Saturday, August 31, 2013

Picking Some Fruit

The long corn leaves from our first planting of corn have lost there verdant green, they are a motley combination of faded green and brown.  The bean plants are withering and my cucumbers are brown snaking vines devoid of leaves.  But, the Lima Beans are still perky and full of life. Yesterday as I was picking the plump, slightly dried pods off of the plants, the sound of my garden in this season became so evident to me.
In the spring as I worked the soil the air was full of animated bird chatter and fresh winds slipping by the leaves.  Through the early summer weeks my ears picked up the tree frogs’ songs, the soft shifting of hot wind through the vibrant green, and a more muted bird song.  Now with my head down I am lulled into such peace by the consistent hum of the Cicadas, sweet chirping of the crickets, the rustle of green turning brown, and the foretelling call of the Canada goose as it flies over head.

A sigh escapes through my smiling lips.  It’s perfect.

SycamoreLane Photography-Garden

It doesn’t even matter that the weeds have taken over.  It’s the season.  In the spring I have my hoe, the tiller, and my kids and we work to keep the weeds at bay.  In early summer the garden still is for the most part weed free, but by late summer I have learned to surrender the battle.  I can’t preserve, teach school to my children, and keep the garden in a pristine manner.
So the weeds win.
The other day I laughed as I picked corn because there were weeds up to my shoulder.  In years past I wouldn’t have laughed.  There would have been frustration at the mess and my lack of time to take care of it.  But, thank you Lord, I am learning!  Those weeds instead of bringing me angst brought me laughter.
How true this can  be of our daily lives.
The enemy likes nothing more than to trip us up, to grow weeds within us that are chin high.  He’s got his own set of weeds; tall, tangling things he attempts to lash around us so that our fruitfulness is lessoned; in these moments we have a choice.

SycamoreLane Photography- garden-1

We can surrender to angst and defeat or we can throw them far from us, laugh and fight back with a fruit of the spirit. 
I am learning that when I am irritated I have a choice.  When I am angry, frustrated, sad, defeated… I can choose to go under or I can choose to fight back with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, or self control. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23a

This much quoted verse is not new under the sun, I know!  But, I do think it is under used.  In each situation that my days bring before me, I literally ask, "Holy Spirit what fruit do I need to pick and utilize in this situation?  Do I need to use love when Joel gets me riled up?  Do I need to use self control when my children have me frustrated?  How about picking some peace from that tree and actually using it when my days feel like they are unraveling fast."

It’s phenomenal how the Holy Spirit works when I allow Him, too!

I think today I'll be grabbing up some juicy fruit, taking aim, and firing. With God on my side I know they will hit the target and splatter with success.

Nastiness doesn't stand a chance!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back to June

The heat of summer brings neglect to my flower garden.  The weeds and produce grow so quickly in my vegetable garden that all other gardening is put on hold.  Then when school is thrown into the mix… well there just aren’t enough hours in the day.  The numerous times I have walked past my flower garden in the past week has shown me that summer is truly winding down.  My flowers are fading and with it all the bright splashes of color and fragrance.

The summer has once again slipped by so quickly.

Normally I post pictures all summer long of the beauty that surrounds me, but this season brought change.  I had the privilege of taking photos for two weddings, several families, and a few teens.  In the process, I found I wasn’t able to edit all the photos for my customers and my personal photos, too.

But, tonight after I once again glanced at my fading garden,  I took a moment and went back to June.

I want to take you back with me for just a moment to see the colors and remarkable beauty of God’s hand.


Geranium-1-SycamoreLane Photography-w

Lavender-1-SycamoreLane Photography

Lavender-SycamoreLane Photography

Lavender-2-SycamoreLane Photography


Geranium-SycamoreLane Photography

lily and bee-SycamoreLane Photography

Lily-SycamoreLane Photography

Lily and bees-SycamoreLane Photography



How can one help shivering with delight when one's hot fingers close around the stem of a live flower, cool from the shade and stiff with newborn vigor!  ~Colette



Friday Floral Love

Thursday, August 15, 2013

It’s That Time Again…


A couple of weeks ago this is what our school room floor looked like.  Multiple boxes and books, books, books, with a microscope and a preserved frog thrown in to make it super interesting!

We are starting school on Monday.  I’m still trying to grasp that.  Summer, where did you go?!!

This year I will be teaching and learning (!) 2nd grade, 6th grade, 9th grade, and 11th grade. Two in high school… Let the fun begin!

We’re mixing things up this year and on Mondays I will be teaching a full week of Biology to my two oldest and two of their homeschool friends. I am excited about having science class at my dining room table.  Dissections and microscope work are right up my alley!  I really think I am more excited than the kids!

And while Biology is happening I will also be teaching beginning Zoology to my youngest two, using Apologia.  This will be my first year using the Apologia elementary/junior high level science and I am looking forward to a good positive change in our science classes using lap books and some super cool experiments.



school-SycamoreLane Photography


We are mixing up a few other things in our schooling.  I tend to ditch what doesn’t work, stick with what does,  find new ways to help my kids learn, and implement practices that help me to teach more efficiently and to the best of my ability…  Each. And. Every. Year.

  But, for the most part our days will run on the same schedule we have used for years. 



School-1-SycamoreLane Photography



School shopping took place yesterday and I’m in love with all the colors!  Little Miss and I had a blast picking out the items we needed, the boys…. not so much.  I think it was too stark of a reminder that summer break is coming to a halt.   My girl loved her new markers and crayons so much that she broke them out as soon as we got home and began creating, and creating, and creating.  This morning she made two puppets out of lunch bags and even put on a puppet show for us! 

Yes, my friends that is what homeschooling is all about. 

Learning, creating, and growing, all such a part of who we are that it just comes naturally. 

And she’s not the only one.  I have noticed some story writing and illustrating going on this summer.  There are always notebooks lying around with pencils and pens scattered about our house.  The imagining just keeps going and flowing even when on summer break, they just don’t realize that every word they put down on those lines is helping them to be stronger writers.



School-SycamoreLane Photography


So, as the days for school draw near this has become my prayer…


Have Your hand upon our school this year, working in our hearts and minds.  Light a fire within us for You!  Fill our days of learning with Your strength and place within my children a deep desire to learn.  Strengthen their focus and help them to concentrate.  Lord, I pray that our boundaries will expand this year.  That we will have more and more opportunities to share Your love with those we meet.  Lord, let your glory shine through us!  I ask for Your wisdom and discernment as I teach my children this year.  May my focus be stayed upon You so that I can teach them all that you have for them.  Lord, thank you for this blessing of homeschooling you have place in our lives for another year.  May we all bring glory to you through each and every day of this brand new school year. 

You Lord, are magnificent and worthy to be praised!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Grandma Smith’s Bread and Butter Pickles–Recipe


My Grandma Smith was known by her friends, family, and acquaintances as the BEST pickle maker.  Every weekend or holiday that we spent at grandma’s was sure be highlighted by several different varieties of pickles.  There were dills, sweet gherkins, mustard pickles, bread and  butter pickles, and I’m sure a few other types that I’m forgetting.  Grandma was a wonderful cook and her canning skills were amazing!  I remember her still canning when she was in her 80’s.  It was ingrained in her to put up produce from the garden and not let it go to waste.  I learned to can from her and from my mom and I’m so thankful that I did!

There have been some summer’s when I have dreaded all the extra work that canning and freezing present, because it all seems to come ripe in a short few weeks.  It can really feel like a bombardment!  This year, however, I have set in my heart to enjoy this bountiful blessing.  Last year’s late freeze that took out all the fruit blossoms and then the summer drought showed me what it was like to do without.  There was a bit of conviction taking place in my heart.  How foolish of me to complain about an abundance.  Having less to can and freeze last year made me focus my attention back upon the blessings that God gives through my garden.  And this year we have been truly blessed!  Every time I set foot in the garden I am amazed at the growth and goodness taking place there!


In my garden the beans and limas are thriving.  This year I planted a dried bean variety, too.  I am patiently waiting for the plants to dry down so that I can open up the pods!  I am excited to see how this adventure of growing red beans for dry storage will play out.


garden-SycamoreLane Photography

Beans-w-SycamoreLane Photography

beans-w-1-SycamoreLane Photography


Our corn is especially vigorous!  I have picked over 100 ears already!  We are eating a lot of fresh sweet corn and sharing the abundance, too.  I’ve been freezing quite a bit and have a good start on quart bags of frozen corn for this winter.


corn-SycamoreLane Photography

Corn-SycamoreLane Photography


Check out my helper!  She makes our bags look pretty!  Not only does she get to work on her numbers (check out the 3’s!) but she puts sweet little critters on the bags, too.  There were kitties, bunnies, doggies, chickens, and cows on our bags!


corn1-SycamoreLane Photography

L-SycamoreLane Photography


The cucumbers have me scratching my head in amazement.  Last year I planted a new variety and was thrilled at the production even with the drought.  This year I stand out there filling huge bowls every other day and laughing at the amount of cucumbers on my plants.  We have been eating LOTS of cucumbers in all ways imaginable, I’ve pickled all that I know we will use (and probably more), and I’m hauling bags here and there to share with neighbors, friends, and family!


cucumber-1-SycamoreLane Photography

Cucumber-2-SycamoreLane Photography



Here is a helper, of sorts, who has figured out how to fly over the three strands of electric fence around our garden.  Doesn’t she look so pretty and you can practically see the curiosity oozing out of her!  So far she hasn’t done much damage, just a few ears of corn with the tops pecked off! I actually love having her in the garden with me.  She talks so softly to me and it blends so nicely with the cicadas song and with Little Miss’s own rendition of “Jesus Loves Me”.


Rhode Island Red- SycamoreLane Photography



Now that you have indulged me by looking at my garden photos here is the BEST bread and butter pickle recipe EVER!




Grandma Smith’s Bread and Butter Pickles

Bread and Butter Pickles


16 cups of sliced (unpeeled) cucumbers

8 small onions sliced into rings

Place onions and cucumbers in a large bowl sprinkle with 1/2 cup canning salt.  Cover with ice cubes and let set 3 hours.

In a stock pot combine:

5 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

2 teaspoons mustard seed

1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cloves

5 cups apple cider vinegar

Bring the brine to a boil.  Drain and rinse the cucumbers and onions.  Add the cucumbers and onions to the brine and bring back to a boil.  Fill hot jars with cucumbers, onions, and brine.  Leave 1/4 inch head space. Process in a hot water bath 10 minutes.  (Start your count time after the water in the canner has returned to a boil.)

Yield: 6-7 pints

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday Floral Love


The Coneflowers in my garden are in full display. I’m loving all the bright punches of color and so are the bees!



Coneflower-wSycamoreLane Photography



Coneflower-bee-w-SycamoreLane Photography




Linked up with Mona:

Friday Floral Love

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