Thursday, May 30, 2013


 Sometimes I have time to blog and don't know exactly what I should write about and sometimes I have many, many things that would like to blog about but not so much time available to sit down and write. Lately the situation has been the latter.

  Life has been very full lately. We have had so many things in our lives that I want to blog about but the time just hasn't been available lately to write. Oh well, in good time. Things do seem to balance out eventually.

  Meanwhile a few of the things that have been keeping me away from the computer are:

 ~ Lots and lots of planting. Though basically all trees and bushes - not much in the garden yet.
 ~Searching for Morel mushrooms and other wild goodies.
 ~Helping with a wedding. Hard work yes, but something I do love to do. These were close friends of ours to the help went much further than the normal flowers.
 ~ Messing with goo in the kitchen. (In the name of making a gift!)

~Building - a chicken shed - more details to come.

~Preparing for the summer and a homemakers group and homeschool baseball.

~Sewing - costumes and other fun stuff.

~Holding an end of year homeschool program with our co-op(that was this evening).

And tomorrow we plan on attending a homeschool track and field day which hundreds in our area go to. We have done basically no practice unless you count some family racing done a week or so ago when I lost to my 9 year old (I run horribly while laughing!).
Well I hope to visit more later but meanwhile goodnight and God bless!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spending time with others who encourage me in my marriage

 Those we choose as companions/friends truly do make a big difference in our lives. I was thinking about that in the context of marriage and realized how blessed I am to have a family, church family and many other friends who encourage me in my marriage. They expect me to strive for a godly marriage and their words and actions encourage me in that area.

  Most of the friends that I have are also striving to have godly marriages so we can encourage each other. It is so helpful when you and your friends/companions can work towards similar goals. Obviously there might be people in our lives who are not doing what is right, who are not striving for godly goals. Sometimes it is someone in our family or possibly co-workers or it may be friends. We do often still have to spend time with them and hopefully we can be a light to them but if at all possible we do need to have a physical support group of people who can encourage us and hold us accountable to do what is right.

   I hope you have that in your life or if you don't that you will search for a church family with people that will encourage you to do what is right.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Walk by the Spirit

"16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Galatians 5:16-25

 I meant to share this verse with you yesterday as it is one that has been speaking to me but I ended up spending half of the day in bed sick (thankfully I am feeling much better today!) so it didn't get posted.

 I hope this scripture will encourage you as well!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Turning Tights to Leggings

 I have a little girl who loves to wear dresses. I am a Mama that likes to have her daughter wear leggings, shorts or tights underneath her dresses or skirts. There are a couple of reasons for this - it helps an active girl to stay more modest and it helps to keep her warm, and here in Northern, MN there are a lot of times that we need to dress for warmth.
  Megan had a cute and thick pair of tights that had gotten holes in the toes and heels. They were also getting a bit short. We decided to extend their life a bit.
  I simply cut the foot off, right where the heel turned and then I stretch out the bottom and sewed lace on.
Very quick and easy and very useful!

 Megan has been quite happy with this clothing remake.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Homestead Organization

  An organizing tool that I have been pulling out more again lately (after a quiet spell through the winter) is my homesteading notebook.

  This is where I keep track of things like my bees (when I check them, how they are doing, what sort of harvest I get, etc. ), the garden, fruit trees and other stuff like that. Soon I will need to add a section for chickens!

 I wrote more on how I use this tool in this post.

  Do you use notebooks to stay organized?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Be a little Spontaneous!

Ken and I tend to stay up a bit late on the weekends. Anyway, the other day it was rather late (around midnight) and I had just gotten in bed and Ken was following me but went to make sure that all the doors were locked first. Then I heard him go outside for a bit and come back in. That made me a little curious. So when he got to our room I questioned him on what he had been doing and he proceeded to tell me how beautiful it was outside. It wasn't fully dark and there was this really neat mist.....

  I said "Oh it would be fun to take a walk in that" (though not really thinking about getting out of my warm and cozy bed to do that) and Ken responded, "Yes it would, be you're already in bed." I could tell he really did think that would be fun to do. He started towards getting ready for bed when I decided to be a little spontaneous and so I said "I can get up, let's go!"

  So we went on a walk. We didn't go that far (we had sleeping children in the house) but it was fun to go out and enjoy the beauty together. It was fun to do something that was rather unusual for us, fun to be a little spontaneous and make a memory.

  It can be very easy to just follow the same routines over and over (and I do love routines!) but sometimes it is good to shake things up just a bit. Do something a little different.

  Do you like to be spontaneous once and a while?

Monday, May 20, 2013

16 ways to turn old t-shirts into "New" clothes

Cover an top hat! (smile - I am sure everyone needs one!)
I have also pinned on Pinterest many other fun ideas for using old t-shirts. You can see them on my neat repurposing ideas board.
I had taken this picture of my niece wearing a vest that she had made from an old t-shirt specifically because I had a post like this in mind - then I forgot at first to include it. Here is yet another idea of what you can do with an old t-shirt.
monday's homestead barn hop 
I am also linking to Clever Chicks Blog Hop

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Nothing can succeed against the Lord!

"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD." Proverbs 21:30

  We have been reading Proverbs lately and this verse really jumped out at me when we read it. We have been reading books about World War 2, we are aware that many of those in high positions in our world currently tend to make plans that lead to evil, those things are sad and can be discouraging but I love the comfort that is found in this verse. God is the one who is in control, He is mighty and powerful. He does allow bad things to happen but He is still over all and He knows about every thought and plan that goes on. If He needs to He can stop them at any time. We can be completely at rest in Him!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Decorating for a party without spending any money

 Last week my sister-in-law graduated from the university and we had a party for her. My younger sister and I were in charge of decorating. I think decorating is fun and I especially love the challenge of decorating while using what I already have on hand.

 My sister-in-law, Molly Bea, loves colorfulness more than any other person I know so we decided that a rainbow decorating theme would be in order.

   We even tried to make our food colorful - we had lemon bars, orange pumpkin bars, granola bars with blue sprinkles, brownies with red raspberry topping and a cake with a rainbow sing on top.

 We also had sandwiches on orange buns (made with squash), red ham, green sprouts, yellow potato salad, a colorful pasta salad, red punch and more. It was rather fun trying to think of all the ways we could make the meal colorful.

 I have seen various buntings made from fabric strips just tied onto a string. I decided to look through my t-shirt box (or t-shirts ready to be turned into something else) and see if I had rainbow colors. I did. Yeah!  I cut a long strip out of a knit shirt and then a bunch of strips around 10 inches long from the rainbow colored fabric. Then we tied them on according the colors sequence on a rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue, violet). We did two strips of each shade and then we repeated the sequence over and over.
 I thought it ended up looking pretty cool and it made it seem very much like a party.

 Molly Bea also loves pin wheels and so we decided to use pinwheels for the table decorations. We made them out of construction paper and/or old wallpaper scraps (from those sample books). We put beads that were threaded on florists wire through the center and then attached them to some sticks that were in our craft cupboard (I don't know their original use).

 Keren made a really big one that ended up rather floppy so it got tacked onto the wall.
 Also on the tables I had cut out circles of various sizes from construction paper and other colored papers that I was able to reuse from another project and placed them onto the table.

  We enjoyed our simply, inexpensive and fun decorations. Keren had thought about getting balloons and flowers too but we decided it really wasn't necessary.

  Do you have any fun party decorating ideas that are inexpensive? I would love to hear!

Next week we will be decorating inexpensively for some friends' wedding. I will try to blog about that too.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Jumper turned into a skirt

 This month has been a little busier than I anticipated and I haven't managed to blog about as many clothing remakes as I had hoped but here is one today and I hope to post about more soon. :-)

 I had a jumper that my sister had made for me when Mara was a baby. That was 13 years ago. Yes, I do keep clothes around for quite a while!
  The jumper was made from a blue and purple flannel which I found very comfortable and I think it is pretty. However I currently prefer skirts to jumpers. So.... I redid it.

The remake was really quite easy. I simply cut off most of the top. It was lined to all I had to do was to flip the raw edges to the inside and top stitch it closed. Then I just made a couple of darts in the front to make it fit me better.

The finished skirt is a very comfortable low waisted garment that is nice and long. I find it very comfortable and like it a lot.
 I am quite pleased to have yet again turned something from my closest into something I wear rarely to something that I will enjoy wearing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

SuSan's Heart

  Tonight I am reminded once again why I love having among our friends some that are mentally handicapped. They can teach us many things!

  Just a bit ago after getting home from church my friend SuSan called, crying. She had just heard that a friend's Dad (who she said was either 98 or 89 - so I am presuming he had lived a full life) had died and was feeling really bad about the whole situation. "Would I please pray for them?" "Would I have my kids pray too?"

  I said that yes I would pray and proceeded to try to share some comforting words.

  After getting off the phone I shared what she had said with the kids. We were talking about how hard she takes things like this and one of the kids wondered why people told her about all these problems when it so obviously bothers her. But then we thought about how SuSan announces all these problems at church and how she calls around to a bunch of us whenever something she thinks is serious comes up and she asks us to pray too and how she prays "every night" for them. We thought about how those people might really appreciate her heart for praying and having others pray.

  We thought about how SuSan in her simple way might really be more of a light in our community than most of us with our more reserved and normal ways. Jonathan mentioned how we sometimes find it a little funny how SuSan goes on and on about the problems of people that she doesn't even know (her co-worker's sister's husband's mom for example) but he too when thinking of it was able to see a little bit into her heart for those that are hurting and wanted to be a little more like her in that way.

 We did have a smile thinking of all the co-workers that we hear about and wondered just who all she might consider co-workers and Mara suggested that maybe SuSan has the same idea about co-workers that Jesus had about Neighbors.

  Whether neighbors or coworkers I hope that I can share SuSan's and Jesus' concern for others. I hope my children will learn that as well.

  Another post about SuSan

Moms Mustard Seeds

Being aware of their personality quirks and working with them

 Just lately I was reminded of something that we have faced in our marriage and I am sure others may have as well. It is something that at times has caused discord but as we learn to know and appreciate each other better we can work with this issue.

  The issue in our marriage is different personality traits concerning making decisions. I tend to make fairly quick decisions on most things while Ken on the other hand will sometimes take a lot of time to make a decision about things. Sometimes to be honest I have thought the things that he has pondered over for days to be something so simple and unimportant that I would have decided it instantly.

  In many ways I am grateful for his cautious decision making, I think that has probably provided great balance to our relationship. We are a team for a purpose - so we can work together and balance each other.

  However, at times I have found it very frustrating. What I have learned am learning to do is to try to give him ample of advance warning we I can, so that he can have ample time to make his decisions without me having to feel like the opportunity is going to be completely lost. I am also learning to present the thought to him, leave him to ponder it for a day or so and then come back to him. It isn't a good idea to be a nagging wife - and I want to avoid that!

"A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike;" Proverbs 27:15

That is just some thoughts on how we have made things work in our marriage. I don't know if anyone else is facing similar circumstances or maybe it is some other personality trait that you are complete opposites in - maybe with that you can learn to appreciate and work with your spouse even through your differences.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Grafting and Planting Trees and Other Homestead Notes

 Saturday was a busy day for us. There were plenty of homestead happenings going on. This year I ordered 50 trees through a program that our county has. You can get a lot of native trees (small ones) quite cheaply. I got a total of 50 trees and bushes for just a little over $60. 25 of the trees that I got were crab apples and I got them with the plans of using them for rootstock to grow apple trees that were bigger and tastier than crabs. To do that we needed to have some scions of good (but still hardy) apple trees. Thankfully those were not hard to come by as my Dad has a very nice orchard and he had to do some pruning anyway. He actually did his pruning a month of so ago but he wrapped up the scions and labeled them according to variety and stored them in the freezer for grafting time.

   Dad has over 50 apples trees and I think most of them he has grafted at some point or another so he is pretty practiced in this craft. I took all the little trees out to their place and we set to work. The picture above shows Dad and my brother Peter where we were working in my Dad's shop.

   The crab apples trees that I got were around 2- 3 feet tall. The first order of business is to find a scion (the section that was pruned off of the good tree) that is similar in diameter to the root stock and then cut all the limbs and much of the stalk off of the root stock. It is a little sad to cut the poor trees so but for the desired end result it is needed.

 Above it a picture of the root stock (on bottom) and the scion (laying on the rag).
 We find the place on each one that is most similar in size and then cut each at a sharp angle.
 They need to be able to fit up next to each other and fit just as closely as possible. Dad said that what is most critical for a good graft is not that the inside matches up perfectly but rather that the area just inside the bark matches up and fits very snugly together. After cutting with a clippers you probably will want to smooth it out and make it fit better using a knife.
 Next step is to make a little notch in the end of each one (the scion and the rootstock) so that they can kind of stick to each other. To do this you simply cut straight down (or up) into the stick about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch just slightly above the middle of the stick.
 Then slide the two pieces together and you will find that will cause them to kind of stick together.
Below is the picture of Dad cutting that notch.
 Next step is to bind it together. We used tape that is generally used for electrical work, a silicone tape that is stretchy and fuses to itself. Dad had two types but the textured type I neither found at the store nor on Amazon.  
 We wrapped around 4-6 inches of tape around the place where we were joining the two parts of our new tree together. This tape works rather like florist corsage tape where you stretch and wrap at the same time.
That is all that there is to the grafting. I think that I will get better with practice but hopefully that the grafts I did this time will work too. If they don't at least I didn't spend much money on them. Dad did most of the notch making and fitting together and I did a lot of the taping while Peter made us nice metal tags to label each one with.

  After all our grafting we left some of the apple trees with Dad to plant at his place and then we came home with nearly 40 trees (14 apples plus the others) to plant at our place.

  It sure is nice to have plenty of helpers! The task still took a while but it was so much easier than if I or even Ken and I had been doing it by ourselves.

First you need to dig a hole. Even with the little trees you want a fairly big hole especially here at our place as our soil is not that great and pretty sandy. We dug a bit hole and when putting dirt back in we mixed a lot of composted dirt and goat manure in the mixture too.

After digging we are reading for planting and watering. We gave each tree a bit over a gallon of water right then and then came back around an hour later and gave them another gallon or so. That is now going to be a daily task (during warm weather) for the next couple of years! :-)
Besides apple trees we also got 5 Nanking Cherries, 5 Highbush Cranberries, 5 Rugosa Rosebushes, 5 White Pines and 5 Norway Spruces.
 We love the look of evergreens in the winter so Ken actually dug holes out in our woods for where we didn't have many evergreens and we added some there.

I didn't want trees in front of our bee fence but we thought roses would look pretty there without shading them too much and so Mara and Jonathan planted some there.

 The bees have been pretty busy lately collecting pollen. Many of the trees have pollen on them now. There is hardly any flowers at all yet so there is basically no nectar for them to get so I have been having to feed them. I checked them yesterday and they all looked lively and had full boxes. One box had a couple of funny yellow streaks in it which made me a little scared that possibly they have Nosema. After further research I don't really think that it is nosema but I don't really know, I am really praying that God will help the bees be okay if that is His will and that I will have wisdom in caring for them. I do truly believe that God wants us to come to Him with all our problems and share what is on our heart and bothering us, even something as little as bees.
Our indoor plants are continuing to thrive. The tomatoes keep growing very fast. These pictures were taken several days ago and they have actually grown quite a lot since then (the tall one is quite a bit above the lamp shade now and the other is growing fast too).  They are blooming a lot and it has been fun to watch the little tomatoes appear. We have grown tomatoes for years but never inside before and that really makes it much more up close and personal.
Can you see the little green tomatoes?

Our pepper plant is blooming a whole lot too and we have both tried to pollinate it ourselves as well as taking it outside some for the bees to do there work. Hopefully the job is getting done. Unfortunately some of the blooms have fallen off without producing fruit. One night I did forget it outside and it got rather cold so I don't know if that prompted some of the blooms dropping off our not.

  Our little seedlings that are getting ready for the garden are also doing well. They have a couple of weeks still before we will try to move them out. I think I may have gone overboard with planting but if they don't all fit in our garden then I think I will add more gardens in our yard. I am really feeling strongly that I would like to produce just as much food as possible.

What is going on at your place? Do you have any tips for a beginning grafter?

monday's homestead barn hop I am also linking to Clever Chicks Blog Hop


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