Friday, October 19, 2018

A Grateful Heart

:: October sky above the back pasture ::

:: the last three wildflowers on our farm ::

:: my best friend watching me potter about the kitchen ::

:: "Mama's deer" - the mule deer buck that visits our homestead often ::

What a glorious October day it is on our farm. Blue sky, a slight breeze, 64 degrees (F) outside, a small fire crackling in our wood stove inside. I have bread rising on the kitchen counter and the day's laundry on the clothesline, blowing dry in the sunshine. School is done for the day and we have been playing outside, enjoying our farm together. Good things, I am grateful.

I began my day with a beautiful 3-mile outdoor hike and a sermon. Our Friday morning schedule is sometimes a bit more relaxed than our other weekdays and allows time for such things. I am listening to a sermon series about depression in a believer's life, its causes and cure.

Though I am only a few messages in to the thirty-one part series, I feel so thankful to have found these teachings of sound doctrine about Spiritual Depression on Sermon Audio.

I am nearly a year into my eating disorder and exercise obsession recovery (Praise the Lord!) and I do believe I am fully recovered... I have become truly body positive and self-accepting and free of disordered food and fitness behaviors.

My joy is from Jesus, and it will not be shaken. God is so good!

But along with that unshakable joy, there are still residual feelings of anxiety and depression just beneath the surface, sometimes. Or right there on the surface, occasionally. No disordered behaviors, I don't act on those temptations, but the thoughts - while dwindling - do remain more than I prefer.

It puzzles me. Life is good, I am surrounded by people and animals and land that I love, we live a simple homemade life that I wouldn't trade for anything, and I am *very* happy, but that niggling feeling of slight anxiousness, and tiredness, of feeling a bit downcast, remains... I know it doesn't make much sense, especially since I am a saved-by-grace, born-again believer.

Oh, I have come so far and for that I am *thankful!* My body is healed and in its fat-and-happy place. I have made so many necessary changes and given myself permission to let things go. I don't have an eating disorder anymore. I am, for the first time in my life, kinda like my own friend... I am nice to myself, I even like me. I often feel misunderstood by those who don't really know me very well, but that doesn't even bother me anymore.

I have learned how to forgive past hurts (and the people behind them, when necessary) and move on... even allowing myself to remove some difficult relationships from my life guilt-free after forgiving and healing from their damage. I no longer require myself to maintain or restore stressful relationships when it doesn't seem wise for my health and happiness to do so.

My support team helped me realize that I need to be kind to myself, too! That isn't selfish, it is a very important gift. One cannot draw from an empty well. And difficult relationships can be oh-so draining, yes?

Recovery has been a lovely, messy, brave, complicated, and necessary process. How amazed and thankful I am to be putting so many things behind me at last... to truly grow in the Lord and as the woman He created me to be... and on the cusp of turning fifty!

And the victory I have been blessed with physically and mentally in this past year encourages me to keep going until *all* of the lingering anxiety and depression are gone, gone, gone. Until God's voice of truth is the loudest influence in my thinking.

So I think this sermon series will be a wonderful tool in my recovery arsenal. Thank you, dear friends and sisters, for your prayers. I really am fine, I just want to have complete victory over these long-standing issues. {smile} Oh that God would somehow be glorified as I continue to overcome and share my imperfections with the interwebs.

Is vulnerability beautiful? Authenticity. Sheesh... I would say it's just hard and incredibly humbling. Oh, I do write a lot more about all of this on Run Hoop Julie, if you would like to join me there.

Here are a few more things I am thankful for today~

:: Pumpkin spice. I am of the thinking that the more things that are pumpkin spice flavored, the better. I love it. So I was *thrilled* when our local grocer finally got the pumpkin spice flavored coffee creamer in stock this week. Yay!

:: October. My favorite month of all. I love mid-September to mid-November... autumn! {smile} FYI, my current order for favorite seasons is: autumn, spring, summer, winter... but I do enjoy them all. I picked winter last because that is usually the hardest season for us on our homestead.

:: Woodpecker. There was a woodpecker on our deck this week. We watched it grasp some insects out of a crack on our deck and eat them. It was fascinating. Such good timing that we looked out the window when we did!

:: Jack. That dog brings so much joy into our days. He is just playful and fun and happy all the time. And sweet and loving and... well, you probably know how much I love my dog!

:: Books. I just finished a novel that I really enjoyed - "Thieving Forest" by Martha Conway. And now I am reading "The Four Million" by O. Henry, it is a collection of short stories. I am reading "By the Shores of Silver Lake" by Laura Ingalls Wilder *and* the first Harry Potter book aloud to my children. And in my Bible reading, I am in the books of Deuteronomy and Luke.

Thank you for coming by this blog today... and for your visits to Run Hoop Julie and Images of a Happy Gentle Life, too. One big blog in three parts is how I look at it, and they each fulfill a niche and purpose that is just right for me and for them in this season of life... thanks for following along! (I hope you enjoy them!)


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Cozy Handmade Shawl

All finished! A cozy shawl that I crocheted for myself. Do you love it as much as I do?

One of my dear boys chose this acrylic yarn for me and gave it to me for my birthday last year. The thought of him standing in the yarn aisle of our local shop and choosing just the right colors for me warms my heart *so* much! And he was quite pleased when I decided on a project to craft with that yarn at last.

The shawl is simple double-crochet and it is narrow on one end and wide on the other. Quite perfect for wrapping up in and keeping cozy both outdoors and indoors, I think. I am very pleased with it.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Around the Farm

So many crafty happenings around here lately, yes? And that is very good... I love writing about and sharing the things we make and do at our place. {smile}

But since I have *another* craft post to share with you tomorrow, Lord willing, (it is my finished crocheted shawl *squee!*) I thought that today I would show you some of the critter pics I took yesterday.

Let's go!

I was gazing out the kitchen window - waiting for my bread to finish up in the oven - and looked out at just the right time to see my cow-friend Matilda plop herself down in a nearby spot for her afternoon rest. So as soon as my bread was out of the oven and set aside to cool, I grabbed my camera and hiked up to spend some time with her.

The rest of my tribe played with Jack in the yard... that yellow Labrador of mine and Matilda are pretty good friends, but I didn't want Jack to tag along and perhaps nudge Matilda up from her lounging place.

I love it when Matilda rests in this spot. I can watch her from the house and quickly dash out to give her an apple and a pat on the head. And she is *so* calm and peaceful when she is in her cud-chewing daze... it must be her happy place.

And Matilda's Shadow is looking so good... hard to believe this miniature horse is over thirty years old! Shadow really is Matilda's shadow... she follows Matilda *everywhere.*

Here is one of my eight remaining chickens, heading out to join the others for an afternoon peckabout in the barnyard. Our little flock is getting older, but these ladies still lay large-and-lovely brown shelled eggs fairly regularly.

I stopped to tend to our ducks on the way to the goats' area. And they were quacking and splashing and having a good time, as ducks are known to do around here. But every single picture I took of them was too blurry to share... oops!

And Clementine.

If someone asked me to guess where Clementine is on any afternoon, I would not hesitate to predict that she is lounging on the base of her spool, basking in the sunshine. This is her favorite spot.

I can't blame her for claiming the spot as her own. I have been on top of that spool and the view is lovely... it overlooks the house and the yard and the barnyard. She can see the back pasture and the front pasture and the amazing view for miles around.  Smart goat, that Clementine.

And so fluffy and soft! Not to mention she is blessed to smell like a goat (ha!) which I do believe is one of the best smells ever.

And here is a surprise for you... our budgies! Perhaps a peek at these two indoor critters of our farm will make up for the lack of duck pictures? {smile}

Wishing you a lovely day~

Monday, October 15, 2018

Traditional Crafting

It was a rather quiet weekend for me. My dear hubby and our children were so kind to keep our home and homestead running smoothly while I mostly took it easy and kept to the most basic and necessary tasks while my cold lingered.

Our oldest at-home children even did the grocery shopping for the week after I made our menu and list. We have always shopped together as a family so they had no problem at all getting everything we need for the next several days.

And they brought me a "feel better" gift... I am not sure I have gotten one of those before. {smile} It was a cute seasonal gift bag filled with peanut butter chocolate pretzels, pumpkin spice hot cocoa, pumpkin spice coffee creamer, a can of whipped cream, and a skein of kitchen cotton yarn. I thought that was so sweet!

While they were gone to town for the grocery shopping and my dear hubby and the rest of our tribe were busy about their own activities, I got myself a cup of coffee and started my Christmas crafting. It was so cozy in our house with the fire in the wood stove and the snow covered view (it has mostly melted since then) and it seemed like a good time to begin my tradition of knitted dishcloth making.

Each year I knit several dishcloths for Christmas gifting. Our adult children expect them and always tell me how much they like them, one of our girls has stashed some in her hope chest, and I like to give them to lots of other people, too.

They are such useful and frugal gifts, of course, and in my opinion much better for kitchen tasks than any store bought dishcloth I have tried. And I just like making them and giving them away!

So dishcloth number one for Christmas 2018 is well begun... in red.


Friday, October 12, 2018

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends. It is a chilly day at our place... right now our outdoor thermometer reads 52 degrees (F) but it feels a bit cooler than that with the slight breeze and the snowy view of the mountain above us. We have a fire in our wood stove keeping us cozy inside as we work on school and projects and the tasks that clamor for our attention today.

As I suspected earlier this week, I did indeed come down with a cold and it has sapped much of my energy these past few days. I have used some necessarily restful moments to stitch on my poppy counted cross-stitch sampler. I need the bright light of mid-day so I can see the tiny holes and I am often busy with something else during that span of the day... so having that quiet time to craft is something good that has come of this cold. {smile}

Here are a few more snippets from my ongoing gratitude list today~

:: Seeing "my deer" again... the big mule deer buck that I watched all summer came by our homestead for the first time in a long time this week.

:: Thoughtfulness... my kind hubby stopped by the store to get me something for my cold-related headache yesterday, and he also picked up a surprise quart of goat milk for me since I was almost out. So sweet!

:: My homekeeping servants. I don't know where I would be without my washer and dryer and oven and pressure cooker and mixer, etc. How much more have I appreciated them this week when I have been under the weather and desired to get my tasks done as quickly and easily as possible.

:: Just a bump. The other day, my sweet pup Jack jumped up at the exact moment I leaned forward and his head collided with my face... entirely an accident caused by bad timing. It gave me quite a fat lip and a bruise but thankfully our collision did *not* seem to damage the dental work and bridge I have because of bone loss in my jaw and the several missing teeth I have due to that. So relieved!

:: A nearly finished project. I finished crocheting the cozy shawl I have been working on for myself. All I have left to do is weave in the ends. Lord willing, I will get that done and get some pictures so I can show it to you next week!

Thanks for coming by my blog today, friends. Do have a peek at Run Hoop Julie and Images of a Happy Gentle Life if you want to see what else I have been up to lately. {smile} I wish you a wonderful weekend where you are...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

One Dozen Doings

:: Coco ::
I am...

Drinking: My third cup of coffee-with-goat-milk of the day. It won't be my last. {smile}

Eating: Nothing yet... but toasted homemade sourdough bread with honey peanut butter and a banana will be happening very soon!

Listening: The wood stove fan is whirring and our senior cat Marvin is meowing for my attention. I think he wants me to lift him up to the counter, he isn't able to leap like he used to.

Reading: The book of Numbers, in my Bible. Thieving Forest (Martha Conway), on my nightstand. By the Shores of Silver Lake (Laura Ingalls Wilder), to my kids.

Learning: I have "watch the video for current ASL class" tucked within the homeschool lesson plans on my to-do list, so that is my hoped-for accomplishment. There are only three more lessons in the syllabus before I graduate from this course (American Sign Language 1), I am hoping to finish by the end of December.

Thinking: About ordering a drop spindle and some roving fiber. My crafty interests are beginning to lean more and more toward spinning.

Admiring: The way the tiny icicles are hanging off of the bird feeder that is right outside the window. All the way around the bottom of it, forming a ring of icy points that remind me of whiskers.

Hoping: That the beginnings of a cold that I feel this morning will skedaddle rather than get worse. Mamas don't have time to get colds... right? I wish!

Hiding: A few Christmas gifts that I am quite pleased to have purchased already are tucked away in my gift bin.

Wearing: My long denim jumper layered over a blue knit shirt, and some cute purple socks. And I chose my colorful flower-patterned headcovering today.

Trusting: That if I am patient I will come across some just-right dairy goats that I have been itching to add to our wee herd so we can begin milking again. I think Coco and company would love some new friends and I would love to resume our little home dairy, Lord willing. Goat milk is my favorite.

Feeling: Content. Blessed. Thankful. God is good.

And one more to make it a baker's dozen of doings...
Wishing you a most lovely day!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Welcome Back

"Your buck is back, Mama!" my son happily exclaimed as he took a break from his archery target practice in the pasture to dash to the house and share with me the exciting news.

Ooo... how lovely! My boy set up the spotting scope on our deck so we could all have a look at the wee mule deer herd that was grazing in an adjacent field, with that familiar buck in its midst.

And what a relief to see him again. I had missed him and been wondering where the deer I had kept an eye on all of last summer had been for the past month or so. So regular were his visits to our homestead that my tribe had begun calling him "Mama's buck." He is a beauty!


Sunday, October 7, 2018

My Sweet Matilda

do you have a treat?
why of course I do, my dear
apple loving cow

happy she makes me
that lovely Jersey of mine
with those soft brown eyes

come on, Matilda!
she looks up and here she comes
my girl knows her name

my friend, a best friend
she knows how much I love her
how about a kiss?


Friday, October 5, 2018

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends! What a lovely autumn day it is at our place. Jack and I enjoyed our first outdoor hike of the week this morning and it was *bliss!* We have a fresh skiff of snow in the mountains surrounding our homestead and there was just the right amount of nip in the air. Ahhh.

The goats kept watch over our hike as they often do. Though Matilda merely looked to see if I was bringing her an apple... I wasn't (for once!) so she lost interest and went back to leisurely chewing her cud while lounging in the morning sunshine.

As Jack and I hiked amidst all of that goodness, I listened to a Paul Washer sermon that was very bold in its teachings on the home and so encouraging to me as a wife and a stay-at-homestead mama of many.

Just this week, one of our daughters was met with such a look of bewilderment by a co-worker that couldn't fathom that our girl's primary life goal is to serve the Lord... and that "all she wants to do" is to someday get married and have a family of her own.

And it thrills my mama heart that this smart and capable daughter of ours who could probably be absolutely anything she fancies to be in this modern world desires a role and a lifestyle that is traditional and important and valued far above rubies.

How lovely that there are still ladies (of all ages) that see the worth in what the world often mocks, yes? Praise the Lord.

Speaking of lovely, I thought the hillside next to our stretch of creek was stunning with its fall colors! The low-lying bushes and grasses turn such a rich shade of red this time of the year... and the yellows and greens and browns against that big blue sky... wow!

If you wanted to find me this week... chances are, I was in the kitchen. Busy, busy but in a happy, homemade, slow way. Making soup, baking bread, shredding enormous zucchini, processing apples.

My children and I worked together and got all of the apples peeled and sliced. I made loads of applesauce and we packed freezer bags to the brim with ready-to-use slices. It was a good time of togetherness and what a blessing to have a freezer shelf loaded down with a bounty of home processed fruit.

Re-stocking our food storage has been on my mind. And thanks to these apples, I am off to a good start with that project. For free!

Our friends let us pick the apples from their trees so all it cost us for about three-hundred pounds of organic fruit was some time. {smile}

My cat Ruby has the right idea. Time to rest and recharge after all of that kitchen work!

Here are a few more snippets from my ongoing gratitude list today~

:: A surprise discovery. We were walking along the creekside trail and happened upon a pile of bear scat dotted with chokecherry seeds. A black bear had wandered that way (likely during the night) and left behind evidence of its visit. Such a neat thing to find on our property!

:: My changing style. I took out *all* of my piercings! Oh, how exciting it was to get them... I got my nose pierced for my dear hubby's 50th birthday a year and a half ago, and I liked it so much that I ended up getting several piercings in my ears and another in my nose over the following months.

It was fun, I really enjoyed having them... they were an expression of confidence and bravery, and a real boost to my growth in self-acceptance when I needed one. I'm glad I got them.

But lately those piercings weren't seeming like "me" as much. And I am *all* about authenticity! I thought about taking them out, I prayed about it. The other night, one of them fell out in my sleep and rather than putting the one back in, I decided it was time to take all of them out. So I did.

I was afraid I would regret my decision. That I would miss them. But I don't, not a bit. Sleeping is easier, hugging is easier, playing with Jack is easier, even hooping is easier without having to worry about hitting my ears.

So I went from lots of earrings and two nose rings to none at all. Just a bunch of closing piercings that are barely noticeable already. What a change!

:: Hand-me-downs. I was given four boxes of canning jars this week! Such good timing with all of those apples in the house.

:: Movies. Ordinarily, I don't take the time to watch the movies that only interest me in our family. But lately, I asked myself... "Why not?" So, I have been choosing a movie that I want to see and watching it in pieces when I get a chance... ten minutes here, twenty minutes there. It takes a few days, sometimes a week, but what a treat!

Last week, I watched Fiddler on the Roof (1971). I loved it and I would love to sew some dresses for myself in the styles that the daughters wore... so cute! This week, I am watching The Phantom of the Opera (2004). So far, so good!

Well, my bread is almost done baking and I would love to venture outdoors to enjoy some of the late afternoon sunshine with my crew before I get the family fun night pizza underway. I was going to make another apple cake today, but I forgot to leave a bag of slices out of the freezer so I decided to choose *popcorn* for our family fun night dessert. Yay!

Thanks for coming by my blog today, and for your visits to this one and this one, too. I hope you have a lovely weekend where you are.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Preserving the Apple Harvest

The excitement in the air was palpable as we stuck the very last apple onto the apple peeler-corer device yesterday afternoon. Spin, spin, spin... done! "Yaaaay!" we cheered as we put the task of processing three hundred pounds of apples behind us.

What a blessing it was when a few friends asked my dear hubby if we would like to pick apples from their trees. It must have been a good year for apples in our Montana area, and we are thankful for the generosity of kind friends with backyard apple trees! (And how lovely that they say that our menfolk helped them by picking their excess fruit... I guess it was a good thing all around!) {smile}

It took several days for us to get through the bountiful harvest. And I made use of the apples along the way... during our preserving endeavors I made a few yummy cakes, a pie, an apple crisp or two, apple butter, and I think it is a conservative estimate to say we have gone through at least two gallons of applesauce already.

But most of those many pounds of apples went into our freezer. And here is what I ended up with...

3 gallon buckets of applesauce
9 quarts of applesauce in jars
13 gallons of sliced apples

Oh how happy I will be to have all of that apple-y goodness at-the-ready in months to come!

The apples join four gallons of chokecherries that I froze earlier this season. And next, I plan to set up my vegetable shredder and deal with a couple of enormous zucchini and yellow squash.

So it looks as though apple preserving season has come to an end in my homestead kitchen. I am glad... and I have apple stained hands and a passel of memories to savor from the afternoons our tribe spent working together and laughing and talking and getting those many, many apples done. Yay indeed!