Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sunset Beauty

Related Posts:

Salvation, the best gift a parent can share with their child
Trials? Count it all Joy...
Pondering Big Things - Feb 17, 2007
Pondering Burdens - Nov. 6, 2009
Daddy Dates
Romans 7 Moment - Oct. 11, 2008

Friday, March 30, 2012

2012 Garden - potatoes, salad greens, and radishes

This beautiful weather has been very inspiring, although I am fearful for my budding trees. A timely frost could mean no chokecherries or currants here on the farm this summer. But after weeks without frost, the trees and shrubs have awakened. They don't know the almanac says frost is possible until May 15th.

... Spring has sprung, like it or not, 6 weeks early. Since everything is budding out, I am planting things that can handle the cold that isn't here but is completely possible. Plus, these guys were growing in my basement pantry crate anyway...

So this week we pulled the potatoes out of the basement and got them planted. Last year I planted them about 8 inches deep and then tried to properly "hill" them to get the best yield. This year I had Ben dig me a very nice deep trench, so I can fill it as they grow, and not need to drag in more dirt from elsewhere to achieve the desired depth.

We moved the potato bed to the part of the garden that will be more heavily watered, since last year we learned that the amount of water is directly proportionate to the potato yield. I think they will be quite happy next to the cukes and lettuces. Here's a pic of our 2011 potatoes:

The kids helped me assemble our cold frames and plant them with lettuces, spinach, and radishes. It's actually pretty early for radishes, but I'm hoping that with the glass for protection that they will take advantage of this warm weather and pop out an early crop... especially since they are so quick to grow. :)

Here's our 2011 radishes. 28 days to gratification... you can't beat that!

Related posts:
and over at Raising Homemakers:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sunflowers 2011: missing seeds!

Every summer I cannot resist planting giant sunflowers. They are like instant trees and completely alter the landscape. Last summer, I used them as the "posts" of my cucumber trellis, and they were great. Plus it helped keep them rooted in heavy wind days, since these giant flowers have rather shallow root systems.

In the end, we were able to have sunflowers for sale at the farmer's market as bird feeders, and several on the porch for the same reason. :) We also harvested the seeds and salt-brined and baked them. They make sure yummy snacks; except for one problem... half of them are empty! My neighbor suggested I market them as "diet" sunflower seeds since they have half the food/calories.  :D

I think this year I will try to hand pollinate them and see how they do...

Related Posts:
Dust Storms! - Nebraska WIND

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dust Storm 3/26 Photo Progression

watching it coming from the front window.

getting started

see the porch light swinging?


More Photos

Related posts:
Sunday Morning Sunrise
2011 Garden
Spring Garden Review 2011 (that garden bed is beyond the picnic table in the above photos)

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Cuban" Bread - Grilled Cheese

-Edit- Made 6 loaves of this this week (12/28/12) with whole wheat flour (1.5 cups WW and 3.5 cups white flour), and it was amazing!


I recently have been attempting to find a bread recipe I like, so that I will eventually bake all our own bread. In the process I have found that baking bread is a fine art and a fun experiment... all rolled into one! I have yet to light upon a recipe that will become my go-to on a weekly basis, but this one is very close...

I found it on Pinterest, but here is the original blog post about it. The blogger, Stephanie, says:
"This recipe comes from the Tightwad Gazette, and is done in less than an hour and a half. Hooray!" 
So there's your reference. :) Here's the recipe... with my tweaks of course. It was fun to make, and the kids love helping me knead bread. Emma helped make this one into Grilled Cheese! Love when my kids get into the kitchen.

Cuban Bread

5-6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. yeast  [I used SAF Instant, worked wonderfully]
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
1 or 2 tbsp. potato flakes [for added starch, this was my addition, loved it]
2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees)

Mix 4 cups of the flour with the yeast, sugar, potato flakes, and salt. Pour in hot water and beat 100 strokes, or 3 minutes with a mixer. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead 8 minutes [this was a challenge for me by hand. Someday I may get a stand mixer... so I set the timer to keep me on task, and I found that 5 minutes was adequate... maybe I knead harder?]. 

Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover with a damp towel. Let rise 15 minutes. Punch down. Shape into two round or oblong loaves, and place on a baking sheet. Cut an X or a few slashes 1/2 inch deep on top with a sharp knife. Place on the middle shelf of a cold oven. Place a cake pan of hot water on the lowest shelf. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake 40 to 50 minutes until deep golden brown. 

It "puffed" in the oven, amazing to watch! It was a good dense bread, not crumbly at all. but not hard. We loved it for grilled cheese. I've made about 8 loves of it so far, and I will keep making it again and again...

Emma, my assistant chef 

Related Posts:
and more over on Hearth Life

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sunday Morning Sunrise

Due to the extremely dry conditions on the high plains right now, the sky glows profusely at dawn and dusk. :) God is so awesome in the colors He makes for us to enjoy here on the farm:

see the moon?

As I am having problems with my home internet, there may be fewer posts for a few days... but hang in there. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Resurrection (Easter) Cookies

Making these has been an Easter tradition at our house for the past 5 years or so. We love these cookies! More-so because of the process of making them, although they are pretty tasty too.

Here is the link to the page where I first found these cookies, although they are all over the web. Here they are on Allrecipes posted by user "Sonia". Annie says the source is unknown, but that she got her recipe from "Sue."  Who knows where they came from, but we have adopted them as a family tradition.

I have pictures from two different years to share our process with you. We do this the night before Easter Morning.


a zipper bag
wooden spoon or rolling pin
waxed paper or parchment paper
scotch tape
oven, preheated to 300F


1 cup pecans (half or whole)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
3 egg whites
1 pinch salt
1 cup white sugar

Place pecans in a resealable plastic bag. Crush the pecans into small bits. Read John 19:1-3. Explain how Jesus was beaten and mocked.  
John 19:1-3 (NKJV)
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said,“Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands.

Put 1 teaspoon vinegar into a medium bowl. Read John 19:28-30 Let the children taste the vinegar and ask if that would be satisfying if they were suffering and thirsty.
John 19:28-30 (NKJV)
It Is Finished
After this, Jesus, knowing[a] that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”  Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Add egg whites to the vinegar. Read John 10:10-11 
John 10:10-11 (NKJV)The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

Sprinkle salt into the egg whites. Read Luke 23:27 Let the children taste the salt first, and talk about salty tears.
Luke 23:27 (NKJV)
And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him.
So far, the mixture isn't very appetizing. Add 1 cup sugar. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.
Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
John 3:16 (NKJV)For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Beat with mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3. Talk about how white the mixture is becoming, just as Jesus paid for our sin to wash our hearts clean and white.
Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV)
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
John 3:1-3(NKJV)
The New Birth
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto parchment paper lined baking sheet. Read Matthew 27:57-60.
Matthew 27:57-60 (NKJV)
Jesus Buried in Joseph’s Tomb
Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.

Place cookies in the oven close the door and turn the oven off. Read Matthew 27:65-66. Talk about how the tomb was sealed so no one could steal Jesus' body and say He had risen.
Matthew 27:65-66 (NKJV)
Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
Go to bed. Read John 16:20 and 22. Talk about how sad the disciples were to leave Jesus there in the tomb.
John 16:20 & 22 (NKJV)
Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.
Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

In the morning open the oven and take out the cookies. Read Matthew 28:1-9. 
Matthew 28:1-9 (NKJV)
Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.
And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

When you eat them they are hollow, just as the empty tomb, even though it was sealed. What a true miracle! Jesus is not dead, He is living! It is His resurrection that gives us hope for life eternal.
1 Cor. 15:20-26
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Related Posts:
Salvation, the greatest gift a parent can share
Spring Garden 2011
Daddy Dates

From the old blog:
Here are our pictures from Easter 2007, five years ago... WOW how time flies!
For more Easter posts, check out this Blog Link up:


Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Romans 7 Moment

Originally posted in my notes -  Oct. 11, 2008


Romans 7:15 "For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. " 

I can now imagine the tone of voice Paul had when saying the above statement. I heard it from the back seat while driving to town yesterday:

Mayda (age 2): "Mommy I picked my face!" (she has a scab on her cheek which she won't leave alone)

Me: "Honey, don't pick that or it won't heal."

Mayda: "I did it, and it already hurts, and the blood will come out!"

Have we ever said: "I didn't want to do it but I just couldn't help it" ? We want so badly to be perfect as God desires of us, but yet it is impossible. This would be disheartening...

The chapter ends with this: "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin." 

This is such a great lead in to Romans 8, which is of course the chapter that gets all the attention:

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Rom. 8:1-4) 

And so, we aren't perfect, but Christ is, and he has given us the ability to be "in Him." His identiy covering over ours, fulfilling our shortcomings. So that when God looks at those who have accepted Christ, He sees Christ.

I know this is basic stuff, and maybe everyone is yawning now, but I still stand amazed daily at the gift. I struggle daily with the growth. I want to be perfect... thank Heaven there is a provision for the fact that I'm not.

Mayda 2008 (see the rainbow?)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Garden 2011

"Egyptian walking onions" an heirloom variety in my spring garden

It's important when planning anything to look back at what you have done to see what worked and what didn't. I had some issues last year with cabbage planted too late and cracking, and with lettuces bolting too soon. I'd planted the lettuce close to the house, because the big garden wasn't yet tilled. But the spot they were in didn't quite get enough shade in the hot afternoons, so the heat caused the early bolt. The cabbage was out in the main garden, and I'd planted it later. In order to keep the plants around it growing I was watering more heavily in June/July while it was growing... and sadly it caused the heads to "crack." My chickens didn't mind, as they were happy to eat any cracked cabbage heads. :P

This year, I'm being patient for my hubby to get the big garden tilled, so I can plant the lettuce there, in cold frames. Then we will companion-plant it with carrots and cucumbers, so I can trellis the cucumbers over the lettuce and spinach... hopefully holding off the bolt. Also, that end of the garden has better afternoon shade. Double win.

I'm also planning to put the cabbage in the small "spring" garden near the house where I can plant them in a raised bed with soaker hoses, in hopes of avoiding the cracking. Wish me luck!

Here's a photo-progression of last year's spring beds:

building our raised bed cold frames

planted and covered

l-r: horse-radish, onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach,
with peas and rhubarb in the back

we harvested about 20 gallon bags of greens from one bed

sugar snap peas

Related Posts:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Daddy Dates

Going on a Daddy Date!

There is nothing so important in a little girl's life as the relationship with her dad. I'm SO very thankful to be married to a man who knows how to tell his girls he loves them. But even he struggles to know how to spend quality time with them. Let's face it, it's a lot easier to go goose hunting with Tyler than to find common ground with a daughter. But he knows it's important, and when tickets to a local production of "Cinderella" came up, he jumped on it. Way to go, Ben! <3

Not even knowing where they were going, the girls were nearly too excited to sleep the night before... possibly also because of the curlers they begged me to put in their hair. lol. They even wanted to have their nails done because "Daddy is taking us on a date!!!" 

I know this is important, not only because there are countless studies about the impact of a father, but because my daddy did this for me....

My dad was super involved in our lives. We homeschooled, and math was his department. He also go us all up early for family devotions, every... single... day.... at 6:30am. We had to be dressed and alert, or maybe run around the yard until we were. He also worked hard for our family, and was home for dinner nearly every night. He even invited me to pitch horseshoes with him every Tuesday night in the New Holland Horseshoe Club. These things were all important, but he gave it more. 

Every Saturday morning, before anyone else was up, my daddy and I went to breakfast. He had a standing men's prayer breakfast which he attended at a local diner. Amazingly, he would make the effort to go an hour early... to have breakfast with me, just me. (with 6 siblings, that's a big deal) When the other guys showed up, I'd take off to the car with a book, or off to just another booth in the diner. But I was happy. I'd had my date.

It was over those breakfasts I talked my way through high-school drama, poured over used car classifieds, and talked about my first boyfriend. Recently I found my plan of what course listings I wanted to take for my first year of college...  and it was written on a place-mat of that diner.

I learned that I was valuable to my father. I learned that I was valuable enough to wait for a guy who saw me as valuable, a treasure. I cannot explain how important this was in the process of wading through those split-second decisions that so often define (and destroy) a teen-age life. It's ok to say, "I'm worth more than that" and walk away!

The best part of my relationship with my father, was that it was a earthly example of my relationship/value to my Heavenly Father. I am cherished. I am worth it. Enough He sent His only Son for me. wow.

So, daddies, take your girls on a date, and tell them they're worth it. :)

Related Post:
Salvation - the greatest gift a parent can share 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2011 Garden

All this warm weather has me itching to get out and plant. I'm hoping by the end of the week to have my cold frames up and planted, but it's looking like a hectic week might derail that. [Edit, they are in! Check them out HERE and Here] But until I get planting, I'll be processing my notes and photos of last year's garden. See the list below and watch for the links to the related posts:

Spring Garden 2011 review: Lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and peas
Tomatoes 2011: mainly Roma
Cucumbers 2011: trying different trellising
Sunflowers 2011: missing seeds!
Green beans 2011 and the story of the wet spring
...and more posts in the works.

In the mean time, here's a photo time lapse of last year's garden.

Late June

From left to right: Tomatoes, broccoli, beans, zucchini, sunflowers with cucumber vine, zinnias, watermelon, corn. (not shown: potatoes, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, peas, and spinach).

Early August

Early September

Just before we turned it under

Final Bounty

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
To everything there is a season,A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,    And a time to die; A time to plant,    And a time to pluck what is planted;


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