Wednesday, November 25, 2015


I don't think I can even better these photographs with words.  I look at this moment captured in photos and a little laugh, pride, thankfulness, and a smidgen of a sob combine into one sound that is indescribable.


Words can't capture what took place on an evening a couple weeks back.

It was growing up, emotion, and life lessons.

These moments of watching Joel teach our boys how to be men stretches my heart.  Here is love.  A love that teaches what it means to be a man, a good man.

It is a job I could never do. 

I am so thankful.

Thankful for a man who desires to be involved and who as the years have marched on is displaying a great love for his family.

And to my beautiful (yes, beautiful, you will always be beautiful to me) Jacob.  How you keep stealing my heart over and over again!  You are an amazing young man.  I am so proud of you and I love you completely!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sweet Bess Gets a Name Change

At the end of August I purchased 6 new hens from a friend.  They were about 2 months old and she warned me that I could very well end up with some roosters.  It's hard trying to separate the girls from the guys at that stage in the game.

We did our best, as we raced around her chicken run, to pick out the ones that looked like they weren't standing up to tall and lean like a rooster.  If we spied a more low-breasted specimen we went for it.

I was pretty proud of our endeavors and quite certain I had gotten all hens, so much so that Lauren and I commenced to naming them.

One of our favorites is Bess.  She is a beautiful Barred Rock and I have always wanted one.

Alas ... a couple of weeks ago we came to question Bess's "hen-ness".  Her tail feathers were suspiciously looking more like a roosters. And she was standing up quite straight and regal like.

The day came two weeks ago when we decided we needed to give Bess a name change.  It was inevitable and really we couldn't keep calling that poor rooster Bess.  Plus we had two more hens that weren't hens.  I apparently did not do as great of a job as I thought I had. 

I came up with Hank and Charlie for the two Silver Laced Wyandots. But, "Bess" proved more of a challenge.  We tossed around names, but none seemed to fit until Lauren randomly said among a string of 5 other names, "Mr. Moore".

Mr. Moore made us laugh and so it stuck!

So now we are not a hen exclusive ranch.  No we are equal opportunity fowl purveyors.

Welcome boys!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Last Hurrah for Summer

We took one final trip last month; a parting hurrah for summer.  Since it was technically fall it felt good to pretend we were still in summer, even if it was only for the weekend.

We got our vintage camper all spiffed up packed it very lightly (which we laughed about later because we felt like novice campers, which we aren't) and set out for a weekend of just being together.

Those looks are pure longing for the hobo dinners sitting on the edge of the fire ring.  Those little boogers come out crazy hot from being buried in the coals, but the waiting is well worth it.

This man!  He saw this photo and said, "Holy wrinkles."  I say, "Ah, yes! I love every single one of them!"  Twenty-six years together (twenty-two of them married) and I wouldn't trade any of the wrinkles we have earned together.


Good times!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ground Cherry Preserves

Every winter I pour over the pages of various seed catalogs looking for something new or unique to plant. Last spring I planted Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries.  I wasn't absolutely sure what I would do with them, but I was game for trying out something different.

Many people love to eat them out of hand.  My family.... not so much.  That saddened me a bit, but after some researching I found that these little beauties make a wonderful jam.

I was not to be disappointed in the results.  It was amazing!

This year my garden was a sham due to torrential rains during most of May and early June which are my prime planting months.


I had a surprise awaiting me.

The ground cherries reseeded themselves all over my garden.  Which brought sweet joy to my heart. God is good my friends and even in poor growing conditions He provided me these little bits of sunshine.

 This year so far I have made this jam which required pectin.  Some how I botched and it is more like syrup.  I'm thinking it would be wonderful on pancakes.  So all was not lost.

I also made this scrumptious coffee cake that only three of us thought was scrumptious.  I'm having a bit of trouble talking three of my guys into the charms of these beauties.  After it sat for four days it was even better.  So, I will definitely be making this again, but with a few alterations that may help my skeptics fall in love.

I am trying to get away from the use of commercial pectin, so I have been making a lot of preserves this summer. And so my second batch became preserves.  I love the color, the consistency, the seeds.  Yes, even the seeds.  Normally this many seeds would be a HUGE deterrent, but trust me they aren't hard and do not get caught in your teeth.

This is one of my very favorite jams/preserves.  Right up there with black raspberry and for me that is saying a whole lot.  I love it on toast, biscuits, or even on my PB & J.

It's that good.

If you find ground cherries at the farmers market grab them up or consider planting them in your garden next year.  You won't be sorry, I promise.

Ground Cherry Preserves

2 lbs. husked ground cherries
1 lb cane sugar or granulated sugar
1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice

In a dutch oven bring all ingredients to a low boil.   Using a potato masher mash the berries.  Cook until berries are soft.  Remove from heat. Place in glass bowl. Cover with parchment paper and top with a plate. Place the bowl in refrigerator over night.  
On the following day place preserves back into dutch oven.  Bring to a boil and cook until the preserves start to thicken.  Use a cold metal spoon to test for doneness of the preserves. 
Place preserves into hot and sterilized half-pint canning jars.  Wipe down rims of the jars and top with sterilized lids and rings.
Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and let set an additional 5 minutes. Remove from canner set on towel and let set undisturbed for 24 hours.
Remove ring wipe down the jar.  Label and store.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Two Weeks Down

Our second week of school has come to a close.  Next week we will be minus one.  Isaac will be starting college and I will be teaching only three.

It has been an interesting two weeks.

Not so much because of school.  We just sort of fall into the routine.  It's what we do after fourteen years of learning together.

The interesting comes from life changes.  I'm juggling three part time jobs: writing, tutoring, and photography right along with homeschooling, house work and being a mom.  Isaac will be heading off to college full time, moving out of the house and lodging with my parents.  Jacob is working a part time job and has some pretty busy seasons during the year.  Often Caleb, Lauren and I are the only ones left home.  It is quiet and so absolutely different.

Different is good, though.  I want my boys to grow up into responsible young men and so I am grabbing hold of this new time in our lives with excitement.  God has grand plans for all my children and I am now seeing some of them come to fruition.

Last week I grabbed my camera and tried to document a glimpse of our days. What follows is a little peek of what school looks like for us each day.  Learning, imagination, book work, art, structure, un-schooling, it is all lumped into what we call Juniper Hills Academy.

And to me it is beautiful!


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