Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy Birthday to Frankie!

 Dear Friends,

Yesterday we celebrated Frankie's fifth birthday (where does the time go?); He woke up bright and early to open his presents before Mr. Graham left for work.
( As you can see, there was a knight theme to most of the presents!)

We've all been especially enjoying Frankie's "Bushky Bushybottom" book by Jeri Landers! This one has a cd with the author reading the book, which is really fun.

Frankie is growing by leaps and bounds, and we're very blessed to have his rambunctious boy-ness in our home. He says he's going to be a farmer when he grows up, but also wants to be an opera singer. We tell him that he can sing opera while out farming! :)



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Giveaway Winner and a Trip to the Asian Supermarket

 Dear Friends,

Congratulations to our friend Heather Watts, for winning the spring cleaning giveaway! We hope that you are settled into your new place quickly, and can enjoy some sewing time soon. :)

Last week, Mr. Graham and I thought we'd take a field trip to a giant-sized Asian market in Overland Park, Kansas.

There was lots of beautiful produce there, like these Chinese eggplant that AnnaMarie is modeling~
(We peeled, then sliced them, and marinated them in olive and salt for a few hours before dehydrating them on 105 degrees all night. The next day, they were chewy "bacon"!).

After we left the produce section, things were a bit trickier to identify~

"I wish I'd taken Chinese when I had a chance!"

(Frankie showed how overwhelmed he was in another way)
We did manage to find our way to the sea vegetables, and bought a three-foot long back of dried kelp fronds, along with two other types of dried varieties which we couldn't identify. :) Sea plants are wonderful for adding iodine to the diet (we like them crunchy and dried, as opposed to reconstituted in soups). We also bought a "bale" of sweet potato starch noodles for $7 (it would have been about 30 in a normal grocery store), and a few other assorted goodies that were very tasty. The one thing that we bought and still haven't figured out what to do with is powdered white prune! If anyone knows, please let us know (It's not JUST powdered fruit, we can tell).

If we manage to get back there anytime soon, we'll have to pick up some fermented foods like kimchi, miso, and natto, to get lots of those good "bugs" into our bodies.

May you find something new to try this week!



Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Spring!

Dear Friends,

After experiencing a short "summer" in the first two weeks of March, now we are having more "winter" when the calendar says "spring!" It hasn't been cold enough to snow, but it has been cool enough to make us grateful that we can wear layers for a little while longer, instead of perspiring in the coolest things we can find. :)

The little apple tree out back is leafing out,

 Violets are so pretty all over the yard,

 Love is in the air (and lots of squabbling birds and squirrels),

 The comfrey successfully overwintered in the big pot outside,

 And all is right with the world!

 AnnaMarie and I chopped down a  superfluous elm trunk in the backyard, the old-fashioned way,

And AnnaMarie has been using the mucilagenous bark and twigs to make rustic baskets (we'll have to get pictures of those). Elm bark, no matter what the variety, is a good medicine for dry situations when the body seems to cry out for moisture, no matter how much you drink. The medicinal part is the inner bark, which is easily obtained by peeling it from small branches and saplings.

Some of the pansies in our front yard are showing their pretty faces,

And we've been constructing teepees for all the peas that we bought too many seeds for, and had to find creative places for planting them all around!

Today we thought we'd have some sunshine to plant garlic and more potatoes in, but it's clouded up, so we're going to go stitch and apron and a few diapers, instead. Busy hands, happy hearts, they say! In our case, this is mostly true (there is no saying about "overwhelmed hands," you know), as we go about doing all the domestic things that hold our family together.

We are in the book of Psalms in the Old Testament, and are reading a stack of gardening books that we borrowed from the library. If we can keep all that we read in our minds, we'll be real professionals before you know it!

A happy, blessed, and safe weekend to you,



p.s. Don't forget to enter our spring-cleaning giveaway, if you enjoy collecting vintage sewing patterns!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Blessing of Every Day

Dear Friends,

The other day we were given an opportunity to reevaluate life's priorities. We were about to leave to church, when I thought I'd go water the seedlings coming up in the garden. No sooner did I begin, when I heard a commotion in the chickens' pen. Three medium-sized terriers had managed to get in and were ripping the feathers out of one hen. With superhuman (or so it seemed) speed, I ran from the garden, screaming at the top of my lungs, wielding my watering can (cue the "Braveheart" soundtrack!). Audrey had seen them from inside, and came screaming out at the same time.

The rest of the family followed close behind, but I was the first on the scene, throwing water on the dogs and then the watering can (to which they paid no attention). I then opened the door of the pen, found a good-sized stick, and began pummeling two of the dogs, while the third disappeared out the front yard. Chickens and dogs scattered everywhere around the yard, and the dogs finally leapt over the fence and ran off into the woods.

Mici before the attack~

We weren't sure how badly hurt the hen was, or if there was only one hurt, so we went to search for the unfortunate victim. Some of the hens had fled for the shelter of the house, while the others were huddled under the deck. We discovered which one was hurt, and fortunately she was only missing quite a few feathers and had a slight limp.

Hickety Pickety, on the lookout for predators~

Everyone else went to church afterward, but I stayed behind to hold and comfort Mici, and to contemplate the events of the morning. I suddenly regretted getting after the chickens for scratching up the turnips and for getting into the house and leaving their droppings behind, and realized how much having them enriches my life.

It's funny how it takes something traumatic for us to come out of our daily spiritual slumber, but I was grateful that I was given the lesson without anything awful happening!

May I keep this lesson in my heart, and remember it when I am tempted to see what is not perfect in life, instead of what a precious thing is the blessing of every day.
On a lighter note, we have been enjoying the beauty of the magnolia trees lately, although the rains have taken them now~
We had a chance to go to the LDS visitors center in Independence and marvel at the Cristus statue there,

And AnnaMarie participated in an Old Testament challenge with our local youth group; she did very well for a beginner, and we are proud of her!

I hope you are enjoying the first day of spring, whatever the weather!



Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Spring Cleaning Giveaway!

 Dear Friends,

We've been going through our sewing supplies lately, and have decided to gift a few of our vintage patterns to you!

We have four sweet dress patterns from the 1940s, which are a size 16, bust 38, and  three patterns from the 1950s, two of which are bust size 36, and one bust 34.

If you would like to have one of these collections, just leave and comment and let us know which group you would like, the 1940s or the 1950s.

We'll keep this giveaway open until Saturday, the 31st of March.

Good luck to all!



Monday, March 12, 2012

Dear Friends,

Happy Monday to you! We've been having lots of fun outside, bouncing on our new "hoppity balls" and planting more goodies in the garden.


Each child picked out their own four-pack of pansies at the local nursery, and we planted them in a bed out front (where the chickens can't get them).

 Evangeline, Frankie, and Rebecca decided that we needed lots of onion starts, too, so now we have a pansy/onion bed, along with LOTS of peas that we had to stick here and there, since we soaked way too many for the area we had prepared. :) Someday we'll have a normal garden that's just in one spot!

These robins were waiting patiently for us to leave, so they could get any worms that we may have unearthed!

The rest of the birds are more shy, and like to watch us from a respectful distance!

Our two little clumps of daffodils are blooming along the side of the house, and we've noticed that the magnolias in the neighborhood are begin to unveil their lovely pink and white flowers. Ah, spring!

Mr. Graham and I took a class the other night on making kefir and other fermented foods and drinks, and have been inspired to start some internal "house cleaning" with these wonderful, life-giving foods. At the moment, we have kefir and sauerkraut working, and everyone is drooling waiting for them to be done! Talk about slow food! We are also dehydrating some rye berries that we soaked until they sprouted; we will grind it into flour and make a more gut-friendly baked goody than that of unsprouted flour. Here is the website of the lady who taught our cultured food class~ she has lots of wonderful, creative recipes!

We hope that you're enjoying this day, wherever you are, and creating wonderful memories with your family.




"Spring Is . . . "

Spring will make the flowers grow,
Spring will melt away the snow.
Spring will bring the robins home,
Spring will let imaginations roam.
Spring will . . . be spring!

~Audrey Graham



Did you hear the robin today?
His song sounded so very gay!
And did you see the grass so green?
And did you hear the flowing spring?
The snow is melting all away,
We will see it another day.

Yay for spring!
Yay for spring!

Yay for Yay for  everything!

~Tasha Graham

Friday, March 2, 2012

Let's Make a Hoop House!

 Dear Friends,

Yesterday was such a nice day, we thought we'd make a little hoop house to plant some spring vegetables.

As you can see, we had lots of help!

 We went to the hardware store and bought some pvc pipes and clamps, as well as some organic soil amendment, and thought we'd have it done in an hour or so! :)

We also thought we'd better clean out the old straw from the chicken house, while we were at it!

As the sun descended in the western sky, we put the the plastic sheet on top, and wondered how to keep it from blowing away in the next wind storm! We think we'll order some clamps today, but in the meantime a few bricks and boards seem to be keeping it in place pretty well. Now if we go and find a new home before we can harvest our kale and bok choy, at least we'll know how to put a hoop house together, and how to NOT put one together.

"Mary Mary quite contrary
How does your garden grow?"