A Room with a View

It’s a beautiful cool cloudy day here. Don’t tell the weather man that it’s June! I’m gazing out the window at lots of green. I’m on the second floor, so I am looking at branches where I can often see birds or squirrels. Down in the yard I can see the weathered white rail fence, the clothesline awaiting a load of clothes.  I won’t hang them today though; it might rain.

Two large wooden crates that have been fitted with doors and adapted as temporary night time housing for our dozen chickens. The chickens themselves are hiding somewhere out of my sight. We let them free range in our back yard.  They are a great learning experience and just plain fun, too.

We have a large garden back behind the fence. We tasted the first lettuce and a radish last week. I think our sweet peas will be ready by the weekend. I’ve not had that delicious pleasure for years.  We may just eat them raw in salads!  We’ve also used some of the basil and parsley from the garden. My husband is the gardener. In fact, he went through the master gardener course this year. So, we have the best looking garden ever. I’m just so looking forward to the first fresh juicy tomatoes!  Nothing says summer like fresh sliced tomatoes, corn-on-the-cob, and watermelon!  May I have that with a glass of icy lemonade please?

Tonka trucks at the back edge of the yard and hubby’s burn pile complete the view. It’s wonderful to have such a large yard in town. The yard is so deep, and there are so many trees, I cannot even see the houses behind us in the summer time.   God is good!

The chill in the air tells me it’s not summer yet, though. I’m in no hurry!

Blessings to you!
Laura

An Ingredient in My Recipe for Life and a Frugal Recipe

Dear Reader,

 I’m so happy to spend a few moments of this new month with you. Like you, I have many interests and many roles and responsibilities in my life. I am a wife, mother, my children’s teacher, homemaker, friend, and of course, a daughter of the King. Each month, as I write to you, I’d like to share with you a little about an ingredient that I believe helps us create an enjoyable, rich recipe for life. I’ll also share a favorite recipe to help make your life a little easier.

Reading is an integral part of my life’s recipe. I read to learn, to relax, to hope, to plan, to dream, and to glean from the experiences of others who have walked this way before. I am primarily a non-fiction reader. A few years ago, I added more fiction to my reading. I found that although I am all grown up, I really enjoy losing myself in a good story. As a full-time wife, mother, and my children’s teacher, I welcome those moments alone.

Time alone has taken on new meaning and different forms as each of my four children were added to our little family. What used to be uninterrupted hours of free time to read or pursue hobbies and other entertainment, has shrunk to snatched moments here and there. Still, I have managed to find moments for this beloved nourishment for my mind and companionship for my soul.

By reading, I am indeed allowing the author to nourish my thoughts and my imagination. I’m also enjoying the author’s companionship as I read. That’s why I often linger over favorite books, stretching the reading over weeks or even months. To finish the book means to end the companionship, unless I find another book she’s written. I say she because most of these books are written by women about my journey with Jesus, homemaking, frugal living, or homeschooling.

As a matter of discipline, I have a goal of reading 50 books a year. I keep a journal of the title, author, date completed, and a notation stating fiction, non-fiction, or with the children. This keeps me accountable for what I read, and it helps me to see that I’m reading a good variety. I believe what Zig Ziglar used to say, “You are who you are and what you are because of what has gone into your mind.” Reading is a big part of that for me.

I encourage you to make yourself a reading goal for the remainder year. It might not be 50 books. It might be 12; but, set a goal and start reading toward it. This year I set aside 50 books on my bookshelf that I’d like to read. Perhaps my interests will lead me to different books; but, I’ve got a plan. Make a plan for yourself. Think about books that will help you with your finances, your cooking skills, your homemaking skills, your people skills, your business skills, your Christian life, a hobby or a skill that you’d like to learn. Most importantly, though, make a BIBLE goal. Make it something attainable. After all, even one book, read over and over can change you. That’s what we really want after all, isn’t it? To be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ?

Now, to give you a little more time to sneak in a little of what I call snatch reading (snatch a moment here and there), here is one of my family’s favorite soup recipes. It’s frugal, too. Put it together and let it simmer on the back of the stove or in a crock pot while you snatch a few pages! May God bless you as you seek His face.

Laura

By the way, in case you’re wondering, I do count the books I read to my children that are chapter books and some of their history readers and that sort of thing.  I don’t read 50 just for me. ~grin~

I have also discovered books loaded onto an MP3 player that can hang around my neck at my library.  They are helping me to meet my goal and also stretch beyond my normal reading genres.  I recently listened to The Audacity of Hope by President Obama.  I don’t agree with him on many of his beliefs; but, it was good to know where he stands.  I also listened to Anastasia, The Last Grand Duchess (of Russia).  It was in the youth section; but was very informative.  I like history.

Snow, Teas, and Infusions

I’m just sitting here, enjoying a quiet snowy day.

I love the way the snow glistens when the sun hits it.

I’m thinking of putting the kettle on and making a

nice cup of tea in a little bit.  You know they say that

nothing warms like tea.  I just read a book called Time for Tea

with  Mary Engelbreit.  It was filled with her delightful

whimsical art and lots of tea tips and lore.  It is a

nice light read.   She says that the herbal teas are

actually infusions.  I guess I love infusions as

well, then.   Here are a few of my favorite teas and

infusions. 

From Bigelow:

Constant Comment is my favorite Tea. 

It’s laced with the flavor of oranges and spice. 

If I could have only one tea for the rest of my

life, this would be it.  It’s refreshing hot or cold. 

I also like Bigelow’s green tea.  I must admit that

I drink green tea because it’s good for me.

From Stash Tea Comany:

Pumkin Spice and Ruby Mist

From Celestial Seasonings:

Honey Chamomile, Sugar Cookie Sleighride,

Tension Tamer, and India Spiced Chai Tea,

and Sleepy Time, known as Teddy Bear Tea

at our house.  We also drink Peter Rabbit tea,

which is of course, chamomile.

Do you have a favorite tea that I might like to try?

Well, I think I’ll go and put the kettle on. 

Keep warm!

Cozy at home, Laura

Old Fashioned Cocoa from Scratch

My family just loves the rich flavor of old fashioned cocoa made from scratch.  Scratch means you start with basic ingredients and go from there.  I love it because I always have the ingredients on hand.  My kids will have the memory of Momma over the stove stirring the cocoa.  They come running when they hear the sound the whisk makes in the pan. 

 Here’s how I make mine.  All you need is Hershey’s cocoa, sugar, milk and a bit of water.

Old Fashioned Cocoa from Scratch

Combine 1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa and 1 cup of white sugar in a three quart saucepan using a wire whisk.  I do this while the cocoa and sugar are still dry so that the cocoa will mix in nice and smooth without a bunch of lumps. 

Add about 1/3 cup of cold water and mix until smooth.  Bring to a boil and continue to boil it for about a minute, stirring constantly.  Don’t worry if it sticks to the sides, it’ll melt back into the cocoa as it heats up. 

Fill the pan with milk, It”ll be a little more than a half a gallon of milk.  Stir and heat using  medium heat.  If you need to walk away from it, just turn it on the lowest heat.   I check to see if it’s hot enough by dropping in a miniature marshmallow.  It’s ready when the marshmallow just starts to melt.  I offer extra milk to my little ones to cool it if they want it. 

This is so easy, we can make it any time we want it.  Read aloud time is one of our favorite times to enjoy Old Fashioned Cocoa.

Trapped…and Released

“Based on the information available today and the terms of the contract in force today, benefits will be available if the service is medically necessary.” Ten, twenty, thirty, forty times a day I would repeat that phrase. I was a customer service correspondent for Blue Cross and Blue Shield. I answered the phone all day long, explaining benefits, helping with medical claims that weren’t processed correctly or were misunderstood. I couldn’t answer the phone, fill out a form, or sneeze without putting a tally mark on a piece of paper so that my employer would be able to keep track of every moment of my day. I felt, with my headset attached to the phone system and my computer in front of me, like a dog on a chain. I was trapped. I must admit that for the most part, in the almost 18 years since I’ve been home with my children, that I’ve either forgotten or blocked out most of what it was like to be stuck in a job that I didn’t like, making too much money to quit, but not enough to get ahead. I was so young I didn’t appreciate the medical benefits except for maternity! I still remember the day, January 18, 1991 as my emancipation day, the day I was released! ~smile~

I think it’s good for me to remember, to appreciate the freedom I have now in comparison. No. I don’t have money to buy things I want most of the time. No, I can’t do all the things I want to, unless they’re free. Yes, it’s worth it. Being home with my children has been a wonderful privilege that my husband, God, and my willingness to go without have offered me. My children are different than they would have been if I’d been at work and they’d been at school. I thank God that I’ve been there to instill our beliefs, our faith, and our values in their lives as well as to teach them.

I also think that it’s good for me to reflect on what I would have been like, what I might have done, if not for Jesus, and on what I did do before Jesus. Our Pastor spoke Sunday about a man who killed many people at a Christmas party last week. He said that apart from Christ and the Holy Spirit in him, he could have been that man. Any one of us could have been that man. If we didn’t have Jesus, we would be at the mercy of whatever the world and Satan enticed us with. Desperation, fatigue, worry, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, anger, as well as a host of other pressures and sins would assail us.

Thank God for Jesus Christ and the work of salvation that he did at the cross. We have the opportunity to be reconciled to God, to have a clean conscience and a clean slate before Him in spite of our past sins. We have to choose to accept Jesus’ death being the payment for our sins and believe that he is resurrected, at God’s right hand in Heaven. Then, we must wash ourselves by reading the Word of God, the Holy Bible, daily, asking for God to fill us over and over with His Holy Spirit.

I need to remember what I was and what God had done for me through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I need to press forward, focusing more and more on God’s word and what He wants to do in me, my family, my church, and my community.

I ask God to bless you all as you think reflectively upon these things.

Laura
Thankful to be home and His

New in the Shop…More Dishcloths

Hand Crocheted Cotton Dishcloths, Set of 3
$12.00
Dish Cloth, Hand Crocheted Cotton Dish Cloth
$4.00
Fanciful Hearts Greeting Cards
$5.00
Spring Time Bright Handcrafted Greeting Cards
$5.00
Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade
harvestlanecottage.etsy.com

 

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.  I’ve kept my hands busy making new things for my Etsy shop, Harvest Lane Cottage.  I’ll be listing more over the next few days.  My husband showed me how to load the photos.  Life is so full of learning experiences, isn’t it?  We laugh about me being technologically impaired! ~smile~  I do love creating with my hands, though.  Handmade things just give such a cozy feel to things.

Blessings!

Laura

Busy at Home

New in My Shop!

I have a new handmade crocheted cotton dishcloth in my shop.

 

I’ve been busy making items to sell in my little cottage business
I just love hand crocheted dishcloths!
There’s just something so old fashioned and homey about them.
I offer these cloths in unbleached natural cotton as well.
I’ll add photos soon.
In the meantime, leave a comment if you’d like to know more!
God bless you!

Laura of Harvest Lane

Busy at Home