Monday, March 31, 2008

Rain! God is good!

For those of you who saw my request in my Saturday post, and prayed for rain....

Thank you! On Sunday morning we woke up to drizzles and mud, and we have not seen the sun since. :) All the plants are so bright green! Today looks like another cloudy day.

Isn't God good? I'm so glad He answers prayer. Thank you for praying.

Seeing how God answered this prayer made me realize what a blessing it is to have a blog - I get to come in contact with more sisters in Christ!! And you are willing to send up prayers for me - a person who you've never met. That's special. I'd appreciate it if you would also pray for a certain family that our family is trying to win to Christ. My heart is so burdened for them.

...Oh - and just in case this isn't obvious, you can stop praying for rain. We like sun once in awhile, too! (Good thing God knows what's best for our plants!)

Oh - and happy April!

Random Thoughts About Schedules

I hope y'all had an encouraging Lord's Day, and have already had a quiet time with your Lord this morning, to get you ready for the day.

Today I was going to do a post about defeating clutter, but I took a look at my sewing area and decided I'd the beam out of my own eye first.

So here's some random thoughts about scheduling, that occurred to me as I was walking our dog on Saturday. (The fact that I was walking our dog really has nothing to do with it, except for the fact that it's a good time to think.) :)

~ Schedules that divide all tasks up in 30-minute time slots and leave no room to breathe have a 99.99% failure rate - at least with me.

~ It works much better to have only 3 divisions: morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon. Then I can flexibly flip-flop things within their third of the day.

I already know what time of day I am most likely to do certain things. For example, I know that when I postpone my devotion time to "some time later today," it never gets done. So that is always in my morning (first thing). And I know that washing the lunch dishes must be done in the early afternoon...but if I need to make a phone call or fold a load of laundry, I don't feel like a criminal for not getting the dishes done by 12:31pm. As long as I get them done in the early afternoon I'm okay.

I found that when I was trying to stick with an impossible schedule, I got discouraged and quit - and followed no schedule. I hardly got anything done. Though the "thirds of my day" schedule seems much looser, I actually get more done when I follow it.

What about you? As a young lady who is preparing to run a home of her own someday, I know I must learn to run on an efficient schedule - one that gets things done, not the one of my dreams, performed by Super Woman.

What have you discovered that helps you accomplish many things in one day? A curse of my generation is young people who waste their time. You older women who read this can attest to that, I know. We fritter away at this and that, and at the end of the day we wonder "what did I really get done?" Perhaps we have things too easy. Perhaps we don't think it matters if we take our time.

But it does matter, young ladies! As women of God, we know that our time is His time. Think of the frailty of life! It's a vapor. We only have so long to get things done. And there is SO MUCH to be done. Let's get busy and make every second count.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


" She considereth a field and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard." Prov. 31:16



Welcome to today's edition of "Growin' Gardens," by The fruit of Her Hands.

Aren't all these plants beautiful? Our yard is a fountain of color in the springtime. Dad has added so many fruit trees and fruit bushes in the time we've lived here. We hope that three more of these trees will be old enough to give us fruit this year.

Now for a garden update:

First, here's one of my marigolds. Haven't they grown? Beautiful!

Okay, this is our garden at the beginning of the year. (Believe or not, we actually had done a little pick-up before this picture was taken!) Can you see where the layer of leaves begins? Those trash bags in the back contain more leaves. The wooded raised beds were all made last year.

And here's what it looks like as of yesterday! The concrete-block beds were all built this year, by Dad, my brother, and myself. They are much cheaper than wood, hold heat much better, and come with pre-drilled holes for our "hoops" (which saves a lot of work!)

...If you're wondering what the trash bag-wrapped-around-wire-and-post is doing in that front bed....Well, that is a tomato plant my Dad just couldn't wait to set out. It's an Early Girl variety, and the plastic around it will hold enough heat to protect it from being set out so early. (There's your garden tip for the day!)

One more thing...please pray that we get some rain. Thanks!

Friday, March 28, 2008


Spring, spring, spring!

The grass is growing, the birds are singing, the sun is shining.....and I am having trouble finding lighter clothing to wear. Sound familiar?

Does anyone else out there find that their summer and spring clothes always seem to disappear over the winter and fall? Or else they just don't seem appealing when you unpack them? ("I wore that?")

My spring wardrobe is sadly in need of some more shirts and skirts, so I am having fun coming up with a few new outfits...while trying to be a wise steward at the same time.

It's good I like to alter stuff. Here's a shirt I "made," two days ago, in just a few hours:

The original shirt. Long sleeves, and a collar that never fit me right. I didn't care about cutting this shirt up in the least! I liked the fabric, but not the fit.
(Take a look at the peachy fabric in the background - another shirt I'm making, this time from scratch!)

After cutting off the sleeves and neckline. If I were to do it over again, I'd make the neck just a little wider.

Finished! A very simple project.
Cost? $0,000.00! (the shirt was given to me a long time ago)

The only reason I'm showing this picture is because I think the shirt looks better on someone. Photography complements of my little sister. Thanks, Tiffany! (That's her rabbit I'm holding. Isn't Honey cute?)

Anyway, hooray for frugal sewing!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


The woman of Proverbs 31 had a head on her shoulders. Last night, before I fell asleep, the radom thought wandered through my mind "did she have a budget?" Did she plan how she spent her money?

I'm a firm believer in being a good steward of what God has given me. He's given me much more than just money, but for the sake of brevity, let's take a look just at money.

At this stage in my life, I don't handle a whole lot of mammon. I also don't have a big need for it. What would I do with millions of dollars? I live with my family; Dad supplies a roof over my head, food on the table, and other needs of life. But I know that the older I get, the more I'll have to deal with money - or the lack thereof.

Does seeing how the world centers around money ever frustrate you? I have several jobs that bring money into my hands. I am able to make purchases and give gifts. But why does everything have to cost money? Why does everything have to cost so much money?

I don't know. The fact is; money is an almost nessecity to life. So how should I handle mine? It's not really mine - it's God's. It's also my parents', in a-round-about-way. If they are over me in authority, certainly they are over everything I own. But if I use it badly, I'm the one who is respondsible to God for that.

There are four basic places to spend my money:

#1 - Things that last a few hours (food, pleasures, etc.)
#2 - Things that last a few years (clothes, machines, etc.)
#3- Things that last a lifetime (education...)
#4 - Things that last forever (missions, helping someone, etc.)

I have God's command to store up treasures in Heaven. I really believe God means what He says when He talks about treasures being up there for me if I will store them up. Just think - these little green pieces of paper will mean less than nothing in Heaven, but I can use them to buy treasure worthy for Heaven! That's something I can touch. I can give money to buy Bibles for believers in Peru, and have absolutely certainty that I just invested money in my Heavenly account. If I wanted to, I could even keep account of every penny I invest in eternity, and know how much is in my account. ...Of course, who knows what the exchange rate is there?

There's also the wide subject of saving, ...but, really, what are you saving money for, if not to spend it? I have several savings accounts, and I plan what I'm going to do with the money once it reaches a certain amount. I plan to spend it. Who holds on to money just to get inky prints on their fingers? We're all going to spend all of it eventually...or leave it for someone else to spend.

So let's spend it where it counts!

And let's spend deliberatly, with purpose. Out with impulse buying! Let's pray, plan, then spend!

Because I'm still getting back in the swing of things...

...I don't have any pictures of what I've been doing lately. (Not that pictures of unpacking suitcases and hanging laundry and washing dishes are really thrilling anyway.)

So I thought y'all might enjoy getting a peek into my hopechest. A while back I shared pictures of a quilt that is destined for my hopechest, and now you'll see something that is already packed away there.

...The faint scent of cedar hangs in the air whenever I open the lid of my chest and lift something out.

...My bedside lamp lights up the interior of the chest, making the glossy wood shine.

...I run my hands tenderly over each object in the chest - each one holds a memory or a hope.

...If I take everything out of the chest, I know I will see the letters burned in one bottom corner; "To Amber...." a message to me from my Dad, and the date he finished building this chest.

...But enough. I must take out and unfold my afghan to get good pictures of it. I can't help gasping as I shake it open and lay it over my bed. It's so big! Because it's tucked away all the time, I always forget just how large this project was. ...And how much work went into it.

Even though I made this thing, I always shake my head in amazement and awe when I look at it. That's not pride, really! The pattern was a lovely one, and who doesn't like to handle soft squares made out of yarn, that are pleasantly thick and in all sorts of patterns? matter who made them? I just love yarn! ...though fabric is the most fun!

This afghan contains 63 squares, all made with different stitches. Before I started this project, I knew only 3 0r 4 stitches. I love the variety! It used....uh....a TON of yarn, and took me many months to complete. The colors I chose are the colors I'd like to use in my own home some day.

Here you can see a little more detail, though the lighting really isn't good enough to show what this looks like in life. This is a heavy blanket, and very warm!

One more thing.

A thought for the day....

This morning I discovered that my little sisters are going to do a study on Proverbs 31 for school, and I overheard Mom telling them that many things in that chapter can apply to them right now, even though they are just young girls.

Even though I'm not a little girl anymore, many times I think that parts of this chapter don't apply to me yet. I'm not a mother. I'm not a wife. How can my husband be known in the gates? How can my children rise up and call me blessed?

I believe God has called me to be a wife and mother someday. I know that He doesn't want me to mope around waiting for Prince Charming, though. He wants me to serve the family I have right now.

When I look at verses in the Bible that pertain to wives or mothers, I am tempted to shrug them off. And yes, some of the direct commands really can't be applied in my life. ...But I can look at the spirit of the commands and apply them.

So a virtuous woman's husband should be known in the gates? ...My conduct should be honoring to my father, and give him a good name in the places he goes.
So her children will rise up and call her blessed? ...I should show such kindness to my siblings and help them so much that when they look back on their growing up years in this home, they will say "Amber influenced me for the good! I'm so glad I had a sister like her!"

Wow. I sure have a job to do.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Hello again, everyone! I haven't posted on here in five days, and it's nice to be back.

My family spent Easter up in New York with my grandparents. Grandma and Grandpa live in a lovely little village, in the western part of their state. They still have snow up there! We went sledding on Saturday - lots of fun!! We also got to see three of our cousins, and our aunt and uncle. I would love to post pictures, but the camera is in use, so that will have to wait for now.

Easter morning dawned bright and beautiful. The sun made tiny sparkles appear all over the snow. The church building stood tall and white, like a picture on a puzzle.

Dad brought the Easter message, Heather and I played a piano duet, and all eight of us sang a special together. Nearly every time we visit that precious church, our family is allowed to do this; it's a honor and a blessing.

I found Dad's message very thought-provoking; "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." If Christ had died, but had not risen from the dead, we would have no hope! His death is not enough - He had to prove His power over death, for our justification.

But He DID rise! Glory! We need not fear death. He is alive! Because He lives, we will live too. What a Saviour!

.....So here I am, home again after a wonderful Easter, and a lovely visit with my grandparents,...
and with a long "To Do" list! Suitcases to unpack, errands to run, rooms to clean... ...I'd better go for now. Hope your Easter was as wonderful as mine!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Starting Young

Today my youngest sister asked me "Amber, when did you start cooking?"

I was standing at the table making apple pie, and she was sitting nearby, snacking on apple peelings.

"...Hmm, I don't know," I replied. "I've been cooking ever since I can remember."

"I've been cooking since Christmas," she informed me. She's 7 years old, and has been helping in the kitchen since she was very young, but only lately has she baked a few things "alone" (minimum supervision). She got a cookbook for Christmas, and has been thrilled by trying out the recipes.

My brother was baking in the kitchen right after I finished. He made granola bars and crumble coffee cake - mmmm! He's 12.

Isn't this cool? They're starting young, and their food tastes great. Way to go, Mom! You're a good trainer.


Yes, my seedlings have popped their heads above ground today! I'm so thrilled. Isn't God's creative power marvelous? Isn't the combination of brick red color and lime green color amazing? Isn't it mind-boggling to think that every one of the millions of plants in the world look distinct, even at this small stage? This seedling is so tiny. Don' t the clumps of soil look huge next to it? ....Yes, and the leaf pieces. (Read my last "Growin' Gardens" post for the story behind the leaves!)

The area I planted with beet seeds is about 4'x5'. Today marks day 11 since I planted them. The package said "10-20 days for germination," so we're doing well!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Huge Flop

Today is Tuesday.

On most Tuesdays, at our house, I make supper. Right now I have some bread dough rising. The end result should yield a 1lb. loaf.

I'm trying a new recipe that involves a very long rising time, no kneading, and baking in a dutch oven. If it turns out well I may share the recipe on here.

I've just been browsing through an old file on our computer titled "cooking." I found several pictures of past bread-making attempts. I couldn't help laughing.

I guess it was four or five years ago I first asked Dad to teach me how to make bread. He gave me several good lessons, and from then on it was trial and error.....with a decided emphasis on error.

My continual flops kept my family laughing. I tried different flours, different kneading times, different recipes, different baking temps., ......everything. Most results were edible, but I didn't want just edible. I wanted high, fluffy loaves, with silky texture, golden brown crusts, loaves that sliced easily, buttery wheaty flavor ...the perfect loaf. I kept making short, squat loaves that were a little on the dark side, crumbled when sliced, and tasted just....plain.

Finally, one day....I put extra tender love and care into a batch of dough, determined to succeed. I carefully shaped each loaf...and slid them into the oven. I patrolled the kitchen, forbidding anyone to slam doors or stomp and make my bread fall.

Peering through the oven door........I SAW THEM! Rising high, like human lungs inflating with air, only much prettier. The golden color was perfect.

I was so excited. I could hardly wait for them to cool. I danced around the table in delight, and called for each of my family members to come look.

The loaves were cool enough to cut, just in time for lunch. With much fanfare, I sliced the first golden crust......

They were filled with air!

And lined with gooky dough.

I couldn't believe it. Another flop! And the worst one yet!

My sister and I sat there and ate the crust, which, incidentally, tasted marvelous. But I couldn't get over the feeling of slicing through the top crust and hitting air.

Today I feel like I've mastered the skill of turning out bread loaves. They may not always be high and golden. They may rise too long and taste yeasty. But most of the time they taste yummy, look passable (or even lovely!), and most importantly, if something is wrong, I know what caused it.

But I've never figured out what caused my hollow loaves.

....I think I'll go check my bread dough.

Monday, March 17, 2008

To Do...

I hope y'all had a blessed Lord's Day, and are ready to face your week with strength and purpose.

I needed strength and purpose when I faced the kitchen this morning! Mondays always seem so hard. But, thank the Lord, the kitchen sink is now empty, the floor is swept, the counters are scrubbed, ...and my laundry is even hanging up to dry!

Today I have been pondering the usefulness of "To Do Lists". If my older sister reads this post, she'll have to suppress a grin, 'cause she is the "To Do List" queen of our house. I can find her 3x5 cards just about anywhere. She has a "To Do" card on the piano, on her bedside stand, on the refrigerator, on the dryer....sorry, sis, I threw that one away this morning. It was weeks old, anyway.

Anyway, I suppose I could be called the "I'll-do-it-when-I-get-to-it" queen of our house. Not exactly a flattering title. ...So, this past year I have determined to truly be a virtuous woman who worketh hard.

I've begun to discover ways to motivate myself. Singing is one of those ways. So is praying. And so are "To Do Lists."

On my bedside stand I have a small blue notebook, just about the size of a 4x6 card. I got it at the dollar store, and it was a worthy investment. :) That little notebook is where I keep my "To Do Lists." I don't make a list every day, but when my head is swimming with so many little tasks that I know need to be done, I turn to my notebook. Just writing everything down relieves the stress of having to remember all my tasks.

The great benefit of making a list is the speed at which things get done. I can move from task to task without stopping to figure out what I need to do. I have the list, I know what needs to be done, and I can pick a new task as fast as I finish an old one. I like the fact that I can pick what I do first. Crossing things off is fun, too, because I see the progress I am making. (Of course, sometimes I have to add something that I forgot to write down earlier, and my list grows faster than it shrinks!)

This doesn't just pertain to housework. I list the letters I need to write, the items I need to go shopping for, the person I need to call, the prep. I need to do for a meal, the lesson I need to teach ....anything I need to do, or want to do.

This past Saturday, I had a list all ready to go. During the week I had been walking around the house spotting things that needed to be fixed or accomplished, but I didn't have time to do, and I made a list for Saturday.

Here's a few of the tasks I had written down:

~ Sew the ripped panel on the love seat
~ Clean Toilet
~ Clean under couch cushions
~ Write thank you note to Mrs. ___
~ Spend time with Snickers and Midnight (2 of our pets)
~ Go shopping with Mom for groceries
~ Clean red car, inside and out

As soon as breakfast was over Saturday morning (which was a little late, compared to week days), I was ready to go. I headed straight for the love seat first, because I wanted to start with a task I was eager to do. Sewing the rip took only 10 or 15 minutes. Then I cleaned the toilet, which was another 10 or 15 minute job. (I used to hate cleaning the toilet, but a long time ago Mom assigned me to clean it, and I've learned to like it. Yeah - honestly.)

I wanted to clean the car next, but it was being used, so I sat down and wrote the thank you note. (You see, lists can be flexible.)

As soon as I was done writing, I tossed all our couch cushions out of the way and gave our furniture a thorough vacuuming. I had to hurry because Mom was ready to go shopping. I couldn't believe it was only 10:something in the morning and I had already finished many of my cleaning jobs.

Shopping took us until lunch time, and I was sure ready for pizza when we got back! Yum! Sitting down for lunch cost me some of my momentum, and I didn't get back to work until 2:00.

Again, the red car was being used, so I spent some time walking and training our dog, Midnight. I also snuggled awhile with my rabbit, Snickers.

By the time the car was free, the sky was looking as if it might rain, so I never did clean our car. There were several other things on my list (not shown) that I decided not to do, but I was pleased with my day over all. I even had some free time in the afternoon to read and have some computer time!

I'm sure that any mothers who read this blog already know what I've written, and could teach me lots about time management. In fact, I'd like to close this post by asking for any of my readers - moms or not - to share time-management tips that they use to redeem their time. After all, it all belongs to God. Let's make good use of His time.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

" She considereth a field and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard." Prov. 31:16

It's mighty late for a Saturday post, but I'm going to add this anyway. After all, I have a good excuse for being away from the computer all day - I had work to do!! Saturdays are always full of preparation for the Lord's day of rest. That means shopping, cleaning ....and often gardening!

Here's an update on our plants:

~ The peas that we planted weeks ago are finally up! I had begun to believe we had planted them too early, and they had died from the cold. But, no, we now have 1" high pea plants!

~ Some of my marigolds are already forming their 3rd set of leaves! Yahoo!

~ Today Dad bought some more tomato plants, which will probably live in our basement until the weather warms.

~ My beets should be coming up some time this week!

~ Yesterday Dad surprised me with some pansies to plant in "my" flower bed in our front yard. They are beautiful yellow and purple. I'll have to take some pictures soon.

~ We have also added some more broccoli to our garden.

Now for a peek at one of our gardening methods.

We have started composting more seriously this year. It all started when I watched a gardening video, got inspired, and challenged three of my younger siblings to see who could maintain the fastest composting pile.

We built our "bins" out of a simple circle of wire fencing, and layered the composting materials inside. When it's time to turn the pile, we simply pull up the bin, move it a few feet over, and shovel everything back in.

The more often you turn the pile, the faster you will get your compost. When the heat of battle first began, my siblings and I were turning our piles every other day (which will give you compost in a few weeks). I'm afraid that now I have slowed to ......well, maybe once a month??? (Shoveling compost in no way compares to planting beets, watering seedlings, or weeding flower beds!)

My brother is doing the best job with keeping up with his pile. Since the picture below was taken (shortly after we started the contest), he has even increased the size of his bin!

So this is the picture of what our bins look like. They line the far side of our garden. (Please excuse the "fall mess." We were just starting to clear the garden and wake it up from its winter sleep.)

If you noticed that a huge amount of our composting material consists of leaves.... well, you're right. My brothers did a lot of raking last fall, for our elderly neighbors, and hauled the leaf piles into our garden. I raked our yard, and also added to the garden. One neighbor has five or six...or maybe seven... huge oak trees in her yard, and we have six big box-elder trees in our we had a lot of leaves.

I mean a lot.


You can't really tell, but in that picture, the bins aren't really sitting on the soil. They're sitting on six or seven inches of hard-packed leaves.

We had to shovel many pounds of leaves out of our garden this spring, just to find the soil.

We have no shortage of leaf mulch. Too bad leaves compost so slowly by themselves! We have to mix in "green" things, like manure and and grass clippings and kitchen scraps....which, all put together, still do not outnumber the leaves.

For those of you who want to try composting, here is a list of common kitchen scraps that are great for your pile:

Egg shells
Coffee grounds
Banana peels
Apple peelings
Potato peelings
...Any fruit or vegetable scraps

DON'T add any grease, meat, shortening, etc. Besides stinking, it will attract rodents. Plus, those things are terrible for your plants.

Anyway, there's my gardening post for the day.

...Anybody want some leaves?

Friday, March 14, 2008


"She looketh well to the ways of her household..." Prov.31:27

What does your family do to bring its members closer together? What do you do? Do you make an effort to reach out and let your family members know that you love them?What does your family do for good wholesome fun?

Welcome to Family Fridays!
What could be a simpler, cheaper, way to have fun than to play games as a family? Today my family is 'specially racking our brains for all the games we know. A missionary friend has asked us to think of games that are appealing to teen-age boys. She and her husband are trying to reach a group of young men who have been raised in orphanages, but are now old enough to be on their own, and have nowhere to go, and no knowledge of Christ.

So, our friends hope to encourage these young men to come "have fun," with them, and then have an open door to share the gospel.

The question is, what games do we Americans know that will be fun for teen-age boys, and are able to be played in any country, and any language? The language barrier throws several games out right away. ...But there are plenty left...

My family has always enjoyed both the loud fast-paced games, like "pit," "squabble," "Egyptian war," "spoons," "freeze-tag," "blindman's bluff," and the slower games, like "chess," "checkers," "Risk," and "Scrabble." Games that can include a lot of players are always the most fun.
A favorite activity in the summer, for all of us, is playing freeze-tag or hide and seek in the back yard. Twilight is great. And Dad and Mom are the two most-chased people. 'Specially Dad.
"SPUD." What a name for a game. Ever played this one? Every person is numbered, and they stand in a circle around the "it" person. "It" throws the ball in the air, while calling out a number. Everyone scatters, trying to get as far away as possible....except for the person whose number has been called. He dives for the ball, and as soon as he has it, yells "SPUD!" Everyone freezes, and the catcher, who is now "It," takes four huge steps towards any player of his choice. If he can throw the ball and hit the person, that player is now "It," and must throw the ball in the air with everyone gathered around him. If he catches the ball in his hands, instead of being hit when "It" tries to tag him, "It" must throw the ball in the air and call out a number, just like at the beginning. The object of the game is to avoid having to throw the ball. If you throw it a certain number of times, you are "out." Another way to play is to count the "It" person as "out" if he misses when trying to hit the player of his choice.

Then there's the quieter games...only our games never seem to be very quiet. Even "chess," studious, mind-bending game that it is, can gather a crowd of family members, all cheering and advising as they see fit.

But games are like that. They get people excited. Of course, having a contest implies having a winner, and having a winner implies having a loser. That means that we all have to learn lessons about having good attitudes. I've seen siblings be testy with each other for a few hours after a game, but we always become good friends again before the day is over.

As my older sister says "With just 'friends' you can argue and loose your friendship - but with siblings, you stay best friends because you can't get away from one another! You have to forgive and be forgiven - you're stuck with each other."

So life goes on, learning lessons, playing hard, working hard, loving harder.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I am SOOO thrilled with what I have to share with you today: I've finished my quilt!
This project has been such a lesson in patience and perseverance for me. My nature prefers to sit down and sew for 5 hours......once every two weeks....rather than give a consistent 30 minutes every day. But I don't get much done by sporadic spurts of sewing. So I am learning to do slow, careful, consistent work. That lesson carries over into other areas of my life.

(So much quilt to fit under one little sewing machine!)

As I sit at my machine, I have lots of time for thought. A few weeks ago, my ponderings were on the subject of being a wise steward.

I was feeding my quilt under the needle. My hands were brushing the different textures of each fabric, and I was remembering what I spent to buy this fabric. I started with brand new cloth for this quilt - no old shirts or skirts. I wondered what the pioneer women would have thought of such a quilt. "Impossible! What a waste - to use good cloth for a quilt! Use your scraps for such work!"

Then I thought of my mother, and how she would love to sew some things, but how she does not have the hours to devote to quilt-making. "What a waste of a mother's time - do the dishes, clean the living room, feed your child - don't quilt! Get your priorities straight!"

Then I thought of my friends who shake their heads over the thought of quilting. "Why make a quilt? I can get one at Wal Mart for $20, and spare myself a lot of time and money!"

"Am I being wasteful and extravagant?" I wondered. "With both my time and money?"

It's an important question. I've only got so much of both time and money, and both things belong to God.

The act of making a quilt is thrilling to me. In a way, I'd be willing to pay a reasonable amount to be allowed to quilt - like some folks would pay to go to an amusement park or other entertainment.

My time is also very valuable to me. ...But I think of it this way: right now I am in a flexible season of my life. I can afford to devote some hours to quilt making right now, because it will pay interest in the future. My quilts go into my hope chest; I am preparing to make my own home beautiful some day. Not because it's vital for "my" house to look like a show room, but because I want to have a home environment that is peaceful and happy, in order to have a family that is peaceful and happy.

I have a small amount of money that I have set aside for my quilt making, so, I guess I can "afford" to quilt. It can be a fairly expensive hobby.

This quilt, for instance, cost me $15.63 on fabric alone. Add to that two spools of good thread at $2.00 a piece. My backing fabric was given to me, and the batting I already had, but if I had to buy them the price for just them could have reached $20 easily.

All that being thought of, the Lord began to convict my heart over my wasteful spirit. When I began this quilt, I had known that I had some money to spend, and purposely didn't worry about the cost. I chose to forget that ALL my money - even what I have "set aside" - belongs to Him.

So now I am looking into "frugal" ways to quilt. I'm going to learn patience, to wait for fabric sales. I'm going to "recycle" fabric when I can. I'll use old sheets for quilt backing, instead of buying new ones.

Do you have any suggestions? Please share them.

With all that said, let me share a few more pictures. I really am pleased with the finished project!!!

I've chosen to show my mistakes first. This happened a couple of times on the back. The puckers formed, and I didn't notice it until I was too far along to backtrack. (Despite being called a perfectionist at times, I don't have the disease bad enough to make me take out an entire quilt!)

Now, here is the back of the quilt. And....

...My favorite picture, which I've saved for last. Isn't it beautiful?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A little of this, and a little of that

I made supper again last night. It was one of the easier menus I've tried; the BBQ chicken was in the slowcooker from 10:00am, and the potato salad was also made ahead, early in the afternoon. All I had to do at supper time was heat a can of beets from our garden, and set the table!

It also tasted nice. That's always a bonus. Can't always be sure, with me cooking.

The potato salad I made brought back memories, as it always does. This is a dish that I have made since I was old enough to use a kitchen knife. The recipe has been handed down three generations, I think. I think of it as "Mom's potato salad," and to me no other potato salad compares. It's a favorite of mine. I thought y'all might like the recipe. Forgive me for being a little vague, but like many other family recipes, it's "a little of this, and a little of that."

Mom's Potato Salad

10 potatoes
2 or 3 sticks of celery
3 eggs
1-3 cups of mayo or salad dressing (depending on how "soupy" or "dry" you like your salad)
2 or 3 squirts of mustard (depending on how well you like mustard - I don't!)

We have a Russian friend who taught us to make Russian potato salad. From her we learned to add:
1 or 2 carrots
1/2 a can of cold, drained, canned green beans
some dill pickles, cut into chunks

Boil all the veggies (except the celery, ...and the beans and pickles, if you use them!) and the eggs in one big pot. Remove the eggs from the water after 20-25 minutes, but leave the potatoes and other veggies in until they are soft, but not falling apart. Drain, and let everthing cool. (If you cool the eggs in ice water they will peel easier later.) Cut veggies (including celery) into bite-size pieces, and peel and slice eggs. (You can also peel the potatoes, but I leave the skins on.) Combine everything in a large bowl, add dressing and mustard (and beans and pickles, if you use them). Stir to coat. Sprinkle paprika generously over top. Serve at room temp. at once, or let chill in fridge for later.

Simple and yummy. It's really all a matter of making it "to taste," so every family will make it different.

Hope you enjoy!

Her Tongue

Yikes! The tongue is a little member, but what great fires it can kindle! This morning I have been pondering the verse "She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness." (emphasis mine)

The law of kindness. What does that mean? I keep asking myself that question. (Sitting at a sewing machine, working on a certain quilt that I really need to finish, is a great place for meditating.)

It means that when my sister is bothering me, I need to bite my tongue.

It means that when I fail to do the above, I must humble myself and go ask her forgiveness.

It means that when my mother asks me to do something that is not my normal responsibility, I must submit sweetly and cheerfully.

It means that I must make an effort to talk kindly to my little siblings - to let them know that they are not "bothers," but instead blessings.

It means a LAW. Like the law of gravity. My family, friends, and anyone I meet, should be able to count on the fact that anytime that I open my mouth, kindness will come forth. It's not just the omission of unkindness, but also the purposeful sending forth of kind words.

I'm afraid I flunk at this. ...But, like David prayed for the Lord to set a guard at his lips, I can also get help where help is to be found. I believe it is possible to develop a kind tongue. It is within the reach of anyone who knows the Saviour. What a tongue He has!

Monday, March 10, 2008

"Sew...a needle pulling thread! 'La'... a note to follow Sew!..."

Sigh. My quilt still is unfinished. ...But I do have my navy blue thread now! I am halfway done the quilt's border. Should be finished soon...and then I will be posting pictures, Lord willing!

Meanwhile, I thought I would share another sewing project that I did for Christmas. This one was for my older sister, and was also an apron....

You'd have to know my older sister to understand why an apron is such a significant gift. You see, ...she hardly ever wears one. I, on the other hand, consider aprons to be almost necessities when in the kitchen, so I'm always trying to get her to wear one. I confess that I almost enjoy rubbing it in when she gets powdered sugar or flour all over herself when baking. ...But, as she points out, the messes seem to hit her shoes and sleeves the most often, and most aprons wouldn't cover her in those places.

But, hopeful sister that I am (or was), I decided to make her an apron for Christmas that she would like SO much she would just have to wear it. Since she basically breathes music, I found some fabric named "Sound of Music." Perfect.

Not quite. Though she exclaimed delightedly over the fabric, this apron has yet to be worn by my sister. It makes its home folded nicely in her hopechest, taken out occasionally to be looked at.
Ah, well, I tried.

...When we were looking together at patterns on the web the other day, we spotted a pattern called "apron chaps." It covers the wearer down to the shoes.

"Look at that - this is what you need!" I pointed out.

My sister just shook her head and almost rolled her eyes. I think she knows I'll never give up trying.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Too far from the light

" She considereth a field and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard." Prov. 31:16

The past week has been full of rain, which is great for the plants already in our garden, but keeps us from doing any more work with the soil. There was a sunny afternoon that lasted long enough for me to plant some beets, however. They should come up some time after Palm Sunday.
Meanwhile...our basement is becoming a mini greenhouse:

Take a good look at this picture. See how much my marigolds have changed since the "Growin' Gardens" picture (above) was taken? I was a little worried about them, because they were becoming very thin and scraggly, but then I read that having seedlings too far from their light source causes them to stretch out instead of becoming nice and bushy. Three or four days ago I put them under a fluorescent light, and you can see that their stems have darkened up and become slightly thicker. I can't wait 'til they start looking like marigolds!

Here is what we rigged up, to put the seedlings close to their light source. We turn the light on when we wake in the morning, and turn it off at night to let the plants "sleep." The flat on the right is my marigolds, and the pots on the left contain tomato seedlings. ...And yes, the trays are sitting on toolboxes. Call it creativity.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Have any of you heard about the legal battle going on in California over homeschooling?

I can't believe what America has become. ...In a way I can, however. It's sad when I start getting accustomed to sin, isn't it?

So a child isn't being well-educated unless he is taught by a certified teacher? Hmm...Well, Deut. 6 says that the parents are to teach their children everywhere, and Proverbs contains numerous commands for a son to listen to his father and mother...I would say the Bible commands parents to teach their children, and does not hand that responsibility over to anyone else.

If parents are able and responsible for their child's spiritual well-being, can't they handle the mental education? Which is harder, after all?

My parents chose to educate me and my siblings at home for spiritual reasons. They wanted control over what belief systems were being fed to my young naive mind. That's right and good; I belong to my parents, not the state. Dad and Mom taught me to love my country, and serve her, but to serve God first.

I pray that God would keep me from the sin of having a "holier than thou" attitude, and looking down my nose at public or christian school students, but I am not ashamed to say that I think homeschooling is the best option. I know that I would not have the spiritual foundation I have now if my parents had sent me out into the world to be taught.

I have heard some Christians say "yes, but the homeschoolers could help the public schools - be a good influence, you know." Sorry, but it's like gardening: #1: The weeds grow faster than the plants. #2: You don't set tiny seedlings out in December. You harden them off, and let them mature. Now I am considered an adult, legally, and I spend much more time "in the world."
I have roots now - in my home, and in God. I am not going forth to be taught. I am going forth to witness.

Anyway, I can't help but think of something I've heard my mother say. She went to college and was educated to be a teacher. When she tells folks that they think "Ahh, so you really have a reason to homeschool. You know what you're doing. You're certified."

Mom shakes her head. She's told me that her teachers' education hasn't helped her much at all. It's not her diploma that makes her such a great teacher. It's her love for her students.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fustration and Biscuits

Yesterday I was given a lesson on the subject of patience. I was so much hoping that I could finish a quilt that I am working on, so I could share some pictures here, and show that I really am accomplishing some things!

So much for pride, and so much for quilting! I was zipping along at a nice speed, thinking how wonderful it would be to have this project finished (I've been working on this quilt since June 2007)....when it happened. I ran out of thread. A quick peek in my storage tin revealed that I had no back-up spool of navy colored thread. Oh dear.

So I picked up a clothing project that I had put off for several months because I was trying to finish my quilt. "If I can't finish my quilt project, I can at least finish this one," I tried to think cheerfully.

Ten minutes later, I stared at my second spool of empty spool of thread. Oh dear. No back-up spool of brown thread, either. apologies, but there will be no beautiful pictures of finished quilts today. Instead, I offer you a recipe that has brought smiles to so many faces every time I serve it at our table. I mentioned it in a post a few days ago: my sweet potato biscuits. The recipe is adapted from a Taste of Home magazine. ( A great magazine, by the way! ...But I always have to tweak everything I bake.)

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 cups white whole wheat flour (home-ground
is really good!)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 TBS cold butter
3 TBS shortening
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
6 TBS milk, soured with 1 capful lemon juice

In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon with a fork. (If all ingredients are cold, you will have flakier biscuits.) Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add sweet potatoes - do not stir; pour milk with lemon juice over the sweet potatoes. Now stir everything together just until combined. Turn onto floured surface. (I usually end up adding 1/4 - 1/2 cup flour more into the dough at this time; it is very sticky, but don't overdo it.) Knead a few times, and pat out to 1/2" thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2" biscuit cutter. Place biscuits on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until turning golden on top (this is slightly hard to judge, as the biscuits have a golden color from the sweet potatoes, but if they are a little moist in the middle, no harm done! They still taste good!) Serve warm (That piece of instruction was in the original recipe, but I have yet to discover what harm comes from serving these biscuits cold, as I have never had leftovers of these, even when I double the recipe.) Yield: 10-12 biscuits.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do! If the thought of sweet potatoes in biscuits scares you off as weird, just work up the courage to give them a try - it's worth it!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Being a virtuous woman isn't all about what you do; it's what you are.

Granted, Proverbs 31 focuses mainly on skills, but there are so many other women in the Bible for us to learn from. Women who stand out because of what they were. For example, this morning I overheard my mother talking with one of my sisters about Esther.

"...She had to know how to honor the king and be respectful, and she knew how to cook..."
At this point my sister shook her head. "But she had servants to cook for her! She didn't have to do it."
I couldn't help jumping in. "Yes, perhaps Esther didn't make that huge feast for the king with her own hands, but what about before she was a queen?"
Mom looked at me and nodded.

I like that about Esther - she knew how to serve before she knew how to rule. She was only a simple Jewish girl, going to the well for water, preparing the evening meal, keeping house for her cousin...all these skills. And yet when she becomes a queen we see that she was not under-developed because she was "shut up doing housework." No way. She had strength of character, faith in God, bravery, poise, grace, a compassionate short, inner beauty.

So, do I have that inner beauty? I know I won't attain to the kind of outward beauty Esther had, but that kind fades anyway. I heard my Pastor quote a saying this past Sunday; "Before 20, you can't do anything about your face; you have what you have. After 20, if you have inner beauty it will shine out and make you beautiful." Interesting.

My mother has told me several times "spend at least as much time getting your soul ready for the day as you do your body." If I spend 15 minutes in front of the mirror, getting my hair to lay just right, do I spend at least that much time before the mirror of God's Word, praying to have a certain bad habit banished, or a good one started?

Forget the 15 minutes. What about an hour? What about the whole day? What topics are highlighted in my thought life? What do I ponder at the kitchen sink? The new dress I want to sew, or that neighbor I am praying for? Why do I slave in the kitchen? To be known as a splendid cook, or out of love for my family? What is the driving force in my life? Why do I do what I do? Why are these skills important to me? How much does my Lord consume me?

Lord, make my soul beautiful!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Oh so good!

Today I'm going to make your stomach growl. It isn't always certain that my kitchen episodes will turn out well, but lately they have. Last Tuesday night I made supper, and on Saturday I made doughnuts - cream-filled, chocolate covered doughnuts. Mmmm!

The supper menu was baked beans and rice, with sweet potato biscuits. I've only made the sweet potato biscuits two or three times, but they are an already acclaimed family favorite. They disappear SO fast!

The baked beans are healthy and cheap...and yummy. My brother said this was the best batch yet. I keep tweaking the recipe. It was intended to be a two-day slow-cooker project, but I've made it an all-day-stove-top dish.

Here are the fattening pictures. Sorry I don't have time to share the recipe. These are sooo good! Like I said, cream-filled, chocolate covered, completely from scratch baked doughnuts. I also made some "healthier" doughnuts, which were sprinkled in sugar and cinnamon. They were good too!

Tonight I am making supper again; spaghetti pie, salad, rolls (my kind brother made these) and fresh apple pie. The apple pie is already done, and our house smells of spices and sweetness. Every breath is delightful.

I leave you to imagine with envy.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Woman

Last night, after coming home from church, my mother and I were in the kitchen preparing a light supper for our family.

Mom called one of my little sisters into the kitchen. "Would you like to count out eight plates to help us get ready for supper?" she asked.

I found my sister's reply very interesting:

"Of course I would - I'm a woman!" she exclaimed.


I am of the opinion that I have the best sisters in the world. And I'm not biased. No, sir. :)

Last night, my older sister and I were having one of our famous late-night talks before going to sleep. She asked me what I was going to post about on my blog today, at the same time I was opening my mouth to ask her the same question.

Discussing the options, we came up with a lovely idea: Sister Day.

The idea is, that on the first Monday of every month, we blog about being sisters. And this isn't just for us. We're inviting our readers to join in.

Why do you love your sister/sisters? What are the top ten best things about having sisters? Do you have a special memory that includes your sister? What do you do together to have fun? If you and your sister both blog, share your blogs with us so we can see how you are similar or different. If you could give your sister one thing - anything in the world - what would it be?

I have three wonderful sisters. One is two years older than I, and the other two are close in age to each other, but several years younger than I. Today, I'm sharing the top four (no particular order) best things about being a sister to all three of them. Ohhhh, it's hard to pick!

#1: Companionship.
A sister is always there. She's stuck with me....and, believe it or not, she likes that! She knows all the inside jokes. She knows what I like and dislike. She's a best friend.

#2: Being tough on one another.
I value the fact that my sisters tell me what they really think - without flattery. And I get to return the favor. Like iron sharpeneth iron, we improve one another by pointing out what shouldn't be done.

#3: Memories.
This is similar to reason #1. These three girls who are my sisters are the only three girls in the world who are my sisters. That seems simplistic, but it is marvelous. They know what it's like to be a part of this household. No other girls do.

#4: Having double sisters.
No, I don't mean having twin sisters. My sisters are mine twice - once by blood, twice by Spirit. The younger girls are just getting to the point where they are understanding what it is to be a part of the family of God, and my older sister and I have enjoyed this fellowship for a long time. We can pray together, discuss the Bible together...and so many other things.

I'd also like to share a quote I read this morning about sisters. I am sorry I cannot remember who said it, or I would give credit:

"Sisters are our mirrors and our opposites."

How true.

One last thing; please check out my older sister's blog for her contribution to Sister Day: a discussion on cleaning with sisters.

Make your contribution to Sister Day by leaving a comment here on what you think is special about being a sister!

Saturday, March 1, 2008


" She considereth a field and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard." Prov. 31:16

Whew! My day has been spent mostly in our garden. I helped Dad and one younger brother build two raised beds with cement blocks, planted leaf lettuce and onion sets, and pruned our 5-variety apple tree. I can't wait to share pictures....later. For now, since I only have a short time to spend on the computer, I'll give an update on "my" marigolds.
Two weeks ago Dad gave me the assignment of planting a flat of marigolds. (A flat contains 50 planting cells.) These will be used in our garden when the weather warms - marigolds are excellent for the health of a garden; 'specially near tomatoes. They attract harmful bugs away from the good plants, yet they themselves are hardy and seem to stand up well under bug-attack.

Well, I planted three seeds in each cell, watered gently, placed a green-house-type lid over the flat, and set it on the top of our microwave in the kitchen. With the flat in plain sight like that, I knew I wouldn't forget to water the seeds. (On a side note - don't I have the nicest mother, to let me leave a tray of plantings in her kitchen like that?)

It took only three days for the seeds to sprout. I was so thrilled the morning I woke, went out to the sunny kitchen....and suddenly became wide awake when I spotted a green leaf in my flat!! Nearly half of the 50 cells have three seedlings in them. The other half has mostly two seedlings, and in two or three cells the seeds did not come up.

In the "Growin' Gardens" picture above, you can see my seedlings as they appeared one week ago. Since then they have grown about 1/3". I have started sitting them in the bright sun from a window during the day.

I have been giving my seedlings two cups of warm water every other day. Warm water does not shock the seeds like ice cold water would. I water by pouring the water underneath the planting cells, in the tray itself, and let the cells, which are made of peat, soak up the water a little at a time.

Right now, my head is spinning with all the ideas, tips, and other information I have read in the gardening books all around our house - Dad has quite a collection, plus we find great books at the library. ...That's not to mention the gardening catalogs that started arriving many weeks ago.
G.D.D. (Gardening-Desire-Disease) seems to strike our house every January, and keeps us in its clutches well into July and August (that's when the weeds seem to start winning the battle). I always purpose not the let the weeds get control this year! Good thing I can always try again. For as long as earth remains, seed time and harvest.....shall not cease....