Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mom Time

And while the rest of the family roasted hot dogs and slept out under the stars?

I was at a ladies retreat. The stated goal of the retreat was to encourage women in ministry.

And encourage they did.

For a day and a half, we ladies were flooded with refreshment. We laughed and cried through challenging sessions and workshops. We were pampered with all the lovely things that ladies enjoy. I took no photos so just imagine candlelit dinner and tea, rose petal strewn halls, lovely decor, and food that looked and tasted absolutely delicious.

And then there was the fellowship. Singing, praying, and crying together with other sisters. Meeting new friends (including some of you Home Joys readers!) and renewing old acquaintances. Realizing that I'm not alone and there are dozens of other ladies with the same goals, desires, and challenges.

There is a million and one things I could share about the retreat. Right now I feel so full that if you'd squeeze me I'd drip. There was so much that I need to sit down and process. I want to spend some time this week discerning what it is the Lord wants me to do/change/be as a result of the truth I learned.

But as wonderful as the food, fellowship, and sessions were at this retreat...as thankful as I am for those who worked so hard to make it possible...the overwhelming gratitude I feel right now is toward my Lord.

The theme of the retreat was Redemption. After focusing on our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and the hope He brings to shattered hearts - how could I not come away encouraged in the Lord? How could I not want to shout aloud about the richness of His abundant grace?

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wonderoud love to me:
on the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.

I will tell the wondrous story,
How my lost estate to save.
In His boundless love and mercy,
He the ransom freely gave.

I will praise my dear Redeemer,
His triumphant power I'll tell,
How the victory He giveth
Over sin, and death, and hell.

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His heavenly love to me:
He from death to life hath brought me,
Son of God with Him to be.

Sing, Oh sing, of my Redeemr.
With his blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.
- P. P. Bliss

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dad Time

Last week, Ed took our children camping.

Four years ago, Ed had taken the two oldest children (then ages five and almost four) on an overnight back-packing trip. They have talked about it ever since. And built up envy in the two youngest children who had been left at home.

So this weekend, Ed took all four on the same excursion.

Anticipation was high as the children loaded their backpacks. They hiked a short distance on the Appalachian Trail and spent the night in a rustic shelter.

The next morning they hiked to a mountain overlook.

They arrived home dirty, tired, and bubbling over with stories of their adventure.

And me? I'm not sure my pregnant bones would have survived a night on the ground and thankfully had other plans. While the rest of the family roughed it, I was having more fun than one mom can hold.

More tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013



my tomatoes are beginning to ripen. I thought they would never start. I'm guessing that between my late planting and our cooler-than-usual summer has held them back.

Most of my tomatoes plants produce a small paste type tomato but my mother-in-law gave me three tomato plants. I don't know what kind they are. Two produce a normal round tomato of average size. But the third is giving us whoppers!

This tomato weighed in at 2 lb 13 oz - nearly three pounds! Some of these tomatoes are starting to split a little (maybe from our rains?) but still very nice. It doesn't take long for tomatoes this size to fill a bowl! Too bad I have no idea what variety it is.

Are you picking tomatoes?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Butterflies and Books

Our children are enjoying watching the transformation of a monarch caterpillar to a butterfly.

In the past I've written about the details of raising a monarch butterfly. If you live in an area of the country that this is possible, do give it a try! Somehow we missed doing this the last several years. Either we forgot about it completely, or just didn't seem to find a caterpillar when we went out looking. It especially exciting for the youngest who doesn't really remember past butterfly raising experiences.

If you can't watch a caterpillar - the next best thing is reading about it. We searched our shelves and visited the library to find a whole stack of butterfly books to read this month. Here is a few of our favorites.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle
I get warm fuzzies reading this book with all the memories from past years when this was a toddler's favorite. On my list of top ten children's books.

Butterfly House - Eve Bunting
A sweet story of a grandfather and granddaughter raising a butterfly.

The Caterpillar and the Polliwog - Jack Kent
This is the book my four year old asks to read daily. And I remember this book being a well-loved by other four years in our family! Cute story about the metamorphosis of a frog and a butterfly.

Isabel's House of Butterflies - Tony Johnston
Lovely paintings tell of the challenges of rural Mexico and their beloved butterfly trees where thousands of monarchs gather each winter.

From Egg to Butterfly - Shannon Zemlicka
Photographs share the caterpillar to butterfly story.

Fabulous Fluttering Tropical Butterflies - Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Fascinating facts about butterflies including details about butterfly houses.

The Butterfly Alphabet Book - Brian Cassie
We learned about butterflies we had never heard of before in this book.

Gotta Go! Gotta Go! - Sam Swope
Gotta go to Mexico! Another child's favorite!

Clara Caterpillar - Pamela Duncan Edwards
A fun read that makes even the plain cabbage caterpillar appealing.

Have you raised a caterpillar?

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August Garden Update

July and August may be the best months of the year for our garden - if you are looking for good fresh eating and don't mind the work! We have been blessed with abundant rain this summer and our garden is thriving. But that results in some busy days preserving the abundance. I bounce from being overwhelmed with busyness to being overwhelmed by the blessings!

This is what my kitchen counter looked like one day last week when I happened to have peaches (from a local orchard), kidney beans, and blackberries all ready to can on one day! I was a little weary that evening. But what a beautiful sight on our pantry shelves!

Our onion and garlic crop was excellent this year. The children had such fun picking the onions and laying them out to dry.


After they dried down a few days, I braided the tops together and hung them in our woodshed. I am still having trouble keeping the onions. Some are already beginning to rot. Hopefully since we grew so many, we'll still have many to enjoy.

One of the summer delights is fresh corn on the cob. This year a coon or ground hog got into our patch one night and pulled some corn down, but thankfully, he left most of it for us! We were worried he would keep returning on future nights but apparently did not.


Since our early garden (which included beets, sugar peas, lettuce, broccoli, onions, and garlic) was over, we cleaned up this area.


We replanted with fall crops (broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, turnips, and cauliflower).

We planted thornless blackberries several years ago but this was the first year we enjoyed a crop.


We are still experimenting with canning, freezing, and jam making with blackberries. Any hints?


The green beans were finished and tilled under. Ed broadcasted some buck wheat seed in this area for a cover crop. The potato plants are starting to die back. We are finding some nice size potatoes just for eating and plan to dig the whole patch once the plants are completely dead, probably late August or early September.

The tomato plants are looking rather well. There are a few signs of blight on the lower leaves but not nearly as bad as last year's blight.

But the tomatoes are very slow in ripening. We've picked a few tomatoes but most are quite green. I'm trying to be patient.

I'm rather pleased with how well we've kept after our vegetable garden this year. I'm actually not ashamed to photograph it. Definitely fewer weeds then some years.  But in case you think we don't have weeds, I'll turn the camera and show you some neglected areas.

This is the herb garden. At least it was this spring. Not sure what has survived the neglect.

And somewhere under these huge weeds is our compost pile and a garden wagon. My second trimester of pregnancy has brought much more energy than I had in early summer. So watch out weeds, your days are numbered!

How does your garden grow?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Corn Day

The annual family corn day...


Husking corn

Even a wounded limb doesn't keep Vaun from finding creative ways to help.

The corn silker speeds the process.


Cooking the corn in an iron kettle.


Cooling the corn in a tub of water - and Dad is taste testing!


Cutting corn for the freezer.

Many hands make light work - and light hearts! Far more fun then working alone!


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