Tuesday, January 31, 2012

American Praries {Did You Know Tuesdays}

   Wait! What's all this? What happened to "Tips-n-Tricks Tuesday"? Well, I've decided to shake things up a bit. Sometimes we'll have a "Tips-n-Tricks" Tuesday and other times we'll have a "Did You Know" Tuesday. It'll give us a little more variety, don't you think? All you need to know is that the former is about anything in general and the latter is about gardening. I enjoy passing along things that I learn about gardening. So while I may not have accomplished or even attempted some of the things I may tell you here, they maybe be something I read about that sparked my interest, something I want others to know about gardening, or something I've learned.

   So.........here goes! (P.S. This first one is something I read in a book somewhere.)

    The American prairies were once one of the two most fertile places in the world (the other being the alps, if I remember correctly). But did you catch that word "was"? Think of everywhere in nature. The dirt is always naturally covered with SOMETHING. Leaves, grass, trees, water, etc. Do you ever think of vegetation on hills as helping prevent erosion? Well, that's exactly the point. There was once constant plowing of the prairies without adding compost and substance back into the land. By leaving so much of the ground uncovered (think of all the bare soil in corn fields), when a dry spell came, the soil had no way to hold itself together. It blew away - causing a historic event in American history known as the Dust Bowl. Now, because we didn't realize what we were doing, it's said to be one of the most nutrient-depleted areas....Yikes. Let's do better from now on, shall we?

Friday, January 27, 2012

That One Hour is the Best Time of Day....

   I can't recall how it all started, but somewhere in the last few weeks one of my little siblings convinced me to pull out some of my old toys. Playmobils. I used to love those things and would play with them almost every day. Personally I think the prices have gone up in the few years that it's been since I would get the for every Christmas and birthday, but I wouldn't know because I wasn't the one buying them. Then again I guess all toys are quite expensive for the hunks of plastic that they are, if you ask me. But that's a discussion for another day!

   Well regardless, we've now been playing them a couple days out of each week. And I tell you, it is the highlight of her day. I had to set a certain time of the day to play, and for a certain length of time - otherwise I would get badgered more than the already 3-10 times a day before the event about "is it time yet?"

   I also want to share how the story has progressed. It's cute. First of all it started out that my people were settlers in the west. There was a market where they went to buy things. Then another sibling came in (an older one who wanted more adventure). The new addition meant the sister who was originally playing now hired the newcomer's Spanish body-guard and stable-hand to protect her family's girl from kid-nappers who were lurking in the area. This part was inspired by the old shows of Zorro, if you're wondering.

   The Spaniards finally captured the kid-nappers whom the Spaniards had actually been following for a long time. They actually weren't a body-guard or stable-hand by trade, but were under cover to "get the bad guys." The wielder or the two Spaniards got tired of playing and the game continued with just two of us after the kid-nappers were captured. Next there was alot of birthday parties, the family got snowed in at their friends' house, and a couple baby animals and people born in this time too.

   Next she decided her family was actually royalty and the king just died. So her family went to take over the castle. After this, the Spaniard-wielder decided to return to the "game". Needless to say, last time we played there was a Spaniard hiding in a secret room in the castle because a person from the past who lived in the castle wanted to kill him and now he is afraid to come out of hiding.

   He's also the son of the new kings best childhood friend who just died in the same battle as the king. Talk about...um...cross-cultural adventure?

   So don't be afraid to pick up the toys and play with the kiddos. Yes, sometimes it's boring and there are other things I need to do - but if you make a set time, you can at least plan for it. And it just makes their day! Calling siblings and mommys! Play with the little kids! They might even get you laughing by their wacky stories like the one above.

   (I'm in no way affiliated with Playmobil.)

This post is linked to our friends at:


Monday, January 23, 2012

The Good Old Days

   Think of the past....of "way back when" and "the good old days"
bare feet.........snapping beans
...fresh cow milk........no internet
........dances where the whole town showed up........
almost daily socializing with the neighbors........
bike rides........beach days........pretty dresses........
...swims in the lake........tough men
........huddling by the fire........
fresh sheets off the line.....hand-written letters in the mailbox
........beautiful cottage gardens........home-cooked meals........
mending worn clothing to make it "good as new"........
romantic courting........the good old days.

   When we think of them they sometimes seem dreamy. Sometimes I may wish I lived back then - or that I could take a step back in time. Why is it that we are so drawn to the past? Does it look safer because we already know the outcome? Does it seem more alive in our dreamy minds? And why is it we only seem to remember the good things? We don't dream of the filth that many cow farms had and some farms' carelessness to keep things clean (so bacteria grew - sometimes making people sick). We don't dream of the houses without air conditioning, or how the family was huddled by the fire, not because they thought it would be fun, but because they were all very cold. We don't dream of the sweaty layers of petticoats and health-detrimental corsets that were once worn to make a lady "look beautiful". We don't dream of the thieves, murderers, and adulterers of their own time. What is it that makes us dream of the good and forget the bad? And why can it be such a fun pastime of dreaming such things? Why do people enjoy learning how others used to live? Maybe life WAS proportionally safer and "nicer" back then...but what about all the hard times and evil of their own generation? Was Sodom and Gomorrah a nicer city to live in just because it was from long ago? I think not!

   Perhaps all these questions are just pointless. Perhaps our dreams of the past are too. We all know what is the most important. We can't move to a deserted island to ensure we live "like the good old days" or we'll not come in contact with the people we are called to minister to. What good are we as Christians if we hide the light?

(14) “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; (15) nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. (16) Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

~ Matthew 5:14-16

   Somewhere there is a line between being a light to the world and not being overcome by the world. Between being too worldly or living on a deserted island. Between ministering to modern culture and living the sins of it. Hmm. But as I read that sentence again I realize that it isn't really a line between the two, is it? Instead they both go together in perfect harmony: if we are overcome by the world, we will no longer be a light to it. And if we are a light to it, that means we are not overcome by it.

   Perhaps another well-known verse would go well here.

(2) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

~ Romans 12:2

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Make-Shift Serge Stitch --Without a Serger-- {Tips-N-Tricks Tuesday}

   Ever have anyone tell you "oh you can't sew that because you need a serger sewing machine"? Well good, that makes the two of us. While the advice might be good to heed sometimes, other times you can get away with a cheaper route. It does take twice the amount of time and isn't as strong, but someone with even a simpler machine can do it.

   Some of you probably already know this and do this - but for those who don't, look at the picture above. First do a straight stitch to tack it in place, then go over it with a zig-zag stitch.

   Like I said, it takes twice as long and isn't as strong, but if you don't have a couple extra hundred dollars for another sewing machine, you should consider it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More Than Scrapbooking {Tips-n-Tricks Tuesday}

   Perhaps you scrapbook, perhaps you make hand-made cards, or perhaps you can't draw much more than a little doodle thingy. No matter. This is really pretty simple.

   Take a piece of scrapbook paper (or make a plain piece cute with your own creativity) and write a verse on it that is convicting to you. (Or ask someone else to write it for you ;-) ) Next add some flowers or some other embellishments for "eye-candy". Then stick it on the wall.

   By making it cute, it makes you want to look at it, and when you look at it, then you feel guilty if you don't read it. Or at least you BETTER feel guilty if you don't read it!!! So see, there is more things to do with pretty paper than just scrapbooking!

   Writing these out and posting them in the house reminds me of the familiar verses in Deuteronomy when God is telling His people how greatly He will wipe out their enemies in front of them.

 18 “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 19 You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth. 22 For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, 23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you.

~ Deuteronomy 11:18-23 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Smoothies the EASY way

   Making smoothies is awesome - let me tell you. I love a morning smoothie for breakfast. Here are some reasons why I love smoothies.

1. It makes me feel so good and it doesn't sit heavy in my stomach like bread or bacon and fried potatoes.
2. Practically all cereal is pretty bad for people to eat. Do your own research. So smoothies are a great alternative.
3. They only take a few minutes to toss together
4. Smoothies can be super healthy for us.
5. It is really easy for the body to digest.
6. They are so versatile to make - you can usually just use what you have on hand instead of having to buy too many "extras" for ingredients.
7. Smoothies don't taste healthy if you do it right. They are very tasty and even kids love them.

   Alright. I'll call that a long enough list. When I first tried making smoothies I didn't know where to start. The recipes had fruits we never have on hand and ingredients I'd never heard of. But I'm determined to save you the frustration and show you that it doesn't have to be so complicated. So grab your blender or food processor and I'll teach you how to make any flavor you can dream of! The recipe here is enough for one adult serving.

   Note that all measurements are approximate - don't sweat it. Just dump in "about that much".

Put the following basics into your blender:
- 1 small to medium banana
- 1/2 to 3/4 C fruit of choice
- 1/3 C greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc. - fresh from your garden, perhaps!)
- 1 1/2 to 2 C drinkable liquid (homemade yoghurt, coconut water, milk, juice, kefir, or just water)

Blend it up and YUM!!!

   But wait, it gets better! That's just the basics. Now you can jazz it up even more and make the flavor even better as well as make it even MORE HEALTHY. Here are some things I add to mine:

- 1 Tblsp frozen juice concentrate (adds lots of yummy flavor!)
- 1 Tblsp raw honey (only if the banana is under-ripe and if there isn't any frozen concentrate, otherwise it doesn't need the extra sweetener)
- about 2" slice of coconut meat (makes it creamier tasting and is good for you)
- Liquid minerals (these can get pricey, but is also really good for you and can be found at a health-food store - follow directions for serving size on the bottle)
- 1/2 teas powdered "super-foods" (like spirulina, beetroot powder, and hemp) (these look gross and taste gross eaten straight, but you can't even tell they're in the smoothie when you eat it mixed in. I would strongly suggest looking into getting some as they are so good for you.)


   Some of the latter ingredients might be making you tip your head in curiosity. Do a quick search and see what you can learn about how good these things are for you. I put the "weird" ingredients at the end, so you could feel more comfortable to make a simple smoothie and work your way up to some more complicated stuff. Once you get in the routine, it's super easy.

   Try it! I challenge you. I'm fairly certain you won't regret it. And remember, kids like them too, so don't leave them out!

Look at all the great blogs this post is linked to today! Wow!

day2day joys

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Don't Be A Dead Fish {Tips-n-Tricks Tuesday}

   The tip for today? Don't be a dead fish.

   I'm not really sure in what context this quote originated, but it definitely gets me to think. As I read this it can mean many things, and perhaps something different to each person. A dead Christian conforming to the world (stream)? Coming alive when we let God get ahold of us? Doing something simply because everyone else is doing it? Perhaps it came across as something completely different to you. Is this a "tip". Mmmm. Maybe, maybe not. But for lack of better post, alas, don't be a dead fish.
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