3 Kinds of Basil for Soups and Salads

One of the many blessings from a home garden is having fresh herbs readily available. This year I have three kinds of basil.

I planted sweet basil from seeds.

I purchased a bush basil plant at a farmer’s market.

My neighbor gave me a lettuce basil plant.

Basil is nice with any tomato dish. Diced cucumbers and tomatoes with basil is a quick and easy salad. Tear the fresh basil leaves into pieces and add to the cucumbers and tomatoes with salt to taste.

Basil is also nice in soups. I found a couple of good recipes online.

Creamy zucchini soup

Creamy pea and basil soup

Sharing this post with You’re the Star, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Tuesdays with a Twist

The Right Life-map

This past week I skipped my morning Bible study a couple of days. Instead I read a few articles in the newspaper at the breakfast table.

The tension of our current time put my nerves on edge. I felt irritable. I drank more coffee and spent too much time on social media. I pondered the effects of the pandemic and the various theories and recommendations. The current state of politics upsets me too. I didn’t sleep well.

Yesterday I pulled out my Bible and spent time in prayer to begin the day. I was reminded that my hope is in the Lord. God is sovereign and He knows what is happening.

With calmness and focus I went outside to work on the yard. I pulled weeds and trimmed bushes. I prayed for our neighbor who lost a sister this week.

The wild rose bush was a challenge but I stayed with it. I chopped the thorny branches until I was tired. Then I came inside for a cold drink of water. It felt good.

The fall season that is coming will be a challenge. There are many uncertainties and we need God’s guidance. He is faithful. I need time reading the Bible every morning.

The revelation of Yahweh is whole and pulls our lives together.

The signposts of Yahweh are clear and point out the right road.

The life-maps of Yahweh are right, showing the way to joy.

The directions of Yahweh are plain and easy on the eyes.

Yahweh’s reputation is twenty-four carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.

The decisions of Yahweh are accurate down to the nth degree.

Psalm 19: 7-11 MSG

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Todays prompt is: RIGHT

Joy in the Garden

It is a challenge to grow plants from seed, but there is a reward. I am delighted by Heirloom Bells of Ireland. This is the first year I have successfully grown them.

As I walked around watering plants I noticed the first calendula bloom.

This heirloom tomato plant is growing tomatoes in a bunch.

What is growing in your garden?

Linking this post with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Marci’s Star Blog Hop

The Joy and Puzzle of Gardening

One of the benefits of the pandemic has been more time for gardening. More time to enjoy beautiful blooms, more time to think about soil, fertilizer and watering.

This year the peonies were especially lovely.

Japanese Peony

I did try to transplant one peony plant that wasn’t getting much sunlight. The plant wilted in protest and I have tried to save it. My hope is that it will come back next year. (Peonies don’t like to be moved—and maybe the springtime was the wrong time to try.)

In the past few years my squash and pumpkin plants have failed to produce because of the squash vine borer. This year I chose a new location in the yard to plant squash and I may get some.

Zucchini Squash

I’m looking forward to nasturtiums blooming around the yard and in this basket.

Nasturtiums

I don’t have great success with tomatoes. I am trying to grow them in containers. Not sure if I am fertilizing them too much or too little. But they do have little tomatoes.

Tomatoes

I have concluded that I need to water them more frequently than if they were planted in the ground.

These garden issues are a pleasant puzzle and simpler than the problems that face our country.

Do you have a garden? What have you learned?

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing .

The Cherry Tree and Martin Luther: Life Lessons

My husband has offered to cut the cherry tree down. Several times.

I was thrilled when the tree offered a bountiful harvest of cherries, sweet with a little tartness.

Then came the year of brown rot and mold. We spent a week picking all the rotten fruit and cleaning up the mess. 

Another year a late snowfall came while the tree was in blossom. There were no cherries that year.

Over the past few years Japanese beetles have discovered the tree. They eat the leaves on the tree, weakening it. So I tried picking them off, dropping them in a bucket of soapy water, as some fell down my shirt. Last year I treated the tree with neem oil.

This year is a recovery year, but the robins honed in on the ripening fruit. I have to admire their zealous pursuit of the cherries. I hung a couple of garden shop owls in the tree and also shiny CDs.

The cherries were of such great worth to the robins that they played out a dramatic scene.  I can see the tree—it is just outside my kitchen window. 

The robins showed acrobatic moves, twisting their necks to reach a cheery hanging below a branch. They would fly in with a focus on a cherry, see an owl and flutter like a hummingbird. Then they would seize a cherry and speed away.

I picked a quart of cherries. The robins consumed the rest. I have been thinking about the focus and determination of the robins (and also my determined attempts to save the cherry tree lol). What are the things of great value, deserving my focus? //

During this time at home I have pulled some books off the shelf that had intimidated me by their length. Currently I am reading Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and changed the World by Eric Metaxas. 

Martin Luther was totally focused on understanding the Bible, learning the true meaning. He pursued faith in God with his whole heart. Luther demonstrated in his life the most worthwhile goal—an example for us to follow. The greatest treasure in our lives is a relationship with God through Jesus.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: WORTH

New Ideas for the Garden

With lots of time at home I have been able to focus attention on gardening. My neighbor and I have shared tips and little plants across the back fence. I am looking forward to garden produce.

This year I have added mushroom compost to the garden to help break up the heavy clay soil. In some places I have added earthworm castings as a fertilizer. 

In the past I have lost squash and pumpkin plants to vine borers—the caterpillars that eats the inside of the plant’s vine. So I did an internet search for ways to prevent this problem. One suggestion was to place aluminum foil around the base of the stem—I tried that before without success. Or wrap the stem with cheese cloth. My squash and pumpkin plants now have cheese cloth around their stems.

Update 8/12/2020: I have picked (and made into dinner veggie) two zucchini squash with more coming. I have butternut squash coming.

Another suggestion was to companion plant nasturtium, chives, calendula or tansy around the squash/pumpkin plants. I have tansy and calendula growing next to the pumpkin plants and nasturtium and chives next to the squash. I also planted the squash in a new area, because rotating location of plants is a good idea. We’ll see how this experiment works.

For the tomato plants I put a mix of banana peel, crushed egg shell and coffee grounds deep in a hole, covered with some soil, before placing the tomato plant in.

I am thrilled that some of my herbs wintered over. The sage and thyme were in sheltered areas outside. My rosemary plant did well in a sunny bay window during the winter and is now outside.

I am looking forward to the time our state opens up—our district of Illinois is still shut down. I am anxious to have time together with friends and family. In the meantime gardening gets me outside, into the sunshine. I look in wonder at endless variety of plants and flowers that God has created for our enjoyment.

Do you have gardening tips for growing healthy plants?

Sharing this post with Tuesdays with a Twist and the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: FORWARD

When I Observe the Robins

One of the things I miss most during the current shutdown is my weekly trips to the local library. I know, I could get e-books, but I prefer the book that I can hold in my hand. I also like to check the library shelves holding new releases.

So, instead I have been going through the books that I have. 

I am blessed to have a little cache of books loaned to me by a good friend. But I also have books that I had bought and placed on my book shelves, planning to read someday. I found the book, The Table Talk of Martin Luther, translated by William Hazlitt and edited by Thomas Kepler.

The book covers a variety of topics in short sections. Each section is a from a conversation of Martin Luther, his perspective. The first topic is God’s Word.

That the Bible is God’s word and book I prove thus: All things have been, and are, in the world, and the manner of their being, are described in the first book of Moses on the creation; even as God made and shaped the world, so does it stand to this day. . . . And ’tis no small miracle how God has preserved and protected this book . . .

Yesterday I was observing a couple of robins and discovered their nest. We have a large bush in front of our house. In the past week I have noticed rustling sounds and the flight of a bird.

Then yesterday two robins flew to a nearby tree. They twittered in a flustered fashion, and I was motivated to investigate. I peered into the thick branches of the bush. In the center of the bush, well hidden, was a nest. 

A little later I discovered that I could see the nest from my dining room window–and a robin settled in the nest.

I thought about the behavior of the robins; the ability to design a nest, nurture new life and protect the young. Have you ever watched a parent robin coaching a young robin as it learns to fly? God’s design is evident in all creatures.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: PERSPECTIVE I’m also linking with Inspire me Monday and Heart Encouragement .

Keeping a Positive Outlook During the Pandemic

Today I woke up to snow decorating the trees and covering the ground. I was drawn to spending time outside.

The hyacinths in front of our house were still peeking up, despite the snow.

The sound of many birds twittering and whistling filled the morning air. As I took a walk through our neighborhood I caught sight of a couple robins.

Can you pick out the robin in the tree?

It was refreshing to walk in the brisk cold air–a few other walkers were out as well.

A variety of activities and tactics are helpful in this unusual time.

My morning Bible study is an essential part of my day. Did you know that the Bible has hundreds of reference to fear? This pandemic is stirring fear and panic, but God’s word tells us to fear God alone. I need to remind myself each day. The following verses give instruction.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! Psalm 111:10

Jesus said: I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:4-7

I have begun to limit the amount of time I spend watching news briefs. I read books. Sunday morning we met with our church from our home through the zoom platform. Last night I watched an episode of Call the Midwife. Almost every day I have FaceTime with my daughters and grandchildren. We are blessed with the technology that allows us to stay in touch.

How are you doing? What is helping you during this time of isolation?

This post is shared with Sue’s image-in-ing.

Seeing God’s Artistry in the Fall Colors

My grandson and I were looking out of the dining room window at the trees. The leaves were changing color. “See the linden tree—the leaves are turning yellow.”

My grandson said, “But look at that tree. Its leaves are bronze.”

In the distance we could see a tree with orange leaves. I explained what I knew. In the fall the chlorophyl  in the leaves diminishes as the days shorten and temperatures drop.

Other questions arose in my mind. Why do the leaves of some trees turn yellow, others bronze, orange or red? Why are the colors so rich and vivd this year?

The Old Farmers Almanac has answers.

 . . . pigments, carotene (yellow) and anthocyanin (red), exist in the leaf all summer but are masked by the chlorophyll which helps plants absorb sunlight. (The browns in autumn leaves are the result of tannin, a chemical that exists in many leaves, especially oaks.) 

In general, a wet growing season followed by an autumn with lots of sunny days, dry weather, and cold, frostless nights will produce the most vibrant palette of fall colors. This vividness is especially true of red leaves, such as those on sugar maples and red maple trees.

This year we are blessed with an array of colors: rich red, flaming yellow and orange, bronze with a back drop of evergreens. God’s artistry in the design of trees.

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the earth in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalm 96: 12b-13 ESV

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing and Inspire Me Monday.

Rhythm of Life

The mint in my backyard has flowered; tiny white flowers make a wreath around the stem. I pause to wonder at the delicate loveliness.

The phlox are a bright spot of color. I can see them from my kitchen window.

The elderberries are getting ripe. I will make elderberry juice/syrup from them. 

The flowers are blooming. The vegetables and fruit are ripening. It is the bounty of summer. And then autumn will come. Again.

The rhythm of the seasons provides order to our lives and points to God’s faithfulness. After the great flood God made a promise to Noah.

While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

God is sovereign over the earth and we can trust his promise.

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community is: AGAIN

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing and Tuesdays with a Twist