Meadow Lark

by Nissa on 22 July, 2014

in Family Centered Living,Farming

Henry’s boys went walkabout one evening recently.  The next morning, we rose early and went to see if they had found their way home.  And they had.  Good lads.  We were also rewarded with the glory of our meadow in full bloom.  Come on along…

meadow10

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meadow5 meadow1

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meadow9

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“Pulchra Terra Dei Donum”

(This fair land is the gift of God)

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Every once in a while a reading from Mass will stick with me.  Really stick.  It gets into my heart and mind.  I look it over, think it over, dream it over.  Yesterday’s Gospel (Mt. 13: 24-43) was just such a reading.

parable

It resonated with me because it illustrates for me how we faith-full bloggers and social media mavens ought to approach our time and efforts online.  We should be sowing good seed.  That doesn’t mean proselytizing everyone.  It means being the leavening.  Lifting people up.  Being positive, comforting, joyful.  Loving everyone.  Willing their good.

Too many of my Catholic friends feel that they must pull up the weeds.

Jesus teaches, in yesterday’s reading from the Gospel that we are to work gently, quietly, faithfully.  He tells us this using three different parables.  The parable of the wheat and weed suggests that in pulling up the weeds – the people who are doing the will of Satan – we may also destroy ourselves and be good for nothing.  At harvest, the wheat and weeds will be sorted out by the angels.

Trust that the wheat seed will grow and thrive. 

“The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed…”  The Gospel of Life is small and humble.  It is simple.  Yet when it is nurtured, it grows into something great that outshines all other worldly messages.  When we show, through sharing our lives, the goodness of God, and when people witness our gentle ways, that mustard seed will grow into something glorious, and we will attract the ‘birds of the air’, who will come and ‘collect seed’ and spread it somewhere else.  Our branches are the people who share our posts or status updates, the birds are those who are inspired by us to write their own blogs and inspirational messages.

Grow where you are planted, let your branches spread wide, and welcome those who will share your inspiration.

“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast…”  When we share the simple message of love with our readers, when we are living a small life taken up with mothering and being faithful partner to our husbands, it can seem like we aren’t making impact in the world.  Not so.  The third parable tells of a woman making loaves of bread.  If you’ve made a yeast bread before, you know that the measure of yeast is very small compared with that of flour.  Yet when water is added and it is left to prove, and when we knead the dough, that little bit of yeast lifts the dough to twice (or more) what it would be without leavening.  Sharing your life with readers, your small faith-filled life, uplifts others.  We are small compared with the world, compared with ‘popular society’, yet our small voice can uplift it. Without our small voices, our humble lives of faith and faithfulness, society won’t grow at all.

Let the world knead on over and around us, it will allow our uplifting message to make a greater impact.

We don’t need to be big or ‘special’.  We only need to RECOGNIZE the beauty of every day life for the marvelous, precious gift that it is, and then share that.  Be grateful and joyful in the sharing.  Be honest about the trials in life.  We all have them and it is good to acknowledge that.  But seek the blessing in the trial and share it so that others may be uplifted in their own sufferings, and, in turn, share the blessings in their own difficulties with others.

These are how we reveal the Kingdom of Heaven.

This is how we shine like the sun.

 

 

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Life on the farm is extremely busy lately.  The vegetables are finally coming on, and I have been spending a lot of time making jams and jellies from flowers and fruits collected round and about the place.  We’ve even tried a new delight – mulberry jam.  I’ve never had a mulberry before in my life, but William discovered an enormous mulberry tree out by the barn.  It is LOADED with fruit.  Like other such berries, they aren’t all ripe at once, which means that I’ve got to make lots of smaller batches.  Now, if I can get the black raspberries to co-ordinate with the mulberries, we’ll alternate the two until we’re done.  Chance would be a fine thing!

A gorgeous bowlful of mulberries.

We’ve harvested lots of nettle, which is being dried in the carriage house, along with elderflowers and catnip.  We’ve got chive seeds harvested from the little clump at the corner of the schoolroom, and soon I’ll be doing the same with the catnip seeds.

I thought that I was done with flower jellies, but I’ve got just one more to go – Queen Anne’s Lace.  I always grew up believing that it was poisonous.  It’s not.  But you have to be careful that you’re indeed picking the right thing.  So, I’m off to do that, perhaps this weekend.  While I’m out there, I’ll look to see what we have for chicory root.  And OH! I forgot that I’ve been collecting burdock and dandelion root.  So, so much more to harvest from teh wild while we wait for our pokey veggies to get up and ready.  Blossoms everywhere, and wee bitty vegetables.

Queen Anne's Lace

It looks like we’re going to have a spate of veg all at once, rather than the steady stream we had originally planned.  But there it is.  Nothing can be done about how the weather behaves.  And God is good.  He knows what we need.  Our job is to have faith and always and everywhere to give thanks.

I have been working on two knitting designs. 

I had to frog back and re-work the Brendan longies I started several weeks months ago.  But I think that this revision will look much better.  I also decided to order a new skein of yarn to work it up – “Moorland” Madelinetosh Tosh DK (my current fave yarn) – it will go so well with a co-ordinating jumper/vest in Mad. Tosh DK “Filigree”, which I still have skads of from Georgie’s romper.  The green is very, very similar to the “Kiwi” Lamb’s Pride that I began with, but much softer.

The second is a pretty pair of socks that I’m calling “Métro”.  It’s a two-at-a-time toe-up sock.  Lacy and pink.  But it would be lovely in any colour.  I can’t wait to photograph my progress and share with you.  I am the world’s.  slowest.  knitter.  Or I was.  Until I rediscovered the Scottish style of knitting, also called Irish Cottage Knitting.  I knit this way when my oldest ones were little, but gave it up when I started knitting in the round.  And today, I discovered that Bulgarian babas knit Turkish or Tunisian style – with hooks!  Holy smokes, how much faster must that be?  Yep.  I’m going to try it.  The special, wonderful bonus is that it has a built-in lifeline in case you make a boo-boo.  At least, it has a lifeline for the previous row or round.  That’s enough for some of us. :)

"Métro" socks on the needles

And speaking of Bulgaria, we’re still beavering away raising funds for our adoption.  Our little gal just turned 10, and our little fella is about to turn 11.  We have been told that we have until the week before Christmas to get everything done.  Looks like a trip for Christmas-tide.  It’s coming really quickly.

Really.  Quickly.

I have applied to Reece’s Rainbow to see if we can get some fundraising help from them.  I hope we’ll hear back sometime next week.  In the meantime, we’re planning a little online fundraiser of our own.  I was given a loving nudge by my friend Cassan to have the kind of fundraiser that has a little progress graphic and would possibly make all of the asking a little easier to manage.  But because I can’t resist making a PROJECT out of a project (will I ever learn?  Don’t answer that.), I have made a project out of it.  LOL.  My intention is to bless more children, more families with it.  If I can do it for us, I want to use the same project to help others.  I’ll share more when I can.

In the meantime, we have to get a whole new life insurance policy.  It’s no problem, I said.  It’ll take about 5 minutes, I said.  WRONG.  Oy.  So worth it, though.  Can’t wait to see those two beautiful faces for real.  And hug those babies up.

If you would like to help us get those hugs a little sooner, you can make a gift of any size through PayPal (nissa_@_gadboisfamily_._com), shop at our farm shop, or book a portrait session or hire me to photograph your next event.

 

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Last month, the little ones helped me make some lilac jelly.  Our farm has been overrun with lilacs.  We are so overrun with them, in fact, that we will be dividing them and selling the potted lilacs to farm visitors next year.  That way, everyone can own a little piece of the farm (and make their own jelly, too!).

It was such a lovely day.  We threw open the kitchen windows while we worked.  The scent of lilac blossoms permeated the air. It doesn’t last long enough, lilac season.  This country jelly is a clever way to preserve it, in edible form, until next year.

I began by filling a 5 gallon bucket with lilac panicles, early in the morning, before the precious oils evaporated.  it is really important to get them early for the best results.  Remember to shake off the little critters.

We plucked the individual blossoms from the panicles.  You don’t want the green bits because they can make your finished jelly bitter. And when we made the infusion, we were surprised to see that the pretty pale purple blossoms produced a pale green liquid.

 

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

 

William kept us entertained by catching butterflies and moths, bringing them to the window to show us.

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

If you aren’t familiar with making jelly, you just need to remember these things:

Real Food, Pure and Simple  | Lilac Jelly

  1.  Your maximum batch size should not exceed 10 c. of infusion.  If, like me, you need to make much more than that, make your infusion in one batch and divide it into smaller batches before adding pectin and sugar.
  2.  I recommend ALWAYS using low-sugar/no-sugar pectin from real fruit.  This allows you to adjust your sugar content to your taste.  For this recipe, I cut the original amount of sugar by half.  My recipe below is exactly what I used.
  3. Always add pectin to the infusion and boil BEFORE adding sugar. 

Lilac Jelly

Lilac Jelly

10 c. lilac infusion

1 c. lemon juice

1 jar powdered pectin (low-sugar/no-sugar)

10 c. organic sugar

In a large roasting pan or steam pan liner, on top of the stove, pour lemon juice into the infusion.  Slowly stir in pectin with a whisk to prevent lumps.  Bring to a hard boil (one that can’t be stirred down).  Add sugar all at once, bring back to the boil and cook for about 1 minute.  Turn the heat off and pour jelly into prepared jars.  Wipe the rims clean, place lids.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes (or as long as needed for your altitude).    Viola!  That’s it.

I’m not bothered by foam, but you can disperse it with a pat of butter or oil during the second boil.  Skim off any remaining foam.  It is still perfectly good to eat.  It just isn’t as pretty to some folk.

ETA: I TOTALLY forgot to give instructions for the infusion!  Mea culpa. You want:

10 c. lilac blossoms

11 1/4 c. water

Bring to the boil, reduce to simmer.  Simmer for 40 minutes, take off the heat and allow to steep overnight, covered.  In the morning, strain the blossoms and press all of the liquid out.  Measure the liquid.  If you need to, add some water to ensure that you have 10 c. of infusion.

 

If you missed lilac season, you can purchase some of ours here.

 

 

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I think it is true what they say about the adoption process causing similar symptoms to pregnancy.  I think that I am nesting.  Certainly, it also coincides with warm weather, and settling in to living in the farmhouse.  The temporary schoolroom is finished and I’m letting it steep a little before we dig in and really give it a work out.

Last week, we got some rain that was enough to keep everyone out of the field.  It was a perfect opportunity to get the top of the hutch painted and installed in the pantry.

I stayed out of the way and looked around for a pretty crocheted trim to use for shelf lace.  I found a beautiful French crochet pattern that reminds me of wheat sheaves.  I’m working on transcribing the pattern from a crochet chart into a written pattern to share.

I bought new drawer pulls in an oiled bronze-looking finish, and I found some tension rods to fit the openings in the lower part of the hutch.  I want to make some curtains to hide some of the bits and pieces stored there.

Making a Home | Of Pantries and Shelf Lace

Making a Home | Of Pantries and Shelf Lace

Making a Home | Of Pantries and Shelf Lace

Making a Home | Of Pantries and Shelf Lace

Making a Home | Of Pantries and Shelf Lace

 

It just need curtains for the bottom, and shelf lace for the top shelves.

Making a Home | Of Pantries and Shelf Lace

Check back here on the blog for the finished translated and written pattern.

This pretty hutch has been around awhile.  Brian’s brother made it for their parents, we received it a few years ago.  The pretty glass doors couldn’t hold up to our heavy use, and one of the lower doors developed a funny bow.  So we decided to give it a makeover and repurpose it.  Look around at what you have, or what you can find.  It doesn’t have to be costly to make your home lovely and functional.

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