Owls in My Cherry Tree

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: EXPECT

expect: to anticipate or look forward to the coming occurrence

The sweet cherry tree in my yard is laden down with fruit.

Cherries

Everyday the cherries look a little bit riper.

Cherries

But the birds are ready to feast now!

Robins and chickadees lunge at the tree.

So I am trying something new.

I have placed a large owl in the tree.

And a smaller one.Owl

Someone said that hanging old CDs in the tree

Is a deterrent—they reflect sunlight and spin with the wind.

While I am willing to share some of the cherries with the birds, I expect enough ripe cherries to make a few desserts. I love cherry pie.

Visit Five Minute Friday and meet more writers.

Sharing this with the Art of Homemaking,  Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Tuesdays with a Twist

Petite Purple Irises and Stinging Nettle

It is the last day of February and my dwarf irises are blooming. I was surprised to see their purple petals as I returned home from a weekend trip. Winter isn’t over, but my tulip and hyacinth bulbs are sprouting leaves.

Dwarf Iris

What will our spring be like? My thoughts turn to garden plans. Every year I like to introduce a new plant to my herb garden.

It is so convenient to have fresh herbs for the kitchen. I have thyme for chicken and broth, sage for turkey, rosemary for potatoes and soups, chocolate mint for coffee, tarragon for salad dressing and basil for pesto and tomato sauce.

This year I want to add stinging nettle. I am familiar with nettle tea, having read about it in the Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year.

The common stinging nettle is a uterine tonic and general nourisher with a special ability to strengthen kidneys and adrenals. Its high mineral and chorophyll content makes it an excellent food and tonic for the hormonal system.*

The New American Herbal has more information about this plant. It is called stinging nettle because the leaves have fine hairs that cause pain and inflammation when touched. It is important to wear rubber gloves when harvesting the leaves of this plant.

Properly handled with gloves and long sleeves the leaves can be easily gathered and then neutralized by the heat of cooking . . . Once you know how to respect them, you’ll find nettles deliciously mild with a deep nutty green taste and a slightly minty finish. **

I saw a recipe for nettle soup in a Swedish cookbook. I think the nettle leaves would be a good addition to broth—adding good mineral content as well as flavor.

And so I will order some stinging nettle seeds from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. Then I have to decide on a safe place to grow them—perhaps in a container.

Do you have some garden plans?

*Susun Weed, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Ash Tree Publishing: Woodstock, New York, 1986, p. 2

**Stephen Orr, The New American Herbal, Crown Publishing Group, New York, 2014, p. 330

Sharing this post with Garden Week at You’re the Star,  the Art of Homemaking,  the Homemaking Party, the Healthy Happy Green & Natural Party,  Tuesdays with a Twist and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

A Sweet Reward in the Garden

It is always a special delight to find fall raspberries as I clean up the   backyard. I savor the sweet treat and bring a few inside to share.

Fall Raspberries

Wilting vines

A layer of leaves,

Flash of red

Ripe fall raspberries

A Sweet Reward

I am giving thanks for the glory of autumn, designed by our Creator!

Sharing this post with Thankful ThursdayImpulsive Artistry , Tuesdays with a Twist and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

Apples, fresh from the orchard, are one of the blessings in September. I enjoy making applesauce for the grandchildren. Each year I get a little more efficient.

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

Two appliances have simplified the process of making applesauce for me: a crock pot and a victorio strainer. What is a victorio strainer? For a complete description of this wonderful tool, click here.

I have access to unsprayed wild apples on the old family farm.   The     apples are not so great for eating fresh, but they make a good applesauce. I sort them and cut out the bad parts. Then I simply cut them in four pieces, leaving the skin on, leaving the core intact.   (If I am using   apples that have been sprayed I do remove the skin.)

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

I fill up the crock pot with apple sections turn it on high for a couple hours. Them I turn it down to low, stir and mash the apples, continuing to cook until completely soft.

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

The soft, mashed apples are put through the victorio strainer,  which    removes the apple skin and seeds.  I have nicely pureed and strained    applesauce.

I add honey and Ceylon cinnamon to taste. (Ceylon cinnamon has a milder, sweeter flavor than cassia cinnamon, as well as increased health benefits.) The sauce is then ready to be canned.

990400-044

Thanks for visiting. Enjoy this season of harvest!

Sharing this post with Thankful Thursday, Homemaking Party,  Tuesdays with a Twist, the Healthy, Happy Green and Natural Party , Christian Blogger Link-upSeasons  WW at Create with Joy and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Pregnant Creation: We Have Much to Anticipate!

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

Romans 8: 19 ESV

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting.
Romans 8: 19-25 The Message

This statement by the apostle Paul is both striking and encouraging. And it fits the time we are living in.

Over the summer I have been studying the epistle of 1 Peter.   Peter      describes Christians as sojourners and provides instruction for how we are to live. This fall our Pastor will be teaching from Romans and my precept Bible study is on the book of Romans. I am excited to be spending time learning from Paul the essentials of faith in a culture that is    hostile.

We need grounding from the Word of God and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Then we can shine the light of truth, pointing to Jesus.

Sharing this post with Thought Provoking Thursday,  Thankful ThursdayChristian Blogger and Word of God Speak

Scenes from the Keweenaw Peninsula

We just returned from a trip to the Keweenaw peninsula of northern Michigan. Calumet (the town where my father grew up) is now a part of the Keweenaw National Historic Park.

Copper World is on the main street of Calumet. The shop still sells my novel.

Copper World

The Rosetta Cafe is a favorite stop for great soup at lunch time–and good coffee all the time.

Cafe Rosetta

Lake Superior is not far from Calumet.

U.P. 7:2015_4728

Sharing this post with Seasons and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Lacy Loveliness of the Elderberry Bush

Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are familiar. We see them in the grocery store. God has created a multitude of other berries. I feel blessed to have elderberry bushes in my backyard. After reading about the benefits of elderberries I ordered bushes from nursery catalogues. Now I have four bushes and enjoy the different phases as these bushes produce fruit.

In June white lace flowers appear on the branches.

Elderberry flower

In July the berries begin to form.

Elderberries developing

The berry clusters ripen at a staggered pace.  This bush has berries in     different shades of ripeness.

Elderberry Bush

When fully ripe the berries are a deep purple color—almost black.

Elderberries

When the berries are used for jelly or juice, all of the little stems must be removed first.

Harvested Elderberries
Harvested Elderberries

I pick the berries, remove the stems and freeze them until I have enough quantity to make a juice/syrup for the winter.   My recipe for canning       elderberry juice is here.

Linking with A Little R & RHealthy, Happy, Green & NaturalTuesdays with a TwistSue’s Wordless Wednesday, Nature Notes and Seasons

Berries, Cherries and a Beetle Infestation

It is a good year for berries and cherries. I have been harvesting cherries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries. My cherry tree and berry bushes have been delightfully full of fruit.

It is also a good year for the Japanese beetles. I have had some every year.

Japanese Beetle

 

It has been my practice to check the bushes and knock the beetles off into a container of soapy water. Typically the beetles have been on my raspberry bushes and rose bushes.

The leaves on the raspberry bush are a tell tale sign.

Beetles & Berry_3998

A couple weeks ago I looked out of my kitchen window and noticed that the leaves on the upper branches of my cherry tree were all eaten. Whoa! !

Beetle trap_5403

 

I tried my method of knocking beetles into soapy water. I stood on a chair and used a long stick. Some times the beetles fell in the water, sometimes they fell on my head or on my clothes. I enlisted the help of my son. We picked off hundreds of beetles.

My husband said we needed to find an additional method. So after doing an on-line search I bought a beetle trap that has floral scents and a pheromone lure. The reviews of such a trap were mixed.

I followed the directions and hung the trap on a pole away from the cherry tree, away from the raspberry bushes and rose bushes. To my amazement the trap began to attract beetles immediately.

Beetle trap_5409

In one afternoon the trap had a large heap of beetles.

Japanese Beetle Trap

So I wonder, is this a banner year for the beetles? Or can I expect this to happen again next year? I looked up the life cycle of Japanese beetles and discovered that the females burrow in the ground after dusk and lay eggs that hatch into pupa, become grubs and emerge as beetles the next season. We may need to treat the lawn. Grubs feed on the roots of grass, tomatoes and strawberries—and of course I have all of these in my yard!

The infestation is discouraging—but I have much to be thankful for. My freezer is filling up with berries. The elderberry bushes are full of blooms.

Elderberry Bush in bloom

 

I will have lots of elderberries in August (and the beetles aren’t touching those bushes). I will be canning elderberry juice for the winter months.

Linking with Tuesdays with a Twist,  Sue’s Wordless WednesdayNature Notes,  Seasons and the Art of Homemaking

A Bluebell Bellflower & the Rocks and Waves of Lake Superior

“Grandma, come see the blue flowers I found.”

I followed my granddaughter along a rocky path, as waves pounded the shore of Lake Superior. A light wind brushed against my face. The leaves on the birch trees rustled gently.

There they were, bluebells, growing in a crack between the rocks. God created the majesty of Lake Superior and the delicate beauty of the blue flowers—setting them side by side.

Bluebell Bellflower & Lake Superior
Bluebell Bellflower

I was so blessed to spend time at a favorite park with the grandchildren—exploring the rugged coast of this great lake. It was time to pause and take in God’s creative power.  It was a break from the news of sad and   violent events taking place in our country and throughout the world.

Esrey Roadside Park

The Psalms come to mind and the beautiful rhythm of faith displayed in the words of the Psalms. We read heart wrenching prayers and confessions. We are instructed to spend time in the Word. Still, the Psalmist takes time to pause and observe God’s power and sovereignty. He sees God’s majesty in nature giving him the glory.

Lake Superior

Psalm 93

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
The Lord is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.
Your throne was established long ago;
You are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, O Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
The seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the Lord on high is mighty.

Your statutes stand firm;
Holiness adorns your house
For endless days, O Lord.

Linking with Thankful ThursdayTuesdays with a Twist,  Seasons, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday,  Let Us Grow and Word of God Speak

Pretty Green Globes: Gooseberries for Jam and Pie

gooseberries

Berries have always been valued in my family as a special treat. When I was a kid it was mainly strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. There are so many more.  I am developing an appreciation for gooseberries,     elderberries and currants.

The latter three grow well in my backyard. Gooseberries, elderberries and currants don’t seem to mind our clay soil—although I have worked at enriching it with peat and in the fall add a layer of dried grass or shredded leaves. These berry bushes don’t need much care, just need to be picked.

Gooseberries

The gooseberries are ripening. My two-year-old grandson was fascinated with the little green globe. He held one in his hand turning it around and gazing at the stripes with wonder. So much to wonder at in nature. God has created so much for us to enjoy!

Have you ever tasted a gooseberry? My grandson took a tentative little bite. It is rather sour but good for jam and pie.

Two cookbooks are helpful in providing directions for gooseberry jam: Cooking with Wild Berries and Fruits by Teresa Marrone and Stocking Up from Rodale Press. According to Teresa Marrone’s book, green gooseberries (not quite ripe) contain enough pectin to make a simple jam without added pectin.

The first step is to cook the gooseberries with a little water (2 or 3 Tablespoons of water per cup of berries). Bring the berries to a boil and then simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Mash the berries with a potato masher.   Next add the sugar (or honey) gradually—approximately ½ cup to ¾ cup per cup of berries. I tend to taste the mixture several times as I continue to add the sweetener. A combination of sugar & honey works also. I like a tart jam. When the sugar is well mixed in, bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. When I am using honey as a sweetener I add additional pectin–homemade pectin–in the last minute of cooking. (BTW – If you add a pat of butter to the boiling fruit, it won’t spit at you.)

The final step is to ladle into sterile jars and process in a hot water bath. I process half-pint jars for 10 minutes. Gooseberry jam has an interesting color and rich flavor.

gooseberry jam

 

Gooseberries are good in pie also. I freeze some of the gooseberries for apple/gooseberry pies. Click here for a recipe.

Marrone, Teresa, Cooking with Wild Berries and Fruits, Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, Inc. 2009 p. 70

Stoner, Carol, editor, Stocking Up, Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.

Linking with Our Simple HomesteadFrom the FarmTuesdays with a TwistHappy, Healthy, Green & Natural,  Mom to Mom Mondays, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday,  the Art of Homemaking and  Seasons