Thursday, July 31, 2008

walkin' this path together

sunday afternoon mark and i walked our woods together. he has been talking to a forestry manager and he wanted to show me some of the things he has been learning about rejuvenating our woods. we will be logging some of the older trees, clearing out some scrub trees, and planting new trees as well. it is so fun to see how excited mark is. all year he has been planning and working at improving our 60 acres. he has planted food plots for wild life, put areas surrounding the woods in a conservation program, and has been busy pulling all the abandoned cars out of the creek! we still have a lot of clean up to do.

as we hiked through the trees, me following his lead, i was so thankful that we are walkin' this path together. we are dreaming of our house on the edge of the woods; of a clean creek winding through our land; of a view of the lake out our window; it was a sweet afternoon...and to think, i might have missed it to sit on the couch with my book...

umm, honey? why are you taking a picture of our feet?

never mind, just stand still a minute, will ya?

everday gift: a walk in the woods

digging for buried treasure...

i dug up some of our potatoes the other day and boy, are they good! i know, i know, they are just potatoes, but it is so satisfying to find them in the dirt. my friend, chris, talked me into planting them this spring and i am so glad she did. i think they will be regulars in our summer garden from now on. i am already plotting and planning to plant a few more varieties next time.

everyday gift: homegrown spuds

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

pink yarrow

my yarrow has become completely unruly out in the garden! it has grown so tall and so full of flowers that it is falling over the little fence that i put up to support it. it is covering up my shasta daisies and other flowers. i decided it was time to cut them back, maybe i will get a second bloom. here is just a portion of the flowers that i cut drying in my dining room.

achillea millefolium rosea

i have read that yarrow actually has potent healing powers and was so named, achillea, because achilles used it to heal many of his wounded warriors after the battle of troy. it is supposed to have the ability to staunch blood flow. interesting. i simply grow it because it is pretty.
everyday gift: bringing the garden indoors

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

balloon flower

i love my balloon flowers! here is a picture of one just before opening, when open they look like pretty little stars dotting the garden.

bird houses

the keeper girls worked on their bird badge a few saturdays ago. out in the barn, mark and C helped them put together wren houses. i must say, those girls were mighty with those hammers! it took quite a bit of muscle and patience to get them nailed together and i was glad to see them persevere. then we learned about the best location to put the houses to attract wrens. if they put them up right away there is still a chance for a nest yet this summer since they commonly will have two broods and will build a new nest each time.

that morning we also learned about hummingbirds and filled a feeder with red sugar water. i was hoping we would see one visit the feeder right away, but they waited until everyone had gone home before showing themselves.

i put out a challenge to them to keep track of all the different birds they see in a week. the one who sees the most will win a prize. i can't wait to hear the results of their week of bird watching!

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young-
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Psalm 84:3
everyday gift: girls determined to pound those nails straight!

Friday, July 25, 2008

save the butterflies!

swallowtail caterpillar on bronze fennel

notice the newly emerged butterfly drying its wings on the lattice in the background


Friday, while weeding the dill from the Shetland Meadow Flower Beds, Stacy Z****, gardener, discovered Swallowtail caterpillars thriving on the plant. After the discovery was made, the Z**** Children requested an injunction which would prohibit the removal of all dill from the garden as a protective measure for the young butterflies. The insect has currently been placed under the Wildlife Protection Act and will remain so throughout the summer, unless further action is taken.

Ms. Z**** is alarmed at the invasive nature of the herb, aptly named dill’weed’, and has appealed the measure which prevents the removal of the plant. When asked about the situation, Ms. Z**** replied, “I’m all for butterflies, you know. I don’t have anything against them, but the weed is taking over my flower beds. I hope a compromise can be reached which will save the butterflies and my garden, too.”

The appeal suggests that the dill be transplanted to the Butterfly Garden Sanctuary, south of the afore mentioned Flower Beds. The sanctuary would be designated as a wildlife preserve, restricting the destruction of insect habitat. A decision is pending research probing the effects of such a move on the development of the caterpillars. Mr. Z****, judge, should reach a decision on the Caterpillar Relocation Act in the next few days.

Donations can be made to

i wrote this tongue-in-cheek article to a friend a few years ago and thought of it this week as i was again weeding dill out of my flower bed and yes, the caterpillars are back, too.

everyday gift: sharing my herbs with caterpillars

Thursday, July 24, 2008

the storm

5:50, monday morning, we awoke to the radio, "dangerous storm moving into the area...possible hail...high winds...take shelter..." by 6:00 we had the kids in the basement, the deck furniture pushed against the house, and all the computers unplugged. that is all we really had time to do before the storm hit. and then the lights went out at 6:10.

a few miles away some friends of ours awoke to this:

it is amazing the impact that those few moments of storm have had on our community: somewhere around 150,000 without power for days, roads blocked by huge trees, businesses closed, so much property damage, so many trees down! later we heard that the highest winds speeds were recorded up to 94 mph at the airport only a few miles from us.

our power was restored at 1:30 this morning, lights all over the house were on and clocks started blinking. the funny thing is, after waiting for days for the lights to come back on, i immediately turned them all off! i spent the day catching up on laundry, cleaning out the refrigerator (oh, how it pained me to dump 2 gallons of milk down the drain) and then grocery shopping to refill it.

even while we were inconvenienced by the power outage, i was very mindful of how fortunate we were to have been keep safe from the storm. and despite it all, i love the sense of community that comes from a shared experience: neighbors sharing a generator. tractors pulling a tree trunk from a widow's driveway. my boys doing a man's work clearing brush and debris from our friends' yard, side by side with their dad, learning what it means to love your neighbor.

everyday gift: shelter in a storm

Sunday, July 20, 2008

coolin' off

B enjoyed a little dip in the pool with a friend the other day. i would have posted a picture of the guys as well, but they were moving a little too fast. plus i had to protect the camera from the WaTeRbAlLoOnS! it was such a nice afternoon. the moms got to visit, the kids had a blast and the fudgsicles were good, even if they do melt too fast!
sweet friends
everyday gift: splashing in the pool on a hot summer day

Saturday, July 19, 2008

ben delatour scout ranch

i have posted all about my week with B while the guys were gone: baking cookies, tea parties, and our trip to the little house in the big woods of wisconsin. now, i am finally getting around to posting the boys' adventure. these are pictures they took and obviously, i wasn't there, so i can not give you much commentary. but i think most of the pictures speak for themselves...they had a fantastic time! (but i am so glad they are home!)
mark with C and S in colorado

the old homestead site

i wonder why they call them the "rocky" mountains?

they t00k an over night trail ride, sleeping in tepees up on the mountain.

saddled up and ready to go

the wrangler who told stories around the campfire was very entertaining, they say!

some of the boys working on merit badge homework

C shooting archery

everyday gift: an adventure in the mountains

Thursday, July 17, 2008

the gate

when you are a mother and you suddenly notice that your children are too quiet and unaccounted for, you must investigate...and hope for the best. yesterday, that is exactly what i found, my kids at their best. now, do not think for a moment that they have shiny halos above their heads! a blog gives the author the luxury of posting only what she wants to expose to the world. and i have used my blog to focus on the many positives things in my life and record the blessings.

yesterday, as a surprise to B, C decided to build a gate for the bunny fence. she had been struggling to get in and out of the fence to feed and water nelly and it also did not latch very securely. he constructed a very sturdy gate which opens and closes with ease. then he helped B move bricks to line the inside of the pen, where nelly seems intent on tunneling to freedom. finally, they mulched the spots where nelly has dug. B was so tickled that she wanted to kiss C. he thought just saying 'thank you' would do!

i am so thankful for moments like these; when a brother spends his summer day working on a project to help his sister; when siblings, who can be experts at annoying each other, work side by side; when family love is expressed in very practical ways. i celebrate these events because it isn't always so peaceful here. in fact, as i type this, i am hearing a disturbance beginning to erupt. oh well, let me look at these pictures again and go remind the kids that they do love each other!

brother helping sister while bunny lounges in the shade

nelly, you are a very spoiled little bunny!
everyday gift: big brothers

easy melba sauce

yet another raspberry installment... i just cannot resist sharing another delicious recipe for my favorite fruit, especially when they are home grown! this sauce was originally created by a famous french chef for an australian opera star, dame nellie melba, hence the name. this version is quite simple.

easy melba sauce

1 cup raspberries
1/4 cup sugar

puree' raspberries in a blender or food processor. press the puree through a strainer with a spatula to remove seeds, put it in a small sauce pan. add the sugar and heat over medium heat stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved. remove from heat and cool. refrigerate. serve over ice cream or pound cake. traditionally it is served over peaches. i drizzled mine over vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

wisconsin, america's dairyland...

i couldn't resist one more picture from our trip to wisconsin!


as i am weeding my flower beds, i hear a faint, miniature helicopter coming i freeze. slowly, moving only my eyes, i look around and observe a hummingbird just inches away from me, moving efficiently from flower to flower collecting nectar. if i am still, he will not mind me watching him. i am mesmerized by the iridescent green and red. i am so amazed as i study the blur that is his wings. God has engineered this tiniest of all birds to do, without effort, feats that man has struggled to accomplish with inventions, contraptions, and clumsy flying machines. in a flash he is gone, zipping off to find more flowers. and i sit in the midst of my garden, amazed once again at God's creation.
everyday gift: hummingbirds

Monday, July 14, 2008

little house wayside

while mark and the boys were away last week at another boy scout camp (more on their adventures later), we decided to take a little road trip, a girls' get-away! we set off for the birth place of laura ingalls wilder and the site of the little house in the big woods. it really brought our reading of the book to life and gave us some special time together.
although the original cabin has not survived, the replica sits on the foundation of the cabin charles ingalls built for his family in the early 1860's. it was charming.
"The 'Little House' books are stories of long ago. the way we live and your schools are much different now; so many changes have made living and learning easier. But the real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong." ~ laura ingalls wilder
B and i at the Little House in the Big Woods

this old carriage stood outside the great river amish inn, where we stayed.

"Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs."

i loved the big stone chimney

B at laura ingalls wilder park

pepin railroad depot museum

everyday gift: living out our history lessons

scenes of pepin, wisconsin

B and i had a lovely time walking through the quaint little town of pepin, wisconsin. it seemed everywhere we looked we saw a picture. i think wading in lake pepin and collecting pebbles and shells was a highlight for B. when we got home we stitched up a little calico pocket to hold her pebbles. they were selling them in the gift shop, but we made our own in about 10 minutes! :o)

trains rumbled through town quite frequently between lake pepin and first street. i loved the potted boats!

a cafe along first street with a view of the lake

the gray building is The Pickle Factory, a fun little restaurant right on the lake.

" But Laura and Mary ran along the lake shore, picking up pretty pebbles that had been rolled back and forth by the waves until they were polished smooth. There were no pebbles like that in the Big Woods."

the shore of lake pepin

secret message in the sand

a calico pocket of lake pepin treasures

"The heavy pebbles tore her pocket right out of her dress. The pocket fell, and the pebbles rolled all over the bottom of the wagon box."

everday gift: having B all to myself on a special trip