Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fall Color Parade

As the season continues to change. .
so does the garden scapes!
We've been excited to see 4 bluebirds hanging around. .
Many of the other birds have moved on. .
and there are still a few flying flowers around too. .
This is the best flowering I have seen with the SilverLace vine on my rustic little arbor. It has bloomed for several months now. .and this fresh flush of flowering is really eye catching. By next summer, it should flip over the top of the arbor. .and hopefully be met in a few years with by the wisteria bush planted on the other side.
The pyracantha bush has a small crop of orange berries. Eventually, something eats them all off. .but they last well into the winter.
I LOVE the interesting seed pods of the moon flower vines. They should drop off and reseed a patch for me next summer.
This grass is a native bluestem. .I have really had to pay attention so I would NOT pull it, since all summer it has looked like an obnoxious clump of regular grass. It has gorgeous color now and seed heads. .Behind it, you can see the Rubinstern coneflowers. The original two plants died. .but not before they reseeded themselves in multiple spots.
They will make some happy goldfinches soon!
Though this is not a really pretty bloom. .the hibiscus planted last fall from Lowes has had several blooms on it through the summer. .I can't wait until it grows into a big, substantial looking plant like my MIL's. .It will be a nice focal point when that happens!
The asters shared with my by GonSS are looking FAN.TAS.TIC!! Last year the blooms lasted only a day or two and weren't really that pretty at all. .in fact, I would say they were downright UGLY!! This year they are stunning!! She brought me a second clump last spring. .and they are looking great already too! The little tiny bees LOVE these. .I'm not sure how large GoSS clump gets. .but as I look out my office window to the house next to the clinic. .her bushes are HUGE. .and totally gorgeous!
This was the second year for some soaker hoses up around the pond. .initially put there to keep some regularity to the water the new little natives from HCG. Interestingly. .the caryopteris bushes dropped seed, that is VERY easy to grow. I got the cat in the photo to show that the 4 foot tall bushes bloom when they are very, very small!! I dug a few to send to my friend Sue in Michigan. .which are now blooming in her yard. I will HAVE to remove these little guys. .they just get too big!! They like heat and dry. .so if anyone might like some. .let me know!!
The roses have started blooming again. .you can see the new clump of asters right behind it. .as well as pink and purple morning glories.
Here's a shot of purple basil blooms. .right in front of autumn joy sedum. .which is very, very short this year. .and I didn't even cut mine back. .also a hot pink morning glory bloom in the back.
Speaking of morning glories. .I have been really pleased with how my seedlings did climbing the rustic cedar fence on the border of the memory garden. .They were supposed to be tie-dye with white and purple. The purple veins are pretty tough to see on the white ones. .but thankfully, some Grandpa Otts purple showed up to brighten the view a little!!
The veggie plants in the window are needing to hit the greenhouse. Jeremy helped me get the panals fixed up a little. .He thinks the panels should be replaced next year. .it's been 3 years. They are still OK, but very brittle. .so we'll see. I have had several blooms on the squash plants. .with any good luck. .and a large pot. .we will get some yellow squash to eat on this winter. I also have blooms on the greenhouse variety cucumbers. .these two plants need to be settled in soon so that they can start vining. I am going to use an old piece of metal fencing facing east-west on the west end of the greenhouse for the cukes. .this shouldn't restrict sunlight to anything else as it vines. .I'm pretty excited to see if that works. The tomatos and peppers are looking good too. .maybe by Christmas we'll have some fruit! Of note. .I did pick two beautiful orange sweet peppers last week!! I've had trouble with the colored peppers being really small when they turned. .so having two nice sized fruits was really encouraging to me!
The mums are starting to bloom. .and I can hardly wait until they are in full color. .the Maximillin sunflowers, too, will be blooming and they are already promising a stunning performance!!
The pond is starting to look more established. .plants are surviving and some are even thriving despite the high temperatures. .
The water has been clear all season. .I think that the pond plants are helping a lot. .with a couple years of rain and cooler temperatures, I think it will be phenomenal. .If we have a couple more years of the intense heat and lack of moisture. .I may have to switch to cactus!
It will give new meaning to the phrase "an oasis in the desert!"
Anyway. .
Hoping that the first full weekend of fall finds you doing something enjoyable!!
Have a blessed weekend!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Coop Scoop. .

Remember our chicken adventure that started last April?
We had issues over the summer with raccoons. .
and lately, issues with stray dogs. .
And I mentioned that we were getting ready to replenish our little flock with some larger birds bought from friends. .
We finally got the hens a few weeks ago. .
and kept them shut up in the pens for a week to get them used to our system. .
These are Rhode Island Reds. .mostly. .
and they lay beautiful BROWN eggs. .
The first day that we had them, Cami and I went to check on them after lunch. She was looking around and exclaimed "Mama. .there's an egg!! Sure enough, there on the ground of the pen was a nice, large, very brown egg!! Woo Hoo!!
Since then, the guys have revamped our coop a bit to accommodate the girls, and give them more nesting room. (While I was out enjoying the Lion King. .see previous post!) They are laying about 6-10 eggs per day!! Last weekend we enjoyed Egg drop soup and egg salad sandwiches. .and we made 5 cream pies, which used lots of egg yolks. So we don't have surplus YET. .but we look forward to a steady stash of organic eggs! Tristan has been looking forward to learning to bake an angel food cake (from scratch) so the extra eggs will come in handy!
As for these two girls. .
the only remaining of our original flock. .
lovingly referred to as the "roadrunner chickens" (cause these gals have some serious SPEED!)
One of them blessed us weeks ago with AN egg. .
You may remember Grant's photograph of it. .
And we never saw another egg. .
Until. .
I looked closely as I was watering the sweet potato vine. .
Crazy girls. .I pulled 13 eggs out of this little hidey hole. .
And they haven't laid another one in there since. .
Wonder where we will find them next!!
Enjoy your day. .
and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Hey. .
Remember me??
We've been here. .
I've not been running ALL the time. .
In addition to kids, 4-H, and Christ centered things. .
I've taken time to do a lot of cooking. .cleaning. .
steaming carpets. .packing for a garage sale. .
I even spent a few hours on Pinterest last weekend instead of blogging!
But here I am. .
back again this week. .
with some photos of our lives. .
to share with our family and friends!!
The first exciting thing that I did was attend the Lion King Broadway production when it was in Wichita! Unfortunately, they are quite strict with cameras being used. .so the photos I am sharing were all taken, courtesy of the broadway publicity photos they share online!
Rafiki. .This girl can SING!! I mean. .belt it out. .cut glass with her crystal clear voice. .WOW!! She was my favorite part! God blessed her with a MIGHTY voice!
I have been waiting for the last SIXTEEN years to see this production!! The production started on Broadway shortly before Tristan was born. I remember VIVIDLY, nursing Tristan on the couch, watching Regis and Kathie Lee. .and seeing them interview the cast. .in costume. Someday, I thought. .someday!!
The costumes were incredible!! The cast wore helmets depicting their character's face. .Their moves were so graceful. .and in stances like this standoff between Simba (or Mufasa) and Scar totally captured the effect!
So a few years back, I worked with a single female doctor from India who loved to travel. .we came up with the idea that we would take a weekend trip to New York City. .because, at that time, Jeremy had NO desire to see the city, and he knew it could be my one and only chance to see NYC. .he graciously offered to stay home with the THREE boys so we could go. On the agenda. .a Broadway musical. .on BROADWAY. .
Zazu the bird was a puppet, run by this guy. .His voice was so similar to the cartoon movie. .and most of the lines were similar to the cartoon. .
I was SOOO disappointed that the Lion King was sold out. .
 several months in advance of our trip!!
We saw Beauty and the Beast. .
which was great fun anyway. .
And I vowed at that show, that I would see as many Broadway productions as I could in my lifetime!
Scar, the evil lion. .was definitely freaky looking. .Notice the details on his outfit. .We were far enough away that many of those little details weren't evident to me at the production. .I enjoyed looking at all the online images. .I noticed that many of the photos included the same cast from the production we saw.
Wichita has a Broadway circuit, that brings 4 or so productions each year. I have seen Mama Mia and Wicked there. When Mama Mia came to town several years ago, I asked Jeremy if he would mind if I called a couple of my girlfriends to go with me. .
He responded that he didn't care WHO I called. .
as long as it wouldn't be HIM!!
 My friends agreed to go. .but unbeknownst to me, they thought I was crazy. They were going for the shopping and eating. .and were willing to sacrifice a couple hours to some musical if they had to!
Five minutes into the show, Kayla leaned over and yelled (over the music). .
"OK. .you were right!! I'm hooked!!"
I knew!!
It's a great friend that goes with you in faith, despite what they really think :-)
These guys were so cool. .look closely. .there are only four cast members there. .each has a gazelle on his head, and one on each arm. As they danced across the stage, they would move their arms to create the effect of an entire herd of gazelles. .A-W-E-S-O-M-E!
So, when I saw the LION KING was coming to town. .for a WHOLE MONTH. .
I knew I would be there. .This time, though. .instead of 3 tickets. .
I ordered EIGHT!!!
Three of my friends had never been to a production. .and they loved the whole experience as much as I did!! There is even some talk about attending the next really good show. .Jersey boys. .which will be there for 2 weeks in January!!
The other really amazing animal, in my opinion were the giraffes. The back legs were human legs on stilts. The giraffe head was worn on their heads, and the front legs were their arms working extra stilts. .Talk about coordination!!
As for me. .
I have a ticket to see Les Miserables in Oklahoma City with some of my coworkers next month. .and hopefully another spot in their car in April when West Side Story is there. .
though. .from the sounds of some of the girls last weekend. .
we may be taking our OWN carload of Kansans to see the production!!
Simply incredible!
Life with the family is still full. .
Extended family as well as immediate family. .
There will be updates one of these days. .
But For now. .
Hakuna Matata. .
Or. .No Worries. .
Or as I prefer to reflect on. .

1 Peter 5:7
Give all your anxieties and worries to the Lord. .for He cares about you

Psalm 55:22
Give your burdens to the Lord and He will take care of you, for He will not let the godly slip and fall!!  

Hakuna Matata??
That's just for imaginary folk!!

For the rest of us. .
There's a GOD!!
Look for Him today!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Once Upon a Rainy Day. .

OR. .
Soup's on 'Yo. .
take your pick on the title!
We were so fortunate to be on the receiving end of a nice cool, cloudy, drizzly day yesterday!!
It was a little hard to get out bed. .you know, with the cool air blowing through the open windows and all!
In addition to the excitement of having rain. .I noted it to be a great day immediately when I had company for breakfast!!
Look who I saw while eatingt!! The little female hummer is still feasting on all the fall flowers. .The liatris is now in bloom right out our dining room window. .if you look closely, you can discern the running water of the waterfall behind her!!  Oh, am I having a great time watching her. .I just wish she would have brought a Mister with her!! If she did, he is scarce, cause I haven't seen him yet! 
We also spotted a bluebird this morning. .They have been gone since June, after their eggs hatch. .we have had bluebirds winter here before. .so I am hopeful that these will stay around. .their color sure does brighten the day!
As work rolled along Thursday morning. .I decided that soup was on the menu for supper. .
Alphabet soup, if you please. .look at that rich tomato-y broth. .mmmm!
And. .since I had the afternoon off. .
and baking is one of my favorite things to do. .
I felt the need the need to whip up some cinnamon rolls. .
Cause there ain't NOTHING like cinnamon rolls to go with your soup!! 
The soup doesn't have any meat in it. .just lots and lots of veggies. .so I like to fix a little plate of summer sausage, cheese, pickles and olives!! 
We scored about 1/2 inch of rain. .
but because someone knocked over my good rain gauge. .
I'll never know for sure!
We are still considered to be in a serious drought. .
but we'll take every drop we get!!
And more than anything. .with the cool temps. .
the promise of fall seemed nearly too good to be true!! 
Before I share my recipe for our first soup meal of the season. .my camera had apparently been high-jacked. .and I thought you might enjoy the mugshots I found!! Actually, I was pretty impressed with the first photo that I found. This was taken from a dining room chair, out the front window. .I think I like it better than any photo of the pond that I have ever snapped! The green stuff on our side of the window is the veggie plants headed to the greenhouse soon. .tomatoes, peppers, cukes, squash and chives. They are doing well. .and I recently added some small pots to try to root some agastache cuttings from my friend Pat. .Leaves are still green and pliable after a week. .I'm hopeful! 
Very attractive. .
don't you think?? 
I'm just glad that they chose to take their photos AFTER I spent an hour cleaning my kitchen. .
See Aunt Lisa. .I do clean sometimes :-)
Heeeeellllllllooooooo. . .
Miss Thing is getting sassier EVERY day!!!
She has a new cocky point, wink, and tongue click thing that she does. .
Too bad Dev's pictures of that were blurry. .
but they made me laugh!
Hope you have some cool temps around your parts soon. .
And. .
I hope you LOVE the soup!

Alphabet Soup
10 cups fresh or frozen veggies, any kind (I used corn, peas, frozen broccoli and pepper mix, celery, and Grant's purple carrots from the garden)
46 oz tomato juice (realizing that I was out of mater juice, I subbed in 2 14 oz cans of tomatoes, and 1 can of tomato sauce. .oh, and about 1/2 cup of salsa from a huge jar that I wanted to get out of the fridge :-)
6 cups water
6 tsp beef granules
1 pkg onion soup mix
1 Tbsp salt or grill seasoning
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder (used 2 large cloves of garlic from my garden)
7 oz alphabet pasta

Cook all ingredients except for pasta in a large stockpot for 20 minutes. Add pasta & cook 10 min. Eat with cold cuts, summer sausage, sandwiches or relish plate.

This recipe is easy to adapt or change. The original recipe rocks. .but I wanted to show you how adaptable it really is!! I found the alphabet pasta in a bulk food store. .though I must have found it in a large grocery store the first time I made it years and years ago!! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Little of This and a Bit of That. .

I still find it hard to believe that we are already into September. .
where did the summer go??
I am pleased to say. .that with the finish of the 4-H record books and State Fair entries this past week and weekend. .I feel like we are on vacation!
The boys did very well on their exhibits that went for State Fair Judging last Friday. .Devin's Grand Champion Mocha Walnut Brownies earned him a purple ribbon. .the best placing available (to those of you, like my husband, that don't know what that means) and a blue ribbon on his photo of the inside of a rain gauge (interesting ;-) There wasn't even any rain in it. .just two little bugs-as he described it for his grandma so she could find it on her State Fair visit!! Grant's Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze netted a blue ribbon, and his reflection photo of a flower he threw into my pond earned a purple ribbon. Tristan's Cinnamon Sticky Buns placed a red ribbon (though his Biology teacher, who scored a dozen of them from him, said she would have totally given him a blue!!) and his photo of a line up of ring-billed gulls at Grand Lake earned him a blue ribbon!
We found our first egg last week!! Hee, Haw!! Though, I was mildly disappointed that they weren't brown eggs. .Grant brought MY camera to me with the above photo on it. .letting me know that this was totally blog-worthy material!! I had to laugh out loud!! The concept of adding the penny made me realize that they pay attention to a LOT more than I often give them credit for!! (though I have never measured anything next to a penny. .he got that from my dad's mother!!) We are hoping to buy some hens that are already laying eggs from our friends. .to replace the ones we lost when we went through the raccoon raids!! We seem to be predator free now!
We found this little ball of fluff Friday. .and was even able to catch her easily!! She quickly found her way inside with the help of these two munchkins. .and enjoyed some cuddle time with them both!
Also, making my day Friday. .was the sighting of this female ruby-throated hummingbird in the memory garden. Initially, I spotted her dining on the Mexican sunflower. .earning those an automatic space in the garden next year!! But I quickly realized that she was feasting on all the flowers in the memory garden! She has been enjoying the salvia, the catmint, miniature hollyhocks, moonflowers, and even the morning glories! She has NOT, however, been sighted at my hummingbird feeder. .confirming my suspicion that they still prefer to eat from Mother Nature's artwork. .rather than man's!
She's actually quite tame. .or very hungry. .because we can walk fairly close to her without bothering! She seems a little intrigued by the fact that she can't eat the orange pyracanthus berries on this bush, which is just across the sidewalk from the memory garden!
I made my first trek to the drag races Saturday with my crew. It is not a sport that is beloved to me. .but I know Jeremy likes it when I take interest. .
. .and secondly. .
Our 16 year old was chomping at the bit to do a little racing too. .
and Saturday was his debut!!
I'm fairly sure that his great-grandma. .who gave them her old Lincoln towncar. .would be fit to be tied!! They have a class called street legal. .and one can drive any kind of street cars in that class! I've even seen minivans being raced! This type of racing (drag racing) is a little different than one might think. .it's not about who has the fastest car. .it's about who knows what their car can do. .and then making the car do it! The racers each have to "dial-in" a time that they expect their car to go in 1/4 mile. If they go faster than that time. .they lose!! The one that comes the closest without "breaking-out" to the time they dialed in. .Wins!! It takes practice and time to learn how to make those decisions!
Tristan's friend Alex from school also races. .he participates in the high school division. .those kids have big, fast motors in their cars. .faster than the regular street cars.
So to sum up how he did. .I think his little brother Devin put it best. .
He said to me after Tristan's first run of the day. .
"Mom, I thought Tristan was going to suck. .and he did!!"
It will just take time for him to figure out that game, and make it work!
He was excited and he had fun. .and it will be a great hobby for my boys to share with their dad while Cami and I go shopping!!
We weren't finished with the kids' record books yet. .and they were due today. .so along went the books. .the laptop. .and the white out. .so they could work on them between runs Saturday. .No one was very excited that Mom came along. .AND made them do some work!! And Jeremy did mention that it took him 3 times as long to clean out the trailer when we got home, from all the stuff I packed along!! My retort was. ."It's better to have something and NOT need it. .than to need something and NOT have it!"
He just smiled and shook his head!
Thankfully, those books and their recordings of the previous 4-H year--including highlights and all the things they had the opportunity to do and learn--are finished for another year!
Jeremy didn't do so well either on Saturday. .but he is excited for the next one to come along!! He doesn't race much in the summer. .because it is too hot. .many of these guys go so fast that they are required to wear heavy fire-suits and big helmets (Jeremy is one of those guys) and there is no AC in the vehicles. .AND they sit in the staging lanes in racing order for a long time, to facilitate the efficient operation of the whole race, and being that hot isn't a lot of fun for many. Soo, when the weather cools down, he hits it hard until the end of October when the sport ends for the season!
Football season is now in full swing. .as are all the activities that involve everyone's youth group clubs. .Our calendars are booking up fast for the fall!!
The most exciting thing on MY calendar coming up. .is this Sunday. .when I will enjoy the Broadway production of "Lion King" with some of my best girls in Wichita!! My proverbial bucket list includes seeing as many Broadway productions as I can. .And this seems to be a good year for that!! In October. .God willing. .I will go to Oklahoma City with some of my work friends to see Les Miserables, another famous production. .and in April. .West Side Story. .Consequently, the excitement of those trips will make time go even faster than it does!
We're praying for some more rain here this week. .The fall countdown is ON!
Have a great week, and thanks for stopping by this humble little blog!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

For Everything There is a Season. .

King Solomon, the wisest man in history, told us in Ecclesiastes 3:1. .
that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. .
Our family has experienced many of those activities over the last 6 months!
I'm sure that most of us are stronger for it. .
but in a sense. .weaker too. .
as we realize just how much we should depend on God and how little control we humans really have.
Unbelievably. .6 months has nearly passed since our lives were changed forever with the death of my father.
I can say. .He is no longer present in EVERY thought that goes through my head. .I don't cry EVERY day now. .I sleep better most nights. .but I CAN'T say that my heart says that things are easier or better. My heart still says. .it hurts. .A LOT!
Change is imminent. .and frequent. .and sometimes difficult and even physically painful. And sometimes it is just plain hard to find the positive side of change. .But the reality is. .Change IS a part of life. .and God didn't promise to spare us from pain. .But He DID promise to walk through it with us! And in that, I trust!!
Joshua 1:9
Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go!
So. . .
this weekend found our family trying to be strong and courageous. .among our hurts and sadness. .
as we moved my mother and her 41 years worth of accumulations from the house she has lived in since she said "I do". .and the house where they brought each new little bundle of joy to raise until they sent them off into the big, wide world.
There were tears. .there was laughter. .
there was comradery. .
 and there were moments of complete delirium!!
In a frenzy of fast paced packing, carrying, unpacking and rearranging. .
not many work pictures happened. .
In fact. .this picture of  my SIL mowing some patches left by the three middle boys after their turns with the mower. .was the only "work" photo taken!!
Because the largest portion of our youngest generation is too small to pick up much more than an ice cream spoon. .they played at other homes. .which was perfect for them. .and us!!
In addition to my three siblings and all of our families. .
Alan, the hired hand. .as well as my aunt and uncle. .helped as the moving the crew!
Alan, bless his heart. .was hired BY my dad before he had his accident. .and wasn't slated to begin working until April. .which was AFTER his death. Talk about awkward. .to step into a new job in the midst of a major crisis! He has handled things well. .and is loved by us all!! We enjoyed his good sense of humor and hard work immensely!
We were used to gathering in the kitchen at home. .and it seems the tradition may carry on to the new home. She has a nice and roomy kitchen to hang out in. .and a dining room within earshot for the rest of the group. It will be interesting to see how the new traditions evolve!
I was team "Cook" again this weekend. .
but trust my back. .I also spent a lot of time on team "movers."
My brother in law Chris confiscated my camera Saturday evening and took some photos of his own as everyone was unwinding from the day. .
He was definitely able to catch every one's candid side. .
. .including his very own!!
do we look tired and worn out or what??
So was Grandma. .she enjoyed a short rest on the sofa in its new location!
Sunday afternoon we decided to rest for part of the afternoon, in order to take the little ones to the pool. .
which they thoroughly enjoyed. .
. .so did we!!
How many monkeys can you fit under one water bell? Trust me, it's more than 4. .but I just wasn't quick enough to catch them all!
The middle boys got to ride their bikes to the pool and back to Grandma's. .
That was a fun concept for all three of them!! My sister's kids live in a large city. .so they never ride their bikes to places. .and we live in the country. .so my kids never get to "go somewhere" on them either! There were definitely some bonus points to this whole "move to town" business!
The park is just 3 blocks away too. .and the park at Grandma's town R-O-C-K-S!! We also walked down there one night at dusk to let everyone run off some steam!!
When we got back from the pool. .we noticed this group of big boys blowing off their steam. .
. .by firing up the old Atari!! It was like the first gaming system ever!! The sounds from Frogger, Pitfall, and space invaders brought back LOTS of memories!! And they had a great time too. .My boys were hillarious to watch, as they awed over the horrible graphics and simplistic nature of it all!
Unpacking also meant sorting through things. .
we all ended up with memento's of our dad. .
and things from our personal pasts. .
like Nick's junior high basketball jersey. .
It was a little hard to get into. .
. .and not so pretty once it was on. .
but he managed to get into it. .
which was more than I can say for me and my high school prom dress. .
I was soooo close. .
but the zipper just would NOT go. .sniff!!
Wondering if my sister had better luck with one of her prom dresses??
The house is really nice. .and we know that my mom will love being there. .
It was built in 1904, which is right up her alley!!
And at least some of us will feel better about people always being near her, minding her business as well as their own ;-)
And my favorite thing about the whole house was this. .
a quiet swing on a quiet street just swingin'
. .and letting your worries all melt away!!
Hope your holiday weekend was relaxing and your blessings were abundant!!