Quips and Quotes
"We do not earn or merit anything by taking refuge in God. Hiding in something makes no contribution to the hiding place. All it does is show that we regard ourselves as helpless and the hiding place as a place of rescue." John Piper

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Little Inconvenience

Just want to let you all know that I will be leaving for the hospital to have total knee replacement surgery in about an hour. That takes place at 8 a.m. today and I should be home by Thursday of this week.

You will probably not see too many posts here over the next few weeks and, in fact, this knee replacement is why I have not put up many posts lately as well. Getting ready for this kind of surgery and long recovery takes some time and attention to detail.

But just keep checking in now and then and I'll be back. Oh, and please pray for a speedy recovery for me and most of all, that God would be glorified through this little inconvenience. (I do take comfort in knowing that I will not be in as bad a shape as the poor fella' in the cartoon above. Well, hopefully not anyway.)

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Origin of Father's Day

Today is Father's Day. In fact, today is the one-hundred-and-first anniversary of this day to honor our nation's protectors and providers of the family. The following video tells the story of how this tradition all began. Take a few moments to watch what inspired this one hundred year old institution.

Now take another minute to view the details of this honorable day first practiced by the daughter mentioned in the above video.

Happy Father's Day to all of you men who are truly fathering and/or grandfathering a child (or children) for their good. Happy Father's Day especially to my husband. (As for my own father, he is enjoying a glorious never-ending day in eternity with his Heavenly Father.)

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Friday, June 19, 2009

All Cooped Up With a Broken Finger

The chicken coop is mostly finished. The chicks will be ready to go outside in a few weeks and they will sleep in their coop at night for protection against predators. We have seen possum in our neighborhood on a regular basis and at one time, several years ago, a raccoon walked down our street very nonchalantly. (Note: To see the original posts about our chickens, go here and here.)

Robert and I started working on the coop a few days ago. Right off the bat, I got myself into trouble. I had been sanding the coop with my "lady-friendly" cordless sander, a completely safe and efficient sander that even someone like me (kind of a klutz) can use. When I ran out of sanding pads, Robert said, "Well, let's go to the hardware store and pick up more." But, since it was just a suggestion, I opted instead to get out the big gun - the belt sander that had belonged to my dad, a very experienced finish carpenter and a man to boot. I've used the belt sander before, but only on very small projects with very little surface area to sand.

As I was sanding the chicken coop with this monster, I kept thinking, "This thing is too powerful for me. I really should put it down." But since I didn't listen to Robert, I wasn't about to listen to my own better judgment either. The thing just had so much pull on the large area I was sanding.

Anyway, I had pretty much finished, breathed a sigh of relief and took my finger off of the trigger switch. As I did that, somehow my left index finger got sucked up into the sander, between the belt and the back casing. It happened so fast, I didn't even feel it. When I realized what I had done, and that I could not get my finger out, I started yelling for help. Robert had just gone into the house for something. He came running out and then went back in the house for cooking oil.

As I worked to get my finger out of the sander, I just knew it was going to be impossible and thought we would probably have to call the paramedics for help. Then I said to the Lord, "Please, Lord, release my finger from this sander." No sooner had I prayed that and my finger was free. I still don't know quite what happened except God graciously made it happen.

That's when I started yelling again for Robert to tell him we didn't need any oil. He came running to my side carrying the peanut oil from the refrigerator which I found very humorous for some reason.

My finger was pretty torn up and was excruciatingly painful. So off we went to Kaiser. This was about noon on Wednesday - day before yesterday (June 17th). We had been at Kaiser in the morning for a pre-op appointment (I am having knee replacement surgery this month on the 29th).

We had only been home and working on the chicken coop for a short time after we had returned from that appointment. And we were scheduled for another pre-op appointment at 1:45 in the afternoon, that same day. As it worked out, we spent most all of the day there, sandwiching in the minor injury clinic x-rays and appointment between the two pre-ops and the x-rays I had to get for those. What a day!

As it turns out, my finger is fractured in several places above the first knuckle and pretty battered, but there is no damage that won't heal as good as new. But you should have seen me at Kaiser. Robert was pushing me in a wheel chair. I was wearing my knee brace, had my cane, my arm was in a sling and my finger was wrapped with gauze and tape. It was quite a sight.

One thing is for certain, however - I've used the belt sander for the last time. Give me my cute little lady-sander and if I run out of sanding pads, it's off to the hardware store for me, like I should have done in the first place at my husband's suggestion.

Nevertheless, we got the coop finished. Here are some pics of the project:

Here's the coop after it was put together by our son, Jeff and son-in-law, Curtis. Cute, but needs some finishing touches.

That's me. This was the day after my little accident. Notice my left finger in a splint and I'm using my cane (knee problems). I'm sanding the edges of a window we cut in the front - with my lady-sander.

Robert, hard at work on the chicken coop. He really was, but stopped to pose. What a ham!!!

The finished product - almost. We still have to put a corrugated metal roof on the top. There is wire in the window to keep unwanted visitors out.

All chicks welcome. But NO ROOSTERS ALLOWED!

This is what we will have is a few months, Lord willing. But there's no way the extras will sell for that price!


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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Furoshiki, Anyone?

I found these videos at YouTube and was so fascinated by them. This Japanese fabric folding craft, called furoshiki, is similar to origami and can be used to make purses, grocery bags, gift wrap and more. There is no sewing involved - only folding and knots, so the fabric can be unfolded, the knots removed and the fabric used again and again for many different furoskiki items. Different sizes of fabric are used depending on the need.

Being a seamstress, I have plenty of scrap and unused fabric that I can cut, hem and use this way. Can hardly wait to get started!

Here is a related link that has a great deal of info in the way of drawings demonstrating many different furoshiki folds. And here is another with some great videos. If you'd like to have a print-out of many different furoshiki folds, go here.


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Monday, June 15, 2009

And the Winner is...

Mery Hale won the book drawing for By Design by Susan Hunt. Since Mery and I attend the same church, I was able to hand deliver the book and get a snapshot of her yesterday morning after worship service. She was excited after I spoke to her by phone on Saturday evening and she "hunted me down" after church. As I was taking her picture she remarked, "This is the first time in my life that I've ever won anything!"

Congratulations Mery! Enjoy your time reading this book.

And for those of you who are not familiar with By Design, you can read a review of it here.


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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tidy Tip Tuesday - Flat Tomato Paste, Filtered Tacos and Tea Cubes?

Here are some great kitchen tips:

Leftover tomato paste: Many times a recipe will call for just a tablespoon or two of tomato paste. To refrigerate what's left often means it will get overlooked and eventually thrown out because it did not get used before it went bad. Next time you have some leftover tomato paste, try storing it like this instead: Spoon out the leftovers into a small zipper baggie, measuring by tablespoons full as you go. Close the baggie and flatten it out to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Put a label on the baggie indicating how many tablespoons of tomato paste are in it and also the date it was put into the freezer. When your recipe calls for one or two tablespoons, note how many (tablespoons) there are in the bag, imagine the tomato past divided into that many squares and break off an appropriate amount. Return the unused portion to the freezer.
A neat way to eat tacos: Use a coffee filter as a holder for the next taco you eat. You'll never want to eat tacos without one again!

Leftover tea?: Freeze any leftover tea in ice cube trays. Use these "tea cubes" to chill the next batch of iced tea you make. The tea will not get diluted from the melting ice.


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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Book Give Away - Just Leave a Comment to Participate

This is the second time I have run this post. But with only a week left till the drawing, I just wanted to remind any of you who wish to enter the contest to do so now, before June 12th. (To enter to win By Design, just leave a comment.)

I will be giving away this book, By Design...God's Distinctive Calling for Women, for a comment****. From now until June 12th, leave a comment and some way for me to contact you should you win - your email or blog link, etc. is fine. You will be entered and may even win**.

Here is a review that explains what this book is all about:
God did not make a mistake when He made men and women different. He had a distinctive plan and purpose for each. This book is a joyous celebration of that profound fact and an appeal to the church to utilize one of its most valuable resources: its women.

By Design is not about answering feminist arguments or exegeting Biblical passages on traditional roles, submission or headship. Instead, it is an uplifting and practical introduction to God's wonderful design for women. It is also a challenge to women everywhere to explore the significance of your distinctives and return to your Biblical calling. And it is a plea for the church to equip and mobilize you to help a hurting world and capture a culture for Christ through ministries of mercy and compassion.

Like Susan Hunt's previous works, Spiritual Mothering and The True Woman, this book is a strong affirmation of your value as a woman and a great resource for anyone involved in women's ministries.
So now that you know what the book is about, if you would like to enter the give-away, here are the rules:

1) Leave a comment* here and provide some way for me to contact you if you win*** - an email or blog link is fine, as long as there's an email address attached to the blog link.

2) Get an additional entry for blogging about this contest by putting it on your website, blog, facebook, twitter, or any other networking site you have. Then make sure you let me know by email (sharon-sharealike@pacbell.net) where you've posted it.

Note: You do not have to leave a comment to win. Winning isn't based on what you say. One winner will be drawn randomly...so, it's fine to simply leave your name and email.

* No duplicate comments please.

** Winners will be selected by random, impartial draw, and will notified by e-mail.

*** You will have 48 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

****Comments will be open through June 12th, 2009 and I will announce the winner on this blog on Monday, June 15th, 2009.


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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cooped Up?

A faithful reader, Jann, asked if I would put up a post showing the chicken coop we will be using to house our chickens. Jann plans to keep backyard chickens soon herself. The coop our son, Jeff, and son-in-law, Curtis, built will be home to the chickens at night. During the day they will be in the area we have used for a vegetable garden for the past five or six years. It became overrun with field bindweed last fall and since we will not spray toxic herbicides to kill it, there is really no other way to get rid of it but to let livestock feast on it, roots, seeds, greens and all.

Here are some photos of our chicken coop, Jann:

This is about 3' by 4' and 5.5' tall. The roof is hinged so it can be lifted up when needed. We will paint the coop barn red with white trim. We will probably have to make another one, seeing that we will have eight chickens to house.

Here you can see the nesting boxes from the outside of the coop.

This is looking down inside the nesting boxes. There is still a little work that needs to be done to finish these.

The nesting boxes with lid that raises and hooks to stay open so eggs can be gathered. Also, notice the drawer pull at the bottom of the coop and the cinder blocks that the coop sits on.

The drawer pull is attached to a drawer that can be opened to clean out the floor of the coop. We will be using pine shavings of the floor. Yeah! Lots of good chicken manure to fertilize the vegetable plants. It will be added to the compost bin to decompose.

As you look at the top photo of the chicken coop, you can see what looks like pine boards - five of them. But that is not exactly what they are. Look at the following photos to see how they started out:

These pine boxes were originally made to be packing and shipping containers. You can see the metal on the corners. We obtained these boxes from friends at church last year. We traded strawberry plants for the boxes. (Thanks Shaana and Mark! Hope your strawberries are doing great!)

The metal corners are hinges so that the box can lay flat when not in use as you can see above.

The metal hinges also have a "leg" on them as you can see here so that the boxes can nest one on top of the other. You can see this in the first photo of the chicken coop. The legs also secure the chicken coop onto the cinder blocks.

We have used these boxes for many purposes as the photos below show:

Here are two boxes stacked together to make a brooder for the chicks. They are now in this brooder in our barn-shed. Robert and I made a strudy top for the brooder so nothing can go in or out. For the floor, we laid down heavy clear plastic which is covered with pine shavings.

A view from the top of the brooder. The red glow is from the heat lamp that keeps the chicks warm.

Of course we use the boxes for our vegetable plants. If we had enough dirt, we could stack these two or three tall to save our backs from bending. This area was our lawn until several months ago.

More planter boxes.

Strawberry plants in one of the boxes, and soon-to-be strawberries with cream. Yum!

Lettuce and peppers in another box.

Last, but not least, the compost bin. This was stacked three boxes high, but we took one off to make the brooder. It will be replaced when the chicks head outdoors to the weed patch.

There you have it, Jann! A lot more info than you really needed. If you have any other questions, just drop another comment. I love to hear from you!


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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tidy Tip Tuesday - Five Food Tips

Since I missed last week's Tidy Tip Tuesday, it's double duty for this week.

To keep greens fresh longer (this could be kale, collard greens, lettuce or other salad greens, mustard greens, etc.), store them in a covered container along with a stainless steel utensil (fork, knife or spoon) in the refrigerator. Try this and see for yourself that it really does work!

Cream cheese melts in the microwave instead of becoming softened, so try this alternative. Place cream cheese in a zipper baggie and seal. Fill a bowl or other similar sized container with warm water and lower the cream cheese into it. Let it set in the warm water for about 4 minutes and it will be nice and soft and easy to work with.

To keep a block of cheese from becoming moldy, dampen a clean cloth with apple cider vinegar and wrap it around the block of cheese, seal both into a zipper baggie and store in the frig. Acid in the vinegar will prevent the growth of mold.

If you've run out of bread crumbs and need some now, toast fresh bread slices. Then toss them into the blender or food processor to crumble. If they are still not dry enough, lay them out in a thin layer on a baking sheet and pop into the oven at 350 degrees for a few minutes. Use as recipe directs.

To make ground beef lay flat in the freezer and save space, take the meat out of the original packaging, place in a plastic freezer bag and flatten it out with a rolling pin. This saves space in the freezer, plus the flat frozen beef will thaw very quickly.

That's all folks!

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Hey Chicks!

Well, I am a new mother - mother hen - that is. We brought home 8 (yes, you read that right) cute little chicks last Friday. And in about 5 months we will be rewarded with beautiful golden globes.

The chicks will go outside at about 6 weeks old, when they are fully feathered. They are two weeks old and for now they are in our storage barn. If you are familiar with chicken breeds, you may be interested to know which ones we got. There are: two Black Stars (or Black Sex Links - they are called this because after they hatch, they can be sexed by their color. The males are a different color than the females); two Rhode Island Reds; two Golden Laced Wyandottes; one Black Australorp; and one Barred Rock. Their coloring will look completely different when they are full grown.

We decided to get chickens to keep in the backyard partly because our vegetable garden area has become completely overgrown with field bindweed. It is impossible to get rid of without toxic herbicides. Since we went organic about five years ago, we didn't want to spray the area. And since we have talked about getting backyard chickens for several years (and indeed did have some years ago and loved it), the weeds were all the excuse we needed. The chickens will clean up the weeds for us and give us eggs to boot. Can't beat a deal like that!

Meantime, we re-designated our lawn to be a vegetable garden. We never use the lawn area for anything anyway. So we're on our way. Our veggies are in the ground, we have a chicken coop built (our son, Jeff, and son-in-law, Curtis, built it for us), we have our chickens and soon enough we will be eating delicious pastured eggs (from weed-fed chickens). If that isn't enough, we will have wonderful rich fertilizer from the chickens and the chicken run (our former vegetable garden) will be weed and pest free!

Here are a couple of pics of the babies:

One of the Rhode Island Reds

Cute, huh?

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