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

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

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

One Word for the New Year

The practice of choosing one word  for  the  New Year  has been an    inspiration for me. Last year my word was gracious, and having this word in mind I was more conscious of my conversation and actions. I paused a little more, seeking kind words. I have been thinking and praying about one word for 2016.

Relationships are on my mind.  I would like to see greater depth in   relationships and openness to new relationships.  Could I grow and  assist others to grow? In the book of Ephesians Paul writes about good work.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.            Ephesians 2:10

The key words in this verse are in Christ Jesus. The good work is possible through Jesus. And so my life needs to be centered on Jesus, drawing strength from a vital relationship with Jesus. Jesus tells us:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit. John 15: 1-2

Images from my garden come to mind. The fruit produced by the raspberry bushes in my yard is a delight.

Red Raspberries 2

In my relationships I desire positive growth, willing to be pruned. This means more time in prayer.

With these thoughts in mind, I have chosen the word fruitful. Have you chosen a word for 2016?

Linking with Sharing His Beauty,  Weekend Whispers,  Essential FridaysSitting Among FriendsGrowing in GraceA Little R & RWholeHearted Wednesday,  Hope in Every SeasonTitus 2sday,  Monday Musings and Word of God Speak

Preserving Herbs: Thyme Vinegar

The mild fall weather is so welcome! Yard work is pleasant and I have found some fall raspberries to savor while I work.

Preserving Herbs

Wilting vines
And a layer of leaves
Yard clean-up
Sweetened by fall raspberries

My calendula is still blooming and my rosemary and thyme are still growing.

Thyme Vinegar
Lemon Thyme

I plan to bring the rosemary and thyme inside for the winter. Last year they survived in a south bay window. But I have been also         preserving the thyme in vinegar.

The thyme vinegar is good for salad dressings. I also add one or two  tablespoons to vegetables and bones for broth that I prepare in my crockpot. The vinegar helps to leach out minerals from bones with the    additional benefit of thyme.

I found this recipe for thyme vinegar in Early American Herb Recipes*.

A very delicious flavour of thyme may be obtained, by gathering it while in full perfection; it must be picked from the stalks, a large handful of it put into a jar, and a quart of vinegar or brandy poured on it; cover it very close—next day, take all the thyme out, put in as much more; do this a third time; then strain it, bottle it and seal it securely. This is greatly preferable to the dried thyme commonly used, during the season when it cannot be obtained in a fresh state.*

I followed the recipe. I put 3 Tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves in a pint of white wine vinegar. The next day I strained it and added fresh thyme. The following day I repeated the straining and added more fresh thyme. While I was adding thyme leaves and straining the vinegar I used canning jars. Then I strained it a final time, returned it to the original bottle and capped it.

thyme vinegar

*Alice Cooke Brown, Early American Herb Recipes, Japan: The Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc., 1966. p. 114.

Linking with Healthy, Happy Green and Natural,  the Art of HomemakingFriendship Friday, the Homestead Blog Hop,  Healthy Living Link Party,  Wake-up WednesdayTuesdays with a Twist

Elderberries in the Garden

I look upon the pleasure which we take in a garden, as one of the most innocent delights in human life. Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

Elderberry flower buds

This year the branches on my elderberry bushes are laden with abundant berries. The dainty flowers came first, adding a lovely lace among the green.

Elderberry flower 5

 

Flowers of the common elderberry can be steeped to make a tea, which is often recommended to relieve headaches. The flower cluster can also be battered and fried to make interesting fritters. *

Ripening Elderberries

I have three elderberry bushes at different stages of ripeness. It is true that having different varieties of elderberry—like Johns, Adams & York—encourages a good harvest for each bush. I will be picking berries all the way through August. When I pick the berries I cut the cluster of berries and remove the berries from the little stems. The stems and unripe berries can cause a digestive upset. I am freezing my ripe berries until I have enough to make a batch of elderberry syrup.

Harvested Elderberries

Elderberries have many benefits. In Israel, Hadassah’s Oncology Lab has determined that elderberry stimulates the body’s immune system and they are treating cancer and AIDS patients with it. The wide range of medical benefits (from flu and colds to debilitating asthma, diabetes, and weight loss) is probably due to the enhancement of each individual’s immune system.   For more information click here.

Click here for a recipe for elderberry syrup.

Linking with From the Farm, the Homemaking PartyWildcrafting Wednesday and A Little R & R