We were walking through the garden and saw the bright red spots gleaming from the cherry tree that stands beside the strawberry patch. What a thrill! We all grabbed a branch and bent it low to pluck the cherries one by one. The kids had a hard time not eating them so what we were left with was enough for pie!
I never did harvest cherries before that would amount more than just a gentle graze. That grazing that we farmers do when our fruit is fresh. We eat and then spit out the pit. I know they make handy devices that will pit your cherries for you, but we did it the old fashioned way. By hand. It is the slower living that makes it so much more an experience.
I first tried my fingers and the cherry split in half and it seemed a bit smashed. I wanted them to stay pretty and whole for my pie! I soon discovered that I could wedge a drinking straw into the place where the stem once was and I could drive the pit clear through, thus leaving my cherry in one piece. Owen and I just sat at the table, listening to the birds singing with the gentle breeze blowing in through the window over the kitchen sink. We sat there just pitting cherries and it took us both back to a different era. I love those moments where life seems timeless.
I slowly cooked the cherries over the stove with a little (maybe a cup) of water, so they would not stick to the bottom. I added about a cup of raw sugar and let them come to a boil. Then I added about a 1/2 cup of water with 2 heaping tablespoons of corn starch to thicken the mixture. It bubbled together and the red color started to permeate the brew. Oh, it smelled heavenly!
Molly was off making a homemade graham cracker crust. She took about 2 packages of graham crackers and put them into a gallon plastic ziplock bag and ran over them slowly with an old wooden rolling pin until they were like a fine crumbled flour. She slowly melted a stick and a half of butter over the stove and mixed it into the crumbles along with 2 tablespoons of sugar. She pressed it up the sides of a glass pie pan. It looks so pretty!
While Molly was making the crust, Megan was making the filling. We left two sticks of cream cheese out all day to soften. She beat the cream cheese until smooth and then added a can of sweetened condensed milk slowly while scraping the sides. Then Megan squeezed one lemon and mixed the fresh juice into her filling along with one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
She poured the cheese cake filling into the pie crust that was formed.
We put it into the freezer to chill for about 30 minutes which was not long enough. I would recommend chilling it in the refrigerator for about 3-4 hours, that way it would have a chance to set up properly. We could not wait that long so this is the result...
I would give it a C for the presentation, but an A for flavor! It was the best cherry cheesecake I have ever had. My grandmother always made cherry cheesecake for my dad on his birthday. When I took the first bite, I was transported to my childhood when my dad had a birthday. It would never fail...that clink of my dad's teeth on a pit. He was always the one that ended up getting the lone pit that snuck in there. It became tradition. And I ate my piece for him this time because I wished he would have been there, he would have just about fell over with delight to have a fresh cherry cheesecake from our fresh picked sour cherries.
Today is one of the best days of my life! Every day is! I guess that is because I make it that way. 18 years ago I promised to love my husband through sickness and in health and that vow came in handy since a lot of our married life we spent very sick. I know that I love him more today than I did the day I walked down the isle to him.
We took a walk today and I told him that I am so happy, and I am so thankful for him. He said, "Thats good." His response is never overly emotional or romantic, but it is sure and something more real than romance. I remember when I first met him. If you read my book, you know the story, the one where I almost dumped him out of the canoe telling him that we were going to get married. And he said, "okay." After a few weeks of us dreaming of our future together, he told me something. He said, "I won't buy you flowers and I am not a romantic, so if you take me as I am, you will know that I will always be here for you. Romance and gifts are not what makes up real love, it is just being there. Most guys, they do that, and then when all the romance fades, there is nothing left." I remember hearing those words and thinking, that is kind of romantic in a way, but yet it was as sure as the sun coming up each morning.
His words were true. He was there for me when I was a screaming, crazy woman with a whole list of demands and an ungrateful heart. He was there when I was disabled, caring for me and the kids. Cooking meals, homeschooling the kids, cleaning up the house, while I was over in the hospital bed crying in pain day in and day out. One time he passed me with his hands over his ears and briskly walked like he wanted to shut me out. And it took years to understand that it about killed him to hear my cries each day and night. I felt like a burden but it was a burden he proudly bore because of his deep love for me. I was precious to him. It took years for me to love the sweet silence of a man with few words. It took me time to understand his faithful heart and his devotion to me. I wish I would have not wasted so many years being mad at him and feeling like I was not worthy of him. Almost everyday since we met I always asked him why he could love me and he always just simply said, "because I do." It never seemed enough, and I always wanted a better reason until one day he told me that I was not allowed to ask that any more. He said, "You should know by now that if I stayed by your side through all that we have been through, that I truly love you and that I would die for you." I guess it came from my own deep need to know that I was loved. A part of my past I never knew that was still robbing me of joy. A little of that little girl inside that felt she did not deserve happiness.
Just about a week ago, my life changed forever. I had no idea that I have been suffering a lot of my life for NOTHING! So many things I assumed and things I did not have to understand that caused me to ponder and lose sleep over. People's actions or words, (or lack of words in some cases) that I would get upset over. Christians not being nice, or not being merciful. And I would literally try to figure it all out in my mind, how it could be that way when the answer could never be understood because I will never know the heart of man. I was the queen of taking everything personally. I never wanted to hurt people or cause problems yet I caused a million of them for myself. I finally found the freedom. I found that all people base their beliefs on their own experience, the truth that has nothing to do with me. I have spent a thousand words already about what others have done to hurt me, and what others have said. Made drama from nothing and suffered greatly for no reason at all because of things I made up in my head.
I made a decision. No more. No more taking things personally, no more assuming, and I have made a decision to keep my thoughts pure. I made up my mind to never read into things nor to use my words to spread emotional poison. And now I can truly enjoy my life for the first time. I know there were glimmers of joy but it would go away as soon as another situation came up to steal it. And I gave my joy and peace up all too easily. My joy was like a light switch that you could turn on an off by a flick of a switch. Half of the time on and the other half off.
My marriage was that way a lot of times because of me. My husband never changed. He may have grown in his love for me, learning how to be flexible for my whims, but his love never wavered. When he would come home from work, he could tell in the first five minutes whether it was going to be a good day or a bad one. Whether I was crying out of sadness or feeling rejected because someone said something that I perceived as malicious, it was something that I made my whole family endure. Oh, those hurts would cut deep and leave me wounded for weeks. He was like my doctor trying to fill my IV with life giving truths from God's word and I would slowly heal because I knew the truth. BUT now, what is great is that I am not in the intensive care unit any longer, I am now in the pasture enjoying the freedom of life.
I can be around people and just feel love for them because there is an absence of fear. It is so freeing. I wish this on everyone. So as I go forth on our anniversary, I just appreciate the gift of a happy life and a happy marriage that so few ever get to experience because they war with their minds on a daily basis. They are in and out of the intensive care unit. I am just thankful that I realized this now. There is a lot of life left for me to live, if it is the Lord's will, so I might as well live my life full of joy instead of sorrow. I am truly blessed. Thank you Lord for giving me such an amazing husband. He is my best friend and the man I am glad I get to grow old with! Joy is a choice. It is available to all.
I is crazy how big our Bok Choy has become. Thirty-six plants ready at the same time is a big deal because they can all bolt at the same time if you just leave them out there and do nothing. I tied my apron on, grabbed a knife and just started hacking them off above the root. If you cut at the right angle, you can get the whole plant to stay together and it looks so nice.
It did not take long to fill up my basket! And it was over 50 lbs of Choy and I was thinking, I am not sure we can use all of this crop. So I stuck that basket in the back of the truck and drove down the road to see if I could bless someone. Even if they did not know what it was, I thought, I could tell them what to do with it. Not a problem!
My friend Daisy was so delighted to take some choy. I even gave them some of our abundant crop of broccoli. Look how the three bok choy plants are almost bigger than her son! So fun! I love sharing the bounty of God's creation.
When I was talking with Daisy, she told me something that was so fascinating about the holes in my bok choy. I thought it was a bad thing and she said it was a good thing, you see, according to Daisy, the Japanese only select the produce that has holes in it. They are smart. The holes mean that the bugs eat it. If the bugs like it, it is also good for us. They will not eat a diseased or non organic plant. Good to know!
I am not sure what happened to this plant but I found it like this in the row.
After cutting the choy, I found some leaves that were left laying. I found a good use for them. I do not like anything to go to waste...
I fed the extra leaves and stalks to my lovely cow and she gobbled it right up!
Our potato plants are doing great as well as the peas as you can see.
Whoa, now, look at all these pesky weeds growing by our beautiful brussel sprout plants. Well, these are what most would consider a weed but in fact, it is a delicious wild edible called lambs quarter...
This is what it looks like and if you want to know what it tastes like, I would say it tastes similar to spinach. Very nice texture and flavor. God just bountifully blessed my garden with a crop of greens that are just as nutritious as spinach without even trying! What a blessing!
And the way you harvest it is just pluck the leaves and collect them this way...
I was so glad to pluck a nice pile of them to add to my salad. Owen was the one who told me about it and when I tasted it, the grin on his face was priceless. He said he just loves when a person discovers a wild edible because they usually grow in abundance.
When I was planning supper, I planned it around the garden, of course. That is the fun! I cut another crop of broccoli and after using the tops (which I will share in just a bit), I chopped up the stems finely to add to a salad.
Fresh Spring Garden Salad:
Toss it together and then I used Braggs Liquid Aminos for the dressing to give it that oriental spring fresh zest. It was probably the BEST salad I ever had and so full of nutrients. You might want to try this when your spring garden is in full swing.
Bok Choy Stir Fry
I cut about 20 plants and had to plan for putting some up for the winter. I had Megan wash and cut the stems into segments and I loaded them into the chopper.
I had a little difficult with the processing, I needed to add the thicker peaces with the leaves because the leaves would not spin the best. But together they weight of the bigger stem pieces would drive the leaves into the blade.
Molly was loading the chopped choy into freezer bags...
We labeled them and stuck the into the freezer. We have plenty for soups, casseroles, and stir fries for the future. That will be nice!
Junior took some of the bok choy and he was making the most delicious fresh squeezed choy juice!
Fresh Choy Juice
Juice it all and then pour it into a glass. It is a very refreshing drink that is packed with nutrients.
Bok Choy is full of nutrition. read this article, it says a lot about the benefits of this wonderful vegetable in the garden... http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=152
Have a blessed day!
This past weekend our family journeyed 12 hours from our homestead to join other families at the East Texas Mini Shindig. There were 60 families or more there to interact with, fellowship, and create life long connections. I thought my viewers would enjoy a tour of our experiences at the Shindig...
My husband played basketball with the boys and it was really great to see him so active. When I met him, he was a basketball player and a car guy. Through the years as our family grew, he set aside the cars and the sports to raise a family. Now that our kids are in the teen years, those skills come back for us. It is almost like we get to relive the exciting, action packed, lifestyle we had when we first fell in love. Playing with our kids and interacting with other families is pretty amazing.
The second day they had an auction. Girls that were over 18 would make a lunch and the guys would bid on a lunch. The money was raised for charity.
The guys did not know who made the lunch they bought, but when they won that bid, they would have lunch with the gal that made it.
At this Shindig, they had this huge structure that was an obstacle course for the kids to climb through. It was very impressive and had different levels of ability so both young and old could enjoy some of the adventure!
Here are the girls having a go at the course.
Mikey is learning how to work the harness and cables. The entire time they are locked in to the cables in case they would miss a step, they would not fall 50 feet.
The kids learn to conquer their fear of heights and learn to balance.
Mikey is walking the floating steps...
The course ends with a long zip line. There goes Mikey!
Another great feature was the GIANT swing. Junior and Mikey only went once and by their accounts of how scary it was, none of the my other kids wanted to take the free fall of that swing.
Dr. Kent Hovind, Creation Evangelist, was one of our speakers. I brought my kids up on his creation videos. He called Miles when he was only 5 years old. I had asked if he would call my son on his birthday and he did. 12 years have passed but Dr. Hovind did not forget my son! He remembered his name and everything! That is impressive. He spoke about dinosaurs, how they existed with man, the young age of the earth, and even about the garden of Eden. I love hearing all the accounts of the flood, the scientific evidence to support it and how the Giants bones were found also.
What Dr. Hovind really does, is strengthen your faith in God's word. A brilliant mind who can piece together science with creation and always ends with the straight forward gospel. I strongly suggest you go to their website and get the copy of his creation series. It is the most excellent science videos for homeschool you can find! I love them! And he gives you permission to make as many copies of them as you wish, just to get the gospel out there.
Oh, wait, a GIANT among us???? Yes, Guest speaker, Michael Pearl was there to greet me with his normal antics. That is how big he is and probably why his nick name is "Big Papa". But I am used to looking up to people at my height, my husband is probably even a little taller than Mike! I am about 5'1", Mark is 6'5". Just to give you an idea of the height difference...
Mike preached about addictions and the brain. It was very good. He takes evidence from scientists and therapist and shows us how gossip lights up a certain part of the brain or using a cell phone. He shows how a person's mind can be completely altered by the use of pornography. It is crazy how we humans get addicted to things that create certain chemical reactions in our brain. It is available on DVD, and it is a must see...
Each night they had a big square dance where the kids of all ages had fun dancing and meeting new people...
They had a nice pool and it was refreshing to see less skin. All girls and boys wore shorts and a tee shirt to the pool.
The biggest hit in the pool was the game of nine square. The kids had a ball with that...
I even got to play the upright bass in the jam sessions with other musicians. That was really fun for me. It has been years since I got to walk the bass lines and it was just like riding a bike, I just picked it right back up after 18 years. I used to play in jazz combos at a music conservatory in Appleton, WI. Like I said, when you have older kids, you can do the things you did when you were young. I am just so thankful that I can actually participate in life again after a 7 year span of inactivity. Thanks be to God!
Every night we had a potluck. All the families would bring a dish to pass and we would all sit together and meet other families.
The Shindig was so full of good memories and we can't wait until our camp is up and running because we will be able to keep this thing going on a small scale. I hope there will be many more shindigs in the future all over the country. It is such a good thing to have these opportunities for our families to bond with other like minded families. What a blessing. Hope you enjoyed the tour!
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