Coming Soon: Free Book

Coming Soon: Free Book
Planning to give away a book or two!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Majestic Monarch butterfly

While I was in the garden harvesting, this beautiful butterfly fluttered on by and landed on the asparagus plant.
Majestic Monarch butterfly in asparagus patch
It sat in one spot for quite a while. Then it flew to the center of the asparagus patch. At that location it let me get up nice and close. All I had with me was my cell phone. But this was one of those times the cell phone took beautiful pictures.
Monarch butterfly
When it opened its wings, the sun from the other side shown through. Doesn't it's wings look like stained glass windows? God can create such stunningly beautiful detailed things in nature. Artists can imitate the beauty but what man can recreate from scratch all the details that make up the butterfly?
Monarch butterfly
There is a song that says "Bullfrogs and Butterflies they've both been born again." Both animal and insect begin as one creature and go through a metamorphosis. We as Christians when we accept Christ also go through a metamorphosis. It is a blessing that only God can create rebirth into a new life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Late summer garden duties

All summer Dale has been talking about expanding the garden.  He was pushing me over the weekend to tell him what parts of the garden was harvested enough for the first fall tilling.  There were two small portions that were ready.  BUT since he had the tractor tiller out, I flagged him to the extension.  
Dale breaks ground
The garden is now about 1/3 longer than what it was before.  Looking straight across at the neighbors apple tree that was the South end of the garden before.  That should give us enough extra room for me to plant a few rows of cotton next year!  :^)
New full size garden
The Northern most section of the garden is where the Rhubarb, strawberry and peony bushes are planted.  Since that area will not be tilled, I have decided to put a layer of straw over top of it.  That is a trick that often works for helping to keep weeds under control.
Straw base for next year

Monday, August 29, 2016

Where were you 30 years ago?

I was in Japan preparing to serve for a year as a short term missionary teaching  conversational English. As I went outside this evening, the oppressive humidity reminded me of my time in Japan. I arrived in August 1986. Wow, that was 30 years ago! 
Families & Children in Japan
I think that the pictures I'm showing are from our New Year's celebration or an evangelism seminar held at the church where I was teaching. 
Every get together included a group picture
I was particularly close with one family the Aizawa family who had three young girls trying to have a boy. Sons are very important for a Japanese family. Every few weeks, they invited me to join them for family activities. 
Putting the Aizawa girls to bed
One of my advanced students was also a student of the Japanese tea ceremony. It is a very precise and beautiful ceremony. I was blessed by being invited to a semi-private demonstration. (My student is on the right.)
Tea Ceremony
I was given an album to keep my photos in. It was a traditional wedding album. But for me my memories from that year were just as precious. 
Kazuko Yoneda created this picture of an iris for me as a going away present. One of these days I need to frame it. She was a wonderful artist. 
"Iris" created by Kazuko Yoneda
They called me Nakahara Taeko 中原  多惠子. (They told me just Field was not a Japanese family name. It was either middle of the field or big field and I  went with middle.) I was able to choose my first name. When I was a teenager, I looked up my name in a name book.  It said the meaning was "full of grace" which in Japanese was Taeko.
中原   多惠子
Another close friend of mine was Masahiro Tanaka. He was the oldest boy in his family. He was near the age of settling down and getting married.  God blessed him by introducing him to a wonderful Christian woman at the last church Bible camp that I attended before leaving Japan. They eventually married.
Tanaka-san and Nakahara-san

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A star studded night

I am learning how to take night shots with my Nikon D5100 (digital) camera.  It is possible to take control of the settings in an automatic camera.  But they are embedded in the camera.  I set the camera with an ISO of 1600.  There was another hidden setting called "exposure compensation" which I set at +4 for the first two pictures then changed it to +3 for the rest of the pictures.
ISO 1600:  30 sec, f 3.5/18 mm
 I pointed the camera at the horizon towards my neighbor across the river.  Off to the left hand side is the milky way. I was excited to see how the  yard light gave off an orange aura.
ISO 1600: 30 Sec f 3.5/18 mm
 The picture above has an exposure compensation of +4 while the identical picture below is set at +3.  it is difficult to say but I think the +4 picture is a little more blurry and a little more orange. I noticed while I made the change of the exposure that the fog was beginning to roll in around me.
ISO 1600: 30 Sec f 3.5/18 mm
 I carefully moved from the back yard to the front yard. My yard light caused a few problems or an interesting effect. The yellow light refracting off the green trees has left me with a green aura around the trees.
ISO 1600: 30 Sec f 3.5/18 mm
 With the fog settling in, I found it increasingly difficult to focus.  The fog was even covering the lens with a coating of water.
ISO 1600: 30 Sec f 3.5/18 mm
 I finished my last few pictures by pointing the camera up in the air.  How can anyone look up into the amazing stars and not praise the glory of God?

Genesis 1New International Version (NIV)

The Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
ISO 1600: 30 Sec f 3.5/18 mm

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Finding peace amidst the storm

Here are some more pictures from a few weeks ago when we visited dad in the hospital.  He is doing much better now.  I wish I  could print several of these to hang on the wall. 
We had received excessive rains and the South Fork of the Crow River was at flood stage. A log was caught at the top of the rocks which replaced the old dam. One lone bird perched on a branch of the log while it took in the sunset.
I normally don't watermark my cell phone pictures. But all that my sister and I had with us were our cell phones. To my amazement the snapshots turned out beautifully. 
It was such a good representation of our lives at the time. The bird was perched at the edge of the rushing water. It's back was turned to the churning trauma created by the flood. It was there none the less. But the bird was focused on the calm peaceful waters upstream. 
This last month has been a lot of trauma personally, for friends and acquaintances. We have a tendency to look at the storm (just look at the negative newscasts.) I challenge you to look towards the peaceful side of life. Let all that trauma just roll over the rocks and down the river.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The boys are back ...

... and without thinking they picked up the bag of beef jerky and the beggars came running.
Sonjia, Misty Blue and Skyler watching Isaac
Look at those faces! How can anyone say no to so much cuteness? As I sat on the floor and the boys behind me started to divvy up the small crumbs of beef jerky, I started to laugh. 
Sonjia, Misty Blue and Skyler watching Isaac
These three were so confident in their begging and yes, it was working. I've never seen these 3 so well behaved!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

5 weeks old and Spunky

Born on July 19th, this kitten and it's mom stayed in the same spot for several days. I was surprised that the mother allowed me to play with the kitten.
kitten Spunky less than 24 hours
For three days in a row, I  asked the mama cat when she was going to bring her baby back inside. Yeah, like she understood that!  But then again ... the baby showed up on Tuesday at 5 weeks old.
Mama and Kitten Spunky (5 weeks old)
For only 5 weeks old it has quite a defensive attitude. I've been picking it up playing with it to get used to humans. But it is still very hissy.
The safe place for kittens in the barn
It was only in the barn for two days. We think that the mama cats take the kittens in the woods for mousing.  They often disappear at least one day a week. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Laying straw down

I put a fresh bale of straw along the edge of the garden where I had been weeding. I decided that this fall I was going to put straw between the strawberries and rhubarb.  Maybe it will help with weeding. 
Weeded and ready for straw
Do you notice that the bale in the picture above is messed up? Skyler and Misty Blue were playing catch me if you can. But they were not paying attention to their human and hit me in the back of the leg.
Strawberry bed
In pain, I put some of the straw down. First thing this morning, I called a Chiropractor and went straight in for an adjustment.  I'm feeling better but there is one group of muscles that has seized up and will take a few days loosen up again. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A simple salsa

I decided to make a small amount of salsa this weekend. Because of my allergy to bell peppers, I can't buy most salsas in the stores.
Homemade salsa
I didn't use a recipe. I just added stuff and tasted it. Then I added just a little bit more. So follow along and this is what I did.
I blanched my tomatoes. That makes the skins peel right off. These were pretty meaty tomatoes so there wasn't a lot of extra juice.
White onions
I finely chopped a good size white onion. Then I finely chopped a small red onion. Eventually I stopped two more small red onions.
Red Onions
I purchased some cilantro in order to give it just a little bit of pizzazz. I'm not one that likes a really hot salsa.
I added one lemon worth of juice and one line worth of juice. After that was mixed in I added 2 teaspoons of pickling salt.
Lemon and Lime
Of course nothing is finished without garlic. Lots and lots and lots of garlic. I took two full bulb of garlic and broke down all the cloves then finely chop them and added them to the salsa.
That was when the taste-testing started. I had added more onions and garlic until I was finally pleased with the taste. Then I began the canning process. I kept almost to quarts for myself packaged in pint size jars.
Fresh Salsa here I come!
Then I added 3 teaspoons of Mrs. Dashes hot and spicy seasoning. I was out of lids so I put them in quart jars. I will can them tomorrow for Dale. That way he can taste it before I seal the jars.
Ooops, I dropped a few things
Anyone who knows me is not surprised by the look of the floor under my feet. Yeah it needs washing. I have to be the messiest cook on earth. But it taste good!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

God's heart is breaking tonight!

I saw the sunset this evening and the thought that passed through my head was "God's heart is breaking tonight!" He gave mankind freewill and when we use that freedom to hurt a innocent child, his heart breaks.  Although the bible does not say that directly, Mark 9:42 talks about causing a child to walk away from God and the punishment involved, how much greater will the punishment be to those who physically harm a child!

Matthew 19:14New International Version (NIV)

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Mark 9:42New International Version (NIV)

42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.

Dear little Alayna Ertl, may you rest peacefully tonight in the loving arms of Jesus. My faith allows me to believe that he has already healed your pains from today because that is who he is, the Healer.  My prayers continue for your parents that Jesus heal their pain as well.

Not your mama's hotdish/goulash

There have been times that I'd like to go on Chopped. I'm known for pulling together a lot of random foods and creating a flavorful meal.  But then again, I have a reasonable mix of foods for the meal.  They are always throwing foods together that should not belong together.  
I started out by making a box of stuffing according to the directions.
Prepare box stuffing
Then in a separate pan I took a pound of ground pork with garlic, onions and Italian seasoning and browned it allowing the seasonings to infuse into the meat.
Browning the meat
I sliced and diced half a kohlrabi that was left in the refrigerator and needed to get used up.  If you can't tell by now, I decided to make a dish that was created from food in the cupboards, freezer and refrigerator that needed to get used up.
Kohlrabi added to the pan for cooking
I took the stuffing mix and spread it out on the bottom of my glass cake pan.  It didn't quite cover the bottom but that didn't bother me.  There was plenty food getting ready to go into the pan.
Begin layering the flavors
Zucchini is under rated.  There are so many places that this fruit can be added to dishes.  I had shredded zucchini so I decided to scatter a layer over the stuffing.
Shredded zucchini
Over the shredded zucchini, I put the layer with kohlrabi and sausage.
Kohlrabi and ground sausage
TI continued my layers by adding tomatoes and broccoli.  My refrigerator was beginning to empty faster and faster.
Broccoli and tomato
I need to admit.  I had purchased the mushrooms.  Most of the rest of the food was from the farm.  But mushrooms are one area that I don't attempt to grow or harvest.
I think one important part of a hot dish is cream of soup.  Isn't that a staple when it comes to hot dishes?
Cream of Soup
Another staple is that you cook it at 375 degrees for an hour or until golden brown.  The last 15 minutes you take the tinfoil off and put Durkee onions across the top for an extra "crispy crunch".
Durkee Onions
Ta-da!  It was finally ready to eat.  The layers of flavor were fabulous.  This definitely was not my mothers hot-dish!.
Hot dish