Tuesday, June 25, 2013

From One Small Seed

  This bouquet of Calla Lilies all started with one little seed when I was thirteen.  I was one of those kids who was always trying something new.  When my mamma’s seed catalogues came in the mail at the end of winter, I’d pour over them, looking at all the beautiful flowers and marking the ones that caught my fancy.  Finally I would narrow my list down to what I liked the very best. 
  It wouldn’t have been surprising if my mom would’ve rolled her eyes and wondered at me sometimes, since I was determined to try things that wouldn’t work.  Sweet Peas don’t grow in heat, but I thought they might.  No luck.  I also learned there’s a reason you buy Freesias from a florist.  But you know, I don’t remember my mamma ever discouraging me in any way.
  I planted the Calla Lily seeds and they came up thin and spindly like grass.  I transplanted them into our vegetable garden and they slowly turned yellow and died off.  Except for one.  This one struggled along and finally grew a tiny bulb that I dug in the fall.  (And I do mean tiny!)  I potted it the next year and it fought to live, growing in that orange clay pot for a few years, withering when autumns came and then miraculously sprouting again in the springs.  Finally I planted the bulb, still small, in a flowerbed and left it there to weather all the seasons on its own.  Twelve years after I’d planted that seed a lot of things had changed.  I was moved away, married, and had my own grown-up flower beds.  My mamma asked me on the phone one day if I still wanted that Calla Lily since it was mine.  I said sure. 
  So I planted the bulb that was bigger now than it ever was when I was “growing” it.  And it thrived!  And spread.  And dropped seeds that grew into fine bulbs themselves.  I gave a bag of the extra bulbs to my sister-in-law, Johanna, who planted them in her rose garden.  Here they are, flourishing!
All these from one little seed and one little girl, full of crazy ideas.

Looking back, neither of my parents were really eye-rollers.  They let us try… and fail.  And sometimes succeed.  They didn’t interfere with the projects and things my brothers and I tried.  They supported us whether our ideas worked out or not.  I think I need to develop these qualities in my own life with my own girls.

   Now that I’m a mother, I know that this isn’t the easiest thing to do!  Kids trying things makes work.  Work for me, messes for me.  My own selfishness comes into play way too often. 

  I want my girls to learn to try,
to learn to fail,
 and to learn to succeed.
 I want to allow my girls to plant seeds.


  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits,
unwavering, without hypocrisy.  James 3:17

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

More Than Just a Recipe

  For me, recipes are a bit of a diary.  
A history of my life in the kitchen. 
 After ten years of marriage, my recipe book, 
with pockets categorized for different foods, 
is spreading to great proportions.  
Someday I should reorganize it and the tasty ideas inside. 

I’ve been noticing a trend though, that makes
 me a little sad.  
More of my recipes have gone from
 looking like this:

To this.
Not a whole lot of character or personality going on here. 
No memories or meaning either. 
 I just copied and pasted a recipe from some random place on the web.   
I love the convenience of just googling for ingredients
 or whatever I’m thinking of trying, 
but there’s a lack of the human touch there. 

  At Christmastime I wanted to make the Coconut Cake. 
The cake that our neighbor lady, Mrs. Nixon
 (a most amazing southern cook!) 
brought to our family every Christmas when I was a kid.  
Oh, the deliciousness, with true mounds of fluffy,
 not-too-sweet frosting and freshly grated coconut
 so thick it was literally falling off in piles on the cake plate!  
I asked my mamma for the recipe and, 
rather than copy all the ingredients,
 (of which there are plenty) 
she just dug the recipe out and gave it to me from her little file drawer 
that she’s had since she was first married.
 (If she would’ve left those orange and green mushrooms
 on that box when she refinished the wood, it would be back in style.) 

  The Coconut Cake recipe is beautiful. 
It’s covered with greasy spots that have become darker with time. 
Mrs. Nixon’s generous handwriting 
covers the entire 8 ½ by 11 inch page.  
(She wrote like she cooked – with abundance. 
The thickest hamburger I’ve ever eaten was one she made.  
And after she'd fried the barely flattened patty, 
she cut a good sized tomato into three slices 
and topped the burgers with it.  
My eyes must’ve been popping, but I didn’t say a word!) 
 And most interestingly, when I turned the page over,
 I saw she’d used a scrap paper that was a piece of junk mail
 from H&R Block dated 1987. 

  This is history and personality in my hands.
  This is what cooking should be – one neighbor sharing with another, 
one friend giving another that delicious new recipe everyone
 was raving about at the carry-in last Sunday. 

  So even though I’ll still run to my computer and google search 
what I’m looking for, then copy and paste
 in the boring Times New Roman font,
 I want to make it a point to leave history behind me.  
I want to collect magazine recipes 
whose beautiful food photos will soon look outdated. 
I want to write my own recipe creations with a pen
 on papers that tell a story. 
(I’ve been known to grab one of my kid’s drawings and
 scribble on the back of it – don’t tell ‘em!) 
I want to have recipe cards that say “From the Kitchen of…” 
with a real friend’s name on it.

  So here’s one of my favorite recipes for
Stuffed French Toast, written with my own
uneven penmanship,  scanned and ready to print.
 (Click here for a printable card.)  Yes it will be ink
 from your printer instead of a pen,
but it’s from me to you! J

  Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.

 Psalm 36:5-6 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Honeybee Days

  One morning in May, my father-in-law, Tim, gave me a call to let me know he was going to open the beehives and check on the bees. The girls and I got ready in a hurry and headed just across the field where the hives are near the barns and vegetable garden here on the farm. Tim found a swarm of bees hanging from a fence along the lane a few years back and almost without meaning to, became a beekeeper. He’s been learning about bees ever since!

  On this particular day in May, my girls' great grandpa was here, visiting from Pennsylvania.   It so happens that he also has a knowledge and love of bees.  The bees were calm on this cloudy morning, but Grandpa puffed around a bit with the smoker just to make sure.  The hive was crowded with healthy looking bees.  If you’re wondering about the fencing wire around the hives, it’s electric fence to keep bears out from searching for a snack!

A slow-flying honeybee returned from the fields
 with sacks of pollen to feed the young larvae.
This frame has honeycomb and is being filled with honey. 
Some of the cells are already covered or capped.

 A little beekeeper in waiting!

  A few weeks later we were walking up the hill from the garden and noticed a swarm of bees on the fence. I called Tim, and we watched the bees hanging in a cluster while we waited for him to arrive. Fascinating creatures, these bees. The more you watch them the more you realize there is so much to learn about them!
  Honeybees swarm when the hive becomes crowded and the queen leaves with some of the worker bees to find a new home.  A new queen will take her place in the old hive with the worker bees that haven’t left.
   Swarming bees aren’t aggressive.They were flying all around us and sitting on my camera. J

  Here's Tim, shaking the moving mass of bees
 into a box.

The bees flowing steadily, almost like water, into the hive.

Kadence sitting in the dirt beside the friendly bees.
"How sweet are Your words to my taste,       
sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
Psalms 119:103  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


We came home last week smelling like wood smoke, with dirty feet and good memories.  Over Memorial Day we spent some time camping at my parent’s farm along the Rapidan River with my family.  As far as camping goes, it’s just bring your stuff and hang out by the river – there are no “accommodations”.J   I love for my kids to be able to spend time here because it’s where my brother and I spent long hours of our lives exploring, “playing Indian”, and learning about the things growing on the bottomland by the river. 

This cicada came out of the ground overnight, climbed up our tire, and began its “birth”. The whole process took most of the morning and it was fascinating to watch its transformation. It puts me in awe to see the things God has created and how they work in their own perfectly designed ways.
There were cicadas everywhere and they sang to us through the day. On the east coast every seventeen years brings massive amounts of cicadas. They have a seventeen year life cycle living under the ground and finally emerging for one summer of life in the fresh air.
Multiflora Rose.
Empty cicada shells hanging from Stinging Nettle
or “Burny Donkey” as we used to call it.
Elderberry ready to bloom on the riverbank.
A male Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly –
 the iridescent blue is gorgeous!

 Boxelder seeds hanging from the tree.
 The four cousins.
Missing teeth!

Umm… yes, you’re seeing correctly. Not the best thing I’ve ever eaten, but really not too bad! Tastes just like chicken. Well, not really. J

 Kadence tries a fried cicada.
 She wasn’t so sure, but I love her pleased
 expression right before she said
 “They’re actually pretty good!”


 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
tell of all His wondrous works!
Psalm 105:2

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