Every time you feel in God's creatures something pleasing and attractive, do not let your attention be arrested by them alone, but, passing them by, transfer your thought to God and say: "O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy art Thou Thyself, Creator of all!
- Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

You can’t get to joy by making everything perfect. You can only get there by seeing in every imperfection all that’s joy.
-Ann Voscamp

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy 2011 To All!

Especially for Erin, here's our Christmas tree. :) We always try to get a tree from an area where it's going to cause a problem later, so they're not always the loveliest trees. This one is a balsam fir. The kids helped Dan find it on our property in an area that would need clearing in the future. Many of the ornaments that go on the tree were made by Dan's grandmother. She made one each year for all of her grandchildren.

These are some of my favorite ornaments because all three together remind me of one of my favorite Bible verses. "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

In other "homestead" type news, I've been hanging laundry outside! It's been a lot of fun, really. I've missed being outdoors since there's no garden to work in and my goats are STILL not here. (They've been hard to breed this fall, so I don't know when I'll be getting them.) I don't make a point of going out as much as I did before we started school this fall. Now when it's near 20 degrees or warmer, I hang the laundry outside. It is amazing to me that it really does get dry, even if it's frozen when I take it down.

This is how I make it work:
First of all, I read that if you soak the clothes pins in salt water before using them in the winter, they last longer and don't freeze to the clothes. I haven't done this yet, but I think I'll try it because if it's cold they do freeze to the clothes.
I hang them out and let them dry (or "freeze" dry). When I take them off the line, if they're frozen stiff I drape them over chairs until they thaw a bit. If they feel damp (which they usually do) I put them in the dryer for 5 minutes. If they can fit into the dryer without thawing, I skip draping them over the chairs.
Oh, and most importantly, I wear some water proof gloves when I'm working with the laundry outside. My grandmother always (and my mother for a time) hung laundry out in the winter, and never wore the waterproof gloves. I still remember my mothers hands from that time - they were so raw!

I live right off of a main highway, and in the summer people often comment on the fact that I hang my laundry out to dry. I'm not sure what they think. I wonder sometimes if they're thinking I must be trying to save money. Someone "anonymously" bought us a turkey for thanksgiving this year, so I think maybe...
...anyway, so now when I'm hanging laundry in the winter, I wonder as each car goes past, "Are we going to get a charity batch of Christmas gifts because I'm doing this?" It's kind of funny, really. I'm out there just enjoying creation and the feel and smell of the fresh air, having a great time with God and feeling so amazingly blessed, and people are potentially feeling sorry for me. Probably they're thinking my dryer is broken. Nope, but my spirit is healing a bit each load of laundry that goes up! :) Ok, that sounds strange, but for me, it's true somehow.

Happy holidays from all of us!! Hug someone you love!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Art to Share

Here are a couple more of Molly's pieces. I particularly love the dog, and I'm also amazed at the improvement in her people.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Canning Venison

This past weekend, Dan and I canned venison. It was my first time canning meat, but was actually very easy (though time consuming), and the results are delicious!

First, sweet-talk your hubby into helping. :)
Gather everything you need before you begin, preventing any last minute scrambles. You will need a pressure caner with rack, straight sided (wide mouth) pint jars, lids and bands, a jar lifter, magnet wand or tongs for lifting lids out of hot water, a wide mouth funnel, kitchen timer, plenty of wash cloths and kitchen towels, canning salt and some MEAT!
You may have read about canning meats, and (if you're like me) it may have scared you silly. Don't be afraid! This really is easy. The family I learned this from has been preparing and eating venison this way since they were itty bitty, and I've had my share of it as well. It is well worth the effort.
Wash all equipment in hot soapy water, using regular dish washing liquid. This includes the jars. Soak the jar lids in hot water until ready to use.
Pack your cubed meat into the jars leaving one inch of head space. We didn't pack ours quite as full as we could have. I was a bit afraid of packing them too full. We used all of the meat that people would usually grind into burger. I love all venison as long as it's NOT burger, so this works out well for us.

Add 1/4 tsp. canning salt to the top of each packed jar, wipe rim with clean, damp cloth, cover with lid and screw band finger-tip tight.

These handy little wands with magnets on the end are great for picking the lids out of the hot water.

When the jars are packed, load your canner (with approximately three inches of water in the bottom). You want enough water that it won't evaporate, but you do not want to cover the first layer of jars. Some people put a second rack on top of the first layer of jars before adding the second layer. If you don't have a second rack, just stagger the jars so each jar on the second layer is resting on two jars from the first layer.

If you have two canners, yay for you! You can make a double batch!

Now for the hard part. ;) Drag you rocking chair right into your kitchen, and grab a really good read. You're going to be here a while!

Leaving the steam escape valve open, exhaust you canner for about six to eight minutes. This means that steam should be coming out in a steady stream without breaks for about six minutes before you close the valve and begin building pressure in your canner. When the pressure gets to 10 lbs., set your timer for 75 minutes. Now settle in with your book, and keep watch over your canner, keeping the pressure as near 10 lbs. as possible. Don't allow it to fluctuate too rapidly, as this will create a vacuum that will such the liquid out of your jars.
At this point you may be wondering, "What liquid?" It's magic, I tell you, magic! The meat has a LOT of liquid in it without you having to add any. It makes it's own heavenly broth as it cooks in the jars. That broth is one of my favorite results of this whole process.
It may take a minute or two for you to get the pressure to stay relatively steady. Just adjust your flame little by little until it levels off. When the time's up, turn off the heat and wait. And wait...and wait...(I'm not very patient, especially this close to the end. I just want to see the results!)...until the pressure is at zero. You don't want to release the pressure quickly for two important reasons. First of all, the steam is HOT! And very importantly, if you do, you'll cause liquid to be sucked out of your jars. This could definitely interfere with your jars sealing properly, and you'll loose all the wonderful broth. And it is wonderful, I tell you!

We had to break into a jar when it was still warm. Oh, it was so good! The broth was wonderful, perfectly salted. The meat was oh so perfectly tender. Pressure canning absolutely transforms tough meats! You just won't believe it...until you try it! :) Enjoy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Girl

My girl has been busy photographing and scanning her art work lately. She would really like to share some of it with you all. She's one of the neatest people I know. It's pretty awesome to be able to say that about a daughter who's going to be a teenager in a few months!
Her main interests are art and horses. She's really good with animals, and I think would be a great dog trainer some day - perhaps even a horse trainer, which she's expressed a bit of interest in lately. She's persistent, patient, steady, methodical, organised, and courageous. These are all qualities that I wish I had more of, so they're very easy for me to admire in her. She confesses that she's never been afraid of anything except getting in trouble. Yep...but I don't think she's really very frightened of that either. ;) Just kidding! She's a great girl to have around, and I'm just so hugely thankful for her!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dan's First Deer

Dan got his first deer this year! It's one awesome animal, too. We're just so thankful to God for the meat. We really needed it, and so it's just such a blessing that we were able to get so much with this one big guy! It's a big bonus that Dan was able to get such a nice big buck. He was about 220 to 230 lbs. and thirteen points. Dan's pretty tickled that he got his first deer at 46. This was his third year hunting.

In other news, both our does (rabbits) had their babies, one today and one yesterday. They're behaving like typical first time mothers. They have no idea what they're doing. It's kind of nerve wracking for me. One of them is keeping hers in a nice little nest, deep in the straw, but didn't pull any fur for them. We had to pull some for her, but she didn't appreciate it and wanted to bite us. We didn't get enough to help much. The other pulled a ton of fur, and stays in the nest a lot, but isn't keeping them in any kind of group. They're all spread out around the nest box. We've raised litters in all kinds of weather, but I'm not sure if these first timers are going to be successful. I pray that they are. If things go well, I'll try to get some photos up soon.

That's about all there is for now. This weather really gets me in the mood to bake, so I've been in the kitchen pretty regular lately.
Stay tuned for my daughter Molly's art work, and canning venison!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Painful Debate and a Word About Compassion

Following is a debate that a FB friend started (and a copy of my comment). It has so far gotten 80 comments, and caused some people to "unfriend" others. How sad. The comments ran anything from, "Who do you think you are?" to, "I totally agree" and anything in between. I decided to post the "debate" question and my comment here. I'm not looking to start a debate of my own, and I certainly don't want anyone "un-blog-friending" anyone. I just decided I had something to say. I know that many people have personal experience with this or (as I am) are very close to someone who does. I do not want to make light of that in any way. That pain is HUGE. I wish that we who are Christians would learn compassion. I wish I had learned it before it was too late for my friend. Actually, I hope and pray that it's not too late. I hope that she can find healing and be at peace one day. I hope that anyone who reads this needing the lesson I learned can learn it from my mistake. And for anyone who is in the kind of pain I describe here, I have learned my lesson. I would be happy to talk and pray with you.

The debate:
So just for debates sake, lets say you are pro-choice. You believe women have the right to choose what happens to their bodies. What happens when another human being becomes involved? You wouldn't allow a woman to choose to kill her CHILD. So now lets just say that the "fetus" you are carrying happens to be a female, where is her right to choose?

My comment:
In essence, I agree with the fact that abortion is a horrible thing and shouldn't ever happen. However, I think the one thing missing in this debate is compassion for those who've felt compelled to make that choice, and for those who love and sympathize with them. I know this from experience. I used to think only of sticking up for what was "right" - the problem is that in doing so I hurt a woman who carried secret pain bigger than anything you can likely imagine unless you've been there. She'd heard so many comments like mine that she felt hopelessly worthless and that God couldn't possibly forgive her. What I said was like stabbing a knife in her already broken heart. Of course, I didn't know it at the time. She just lashed out at me about how women should have a choice, and how could I be so unfair as to say that when a woman is raped she should not have an abortion.
I didn't find out until later that I'd added to her immense pain.
I could have said the same thing, but with compassion and understanding, adding that we have a God who is full of compassion and love, and forgives us for Jesus' sake. Instead I gave the Enemy the opportunity to attack her further, and imbed the lie deeper that she was nothing, worth nothing...
She later tried to commint suicide and is as of yet steeped in alcaholism and depression, lied to all the time that she's worthless and nobody could ever love her.
Don't forget the pain that these women suffer every day of their lives. Tell the truth, but with compassion. Who really cares if people decide you're morally right, the question is are you sharing the Love of the Savior with them? Are they being healed and set free? Do you truly love others like you love yourself?
How I wish I could take those callous words back, and instead share the miracle of hope and healing through Jesus with her...
Thanks for starting this very worthwhile discussion! :) Blessings!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Feeding Whiskey Jacks

Dan took Molly and Sam on a camping trip into the Boundary Waters for the weekend on October 1st through the 3rd. They had a great time. No trip into the BWCA is complete without feeding the Whiskey Jacks (aka grey jays). The "little girls" and I stayed home this trip and had a blast doing our own thing. I took them to town for a day, complete with lunch at Sven-n-Ole's and ice cream at Sydney's. We snuggled in my bed watching movies, and reading stories. It really was a blast for all of us! It was also great to be back together again and share our stories with each other when the other half of our family got home. Family...what a word that is...

OK, the main point of this post was to share the great video Molly got of a whiskey jack eating out of her hand, but I never can seem to get the video's to upload. Grrr...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Garden (or maybe I should say post garden) Update

Hi ladies! I'm finally getting around to a garden update. It's been a while partly because of business and partly because there hasn't been a whole lot happening in my garden for a while. We've had a few frosty nights, one pretty hard. Funny how some things really take a lickin' and keep on...tickin'? Well, growing, any way. I've been freezing swiss chard and picking beets, beet greens and spinach yet. That's it, I guess. We'd planted a green called broccoli raab earlier in the year, but we really didn't like it so it just grew while being ignored. It grew very well, and really I should have taken a picture of what it looks like now. It's quite tall, with beautiful yellow flowers that start out looking almost exactly like a tiny broccoli head, and it's completely unaffected by the cold weather. I've been cutting it and putting it in a vase.

This is the only squash I was able to grow this year. It made up for being an only child by growing huge!

Yesterday I took a peek into the bag of tomatoes and was surprised to see there was this whole bowl full that had ripened! They smell wonderful! Now I just have to decide what to make with them... :)

That one squash I grew made over 16 cups of squash. After using a big chunk for dinner and more for squash soup, I steamed and mashed about 13 cups to use like pumpkin. I'm sure it will make some great muffins.

I think that's going to be about it for this season as far as gardening goes... Except for seed catalogs and dreams of next spring!

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Our apple tree had the most prosperous season yet this year. I'm hoping the apple tree has matured, and this is what we can expect from now on, and not that summers like this past are needed to make fruit this nice.
This is the first time the apples have been nice enough to actually eat fresh. All the past seasons' apples have been made into apple butter. This was because the apples were so hard and tasteless that was the only thing I could think of making so as not to waste the apples. Finally this year they're actually slightly juicy and have some flavor. Yay!

They're also a lot bigger than they've ever been before.

So pretty!

Unfortunately, this is also the first year that we've had any bug trouble at all, or any pest problems. Something began eating away at them before they were ripe, and continued until we picked them. We don't know what it was, as we never saw anything in the tree. We also had the flies cause problems this year, so next year I'll have to get my uncles secret weapon. If you need a secret weapon to keep the flies from wreaking havoc with your apples, go to my June blog posts and find the untitled post that begins, "My uncle collects farmall tractors..." I would just put the link here, but it won't work for me today. Grrr...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Uff Da!

I have been so busy lately! I think it's a safe bet that I'll be posting less now that school has started. We started last Monday (Monday the 30th of August. I didn't get this published after I wrote it. Like I said, I'm having trouble getting any blogging done.), and it's been going well. We have a kindergartner, second grader, fifth grader and seventh grader. They're all becoming such wonderful little students. I'm so pleased with how well the first week (Two weeks now!) has gone, even though it was so full of activity. Here are our new first day of school pictures. I try to do this on the first day of school every year.

One of my husband's brothers and two of his friends spent last week in our neck of the woods. They planned to hike on the Superior Hiking Trail a full week. They arrived on a Saturday and we fed them a good supper. They got up and had an early breakfast before Dan drove them to the trail head on Sunday. They started near Trail Center on the Gunflint Trail, hiking the border rout trail to McFarland Lake by Wednesday A.M. At that point one of the men decided that this was all just a bit too much for him. They caught a ride to their car, which Dan had parked at a trail head on the Arrowhead Trail, and back to our house they came. So, I fed them lunch and let them shower up and wash clothes before they started out again on Thursday A.M., minus one. He stayed behind with our family. This time they started at a Superior Hiking Trail trail head on the Camp 20 Rd. They made it to the Pincushion Mt. parking area by Friday afternoon. I don't know about you, but I'd call that some hiking! I picked them up there and brought them home for another shower and supper, and we saw them off with full stomachs on Saturday after lunch. It was really fun to play hostess to all of them for the week. I think they all had a good time, and I know that our family did! On Saturday A.M. 2 of the men helped the kids with their wood splitting chores, and one of them helped Dan and I get a good start on our goat pen. Here's a quick photo of the new fence. It's almost done! :)
Okey dokey, no picture. I'll have to show you later bc blogger is being a pain in the tail right now.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Horse Games

Last weekend Molly participated in the horse games at the county fair. I didn't do a great job of taking pictures of her, but I got a few. We had a lot of fun, she riding, me watching and volunteering a bit where needed. She's getting to be a good little rider!

Here she's participating in the egg and spoon game, where the participants try to follow instructions given them while ballancing an egg on a spoon. She placed third in that event. Klu was acting up a bit, and kicked at a horse who's rider came too close for his liking. Molly got big applause for keeping the egg on the spoon through his little tirade! :)

More egg and spoon.

Miss M with her ribbons! This was her second year in the games, and she did really well. First in one event, second in two and third in two. I don't care if she places in any of the events, but seeing her blossom as a young woman and a rider is so much fun!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Canning Pickles

Hey everyone! I'm back after quite a busy spell. I've got a lot to share from the weekend, the garden and canning pickles. Thanks to Mama Pea at A Home Grown Journal (thanks a TON, Mama Pea!), who gave me a ton of pickling cukes, I had a bunch of produce for some big batches to can! It was so much fun! It took most of the day to can three batches of pickles, so when Dan came home for supper at 6:00 I didn't have anything ready. He asked what was for supper and I said, "Ummm...pickles?" :)
My canner holds 7 quart jars, so I made 14 quarts of dill pickles. After that I was out of dill, so I made 5 pints of bread and butter pickles with the cukes that were left.
The dills are supposed to sit for 8 weeks before opening. I had one jar that didn't seal though, so what do you think we did? OPENED IT, OF COURSE! :) And they were good already. If 8 weeks improves them, I'd say the recipe is a hit!

Here's the giant pile of cukes I got from Mama Pea.

Cukes taking an ice water bath before canning. Soaking them in ice water for 2 to 8 hours is supposed to make them really nice and crunchy.

Here's the dill, habanero peppers (I put them in 4 of the jars to add some heat, for those who like it hot) and garlic.

Cukes packed and ready for processing.

Lots of pickles!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pulling Onions

The girls pulling Hattie and Dani's onions. The tiny plants next to the onions are chard and arugula.

Helping with the big onion patch.

Hattie and Dani hauled them in the wagon. Of course, pulling a carrot for a snack was necessary.

Two of the onions grew like garlic bulbs, with these little "onion set" like babies. I don't know yet why two of them grew this way. I'm going to have to look into it. There's so much that I don't know yet!

And here are a couple pics of the harvest. I've been using onions from the garden for a month now. It's so fun being able to go out and pull one up when you need it! Now I have to figure out how to store these away. I really don't have a cool dry place to hang them. I have no idea yet what I'll do with them.

I was getting a bit discouraged about the garden, and the onions were ready so I just had harvest them. I really needed something encouraging to do! The turnips will be next. Some of them are bigger than baseballs now. I'm thrilled with how well and how fast they grew. Too bad I didn't plant more of them. The tomatoes are really growing fast (the heat of the last couple weeks really had a dramatic effect). I don't know if they'll grow fast enough to ripen, but I'm thrilled they've gotten this far. Now I have quite a bit of space in the garden, but I don't know if there's anything I can do with it now, or if I should just leave it until spring.
That's all the info. I have now, but I'll try to post some pics of how things are looking soon.

Horsey Photo Shoot

Saddling up,

at a trot,

round the barrels,

beautiful partnership!