Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Gathering The Moments

Can it be November is over, and Thanksgiving is now behind us?

These photos give you a little window of what our month looked like. We spent a bit of time outside cleaning up flower beds, planting pansies and storing summer items.  I was sad to see the hammock put away for the winter, but thrilled that we found on small greenhouse on sale.  Husband had the challenge of assembling it.

The leaves have been beautiful and we made some excursions to get some photographs,. I am really thankful for these opportunities.

I had dreaded Thanksgiving because neither son was going to be home (remember I love a full house) but in the end it turned out to be very enjoyable (and relaxing) And it gave us an opportunity to better know some friends of ours. (and yes, I was well for Thanksgiving)

Even though it was just the two of us we took our family photo for the year this past weekend.

What my husband and I are beginning to see is, there are things we would not have been doing and opportunities we would have missed had all of our family been here. Still miss them but learning to find the blessings and the grace moments in this new season.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday's Musings

Some random Monday thoughts, Thanksgiving is just a few short days away. It is by far my favorite holiday. I love all the food and all the gathering of family and friends,  I love a full house. We have that when our Care Group gathers and it has made not having a full house for Thanksgiving easier. What has also made it easier is that I have been sick for the last couple of days. I'm actually relieved I don't have to get ready for a house full of people.

I have been battling some type of upper respiratory bug. My voice started to go Friday night and by Saturday it had progressed to a whispery squeak. Try having a conversation when you are like that, it's better not to even go there. (I couldn't say it the first time, how can I repeat what I just said....my poor sweet husband) Spent most of the weekend on the couch.

I am better today, voice is more of a deep gravel and I am feeling more like myself. I actually headed out today, to look for  something that would help a cough, clear a stuffy head, and not be contraindicated for someone that has problems with blood pressure. I wasn't alone, the cold remedy aisle had several sniffly, coughing people milling about. I'm not really a germaphobe but my thoughts did go to how contaminated the boxes and bottles of these medications must be. (I can't be the only one who picks up boxes and bottles and reads the labels) Must remember this for future shopping trips. (Another mental note, wash hands more frequently)

Nothing better when you are sick than some homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, I've eaten a lot of it the last couple of days.

Feeling blessed that we will be celebrating  Thanksgiving, with some friends. We were asked to bring a traditional dish, so we will be bringing  Cranberry Salad  and since I still have a ton of apples from our picking excursion I will probably bring something that requires apples as well. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, enjoy the gathering of family and friends and be mindful of all we have to be thankful for (even in the midst of difficulties there is always much to be thankful for)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Finding Rest

I seem to always fight the desire to  understand why things happen a certain way. I want to know why people make the choices that they do, I want to know what God is up to in the hard places. If I only knew, perhaps it would be easier to walk through some of the more difficult days in life.

Then I  came across this passage the other day which spoke keenly to my heart, God's timing always perfect

"We think we would find it much easier to obey if we grasped all the details about why we are asked to do one thing or another. But this desire to understand is simply another form of the desire to control.. We want to have the option of signing off on God's plan, just in case there's something he overlooked. Yet at the same time we know we don't have the capacity to understand God's creation fully.We simply need to accept that the reasons God does what he does in our lives, or how our life fits into the whole of his grand redemptive plan, will never be completely clear in this life. That is why real rest and peace is not found in knowing and understanding. It is only found in trust, Only when you have a quiet confidence in the Lord behind the plan and have come to know his love, wisdom, power and grace, will you be able to rest in hope--even when you do not understand what God is doing in a particular moment in your life. This is exactly the experience expressed in Psalm 33:20-21
We wait in hope for the Lord, he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust his holy name"
Excerpt from Broken Down House, Living Productively in a World Gone Bad, page 58
by Paul David Tripp

Missing my grands

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Braised Kale

Kale is a relatively new vegetable for me. I avoided greens in the grocery store because I wasn't familiar with cooking them. I liked spinach but kale, collards or swiss chard (or any kind of greens)...no thank you.

When we began getting our produce from our CSA, kale of all kinds was included in the baskets in the spring and fall, so I had to figure out what to do with it. Imagine my surprise when I found out how good it was, I love this stuff and from what I read it's full of all kind of good for you nutrients, a real super food.

Now I know a lot of folks that add kale to smoothies, it's one way of getting all the goodness from the kale without losing any of the nutrients but I'm not a big fan. I don't think I can get over the thought of drinking something green...just saying. I  love it braised though and this recipe is the best ever...it's got bacon in it how can you go wrong! I can literally eat this every day (and have been for the last week)

I have adapted this recipe so the measurements of the kale, apple, onion and bacon are flexible. I tend to be a "grandma cook" I measure by what looks good, not so good for those trying to replicate my recipes. This recipe would be a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. Try it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Braised Kale
4-8 cups Curly Kale, chopped with stems removed
1/2-1 sliced onion
1/4-1/2 chopped bacon (about 4 slices) more if you like
1-3 skinned diced apples (I use a tart apple like granny smith)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I like the cloudy kind)
2/3 cup apple cider (I used the spiced apple cider from Trader Joe's)
Salt to taste

I wash and trim the kale first, cutting out all the woody stems and ribs (if your kale is more tender you may not need to trim as much) I then chopped my bacon and brown in a large pan (I use a dutch oven because initially the kale is going to fill the pan before it cooks down). After I cook the bacon I add the sliced onion till it begins to soften. I then begin adding the kale, mix all together as it cooks down, a bit. I then add the vinegar and the cider, chopped apples and cook until kale is tender.

Did I mention this stuff is crazy good. This recipe is just a guideline, the only thing I keep consistent is the liquid measurements (because you can always cook it out) Bonus...this recipe makes your house smell delicious

Recipe adapted from Sauteed Kale and Apples from Allrecipes

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thankful Thursday On Friday

I'm a day late for Thankful Thursday but I didn't want that to stop me from taking time to stop and list some of the things I am thankful for today

I am thankful for friends willing to help friends. Tomorrow is going to be a work day for some of the men in our Care Group, they are going to go over one of the members home and help clear out the back yard and make a dump run.

I am thankful for time away with my guy. My husband and I had a few days off together and were able to get away.

I am thankful for the baskets of produce we continue to get every week. Some of the things we have been feasting on have been kale, squash, cauliflower and beets. We are signed up for a Winter CSA and for next year as well. Getting a weekly produce basket has been challenging, I haven't always known what to do with some of the produce, but we are eating healthier and it has saved us money.

For the Lord's provision this holiday season. We have anticipated that the holidays would be difficult this year because our family is so far away but it turns out we will not be alone. We will be celebrating Thanksgiving with two other couples (and Sweet Lady) The other two couples each have grown children who will not be able to be home for Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for the sourdough starter our youngest son gave us the last time we visited, making preps to make bread tomorrow. This will be the third time we have made the bread and it is delicious.

And as peculiar as it sounds, I am thankful for the more difficult times in our lives. Don't get me wrong, I hate going through trials, especially when I smack dab in the middle of of the storm, but I can usually say that it's during those times that the Lord has used to grow my faith, or to change my heart or to continue to transform me.

So what about you, are there things that you can be thankful for today?

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior  Habakkuk 3:17-18

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Celebrating Veteran's Day

Anyone who has followed my blog for very long knows that my husband and I love to visit Williamsburg. On Veteran's Day they offer free admission for Active Duty and Retired Military and their families, it's a sweet deal, and one we try to take advantage of when we can.

Williamsburg has lots to offer besides the Colonial area, there are several parks, shopping and is home to the College of William and Mary....so lots of College Students and eateries that cater to them...think coffee shops.

Our time in Williamsburg was pretty low key. We had packed a cooler for lunches, it was full of things like bread, apples and peanut butter. When you take a cooler, you can do some "tailgating" just about anywhere.

We did lots of strolling and lots of picture taking and ended our visit with paying honor to those who have served. On Veteran's Day, if you have served you are asked to parade down the Duke of Gloucester and following the Fife and Drum Corp to Courthouse. Lots of Vet's participate with many VFW's represented. The group of Veterans's was led by two gentleman in wheelchairs that were being pushed, they had to be in their eighties. Thankful to those who have been willing to serve this would include my dad, my FIL, many friends and my sweet husband.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Around Our Neck Of The Woods

I never used to like fall. When my children were young, fall meant school and an end to the carefree days of summer. Schedules were busy and the weather was soon to turn cold. Our camping trips were done for the season, and there was homework and sports and music and busyness, lots of busyness. We didn't spend many afternoons (or mornings) looking for the changing foliage in those days.

I now enjoy fall almost as much as I do spring. I enjoy walking in the crisp air with a sweatshirt or sweater pulled tightly around me, with my hands in my husbands pockets because I forgot my gloves. I love the smells and I love the colors and textures that are associated with fall, it's beauty that points to a Creator don't you think.

The weather was beautiful this weekend, so we left the chores undone at home and headed outside to catch the beauty of this season. The leaves are just beyond peak but still pretty. I take the time to look these days, more aware at how fast time flies. The chores will still be there when we get back, but the leaves will be done for the season by next weekend. Make the most of every opportunity, no matter what that opportunity may look like.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Pictures don't always tell the whole story, sometimes you need audio too, but since I don't have that, let me fill you in on some details of this photo.

I had arranged with DIL to set up a face time session, so we could talk to the grandchildren. What the children didn't know was that I had also asked their favorite Aunt and her boyfriend to come over for dinner during that very same time. We wanted to surprise them.

We started the session before their Aunt arrived, and chatted about what we were all doing that night, I told my granddaughter we were having friends over for dinner. (probably shouldn't have said that) I think my eldest granddaughter was suspicious because she kept asking me who was coming over for dinner.

The doorbell soon rang and husband escorted our guests in and we sat them in front of the screen. All I heard for the next five minutes were squeals and giggles of delight. It was a very good day.

The Lord continues to be oh so gracious in our lives. He gives us delights even in the difficult places.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thankful Thursday

It has been a little rainy today, the temperatures are mild and the leaves are beginning to turn color around our area. These are just some of the things I have to be thankful for today

Other things I am thankful for

I found chicken and beef broth on sale today for 49 cents a can. I make a lot of one pot meals and soup in the winter, so I stocked up. My parents always had a pantry when I was growing up. and I used to tease them about what they were going to do with all that food, especially when they became Empty Nester's. (we now resemble this, ha ha) Husbands grandparents lived on a farm, so their pantry was full with all they had grown and canned over the summer. That mentality has influenced us...you never know who you might want to feed.

I am thankful for my DIL's sister who came over yesterday morning and helped me clean up around the house before Care Group. My first response was to refuse (it's that self sufficiency thing going on) but the truth was, I did need the help.

I am thankful for flowers that are still blooming in the garden

I am thankful that all is well with Sweet Lady, her most recent MRI should no changes from last year.

I am thankful for people that the Lord has put into my life that take the time to encourage.

Encouragement should be sincere and is different from flattery. I love when someone shares a scripture or comes up to me and mentions how they see a change of attitude or behavior that I may have been struggling with and praying about, or the encouragement to continue to press on.

I am thankful for praying friends, for those that tell me how they are praying and are willing to encourage with scripture. (It spurs me to do the same for others)

How about you, are there things in your life today you can be thankful for.

"So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthen in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness"
Colossians 2:6-7

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

An Ordinary Day

I am sitting at a coffee shop, across the street from where Sweet Lady is getting her teeth cleaned. I was told it would take about an hour, so I decided a cup of tea and the sweet smell of freshly baked goods might be just the thing to give me a little boost. Notice I said "smell" I didn't actually eat any of the pastries, even though Bear Claws are a particular favorite.

It's been a busy day, I have baked some bread for later in the week, finished cleaning up the terrible mess I made yesterday after I spilled half a container of Oxy-Clean onto some freshly laundered clothes and into every crevice of my dryer. It was a horrible mess, every time I thought it was all clean I would find more grit

I have stopped at the post office and mailed a small package to my "Frontier Family" dropped off some donations at the thrift store, tried to return a router,  and have voted.

I tire of the election season, the never ending ads, phone calls and candidate promotions that fill my mailbox for the weeks prior to the election. I believe we have a responsibility to be informed and to vote, but realize our hope is not in a political party or a particular candidate, our hope is in Christ alone, remember that tomorrow morning, whatever the results of your election happens to be.

Finally, remember we are instructed in Timothy to pray for our leaders and those in authority. for hearts, and for righteousness.

"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth"  1Timothy2:1-4

Saturday, November 1, 2014

October Moments

I would suppose you could say October was a month when things started to fall into a routine again for us. Our trips to take care of family were done for awhile and we were beginning to figure out what life without the grands was going to look like.

After losing interest for a time, I've picked up my camera this month and started taking photos again.

October is apple picking season in Virginia and we were able to pick enough apples to last us the winter with some to share. We learned last year that if stored properly apples will last for months.

Our "Frontier Family" is adjusting as well and we hear from them regularly. The best news is they now have a mailbox AND internet, so we have been able to Sykpe. 

 I love being able to see them when I talk to them. The above photo is them going on a hike. I love how Little Miss had to take a purse on a hike...kind of reminds me of me.  Photo below was taken after son and I had hiked up a hill in California (years ago) . He ended up carrying the purse I carried about half way up the hill, because I was having a hard time getting up the hill, let alone carrying a bag too.  His response to me.."Why did you bring your purse with you?" I really had no answer.

We are continuing  to get our produce basket each week and the veggies consist of more greens and root vegetables, so I have had to learn how to cook things that I'm not familiar with. We have gotten kale in several forms and I have discovered all go good with bacon.. who would have thought! Does adding the bacon cancel out all the health benefits of eating kale?

We've put summer clothes away, then had to drag some back out when the temperatures climbed back into the 80's. finished some outdoor projects and planted pansies for fall and winter color.

Our Care Group has been a tremendous blessing to us during this time. Focusing on the needs of others, has been healing to some extent, it has truly been a means of God's grace in our lives and we are so thankful to have this opportunity.

                                           Linking up with  Cheryl in Gathering the Moments