIL's yard. 
Beautiful bright yellow drops of sunshine!

A gorgeous Texas sunset.  You can see the trees are still barren of leaves.  Some of the trees
were just starting to put on leaves while we were there. 

The Texas redbud trees were blooming out everywhere in gorgeous purple blooms.  

A closeup of the Texas redbud in bloom. 

We took a drive in the Hill Country looking for bluebonnets, and found none.  But I loved
this little scene alongside one of the back roads we traveled. 

I wonder what kind of patrol this wagon was used for in its day? It had weathered the years well! 
We found a field of longhorn cattle, and this particular handsome fellow stared at me for a bit,
long enough for me to get his picture before he galloped away. 

For my husband's family reunion, they were camping out along the river.
While everyone set up camp, I cooked dinner for them in the iron Dutch ovens. 

Just a simple soup mixed with a bit of smoke from the campfire, and
you have a delicious quick, and easy meal. 

Just go, indeed!  Sometimes you just need to pack up and go.  What a cute sign!

My brother's roses were in bloom, and I was thrilled to see them!  

A sweet 16 birthday for my niece and a big 4-0 birthday for my sister
were celebrated with our family. 

And an Easter egg hunt for the little ones.  

Always so relaxing to visit with family at my brother's home. 

Another gorgeous Texas sunset. 

And before we knew it, it was time to fly back home... Southwest of course. 
We love flying with Southwest.  
My garden sits covered in a deep blanket of snow... waiting for spring!

My chickens are waiting on spring too!  They've braved the cold snow to get out of the coop, although
they let me know they are not too happy about it, lol! 

Spring is coming here, I can feel and smell it in the air.  Snow is melting, mud is abounding, and the days are waxing longer and longer.  Now we are getting about 12 hours a day of sunshine, which always amazes me once the time changes.  Winter's days are indeed numbered, and while he may put up a fight or two til the end... spring will persevere! 

I've ordered my seeds for this year's garden, and they arrived today, so I will be doing some planting in my little greenhouse tomorrow.  I'm excited about getting my hands in the dirt :) I'll be starting tomatoes and peppers for now, and in a couple of weeks I will start some flowers, and closer to planting time, I will start squash, pumpkin, beans etc.  I find that because of our very short growing climate, it helps to start most of what I plant in the garden ahead of time in my greenhouse.  It is extra work, but oh so worth it come harvest time :)

I saw four robins today on my walk, and although they wouldn't let me get close enough for a picture (I just had my phone on me), I was thrilled to see them and hear their cheerful cries as they searched for worms. 

The joyful birds prolong the strain,
Their song with every spring renewed
The air we breathe, and falling rain
Each softy whispers: God is good! 
~ John Hampden Gurney ~

And a psalm that I wanted to sing along with the birds came to mind as I walked: 

Psalms 95:1-7
O come, let us sing unto the Lord: 
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, 
and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God, 
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the deep places of the earth: 
the strength of the hills is his also.
 The sea is his, and he made it: 
and his hands formed the dry land.

 O come, let us worship and bow down: 
let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
For he is our God; 
and we are the people of his pasture, 
and the sheep of his hand.

And as the robins sang, I rejoiced in our Creator and to know that spring was coming soon. :)