Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Story of the Day

There are some days that just make for a good story. Today was one of them. It was a cloudy overcast day and very chilly. I made a list of "To Do's" most of them were indoor activities like vacuuming, cleaning specific rooms, etc. But one thing on our list was to take fresh vegetables from the garden to our local food bank sponsored by our church. This would be our first trip of the season since planting occurred so late.
This is our 3rd year planting the garden for our own consumption and for the food bank. The kids and I love meeting those who are in tough times and benefit from this little food bank. The gals who work there are a true gift. They give of their time organizing this little endeavor and feed about 200 people a week.
Today we greeted the gals and brought raspberries, a variety of lettuces, arugula, an assortment of dark red, pink and white beets and Thumbelina carrots. We spent a little time talking with them and then were about to go on our way.
As we exited the food bank there is a line up of people waiting for it to open. First in line were two older women. One was missing her front teeth and the next lady had an accent. They said "Thank you" and we started walking to the car.
Immediately, I noticed someone trying to get my attention. I turned around and the little lady with the accent said, "My husband has been waiting for you." I looked out into the parking lot in the opposite direction. Walking toward us was an older, slightly feeble, looking man. Although he looked quite a bit thinner I recognized him instantly. She said, "Do you remember my husband, Joseph?" I looked at him and said, "You are the one who likes the GIANT zucchini I bring." (You know those zucchini that overnight grow to about 2 1/2 feet that most people don't want).
Joseph loves them. He is a Hungarian man who makes a favorite Hungarian soup with the big zucchini. In the past two years when he sees me arrive, his face lights up. The gals at the food bank always set aside the huge cabbage and zuc for him.
Joseph approached and greeted us. His wife said he waits in the car because he's not feeling well. Joseph then shared that he has lung cancer and is going through chemotherapy. We talked a bit about what's growing in the garden and what I brought today. At the close of our short conversation I tried to be encouraging and let him know we'd be praying for him.
As I got in the car, the kids said they remembered him from last year. I let them know he has lung cancer.
Driving home I starting thinking about the little things in life that we each can do. It really doesn't take much more effort to plant the seed packet instead of a couple of seeds. The cost is the same. The time weeding is about the same, but the blessings spread from this little effort are great. We are blessed to see Joseph and his wife and their smiling faces. We are blessed by seeing the gals work so hard giving their time at the food bank. And we are blessed to see the others wave at us while we drive away. It's good to know they're getting some fresh, healthy vegetables. It's all worth it and then some.
And when we least expect it, God shows us we now have a new person to add to our prayer board and lift up...Joseph.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This Little Pig Went to Market

The kids and I recently went to a local park that is also the home to many farm animals. The kids love to look at the animals and sometimes they even have "baby" animals which are especially precious to look at.
I took photos of the piggies, because they are irresistable! So cute!
While looking at these photos I was reminded of a childhood treat. In our family pickled pig's feet were a favorite. We didn't get them very often, but we would often receive a jar of them in our Christmas stockings (Just typing that makes it seem like such a strange thing!!- but we are a different type of folk). My brothers and I would fight over who got more, etc.
Then one year I went to a local fair and there was a mama pig there with her pee wee piggies surrounding her. I looked at those little cuties and that was it! I couldn't eat another pig's foot again. I even tried, but couldn't do it.
My family is shocked by my departure from pig's feet world, but they just don't sound good anymore.
I still eat pork and just about every other type of meat and we still eat "different" food, but no more piggie toes for me.

Growing Garden

This is a photo of my garden at the beginning of July. I need to get out and take another photo to show the new growth. The sunny weather has really been beneficial!
Last night we enjoyed a huge salad with fresh mixed lettuce greens.
The beets are now ready too, so I've got some canning to do. I love pickled beets! There is a recipe in a canning book, Small Batch Preserving, that makes the best beets. Throughout the year I pull a jar down and usually make a beet salad. The salad consists of beets, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, garlic, olive oil, and kosher salt. We love it!
I probably won't do too much canning this year with our upcoming move next spring. Although, I couldn't resist putting up some strawberry/rhubarb jam, but that will be gone quickly.


The raspberries are coming on and they are AWESOME! It's wonderful to be working out in the garden and then take a break for a fresh, non-sprayed, raspberry snack.
We have three different varieties. We have raspberries that are a deep red color and they are a medium size. We have golden raspberries that are small, but oh so flavorful. The kids love the goldens. They aren't as plentiful so we treat them like a delicacy. And we have LARGE, pinkish-red raspberries. I love these ones. They are plump and so tasty!
The other day the kids went out on a mission to pick and came back with over seven pounds of berries. Way to go!! I put most of them in the freezer for future consumption.
If this year is like years past we should be picking berries until late September. They just keep producing!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Coming Home from China, Off to China

I was just reading the Blogs from two separate friends. One friend is flying home from China with her husband, youngest biological son, and newly adopted Chinese son. This is their second Chinese adoption and makes for 5 kids in their family. It was so amazing to read how God pulled all of the details together and has rewarded them greatly for their obedience.

My other friend has just arrived in China with her 5 children (two of them adopted from China). They are beginning their new positions as "educators" in a Chinese school. They are also obedient to their call and waiting to see what God has in store for them.

There is so much excitement and I enjoy knowing amazing people who are reaching the orphans of the world and making a difference.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I was driving the kids to VBS (Vacation Bible School) this morning along the same road we travel just about daily. The road(s) have been under A LOT of construction and they have been consistently torn up, rerouted, and resurfaced. As we were nearing one of the stoplights I glanced over to the side of the road that had been torn up and was now a pile of dirt and there was a single BEAUTIFUL red poppy. It wasn't one of the red wildflower type poppies, but a beautiful multi-petaled fancy poppies. I alerted the kids to the flower and I just sat there gazing at it while we sat at the light.

I started thinking about that little beauty amidst the mess of construction and starting thinking about life. How many times do we only see and focus on the mess of heart-construction when God has us working on an area. We may miss the beauty that is there if our focus in only on the repairs.

That little poppy is going to be my reminder when I start to focus only on the construction/character building in my life. Rather than let myself get down and wonder when is this construction going to be done or what a mess it is and why do I have to go through it, I'm going to look for the little poppies in bloom and know that a good work has, is and will be done in my life.

To your poppies...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Garden is Growing!

We had such a terrible spring- so cold and rainy that I didn't get my garden in at the regular time. I didn't want to write the garden off, but felt like I was so far behind I couldn't have the garden I wanted. I kept running into people from our church's food bank and they ask, "How's the garden?" I didn't want to admit, "It's not going or growing" and we wouldn't be able to bless the food bank this year, but I also didn't want to put a lot of extra pressure on myself.
Family is such a blessing!! A month or so ago my sweet husband rototilled the garden. He decided to plant some grass in a couple areas that used to be garden so it wouldn't be too overwhelming. The soil is so beautiful and the winter rye we planted last fall added a lot of nutrients to the soil.

Also, my mom came up and helped me clean up and plant MANY seeds! Poor mom kept asking, "Are we done yet?" I kept showing her more seed packets I had bought. So we hustled and much to her dismay and aching muscles we got the garden in. We planted bush peas, bush beans, beets- choggia, red, lettuce- romaine, mesclun mix, paris mix, butterhead, arugula, and more, cucumbers- pickling, muncher, and more, butternut squash, sweet meat squash, carrots- Thumbalina, Rainbow, tomatillos, spinach, tomatoes, delicata squash, hubbard squash, pumpkins- Dill's Great Atlantic, Cinderella, Howden, Acorn squash, onions- walla walla, slicing, cabbage, and I'm sure there's more out there that I'm forgetting. Two things we didn't plant are potatoes and corn. Corn takes up a lot of space and since he made some of the garden grass, I didn't do the corn. We still may do pototoes...we'll see.

So tonight from the garden we enjoyed a spinach salad with strawberries. The strawberries, although very late are DELICIOUS!! We added a little feta, mandarin oranges, sliced almonds, onion and a balsamic vinegrette and... Oh so good!


The boys went to Day Camp last week so baby girl and I had a lot of time on our own. I really wanted to make sure she had some great times too so she wouldn't feel like the boys got to do all the fun stuff. We went to the local lake three times. She loves to play in the sand and build castles. I'd love to too if I could sit down comfortably amongst all the goose poop! Gross!! And despite the freezing water I did get in up to my knees a couple of times. I seem to remember the water being warmer in the past.
We also frequented the local donut shop for donuts and ice cream and of course did the girls day out at the mall. It's fun to wander around and look. The boys don't care much for shopping, but our girlie sure likes it! She shouts out words like, "Darling, SO CUTE!, Uh, Wow, etc." I think she's a born shopper!
Even though we had fun, she's really looking forward to her days as a camper. Mom just isn't as fun as a bunch of young energetic camp counselors. So sad!

New Look!

I was looking at a friends blog and decided to change up our blog a bit. I hope you like.

It would be my ultimate goal to post everyday like one would write in a journal. I know the information may not be all that exciting, but I'm hoping to keep many of these pages for our kids so they can look back and see what we were up to when they were young. Even though I hope to REMEMBER everything, I can barely remember what we had for dinner tonight.

Wish me luck! Again!