Thursday, August 20, 2015

Never stop singing

For me, a special part of the heatwave we have been experiencing here in the Pacific Northwest has been the ability to venture outdoors in the early, cool hours of the morning with a steaming mug of tea to just be still.  

In that stillness the other morning I heard a horse across the road begin to whinny.  After a pause, I heard another across the valley respond back, the solo becoming a duet.  

As I listened closer I could hear the crow of a rooster join in to form a trio.  

Adding to what was definitely now a barnyard band, a few chickens and a duck. 

Rounding out the voices were several bleating goats.  

A wonderful morning symphony found in the stillness.  
I smiled widely.
 I found myself wanting to join their praise, 
to add my voice to their song.

God gave us each a voice and those individual voices matter.  

Just think of the many ways they can be used for good:  
To compliment, to encourage, to honor, to praise, 
to love. 

 To speak out, to speak for, to speak peace, 
to speak life.  

Your voice is special and unique, 
yours alone to use.
Your one voice is good.  
One voice can make a difference.  
But when we join our voices together, 
they grow stronger 
and louder.

The music we make with our combined voices
 is a glorious thing.

So sing that solo, 
form a duet, 
even a trio, 
join a band
perform with a symphony.

Let your voice be heard as only you can speak it.  

Just never stop singing
 the brilliant song 
you were given.   

Linking up here today:  Three Word WednesdayRoses of Inspiration 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My July

My July away from the blog was one for the senses.  Here is a bit of a recap: 

I saw:  

Fireworks light up the night sky as we celebrated our country's independence and my Birthday.

Butterflies, bees and birds dotting the flowers, shrubs and trees.

My nephew and his fiance on a visit from Louisiana.  Can't wait until we celebrate their wedding NEXT July!  

Sunshine!  Days upon days of warm sunshine turned to hot sunshine - one of the hottest on record for us ever.  

Bags of unused, unwanted or ill-fitting clothing we donated to the local clothing bank.  

I heard:

The crowing of neighboring roosters as I sipped my tea outside in the cool of the morning.  

Running water as I tried desperately to keep those hanging baskets (and me as I sprayed myself) alive in the 90+ degree weather.  

Friends and neighbors "discussing" (ie: complaining about) the heat and wishing for a bit of rain to green up our lives again. 

The pounding of my husband's hammer hard at work on yet another project.   

The summer breeze rustling through the bamboo leaves as we enjoyed grilling outdoors.  

Quiet.  The kind of quiet that soothes your soul and lets your heart tune in to hear God reminding you what is important.  

I smelled:    

The freshness in the air after the rain (once...) and it was lovely.  I AM a Pacific Northwest native through and through.    

The beautiful fragrance of gathered bouquets from the garden.  I love mixing an assortment of flowers I have growing with a bit of lavender and sprigs of greens and herbs for a wild and eclectic bouquet.  

Smoke from a not too distant wildfire.  Way too many this year as a result of the heat and drought. 

Blueberry/rhubarb crumble warm from the oven (which we topped with ice cream because - well, because!)

Hay being mowed and baled early this year from nearby fields.  

I tasted:  

Piping hot, wood fire grilled pizza from a lunch out with my daughter.  The ingredients were all sourced locally save from the imported flour from Italy - so very good.  

Crab salad sandwiches with close friends.  We had the most special picnic on the edge of an organic dairy farm field with a grove of shading trees to one side and cows grazing in the distance.  My friend had set up a table with a lovely cloth and glass dishes and another brought a wonderful salad.  I provided some sweetness with cheery cheesecakes in canning jars.  

Jam.  I made three kinds in fact:  Raspberry, a raspberry/strawberry combination and marion berry for the third.  I am counting the days until it is cool enough to bake a loaf of homemade bread to go with.

Fresh garden cucumbers, radishes, lettuces, spinach, zucchini, tomatoes and more.  I do love our garden.    

Iced tea and lemonade and even a chocolate milkshake.    

I felt:  

Renewed.  Refreshed.  Relaxed.  Loved.  

Life simplified.    

I hope you all have had a wonderful month and found time to savor some of the beauty and bounty, friendship and fun that summer has to offer.        


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Now and Later

Picking a bouquet of lavender from the garden to bring inside for right now.

(It smells so wonderful.)

Gathering more to dry for later.

(A sachet perhaps?  A lavender wand?)

Picking blueberries warm from the sun now.

(Hard to resist letting them "fall" right into my mouth.)

Ready to wash, air dry and  freeze to use
in smoothies, muffins and more later.

(The fresh taste of berries in winter is such a treat.)

Whole grain blueberry pancakes for breakfast this very moment.

(Only one bite left...)

For all you regular readers, I am planning to take the month of July off for vacation, family gatherings, gardening, projects, rest and refreshing.  I hope to see you back in August as I endeavor to search for beauty in the ordinary, blessing in the extraordinary.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Simple Saturday

It's a simple Saturday around our house.

Washing windows inside
with a view of planter box flowers from the kitchen.

Washing windows outside
with a view of the entire planter box.
It is a favorite this year, the orange flowers opening and closing with the sun.

Pruning a stubborn Camellia bush 
who grows where she shouldn't.
Gathering a clipping of her waxy green leaves
into a recycled sort of vase.

Wishing you a Saturday of simple beauty found where you least expect it. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What I learned in May

This past month I learned:

To listen before I garden.  I was about to reach inside a folded up bag of seed starting soil in the greenhouse when I heard a buzzing sound.  I peeked inside the bag carefully to find a very angry wasp AND a nest!  Thankfully the buzzing alerted me to use caution (yeah, the mash the top down on the bag, squeal a little, drag it outside the greenhouse and squeal again kind of caution) before opening the bag and letting the crazy thing out.  

I also learned to look before I garden.  A few days ago I took down my garden apron from the hook to bring it inside to launder.  Because of the above lesson I decided to check the four pockets.  Another wasp nest.  Me and the honey bees are on great terms.  Me and the wasps - not so much.

Some substitute dental hygienists have a way of making you feel really crummy about yourself, (sparking visions of my teeth falling out imminently).   My usual ones are so encouraging.  I prefer the latter : )  They both state the same things but their delivery is key and so is my response in following through with their "suggestions".        

Our neighbor has a boatload of tomatoes she planted from seed.  She invited me to see them a couple weeks ago.  She very cleverly took an unused wooden boat and filled it with her young tomatoes and placed old windows on top to create her own mini greenhouse.  In a boat.  A literal boatload of tomatoes!  

Walking through doors God opens for you can be scary but always worth it on the other side.

You can make your own toothpaste!  As a kid there were times we ran out and used the baking soda and water method.  Not exactly a fan.  But I am also not a fan of toothpastes (that I put inside my mouth a few times a day mind you) made overseas.  I recently came across several recipes that include a bit of coconut oil for consistency, the standard baking soda for grit and essential oils such as peppermint or cinnamon for flavoring as well as other optional ingredients.  I think it is worth a try!  (The results also seem favorable which may impress the hygienist - you think?)

Happy June!  I hope it is just the start of what ends up being a wonderful summer for you all!      

What about you?  What have you learned this past month?

Linking once again with Emily from Chatting at the Sky for What I learned.    


Friday, May 22, 2015

A stick of butter

As you can see by the raindrops outside the greenhouse, we are having a rainy day here in the Pacific Northwest.  I am grateful for that is what keeps us green around here.  And green is a good thing because it is the season of growing around our house.  (Which is why I took an unplanned blogging break...)

I recently added several Japanese paper lanterns inside the greenhouse for a bit of color.  They have battery lights inside and will look so pretty at night during the summer months.  

There are several things growing in the outside garden but I still have some seedlings inside the greenhouse. Above is several basal starts and two pots of pansies as well.

And look at the pepper plant producing already!  I am growing two different varieties - an orange and a green.   

Until today our weather has been pretty mild.  Three days in a row I sat out this stick of unsalted butter thinking I wanted to make some cookies.  Two of the days I put it back in the refrigerator because it was a better day to garden rather than bake.

Today, however, was a perfect day to bake.  Oatmeal chocolate chip - my favorite!  And in case you don't get your fill of chocolate from the cookies (I like them heavy on the oatmeal and light on the chips), a jar of dark chocolate, Himalayan salted almonds.  An indulgent reward for all the vegetable gardening : )

What have you all been up too?  I hope to get caught up with everyone soon.  In the mean time, have a great weekend friends...

Friday, May 1, 2015

What I learned in April

(Picture taken at my sister-in-law's house - so cute!)

This month I learned:  

Our insurance company works with another to administer parts of our insurance plan.  The company they work with is Premera Blue Cross who was the target of "a sophisticated cyber-attack".  In other words, both my husband's and my social security numbers and birth dates could be floating around who knows where.  Boo.  I love many aspects of technology but unfortunately this is not one of them.

It is quite possible to miss shaving large portions of your legs on more than one occasion (which is always discovered AFTER showering) due to the many thoughts swirling in my head during said showering sessions.  Am I the only one who does some of their deepest thinking inside the shower?  

Seeing the  little seedlings emerge once again in the greenhouse and garden make me want to do a happy dance.  No matter how many times I plant seeds I always have some doubts about them actually coming up and when they do - well, it feels like a little miracle all over again.

There is no shortage of hurting and broken people affected by disaster (natural and man-made) to bring us to our knees in prayer for.  (Earthquake in Nepal, tornadoes in the south, volcano eruption in Chile, as well as pain, fear and unrest in Baltimore and beyond.)

I have not outgrown my ability to become car sick.  My mom, my daughter and I made a trip up to see my sister's new house and have lunch out.  It is about an hour and a half away with beautiful scenery along the canal that winds along a very winding road.  I sat in the back on the way home and it wasn't pretty.    

Apparently I have been missing out on the health benefits of pink Himalayan salt by using regular table salt and or sea salt.  I have read several articles that say as much.  We do, however, have a Himalayan salt lamp in the bedroom.  It is supposed to help with air quality (it is left on low even during the day) and gives a really soft glow at night.  I am wondering if I should give it a little lick as I pass by...

No matter how crazy life is, and it can get really crazy, God is right there beside me in the midst of it all.  He has a plan and a purpose for my life and holding fast to his promises makes it possible to navigate the rough waters.  

I read (Robyn, is this true?!)  that in French you don't say, "I miss you" when you are telling someone they are missed.  You say, "Tu me manques", the literal translation meaning "you are missing from me".  Sigh...yet another reason to adore the French language.

Linking up today with Emily at Chatting at the Sky for What I learned in April.