Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Garden

I get so excited every morning I look out the back door and see my garden growing.

I think we might actually have a harvest this year. Originally, I had started my seedlings indoors in April. And a day or two after I transplanted them in early June, we got a unexpected hail storm.

This thing took us all by surprise on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It was the loudest storm we'd ever heard! We had to yell to one another to be heard over the noise pounding on the roof. (Which now has to be replaced.)  The balls were one inch in diameter and they demolished my newly planted seedlings. :-(  This is a shot of my son holding one of the hail balls.

My flower pots in the background were covered in "white" when the storm was over and I went and scooped as many out as possible, which must have helped because they survived.

A few days later, I bought some replacement veggie plants from Home Depot and I was delighted to find that they had heirloom plants! I got tomato, basil, rosemary, tobasco pepper, rhubarb, zucchini and yellow squash. This time my husband made some hoops from PVC pipes along the planter box and I bought some painters plastic. That did the trick. Every time it even looks like a storm is coming, we cover them up. They have grown to be nice BIG plants and they are starting to have some fruit on them!

The blue tarp at the top was what we tried using at first, but it was just too cumbersome to work with and it didn't let in any light. But I left it up there because it provided them a nice amount of shade when they were new and delicate. It also holds the hoops together nicely. Not the prettiest sight, but it works. :-)

I learned that plants also like epsom salts. Just a small amount mixed in some water and sprayed on the leaves. They love the magnesium in there I guess. But it made their leaves a deep rich green color. I am going to give them another dousing of that soon because it's been about a month since the last one.

Basil, Rhubarb (and Zuchinni at the far end)

Some tips I learned about growing tomatoes is they LOVE calcium. I ground up some clean, dry eggshells in an old coffee mill till they were a powder and put a handful in the hole and then the tomato plant on top and planted as usual. And plant them DEEP, covering the bottom two or three branches into the soil. Then once they are set, never let their above soil leaves touch the soil. EVER. This is how disease and rot spreads in them.

My zucchini plant is getting huge! I was so happy to see a bee buzzing around this morning pollinating all the flowers. :)

I also sprinkled some crushed eggshells around all the plants to ward off slugs. It's a raised planter (like 3 feet off the ground) so I doubt we'll see any slugs, but I'm ready for them just in case!

I also have some potted lobelia and petunias growing nearby that will draw some bees around so the vegetable flowers will get pollinated.

How about you - are you growing anything this year? Do you have a huge garden, acres of crops or a small planter city garden like me? Do you have any tips for me about growing container vegetables? Leave a comment if you care to share. :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

12 Random Things About Me

  1. I drink coffee but I sometimes think I shouldn't. I worry about the calcium it might be leaching from my bones. But, alas, coffee I love. Black or with cream. Or mocha-fied. Iced or hot. But never with "cream and sugar". Yuck. Who puts sugar in their coffee? To me that is like sugaring your eggs. Just don't do it.
  2. I'm neither a morning nor a night person. My life has no room for such a luxury. I've learned to adapt to late nights here and there and early mornings. But usually, I'm sleeping by 10pm and up 6am. I said up, not awake. There have been mornings I've made my husband scrambled eggs for his breakfast just minutes after rising. I wake up about 20 minutes later. :)
  3. If I could travel in time, I'd live in the 1950s. (And stay there! ha.)
  4. I love crafts. I have tons of craft supplies for beading, scrapbooking, painting, wood crafts, sewing crafts. But I rarely find the time to do any crafts! Thinking about hosting a crafting party soon.
  5. I used to be painfully shy. I decided in my late teens - early twenties to subdue it and be more outgoing.  But I have to "force myself" to engage in conversations with others. Most of the time, I'd rather be a wall flower. 
  6. I dream of living on Vashon island in the Pacific Northwest (described so lovingly and humorously by Betty MacDonald) and running a cute little coffee and sandwich shop with my husband.  I see myself wearing a wide brimmed sun hat and sailing, digging for clams, and putzing around town in the summer with my wonderful husband. And lighting snugly fires and cuddling up for cozy dinners in the winter.  Having family for the holidays and weekends and feeding everybody. 
  7. I love playing Freecell on the computer. Once I discovered I could win every game, it's become my favorite. I play when I need a mental break because I can't think of anything but black on red and ace through king! So it's an instant relaxer for me.
  8. I love to decorate and I decorate other peoples homes in my head. But I feel like the most uncreative person in that arena and so boring. Which is why I'm constantly rearranging things here and there in my own home. I am never fully sure if something looks good or not. I constantly doubt and wonder how anyone ever knows just where to put something in their own house! But still, I love to decorate! :)
  9. I love to laugh and on occasion, if I think of or remember something hilarious, I will laugh out loud. On the flip side, I've been known to cry on the spot if I recall a painful memory for too long. 
  10. The longer I live, the more intensely I dislike being out of the city. My idea of getting away from it all is quiet spot on an ocean beach. Some people are enthralled with the mountains, but I all I can think about when I'm there is where the bears might be hiding and when the next mosquito will strike. I don't mind driving through them, so long as it's not a winding dirt road with no guard rail up a steep one. I guess I haven't much "outdoor" sense. Someone raised on a farm might feel the same in a city environment. I was raised in the suburbs of one of the biggest cities in America and the urban jungle is what I know. And while I understand big cities and feel pretty comfortable in them, I do prefer the suburbs. What can I say? I like sidewalks and trimmed, green lawns. Someone has to do it.
  11. I've never acted in my life, but my husband thinks if I ever did, I'd be a natural. I can see why some actors say they are shy in real life. When you're acting, you can pretend to be people you'd never get to be like in realty. So if the Kendrick brothers ever come knocking, who knows?
  12. I've ridden an elephant. I was about 10 years old so all I remember was it was HIGH up and very wide. Fun experience though!
Chime in. Anything randomly interesting about you?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Extra Time Today

It's going to be a hot day today - mid 90's! - and my husband and sons will be splashing and playing at a humongous water park for some guy time.  Which means that I have the house to myself! :-)

And I have big plans. Last night I printed out a new master grocery list and pantry staples list. I found great free printables at freeprintablegrocerylist.com. They are editable so I was able to remove items I don't buy like diapers, dog food, and add in some items that weren't listed like printer paper and herb capsules. They even alphabetize their lists! Love that!

Next, I made a list of my family's all time favorite dinners and divided them into Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. So I will be using the master meals list along with the master grocery list to plan out some meals and a shopping list.

I think the biggest homemaking hurdle for me is meal planning. Everyone's lives really revolve around food. For the wealthy it's just a matter of dining at a restaurant which they can choose any fancy entree they wish.

But for the rest of us commoners, it's a little different! :) I find it quite challenging to plan, shop and prepare three meals per day 7 days a week. If you take out the healthy part, I guess it's not so hard. But filling the belly is not the only goal. It must be nutritious. And budget friendly! Then on top of all of that, I would like have time for my other responsibilities and hobbies. So less time in the kitchen is tagged on at the end. That is one tall order.  :) I have heard of once a month cooking and it seems great, but a ton of work and the planning part makes my head spin. I've seen the pictures and my kitchen is just not big enough to do all that.

Some bloggers hint at idealism, but in real life, homemaking is not a cake walk. It's hard work! But that isn't to say it's not wonderful work. I wouldn't want any other! But I think my generation is missing out. There was a time when it was common for generations of families to live under one roof.  Like the Waltons - remember that show?  Grandma and Grandpa lived with their son's family and their calming presence was like a sweet balm to the family. They usually had some sage wisdom and a helping hand, too. How wonderful that must be.

I pray that I'll have the opportunity to be around for my grandchildren and maybe when my husband and I are old enough, or God forbid one of us is widowed, we might live with one of our children and be that wise, elderly presence!

Well that was a rabbit trail from my original intent on this post!

Anywho...! :)  I'm off to make my lists and get my shopping done. Hopefully I'll have a little time left over to put my feet up and read a little!

Hope you have a blessed day!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Resist the Devil and He Will Flee

Did you know that Satan is not everywhere? I've been studying my King James Bible about resisting the devil and one thing that is important to note is that neither the devil nor his helpers are omnipresent. Satan is a single, created being with limited abilities and limited power, as are his devils/fallen angels.

Therefore, Satan cannot be in your living room and on the plains of Africa at the same moment.  It's odd that many people speak of him as though he were everywhere, when the truth is that only God is everywhere (omnipresent). He may have his servants all over the place, but they are all only single beings, too.

According to the Bible, an angel is a "messenger".  The Bible indicates that angels are all over and they are watching us, both the good ones and bad ones. And while the devil and his angels cannot read your mind, they CAN hear what you say and see what you do.

They can hear you pray out loud in faith and praise to God, as well as hear you yell at your children or rebel toward your husband.  They see what we do when we are alone. They see what we do on the internet, what books we read, what habits we have and what entertains us.

God tells us to resist the devil. Not to fight, but resist.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
How Can We Resist the Devil? 

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:9-11
For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you whether ye be obedient in all things. 
To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
These verses seem to indicate that Satan and his crew use unforgiveness to their advantage. Unforgiveness is where the root of bitterness starts. And Satan can, will and does help to destroy people who are bitter.  No wonder there are so many verses saying to put off ALL bitterness, envying, strife, etc.  It's for our own good!

The fact is we have an ememy and he and his army are out to get you and me. He wants our marriages, our children, our health, our witness and ultimately our souls. And he is targeting our homes.  We must not be ignorant of his devices.

Behavior in every day life is more important than many people realize. If our actions speak of who we are to the people around us, how much more to the DEVILS around us who sees what we do 24/7?  
It's really important that we abide in Jesus. He will fill our tanks when we are low. It's not up to our husbands to be our "everything".  When we love, it must be with expecting nothing in return.  

Walking in holiness, forgiveness, charity and faith is resisting the devil in action.
Genesis 30:33... Jacob said..."My righteousness shall answer for me".
Job 29:14... Job said..."I put on righteousness and it clothed me." Righteousness actually clothed Job like a robe.
Hebrews 1:9....speaking of Jesus..."Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore (because of this) God, even thy God, hath annointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."  Righteousness and God's anointing are connected! (italics mine)

We can avoid the appearance and not allow ourselves to get into any unseemly circumstances. For example, someone who's been born again, but who used to get drunk, should not hang out at a bar. This would be resisting the devil in action.

A man who formerly molested children should never, EVER be alone with a child. He should never seek to hold a child or expect to be trusted with a child - for the rest of his life.  This would be  resisting the devil in action.

There are many "christians" preaching that sinning is normal and can't really be helped. But the reason people subscribe to this belief is because it serves to relieve personal blame (and the resulting guilt) by saying that God pre-ordains everyone's action good or bad.  The truth is that the only thing in the Universe (that we know of) that God doesn't control is man's will.

Sin originates with lust.  We think of lust as a bad thing, but actually the way the Bible uses the word, lust is just another word for desire. If the desire is unholy, it's a sinful lust. But just the act of lust or desire is not inherently evil.  Look what God said to the Hebrews,
Deuteronomy 12:15 Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.

Here, God uses the word lust to refer to eating. He said the people could eat whatever their soul lusted for - steaks, lamb chops, fish, roast chicken, etc.

So lust means desire and represents our God-given drives. The bible calls them the "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life".

Jesus Christ had the same God-given drives that we all do, including hunger. The difference was that he didn't give in to any sinful lust.  His human drives were apparent in the mountain when the devil came and tempted him with three things he desired.

1. The Lust of the Flesh: Jesus' first temptation was to eat.  He'd just completed a 40 day fast and naturally, he was hungry. There's nothing wrong with eating.  Perhaps the evil lay in meeting such a need at the prompting of the devil, when doing so would mean miraculously feeding himself. Turning a stone into bread would be such a miracle. He was completely capable of doing that, but it might have meant doing it without authorization by God the Father, and before the appointed time.
John 5:19  ...the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

2. The Pride of Life: the second temptation of the devil was for Jesus to show his absolute, omniscient power before the appointed time

3. The Lust of the Eyes: the third and final temptation was seizing the kingdoms of the world. Jesus wanted them very badly and knew he was prophesied to have them. But this, too, was before the appointed time.

We can only be tempted by something which we have a natural desire or lust for. (I speak of only natural desires, not evil ones.)

When a believer is faced with any temptation, he is not helpless - God has told us to put on the armor that we need to overcome any and all temptations.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Ephesians 4:27 Neither give place to the devil.
Hebrews 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Clearly, God requires us to resist the devil and has provided the way for our victory.  But we're still accountable for our own actions and we must exercise our faith. The reason I believe this is because the Bible teaches it. And the Bible contains the perfect, pure and holy words of God that have been given to us to learn by and live by.

God has directed us to resist and stand. And He will do our fighting. 

We pray, he fights. 

We petition, he answers yes, no or wait. And then gives us peace that passes understanding. 

We draw near to him, he draws near to us.

We put on the armour of God. He defends us. 

We have faith unwavering till the end. He saves us.

We need to be reading the Bible more than devotionals, self-helps, and other Christian books. Nothing will produce better fruit, stronger faith or greater works than the Word of God. 

Even if it's just a few scriptures here and there to meditate on throughout the day. And if you aren't reading a King James Bible, I encourage you to have one open along side whatever Bible you read and take note of the differences. This can even be done online as many Bible websites feature parallel Bible versions. 

If you compare Bibles, notice which one exalts the name of Jesus and which one points to his shed blood.  It's important to compare everything we hear from men (pastors, preachers, teachers) with the Word of God.  We must get to know what God says better than anything man says. His Words are holy and pure and true and will help us grow and mature.

We have been given Scripture, the living, breathing words of God and we can speak his Words in faith and know that our enemy MUST flee.

Because the bible says so.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Five Steps to a Pantry Overhaul

I've been pretty tired of guessing what all I had in my pantry, so I decided it was time to give it an overhaul.

The pantry closet in my kitchen is very narrow and shallow. But, challenging as it is, I'm still grateful for my kitchen. I'm also grateful that we don't own this house!

I've organized my pantry a few times but it never occurred to me to use containers to aid me in the organization process. And now that it's done, I keep wondering what took me so long! ha.

Here is what I did that took me from terrible to terrific.

Step One:
Measure the shelf depth, height and width. Buy containers. (I found just what I was looking for at Target)

Step Two:
Completely empty out pantry. Leave nothing in there! Vacuum out all the dust and crumbs and wipe down with diluted white vinegar.

Step Three:
Organize food stuffs into containers.

Step Four: 
Place the containers on the pantry shelves according to most used to least.

Step Five:
Make labels for each container.

So here is how my pantry looked before:

And here is how it looks now:

The labels were made from cutting strips of scrapbook paper and sticking on a label from my label maker. Easy peasy!

What I learned:

1. I actually have a little less room in my pantry now. But that's ok because now it is possible for me to find exactly what I'm looking for and know what I have in there at a glance. This will prevent over-buying at the grocery store.

2. I have to stop buying in bulk so much. There are only 4 people in our home. Why am I buying 2-packs of jumbo ketchup and mustard? And boxes of canned goods that will take me months to use?  I need to start thinking smaller and buy just what we need because I don't have the space to stockpile like I used to.

3. My menu planning will go SO much more smoothly now that I can actually SEE and access all of my pantry staples.

4. Once my surplus dwindles to a manageable amount, I might actually have room in there to store the things I had to move to another location.

The plastic bins I bought at Target came with colored snap on "tags" for labeling with a white erase marker. At first I put them in with that side facing out. But then I realized the writing would always be getting smudged whenever a bin was pulled out.  So I decided to make my own labels.

Here is how it looked before I turned them around and made my own labels. 

Which one do you think looks best?

I'm off to prepare some food for the Independence Day potluck we are going to tomorrow and I'm glad my kitchen is now up for the task!