Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 7/23/15 - Our 4-H Fair

We are so thankful for our local 4-H program. This is our Fair Week and we've been trying to enjoy it all. Having friends in 4-H in other states, we understand how blessed we are to participate in 4-H in Indiana, where Purdue University oversees the statewide program. Not everything is perfect, but there are a lot of things we do right here in 4-H. One of the best things is 4-H Fair Week!

4-H Fair

There are so many projects to view, livestock competitions to watch, and friends to meet up and talk with. Our girls especially like to wander the aisles of the Rabbit barn and see all of their friends' bunnies. There was a cute set of lion head babies with their Mama... just old enough to be cute little tan puffballs.

I appreciate the ability for our girls to participate in 4-H. Much has changed since I was in 4-H as a child, but the overall program continues strong with the focus on the 4-Hers learning while doing their projects. This leads them to fulfill the motto: "To make the best better."

We had a fun day at the fair yesterday. I've included just a few photos from early in the day. We watched several classes of the sheep competition, and the weather was picture perfect. I knew that after we left, the rest of the parking lot would fill up with people coming to watch the Supreme Showmanship competition, ride the rides, and of course ... eat fair food!

4-H Fair

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 7/16/15 - Photography

Thankfulness, photography

I am so thankful for the invention photography! I have been blessed over the years to be able to record so many memories through photographs. My parents taught me how to use a camera at an early age (back in the day of black and white prints and 110 cameras.) I continue to take photos today, more than three decades later, because they remind me of how blessed I truly am. 

I have taken thousands of photos in my lifetime. 

My husband Kurt appreciates that now I can view them on the computer before printing, instead of waiting and waiting for developing, and then being disappointed at the ones that didn't turnout as I had hoped.

Photography has changed a lot since the Civil War. What hasn't changed is our desire to show to others what we have seen with our own eyes.

Both of our girls like to take photographs. 

Today was photography judging for 4-H. Not only was I thankful for an opportunity for our girls to talk to the judge about their work, I was thankful to see that photography is an interest they share with so many of their friends. When their group of teens spends time truly caring for one another and encouraging one another in their photography - cheering each other on - it helps build the bonds of friendship that last.

I inherited a lot of old family photos from my Grandma. I like to look through them and see what my relatives looked like when they were young. Some of the outfits make me chuckle. 

Probably my favorite photo is one my Grandma gave me not long after Kurt and I were married. It is a picture of her sitting on my Grandpa's shoulder. She told me it was taken around the time they were married. 
It reminds me that life should be full of love and joy.

Even in the difficult times of life, a photograph can remind us of love and joy. A simple picture can be used by God to remind us of His faithfulness.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Week 25 ~ The Yard

Just in case you're wondering... yes, we are on the home stretch in this 34 weeks of cleaning and decluttering our homes and lives. Michele just posted week 28 on Friday, but we're still a bit behind. Here is our brief report on what we did last week in the yard (week 25.)
Rain, rain, and more rain!

I informed Emily and Arlene that we were getting up early on July 4th and cleaning up the yard and garden. I told them it would be at least an hour... and it ended up being more like 2 hours for each of them, and almost 3 hours for me. Not too bad considering it has rained almost every day since Memorial Day weekend, and we were woefully behind on yard work.

While I mowed the yard, I set the girls to task on the main garden. It's not very big, but it had a LOT of weeds. It was nice to actually be able to see the tomatoes, peppers plants, and green beans when they were finished!

The actual weeding probably only took them about an hour, but before they could begin I had them help me pick up sticks and trash from the yard (also not very big,) and cut the volunteer trees out of the bushes around the front porch. Someday I'd love to remove the bushes and plant more roses, but for now, I just wanted bushes and not volunteer mulberry and crabapple trees. After they were done weeding I just kept yelling out jobs that still needed accomplished so they wouldn't think they were done already.

Since that weekend we've picked several tomatoes, and have many more ripening on the vines. There is nothing quite like a fresh-picked tomato from your own garden!

After I finished mowing, I pulled out some poison ivy, trimmed out some other volunteer (bird-pooped) trees around the house, and helped Arlene fill in a hole in the driveway. 

Is the yard perfect? Far from it. Is the yard better? Definitely! Maybe we'll get a day this week when its finally not raining so the girls can go out and weed the back garden. It's been neglected too long & needs some love. At least the things growing in it can hold their own: our strawberry patch, spearmint, and mullein.

How is your yard looking today? With all this rain I'm going to need to mow again soon!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

In the Fridge

produce heavy lifestyle

Inside my fridge you will find an assortment of produce, some fresh whole milk, farm fresh eggs, and either something defrosting for dinner, or the leftover from earlier in the week. It seems like as fast as I fill up the fridge, my family empties it. Does this happen in your home too?

We shop at a variety of stores, plus the local Farmer’s Market for produce. I try my best to purchase our meat directly from the farmer who raises it, but I know that’s not always possible, or realistic for the budget, but we do our best.

What else is in the fridge? Depends on the day. Today besides the produce (blueberries, carrots, celery, lettuce, a mango, avocados, and raspberries and strawberries in the freezer,) it also includes ketchup, mayonnaise, olives, pickle relish, beef and chicken broth, lemon juice, fruit juice, yogurt, cheese of four various kinds, some leftover ground beef and baked chicken, and strawberry jam.

When I actually opened the fridge to take a picture I also saw: spaghetti sauce, butter, aloe, celery, potatoes, a lemon, a grapefruit, and some GMO-free sweet corn. Guess what’s for dinner tomorrow?!

Is there something you try to ALWAYS keep in your fridge? Leave a comment and let me know what it is!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Road Trip - Destination... My Earlier Days

Road Trip - my past

Today's writing prompt was: Where are you going, or where have you been?

While not just one road trip, like the usual theme, this post contains my memories of several road trips... a few that even included a plane ride. Enjoy!

I sometimes wish I could know where I’m going, however, where I think I’m going and where God takes us are often so very different. So instead of thinking ahead, I’ll think back and tell you about some of the places I’ve been.

When I was in elementary school, my parents took my older brother and I to Eastern Canada for about two weeks. We went through Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. We came home through the Northeastern United States, but other than stopping to see my Aunt and Cousin in Boston, the US part of that trip is a hazy memory. I do remember that my cousin Steven had a pet tarantula.

When my brother was in High School, and I was in Middle School, we took a family trip out west. FYI- we live in Indiana, so anything past Illinois was “the West” in my mind. I remember visiting the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Wall Drugs, and spending three days in Yellowstone National Park. We also visited the Grand Tetons, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, and the Grand Canyon. I remember the fields and fields of sunflowers as we came home across Kansas. I also remember the wind. I think that helped me understand why The Wizard Of Oz story was set in Kansas.

Since Kurt and I have been married, we’ve been quite a few places too. Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have been repeat visits. We keep meaning to go further north into Michigan, but so far we’ve only been in the lowest part of Michigan together. We've been to Baltimore twice, and to the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C. We flew to Colorado when my brother got married, and spent a lot of that trip in and around Rocky Mountain National Park. A couple years ago we took the girls on a road trip to Oklahoma to visit our dear friends and attend the Delaware Indian Pow-Wow.

I’ve been blessed to go a lot of places in my life. I’m sure there will be more trips in my future, after all - Life is a Field trip!

Soon there will be more regularly scheduled Road Trip posts... the July blogging challenge has slightly delayed them.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Artistic Inspiration

Where does your artistic inspiration come from? Do you troll Pinterest looking for ideas or visit the local art museum? Do you have a shelf full of reproductions of the masters, or do you watch a Netflix documentary? 

Artistic inspiration can come from almost anywhere. Mine usually comes from nature. I love to go outside and view the beauty God has created. I take a lot of pictures, and often they become the basis for what I create. I prefer to create art outside, right where I get inspired, but life often gets in the way and limits my time. That’s where a photo comes in handy. It allows me to go back and finish my project, whether its a painting, drawing, or something three dimensional at a later time. It also helps capture the lighting of the moment. If I’m drawing or using pastels, by the time I finish the lighting has often changed, so the photo preserves the moment I wish to capture. 

Artistic Inspiration, art from nature

Photography itself can be your art form. I enjoy taking my own pictures to use here on our blog. Both Emily and Arlene take pictures to exhibit for 4-H. Arlene is rarely without her camera. A point and shoot camera can take wonderful pictures if you’re taking the time to compose them, and willing to take a lot of pictures. It need not take much money, and digital photography, while not as good as film, has the added bonus of only printing the photos you love.

Wherever your artistic inspiration comes from, I encourage you to go visit there soon. Find the comfort and relaxation that comes from creating and enjoying art!

Thankful Thursdays - 7/9/15 - Circumstances

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God In Christ Jesus for you. 
I Thessalonians 5:18

As I sit here to write another Thankful Thursday post, I am reminded of this verse from Thessalonians. It does not say give thanks for all circumstances, but to give thanks IN all circumstances. 

Circumstances change, God does not. Even when we’re having a rough day, a rough week, or even a tough year, we are still commanded to give thanks. Think back to the two verses before this one in I Thessalonians: 

16 Rejoice always
17 pray without ceasing

When we focus on the goodness of God, we CAN rejoice and give thanks. Spending time in daily communion with Christ keeps our focus on God, and not on ourselves.

1 Thessalonians 5

Last night at church we sang  Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus. Add this to the list of my favorite hymns - which is about 200 songs long…
Verse three reminded me once again of where my focus should be, and made me give thanks once again for all Christ has done for me.

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and help to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life, and rest, and joy, and peace.

Give thanks in your circumstances today, whatever they are. Spend time with Jesus - life, rest, joy, and peace!