Springtime, Tea Parties, and Rainbows

Spring has got to be one of the most loved seasons of the year! After months of frosty temperatures and barren landscape, the blossoming countryside is welcome indeed! Since living in Nebraska, Spring has become even more special to me because here the winters are longer than I was used to.

Only a little over a week ago we had a light snow! Which was rare this late in April, but still, snow! But recently we’ve been loving the beautiful days! The first rays of sunrise, with the wind still and birds chirping morning songs, often inspires me to get out for my daily walk. I love when it works out, but I don’t always get it accomplished first thing. What is priority to me while my children are yet sleeping is subject to change morning by morning!

With pleasant temperatures last week, I got to plant my petunias in the flower bed and fill my flower pots! The warm sunshine felt absolutely delicious! The children were outside with me for several hours. They both love being outside! Reece crawled all over and ate plenty of dirt that should help combat the corona virus! The porch looks much more homey now with my potted plants and fern. I really like the Kimberly Queen ferns. They can be found at Lowe’s or Orscheln’s. They grow more upright instead of just bushing out. They are great for a potted plant or hanging baskets. My sister lines her porch with these in hanging baskets every Summer, making a splendid picture! Another plant I’m a huge fan of is the Supertunias in the bubblegum pink color! These always do so well for me! I do not have a green thumb, but this kind of petunias makes me feel like I do! They are very minimal care.

Now Jerald. He is the true green thumb around here! He gets overly anxious and dreams of a great garden plot, with patches of pumpkins and watermelons! I get a lil worried because I know I’m the one who’ll need to put up the abundance of produce in a few months! He quickly assures me that we can always give things away. He just loves to grow things! This Spring he ordered a goodly assortment of raspberry bushes, asparagus and is planting an orchard of trees! I will happily take the fruit, yes, but the faith and patience until then? Well, I’ll just say I hope the trees don’t perish before we enjoy fruit. It’s not that I don’t trust him. It’s that I don’t trust trees. They take a long time to grow, not to speak of all the hardships they must endure meanwhile, and then if they actually produce delicious fruit! He also found some peony bushes for sale and wants to pick them up this week. Now I’m tickled about that! I love the scent and looks of peonies! I’m thrilled to finally be getting some that will hopefully, produce many gorgeous bouquets!

We also just got 70 baby chicks recently. Adorable little fluffy things. Although they don’t stay so adorable and soon start eating like crazy! Which is a good thing because we want them to join the freezer department come June. We may think life in quarantine is hard but imagine the quarantine of chicks and their expected end!! We have so much to be thankful for! 😅 We raise these for ourselves and several church families. We also have a few laying hens and enjoy having our own farm fresh eggs. It’s Josie’s job to gather the eggs as well as tend her little puppy Jackie.

Josie recently mentioned that we should have a tea party. “Someday, when you’re not so busy” she said. Ouch! How does she know mom is so busy? For some reason that old proverb ‘more is caught than taught’ came to mind. And so it was I decided we shall have one very soon. The event took place on Saturday. About the first thing she said when I told her what I was planning was, “but Reece can’t be out there.” Big sisters love their little brothers most of the time. On occasion they’re not wanted! 🤭 We had a lovely spread of meat, cheese and crackers. Blueberries, grapes, bars and lil peanut butter coconut balls. She picked lemonade to drink. We used dainty china and dined outside on the back deck. She was delighted and sweet memories were made. Simple pleasures!

Yesterday afternoon we had a light thunderstorm, then it kind of cleared off. It was mixed clouds and sun. Suddenly about 7:30 I realized it was raining again with the sun shining. “Where’s the rainbow?” I shouted. “There’s got to be one somewhere!” Jerald was doubtful but I was pretty sure there would be one. Sure enough there it was out over the fields in the east. I took off outside, barefoot, splashing through puddles and raindrops and started shooting pictures. I ran hither and yon, then dashed back inside. Only to discover it was more bright than ever! So I bounced back outside again, shooting more pictures. It was absolutely gorgeous with brilliant colors and even a complete double!! It was such a sweet reminder God’s promises are true and He is worthy of our trust!

I’d like to leave you with a delightful salad recipe to enjoy when you have fresh garden greens. Southwest Chicken Salad is a favorite and we actually eat it all year round. (Recipe used with permission from Stutzman’s Culinary Secrets.) This is how I fix the chicken.

Cajun Chicken Fingers

2 Tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in cubes

4 Tablespoons butter

Mix the seasonings and flour in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the chicken and fry in the butter till cooked. Serve warm.

Chop up lettuce/greens, tomatoes, (or use cherry tomatoes) bell peppers, and avocados, as much as your family eats. The other toppings are black beans and shredded cheese. You can also use kernel corn if you wish but we usually don’t. And then for a lovely crunch, spread butter on both sides of about 4 tortillas and cut in small cubes. Toast in oven at 350* for approx 15 minutes.

Dressing: Mix 1 cup Ranch and 5 teaspoons barbecue sauce

I always keep everything separate and we fix our own plates. I especially like each item served separately if I’m having company. It looks beautiful, and then too, it looks like your having a great spread of food, when in reality, your only serving salad!😉 But if you wish, everything can be mixed up right before eating. But then you have the guess work of exactly how much to mix up, so you don’t end up with soggy leftovers. You may notice the avocados are missing in the picture and reason is, I did not have avocados when I did the photo shoot. I did not even think of it till later. That’s how managed I am!😜

A peaceful Sunday afternoon here finishing up this blog. Jerald just returned from his mushroom hunt with a few successful finds! Yay! Fresh mushrooms fried in butter…. Another sign of Spring!

He Is Risen!!

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher. John 20:1

But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, “Woman, why weepest thou?” She saith unto them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him”. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, “Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?” She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus saith unto her, “Mary.” She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. John 20:11-16

What does the resurrection mean to us? There are some verses in Romans that are a beautiful analogy to our own new life in Christ. When we are sick of living for self, we must receive Christ into our heart and He will give us power to live a new life in Him! Jesus gave His life to make it possible for us to live in victory over sin (and to enjoy eternal life after death) and so we must crucify our old self to live in that victory. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Romans 6:6-7

A right relationship with Jesus and being submissive to Him in our life is only possible because of His resurrection. Because of that, we can also walk in newness of life! Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; Romans 6:4-5

Since Christ suffered for our sins and rose again by the power of God we also can have power to live new and holy lives in Him! What will we do with the crucified and risen Lord? Will we choose to crucify ourselves and utilize Christ’s power to live in newness of life, bringing glory to Him? Or will we choose to continue our selfish life? We make a choice. Even if we think we will remain neutral we are still making a choice. Christ has the power we need to live a new life in Him!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Cleaning Conundrum

Is there anyone who is NOT quarantined presently? What are you finding to occupy your time? Have you started Spring cleaning? I want to clean windows and wash curtains but have not done much yet.

Today I want to share my cleaning schedule as well as what I use to clean with instead of chemical cleaners. (And a few other tidbits thrown in!) I switched to natural products years ago and its really not difficult at all because you likely have some of these in your house already!

But first of all, let me share with you my cleaning conundrum. I have a love/hate relationship with cleaning! I despise a crummy, cluttered house and simply could not function peacefully in a hullabaloo! However, I do not like to clean! But, I abhor a dirty house worse than cleaning, so I dutifully clean! (I’m also just a bit too particular in the cleaning department, due to my germaphobia). Thus it is I find myself in such a woeful predicament every Friday! I clean Fridays to get it over with before Saturday. Occasionally I’ll even clean on Thursday if Friday is too full, just to stay ahead of the dread of cleaning. 😩 But once I’ve gotten things cleaned around here, the heavy feeling of gloom just vanishes like the thunderheads after a Summer storm! It’s so liberating to be able to see my cleaning in the rear view mirror!!

So as you can tell, it takes discipline, and I find it helpful to maintain a basic weekly cleaning schedule as much as possible. If I stay after the general cleanup through out the week its not a Mount Everest to clean. I can whip through my weekly cleaning in two hours or less. I think. I’m not in the habit of timing myself and neither do I always get it done in one grand, uninterrupted stretch…..#momlife! And I don’t always clean everything throughly. If I’m extra pushed for time or something, I’ll skip dusting or skip cleaning the tubs that week etc. And some weeks you may feel you just absolutely don’t have time! But at least, give the bathrooms a quick wipe down with a Lysol wipe, gather trash and sweep floors. That alone helps a lot when you don’t have extra time. But another thing I do like about cleaning weekly is, that when I get company, I don’t need to spend lots of extra time cleaning! There’s more time for food prep or other necessities. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean having a smudgy bathroom and cruddy floors for company. But a quick lil cleanup isn’t as extensive as a thorough scrubbing. And mopping before company? That’s fine, but for me I like to mop after company. (I know, I’m just kinda weird!😜) But when you mop on a regular basis, it’s not that bad and after a big batch of company my floor will need it worse than before. Am I making sense? Now if you come to my house you’re really going to check out my kitchen floor, huh?! And too, I know as moms we do need to simply “put up” with a bit more messiness and dirt. With my cleaning notes here, I’m not meaning a spotless house at all times! I need to remind myself of that frequently! (If I forget, my hubby does pretty good at reminding me that a spotless house is not the most important thing!)

Ok, finally, here’s my chemical free cleaning crew! For the toilets I sprinkle liberally with borax and a splash of white vinegar. Let soak a bit and scrub. For wiping it down, I have a large spray bottle filled with about half vinegar and half water and 20-30 drops essential oils. Most essential oils are naturally antibacterial and work as a disinfectant. White vinegar is also a natural disinfectant as well as hydrogen peroxide. This is my go to for disinfecting around home. It works well for germy areas such as doorknobs, countertops, sinks and toilets. Now if you’re worried about really yucky germs such as the virus floating around the world, then I would say use your Lysol wipes. Those are definitely stronger but then have the chemicals too….Honest confession here. I do keep those on hand but use sparingly.

For mopping my kitchen floor, I add approximately a cup of vinegar, several drops orange essential oil and just a tad of dish soap to my bucket of water. I use my wall mop (shmop) to mop with. Its microfiber, plus I like that I can throw the head in the washer with a load of laundry! It feels heaps cleaner to me than to use a mop that you use over and over but just hang up to dry between uses! I also like how the floor is not sopping wet this way, but dries quickly.

And by the way, I use Seventh Generation dish soap. Super good soap with 0% synthetic fragrances or dyes and is available at Walmart. Have you ever considered just why dish soap is colored or scented? Does it help clean dishes?! Not to my knowledge. But let me know if it does. I haven’t used those dish soaps for so long that maybe I forgot! 😛 Also, this dish soap does not dry out my hands near like the usuals such as Palmolive, Ajax, etc. And since we’re on the dish soap subject, do you have trouble with smelly dish rags? I don’t have much trouble with that but when I do, I rinse it with cold water, sprinkle liberally with baking soda and vinegar. Let it set and fizz awhile, then rinse with cold water again. I don’t use bleach so this is my method. Also, I’ve heard Dawn dish soap can be a culprit in making smelly rags. And rinsing your rag with cold water instead of hot, when you’re ready to hang up your rag, could help with smell too. And get out a clean rag everyday!! How can it clean anymore if it’s been all over the kitchen visiting every filthy mess around, then left lay in greasy, grimy dish water?! But truly, I think the bottom line of any smelly rags, even bathroom rags, is due to the laundry soaps used. But oh dear, I’m getting off the cleaning subject and visiting the laundry room! Excuse me! I’ll get back on track in just a jiff, but first I want to hint that you really should use a clean line of laundry soap too! Many out there are full of fillers, 1,4 Dioxane (a carcinogen), chemicals, and synthetic fragrances. The soap I use I buy at a store in Indiana but they do not ship, so I’m sorry that is really not helpful to most of you. But it is an amazing laundry soap! It’s in powder form and very safe. No suds or smell and you won’t have stinky rags when you use this soap! This soap can be bought at Wittmers Furniture and Gifts in Odon Indiana and I always stock up when we are back there visiting family. However, I’m in the process of trying out some other safe laundry soaps that are easier to source. And I hope sometime to share my findings with you.

Here is a natural bleach recipe you may wish to try. I used to use it but now I just add vinegar to my laundry for extra cleaning power or it can be used as a replacement for fabric softener. 2 cups hydrogen peroxide, 1 cup lemon juice, 2 cups white vinegar, and 11 cups water. Mix and fill 1 gallon. If you wish to disinfect a load of heavily soiled laundry, add 1 teaspoon tea tree oil to the load. I used to make my own dryer sheets too, using the following recipe. 1 cup vinegar, and 8-10 drops ecyluptus oil. Soak little cotton cloths in this and wring out a bit before throwing in the dryer. I actually don’t use these anymore but have switched to the Bounce dryer sheets that are free of dyes and perfumes. Or you can use wool dryer balls too.

For my sinks and tubs I have another spray bottle filled with liquid Castile soap, diluted with water. That and a scrub brush sends filth flying! For added cleaning power you can sprinkle on baking soda or borax then scrub. After I’ve gotten the worst of it, I like to go over the sinks with a Norwex rag to shine it up. I know you can clean using only those rags but I prefer some scrubbing power first. Now I know Norwex rags are expensive and you don’t have to use them! Spraying with the vinegar solution then wiping down does a good job too! Or, you can even use plain vinegar to shine up faucets, mirrors and windows. I don’t have one, but I know the Norwex window rag works really good for glass and mirrors. I just use my vinegar solution and paper towels. For dusting I like a dampened Norwex rag or even another microfiber cloth works good. You don’t have to spray that lemony Pledge to dust!

I love it that there is no strong smell with using these kinds of cleaners! Recently I bought some Lysol toilet cleaner because I thought the toilets needed some extra cleaning power. I used it twice but could not handle the smell! I’m not sure it even helped that much more… maybe a little, but that cleaner went out the door pretty quick! Another thing I love about these cleaners is the simplicity! This basket of cleaners fits neatly underneath the main bathroom sink and is the extent of my basic cleaners. No myriad of cleaners and bottles under every available space below each bathroom sink! (Which is rather like I grew up on!)

If you want to make a cleaner for scrubbing sinks and tubs and such, stir together 1 cup each of baking soda and borax. Then add 1 Tablespoon Castile soap and enough water to make a paste like consistency. You can also add essential oils if you wish. After scrubbing, rinse it down really well or it will leave behind a bit of grainy residue.

Here’s a picture of my liquid Castile soap. You can find it at Amazon or health food stores. I also use this (diluted) in pumps for sink side hand washing. Its extremely versatile! But yet so safe, that you can even use it for your own shower use! Or to bath your babies!

If you are Spring cleaning and wondering what to put in your water to wash the walls, try adding a bit of Castile soap. It don’t suds up a lot in a bucket of water, but still works fine. You can also add a few drops essential oil. Adding lavender oil is supposed to repel spiders.

Here are a couple cleaning quotes you might enjoy!

* Clean your house AND clear your mind!

*Dust is a protective coating for fine furniture.

*I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on the sofa than sweep beneath it.

*We dream of having a clean house- but who dreams of actually doing the cleaning?