February 28, 2018

End of February on the Homestead


My cow-friend Matilda and her Shadow, aka our nearly thirty year old miniature horse, soaking up the warmth of the wintry sunshine.


Our snow covered and wind blown lower pasture. So pristine.


The tracks of a wee and wild homestead critter. A mouse, we think.


Jack... looking so grown up at four months old.


Part of our little goat herd, keeping an eye on things.


And here is Ruby... my kitty. Her bed is now atop our piano. She likes the view from above, and Jack can't lumber into her lofty quarters. {smile}

It was a wintry February at our place. A short month by the calendar's estimation, but somehow a month that tends to linger a bit. Oh, I love the snow (and the snowshoeing!) and the cozy of the fire in the wood stove... but I also begin to anticipate the earliest of wildflowers that shouldn't be *too* far away.

And I am rather excited about all the eggs our chickens will begin laying again soon!

Our local feed store has chicks in stock. Before Jack joined our family, I had planned to add a dozen or so new laying hens to my flock this year. But common sense prevails, and there is just no logical way for me to add a tub full of chicks to brood in our little house that contains an always boisterous yellow Lab puppy.

He is a sweetie, my Jack... but I am going to wait another year to buy more chickens. Our current flock of thirteen hens should keep me at least partially supplied with farm fresh eggs this spring and summer.

What I *really* desire to add to our barnyard this spring is more goats! I've been praying about it and watching the farm sale ads and waiting and hoping. If it is God's will, it will happen!

Happy last day of February to you ~

February 27, 2018

Four Months Old {Already!}

Time does seem to fly, and the fact that my Christmas puppy is four months old already just confirms that thought for me.

Four months! Was it not just yesterday that I received a wiggly and oh-so-itty-bitty seven week old pup for Christmas? Where does the time go anyway?

He has grown a lot... we think he looks more like a small version of an adult yellow Lab than like a puppy, now.


Jack *loves* the snow and the farm and his time in the out-of-doors. He is definitely an active and boisterous ball of energy!



He is quite smart and *very* sweet. House training him was a piece of cake, and now he goes to the door and barks whenever he needs to go outside.

But he does have his quirks. Don't we all? Ha! He likes to select his favorite items from my laundry pile and carry them around the house. And he loves shoes. And peanut butter.

I have started a collection of severed leash ends. Jack has a habit of chewing through his leashes. I wonder how large my collection will grow if he continues with this habit?

I am sure to keep a spare leash or two on hand so I don't inadvertently run out!


We are working on obedience training and teaching him commands. Jack can sit and stay and he comes to us when we call him. Most of the time, anyway...

He does get distracted easily sometimes, especially when my grand-dog Juno is around.


He loves to play with her... and Juno tolerates his puppy antics with admirable patience. {smile}


Oh how I love this dog! Jack has brought nothing but joy and fun into our days as he, in four short months, has become firmly ensconced within our family and farm and hearts.

Kindly,



February 26, 2018

Of the Weekend


Our weekend began with our usual family fun night tradition... homemade pizza and an evening of deliberate family togetherness. We have discovered the fun of playing African Stone Game (Mancala) together! It is our current favorite family fun night activity.

We began Saturday with pancakes for breakfast (yum!) and then the day became unexpectedly busy. We were planning on a quiet day at home... tending to some tasks and getting things done around the homestead. But we ended up doing errands for a good part of the day instead.

I did have a chance to inventory my spices and add the ones I was low on to my grocery shopping list. Funny how I tend to run low on everything at once... *all* the spices, *all* the cleaning products, and even the few paper products I buy. It is incentive for me to get our home storage of such things built back up again!

Sunday was blustery. A storm blew in and it made me quite glad we had run all of those errands on Saturday! We did have a few more things to pick up while we were in town, though, so I asked my dear hubby to stop by the thrift store while we were in the neighborhood...

Woot! I found a cute denim skirt and a long modest jumper in my *favorite* brand there. Oh, it has been years since I found a jumper (dress) to my liking at the thrift store. I felt like God had put it there just for me to find, it truly made my day.

It was too stormy to even take Jack for a walk on Sunday. I think that was the first day we didn't get to walk outdoors since I got him!

And into another week we joyfully go...




February 23, 2018

A Grateful Heart


Happy Friday to you, friends! It is a sunshine-y winter day at our place... 25 degrees (F) and just the slightest breeze is blowing. I have been blessed to have almost all of my family at home this week. Nine of the ten of us under one roof is a lovely treat, indeed.

So this week has been a little unusual in our schedule, with more of a focus on play and togetherness than on getting all the things on my daily to-do list accomplished. I have really enjoyed it, the slower and more deliberate pace; rather than the rush-about that so easily creeps into my days.


We have spent abundant time in the out-of-doors together, which has been *bliss* I do think. The whole lot of us has been going for walks together around our property each day. We have made so many tracks in the snow!

And enjoyed the beauty of our homestead.


Here are a few snippets from my ongoing gratitude list this week ~

:: Hobbies. I have so many... but I enjoy *so* many things! And I don't worry about doing everything I like to do every day, that just wouldn't be practical. But I don't think I have ever been bored!

This week, I have been crafting along on my cross-stitch during the day (I can't see those teeny holes in the fabric once the sun goes down!) and knitting on my shawl when I get a chance in the evenings.

And I have been finding time for my photography endeavors once again! I hope you will have a look at them at Images of a Happy Gentle Life. {smile}

:: Jack and Juno. My puppy (almost 4 months old!) and my grand-dog. I never really thought of myself as a "dog person" before these two amazing critters came into my life. They just make me extremely happy... the both of them.

:: Working together. We have had some bustling (and colorful!) afternoons in the kitchen this week... and they have been times of laughter and conversation and productivity as some of my older children, especially, are willing and able to help me with all of the cooking and baking and cleaning up that happens every day around here!

:: Hymns. I have been listening to some of my favorite hymns this week... The Love of God, In Christ Alone, It is Well, How Great Thou Art... I especially enjoy the acapella versions I have discovered. Meditating on the lyrics of those familiar hymns has really brought an added measure of peace into my heart lately. And I *love* it when my little ones (and not so little ones!) sing along.


There is always something to be thankful for... I believe with all my heart that God is good all the time. And He loves us so much! I hope that you feel that truth in your own life, my friend.

Thank you for coming by my blog this week. I wish you a wonderful weekend where you are.

Warmly,

February 22, 2018

Home Sewn Long Upcycled Skirt


Here it is, friends, the skirt I have been teasing you with lately. Ta-da! {smile} I am happy with it... I used upcycled materials to make it and I didn't use a pattern. So it is a frugal and modest custom fitted addition to my wardrobe.

I used a T-shirt type top for the waistband and some more of the sheet that I used when I made this skirt for the rest. And it is kind of fun because that first upcycled skirt doesn't fit me anymore so I gave it to one of my girls. Now we can kinda match if she chooses to wear her skirt on a day that I am wearing mine.

We both think that is pretty neat.


I didn't take project-in-progress pictures because I literally just took some measurements of myself and made it up as I went along... But this is basically what I did ~

I made a yoga style waistband with the body of the shirt. It is folded in half so the fabric has a double thickness on the skirt.

I cut two pieces from the sheet, one for the front and one for the back of the skirt. The skirt is a bit less than two-and-a-half times as wide as my hips (I love my skirts roomy!).

I sewed the front and back pieces together at the sides, and then I gathered the top edge of the skirt and sewed it to the waistband.

I showed you a glimpse of that in an earlier post... Here is that picture again.


I didn't have to hem the bottom of the skirt because I *loved* the decorative top edge of the sheet. So, I left it on to function as a cute, wide hem. I hope you like it as much as I do!


After I was finished, I decided to add a drawstring to the top edge of the yoga waistband. I crocheted a chain of acrylic yarn and cut two little slits inside the waistband so I could insert it. It ties to adjust the waistband to whatever snugness I want now, and it is completely hidden.


One more look...


This was a quick project, it only took about an hour or so. Next time, I want to cut the skirt pieces to be a little wider at the bottom. I think if I made them to total three times my hip measurement, and stayed with about two and a half times my hip measurement for the top edge, it would be just exactly right.

Wishing you a lovely day, friends.


February 21, 2018

Crafting Along

I love to share finished projects with you in this space, those ta-da moments are so much fun! But sometimes my ta-da moments are few and far between, I tend to be a rather s-l-o-w crafter.

No problem, I realized. I also think it is fun to show projects-in-progress... the crafty endeavors I am working on that may be just begun, nearly done, somewhere in between, or perhaps still churning about in the *someday* segment of my brain.

Probably there will be a bit of all of those things for many if not all of my crafting along updates. {smile} I try not to have *too* many projects going at once, but, well... yeah. I have a feeling I am not alone in knowing the joy of having quite a few projects-in-progress.

So many projects. So little time.... Because yarn and fabric and thread are just. so. beautiful. Right?

Today, I want to show you a few of the things I have been working on.

First, this is the shawl I am knitting. It is the one I had to start over because I dropped it and turned it into a jumbled mess when I did. And fixing my knitting mistakes is simply beyond me.

But I am well past the point I was at on that day... in fact, I could perhaps maybe-just-maybe have this finished in the next week or so. Yay!

 
It is going to be a gift for someone that probably won't be expecting it... so I am especially excited to get it finished and mailed away!

Here is my newly begun counted cross-stitch project. Those few stitches - that actually represent a few hours of work (I told you I am s-l-o-w) - look nothing like a poppy yet, but this sampler will eventually have several poppies.


I love poppies! Such a cheerful flower, one of my very favorites. And poppies are simply resplendent with some of my favorite colors, too.

I was happy to spot this particular cross-stitch kit at the craft store display the other day. It has been quite a few years since I did a cross-stitch or embroidery project. How fun to be back at it again.

And this is the pile of hand-me-down fabric I told you about the other day. What a blessing to receive it! There are many large pieces and several smaller ones, too. Right now, within that pile, I imagine a couple of skirts and a headband or three and at least a couple throw pillows waiting to be created...


Those are the projects-in-progress that have been filling my spare moments recently. Isn't it fun to make things? I would most definitely say... yes!

And I do have a finished sewing project to show you tomorrow, Lord willing. {smile} It is a long and modest upcycled skirt that I am pretty happy about. Do check back if you would like to see it!

Wishing you a lovely day.





February 20, 2018

Great Big Batch of Meatballs

I have a recipe to share with you today, friends. A great big batch of meatballs... My Hubby's favorite meatballs. This is one of my most used recipes and always a big hit at our place.

These are fantastic when made with ground beef, but I especially like making them with game meat, when we have it. The pork sausage and game meat pair together very nicely, I think. And a few years ago, I began sneaking the shredded carrots into the mix... it's not a lot, but I appreciate an easy way to get another bite or two of veggies into my tribe!

Here is my recipe for you...


My Hubby's Favorite Meatballs {recipe}

Ingredients:

3 pounds ground beef (elk or deer)1 pound spicy pork sausage
1 1/2 cups quick rolled oats (uncooked)
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 large eggs
8 oz tomato sauce (divided usage)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 carrots, peeled and finely shredded (about 1 cup shredded)
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
parsley flakes for garnish

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Lightly spray a 12 x 18 inch baking dish, or 2 - 9 x 13 inch baking dishes, with cooking spray.

You will need a very large mixing bowl to mix this all together.

Put the quick oats and ground flax seeds into the large mixing bowl. Break open the eggs and add them to the bowl. Add about half of the tomato sauce (about 4 oz) and all of the warm water to the bowl. Stir to thoroughly combine.

Add the chopped onion, shredded carrots, ground oregano, garlic powder, and ground black pepper to the mixing bowl. Mix well.

Add the ground beef (elk or deer) and the pork sausage to the large mixing bowl that contains the rest of the ingredients. Using clean hands or a wooden spoon, mix to thoroughly combine all ingredients.

Family note: This mixing step is known as gooshing at our place. And, while I goosh everything together, one or more of my children often stand nearby and gushes... "that looks so good!" and "oh, how yummy!" and so on.

So while I goosh the meat mixture, they gush encouraging words. We always laugh hysterically about this gooshing and gushing tradition. Yes, we are easily entertained. {smile} Do try this fun step, though... love and laughter are always good additions to a recipe.

Back to the actual recipe...

Now that everything is mixed together it is time to form meatballs. I use a 1/3 cup dry measuring cup for the first few, then do my best to match that size to portion out the rest of the meat mixture, forming each portion into a ball and placing the balls into the prepared baking pan(s) being sure that they do not touch one another.

Once all of the meatballs are shaped and in the pan, evenly spoon the remaining 4 oz (or so) of tomato sauce on top of them, approximately 1 teaspoon per meatball. Then, sprinkle parsley flakes lightly on top.

Cover the pan and bake in the preheated 350 degree (F) oven for approximately one hour, or until cooked through. Meatballs are done when they are not pink in the middle and the juices are clear. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and remove the cover. Do be careful of the potential steam when you remove the cover from the pan.

Serve immediately or let cool before packaging them for storage in the refrigerator (short term) or freezer (long term).

Recipe makes approximately 34 meatballs.

Tip: These meatballs freeze beautifully, if you would like to save some for another day. To reheat, put the desired number of frozen meatballs on a baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees (F) until heated through. Or, put them into a sauce and let them simmer until thawed and reheated.

Another tip: This is the same mixture I use for meatloaf... rather than forming meatballs, shape into two loaves and bake at 350 degrees (F), covered, until done. Usually about 1 hour and 15 minutes in my oven.

I do hope you like this recipe as much as we do.

Enjoy!




February 19, 2018

Weekend Goodness





Only a month until Spring, the calendar says... but we are still quite ensconced in the grip of winter at our place. We had fresh snow *and* cold temperatures over the weekend, with an occasional gust of frigid wind thrown into the mix as well.

So most of our weekend tasks were a result of the snow... including chasing our snow-loving pup around the yard as he romped about in his beloved drifts, and making sure our outdoor critters were snug and cozy and comfortable in their shelters.

And it was fun to bundle up and bring our dogs Jack and Juno along for a refreshing snowshoe walkabout with my dear hubby and one of our boys who wanted to come along, too.

Around the homestead...

We put a trim board along the back of our goat shelter. It will provide a bit more insulation for the building and also gives an added measure of safety along the seam of the metal siding.

Hubby spent some time in his plow truck, keeping our long and winding driveway cleared out so we have access all the way to the house.

...And a plow truck repair was needed along the way when a hose broke. Thankfully, my dear hubby is a skilled mechanic and such things are easy-peasy for him.

Indoors...

We are working on the wallboard repair in the bedroom where Jack chewed through. It looks rather nice now and he hasn't attempted a repeat of his antics.

I had the *delightful* task of sorting through a bag of hand-me-down fabric from a sewing friend. Oh my, what a treat! I have so many projects swirling around in my imagination now!

And I started a wee cross-stitch project, the first cross-stitch I have done in perhaps fifteen years! I just felt like doing one, so I picked out a cute little poppy flowers sampler when we were at the craft store the other day.

I am loving it, although my nearly fifty-year-old eyes aren't what they used to be... those holes in the Aida cloth are sooo tiny!

It was a good weekend, made even better since our oldest daughter and her dog Juno are home for a few days. Almost our whole family all together in one place... to me, that was the best part of all.

Happy Monday to you...

February 16, 2018

A Grateful Heart


Happy Friday to you, dear friends.

It is a blustery day on our homestead. Gray sky, white ground, and a gusty wind causing the falling snow to move sideways before it lands upon the earth. The outdoor thermometer says 25 degrees (F) and the windchill makes it seem quite a bit colder than that. Brrr.

But our animals are tended to and there is a large batch of taco-style lentils and brown rice simmering upon the stove for our lunch and we are warm and cozy with a lovely fire burning in the wood stove.

All is well on our home sweet homestead. {smile}

I am thankful we all spent some time in the out-of-doors yesterday. Mid-afternoon, I suggested that all of my children join Jack and me for an afternoon walkabout. We ended up spending about an hour in the fresh air and sunshine... in the back pasture and then the front pasture and then some time in the yard for sledding and goat petting.



Here are a few more of the things from my ongoing gratitude list today...

:: Cooking and eating without rules or restrictions. I did enjoy my years of being vegan, but I have grown quite fond of simply enjoying food of all kinds without any stress whatsoever. It has only been a bit more than {3 Months} but I am indeed marveling at the changes I have experienced in that short amount of time. Praise the Lord.

:: Our church. I often mention the lovely online sermons that I enjoy listening to throughout the week, they are a blessing! Those sermons are a supplement to the wonderful Bible-based teaching and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ at the church we have attended for twenty years now. I am thankful for the church we call home.

:: Self-care. I've mentioned before that I have been working on being kinder to myself... giving myself permission to let things go, even some good things, to make room for better things. To leave things with the Lord to be handled His way in His timing, not giving them another thought myself.

Good and necessary things, those. So wonderfully freeing indeed!

To help break my habit of being so over-achievement oriented, I deliberately let my daily Hebrew practice streak go... after more than 500 days! I'm still studying and learning that beautiful language, but without the self-imposed pressure to keep that daily streak going. It is lovely.

:: Valentine's Day. It was a simple day at our place... I thought you might like to see the cake I told you I was making. It was a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, dotted with chocolate candies. We ate the whole thing for dessert after supper. It was delicious!


Thank you for coming by my blog this week, friends. I appreciate everyone who comes by to read my ramblings and look at the photos I share.

Lord willing, next week I will share our favorite meatball recipe with you and do a show-and-tell of the long skirt I just finished sewing. Do check back for those things...

I wish you a fantastic weekend where you are!

February 15, 2018

Oh So Sleepy, Oh So Peaceful

I didn't read the news headlines this morning. Honestly, I avoid the mainstream news as much as possible... and yet I still manage to stay aware of current events and the goings on of the world.

Often, the daily news isn't very cheerful or uplifting. Our hearts weep for people we have never met who are experiencing circumstances we cannot imagine in our fallen world.

So today, I simply want to share with you my recent photos of my sleeping puppy. Jack is a joy and has brought such a lively burst of enthusiasm into our days. His playful personality and boisterous antics are such an example of carefree happiness.

Dogs are cool like that, don't you think?

I hope the sweetness of him sleeping (in my dear hubby's chair!) beside the cozy warmth of our wood stove brings a smile to your day.




Oh to have peace and rest like Jack, yes? He has a warm and cozy haven upon a comfy chair. We have it even better, though. We have the peace of God.

"In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus."
 Philippians 4:6-7 {WEB}
~ * ~

Kindly,







The Scripture in this post is from the World English Bible, which is in the Public Domain. The name "World English Bible" is trademarked.

February 14, 2018

The Love of God


Happy Valentine's Day to you! It is a day to celebrate love... and I am basking in the sunshine of God's love today. I hope that you are, too. My sweet hubby surprised me with a heart shaped box containing my *favorite* candy and one of my to-do's for today is baking a special cake for dessert tonight.

It's a rather simple way to make today a little more special than usual. {smile}

As I was walking my puppy around our homestead with my family the other day, I was enjoying the beautiful view of the snow covered mountains off in the distance... beneath the big, clear blue sky. And I was thinking about the Lord and His goodness. Not just the goodness of what He does, but the goodness of who He is.

I used to focus a lot on my love for God. Because I do love Him, with all of my heart. Spending time in His word daily, talking to Him in prayer, abiding in His love is transforming my heart immensely day-by-day.

We become a new creation at the moment of our salvation, yes. But I am talking about the wonderful work of God in growing me up, spiritually. I have felt that strongly recently. It makes me love Him all the more.

But these days, I feel overwhelmed in the most wonderful way by God's love for us. Each of us, and all of us. We have an eternal Valentine that proclaims an everlasting love. There is no greater love than Christ laying down his life upon the cross that we sinners might be saved.

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39 {WEB}

How lovely to know that no matter what our worldly circumstances may be, we cannot be separated from the love of our awesome God.

Wishing you peace, friends... and a most *wonderful* Valentine's Day.







I use the World English Bible (WEB) for my word pictures because it is a version in the Public Domain. The name "World English Bible" is trademarked. More information can be viewed here.

February 13, 2018

My First Home Sewn Prairie Skirt

Finished at last! My first home sewn prairie skirt... *happy* with it I am, friends. This is one of my favorite skirt styles, everything I love my skirts to be. Long, loose fitting, modest, comfy. All of those things I told you about in part two of my modesty series. And it turned out kinda cute, if I do say so myself. {smile}


And yes... that is also my new sidebar photo. As I shared with you in my {3 months} update post, I am really happy that I recently cut my bangs! I wasn't sure if I would like the look of bangs with my headbands, but I actually prefer it for myself.

This prairie skirt is my version of Simplicity easy-to-sew Pattern 1110, view B. I cut it out in extra-large so it would be nice and roomy... I like to be able to move about easily in my clothes. And I don't like the way snug clothing feels.

I did not use the pattern piece for the waistband casing. It seemed much simpler to fold over the upper edge of the skirt, rather than use a separate piece, so that is what I did this time. And I also didn't exactly follow the pattern directions for sewing the tiers together, but you wouldn't know that unless I told you... {smile}

The fabric was purchased at a discount store. It is simply good old-fashioned basic cotton. Actually, it might be a blend (I didn't save the tag...) but nothing fancy. It cost well under twenty dollars for all of it.

I do especially love (love!) the orange print that I chose for the bottom tier. And there is enough of it left to perhaps sew a headband for myself.


Sewing skirts for myself (and my girls) makes me so happy! And the only thing I don't like so much about finishing a project is that... now I don't have a sewing project to work on. Time to plan the next one indeed!

Wishing you a lovely day.



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