Flannel Jammies Farm

...praising God on our 1/5 acre of suburbia

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow!

Scarlett is very perplexed... don't we live at the beach?  What's this stuff?
It is such a rare treat that snow comes like this to our area.  It's been a warm and quiet day inside after Christmas, time to reflect, time to relax, time to prepare my heart for the coming of a new year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given; 
And the government will be upon His shoulder. 
And His name will be called 
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

A Christmas filled with
wonder, peace, and joy
to you and yours
from Flannel Jammies Farm! 
 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Coming out of the dark...

This can be a hard season.   We are surrounded by gleeful (or quite Grinchy) shoppers, jangling carols, and images of perfection from television chefs and decorators and gift consultants.  Our calendars are packed full... I have visions of mine exploding into tiny shreds and falling from the refrigerator door to the kitchen floor.  Work demands increase and frustrate us as the days left to complete tasks decrease.  The memories of Christmases Past can be so painful when there is an empty chair and a stocking that won't be filled.  My own pain is so great this year, missing Daddy more and more as time goes by (not less and less as my well-meaning comforters have told me).

But in the midst of this chaos is The Miracle.  The Lord who came as a babe to save us.  The Lord who lived simply and sinlessly.  The Lord who died willingly.  The Lord who rose and lives to intercede for us.  The Lord who prepares a place for us.

My eyes have fallen from this miracle in recent days.  Today's morning devotion brought the cure for my wallowing ways:

Dear brothers and sisters,
honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work.
They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. 

Show them great respect and wholehearted love
because of their work.
And live peacefully with each other.

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy.
Encourage those who are timid.
Take tender care of those who are weak.
Be patient with everyone.

See that no one pays back evil for evil,
but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

Always be joyful. 
Never stop praying. 
Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. 
Do not scoff at prophecies, 
but test everything that is said.
Hold on to what is good.
Stay away from every kind of evil.
1Thessalonians 5:12-22

During this sometimes difficult season, never stop praying, no matter how long the list.  Always be joyful in His grace; bring the sadness and pain to God for healing.  Show patience and tender mercy to even the Grinchiest Grinch; it may be the only love of Christ they see this day.  Live in peace; take a step away from the chaos for a cup of cocoa with a marshmallow (thank you, my sweet Trista).  Listen for that small, leading voice of the Spirit.  Hold on to what is good.  Seek Him. 

This is my lesson today... I pray for the strength and will to learn it well.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pondering the Path...

Been doin' alot of this lately... pondering the path I'm on. 

Been humbled and challenged and discouraged over the last few weeks.

Been thankful that I feel well enough to do lots of things and go lots of places.

Been wantin' to go on adventures I'd thought were gone forever.

So I'm pondering...


Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Psalm 25:4

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Amazing

A while back, I wrote about healing and refreshment.  That was more than a month ago.  I still feel well.  Really well.  Isn't God amazing?


Here's the thing:  isn't God amazing ALL the time?  Isn't the Lord amazing when it rains for days on end or when I lock my keys in the car or when I'm being rolled into surgery... again?  Isn't God amazing when I hold the hand of my grieving mother or when I make peace with a disagreeing Christian sister or when I say 'yes' to that thankless and difficult job at church?

The day is often long.  The hill most times seems insurmountable.  The illness rocks my very foundation.  The job is not always rewarding.  The call is not always an easy one.

But God is always amazing.  He is perfect and pure and holy.  He is faithful and merciful and in control.  He seeks.  He forgives.  He calls.  He leads.  He equips.  He strengthens.  He comforts.  He provides.  He speaks to me in every situation through the Word.

And I bow in humility and amazement.

The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, 
the extravagant love of God, 
the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, 
be with all of you.
2 Corinthians 13:14 - The Message

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rappahannock Farm Tour

My husband and I had a wonderful early-Autumn adventure last week... we took part in the Rappahannock Farm Tour here in Virginia.  Once a year, several farms, vineyards, schools, and even a distillery open their doors to the public, sharing their knowledge and experience and passion for the land.  There are so many opportunities on the tour; we were blessed by our visits with the kind folks at Mt. Vernon Farm, Waterpenny Farm, a Montessori farm school, Copper Fox Distillery, and the Link Community Center...

First stop:  Mount Vernon Farm!  Totaling 830 acres, Mount Vernon Farm is nestled along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Rappahannock County, and has been farmed by the Miller family since 1827.
The barn at Mt. Vernon Farm was said to be the largest east of the Mississippi when it was built... it is an amazing structure!
Inside the barn loft is cavernous!
Mt. Vernon farm practices management-intensive rotational grazing. This is a complex management skill that ensures top quality health for the land, pastures, and animals by preventing the livestock from overgrazing the grass. This ensures that grazed pastures have enough time to recover before being grazed again. Using this technique allows the livestock to have access to high quality pastures and to fertilize the land. This eliminates the need for dietary supplements and synthetic fertilizers.  Llamas guard the flock of sheep in the photo above.

Next stop:  Waterpenny Farm, a 10-acre vegetable farm in Rappahannock County. Since their first growing season in 2000, they’ve been committed to running the farm in harmony with the environment, using sustainable farming methods, with no chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
What IS a waterpenny?  From the Waterpenny Farm website:
"Waterpennies are beetle larva that can only live in clean water. Their presence in a stream, along with a diversity of other macroinvertebrates, indicates that the water is healthy. Our farm is named for the waterpennies we find in the North Fork of the Thornton River, which borders our farm. We intend to run our farm in a sustainable way that allows the waterpennies, and our local ecosystem, to thrive."
 
On to Mountain Laurel Montessori Farm School for lunch and a tour.
We were served a fresh and delicious lunch by the culinary manager at the school:  a ninth grader!  This intelligent and engaging individual had planned and prepared BBQ from the farm school's pork, farm school egg quiche with spinach and feta, perfectly mashed potatoes, bright and tasty greens, and a sweet local-apple cobbler.  Our tour included the classroom space, the hoop barn and future hoop house (providing fresh food to the area's needy), the vegetable garden, the pond and games green, and chicken, pig, and sheep pens.  History, chemistry, biology, physics, literary and performing arts are all lived out in the landscape.  Truly inspiring!

Ah... the Copper Fox Distillery!
What an interesting place!  Copper Fox is the only distillery in North America to hand malt their own barley, and they use apple and cherry wood smoke to flavor the malted barley.  The entire operation is completed by a handful of dedicated folks, creating Wasmund's Single Malt and Rye Whiskys.

We're home now, continuing to praise God on our 1/5 acre of suburbia...
 
The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others.
Mark 4:14

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Psalm 122:1

the steeple at Providence Presbyterian Church



I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the LORD.”

I love my church.  Today's music was inspirational, today's sermon was right on target, today's fellowship was sweet, and today's prayers were heartfelt conversation with the King.  After the service, everyone gathered for our yearly church picnic.  I truly was glad when it was time to go into the house of the Lord, time to openly and publicly worship God. 

Time has been a wonderful teacher.  Time spent taking notice of God's ways.  Time spent pondering God's miracles.  Time spent absorbing God's truths.  

Time has taught me that the committee meeting will take place, the cookies will appear for fellowship, the lesson presentation will go smoothly... these are not the most important items on the agenda.  Time has taught me that these things are meaningless if my preparation (worship, study, and prayer) is lacking.  Time has taught me that worship in His house must come first, and I am glad.

Were you made glad by something today?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Heritage Day 2010

What a glorious day!  My sweet husband drove me out to the Southampton Agriculture and Forestry Museum's Heritage Village for their annual Heritage Day event.  The weather was perfect, the displays were simple and homey and comforting, and I felt alive with hope and health.  For this, I am so very thankful...

Forestry wagon
Having a chat with the goats
Blacksmithing 
Making soap
Doing laundry
Pumping cold water...
...into the Dairy House to keep milk cold
Canning 
Cottage kitchen
Cottage sewing corner
Washstand 
Doctor's office
General store


Church pews
The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; 
and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, 
while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, 
I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees.
Brother Lawrence

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Healing and Refreshment...

I've been feeling well these last few days.  Really well.  For the first time in a really long time.

Those of you who know even a little of my story know this to be a true blessing.  I am so thankful for it.  I'm almost afraid to tell of this priceless gift lest it evaporate before my eyes.

But right now I feel really well.

Last night I was reading my favorite Bible passage, basking in the comfort of the words, know that my Lord is trustworthy and true:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
   and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
   and He will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6.
For the what felt like the first time ever, I kept reading:

Be not wise in your own eyes;
   fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
   and refreshment to your bones
.
Proverbs 3:7-8

Could this really be the first time I read this passage?  Healing and refreshment.  I kept looking:

...be attentive to my words;
   incline your ear to my sayings.
  Let them not escape from your sight;
   keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
   and healing to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
   for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:20-23

Be humble, fear the Lord, turn from evil, keep my heart... pondering healing and refreshment with these revealed treasures in mind this week...

Be well, dear ones!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wool Share...

Early this year, my daughter and I bought a wool share at a local farm.  This allowed us to visit and feed lambs, share dreams and conversation with the farm owner and her family, and at the end of the season we'd receive beautiful wool from her sheep.  As an added bonus, we were invited to participate in sheep shearing and wool spinning/dyeing at the farm.  (Here's a secret: my daughter is the knitter... I just wanted to visit the farm and play with the animals!)
Today, a lovely day of sunshine and mild temperatures provided by our Creator, we traveled to the farm for dyeing and spinning.  Others with wool shares were already there, others came later, arriving with expectant smiles.  Our farm hostess and her family were dressed in period garments, and had prepared everything for our visit: fresh wool separated into bundles, vinegar baths and dyes for the wool, wood fires outside to keep the dyes cooking, and a wise carding and spinning teacher. 
The wool bundles had to go through a vinegar bath to help the dyes to set, and then a quick rinse in soapy water and then clear water.   Eight of our bundles were natural that we would dye, and our other two were a lovely dark gray/brown.
Into the dye!  We chose to dye 4 of our bundles with coffee, two with turmeric, and two with a bright aqua blue dye.  The turmeric was the favorite of the day, I think, with its rich tone and fast coloring.
Once dyed the wool bundles were transferred to the clothesline to dry.  Small color sample bundles were also there in the sunshine. 
While our treasures were drying outside, we all gathered for a delicious lunch of fresh salad greens dressed with farm-made goat cheese, sunflower seeds, and a balsamic vinaigrette.  Fresh baked bread, some scented with rosemary, was served with butter and farm-canned blackberry jam.  Farm daughters had also prepared fresh lemonade with honey for us.
This day, the culmination of a season of visits on the farm, was a gift.  Our hostess is so generous with her time and her knowledge, giving us a recipe for a healing tea as we said farewell.   She and her family are a fine example of sustainable and joyful living in what can be a crazy and chaotic world, and a true exhibition of hospitality.  Thank you, M, for the season of wool!

She finds wool and flax
      and busily spins it.
She is like a merchant’s ship,
      bringing her food from afar.
She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
      and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
      with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is energetic and strong,
      a hard worker.
She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
      her lamp burns late into the night.
Her hands are busy spinning thread,
      her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor
      and opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household,
      for everyone has warm clothes.
She makes her own bedspreads.
      She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Her husband is well known at the city gates,
      where he sits with the other civic leaders.
She makes belted linen garments
      and sashes to sell to the merchants.
She is clothed with strength and dignity,
      and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
      and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
      and suffers nothing from laziness.
Her children stand and bless her.
      Her husband praises her:
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
      but you surpass them all!”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
      but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
Reward her for all she has done.
      Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
Proverbs 31:13-31

Friday, August 20, 2010

Toxic Childhood

Recently my husband and I viewed "Toxic Childhood" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN.  It got me thinking again about the things we breathe, touch, eat, drink every day in modern America.

One of the segments of "Toxic Childhood" focused on parents whose only child was taken by childhood cancer: Wilms' tumor, or nephroblastoma.  The parents were citing a recent study that may indicate a link between chemical exposure and Wilms' tumor found in children.  My jaw dropped.

I was diagnosed with Wilms' tumor at the age of 4.  My left kidney was removed and I was treated with radiation and chemotherapy.  That is another story for another day...

Since that time, I've had several other surgeries to remove other growths and other organs, both benign and pre-cancerous.  I've undergone genetic testing and counseling, and though there is NO history of my cancers on either side of my family, the determination is that I have a not-yet-identified genetic syndrome.

First let me say that my God is good, my God is able, and my God is a healer.  I have fallen into His strong arms repeatedly, feeling betrayed by this earthly tent.  Each time, I feel His presence and I am strengthened and encouraged for another day.

But let me also say that there are things in this imperfect world that are dangerous.  The Diet Coke that gives my eyelids a lift each morning.  The cleaners I have used on countless military housing units before agreeing to inhabit them.  The remnants of long-past leaks and floods in the carpet and ceiling of all the offices I have worked in.  BE MINDFUL... take time to think about what you expose yourself and your precious wee ones to each day.  Make wise choices about what nourishes you at mealtime.  Choose baking soda and vinegar to add sparkle to your home.  Cigarettes, cigars and pipes destroy lungs; don't smoke.  Step back from the pace and demands of the day, release the stress that knots muscles and strangles tissues, and just BE.

I will climb down from my soapbox now.  *smile*  Weaving a prayer of joy for your journey today.

Prayers written on strips of cloth and woven onto a loom, joining the prayers of other sojourners.
Massanetta Springs, June 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

faith...

through a keyhole, Colonial Williamsburg, 2010

Faith makes us sure of what we hope for 
and gives us proof of what we cannot see.
Hebrews 11:1

Blessings to you and yours this day!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

fairy garden... spruced up!

Once upon a time, there was a large empty urn.  It was big and round and deep, but it was empty.  With great care, I added soil and plants and rocks, a bench and a fountain and a garden fence, stones and little angels to play.  The little garden flourished, but a very hot summer arrived and some of the plants became scorched.  The tiny angels looked so sad in their brown garden.  Husband and I gathered new plants and bright stones and spruced up the little fairy garden.  It now makes me smile to see it outside my french doors...  do you have a bit of fairy land in your care?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Too Blessed to be Stressed...

What a week... and it's only Wednesday!

On Sunday, my mother woke to another morning of shortened breath.  It was bad.  Worse than before.  She was exhausted.  COPD/Emphysema can do that.  Her tears broke my heart.  We piled in the Jeep and took a trip to the local day spa hospital emergency room.  Later that day, Mom was admitted to the hospital.

My son, who'd just been to visit us with his lovely wife, turned around and travelled the 2 hours back to our home to be with his grandmother, to encourage her, as only he (the asthmatic) could.  Before he left to go back to his own home, the brakes on his car failed.  He had no choice: borrow the beloved old Suzuki Samurai for the trip.  It developed an engine knock before he reached his destination.

My daughter is pulled in so many directions: full-time job, full-time boyfriend, part-time counselor for international exchange students, grandmother in the hospital, father trying to hard to help her help me, and (bless her) she tries all the time to nurture me.

My husband tries to survive in a world spinning in an atmosphere of estrogen.  He lives in this house with me, our daughter, my mother, and our sweet furry girl, Scarlett.  He can't win.  Pray for him, will you?

In the midst of all this, I am trying to work.  A new-ish job.  Still unsure, still learning. 

So today:  I wake up, eat, bathe, pray, and I'm at the hospital to visit with Mom before 8:00am.  I'm there for the doctor's visit.  Good news!  Mom can go home today.  Ok, I can work this.  I head off to pick up items for my job, get lost on the way to the office, make a frustrating rescue call to hubby, find my way to work FINALLY.  My volunteer arrives.  She is a lifesaver extended to me in an endless sea, working with patience and kindness and smiles.  Phone rings:  yes, I will be at home to accept delivery of the nebulizer and walker for my mother, what time?, um, how about later?, ok, got it.  Uh-oh, time to leave to pick up Mom at the hospital.  Stop e-mailing, leave the rest of the work for later.  Get in the Jeep.  Hungry, diabetic.  Get some fries (terrible choice!) and hit the road.  Ugh, traffic... stop and go... gotta get into the tunnel and on my way...  HEY, WHY IS MY CAR MOVING FORWARD, STOP, HONK.  I've been rear-ended by someone who was rear-ended.  Pull over, talk to trooper, fill out paperwork.  Call husband so he can pick up Mom... no answer at work or cell phones.  Call Mom at hospital to tell her I've been delayed... busy... busy.... busy... busy.  Finally get Mom, tell her I'll be there soon.  She reminds me that I have to go home first to pick up her portable oxygen tank.  Right.  Finish with trooper and other drivers, get back on the highway.  Get hubby on phone and in frustration tell him that I need him to be accessible in case of emergency.  Get home, change Mom's sheets so she'll have fresh bed to rest in, grab her oxygen tank, grab street clothes just in case she's not keen on the idea of wearing jammies home.  Go to the hospital, get Mom discharged after straightening out prescription mistakes.  Get Mom home and she realizes she's left her hand-crocheted afghan at the hospital. Go back to hospital, get afghan AND cell phone/gum/goodies left in her tray table.  Head off to grocery to get her prescriptions filled.  Drop RXs at pharmacy and start shopping for nutritious options for Mom meals.  Shop, Shop.  Go back to pharmacy 30 minutes later, still not ready, walk away only to be called back over store speaker.  RXs ready, but one must be ordered and one is over-the-counter and available at service desk, pay $215.  OK, check out with groceries, pay $45.  OK, go to service desk for over-the-counter meds, wait 20 minutes behind ladies buying money orders and lottery tickets.  Finally my turn, get meds, pay $12, leave store.  Go home, cook dinner: broiled tilapia, mac and cheese, brussels sprouts, sliced pineapple.  Call insurance company to file accident claim, schedule Jeep repair.  Help Mom get a shower and shampoo and fresh jammies.  Take time to write post and insert links for an update to work blog.  E-mail a couple of friends an update on our situation.  Decide that jammies are a good idea and get my own.  *sigh*

As I sit down, I remember the blessing God sent me in the midst of this chaos:  a sweet man at the pharmacy, a fellow customer.  As we talk and bump into each other shopping later, I learn that he's in his 70's, stroke survivor, still maintaining lawns across our area, and that he's a pastor.  I tell him a tiny bit of my day.  He tells me that he's Too Blessed to be Stressed, and I agree that God is Good All the Time.  He asks me if he can give me a hug, apologizing for the dirt from his day on the lawns of others.  I accept, thankful for this show of love from my Lord. 

God really is so good all the time, reminding us of His love and His abiding presence, even in the midst of the chaos.  I am humbled and grateful. 

Look for the blessings, friends.  Look for the surprising moments that will bring you Light in the darkness.  Look for HIM everywhere.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Walk Humbly

Confession time:  Sometimes I get too big for my own britches, or, er, petticoat.  Sometimes I am loud and arrogant and just plain ridiculous.  Sometimes I embarrass myself.

Today I am thankful that God slows me down and allows me to be humbled... in flubbed speeches, in over-extended calendars, in the little trip that happens when I run too far ahead.  My God wants me to be HIS creation, HIS best, not my best (which is a contradiction in terms!).  He allows me the freedom to learn and grow and reflect as the very best Father would: He allows me my prideful mistakes.  These are hard lessons, indeed.

Today I am thankful for the loving and open arms of my Father as I run back, bruised and humbled.  He opens His Word to me, showing me the right path.  He allows me the grace of a new day to walk humbly with Him.

Today I am thankful to a family member who brought this wonderful verse, one of my favorites, to mind:
 He has shown all you people what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy 
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 
 
Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm, milepost 5.8, Blue Ridge Parkway 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Restful image...

I took this photo a few years ago at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton... a place of history and wonder.

Friday, July 9, 2010

forty-seven


How can it be... I was just a little girl a few days ago, riding in the truck beside my Daddy eating bologna and cheese and crackers, grinning from ear to ear.

How can it be... I was just a young wife and new mother yesterday, watching my Mom cry at the sight of my precious child.

How can it be... I was just holding that handsome, young sailor, home from sea, two little ones wrapped around his legs, only hours ago.

How can it be... that my Lord loves me so unconditionally, so tenderly, so faithfully, that He's allowed me forty-seven years along this journey of living, learning, laughter, and loss... He's allowed me forty-seven years to seek Him and find Him and know Him... He's allowed me to feel His presence close by when the dark days seemed never-ending and when the dawn broke pink and fresh and hopeful.

How can it be... that there are unknown days ahead to deepen my love for my Lord, my family, this life and the one to come.

My bag is packed, I've got my walking shoes on... I'm taking the first step into the next forty-seven years...

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
      for I am trusting you.
   Show me where to walk,
      for I give myself to you.
Psalm 143:8

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Refresh...

It was time for a new look... a new coat of paint, crisp lines, and new art.  Have I mentioned that gray is my very favorite color?

The lovely teacups were shared at the Centennial Tea at Massanetta Springs in June.  Each one was a work of art!  Especially beautiful were the milk glass cup and fluted saucer.  Here on Flannel Jammies Farm, I may tramp through the vegetable garden in bare feet and overalls and I may give my sweet flowers a cool drink in my flannel jammies, but I do enjoy the graciousness of tea.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Independence Day Garland

Long, long ago... in another life... I was the holiday decoration QUEEN!  I loved holidays!  I once asked for (and did not receive) a tall, thin faux evergreen tree to adorn throughout the year with seasonal trinkets.  Well, then the challenges of my own journey got in the way and the decorating slowed to a snail's pace around here.  But NO MORE!
 Pretty Pinwheels on our Porch Posts
I got inspired while savoring each page of the latest Victoria magazine. (Amazing magazine.  Each issue is a vacation in loveliness and bliss.  Subscribe today.)  I'd been wanting to try my hand at making some of the cute garlands I've seen on all the creative girls' blogs, but this one really caught my eye...
 Victoria Magazine, July/August 2010, page 25
The instructions were pretty easy:  start with fabric.  We have lots of outdated fabric sample books obtained for FREE from a local fabric store, so we went through them and pulled out fabrics with reds, blues, creams, whites, tans, and golds...
Cut the fabric into workable pieces and apply fabric stiffener.  The instructions suggest 12"x12", cutting it down to 6"x12" when the stiffener is dry.  My daughter and I decided we'd skip the middle man and cut them to size first, then apply stiffener.  The trick is to have the longer sides of the rectangle at least double the length of the shorter sides.  Since we didn't have fabric stiffener (and we're really inventive girls) we took the half jar of Mod Podge we had on hand and filled it up with water, diluting the glue inside.  We applied the 'stiffener' to the back sides of the fabric rectangles...
Once the fabric rectangles were dry, we folded them accordian-style, as instructed...
Now the instructions are to fan out each side to create a circle, then secure the edges and center with white craft glue, clothespinning in place until dry.  We didn't have nearly enough clothespins to hold the number of pinwheels we wanted to make (and we're really impatient girls), so we used hot glue instead...
Continue making pinwheels, varying the patterns and sizes as desired.  Then punch two small holes in each pinwheel and string onto twine to create a garland.  We had quite a time punching the holes!  We used a 1/8" hole punch so the holes would not be noticeable, but some of our fabrics were thicker and more textured than others.  We muddled through and strung our pinwheels.  As I am NOT tall at all, my dear husband helped me hang and drape the garland on our porch posts this afternoon.  So far, we've had one neighbor come to the door to ask if we'd done it ourselves and how, and one neighbor called to ask if she'd missed a party!!!
 What fun!  We have a few extra pinwheels left... I'm thinking of hanging them in the tree that overhangs our outdoor dining table.  What special touches are you adding to your own 'farm'?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tomato season and a peek at our diet...

It's here... high tomato season!  Juicy, bright yumminess in its own edible packaging.  Created by a loving and nurturing God for our health and delight.  Grown organically in our own backyard.  What could be better?

Tomatoes, like all the other veggies we grow, support our healthy living choices.  We've been on a food journey for some time: learning, discussing, experimenting, and growing more and more varieties in an organic way.  I have found a vegan diet brings my diabetes into control, increases my energy level, clears my skin, and just 'feels right'.  This choice didn't begin as, and still is not, a social or political choice.  It just makes good heath sense for me.  Since my colectomy last year, I have added fresh goat cheese and fresh local eggs back into my diet, but these are not daily occurrences.

So, what do we eat?  LOTS of fresh fruits and vegetables, many from our own garden, grown in raised beds on our 1/5 acre of increasingly urban suburbia.  LOTS of beans and whole grains.  Almond and some soy milk (although I do limit the soy). Some tofu, but only in smoothies, pies, puddings, or other baked goods.  Nuts, nut butters, quinoa.  Again, the occasional egg or some fresh goat cheese.  I will also admit to an addiction to Trader Joe's Meatless Corn Dogs, but don't spread it around.  Every now and then, though, I'll buy my dear husband a lovely piece of grass-fed beef from Polyface Farm, just as a treat for being so sweet and supportive. 

What about those tomatoes?  This year, we planted and are now harvesting cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, Lemon Boy yellows, and heirloom Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, and a German one I can't even pronounce.  We eat them in salad, we eat them sliced with our breakfast/lunch/supper, we eat them in wraps, we eat them in guacamole, we eat them in salsa.  We savor every fresh-from-the-vine-outside-our-backdoor bite, letting the juice run down our chins. 

Grab a tomato, bursting with goodness fresh from the garden, and slice up some healthy joy to slap between your slices of bread!

Cherokee Purple, Lemon Boy, and Brandywine from our garden

"I have provided all kinds of fruit and grain for you to eat. And I have given the green plants as food for everything else that breathes. These will be food for animals, both wild and tame, and for birds."
Genesis 1:29-30 (CEV)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Unexpected Gift

The call came as I was doing my work, making my plans, rushing through my day.  A sweet messenger of grace was calling, a woman I did not know.  She was unable to go to the conference, you see, and she the substitute attendee herself.  There is this paid registration.  Four days of retreat, of study, of fellowship.  The room is ready, the meals are included.  It's in the mountains.  And, she said, it would be so nice if I could go and glean, as I would be supporting others through my work in the days to come.  The conference would begin the next day.

The human girl in me thought of all the reasons (excuses) I should not go: the fatigue, the health issues, the family responsibilities, the travel, the clothes unwashed and unpacked.  So the human girl in me spoke tentatively to the messenger, "Let me call you back in just a few minutes."  As my mind (and stomach) swirled, considering all the logistics and reasons (excuses), a quiet image began to form.  Slowly, building, it became clearer.  God had opened His storehouse and brought out a treasure for me... for ME.  God, who knows me better than anyone else, who knows the endless impossibilities of my life, who knows the secrets of my heart, had offered this gift.  How could I refuse?

This morning, my clothes are washed, my bags are packed, my foodstuffs are prepared, my family is provided for, my Jeep is full of gas, and my heart is overflowing with gratitude.  The journey is before me and I look forward to it with joy!

Friends, keep an open ear to the messengers that come into your life.  Be ready for the open hand of a loving Lord.  Remember to whisper, "yes".

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Blessings, dear ones...

Psalm 146:1-7

Hallelujah!
   Praise the Lord, my soul!
I want to praise the Lord throughout my life.
I want to make music to praise my God as long as I live.

 Do not trust influential people,
   mortals who cannot help you.
    When they breathe their last breath, they return to the ground.
         On that day their plans come to an end.
Blessed are those who receive help from the God of Jacob.
   Their hope rests on the Lord their God,
    who made heaven, earth,
         the sea, and everything in them.
   The Lord remains faithful forever.
 He brings about justice for those who are oppressed.
   He gives food to those who are hungry. 


Seek and find rest, life more abundant, and possibilities untold today...
and every day... 
in the Lord.
Blessings as you begin your week, my friends!

Meditation Garden, Buffalo Springs Herb Farm, in days long ago