A Grateful Heart

I wish I could package the feeling of joy and inner peace that I have in my heart these days and send bits of it to anyone who needs it. The source of it is the Lord - so it is already available to all who choose to receive it - and the choice I have made to abide in God's endless love and live fearlessly and authentically is at the tip-top of my gratitude list today.

As I danced and flowed to one of my very favorite songs, I was praising Jesus for opening my eyes to my own worth and the freedom I have as I abide in His love. I am utterly thankful that I am weight restored and joyfully confident in who I am and that I have put my eating disorder and exercise obsession behind me for good.

Fully recovered! I am grateful.

Wishing you abundant gratitude and joy and peace, friends.

End of March on the Homestead

It has been a bit of a guessing game... the March weather at our place. Typical for spring in Montana. Our conditions have been a hodgepodge of snow and rain and sunshine. With lots of mud.

We have seen the first bluebirds of this year at our place. A pair of them flits past the window as I write, and I am hopeful that they will take up residence in one of the bluebird houses we have set up on our property. Or, they are welcome to live under the roof of our deck, which seems to have become the favored choice of at least one pair of bluebirds each year.

While a fair amount of snow remains in our fenced yard, the pastures are mostly bare with only a few scattered patches of snow here and there for the most part.

But we haven't been without our usual end-of-March squalls that drop the exact kind of snow that is perfect for snowman building. Heavy, wet snow that packs together easily. So far, the lingering storms have been few and far between.

So far.

My weekly menu has begun to include more of the foods we associate with spring at our place. Our own farm fresh eggs are becoming more reliable as the hens have begun their increased laying due to the increasing hours of daylight.

And I started knitting the shawl I am making for our daughter who will graduate soon. Each stitch is filled with this mama's memories of so many days that became years of homeschool memories with her, prayers and hopes and dreams for this sweet girl's future, and excitement for all of the adventures she will soon begin.

New beginnings. Just like spring.

Five Months Old

My Christmas puppy is five months old today, friends! Jack was such a wee little seven week old pup when I got him (remember how tiny?).

And now... wow! Such a big boy!

Jack *loves* peanut butter. He understands the words... "peanut butter" and can detect them at the slightest whisper. Before long he should know both how to spell it and recognize the asl sign for it as those are the only ways I can bring up the topic without him getting amazingly excited for a treat.

He continues to enjoy exploring the nooks and crannies of our homestead and has discovered the pleasure of dig-dig-digging in the spring-soft dirt of the upper pasture. And he really puts himself into his battles with the tall yellow grass left from last year. Ha!

Nice snowman, Jack. I don't believe that you built it yourself. {smile}

Sleeping like a baby. On my bed. I don't mind... it makes me quite happy that Jack likes to be beside me wherever I go.

He is quite heavy, I can hardly lift him anymore. And we have to really *squish* ourselves to fit into my our chair together. Ha! This month, Jack *only* chewed through two leashes, and he also began shedding his baby teeth.

Oh so loved by all of us, Jack is. He is a good friend indeed.

A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends. It has been a lovely week for me... I spent every moment with seven of our eight children. How wonderful! Even though at times we were busy about our own activities, just having most of our family under one roof is a blessing I do not take for granted.

Our snow is quickly melting, the barnyard mud situation is a *bit* less extreme {smile}, the sky is a beautiful shade of blue with nary a cloud to be seen at this moment. And every single egg in my refrigerator was produced right here on our farm. All three of them. Ha!

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

:: Conversations. I am truly thankful that my children talk to me about whatever is on their minds. It has always been my priority to keep the lines of communication open with them... even if the topic is something that we may not view the same way or even agree on.

:: Doing hard things. Reaching out to people is hard for me... and I spent many years coddling that shortcoming of mine. But God has really nudged my heart to be more outgoing. And it is exhausting and draining and overwhelming, but also so rewarding and encouraging and fun! I'm glad to be pushing myself in this area, and making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.

:: Jack. I *love* that dog of mine... I have become something I never before understood until I got a puppy of my own. The proud parent of a fur baby. Ha!

:: Discovering something new. I love making kombucha - I showed you one of my thriving SCOBYs here - and this week I read that one can make kombucha with coffee rather than tea! I'm excited to learn more about that and give it a go!

Thank you for coming by my blog this week, friends. Things were a bit quiet on Run Hoop Julie these past few days, but I have been praying about a way to share more of my {ed} recovery thoughts over there... I kind of want to just in case it is an encouragement to someone, but I'm not sure how to go about it. For now, I invite you to hop on over there to see my weekly bit of happiness. {smile}

Wishing you much gratitude and a wonderful day ~

Cornmeal Grits and Berries for a Crowd

I have a favorite recipe of ours to share with you today, friends. This is one of my favorite frugal and simple breakfasts to make for my large tribe. I hope you like it, too!

3 1/2 cups medium grind whole grain cornmeal (grits)
4 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
2 Tablespoons granulated white sugar (optional, but recommended)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
9 cups water

2 bags (12 ounces each) frozen berries of your choice (or fresh berries)

a large, deep, heavy pan (mine is 9 quarts) with a lid
a long handled wooden spoon

Bring the 9 cups of water to a boil in the large heavy pan. While the water is heating, combine the cornmeal, ground flax seeds, and granulated white sugar in a separate bowl.

:: combine the cornmeal, ground flax, and white sugar ::
Once the water is boiling, carefully and slowly pour the cornmeal mixture into the large heavy pan. Stir constantly with the long handled wooden spoon while pouring the mixture into the boiling water, and be sure to thoroughly combine the mixture with the water.

:: carefully add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water ::
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook the mixture for 5 minutes, stirring often with the long handled spoon.

Be careful when stirring as cornmeal grits tend to bubble and splatter when they cook, especially as they thicken.

After cooking for 5 minutes, carefully remove the pan from the heat and stir the coconut oil into the grits. Let the grits cool a bit before serving.

:: cooked grits, ready to serve ::
Ladle the grits into bowls and spoon some berries on top. I don't completely thaw my frozen berries first because they help to cool the grits down a bit, but thawed (or fresh) berries are delicious, too.

Add milk or cream or butter or whatever you like and serve.

:: yum! ::
I hope you like this breakfast recipe as much as we do. Enjoy!

Knit Bunny

Cute, cute, cute, this simple knitted bunny turned out to be!

It was just a simple garter knit square(ish) with 11 inch sides to begin with. I used size 10 needles and a skein of kitchen cotton to make the square, so I guess my bunny began as a dishcloth. {smile}

And then the square was folded and sewn and stuffed with some fiberfill that I had on hand.

Then I sewed it shut and put a few stitches here and there for the finishing touches. I used the remaining cotton yarn to make a little pom-pom tail for it.

Oh my, don't you think this wee cotton bunny is adorable? All of my children want one! My project was inspired by this tutorial, and I enjoyed making it very much. 🐇

Joyfully ~

The link in this post is simply for your information and to give credit for my project's inspiration. I do not have blog sponsors or affiliates and am not paid for linking to other sites.

Looking for Spring

The wonderful wind has dried up a good deal of the mud in our barnyard. Not *all* of the mud, but at least it is avoidable now. And all of us around the homestead... people and critters alike, seem to be looking for signs of spring.

Our fenced yard is still buried under a formidable drift. In fact, if I ask Jack to sit next to my clothesline, the top of the clothesline post is just a bit taller than he is. So there is quite a bit of snow that still needs to melt!

The goats are spending more time in their roomy pen, or keeping watch over our activities from the entrance of their cozy quarters. They are no longer choosing to spend the greater part of their day cuddled together in the shelter munching away at bedding hay.

Matilda will be *so* happy when the new grass begins to grow again in the pasture! As the days get warmer, her shaggy reddish coat will turn sleek and blonde. Her summer coat is nearly as light yellow as Jack's fur.

Juno and Jack joined us for a walkabout to look for signs of spring in the back pasture. We didn't see any new growth (yet)... and we paused for a doggy photo upon the family rock. This was the best one we got, Jack was far too excited to be out and about with his friend Juno to sit still. Ha!

Just a wee bit of snow remains up back! Little patches like this one are tucked up against rocks and in the bushes here and there, but the drifts are melted away.

The season is changing... the calendar says so! While I choose to enjoy whatever season we are in, I am quite looking forward to spring.


A Grateful Heart

Happy Friday to you, friends. Oh, how lovely the extra hour of daylight in the evenings has been this week! I love being able to have a more leisurely evening transition with dinner and chores not being such a race to finish before it gets dark.

And while the weather remains a mix of sunshine and rain and snow, and the barnyard is buried under a sea of mud, we enjoyed a nice break from our homeschool endeavors this past week and spent a bit more time in the out-of-doors soaking up the little bits of springtime.

Including an impromptu and very casual photo shoot.

I asked my hubby to join me for a new photo to put on my blogs' about pages. I wanted something kind of artsy, perhaps we could gaze lovingly into one another's eyes and the lighting would be just right and my hair would blow perfectly in the breeze?

Nope. Not with our sweet daughter holding the camera and the goats nibbling at our feet (we were perched upon the spool in the goat pen) and Jack barking in the yard as the rest of our tribe tossed snowballs back and forth.

So my new about page photo may not be very fancy or anywhere close to perfect... but neither are we. And the love we felt and the laughter captured in that photo is as real as can be. {smile} I love it.

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

:: 4 months! I can hardly believe it has been four months since I began my {ed} recovery journey. I truly feel like a different person inside and I am so thankful. For years, I kept all of those {ed} feelings inside and managed to hold it together and keep it all hidden from my sweet family and friends... but now I am free and loving life and oh-so happy. Praise the Lord.

:: Bluebirds. We saw our first bluebirds of spring on our homestead this week. So exciting!

:: A reminder. I listened to an online sermon this week that reminded me that if we seek affirmation or approval or validation from people - even if it is sincerely given - it will never be enough to satisfy our souls. Fame, "likes", followers, popularity... those things do *not* matter, friends. May we seek our worth in the One who is worthy and who loves us eternally and unconditionally!

:: Sunshine. Maybe just maybe some of this mud will dry up and being outdoors will be a lot easier. And our house will be easier to keep clean, too!

Thank you for coming by my blog(s) this week friends... this one and Run Hoop Julie and Images of a Happy Gentle Life, too. I do appreciate it! I wish you much peace and gratitude...


Crafting Along {and reading, too}

Howdy there, friends. Today, I will share with you evidence that I am indeed a very s-l-o-w crafter at times! {smile} It has been a couple of weeks since I finished my knitted shawl, and since then I have only been crafting a wee bit here and there.

My counted cross-stitch project is going well. I like to work on it during the afternoons when the natural light is brightest indoors, because that is when I am most successful at seeing the teeny holes in the Aida cloth.

Afternoons are also when I tend to be happy-busy about any number of things, so I have only been getting to that sewing endeavor a couple of times a week. Slow and steady, I tell myself... here a little and there a little, and it will become what it is meant to be in due time.

Oh my, such a deep thought I just had there. {smile}

And the knitting is just a garter stitch square, which I have finished since I snapped this photo. In the next few days, the square is to be shaped into a bunny! I'm excited to see how it will turn out and I will show you when it's done, of course.

I often enjoy sharing what I am reading along with my crafting along updates, so I will tell you about that... and also I want to be accountable because I am determined to read through my Bible from beginning to end. I have never before read it straight through like that... I am quite excited to add that to the readings I do for my studies and quiet time!

I just started, so I am in Genesis and praising God for the wonder and beauty of creation.

I am still reading Growing in Grace by Sinclair B. Ferguson, and re-reading The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

And I am reading a very interesting memoir by Warren R. Henke called Trudge on Soul, An Adventure. I am enjoying it and quite amazed and intrigued and encouraged by the commonalities of people... I am so very different than the author, and yet I hear him and empathize in many ways.

Books are awesome, yes?


Over They Go

For the past week or so, as I begin dinner preparations in the evening and glance out our kitchen window that overlooks our barnyard and a bit of the back pasture, I have been blessed with a view of deer.

Lots and lots of them. A big herd of mule deer that has been jumping the fence onto our homestead, grazing as they meander across, and then jumping the fence on the other side of the pasture and going on their way. So agile they are!

I am thankful that they live here on this mountain, too.

Around the Farm

The lovely sunshine-y weekend weather was just the inspiration I needed to snap some photos of our barnyard critters and homestead happenings as we spent time in the out-of-doors enjoying the day.

Matilda, my sweet cow-friend. One of my best friends, really. I love that cow. She came to our farm just a bit more than eight years ago, and was about three years old when I got her. So we have been friends for a long time.

Bailey was soaking up the sunshine, too. Yes, she feels as soft as she looks... I checked! {smile}

Our ducks came to their summer pen for the afternoon. There were a few patches of bare ground, but they all seemed to prefer leaving footprints in the snow.

Synchronized hen jumping. Ha! The gate of the chicken run is somewhat buried in a snowdrift, so the ladies had to use their coop door as an exit for an afternoon peckabout.

My dear hubby and I made sure Jack got lots of exercise, in hopes of tiring him out a bit. Oh my, the energy of a four month old Lab puppy. Where can I get some of that for myself, I wonder.

Our tractor in the pasture. We used to use it to keep our driveway clear in the winter, but Hubby's plow truck works much better for the task. And the plow truck is heated!

Our deer friends, paying us a visit once again.

I haven't heard one myself, but one of our girls heard a meadowlark this morning. Ooo, spring really must be on its way!


Good News

Dear friends, I do hope you had a lovely Christmas! Ours was simple and quiet... we exchanged gifts, enjoyed family time, watched a few Chri...

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