I begin this blog post with the verse in Jeremiah, reminding us each you are set apart for God’s purposes. “I knew you before I formed you … I set you apart.” This year has been a full one once again, full of people, projects, places, overflowing blessings, as well as trials and destructive floods. I still believe most people are good, and if working together we can build a barn quicker than alone. I believe the blessing jar is overflowing as the year ends, and dreams can stay alive as we share what we have been blessed with.
This time of year we each get a full course of people in huge portions just as the holiday foods. An upset stomach, headache, and exhaustion can result. Behaviors such as insecurity, jealousy, backbiting, plotting, exclusion displayed throughout the year will come about during the holidays, sometimes in bigger portions. Difficult encounters can be embraced with a smile and words of grace and truth. Ask for God’s grace! I do. Unless feelings are addressed by each person, little chance for reconciliation in relationships. I still believe in miracles. And I believe in dreaming. I believe a bigger home or second home will come about for Dean and I in 2016. What blessings overflowed for you in 2015? What are you believing for in 2016? I’d love to hear.
We had crisp mornings and evenings during our Minnesota vacation, as usual for the end of July into August. It is like Missouri’s September into October season. Apparently, Missouri has experienced the change in the air while we traveled back from the north country last weekend. The signs of autumn are in the air. Others feel it too. Talk of the “f” word, “frost” was on the 550 AM Farmer Dave’s radio show this week, talking like it may come earlier this year. At the spice shoppe visitors are buying apple butter, mulling spices, teas, chili powder, and soup mixes like autumn is here. I am enjoying a cup of hot tea every morning, my newest sensation is Stash brand chai white tea. I think remnants of the north followed us home.
Our vacation antique finds include a couple boxes full of Mason jars to make non-electric lanterns. $5 for the whole load of them. Love those bargains at the annual Crazy Days Sale in Park Rapids, Minnesota. Dean will repurpose the jars and design into lanterns to use alternative energy, solar and/or battery-operated lights. We will market at the Lake Saint Louis and Chandler Hill Vineyard’s Farmers’ Markets starting in September along with some beautiful perennials baskets. I cannot wait to use these lanterns on our patio and at the greenhouse. I also found a set of four tea cups with tea snack platters in my favorite farm color, leaf green. Included in the price of the Mason jars! These will go to the greenhouse for my tea time while working at Boone Hollow Farm. Just the simple things in life to make my day artsy and colorful.
Our plants are loving the milder temperature, greening up nicely before going dormant in a few short weeks. We just put all the greenhouse plants in the screenhouse a month ago. And I have another crop of herbs to sow before harvest. Our gourd plants need some warmth and sunshine to produce their fruit. I hope they get big enough before frost blankets the Missouri earth. Local weathermen talk like St. Louis may not hit 100 degrees this summer. It would be the first time in many years. Plenty of rain now, with more coming everyday this week. If you remember my blog posts from last year at this time, it was so blazin’ hot and Missouri was in a severe drought. What a difference a year makes! But is summer over?
Does your cup overflowth? So my darling granddaughters Hannah and Ella are helping their daddy tap our silver maple trees for sap. Two large buckets made 2 small Kerr jars of our very own maple syrup. It is delicious! Luscious vanilla overtones with a gorgeous golden color … we lapped up fluffy buttermilk dollar pancakes with this maple syrup for a sweet treat the other evening. I need to learn the recipe from my son-in-law. Tell me about what trees you tap. I hear walnut trees can be tapped. Have you tried fresh walnut syrup?
Blessings come in different forms. Counting my blessings is a mindset when I buried my father less than 3 weeks ago after his 9-month battle with brain cancer. Still grieving. But I came across this website blog about a blessing jar: http://thefrugalgirls.com/2012/11/the-blessing-jar.html. Cute craft idea! The photo below comes from this blog. Reading the blog, it reminds me to recall all the wonderful things that took place this year. It’s been a very difficult year, so I think a bit of a challenge with this blessing search … I will start with my family, my big, big family! To begin my husband, Dean is just want I need. He is multi-talented, jack of all trades. And he is so patient with me, my ideas, my projects, my moods, etc. And on top of that Dean is affectionate and thoughtful. My hubby rubs my stinking feet after a long day working in the greenhouse. And then there is my children … my oldest daughter, Rachel has a smile, kind word, and humor that will turn any sour day into a sweet one! And then my Elisabeth, her beautiful acceptance of this diverse life is such an example to me. She grows more saintly with her patience! Both of my daughters suffer with degenerative disc disease, but continue to bring joy to the people around them despite their pain. My son, Ben has the most tender heart that permeates through this tough world we live in. He held his arm around me during my father’s memorial service. Probably an uncool thing to do in most 19-year old young men’s eyes, but he does not care what others think. My grandchildren, well read about all five in my earlier blog: https://deannagreensandgardenart.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/they-are-mine-alright/. And then there is the extended family. My family grew closer through my father’s terminal illness. My sister traveled 3 trips from the west coast to be at my mother’s and father’s beckon call for months. My two brothers took over the needs of my 97-year old grandfather as my father could no longer take this role. My mother did not give up on my father’s wish to die at home. So she had many endless hours as his nurse, you know, 24/7. My employer was so patient, allowing me time away to run errands for my mother and visit my father. Co-workers and vendors I work closely with, asked how Dad was and I am doing even today. And the solace the greenhouse plants and soil gave me from this tiresome world we live in. So how I can summarize this year is “God is good”. He takes care of us! We are truly blessed! What will you put into your blessing jar? Funny thing about this photo, my Dad’s nickname is Marty. I wonder what musings he is having in heaven today?
I contemplate what garden art to create as sales for starter plants have died down for now. My antique pottery finds will make homes for some of our succulents this week, and tarnished serving spoons will make garden signs. Relic stepping stones will feature treasures along my “gardening path”. Pieces of pottery, hand trowels, canning jar lids, and bottle caps, everything old will be cleverly displayed in these new garden stepping stones. Creating something new from old, this is an art form to me. Creating new recipes from standards ingredients is another art form to me. The abundant herbs, pineapple sage and lemon thyme are needing the old branches pruned, to make way for new growth. Those old leaves make a new crockpot dish with chicken and brown rice for Dean & I’s Sunday dinner. Yummy garden art!You know, God never gets tired of creating. He is not done with me yet. Thank you for that grace, my Father. Many distractions, yet simply put, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” My heart cries out to God this day, “God be My potter, I am Your vessel.”
This June the Japanese beetles made their way to our yard. (They are not really June bugs, but they arrive in June in my world.) And of course, we have much for them to munch on as our greenhouse is still in reconstruction. These shiny metallic looking green bugs seem to love our basil, and tasted the hydrangeas, geraniums, and hibiscus. We are thankful as the plants’ temporary home, our green screen house seems to capture the little critters. And while they mate on the screen, we capture them into jars that become their coffins. Dean & I seem to have conquered this bug invasion, but are on guard everyday, morning and night for the next couple of weeks. Beware!