Friday, June 30, 2006

This is the Day!

This is the day the Lord has made!
Let us delight and rejoice in it!
God is so good!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ferret Face

Alice and Sid

We've been 'ferret-sitting' for Levi while he went on a camping trip with his mom and dad. Alice and Sid were exciting guests! When in their cages, they look and act so serene, sleeping in their hammocks or cuddling in their pocket-beds. But, once their cage doors are opened, they are energy PLUS! The scamper, romp, and attack imaginary enemies! Corners, crevices, and far-away places are favorites of theirs! Sid got into the sub-woofer of Brandon's computer speakers! He'd crawled into a funnel-shaped hole and we weren't sure he could get back out again. But, some gentle coaxing resulted in an innocent face eventually poking out of the hole and the energetic furry ensued again once he was out. Both ferrets love to attack feet! It was a funny sight to see the young adults sitting on chairs with their feet tucked under them or perched on a countertop!

Alternative Energy and Fun!

Yesterday was one of those days where thoughts of alternatives kept coming into my mind. Energy. The Oprah Show featured Hollywood stars talking about hybrid cars; those that use electric and gasoline as their energy source. Then, in the evening Marty and Levi came to visit and just happened to put Levi's go-cart in the back of the pick-up before they left home. Once here, Marty pulled it off the back of his truck so he could show Brent what he'd done to make the go-cart an economical vehicle to operate. Once gas motored, he's converted it to run on a small diesel engine. Then, instead of burning diesel in it, he's converted it to grease. That's right, grease! Levi's go-cart runs efficiently and well on old grease that Marty collects from McDonald's and other fast food joints. Instead of smelling diesel when the go-cart went around the yard, we could smell scents of french fries, hamburgers, and empanadas! It was an unusually pleasant fragrance, considering that the alternative, diesel, does not have a good smell! Marty also burns used grease and/or vegetable oil in their family car and is working on adapting his Dodge truck to burn it as well.

Master of Machine

Levi is definitely the master of his machine! He graciously shared with the older guys and the dad's, but took his turn in showing his driving skills. For the record, Levi drives with a helmet and full-face mask, but posed for the picture without.

Taking a Spin

The older guys all take a spin on Levi's go-cart. It was a tight fit, as it was built to fit a seven-year-old with ease. A fun time was had by all! Dust, dirt, smoke, and flying gravel filled our driveway and yard. Today, one of these guys is going to have to go 'drag' the driveway with the lawn mower and an attached railroad tie to smooth everything out again! The evening was reminiscent of the days when the boys were younger and would spend hours circling the house and driveway on their mini three-wheeler.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Peach Pie and Master Food Preservers

Summer is here and the fruit is ripening up quickly! In our neighborhood, apricots, strawberries, cherries, and blueberries are being harvested. The apple orchard isn't far behind, with the rosy orbs growing daily in size. And there's nothing like a summer peach! Today's newspaper featured an article about Master Food Preservers who are community volunteers that work for the Extension office. I highly value their expertise and dedication to food safety and preservation. They are trained by our extension service home economists and then serve the residence in our county with food handling and preservation questions. In addition to information about food safety and the extension program, a recipe for canned peach pie filling was given. My friend, Rose, has a similar recipe and says it is a wonderful way to preserve peaches. There's not many things better than a peach pie, especially during the dreary days of winter. Here's the recipe they published today:

Peach Pie Filling

6 quarts fresh, ripe, yet firm, peaches
7 cups granulated sugar
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons Clear Jel
5 1/4 cups cold water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 3/4 cups bottled lemon juice

Peel peaches. To loosen skins, submerge peaches in boiling water for approximately 30 - 60 seconds, and then place in cold water for 20 seconds. Slip off skins and cut into slices 1/2-inch thick. Place slices in water containing 1/2 teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals or six 500-milligram vitamin C tablets in 1 gallon of water to prevent browning.

Place 6 cups of sliced peaches at a time in 1 gallon of boiling water. Boil each batch 1 minute after the water returns to a boil. Drain but keep heated fruit in a covered bowl or pot. Combine water, sugar, Clear Jel, and, if desired, cinnamon and/or almond extract in a large kettle. Stir and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil sauce 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Fold in drained peach slices and continue to heat mixture for 3 minutes. Fill jars, into pints or quarts, without delay, leaving 1 inch head-space. Adjust lids and immediately process for 30 minutes in a water-bath canner. Makes 7 quarts.

This recipe is from the National Center for Food Preservation. I wonder if there is a similar recipe for apple pie filling? How handy to have it prepared and jarred, just waiting for a future day. Delicious as pie filling, the peach or apple fillings would also work well as a fruit sauce or a filling for campfire sandwiches. Yum!

Trust on Moments

On Gwen's blog today, she talks about trust, relating it to her life and each of her family members. I really liked her emphasis on how we must continually work on keeping trust foremost in our hearts and minds. If you'd like to read her post on "Moments" today, her URL is:

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Iced Tea for a Hot Day

The weather man is calling for temperatures of 105 degrees F. today. The sun is bright and the house was warm, even in the early morning hours. It's the kind of weather that calls for iced tea! Brent works outside daily, so hydration is important when it's this hot. I sent him off to work today with six quarts of iced tea. Fresh mint from my herb garden; the natural herbal sweetener, stevia; Lipton's decaf tea; and lots of ice created jars filled with chilled, amber liquid. Packed in an ice chest, Brent will enjoy it all day long.

Stevia and the Leaves

Fill quart jars with bunches of fresh mints. Today I used peppermint, spearmint, and chocolate mint. Add one packet of powdered stevia per jar. Later in the summer I will use fresh stevia leaves from my herb garden, but they are not large enough for me to choose to cut yet.

Adding Tea to Tisane

Add two tea bags of plain, non-chemically decaffeinated tea to each jar. This adds depth of flavor and makes a nice addition to the mints. Allow to steep for 3 or 4 minutes before continuing on to the next step.

Icing the Tea

Add cold water to the jars until they are about 2/3 full. Add ice and lid. I leave the tea bags in the jars and the iced tea gets tastier as the day goes by. Enjoy!

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Beary Nice Day

Wishing you a beary, beary nice day!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Calm at the End of the Day

Today we left the heat of the valley for the coolness of the mountains. Our cabin day involved work and relaxation. Brent mowed and picked up branches from the forest floor that he burned in the fire pit. The boys helped awhile, went on a hike, and kicked back and relaxed. The foliage is perfect for harvest, so I gathered nettle leaves, strawberry leaves, and mullen to dry for tea. Lunches on the mountain are wholesome and filling; I enjoy cooking in my pioneer style kitchen. Water is hauled from home and there is no electricity, but the gas stove does a nice job of cooking our food and heating water for dishes. A walk in the woods ended a lovely day and we headed home. As is our habit, our carload played a game all the way home. Whomever saw the first of any wild animal 'won' a chocolate bar from Brent. We sighted a fawn, a cinnamon colored bear cub, and many mule deer. It was a good day!

Soaking Up the Sunshine

Collidescope of Mountain Flowers

The mountain flowers change by the month. Indian paintbrush, flowers in the pea family, wild roses, flowering shrubs and columbines grace the meadows and mountainsides with their cheerful presence. Strawberry blossoms are abundant, but the calipso lady slipper orchids, shooting stars, and yellow violets are now scarce and won't show their faces until next spring. Wildflowers are collidescope of color as they change with months of the year. Constant change equals constant beauty.

Making Lavender Baskets

Lavender baskets are fun to make and last year-round. Today I made a small lavender basket and photographed each step so I could share the 'how to's' with you. This basket is nearly done, although it needs tied off with a needle and thread and I didn't have one along with me at the cabin today. The lavender is from home, although I have planted lavender at the cabin as well. At 4,500 feet above sea level, the cabin lavender survives the winter's well and grows abit more each summer, but they are still stingy with blooms and only sent a few stalks up each year. This little lavender basket is still fresh, but I'll be hanging it to dry so it can maintain it's shape and color.

Cut lavender with long stems. Allow to sit for awhile (overnight is best) so that the stems soften somewhat. Form into a bundle, trimming off all leaves along the stem. Tie a ribbon with a long tail around the base of the blossoms. Fold back the stems so that the blossoms are inside. Then, using the ribbon tail, start weaving ribbon in and out of small bunches of stems.

Continue weaving until the basket is shaped. Trim off all stems except for two on each side. These stems will become the handles. Bend them until they reach the other side, making a stem handle of four.

Wind the ribbon tail around the stems, going back and forth at an angle about three times. Cut the end of the tail and tie off by stitching or tacking with a needle and thread. Add a ribbon bow at the top. Hang to dry. Enjoy! The fragrance is wonderful!

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Late this afternoon Brent, Rylan, and Kyler went out in search of buried treasure. Geocaching is an outdoor game where participants, called geocachers, use a global positioning system to help them search for and find buried treasure. Caches are hid by other geocachers in varied places throughout the world. Through the use of the Internet, coordinates to hiding places are given. A record of who found the caches is also listed online, as are clues for finding the caches. Rylan and Kyler found that there are three caches within a mile or two from our home. Twice last week they searched for one of these caches, but to no avail. Today they tried again, this time taking Brent along for the search. Along with the GPS coordinates, they took a photo of the view from the spot the cache was hidden. It had been posted online by a girl who found the cache about four or five days ago. And today they had success; Brent found the treasure hidden on a muddy bank, under a log. They signed the log book contained in the plastic container holding all the treasures and added their treasure to the mix; two computer disks of Linux software. Success at last! Such fun! The photo above shows the picture they took of 'the spot' where they found the treasure.

Simply Dishes

Dishes. Simply dishes.
Just like clothing, they change with the
fashion whims of those who design them.
By simply looking at a dish or plate,
we can usually identify the era in
which they were made.

The dishes in this picture
remind me of my childhood.
Grandmother collected salt shakers;
pairs of fish, chickens and roosters, or
windmills all ready to be filled
with seasonings of salt and pepper.

Mother crocheted dozens of
hot pads and table lines to go with the
pretty dishes on our table.
Over the years, she created many
beautiful table settings of china
and linens that were stored
away in themes, ready for a special event.

My sister and I had the
family assignment of dishwasher
and dish drier. Every day we would
dip our hands in soapy dishwater
or dry dishes and silver with
cotton tea towels. Wonderful memories
of a time for sharing moments in our
day or creating stories we shared
to entertain ourselves as we worked.

Dishes are pieces of family history and
heritage as well. My favorite pieces are those
given to me by my mother, my husband's mother,
or a dear friend. Two bowls from my husband's
great-great-great-great-aunt who lived through
the Civil War are imperfect in their perfection.
Aunt Pansy's porcelain tea set, or Grandmother's
milk pitcher take us back in time and tie us to our roots.

Dishes. . .always telling of who we are
and showing what we have become.

Simply dishes.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Lilies of the Field

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. . .

Matthew 6:28

Gracious Hospitality, Guys Style

Gracious hospitality has many forms and styles. Graciousness is defined as being kind and having warm courtesy towards another. It exhibits courtesy and politeness towards another; a 'nice gesture'. And it is all done with genuine pleasure and grace. Thus said, it was our pleasure to have Kyler as a guest in our home this week and to find something special for him to enjoy on his 19th birthday. Cars are something that all guys are attracted to, and the locals had a car show last evening, so we decided to attend in honor of Kyler. With cameras and walking shoes, we went to watch the parade of cars --- old and new. More than a hundred cars, with motors rumbling and polished to a high gleam, paraded down the streets for everyone to admire. Mustangs, Cobras, Cameros, T-Birds, Corvairs, Novas, and more paraded then parked in line on a closed off street for all to observe up close. Although the young guys enjoyed the show very much, I must admit that Brent seemed to enjoy it the most, as it took him down memory lane when he was a young guy with a car like these. . .an emerald green Mustang that kept the streets hot during college days. Fond memories. . .and gracious hospitality.

Classic Cars on Parade

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Happy Birthday, Kyler

This week we have a friend staying with our family. Kyler is a fun guy whom we enjoy having around. He has quick wit, a friendly smile, and a helpful manner. We really appreciate his thoughtfulness and how he blends into whatever task is a hand. From lawn mowing, helping with dishes, or helping me take my car to the mechanic shop, he cheerfully assists. Today is Kyler's birthday; his nineteenth. This evening we took him to a vintage car show and treated him to dinner at Taco bell. And I baked him a Devil's Food Cake today; one with chocolate frosting. He thought it looked just right 'plain' and checked to make sure that there would be no flowers decorating 'his' cake. I smiled and told him that at 'my house' we always had flowers and that his would be lavender. Although he shook his head in disbelief, he went along with my creativity and let the flowers be on the cake until it was time to cut his piece. He drew the line when it came to eating them!

Happy Birthday, Kyler! Wishing you many 'sweet' years ahead. May God guide you as you step into adulthood; may your footsteps be established for Him.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Gwen's Moments

Some of you may have noted the link on my site for "Devotionals with Gwen". Here, Gwen has shared comments related to the topic "Precious Moments with Jesus". Gwen is a dear friend who loves to write, and I have shared the technical aspects of her blog with her. She hasn't posted since March, but will be starting again, this time with a new focus. Her site is now called "Moments" and she describes it in the paragraph below. Some of you have asked about her writing and I'm glad to let you know that she will be resuming it as of now. Please take a moment to go to her blog. Comments are welcome and encouraging.

"Moments. Whether brief or extensive, moments are the ingredients of life. Precious moments, wasted moments, thoughtful moments, inspirational moments. Here I will be recording moments of my own journey which, for whatever reason at the time, seem worthy of transport from thought to page. You are welcome to come along! Gwen"

Threads of a Friendship

Threads of a Friendshp
That will never break!

Thank you for the laughter,
The good times that we share,
Thanks for always listening,
For trying to be fair.

Thank you for the comfort,
When things are going bad,
Thank you for your shoulder,
To cry on when I'm sad.

This picture is a reminder
That all my life through,
I'll be thanking heaven for
A special friend like you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Childhood Tools

Toys are the tools of childhood. Even at an early age, they help mold us into what we become and reflect our interests and future abilities. What wonderful memories of childhood tools flood my mind. Wooden playhouse furniture with animal decals; tin toy dishes; old spice and vanilla bottles from Mom's kitchen; and dolls with homemade dresses and bows. Childhood play prepares children for their future role as parents, business people, church leaders, and so on. Thus, it seems that it must be important what toys we choose for our children. Toys that promote violence or prejudice would not be helpful in the growth and development of young minds.

The child's size china hutch in the photo was one I took at a local antique mall. It was filled with child-sized dishes and utensils. . .the type I remember from my childhood. . .and memories flooded my mind. Do you have certain toys or tools that were important in your development and what you became?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Fill with Happiness

But make everyone rejoice
who puts trust in you.
Keep them shouting for joy
because you are defending them.
Fill all who love you
with your happiness.

Psalm 5:11

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Gracious and Noisy Guests

Sometimes 'gracious hospitality' can take unusual twists and turns. This spring we were gracious hosts to a magpie family that set up housekeeping in a tree right outside the kitchen window. Talk about noisy! The parents took over the territory, and since it was in an area where the cat has been fed for years, it was quite interesting. The birds decided the cat was an intruder and not only stole his food, but shadowed him, pecked his tail, and basically harassed the poor thing. The cat was not intimidated, though, and when a magpie parent would dive bomb it, he'd just try to play with it or act uninterested. Eventually six fledgling magpies made their appearance, trying out their wings in our back yard. Once they left their nest they found shelter and safety in the brush pile, but could been seen early mornings, all sitting in a row on the trellis. They are gone now and the back yard is again quiet and serene.

Brent caught one of the babies briefly and brought him into the house for a few minutes. The bird let his dissatisfaction be known and he soon was back with his siblings in the brush pile.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Blog Clouds

A blog cloud. . .takes recent words from blog posts and places them together in a group. Here's an example of several blog clouds made for Gracious Hospitality. Do you recognize topics or names of friends?

Be a Friend to Someone

The greatest service one can perform
is to be a friend to someone.
Friendship is not only
doing something for someone,
but it is caring for someone;
which is what every person needs.

C. Neil Strait

Monday, June 12, 2006

Patriotic Tea Towel

Last Friday I mailed my last tea towel to my exchange partner in Florida. After a year of happily stitching, our tea towel exchange group is taking a break until autumn. I sent this tea towel off with mixed emotions. It is definitely primitive and quirky! The pattern is by "Pieceable Dry Goods" and has a tea and a patriotic theme. Since this exchange was for the 4th of July, I thought the design appropriate. The pattern was originally designed to be made into a sampler, stitched on tea dyed muslin and embroidered in brown. Because I was stitching on a pure white tea towel, I decided color would be nicer. I started with a red, white, and blue theme, but quickly came to the conclusion that I needed to make the stars yellow. Everything fell together from there. Although this tea towel is not technically 'color appropriate' for the holiday, I decided it would do because there are many colors, including yellow, exhibited in the magnificent fireworks of July 4!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Rolling Pin

Do you remember learning to bake in your mother's kitchen? Were there certain utensils that were old standby's; something that was always there and never replaced? One such utensil in my mother's kitchen was her wooden rolling pin. I believe it was a part of her kitchen from the day she married until the day she passed away. Wooden, seasoned, worn, and with green handles, her rolling pin helped bake many a pie! My sister and I learned to bake pumpkin pies, blueberry pies, fresh strawberrie pies, and apple pies in mom's kitchen. Pies were a common dessert in our family. Our favorite recipe for pie crust was made with a blend of whole wheat and white flours and an oil and water combination for shortening the dough.

A rolling pin is a cylindrical piece of wood or other material that is used to roll out dough to a reduced proper thickness. There are differing accounts as to who invented the rolling pin. Claims are made that it was invented in 1864 by John W. Reed or in 1891 by Catherine Diener of Iowa. I suppose it doesn't really matter who invented it, but what does matter is it's existence for ease in baking tender, flaky pies!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Journey Towards the Stars

If seeds in the black earth
can turn into such beautiful roses,
what might not the heart of man
become in its long journey
toward the stars?

G.K. Chesterton

Birthday Dinner at Granny's

Does your family have traditions? Are Christmas rituals usually the same? What about birthday's? Our family birthday tradition is to take the honored family member out to dinner. The birthday person gets to choose where we go, but usually we always end up at the same place, a buffet called Granny's. Rylan enjoyed his dinner last evening at Granny's, but he didn't allow us to call the 'singing troupes' in to sing "Happy Birthday". Sometimes we do it anyway!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Happy Birthday, Rylan

Eighteen years ago today, we were blessed by the birth of Rylan! And for 18 years, we have enjoyed his humor, affectionate nature, thoughtfulness, and diligence in all things. He's always cheerful and ready to lend a hand. What joy he brings to our home.

Happy Birthday, Rylan! Wishing you wonderful years ahead as you work to accomplish your goals and achieve your dreams!

Mom and Dad

The Cracked Pot

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portionof water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.

"I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all theway back to your house."

The old woman smiled, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?"

"That's because Ihave always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on yourside of the path, and every day while we walk back,you water them."

"For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way youare, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them. SO, to all of my crackpot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!

Sent to me by my friend, Julie in Australia

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Life is Short

Life is short and we never have
enough time for gladdening
the hearts of those who travel
the way with us.
Oh, be swift to love.
Make haste to be kind.

Henre Frederic Amiel

*A Yellow Rose
from my garden,
for Katherine*

Monday, June 05, 2006

Filling Every Empty Drawer

Old pillow slips and dresser scarves,
Tea towels, hot pads, aprons galore;
All washed and ironed, folded neatly,
Filling every empty drawer.

~ Ruth Shuey Hower ~