Wednesday, August 29, 2012

And the Water Flowed...

I'm exuberantly proclaiming...I have COMPLETELY finished my potting bench! I finished the sink and faucet; I completed it's plumbing, and have successfully created a bench which is not only a good place for food and drinks to gather at barbecues, but a place I can use to transplant plants, seedlings, and wash my fresh produce! I'm excited to break it in!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Sweet Golden Fruit of Summer

For me, summer means warm weather, camping, outdoor fun, and fresh food…home-grown garden dinners! I think that’s what keeps me gardening. Growing up I can remember having days filled with playing outside, swimming at the river, and a simple dinner with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, corn on the cob (if we had some), and some sort of protein. Simple. Wonderful.  Not being able to have access to those flavors and memories would mean I missed summer, at least what I consider to be summer.  Perhaps I’m just extremely nostalgic; but as I child, I looked forward to this time of year. I haven’t grown out of it I guess!

Now that I am older, I still love the simplicity of those childhood dinners but my tastes have also broadened. I enjoy a whole new realm of flavors, cuisines, and foods that I never ate in my younger years. So I often find myself looking at the fresh, simple recipes for side-dishes to accompany my protein of choice (still sticking to the basic meal outline from growing up).  In this search, I’ve come across several I love, but these two are two of my go-to’s. They never seem to disappoint and are so quick and simple, I keep coming back time and time again! Not to mention, I look forward to making them every summer! :-) So here are two fresh, easy, and satisfyingly delicious corn recipes!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bits of Nothingness

Letting Go of Nothing
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.
~Proverbs 4:13~

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Drumroll Please...

I'm finished! Finally, after much hard work, some small injuries, and many warm afternoons, I have completed my potting bench! I am thrilled as to how it turned out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Camping Fun!

I'll go into detail in a future post about my camping trip but I couldn't help but share this with you now!

We took our pups with us camping and they behaved magnificently!! Having respectful, well-behaved dogs is something I am continually thankful for!

Anyhow, we had a chance to take them out on an old forest road to run and chase chipmunks to their little hearts content! We would reign them in every so often to just make sure we kept track of them. At one moment, I just wanted a picture of cam & the dogs, so I hastily brought up the camera and accidentally hit the button & a picture was snapped.

The following is that picture! I was rolling on the ground when I saw the look our Brittany, Remi, was giving me!! Classic, really:-) I hope you enjoy it too!


Project Update!

Well, after an extremely relaxing weekend camping ( :-) ), I managed to muster up enough motivation after a day at work to make some progress on my garden bench. I'm almost finished!! And, it's turning out even better than I had thought it would!!

The counter top is made of salvaged wood floor I pieced together, sanded down, and finished. I also got my sink in and was able to caulk it as well:-)
I then attached a wire basket to the side for storage or to hold produce, or the like.

I wanted a unique back-splash for this very large, rustic bench, so I've been weighing my options. I found an old galvanized sheet of roof metal discarded out in our field so I brought it home. I think it'll and an interesting I just have to figure out how to cut it!!

So, that's where I'm at. I've learned a lot and had a blast thus far. I can't wait to finish it up so I can use it!!

What projects have you started or longed to start? Share it with us; it's fun to see what others are up to:-)


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Big Summer Project

So, as if I have nothing else to do, I've decided to accept the challenge of making an outdoor potting/washing station for my back patio. I've been wishing I had a place to wash all of my fresh fruits & vegetables so I don't get dirt and gravel in my drain, or track dirt and bugs all over my house, or get potting soil everywhere but my pots. So my solution is a large bench with sink, faucet, shelves, and hangers.

Not wanting to spend a great deal of money on this thing, I hunted for leftover wood, screws, hooks, sink, etc. By the end of day one, my frame & counter are done. Now all I have to do is create a countertop, find a faucet & adapters, finish the shelves, & paint.

I wanted to share this experience because when we put our minds to a task, no matter how hard it may be, we can work through it and make it fit our needs with what we have or can afford. Don't ever sell yourself short; don't tell yourself you can't do something before you try. Do that, and you've already failed! Ask for help, strength, and direction & you'll be amazed what you can do!!

I'll keep you posted in my progress! However, in the mean time, share your projects or things you've accomplished that make you proud!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Today, It Rained Ash...

Today was my one day off this week, so I decided to get some much needed home-time in. As I evaluated my house, yard, and the list of projects I wanted to accomplish this summer - early this morning - I began to be overwhelmed by how much needed to be done. So my game plan was this: I'd spend the first part of my day tending to some much needed, and much dreaed yard chores, and spend the latter part starting a project I've been wanting to do!

So, out I went, with pruners in hand, to edge my lawn. It has become so thick and over grown that the sprinklers are having a hard time coming up each morning and my lawn is spreading very nicely over our sidewalk :); and without an edger, my hands and a knife were the best I could find.

As I cut and pulled grass from my concrete pathways, I began to notice a bunch of ash was falling around me. Not only this, but a bunch of cars were making u-turns in my couldesac and I saw several firetrucks pass. Curious, I looked up. To my very surprise, I saw a huge plume of black smoke billowing into the sky directly behind my house; field burn day. You see, I live next to carrot, alfalfa, dill, and wheat fields, and around this time each year, they burn the fields. I think I've been gone every year when they burn the field directly across the street from me so I've never really taken much notice of a fire that close to my home...until today.

Slightly unnerved, I wandered out onto the main road to make sure everything was under control. I must say, what I saw next was truly amazing.

They were indeed just burning the field but I've never really thought about what that entails. Field burning is a science; it takes knowledge and skill to light fires, when the conditions are perfect, so they will create their own wind vortex and burn themselves out. It is so fascinating to watch the flames burn so quickly, create a wind tunnel going straight up, and put itself out all in a very short period of seemed like within ten minutes the only lingering signs of a fire were the faint smell of smoke and a few ashes scattered across items outside. It was over.

It came quickly, disappeared even quicker still, and the wind came up this afternoon and blew away any remaining nuisances of this yearly tradition.

I have a much greater appreciation for those who are skilled in this art and will be more forgiving of a little more dust this time of year!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Just Another Good Deal!

As I have mentioned before, I LOVE to go 'thrifting' at garage sales, thrift stores, second-hand stores, outlets, and all the like!! I really enjoy going with my mom and sister, but sometimes I am 'forced' (so hard to convince me to go peruse a trift-store or stop by a garage sale ;-) to go alone. The following two items are my newest great deals and obsessions!! I'm so excited to share them!

The first would be this grinder. I was at a local St. Vincent De Paul store and stumbled across this curious apparatus for $.75. I recognized the brand, Kuhn Rikion Switzerland, and thought I would give it a try...after all, it was on the 50% off color tag as well! When I returned home, I washed it up and tried it out. It is the most wonderful grinder I think I have ever had the privilege of using!! It is fairly fine, but is adjustable, and it disperses the spice/salt/what-have-you in a beautifully large radius compared to most grinders on the market! I love it and sooooo worth my thirty-some odd cents! :)
 I also found a pair of shoes I'm really excited about as well. I paid 50 cents for an unused pair of beautiful, brown leather loafers, no signs of ever being worn and fit like a glove. I fell in love with them and figured I'd get my 50 cents worth of use out of them. Since they were so nice, when I returned home, I googled the brand to see if I could find reviews on the brand. As I browsed, I saw how much they usually retailed for...$115!! I couldn't believe it! I had just paid $.50 for a $115 pair of shoes!! I love them, am proud of my find, and can't wait to wear them...all winter!

My usual day of 'thrifting' doesn't always lead to such extreme deals. Sometimes I just save a little or stumble across something I didn't know I needed. ;-) But I never let this fact discourage me from going! I'm a firm believer in reusing what we have and finding good deals! Go out and explore; sometimes you win sometimes you just learn. No matter what, though, it can be a great time!

I hope you can go out and find some deals of your own!! Let us know what you've found...this much excitement needs to be shared!



 (The following is an excerpt from One-Minute Prayers for Women)

Forever Heart

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
~Psalm 33:11~

Lord, I spend most of my time pursuing goals and dreams that are temporal. Maybe that is the hardest part about being human - knowing that the future dreams I have might not come to fruition. There is an expiration date on my life and these dreams.

When I turn to Your plan for eternal life, I face a lasting hope. The purposes of Your heart have accompanied generations before me, and they will carry future generations heavenward. I hold tightly to Your promises and know they will live on when my other dreams have faded. It is a wonderful gift You give me...something to believe in...a dream come true.

How very true this is. It's so easy to create big dreams, build them up, and when they don't come to pass (for whatever reason, those even out of our control), we become disheartened, discouraged, and depressed. I sometimes find myself in a very self-pitying frame of mind...why me? Why can't things go my way just this once?

This verse clarifies it all for me. When our hopes and dreams don't occur in the manner or time frame we have anticipated or hoped for, it only means that that particular dream may need to wait or show itself in a different manner. It doesn't mean we've failed or shouldn't dream. Quite the contrary; dreaming is what makes us who we are - individual children of God.

Pursue your dreams! But just remember, if something doesn't seem to follow your timeline or ideals, doesn't mean it won't happen. Sometimes things happen when we least expect them; sneaking up on us just when we seem to give up. That is what's so wonderful about His's always something to look forward to and to know we will never disappointed in it!

I hope this verse and prayer are as poignant to you as they have been to me. I pray you take something away from it! Share with me, and us, your thoughts! It's so encouraging to hear others' stories too!

Enjoy! :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Harvest Day: The Beginning

Harvest Supper!
I have so much to be thankful this very moment! I know I posted this morning about my very first peony bloom (and, just a little back-ground, peonies are among my favorite flowers; they made up my wedding bouquet and reception table decorations) and all of the beauty my gardens are providing me with. However, it wasn't until I spent a much needed day amidst my vegetables, that I can truly and completely be excited. You see, I think this year is by far, at least thus far, my most productive and rewarding year since I started my little homestead in the high desert! It is truly satisfying!!

Bonny Best
Black Ethiopian
I had the distinct honor of picking both of these beauties this morning. They are, very happily announced, tomatoes I started from seed this last February!

Quick Update...

My garden is flourishing and I've been blessed with not only food, but beauty as well! The bees are constantly abuzz near my lavender, the humming bird couple are beginning to compete for territory rights amidst my flowers, the frogs are gathering near my water gardens, and I even have an enormous spider on my front porch keeping pesky insects at bay! Everything feels so wonderfully alive!

One of my proudest moments however, among my flowers at least, is this: my major bulb 'haul' (all bulb packages were $.50!!!) has provided me with beautiful peonies! I'm so happy; I've never had a peony open and now I finally have a few!

Not only is this exciting for me but I've learned something as doesn't have to always be expensive and perfect to be beautiful. With time and care, beauty is easy to stumble upon!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

They're Finally Here!

My tomatoes are finally here! Tonight, along with my favorite zucchini casserole, I sliced into our first garden tomato: a mortgage lifter heirloom variety.

The beautifully reddish-brown skin of the fruit was met & balanced perfectly by the sweet, tangy, juicy flesh hidden inside! In a word, my taste buds were screaming, 'heavenly'!! It was just that.

On its own, or with mozzarella, basil, homemade French bread, olive oil, & balsamic vinegar, this tomato was pretty much the highlight of our dinner (yes, even though it was national zucchini day, hence the casserole :-).

This is only the beginning...I'm excitedly overwrought at that prospect!

National Zucchini Day

Today is National Zucchini Day! Zucchinis were first brought to the United States by the Italians in the 1920's...I'm so thankful they did, I love zucchini!

Celebrate this day by trying out a zucchini recipe, old or new, and enjoy this beautiful summer vegetable! Then, if you'd like, share it with us!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Seeking Grace

I Work So Hard

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

~Ephesians 2:8-10~

I work so industriously, God. There is sweat on my brow as I survey the fruits of my labor. Signs of my hard work are everywhere. I dedicate the work of my hand to You. And yet, I resist the one thing You call me to do right now - fall to my knees and accept Your grace. Why is that so difficult for me, Lord?

Soften my heart to receive Your saving grace. Eliminate in me the need to earn Your love. You freely give Your grace so I can focus on doing the good works You have prepared for me. Grant me a deeper understanding of Your provision. And receive my humble spirit as I rest in Your mercy.

(Excerpt taken from One-Minute Prayers for Women)

This evening, Cam & I were really struck by this verse. We both try to work hard, and work for what we have and for what we want. However, it is easy to lose sight of WHO is actually providing us with this opportunity. Yes, we work hard in our garden, but without God's saving grace, we would never have the opportunity to have or work in it. We save our money and are frugal so we can afford the things we dream of doing one day, but, again, without God's grace, we wouldn't have the opportunity to work and save, or even dream.

There have been many times when I have wanted recognition and praise for the things we have been able to accomplish. Is that wrong? You can be the judge of that. But I honestly believe that if some amount of recognition comes to us for what we have done, as long as we give credit where credit is due - God and his grace - then we should be both proud and thankful for everything.

Have you experienced times when you feel like you haven't gotten the recognition you deserve or perhaps a moment when you had to just pause to thank God for a certain circumstance, a defining moment? Share with us. We can all benefit!

I hope this encourages you to keep working hard and to never lose sight of HOW we are able to do what we can!


Monday, August 6, 2012

To Round Out the Past Week...

This very busy week was both fun & productive! Here is just a sample of what we've been up to!

 My grape is doing phenomenal this year! So well, in fact, its outgrown the arbor I made last year and is trying to grow into my gate and composter. So this was my solution. I only used scrap wood I found in my garage or in the field beside me to build this little arbor. I think it looks darn cute and will do the job perfectly!

I've fallen in love with concrete art in the garden; urns, pots, birdbaths, you name it & I would gladly put it in my garden (I think ;)! So I decided to try my hand at making a bird-bath type thing. I had an old bag of concrete, large leaves from my garden, and some sand in the field next to us...and I'm pretty proud of how they turned out! (This week, I hope to give you a step-by-step so you can make these beauties yourself!!)

My library/sewing room/guest bedroom is FINALLY completely finished!! I installed the chair rail this past week with some pieces we had leftover from our baseboard project. I think it finished off the room beautifully and adds so much depth!

And last, but certainly not least, I picked my first mess of green beans! Yummy!!

Now that we have entered the month of August, I hope things will slow down a bit and I will have more time to update you on all the going's on around here. There is so much happening all around...I'm excited to be able to enjoy it now!

Let me know how things are in your gardens or with your projects. I love to hear and to try new things out!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Happy Dance

This week has just been one of those weeks for me; I get one thing crossed off my DIY "to-do" list and three more pop up! And we cannot forget about obligations & needs of others...those seem to creep in there a lot! Before I know it, my time is consumed by everyone & everything else. At times it is discouraging.

So I have devised a solution. It's quite simple: you must come up with a 'happy dance'! It need not be perfect, or even good for that matter, you just need to dance. When life creeps in and surrounds you, bust-a-move and get happy. Each struggle is a learning opportunity for us as we travel life's journey so let's make it fun & interesting!

My happy dance constantly changes, never the same thing twice...except for the fact that they aren't that good:-) But that has never stopped me. When I need a quick pick-me-up, I just do a little dance: in my yard, house, store, park, pretty much anywhere! It not only cheers me up but it also puts a smile on the faces of those around you. If nothing else, perhaps your dance will cheer others in their time of need as well!

Try it out! You may enjoy it!

Hopefully I can share about tomatoes tomorrow!