February 25, 2011

Friday FarmGirl@Heart...Constellation Watermelon, Anyone?

What happens when you take a girl with a country-life-heart
and put her in the
uber-suburbs of Chicago? Read on!

This past-weekend, my dear mom was in the hospital. She's lost a lot of weight, and her docs weren't paying enough attention, and her heart meds got too strong for her changed body size. Thus, her heart rate slowed way down, and her blood pressure dropped, and she passed our...at the doctor's office, PTL! Thank you to those of you who were praying for her, and for me as I stayed with my Dad to help him out while Mom was away. She is doing MUCH better now!

I am continuing to consider what I want to grow this summer in the 4X12ft space that Christine is providing me in her sunshiny yard. I really want to grow as many heritage varieties as I possibly can, and also would like to learn how to preserve the seeds for the next year's crop. I have grown green beans in containers on my patio before, and have had bad luck with tomatoes (also in containers on my patio...my only choice). I have really good raspberry bushes here.


In one of my magazines, I saw this neat watermelon:
It's called "Moon & Stars," for obvious reasons! This photo makes it look blue, but the skin is green, and it has these yellow spots, some big, some small, that look like constellations! I thought it looked really neat. But I don't know about trying to grow watermelon...I've read that it wants sandy, well-drained soil, and I will NOT likely have that. Anyone had any experience growing these guys?

In my heart of hearts, I want to grow heritage varieties of every veggie that I choose. I am sick, sick, sick of the corporate agriculture world. I read a lot, and I read a lot about food production in our country. I want out. I want my own food. I want locally grown food as much as I can. I want real  food. I've heard it called "honest food," even "righteous food." I know that food, in and of itself, isn't "righteous" - but I do "get" what that term is referring to. When you know the where, how, and especially the why of our modern, industrial food system, these heritage varieties of locally grown produce start to look righteous!

Please let me know if you have any watermelon stories, and thoughts on growing these guys in northern Illinois (I'm in zone 5b). I'm really intrigued, but if it's likely a lost cause, I don't want to give up too much space in my raised bed to try it. Since this will be my first year of serious produce gardening, what are your recommendations for me? Green beans and lettuce will be grown in containers on my patio, so don't worry about those guys...they're already covered! I look forward to your recommendations of your favs!
 
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February 24, 2011

Thursday Tea Talk with Ruth (2/24/11)

Click the graphic above to join me and our lovely hostess, Ruth,
for Tea Talk each Thursday!

I'm having...Orange-Cinnamon Rolls accompanied by half-caf Huckleberry coffee - a 50/50 mix of Gevalia Traditional Roast and Montana Coffee Traders' Decaf Huckleberry.  The label on the bag just makes me want to head for the mountains!
I'm feeling...like I'm rejuvenating...just a little! But that's good...I'll take it, little bit by little bit!
On my mind...How happy I am that it's Thursday. Nathan and I get to sleep in just a tad on Thursday, since his first class at the college isn't until 11:00am. We do homeschool classwork prior to that, of course, but we're just not racing to get out the door so early! I'm keeping last week's Tea Talk verse for another week, because it is so appropo for my life now.
Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.
(Matthew 11:28, Douay-Rheims Bible )

My silly dog, who always likes to come to Tea Talk.




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February 21, 2011

Time Marches On...Life Changes...Blogs Change

Though I've been pretty reflective about my blog in recent weeks, this past weekend has left me really reflective. I'll not ramble on about it in this post...my heart has been all over the place. But a friend's decision to change the way she blogs (Tamara, that would be you!) helped me to make final the decision I've been thinking about making for a while now, and that is to end my memes.

I'll still be writing my "Friday FarmGirls @ Heart" posts, because that is so much of my heart; there just won't be a MisterLinky at the end.

There will be a Mister Linky with my "Food Storage Challenge" on the first day of each month, in case people want to share and to be encouraged with visits from fellow-food storers. So you are invited and welcome to keep the Food Storage Challenge button on your blog, and to post your progress and follow along with the assignments.

My life is changing, rapidly, and I am sensing that many of you are finding the same thing happening to you. Time does march on, and life changes. That's good with me! Blogs are very personal places...they reflect our lives. So they change, too. That's good with me, too!

I'm looking forward to this next season of life, with all of its challenges and joys, and to sharing it here at Plans4You. My new spring blog design is ready and waiting for the first day of spring, too! It is sleeting, snowing, and COLD here today, with worse weather still to come, so I'll have to hang on just a bit longer, I'm afraid. I hope the weather where you are isn't too bad...sometimes late February and March bring the biggest snows and ice storms. Take a moment to say hello, I'd love to hear from you!




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Update on My Mom...

My mom was in the hospital this weekend. We were on our way to a waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells for a two-day-getaway, but got the call while we were still on the Illinois highways, so it was about a one hour drive back home. She had some heart problems. I stayed with my dad at their place (he needs a little assistance with some things), and the guys held down the fort on their own here at home.

I brought mom home today, doing much better, PTL! My brother is now in town and is staying with them for the week to make sure everything goes okay. I am very tired, but there is a super busy week ahead.
So glad my Mom is doing better!



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February 18, 2011

Friday FarmGirls@Heart...What a Difference a Week Makes!

To join the Fun of Friday FarmGirls@Heart, please include a link to my blog in your post, or grab one of my FFG buttons for your posts and to place in your sidebar! 
You can grab code HERE.

What a difference a couple of weeks make here in Chicagoland! This was taken on 2/2/11:
And this is today:
It was 60 degrees yesterday! Needless to say, we have giant puddles of salt-water all over the roads, and the cars are all a mess. Can't wait for this to dry up and then to go get a carwash!

I have a nervous animal here...Sunny saw me packing up the paper bags with her food, her treats, and a soft bed being put into the car. She knows what that means...kennel time! We're taking off soon for a day and a half at an INDOOR waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells. That means I am in a hurry...so I'll sign off for now!
To all my FarmGirl @ Heart friends, have a great Friday!
Here's how to join the fun:
1) Grab an FFG (Friday FarmGirls) Button for your blog and post it in your sidebar so others can join with you. I have 3 4 5 6 styles you can choose from, and you can get code HERE.



2) Write your post and publish it on Friday...be sure to put your FFG Button at the top of your post, and link it to my blog ( http://www.illinoislori.blogspot.com/ ) so your friends will know where to come to join in each week.

3) Add your name and the URL of your post to the "Mister Linky" provided at the end of my post each week.

4) Leave me a comment, and visit the blogs of the other participants listed and leave them comments as well. If you visit and leave comments, you'll be visited and receive comments...it's as simple as that!

Subscribe via email for blog updates: CLICK HERE to subscribe

February 17, 2011

Thursday Tea Talk with Ruth 2.17.11

Click the graphic above to join me and our lovely hostess, Ruth,
for Tea Talk each Thursday!

I'm having...Dunkin' Donuts coffee, 1/2 regular, 1/2 decaf, with blueberry flavor. I made a 7:30am run to the grocery store for O.J. ( a MUST-HAVE for breakfast at our house!), and DD was right next to it! I hate the smell/taste that their styrofoam cups impart to the coffee, and I do not like artificial coffee "creamers," so I bought this coffee black, brought it home, transferred it to my lovely french-pottery mug (a Christmas gift from my sister), the added my own organic Half-and-Half. YUMMY!

I'm feeling...Happy! Yay!
On my mind...Bryan left this morning with his college class for Wisconsin to participate in an animal evaluation workshop at University of Wisconsin. They are staying at a fun water-park resork in the Dells. We will join him late Friday afternoon and enjoy splashing and floating around through Saturday. Pack! Pack us! Pack the dog (she'll stay at the local kennel)! Pack the cooler and the crockpot and some plastic plates/cups/cutlery (the restaurants are wayyyyy too expensive)! Pack pack pack! Then enjoy!

Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.
(Matthew 11:28, Douay-Rheims Bible )
My silly dog, who always likes to come to Tea Talk.


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February 14, 2011

The Lessons of History

I had an interesting day today at the college...Nathan's German professor, who is a really wonderful woman, invited me to join the class this week to view the German television miniseries, "Dresden." (Yes, we have a good relationship! Nathan has been a wonderful ambassador for homeschooling!) Today was day one of the 4 days that it will take to view the entire show.

This film, as I've reviewed it in advance, doesn't "sugar coat" what happened back in WWII in Dresden, Germany. Yes, it's a made-for-TV movie, and not much can compare with the reality of what it would have been like to have actually been there. War is a terrible, terrible thing. The evil of the Nazi machine is known well-enough, so I won't go there. The thing that really got me today, though, was the realization that this was the Germany that my beloved "Mutti" (mom) grew up in.  She was born in 1935 Germany...though that part of Germany was captured by the Russians and is now Poland. She and her parents had to flee her hometown to escape the Russians, and they fled to Berlin. PTL they got out of Berlin when the American occupation ended, and headed west...otherwise she would have lived and likely died in Communist East Germany, and I wouldn't be here today.

She came to the USA when she was 17, on a visit to her much older sister (10 years older) who had come here with her husband (so they're my aunt and uncle), and had just given birth to her 3rd child. My mom came to help in the house and with the other children. My aunt and uncle wanted to give her a break from the work one night, so they set her up on a blind date with a handsome and well-recommended Naval officer who was the son of a friend of a friend, and was home on shore-leave. He took my mom to see a musical (Porgy & Bess), and then to dinner. They fell in love, and my mom never returned to Germany. The handsome Navy Officer is my dad!

I know this movie will be more intense over the next few days. I've seen such films before, and I am a nurse, so the bloody battle scenes on TV screens I can handle. It's just hard for me to fathom my sweet mom as a 10 year old girl, growing up amidst some of that. I thank God she was able to get through it and out of there, and I can enjoy loving her so much!



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February 11, 2011

Friday FarmGirls @ Heart 2/11/11

To join the Fun of Friday FarmGirls@Heart, please include a link to my blog in your post, or grab one of my FFG buttons for your posts and to place in your sidebar! 
You can grab code HERE.
*FOLLOW-UP LINK ADDED @ 12:30pm (Central Time) AFTER THE VIDEO...
Chicagoland has mobilized again after the blizzard, and we are just today beginning to come out of the DEEP FREEZE (air temps of -10F with -30F windchills). This weekend we're supposed to go up into the upper 30's...sounds positively balmy after what we've been in this week! With those temps will come snow-melt, and likely flooding. Our basement window wells had snow in them; that's never happened before, they are covered...but the wind was so high during the blizzard that it forced its way in and down, I guess! I hope they don't unload into our house when that snow melts. They are deep, so it'll be hard to get the snow out of them. I think we're going to have to try, though.

I don't feel like much of a FarmGirl today. I've been in the car with Nathan every day this week, making long (30-45 minutes) drives to college classes, math team competitions (he made the State Team, yahoo!) and extra team practices, and to our new German Club with family friends who lived in Germany and speak the language pretty fluently, their high school and college-age children included. We get together for dinner and board games, and it is two hours of "German Only" in terms of conversation. Believe me, it is tough to do! It's one thing to take 4 years of high school language, and get straight "A's," and quite another to sit down and speak it completely for 2 hours! It was a relief to get back to English!

In addition to school activities, things have picked up BIG TIME in terms of my responsibilities to my parents, who are in need of much help right now. So I am glued to the computer, researching physicians, setting up accounts, figuring out insurance plans, keeping up with their bills.

My mind wanders to Amish Ohio, a place that is near and dear to my heart, and to these dear (though theologically confused***) people who have taught me so much and changed my heart in many ways. The Amish provide "cradle to grave" security for their members. Elderly Amish do not collect Social Security, they don't live in Assisted Living centers, and they aren't "put away" in nursing homes. They are lovingly cared for by their family and assisted by the church. We modern, American Christians should take a long look at the Amish model.
***To learn more about a Scriptural awakening (praise God!) that is happening in the Plain Community, view this 6-part video series, "Trouble in Amish Paradise," on YouTube (total viewing time for all 6 parts is one hour):




Here is a direct link in case the video won't play here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lhoz_nLqMlI
 
After you watch the 6-part series, if you'd like to learn more about how the Stoltzfus family is doing, you can follow-up with them here: http://www.troubleinamishparadise.com/ephraim%20&%20amanda.html
 

To all my FarmGirl @ Heart friends, have a great Friday!
Here's how to join the fun:
1) Grab an FFG (Friday FarmGirls) Button for your blog and post it in your sidebar so others can join with you. I have 3 4 5 6 styles you can choose from, and you can get code HERE.



2) Write your post and publish it on Friday...be sure to put your FFG Button at the top of your post, and link it to my blog ( http://www.illinoislori.blogspot.com/ ) so your friends will know where to come to join in each week.

3) Add your name and the URL of your post to the "Mister Linky" provided at the end of my post each week.

4) Leave me a comment, and visit the blogs of the other participants listed and leave them comments as well. If you visit and leave comments, you'll be visited and receive comments...it's as simple as that!



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February 10, 2011

Thursday Tea Talk with Ruth 2/10/11

Click the graphic above to join me and our lovely hostess, Ruth,
for Tea Talk each Thursday!

I'm having...Green Mountain's Wild Blueberry Coffee in my plain white everyday mug.
I'm feeling...like hibernating. It is sooooo cold here in Chicagoland! This morning upon waking, the actual air temperature was -6F (-21C), and the wind chill factor makes it feel like it's -20F (-28C).
On my mind...multi-tasking like crazy. Right now I am being required to "operate" (actively!) in so many different places and directions, it's overwhelming and I feel like crawling under a blanket and hiding! When this happens, I have to compartmentalize my life, STOP multi-tasking, and just work the list in one "compartment" at a time, bathing each one in prayer, and not trying to rush through decisions.
You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
(Isaiah 26:3)
My silly dog, who always likes to come to Tea Talk




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February 4, 2011

CRITICAL...PLEASE WATCH "THE FUTURE OF FOOD"


Please, America...we have to wake up. If you haven't already seen it, use the link below to watch this 90 minute documentary on Hulu, it is free and no need to register or anything. This is CRITICALLY important that you understand what is happening to our farmers, and, in turn, what is being put into the food you buy at the grocery store and put into your body and your children's bodies.  Here's the link:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/67878/the-future-of-food






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Friday FarmGirls @ Heart...The Shovel

To join the Fun of Friday FarmGirls@Heart, please include a link to my blog in your post, or grab one of my FFG buttons for your posts and to place in your sidebar! 
You can grab code HERE.

Every farmgirl is well-acquainted with her shovel. It turns the earth in the kitchen garden, helps to edge the lawn away from the planting beds, digs the holes into which trees are planted to ultimately provide precious shade, fruit, and windbreaks.

In the winter, the garden spade takes a well-earned rest. Bryan sharpens our spade's cutting edge after I've cleaned it with a scraper, removed any rust, and then given it a very mild bleach-water bath to kill any nasties that it may have picked up. After sharpening, we give it a nice coat of oil and leave it oily all winter. In spring it will be wiped down and then put back into service for the season.

There is another shovel which rests all summer, and with which we become intimately re-acquainted in the winter. You know it...the snow shovel. If my sons' relationship to the snow shovel in December and January of this winter was described as a "Courtship," this week was the "Wedding!!!"


The blizzard that hit Chicago dropped about 20 inches of snow here, with drifts of 5 feet. Now that the plows have been through, the WALL of snow is over 6 feet at the edge of our lot by the mailbox.



Bryan had to dig a "snow-kennel" for Sunny to use...
 
(Click HERE to view the video I made after the blizzard ended and the cleanup began)
To all my FarmGirl @ Heart friends, have a great Friday!
Here's how to join the fun:
1) Grab an FFG (Friday FarmGirls) Button for your blog and post it in your sidebar so others can join with you. I have 3 4 5 6 styles you can choose from, and you can get code HERE.



2) Write your post and publish it on Friday...be sure to put your FFG Button at the top of your post, and link it to my blog ( http://www.illinoislori.blogspot.com/ ) so your friends will know where to come to join in each week.

3) Add your name and the URL of your post to the "Mister Linky" provided at the end of my post each week.

4) Leave me a comment, and visit the blogs of the other participants listed and leave them comments as well. If you visit and leave comments, you'll be visited and receive comments...it's as simple as that!

Subscribe via email for blog updates: CLICK HERE to subscribe


February 3, 2011

Thursday Tea Talk with Ruth...2/3/11

Click the graphic above to join me and our lovely hostess, Ruth,
for Tea Talk each Thursday!

I'm having..."Boulder Blues" rhubarb-flavored green tea by The Tea Spot. My mug is one that I've named my "Michigan Mug." It was always in my mom's cabinet, but a few years ago she gave it to me. I grew up in Michigan, and we had a cabin in the North Woods where we spent most of our summers. It seemed to go well with our Chicago blizzard scenery outside! (See my Blizzard 2011 photos HERE.)



It has Mallow Flower in it, which is what the pretty blue petals are:


I'm feeling...sleepy! It was such a hectic week this last one, with hosting houseguests and an open house for them, and then the blizzard. We've had 2 days with no school (college), and it's been really nice!

On my mind...making sure we are on track with all of the preparations for getting Nathan ready for the college applications process, which is just beginning to "grow legs and walk," and which will "run" soon enough! He took the PSAT last fall, and is now registered for the ACT test; this has gotten his name and his current high school profile into the college recruiters' computer systems, and we're getting flooded with emails. It's exciting...but we have to be sure we're on the right timetable. So far, so good...

"Anything I know that’s in any way good

Surely He put in my head

No matter where I go

If it’s the way that I should

It’s purely His foot that lead

I am nothing apart from Him

He’s my heart

He’s why I live

He’s all I’ll ever have to give."
(Lyrics to "He's Risen Again" by Marty Goetz)

My silly dog, who always likes to come to Tea Talk...
(we had to dig out a bathroom for her, the snow was so deep!)







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