Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Blessed Easter

Today is Easter.  It is a day to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus, and all of the gifts He has given us!

Cam and I have an Easter tradition...we like to go to sunrise service. We both find so much beauty in the early morning; it's quiet, calm and peaceful, life is beginning to wake up as the sun makes its first appearance, and bad just seems to disappear. So getting up early one morning to celebrate this life, peace, and God's truth seems like the least we can do! We love it!

I will admit though, this morning was a bit of a struggle. Last night we decided to watch a movie and stay up late chatting, think 1 a.m. late! So when the alarm went off at 5 a.m. it was extremely tempting to turn it off and go back to sleep. But that's not what today was about. No, it was about celebrating something so much greater and fulfilling than ourselves! So in good spirits we both rolled out of bed, grabbed some hot coffee and warm coats, and hit the road!

It was a cold 35 degrees on top of the butte where services were held. The breeze also decided to join us making it a pretty chilly morning. But the service, worship, and sunrise were beyond words!

Having begun the day with so much wonder and beauty, the remainder of our day was filled with much of the same! It was peaceful and perfect. With that in mind, I wanted to share our devotionals for today. They represent how we felt and what today was truly about! Here they are:
My morning devotional:
Keep Talking
(Excerpt taken from One-Minute Prayers for Women)
The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that your are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
~Matthew 28:5-7~
You give me a wonderful message to share, Lord. You entrust me with a mighty word to speak to other people. My personal testimony is not elaborate, but it contains the miracle of spiritual rebirth.
You revealed Your resurrection to women, and Your angel directed them to share the news. I believe You continue to use women in this way; Your goodness is for every one of Your children. May I follow in the footsteps of those who loved You when You walked the earth. And my I continue to believe the wonder I have been shown: Your love.
Cam's morning devotional:
Lord, I believe!
(Excerpt taken from One-Minute Prayers for Men)
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.
~John 3:36~
Lord, I believe! I believe in You and I believe in Your Son. And for such a simple faith, You have given me eternal life. That eternal life is not something I will someday inherit, it's mine right now and I rejoice in it. I also have eternal fellowship with You...even now, Lord. I am a blessed man, no matter what my day holds.
Thank You for the gift of eternal life. Thank You for Your Son. You are worthy of praise!
These verses and prayers surmised our feelings and hopes for the day impeccably! We couldn't have asked for a more wonderful way to celebrate our Lord!
I pray that you and your family had a blessed and most wonderful Easter, filled with hope, love, and blessings!


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Something New

One of the goals I have for my garden each year is to try something new...a unique and distinct plant, fruit and/or vegetable.
The first year we were in our new house we tried growing the ground cherry. Cam remembered them being simply delicious, so, having never tired them for myself and trusting Cam implicitly on this one, we bought two different types of ground cherry seed. We diligently cared for them throughout the summer and harvested them just as fall set in. They were different than I was expecting and different from what Cam remembered; they were extremely sweet...almost too sweet. I had a hard time eating them they were so sweet. They, however, grew quite well, and when ripe, the husked fruit fell from the plant which made harvest easy. Unable to think of a creative way to use them, I decided to make a simple jam. I cooked the berries down until thick and canned them - no sugar required!
The second year in my garden I decided to try something that interested me. On a whim, I bought kohlrabi seeds and gave them a shot. This test run was much more rewarding. Kohlrabi are delicious! We picked them to simply grate onto our salads, we ate them raw as a snack, and I even discovered a kohlrabi slaw recipe we fell in love with! I made this slaw countless times last summer!! Needless to say, I will be growing this again!
This year, being the third year for my small homestead garden, I want to continue in my quest to learn new and healthy fruitage to grow for my family.
I've flipped through my garden seed catalogs, looked at the seed varieties at every store which sells them, and searched my supermarkets and farmers markets for interesting and new plant and/or produce varieties that I might be able to grow myself. At long last, after reading about it in a Better Homes & Gardens Magazine two years ago and finally being able to sample this produce for myself, I found the Sunchoke  or Jerusalem Artichoke.

This 'artichoke' is a tuber and is knobby just like ginger. In fact, I think they look a lot alike! But the flavor and nutritional composition is unlike that of most tubers. It's unique. It is high in protein and fiber, but low in oils. When cooked, it is a perfect replacement for potatoes for diabetics. It's low starch content and high inulin levels make it much more readily digestible for those with blood-sugar problems. When raw, it is crunchy and ever-so-slightly sweet (it reminds me of a jicama), making it a great snack stick, dipper, salad addition, or roasting candidate.
We were fortunate enough to find a bag of these precious tubers at our local grocery store and purchased them...without hesitation! We have been enjoying them every night since we bought them, they are that delicious!
So I guess you could say "I'm hooked!" So much in fact, that I searched out where I could buy these plants to make this my new gardening venture. I finally found them available through Gurney's Seed & Nursery, co., so I ordered some for this years garden! If I am successful in cultivating this delightful tuber, it may become a staple in my garden...and my kitchen!
I am so excited to grow this for my family this year and discover new and delicious ways to prepare it! I'm sure you will be seeing any delicious recipes I stumble upon or come up with to highlight this root!
Have you given Sunchokes a try? What did you think? Were there any recipes you've made that really make this tuber stand out? If not Sunchokes, is there anything you are trying new this year? Please share if you feel inclined to...I love to hear all about the new discoveries or experiments in homesteads everywhere!

Friday, March 29, 2013

{this moment}

Today, I'm joining Amanda (soulemama) and Olive & Owl (a link to her site) with {this moment}.

A simple picture from the week. No words, no explanation, just a simple moment of time captured and shared.


Please feel free to share your moments as well! It's so fun to see what other beauty is captured in a weeks time!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fare for One

 It's not real often when I find myself alone for any length of time, but Cam had to leave on a business trip and alone is exactly where I am.

I don't usually enjoy too much solo time. I'm a social person who enjoys human and social interaction everyday. But lately I have come to appreciate the small moments I find where I'm by myself (trust me, I'm not taking them for granted because I know that when we have children, these moments will be much farther and fewer between :-). I saw this as a time to really do anything I wanted; watch a movie, read a book all day, watch my favorite British comedies, start a new project...some good quality me time! And that's exactly what I did! But at the end of the day, when my growling tummy was directing my actions, I had to figure out what to make to silence the protests of my belly.

Sometimes cooking for one can be more of a chore than an exciting culinary journey. I, however, was not going to accept that. I wanted to make something unique and delicious, even if it was going to be on a smaller scale. As I searched through my recipes, I stumbled across one that sounded delicious, was new, and could be easily adapted for one serving. This is what I came up dinner for one!

Awesome Sweet Asian Chicken Stir-Fry
 ~Adapted from Hungry Girl's Awesome Eggplant Stir-Fry~
 1 tsp. cornstarch
1Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. sweet Asian chili sauce
1 scant tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp. minced garlic
cooked pasta, any type will do
chopped green onion
In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1/4 c. cold water and stir to dissolve. Add soy sauce, chili sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Mix well.
Heat a small skillet, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces to skillet. Cook until browned on one side, flip and brown the other.
Add garlic to skillet and heat, about two minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir sauce mixture and add it to the skillet making sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the pasta to skillet. Toss to coat and heat through. Continue to cook until sauce has thickened.
Place into serving bowl and garnish with green onion!
Serves 1.
This was such a delightful dinner. I paired it with a small salad and enjoyed every bite of it! I hope, if it sounds intriguing to you, you enjoy it every bit as much as I did!
Eat well and Enjoy!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Trust and Remberance

Life is always full of unexpected moments; some good and others very humbling and full of grieving.
Tonight, my family finds itself here; trying to wrap our  heads around a very new reality. It's not easy, God never said it would be, but we must trust in the Lord to help us through.

As we sit here in reflection tonight, a simple prayer and verse provides the comfort we seek. Here it is:
(The following is an excerpt from One-Minute Prayers for favorite devotional!)
A Song to Sing
I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.
~Psalm 13:5-6~
God, You have been so good to me. I trust You and what You are doing in my life. Some days I clearly see Your love for me. I received a kind word at a time of sorrow. I was offered help when I was afraid to ask. And just when I thought I could not continue, I had a vision of what Your hand was doing in that very circumstance.
I could not navigate my days without trusting Your love and intent for good. I pray that my actions translate into lyrics for the world to hear. I want everyone to know the song of Your love and mercy. I lift up my voice to proclaim Your goodness. "I know a love that never fail me!" I cry out into a world of people who know only of broken love and misplaced trust. Thank You, Lord, for giving me a song to sing.

No matter what God places in our path, we must remember that all things work for His good. It's not usually easy, but remembering God's promises and of His unfailing love, I know that this time will last for a moment and will work magnificently into His plans!

Does this verse evoke something within you? Please share, it's wonderful to hear how Christ works through us all!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Aloha I

 Its been a week since I returned home from my week-long visit to Hawaii. I can hardly believe it. So I feel like it's time to share some highlights of my most glorious visit!

But as I sit here tonight, preparing to write about every detail of what I experienced, and as I looked back at my pictures, I realized that in order for me to do this visit justice (and to retain your attention without boring you:-) I must break it up into several parts. So consider this Part 1 of my Hawaiian experience!

Our first day on the Big Island was basically the end of a long travel day. We boarded the plane Sunday morning (after being victim to day-light-savings-time...having an hour stolen from our day ;-)and landed in Hawaii only a few hours later, only due to the fact that we were now three hours behind our body-clocks. The sun was brilliantly shining, the warm wind embraced us as we deplaned and set out to find our hotel. I was severely over dressed, ha!

We stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, about 20 minutes from the Kona airport and about 30 minutes from downtown Kona. It was a gorgeous drive through lava fields to reach our destination.

 (Pictured above from left to right: the back of the main lobby, the fountain in the courtyard of our tower, and the view from the lanai of our room!)

When we walked into the lobby of the hotel, I stood in awe! It was massive; with marble pillars, tile floors, immaculate statues of bronze, and a tram that carried guests throughout the massive resort. It literally felt like a more tropical, and somewhat more sophisticated, Disneyland! I couldn't believe it!!
(The above pictures were just a few pictures we took with some of the many statues that graced the entire resort!)
When we awoke early the next morning, we wanted to spend the first half of the day exploring the gounds in which we were calling home base for the week. We set out, walking along the pathways through the many gardens, ending up on a path along the lava ridden coast. 

 We took our time to meander down the path, making sure to take-in all we were experiencing! The ocean was such a deep and vibrant blue. All I could bring myself to do was stare at its beauty! We found a section of the beach where a rustic swing was built and hung in a very weathered old tree. We stopped there to just sit and gaze on the beauty we found ourselves surrounded by!
After a short break, we headed back to the "Lagoon" - a small bay that was fed by the ocean but inland enough to protect it from the crashing waves and current, but with still home to many sea creatures -  to try to find a place to snorkel!
When we arrived at the beach of the lagoon, we snagged two chairs right along the water. Cam brought his snorkel gear from home so all we had to do was jump in, literally!
This was my first experience snorkeling and I was slightly nervous. But after a few brief instructions, I realized my hesitations were unwarranted! I had so much fun being able to float along the surface of the warm ocean water and gaze down on numerous sea creatures; countless fish, eels, and even a sea turtle! It was so much fun!! Definitely something I would love to be able to experience again!
Our first few days were so full of exploration! We were able to get a feel for where we were at and how to get around, and had an opportunity to dip our toes into the pool of wonder we were about to be able to enjoy!
Over the next few days, we went on several more excursions, and were able to learn so much about the history of the Hawaiian islands and the beauty of God's hand! 
 Stay tuned for Part II of my Hawaiian adventure!



Friday, March 22, 2013

{This Moment}

Today, I'm joining Amanda (soulemama) and Olive & Owl (a link to her site) with {this moment}.

A simple picture from the week. No words, no explanation, just a simple moment of time captured and shared.

Please feel free to share your moments as well! It's so fun to see what other beauty is captured in a weeks time!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Refrigerator Magic

 We've all had those nights when making dinner just sounds like a chore; take-out, going-out, or frozen meals seem all too appealing, almost as if they were calling our names.

For me, this has been the case since we returned home last Sunday night. We have been eating good homemade meals, but they have been easy and nothing new. Tonight I wanted to change that.

As I gazed into my fridge, I spotted several things that needed to be used (they were nearing the edge of no return, ha!). I had just about a quarter of a head of red cabbage, some cauliflower, organic roasted coconut we received from a friend in Hawaii, and a few shrimp in the freezer that needed to be eaten. With these ingredients in mind, I began flipping through my arsenal of recipes.

After searching through recipes for 15 minutes, I stumbled across the perfect week-night meal. I adapted it slightly to fit what I had, but this was going to be the recipe to break me out of my cooking frump! Spicy Cabbage, Cauliflower, and Shrimp Stir-Fry with Coconut, served with brown rice and a side salad.

This dinner did not disappoint! The flavors were extraordinary; the sweet spicy sauce combined with the earthy caramel flavor of the vegetables and the richness of the shrimp, topped off with the sweet nutty crunchy coconut...we couldn't have asked for a better supper!

So here it is:

Spicy Cabbage, Cauliflower, and Shrimp Stir-Fry with Coconut
Adapted from a recipe in Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Serves 2

1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 head of cauliflower, approximately, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 head of red cabbage, sliced into 1 inch wedges
1/2 pound medium-large shrimp, deveined and peeled
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. sambal oelek
1 Tbs. agave syrup
2 tsp. fish sauce
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
roasted coconut for garnish

  1. Heat 1 1/2 tsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and cabbage to the hot pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes, and flip to brown the other side. When the veggies are brown and tender, transfer them to a plate and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until they begin to turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Flip shrimp and add garlic. Cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Stir in sambal oelek, agave, and fish sauce (and a little water if it appears too dry, making sure to scrape up all of the browned bits off the bottom). Add the veggies back to the skillet, stir to cover with sauce and heat through. Add basil and place in serving dishes. Top with coconut flakes and a bit more basil.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
I hope you enjoy this as much as we did! It's a perfect way to liven up any dreary day!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring is Around the Corner...Somewhere!

 As we are entering the very beginning of spring, I can hardly stand my excitement and anticipation! Yesterday, I picked the very last of my leeks (they wintered over nicely!) and transplanted a few of my hardened Brussels sprouts that were already growing in my garden. I then was able to plant my peas just as the cold winds began to pick up. After I had three rows of peas safely nestled into the soil, I had to call it a day.

Indoors, I had - and still have - a bit of work on my hands! Tonight was spent repotting all of my tomatoes. They are all several inches tall and in desperate need of support. My solution was - and is - to repot them and burry them deep! Roots form on tomato stems anywhere they touch the soil. So by transplanting them deep, I am ensuring a good root system and a sturdy little plant!

After all were safely in their new pots, I gently watered them with a dilute solution of worm fertilizer (fish would work well too, but it smells...and my seedlings are inside :-) and water, and placed them back into a westward facing window.

As the weather, and soil, begins to warm up in the next several days/weeks, I hope to get out and plant my beets, radishes, lettuces, carrots, and move my cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage...) from their sheltered indoor home into their permanent home outside. I can't wait to see what happens next! I'm thrilled with just the thought of it!!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Table of Many Uses

I really wanted to share some of my experiences from last week with you tonight. But I feel like I have been rushing around ever since I stepped through my front door, that I haven't had enough time to dedicate to that story, at least to give it the justice it deserves :-).

So instead, I must share my newest project: a lettuce table! When I first saw the idea on the agricultural website for the University of Maryland, I couldn't wait to build one of my own. The idea and plans are simple; a table with a meshed bottom, filled with potting soil and salad seed, sitting just outside your back door at waist height. What could be better than fresh home-grown salads just outside your door with no back bending required?! Needless to say, this was an idea I wanted to try out for myself!

The official plans can be found in the original article but I decided to take the general idea and adapt it to my needs and what supplies I had available. This is what I came up with:
A rectangular bed (40" x 30" x 6" (LxWxD)) sitting atop four legs about 2 3/4' off the ground...making it approximately waist height for me.  
Here's what I did:
I used some old pine wood we had in the burn pile. It was from old pallets and still had the bark on the outside. I decided I wanted a table with a rustic look, so this wood was perfect! I cut each board to length before I started.
 After making all of the necessary cuts, I began to assemble the box. I first laid it out on the floor to get the boards just the way I wanted them. Then I began to attach them. I used square head wood screws (I find the square and star head screws are less likely to strip when you screw them into wood...and most other mediums as well) and attached the four sides and the middle support.

 After the box was completed, I attached the four legs. One in each corner, and to provide additional support, I placed cross beams between the side and hind legs.

  Now that I had the basic table, I needed to create a bottom - something to actually hold my soil yet provide adequate drainage for my delicate plants.

 Chicken wire or basic wire mesh is perfect for this. I purchased a roll of it at my local hardware store for around $10 (it was enough for this project with a little left-over for another use). I stapled it to the base of the frame (making sure to cut out room for each of the leg posts) and made sure it was secure and strong. After that, a layer of gardening fabric or weed-barrier fabric will be placed on top. This will allow the soil to drain without falling through.

Weather permitting, in the next few weeks I will fill this box with general potting soil combined with a bit of my nutritious garden soil and begin planting my salad garden!

One of the beautiful things about this table is the fact that you can move it as the seasons change. Lettuces like shade. So in the spring, I will place it just out my back door where it will get the perfect sun/shade ratio. But as summer approaches, I will move it to the front porch were it will receive the morning light but be protected from the intense afternoon sun.

I'm excited to use this new table! I think it will be a lot of fun and will hopefully prove to be quite useful. Most of all though, I'm just excited to get out into my garden again!

What things have you been doing in your garden so far? What do you think of this idea? Have you tried it for yourself already? Please share any thoughts...learning and experimenting is half the fun!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Love and Marriage

It is amazing how time flies. I know that statement is such a cliché, but it is all too true. Just a week ago I sat on my lani in my Hawaiian hotel room thinking: "I've got another 5 days to soak this up!" But before I knew it, I was boarding the plane heading back home to normal life.

Returning home wasn't so bad for me because I knew that we would be returning the day before my parents' 35th wedding anniversary! My sisters and I had been planning a get-together to celebrate with them since we would all be together. So we did exactly that! We visited, barbequed steaks, prepared a wonderful lunch, did a little thrift storing, and even reenacted one of our many family car rides for my parents (my dad and mom were, of course, in the front, and us three girls squeezed into the backseat, just as we used to, and proceeded to 'pester' one-another for old-times sake. We all got a huge kick out of it!).

But what really made me pause in all of this was just how quickly time goes by. I've been married nearly five years parents, 35, and my grandparents nearly 60! These numbers amaze me!

What is most important about all of this is how each of these years were spent; so of course, that got me to thinking and praying. I came across this verse and prayer that explains that how beautifully.

Serving One Another
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
~Ephesians 5:33~
Marriage is a precious gift. God, please watch over my marriage relationship. Help me respect the dreams and choices of my husband. Guide him to love and cherish me as we work together toward our future. I pray that we will always rely on You for guidance and direction.
Let us follow Your example of unconditional love as we care for one another. God, reveal to us the ways we can serve one another as we also serve You.
(The above is an excerpt taken from One-Minute Prayers for Women)
How beautiful is that? So simple, yet it encompasses every important aspect of marriage: love, respect, commitment, and Christ. With these at the forefront, a strong and magnificent marriage will emerge!
I've had good role-models. Nothing was ever perfect or easy for my family, but we always had enough; we always had each other which was the most wonderful blessing of all!
Now, as I look ahead, I pray my marriage will be as strong as that of my parents and grandparents. I will keep this prayer constantly close to my heart!
I hope you enjoy!
Happy 35th Anniversary
Mom & Dad!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

{This Moment}

Today, I'm joining Amanda (soulemama) and Olive & Owl (a link to her site) with {this moment}.

A simple picture from the week. No words, no explanation, just a simple moment of time captured and shared.

 (I know I bent the rules slightly...but I couldn't choose just one;-)
Please feel free to share your moments as well! It's so fun to see what other beauty is captured in a weeks matter what it is!

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Bit of Relaxation

I just wanted to take a moment for a quick little update as to why I haven't been writing much as of late. I have been given the opportunity to visit Waikoloa, Hawaii...needless to say I've been trying desperately to take it all in!

I've had so much fun so far! Hiking, snorkeling, canoeing in an outrigger, visiting friends, learning and seeing history...I'm completely, and quite happily, overwhelmed!

One of the best mornings I had was one in which I took off on a 'walkabout'. This term is an aboriginal word for a trip adolescent men would take to discover manhood. Now, I know what you are thinking: how does that exactly pertain to you...a woman?

For me, I visualize a 'walkabout' more as a period of reflection and self-discovery. And it is these two aspects that I feel like I've gained this week! It has been amazing!

I will divulge more upon my return home, but that is what has preoccupied me lately:-). But as all good things go, I must return home to my 'normal' life and soldier on (this is when I will have more time to delve into the stories if my trip!), and try so very hard to continue with this relaxed motivation I am overwhelmed by here! I love it!

I must say that while I've been here, I'm constantly thinking about the pea planting that awaits my return...and part of me (the gardener!) can't wait to get into my garden!


Friday, March 8, 2013

{This Moment}

Today, I'm joining Amanda (soulemama) and Olive & Owl (a link to her site) with {this moment}.

A simple picture from the week. No words, no explanation, just a simple moment of time captured and shared.

 (I know I bent the rules slightly...but I couldn't choose just one;-)
Please feel free to share your moments as well! It's so fun to see what other beauty is captured in a weeks time!