Thoughts from my Garden

There’s no better time or place for pondering than the garden in the morning. Before the heat starts bearing down, while the cool damp air wafts the scent of fresh cilantro my way as I’m watering the herbs…ahhh, nothing compares! This morning I spent an hour or more just watering and cooing to my lush green tomato plants, and ridding the pathways of stray weeds. They love me! (the tomatoes, not the weeds!)

I saw the telltale signs of hornworm action on two of the tomato plants. Grrr. The hunt began. It always scares me how well those large green worms blend in on a tomato vine. The damage they do is very obvious–they eat the end leaves off of the tomato plants, leaving an empty nub–but the worm itself is good at “making like a vine” and camouflaging itself till your nose is inches away and you suddenly see the thing. Ugh.

Isn’t that the way it is with life? Sometimes you see the effects of sin in your life…perhaps cutting you off from bearing fruit for Christ, or having fruitful relationships with others. Sometimes you have to trace that sin down and deal with it. Maybe it’s plainer to others than it is to you. Whatever the case, if you let it go, it will destroy you and the consequences will spread to those around you…if it’s a hornworm, pluck it off and smash it; if it is a weed, uproot it and throw it in the burn pile before it takes over your life.

Gardening with children is a great way to teach discernment. Last week we were weeding the onions. We have a long row and a half of onions, and it is a wide row, so there are three onions across, then four, then three, alternating in a foot wide raised bed. Lots of training opportunities while weeding with kiddos. Onion tops are green, so are most weed tops. The good and the bad grow side by side, close comparison helps one to discern what to leave and what to pull.

Side by side comparison in real life is helpful as well. Whether it be in the garden, or when choosing the best Bible translation, there is no better way to gain discernment than comparing the good and the bad side by side for their differences.

In creation and in spiritual things, discernment is critical. Take wild edibles for instance. With wild edibles, poisonous plants and medicinal plants often look alike. Do you know how many campers have dined on what they thought was wild carrots, when in fact it was a poisonous look-alike, poison hemlock? Deadly mistake. Sometimes close inspection is necessary for survival. Whether it be physical or spiritual.

Another parallel to this consideration would be Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares. A tare in the field looks exactly like the wheat, but at harvest time, the wheat produces fruit, and tares do not. 2 Timothy 2:19 tells us that “the Lord knoweth them that are his”…We’re also told a few verses earlier, in 2 Timothy 2:15, that we’re to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Discernment is key if you are Christian living in today’s world. It’s easy to be confused by counterfeits.

Just some thoughts from my garden.

1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”

Essential Oils in the Home

Essential oils are a homemaker’s best friend! And cleaning is always more enjoyable when your cleaning products smell good! Adding a few drops of lemon essential oil to my mop water makes scrubbing the kitchen floor almost as big a treat as enjoying that clean floor for as long as it lasts in our busy household. *wink* 

And don’t forget to breathe deeply!  Aromatherapy while you work!

So where are some places you can use essential oils in your house?

  • In the washing machineTea Tree oil is an antiseptic that kills germs, add several drops to your load of whites to disinfect them.
  • In your toothpaste–we love Wintergreen essential oil for this. My husband, youngest daughter and I all use baking soda for brushing (my other daughters prefer “real” toothpaste), and adding a single drop (more will sting your tongue!) to the baking soda leaves your mouth tingling fresh, and it tastes sooo good!
  • In your footsoak or hot bath–Lavendar essential oil is great for a calm, soothing, refreshing soak after a long day. Combined with Epsom salts, you can almost feel the toxins leaving your body! Simply add 8-10 drops to a bathfull or basin of hot water…
  • On your kitchen sponge–a drop of Rosemary essential oil on your Dobie scrubber (my sponge of choice for dishwashing!) makes washing dishes a heavenly chore!
  • In the air–as air freshener. Just fill a small spray bottle with water, and add 8-10 drops of your favorite essential oil and spritz the house. Again, my favorite oil for this is lemon!
  • On your wrist–all natural perfume! Try blending two scents. One of my friends loves to combine peppermint with lemon…

So there are just a few ideas to get you going…I’d love to hear how you use and enjoy essential oils in comments!

Homemade Ice Cream, Anyone?

Finally.  After almost 18 years of marriage, we have become the happy consumers of our very own homemade ice cream! We were so excited about a month ago, to stumble upon a used-maybe-once White Mountain 6 quart ice cream maker–hand crank, even! JUST the machine we have always wanted, but could never afford! God is good, He must have realized how much we LOVE ice cream! *wink*

I don’t know what we love more. The fact that we’ve got such a terrific way to use up our raw organic milk, cream, and farm fresh eggs, or the satisfaction of yet another family pastime…sitting in the shade of a warm almost-summer evening taking turns at the crank. Or, the awe on my children’s faces after 23 minutes of cranking…as we all hold our breath and lift the cannister’s lid, can it be…YES, WOW, thick, perfect ice cream!

Oh boy.

My mouth is watering.

It’s sure hot in here.

I’m so glad we picked up more ice at the grocery store the other day!

HUBBY???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are our two favorite recipes, so far. ;O) Care to share yours in comments? I’m looking for a fresh peach ice cream recipe if you have one!

Strawberry Ice Cream (one bowl of this is NOT enough)

  • (2) 3 oz strawberry jello dissolved in 2 c boiling water–cool
  • 4 eggs beaten**
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. cream
  • 1 qt milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • (2) 12 oz strawberries (or 3 cups chopped berries), thawed (add last)
  • milk to fill cannister to 3/4 full

Vanilla Ice Cream  

  • 4 eggs well beaten**
  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • Vanilla extract (may also add a little lemon juice or extract if desired)
  • 1 qt cream
  • 2 qt milk
  • May add 1 large box instant vanilla pudding for flavor

Again, add milk till your cannister is 3/4 full, crank and enjoy!

My only other tip, is that it is a lot cheaper to go to your local feedstore and pick up a 50 lb sack of livestock salt, rather than “rock salt” from the grocery store. Works just great!

I think ice cream is a must on these 96 degree days, don’t you?

Thanks to my wonderful friend, Bonnie, for sharing her recipes with me!

**Special note, we don’t cook our eggs…since they are fresh as can be from our own chicken gals, and no danger of salmonella…if you are using store eggs, you might need to find a recipe with cooked eggs…fair warning!

Love your family with Baked Oatmeal!

Joy fills my heart every morning, knowing my days have purpose. There is no more fulfilling job in this world, than that of wife and mother. God has been so gracious to allow us to raise our family 100% ourselves. What a blessing!

I love waking up before the kiddos, our open bedroom window carrying in a fresh breeze and birdsongs, the nanny goat’s merrily tingling bell, the happy neighing of baby colts–all beckoning me outside while it is still blessedly cool!  I check the indoor/outdoor temp, making sure it’s still cooler outside than it is inside, and leave the house with its billowing curtains, preferring instead, my great big tree-shaded hillside with its billowing leafy branches and the white rope hammock that has found its two tree stands for the summer.

But first things first…the laying hens need me to fling their barn door open so these gals can scritch-scratch and forage the day away, and hubby and I must amble down the driveway and beyond the grain bin to move the two field pens full of young chickens to fresh green pasture. Once fed and watered, the Cornish-cross broilers and little layer chicks release me to some quiet time in the hammock with God’s word and my handy Bible pen. I can rest easy for a while, knowing that one of my family’s favorite breakfasts is in the oven.

Baked Oatmeal w/dried Cherries

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 c. dried cranberries (we love dried cherries in this!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F (175*C)
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries (or cherries). Spread in an ungreased 9×13″ pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Serve with milk in bowls.

We are a family of five, and can easily demolish three-fourths of this filling dish. But we have country life appetites going for us as well!

Do you love the life God has given you? He can fill your cup to the brim and over with love for your husband and children, and joy as you live for their well-being. Just ask Him.

According to Titus 2, we women are to be teachers of *good things*, keepers at home, loving our husbands and loving our children…obedience in these things m’dears, brings lasting joy!

Easy Baked Salmon

Friday mornings are usually reserved for Bible study luncheons with my parents. With our hectic schedule, we haven’t had any semblance of regularity with our studies, but it worked out today! Dad taught on Matthew 24, regarding the signs of the end. Riveting stuff, as we see it come true all around us. We followed our study up with one of our favorite treats: Baked Alaskan Salmon. Wow. We absolutely love this recipe, so it’s about time I shared it here at the blog!

I always double this, and go heavy on the spices and cracker crumbs. But here is the original recipe.

Baked Wild Salmon Fillets

  • 4 salmon fillet
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 stick butter melted
  • 1/2 of an onion diced
  • 1 cup (or MORE)  cracker crumbs (we like Back to Nature cracker rounds)
  • juice of 1 lime or lemon

Preheat oven to 350″F. Blend seasonings together and rub into fish. Roll seasoned salmon into the cracker crumbs, packing the crumbled crackers onto the fillets. Put in 9×13″ glass dish. Sprinkle each fillet with diced onions and drizzle with lime or lemon juice, about 3/4 TB per fillet. If you have crumbs leftover, go ahead and add them to the dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes and dig in!

These were AMAZING with fresh steamed garden asparagus, tossed salad and homemade Texas toast! My mom likes to bring her double burner cast iron griddle and a loaf of French bread, which she and the girls slice and butter (real butter all the way, man!) both sides, then grill on the griddle. Ta-da–Texas toast, and is it ever delicious.

Fun way to round out the family time: Quiddler. If you like word games, such as Scrabble and Boggle, you’ll love this one.

Why not schedule a Bible study luncheon of your own?

Our May 2011

As I write, my keyboard taps are accompanied by the thunder rumbles and smacking raindrops asserting their world domination via my wide open living room windows.  I’m guessing my apple mint sun tea on the deck might not be the ticket on a day like today. But no matter, I have a steaming cup of chai by my side, and two of my girls are in the kitchen cutting up strawberries we picked ourselves and baking shortcake and banana bread.  And we got 43 chickens processed before the rain let loose!

So it is springtime, once again. Almost summer even. Most of us have wrapped up schooldays, and are busy juggling in yard and garden chores to our already busy lives. I have to say, May sped by. Here are some highlights of our month o’ May days!

We traveled to the midwest’s largest Bible museum, to check out their special 400th anniversary display of King James Version Bibles. Incredible to see ancient tables of stone with scripture carved upon them, dating back to Ur…yes, Abraham’s Ur! What a special field trip, taken with friends, including not only this museum visit, but also a chapel service in a quaint English chapel built of stones from an authentic “Middle Ages” chapel, which were shipped from England to the USA in the mid-1800’s and then reconstructed. We also visited a famous battleground, hiked the woodsy trails there, and picnicked beneath a grape arbor.

I have to say, I really watched the skies in May, not that any man can know the day or the hour, but because May 2011 took in the 400th anniversary of the KJV, as well as the 63rd anniversary of Israel becoming a state. What’s the big deal about 400 year intervals in the Bible? Check out the Exodus and the 400 years of silence between Old and New Testaments, just for a couple of examples. And Israel’s 63rd anniversary? Well, if the church is raptured in 2011, followed by 7 years of tribulation, then Jesus’ return at Armageddon would coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. “70” is a number associated with prophecy in the Bible. Just interesting to think about. For more on why 2011 might be “the year”, check out this website post and scroll down to the portion titled, “Wondering When Jesus Will Come and Take Us Home…” I’ve enjoyed this guy’s writing overall, and in this particular segment of a prayer letter, he shares political reasons as to why 2011 might be, as is every day of every year, a year to be ready for Christ’s return!

Also in May, we had two foals born, both bay colts. We’ve gentled them to where they now let us walk right up to them and give them a good scratching. So sweet. And springtime at our place wouldn’t be complete without hundreds of baby chicks. This year’s layer hen of choice is the Light Brahma. Going with a different breed each year gives us some variety, but more importantly, helps us keep track of the ages of our birds so we know which layers are ready for the stewing pot. I know, sounds harsh doesn’ t it? We give them a good life, free ranging from morning till night on plenty of green grass and organic grain. These Light Brahmas are adorable with feathered legs and feet, don’t you think?

Let’s see, I didn’t really cover Homeschool Presentation Night, also in May…suffice it to say my eldest shared some poetry she’d written, my middle daughter played the trumpet, and youngest sang with gusto, “Look and Live”, an old favorite hymn. Also in May we drove 2.5 hours away to a U-pick farm and helped pick 75 quarts of organic strawberries–delicious! So we’ve made a dozen pints of freezer jam, homemade strawberry ice cream, and have many more in the freezer for future delicacies! We’ve enjoyed many outdoor Sunday morning services with our Christian fellowship now that the weather is so gorgeous, and  finished up the month helping at a nearby town devastated by tornadoes.

Oh, and I finished reading a really amazing book on dispensations, about which I will soon be blogging! In that vein, please check out my current poll on the sidebar, and let me know where you stand on this interesting way of “dividing the word of truth”.

What was your highlight in May? I’d love to hear about it!