Thursday, August 14, 2014


My car went to the shop today and got a diagnosis of about $1000 repair + new front tires needed.  That was a big blow as we were hoping to have a tiny bit extra this month for gas for a few simple travels to visit family and friends.  Now we not only won't have the money or a vehicle for much traveling but also not enough money to even repair the car in the first place. I am feeling so frustrated that every single time we start to get a little (and I mean, a little) savings it is blown away by some car emergency, medical emergency, or major home repair.  It doesn't seem like we should be struggling this much when I do the math for the budget each month and yet, we always are.  I usually take this kind of news in stride anymore since it happens really regularly to us (it does seem like there is a component to it that is spiritual combat on the mission field) but this time I'm just tired at the end of a very long summer and I was so looking forward to making some special family memories away from the ever-present distractions of home where all my work continues to take place no matter how hard I try to rest.  I know we can make family memories anywhere but I'm running low on energy and ideas for stuff to do around here that is relaxing and fun.

So I thought I'd just be a little honest with my very real struggle with discouragement tonight. It will all come out fine and it might just be awhile before we have good working cars again but it will work out somehow.

 Yesterday the girls and I picked at least 15 pounds of blueberries at the u-pick farm nearby.  Then on the way home I swung into a new produce stand and found a box of apricots for only $7 because they were so on the verge of being overripe.  The blueberries went into the fridge once we got home and I got busy putting away those apricots with all my might.  I ended up with 6 pints of apricot lavender jam, 1 quart bag of dried apricot halves, an apricot crisp, and then today the last few went into a batch of blueberry apricot basil jam. Yum!  I also canned 3 pints of regular blueberry jam, froze at least 15 pints of berries and have some left over for fresh eating.

 I really enjoyed working with Lyddie on the jam together while the other girls napped.  She. talks. so. much.  So I was trying really hard to just enjoy it but my ears get tired and I run out of answers.  And this from a woman who talks alot!  I am amazed at the difference in personality with each child and love spending time with Millie and Rosie too, and have been making an effort to give them each just at least a few minutes of mommy-only time each day.  I never regret those five or fifteen minutes we steal alone.

Instead of working on a "to-do" list for the next day each evening, I've been working on a "got-done" list.  It is really encouraging and inspires me to look back over all I've done instead of thinking about all the things I probably won't get to for the next day.  Today the list included all the food preservation, making cornbread and baked potatoes for dinner, planting a bush I picked up on sale a few days ago, pulling weeds digging overgrown sod out of the flowerbed, taking care of the chickens and dogs, picking up the house, laundry, turkey and chicken pulled out to thaw for the next few meals, mountains of dishes, working compost into part of a garden bed, and shaving my legs (! what a treat!).  These are the good things from today that I will jot into my gratitude journal and try to keep my eyes up to the Lord.

I asked Jesse in the car this morning if he had his knife.  He looked at me a little confused and said he did, so I told him to take the longer way home and pull over by one of the piles of wild sunflowers growing along the irrigation ditches.  I flew out of the car, hacked off several big stems of sunflowers and dashed back in.  I've been dying to pick some for days but yesterday when I tried, I realized I needed a knife or scissors to cut through the tough stem.  They are sitting on the table lighting up the room whenever I walk in.  I look forward to reading my Bible next to them early tomorrow morning.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

yarn along {and an ode to pickles}

 Last week I was working on a Shalom for myself but ended up getting about an inch in and had an extra stitch on my needles.  Normally I'd just k2tog and move on but I am afraid it will mess up the pretty yoke and since I'm not that far into it, ripping it out and starting over seems to be the simplest decision.  

Just before I discovered the error, I realized I really wanted to knit up a soaker or two for my Rosie-pie since we're down to two useable diaper covers and that means washing diapers every other day or using disposables more than I like to, so I frogged the Much-Too-Big-Large Vanilla soaker I had almost finished a couple months ago and went down to a size medium which is looking way more reasonable but... I haven't knit in a few days.  Because of this:

and this:

 and even this:
 The summer months end up with constant busy-ness.  I am surrounded with access to good cheap produce right now and I know in a few months the ground will be frozen and nothing will grow and we will be longing for a taste of summer again, so I'm trying to squeeze in as much preserving as I can.  It has been hot-hot-hot again here with temps usually in the 100s and not cooling down much at night.  This afternoon I picked up a few new perennials at the farm supply stores and when I trekked outside to plant them, I glanced at the hills and noticed... I couldn't see the hills.  I initially thought it must be smoke from a wildfire since they are rampant through the state right now and the smoke tends to drift our way and hover.  The air was so still and heavy, and more humid than usual.  I went back to digging and felt a soft breeze tug at my hair and it was like it was whispering "Watch this," and I heeded the notice and glanced up, knowing instantaneously that it wasn't smoke blocking the view of the hills, it was dust.  Within seconds the wind was raging and howling through the elms and spruce and dust was stinging my eyes.  Lyddie had just wandered outside and concern flashed across her face; we have had hot but sunny and quiet afternoons for days now and this was new.  We ran out to the pool and started gathering armfuls of pool toys to toss into the root cellar.  She trailed me out to the chicken coop where the wind had blown their window entrance shut, and then we dashed inside.  While the wind tore through the valley, we loaded into the car and went by the library to return books and chat with the librarian as we browsed.  Once home, the rain hit.  Rosie and I walked out and she had such a look of wonder on her face.  I can't remember the last time it poured for awhile and she clearly can't either.  "Girls!" I called, "It's raining!"  "RAIN!" they shrieked and squealed and tumbled outside to the patio to see.  

Toto, we're not in Seattle anymore. 

The storm brought the coolest evening air we've had in a while and it was so pleasant tonight to go out to the garden and pull some weeks and pick some beans and tomatoes without sweat soaking through my clothes.

I screwed up the courage to try a lacto-fermented cucumber pickle.  I have been reading about the process and the benefits of fermented foods for, oh, several years now, and when the bags of cucumbers sat in the fridge and I had only a short window of time to pickle them and not enough hours or energy to do a water bath, I decided to take the plunge instead of the vinegar based refrigerator pickle.  Google brought me to this excellent recipe/article, which I realized after reading was by one of my favorite bloggers which clinched it.  They bubbled away on the counter for a few days and are now ready for cold storage.  Oh. my. goodness.  They are delicious; as I was writing I thought "It's time to go TASTE ONE!" They are incredible- sour, salty, dilly.  They're a little fizzy from the lactic acid fermentation (fizzy sounds weird, but it's really incredible). I am sold.  Hm... what else can I try?  I think another batch of cucumbers may be in my near future.  They took all of 20 minutes for four quarts start to finish.

I am reading The Long Winter and spend an embarrassing amount of my mental energy mulling over the Ingalls family and their adventures lately.  Jesse thinks it's embarrassing too, I think, since his eyes glaze over a little when I start processing my thoughts yet again.  I'm also still listening to North and South via CraftLit.

Next week you'll get to see a finished soaker and a real picture of a Shalom, I hope!  Joining up with Ginny and the Yarn Along community again this week.

Did you see the supermoon this week?  

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Yarn Along

 I am so pleased with the darling buttons I found for the little Clementine sweater I've been knitting for a friend's baby!  The only step left is to send it on for a sweet baby girl who is due soon!  I also knit up a quick spa cloth for a friend's birthday and thought it was a sweet pattern and such instant gratification - two hours and done!   Today I cast on a Shalom cardigan for myself; one of my goals last year was to make myself a sweater and I just didn't get to it because the quantity and expense of the yarn needed was too much.  But last winter I deconstructed a cardigan I'd had since, oh, high school, a pretty cherry red yarn in a sweater that no longer looked flattering or pretty on me, and I tucked all that bulky yarn away with the Shalom in mind when I was ready. I am following modifications to make just a little bigger than the original pattern and hope it works out.  I should have it done and ready for this fall when the weather finally turns cool - not that that seems anywhere near; we spent all day in our new little pool today because it just so hot out and even our day trip up on Mt. Rainier was really warm earlier this week. 

Just still reading On the Shores of Silver Lake and picked up Wendell Berry's poetry this week to peruse here and there.  I'm linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along again this week and hope you will too!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Incredible Mountain




The pictures say it well.  The wildflowers in the meadows of Rainier were breathtaking, and according to a fellow hiker, just three weeks ago, this level was covered with enough snow that he thought you could ski in it; he had a picture to back up his claim and I was amazed at the rapid growth and blooming of the myriad of flowers all around since then.  Somehow I had never been to Paradise and we will certainly return in the future and eventually do more of the strenuous hikes up to the snow level.  I am always disappointed with my pictures of mountains, since no matter how good they are, photographs never seem to capture the majesty and grandeur of the stark monster in the sky.  Likely a problem with the photographer more than anything else.  It's amazing how close we live to such beautiful and incredible natural displays of God's creative imagination and the wildness brings me closer to understanding His heart and His ways. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yarn Along of Late July



I'm unsure whether Ginny will be hosting the Yarn Along after the sudden and tragic loss of her friend this week, and it would be entirely understandable if she didn't.  If you haven't followed the situation, you can read her short post on it from the other day, with the update that Sarah and baby Cecilia have passed away.  My heart is broken for this family so far from here and I can't even begin to imagine what they are experiencing.  I will be praying this week for Sarah's husband and their four children.

Whether or not there is a Yarn Along to join, I have been so looking forward to sharing the progress I've been making on the adorable Clementine hoodie.  I am onto the hood which is knit in a Feather and Fan pattern, one I've always loved.  I was inordinately proud of myself for figuring out the raglan construction from the bottom-up, since, well, I'm visually/spacially challenged and usually end up throwing projects across the room when I branch out into a new skill area but this sweater wasn't tossed even once!  Once I figured out the general construction of how to add the sleeves onto the sweater, I was able to trust the pattern and go forward.  

"Sometimes a day can get so busy, and we can get so preoccupied with all the things that we must get done that we can forget to smile into our children's eyes.  We can forget to make that heart connection.  Even on busy days, when my kids come to me to share a story or ask a questions, I try to "twinkle" at them - to let them know that I am glad to be looking at them."  Sections like this are the reason I am still so slowly digesting The Sane Mother's Guide and why I think it's so applicable even for families of "just a few" kids.  I was so cranky today, just short on patience since we were grocery shopping in 100 degree weather and loading kids and groceries in and out of the car and multiple stores in that kind of heat made us all so irritable.  But yesterday!  Yesterday I kept this suggestion at the forefront of my mind.  I love the word "twinkle" to describe that special eye contact connection because it is truly more than just looking at someone.  It's looking at them with the force of love and that is so important and so easy to miss.  Tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity for twinkling eyes.  It is really important to me that I also "twinkle" at my husband this week since we are both very tired.

This is the last week of our summer ministry teams and so our last week of Kids Club for the summer.  I will miss the miraculously joyful and hopeful environment that Christ brings into the heart of the housing project where our family spends our summer afternoons and especially will miss some of the beautiful children, like the girl who comes up and tickles my back several times a day, or the precious girls who shyly presented my children with crowns and chains from the clover they had gathered nearby today.  I love to see the other moms who quietly sit near their baby in the stroller and watch their children play safe in the sun.  I try to take the opportunity to connect with moms there, even if it's a short conversation, and always hope that one day they might come back or will detect the love of God and want to come to church.  I decided to bring my camera today to practice taking pictures and we can always use more for our family's communication to those who partner with us, so I will try to get a post up on our family's blog with a few of those pictures and maybe some stories soon.  In the meantime, I am sharing my favorite of the Girl With the Clover Crown.