Unique Clutter

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I’ve read many a piece of housecleaning advice, but never one that addressed situations like my living room during farmer’s market season. Honestly, there’s no clutter I’d rather have than vegetables.

I couldn’t help but smile.

Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
The Lord will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
 (Psalm 85:11-13)

 

1st Christmas (Part 2)

To me, Christmas is full of awesomeness. A great chunk of said awesomeness is that Christmas provides a huge opportunity to love others, particularly my family.

My parents did so much for myself and my siblings to make Christmas awesome. I have piles of great memories: making (and eating) Christmas cookies together, picking out a daily candy canes with my little brother, anticipating moving the advent calendar, getting to open our stockings at any hour of Christmas morning. By far, my favorite memories are of the day we’d get together, crank up the Christmas music, break out the egg nog, and make a party out of decorating the whole house together as a family. My parents did a lot to make Christmas memories for us. That’s something I really want to carry on in my family.

Flashing forward to October 2016, I decided to quiz my hubby. “What makes it feel like Christmas to you? What do you enjoy about Christmas? What’s your favorite Christmas foods? What’s some of your best Christmas memories?” I determined to ferret out what makes Christmas a blessing to him. In the process, I got to know a lot more about my hubby as an added bonus! Peanuts in the shell, sugar cookies, apple cider, piano Christmas hymns, making snowforts…

A memory that stuck out to Derek was one of his grandma. He said he always remembered his grandma wearing Christmas socks. As a lover of all things soft and fuzzy, how could I resist?!

In the beginning, Derek dubiously agreed, mostly out of his love for me. We selected matching Christmas socks together as presents for one another, opened them a few days before Christmas, and TADA!

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A tradition is born! In the end, Derek enjoyed fuzzy Christmas socks far more than I did! Here we are, along with the two super-soft fuzzy blankets Derek got for me.

Derek also remembered playing lots of board games with siblings and cousins around Christmas. So out came the checkerboard! A rousing and competitive game of checkers ensued!!!

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We had no proper checker pieces, but spare pocket change made do in a pinch. This is dimes vs quarters. The game pieces were set. Derek, being the gentleman, offered me the first move. So, I began to strategize! (I grew up playing chess.) After about 3 minutes of my sitting hunched in deep thought, Derek gave me an excellent piece of checker’s advice. He said, “Don’t think about it so much. You gotta play by instinct.”

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Pennies vs dimes. We realized after the first game that quarters and dimes are hard to distinguish in the thick of battle. A switch to pennies was made. Here we stalemated. Not exactly sure how that happened…?img_1623

Taking my hubby’s advice to heart, I found it right on the money! I ended up schooling Derek in all but the last game. Here is my hubby being a good sport, remaining cheerful and gracious even in the face of imminent defeat. It takes a real man to lose with grace.

If you’re ever in a game of checkers, definitely take Derek’s advice!

1st Christmas (Part 1)

It’s true; we’ve been married for 3 years now, but this is the first Christmas we’ve been able to celebrate as a couple together. It’s the first time we’ve both felt well enough to do Christmas activities!

I was so excited!!! I began preparing and planning in October. (I really enjoy the holiday season, if you haven’t noticed.) Thankfully, we, well, ahem, I dreamed big and kept our expectations small. We didn’t end up doing even half the things we dreamed about for Christmas! What we did have opportunity to do, we enjoyed immensely! (I’m sure that dream list will come in handy for future Christmases.)

The most lovely moist snow came down a week or two before Christmas. On a warmer day (30F), I happened to have off work and Derek, being all tuckered out, napped on the couch. I couldn’t resist it! The urge to make a snowman drew me outdoors.

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He’s looking a little rough in this picture, it being a few warm days later. He’d been quite perfect at the beginning, I assure you. On Derek’s awaking, I informed him we had a visitor and pointed out the window. You should have seen Derek laugh and shake his head!

And the baking! Oh my, the food is a highlight for the holiday season. It’s an excuse to cook in abundance; and no worries about their being enough mouths to eat it all. I felt very happy for the chance to make sugar cookies!

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This is the maiden voyage of my Kitchenaid. After three years in post-marital storage, I couldn’t help bouncing around at the chance to break it out and use it for the first time. As a small setback, it came out of the box brand new and… malfunctioning. A few youtube videos, some screwdrivers, and a little elbow grease got it up and running again. It handled a double batch of sugar cookies no problem. Now, if only I can find those needlenose pliers, I can finish the last little repair on it…

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Sugar cookies!!! Some ready for the oven, some fresh out.

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This sorry candy cane sugar cookie didn’t survive the transfer from the pan to the cooling rack. Tsk, tsk, and we all know what happens to malformed sugar cookies. 🙂 [Pretend you don’t see the bite mark out of the end.]

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Another casualty! This gingerbread man couldn’t take the heat of the oven and lost his head. He went the way of the broken candy cane cookie.img_1616

Frosting — the only part better than mixing and baking cookies!img_1615

I realized that only sprinkles for Christmas cookies I had on hand were these flower sequins. Sprinkles had slipped my mind while making the Christmas cooking shopping list. Oh well, it is only my 1st time heading up Christmas in a household. Gotta fail somewhere. 🙂

Plus, Derek didn’t notice. As long as nobody tells him, he’ll never know! Sh!

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Bedtime approached, and I ran out of time to frost all the cookies. Baking 2 batches after a day at work didn’t feel like meager accomplishment to me. I’m glad I got the important cookies frosted — those destined to wait for my sweetie when he got home late. Those are the ones on the plate. None survived the night.

To be continued… In Part 2!

 

Beautiful Flowers

My hubs loves flowers. When he see a beautiful bloom, his first reaction is to pull out his phone and take a snap shot of it. Here’s a collection of some of the lovely blossoms he’s captured throughout the year. Hope you enjoy!

Lilies of the valley.

Roses

Double mock orange.

Lilies Varieties!

More Lilies.

“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Luke 12:17)

 

 

 

Hay!

It’s something new we tried with the garden this year. Derek had researched that laying a down news paper and covering it with hay or grass clippings reduces weeds significantly.

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The hubs hard at work. Since I was already all tuckered out from working that day, I sat outside as his photographer and cheer leader. After a while, we found that laying the paper became tedious and unneeded extra work. Laying the grass down thickly did the job just fine — and required less bending.

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Thankfully, we rent on a acreage where Derek can mow freely and use the grasses that are left over. Derek raked it all into piles, let it dry, and loaded the truck by hand. I tell you, it might seem like a lot of work, but boy does it pay off!

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Where grass and straw had been laid, we had hardly any weeding at all to do in those rows at first. Once the plants got established, we had none. One hardworking afternoon of laying down hay definitely outweighs the hours of weekly weeding that would have happened.
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It made the plants much happier to boot! Since the hay also doubles as a mulch, it kept more of the moisture in and protected the plants. Many of the plants grew double as big as those without the mulch and the sweet potatoes turned out huge!!
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Derek plans next year to make the garden as self sustaining as possible using a combo of landscaping fabric and mulching with hay and grass. When it 1 man against 3 acres of garden, hay and other tips become unspeakably helpful!

Deer in the Snow

As Sunday afternoon approached, the snow began to tamper off. I went to the window to check on the sky. I discovered that we had visitors.

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Four deer lingered on the edge of the tree grove just south of the garden. Two didn’t clear the trees enough for a good shot, and the other two walked up along the fence line, grazing.

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Zooming in, I discovered one was a buck! Looks like a 3-pointer to me.

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Which of these animals do not belong?

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What a surprise! Here I am, photographing deer, when five or six turkeys come wandering by, right in front of my lens! I was so taken aback (and the turkeys in such a  hurry) I only managed to snap a picture of the last one. img_1592

Beautiful animals!img_1593

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)

Canning Expeditions

Every year, Youth for Christ sells Colorado peaches for a fundraiser. (And Georgia peaches, pecan, and pears.) We sign up for a bunch every year because, well… delicious, sweet, soft, juicy, tender, divine, melt-in-your-mouth, tangy, wonderful, there’s just not enough adjectives! (If you’ve ever tasted a ripe Colorado peach, you know what I’m talking about.)

The 30 lb lugs arrive around August here. The hubs and I have made a tradition of canning them. Peach butter is one of our favorites to eat and sell. It’s well worth the effort.

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Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving – a nice starter book with easy recipes!

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How could you not what to bury your face in that? BEST. PEACHES. EVER. These were lucky to even make it to the canner.

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Getting an early start heating things up.

This summer, I had to be kinda careful with my energy. So my hubs took over and learned how to can pickles. He single-handedly took care of all the cucumbers this year, turning them into sweet gherkins, dill relish, lime pickles, and…

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Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

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Derek’s lovely dill pickles. These are his favorite snacks.

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Post-canning clean up. Few things make a mess like processing fresh produce, but it is SO worth it!