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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

How To Make Wild Violet Syrup

Our violets have bloomed in all of their purple-blue glory! I love watching them wash over the orchard, it's so beautiful. We've spent hours picking them lately for syrups, bread and to be dried into tea. We wanted to share one of our favorite violet recipes in case you have a bunch that you don't know what to do with. 

Make sure you know what wild violets look like and don't confuse them with African violets, the ones that are safe to eat have heart-shaped jagged leaves and purple flowers although they can come in many shades and even white. They grow in zones 3-9 in shady places. Wild Violets are full of vitamin A & C (they contain more vitamin C by weight than oranges) and other vitamins and minerals. 

Violets can be made into jelly, syrup, tea, violet vinegar, candied flowers, you can even freeze them in ice cubes to jazz up your drink.

What you will need:

Quart canning jar
Measuring cup
Fine strainer
Small Pan
Lemon Juice
Wild Violets


1 cup of wild violets
2 cups of boiling water
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Step 1: 

Pick the violets, remove stems, leaves and as much of the greens as you can. Wash them gently and let them dry.

Step 2:

Fill canning jar with 1 cup of flowers, meanwhile, boil water. Pour water over flowers, you will begin to see the color bleed into the water.

Step 3:

Cover the jars and allow to steep for 24 hours.

Step 4:

Strain the contents through a fine strainer, into a bowl or large measuring cup. You can discard flowers, you can throw them away or simply compost them like we do. 

Step 5: 

Add lemon juice to the strained liquid, a drop or to at a time.

Step 6:

Place liquid in a pan and add sugar, bring to a boil, whisk until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and pour into a clean sterilized jar with a lid. Store in refrigerator.

Watch the video we made of the whole process

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Monday, April 29, 2019

Parasitic Relationships

As we roll into Joshua 9 we find the Israelites in an encounter with travelers supposedly from a distant land begging for friendship. As we continue to read we discover the truth is these travelers are really from a neighboring city, but they've put together this grand ruse of packing dry moldy bread and putting on worn out clothes so it looks like they've been traveling a long way when in reality they are the neighbors. Scripture tells us that the Israelites sampled their supplies but didn't seek the Lord's will, and instead of seeing these travelers for what they are, they are taken in. They had all the right answers, they knew the right phrases to earn their trust and so the Israelites swear a treaty with them despite the fact the Lord told them to drive all the people in the land of Canaan out.

As we look back on chapter 8 the Israelites have just won a major victory, the chapter ended with Joshua holding his javelin out, and the victory is the Lord's, He gives them the city and they follow all of His directions. Joshua's erecting an altar to the Lord and reads the laws of Moses to all the people and yet as we make our way through this chapter I'm struck by verse 14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. What happened between the chapters? Joshua was so in tune, so tight with God so why did he not stop and seek God in this decision also? Isn't it interesting, that at our high point, when everything has been going great, in the wake of a victory that our focus can shift? It's while we are riding out the high of the victory that we can stumble. And then the Israelites discover who these travelers really are... How often the people in our life, the people we thought we knew reveal their true colors and leave us reeling in confusion and disappointment.

The Gibeonites had heard about Joshua's victories, Like Rahab they'd heard that the Lord had promised them this land, they'd seen city after city fall, instead of going to war with their neighbor's against Joshua they want to join him, but secretly unlike Rahab. They didn't want to serve God, they didn't want to be a part of what He was doing because they loved Him they just wanted what they could get out of it. They decided they wanted in on the action, they wanted to be part of that crowd and the protection it promised, they wanted to live off of the coattails of what God was doing. Everyone has heard of the Israelites and their God, maybe they wanted a little of that fame. Instead of coming honestly, they set out to trick and manipulate the Israelites and their God, but instead of coming to God the Israelite's simply blundered in blindly making decisions. God saw through the deception, He could have told them if they'd only asked.

How many of us have has some friendships like this? You thought they were real, but it turned out it was all an act. You thought they wanted to be your friend, to be apart of what God was doing but it turned out they wanted what they could get out of the relationship and so they became like a parasite feeding off of you, sapping the time and energy and resources out of you. Jealous of your attention, and demanding of you until you were so busy trying to satisfy their ravishing appetite that your ministry, your calling, your relationship with God begins to suffer for it and it became a burden you just couldn't get out from under.

I can't help but think of Rahab's heartfelt plea in chapter 2 verse 12-13 “swear to me by the Lord that you will spare the lives of my family and those who belong to me because I have shown kindness to you," such a different approach. Relationships built on lies and manipulations will never be successful, they will only lead to exhaustion and disappointment.

We have to be careful who we let into our inner circle, who we allow in the position to hold our arms up, who we let into our war room to see our plans and our dreams and speak into our lives. We have to guard what God is doing so people can't come in and drown the fire because they feel threatened by what He is doing. We have to guard our friendships so that the people who just want the fame of what God is doing, they want to be known for hanging out where God is moving but they don't want to actually be involved don't sap away our strength and become a dead weight that we are dragging around.

We find in Joshua the perfect example of a parasitic relationship, as the Gibeonites are faced with battle they immediately call for Joshua to come and save them. Gibeon is an important city in the area and all of its men were good fighters but they still make him bring his army and fight their battle. In fact, they sound like whining children manipulating to get their way in verse 6 begging for Joshua's time, energy and resources.

We need friends who will tell us the truth in love, that will hold our arms up when they won't get anything out of it, who will see what God is doing and encourage our hearts, who will be an ally when the battle does come and will fight it with us and storm heaven's gates on our behalf. We need the kind of friends that are the same in the dark as they are when the spotlight is on. We need to seek the Lord in every friendship, every relationship. We need relationships that are a tandem pull toward the Lord, not us dragging them with us.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Spring Farmhouse Living Room

Spring has been around for a while and we are edging toward summer feels with each passing day, so we wanted to put together a new look in our living room. Something with a nod toward summer while still keeping all the spring touches in place. For this look, we went with a really simple fireplace look and lots of flowers around the room. 

For the mantel, we kept it really simple with a framed picture in the center, an antique cocoa urn filled with cotton and a cute chicken figurine. On the other side, we repurposed some garden decor and a crystal cross. We place the smaller garden decor piece on a white crock and wrapped a bit of greenery around it. Along the front of the mantel, we hung a simple egg garland [Find the tutorial here] and an adorable welcome to our nest sign in the center of the mantel.

We dress set our smaller galvanized chicken feeder with small nests, little plants, and a rooster figurine. We wanted to keep the decor really low so that it doesn't block people sitting on the couches view. I love how it pulls some of the colors of the table up into the decor on top.

On the side table, we placed our purple garden globe and a vase of fresh lilacs and an antique candy bowl to brighten up the table. 

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

DIY Tomato Arbor

Every year we struggle to keep our tomato plants under control, at the beginning of the year our tomato cages work great but as the plants grow and begin bearing fruit they quickly begin leaning. We've tried staking each cage, but the plant ends up outgrowing the cages and laying all over the ground anyway which blocks our walkways and makes it really hard to harvest the tomatoes as they ripen. 

Last year we decided to move our raised beds down to the sight of our original garden, the trees had grown up and it wasn't getting enough sunlight. While we had everything taken apart we thought we try to solve our tomato cage problem, we had lots of wood left over from an old aviary chicken coop we'd torn down years ago. It's been sitting behind our wood pile waiting to be repurposed for another project. 

One of the main issues with our old tomato cages is that they weren't tall enough to hold the plant upright, another was that it wasn't strong enough to hold the plant and stay in the ground. To remedy this we took 2x4s cut them to 4 feet tall and attached them with screws to either end of our raised beds, between each of 2x4 we wrapped 17 gauge galvanized steel fence wire in three sections. You'll want to make sure that the wire is nice and tight and secured well to the wood. We wrapped ours several times around the board before continuing to the next 2x4. 

We talked about notching the wood or using heavy duty staples to help keep the wire from sliding, but just wrapping it kept it from slipping down. 

We planted 3-4 tomato plants beneath the wire and used small sticks and garden ties or pieces of velcro to support the stock until they were tall enough to reach the wire. We also removed the limbs close to the ground to encourage the plants to grow taller (it also helps to keep the plant more orderly  Once they were tall enough to touch the wire we removed the sticks for the most part and secured the plant to the wires.

This year we are going to add support to prevent the 2x4s from pulling in, other than that we love this system! It held our tomatoes up off the ground and was strong enough to handle the heavy plants. We probably could have cut the 2x4s longer, but we weren't expecting our tomato plants to get 6 feet tall (a couple even went over our arbors). All together we are really happy with these tomato arbors and plan to continue using them in our garden.

DIY Tomato Arbors:

What you need:

2x4s (1 4 foot section for either side of the box- we use untreated wood but you can use whatever you want.)
17 gauge fence wire
Drill with the proper attachment.
Tape measure


Cut the 2x4s to the desired height, attach securely to your raised bed using screws (we chose to attach it in the center of most of our beds so we still have room to plant other things in them), wrap wire around the 2x4s tightly, you do not want it to sag as the plants get heavier. Make sure that the wire is snuggly wrapped around the 2x4, if you are going to use heavy duty staples or notch the wood this is the time to do it.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Spinach Enchiladas

This is a really different spin on a classic dish we love. We came up with these on New Year's Eve as we were eating spinach dip waiting for midnight, turns out they are as tasty as we thought they would be!


10 Ounces frozen spinach thawed
8 Ounces cream cheese
1 Cup shredded white cheddar
1 Cup Jack cheese
1 Cup Mozzarella
2 Teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Salsa
Cheddar cheese (topping)


Preheat oven to 350F. Mix spinach, cream cheese, white cheddar, Jack and Mozzarella cheese, garlic, salt, sour cream and salsa in a bowl and set aside. Lightly fry tortillas in oil, remove from pan, spoon spinach mixture down one side, add some shredded cheddar cheese to the top and roll tortilla. Place in a casserole dish, continue until the dish is full. Cover with more cheese and bake until cheese is melted.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

It Doesn't Have To Make Sense

Have you ever noticed that when God tells us to do something or calls us to a place it doesn't always make sense? The bible is filled with these moments, from God telling Moses to strike a rock for water to holding his staff over his head so the Israelites can claim the victory, or even when Jesus tells Peter to throw his nets into the water in the heat of the day. Often times the things we are called to, the places He leads us to look ridiculous to others and even ourselves.

As we slide into Joshua 6 we find yet another instance of this as the Lord tells Joshua to lead his soldiers around the walls of Jericho - not once, not twice but every day for 7 days. Not only that, but the priests carrying horns and the ark of the covenant are to go as well. As they are making this hike around the city, the priests are to blow their horns while the people remain silent.

Day 1, they set out and make their way around the walls of the city, we can only imagine the reaction of those inside the city- they were already frightened of the Israelite's, they'd heard the stories of the Lord's provision. The story of the Red Sea and countless other times have been passed around for the last 40 years. They are frightened, they've shut up the city behind them, and they can see the procession get closer and closer, with just the sound of the ram's horns and the stamp of feet, power doesn't have to shout. They can see the dust curl into the sky from all of the feet, this is it, the moment they've all been fearing- but the Israelite's don't attack they keep walking. The people inside the city watch, waiting, ear straining for the sound of battle. But nothing happens after they circle the city they return to the camp. Day 2, same thing. I wonder how many days it took for the intimidation to start wearing off, "ahh guys, don't know if you missed it but the gate is back that way. You've only walked by it twice now..." Day 3... the Israelite's are back at it, I wonder how many times around these city walls before the whispering started. We've done this already and nothing happened. We look ridiculous. It's hot, we're tired, so when is God going to come through on His side of this. How long before the age-old question rose to the surface once again, sure He came through back there with Moses, He came through for our parents or grandparents but what about this time? Will He do it for us?

Day 4 same thing. Day 5, by now it's beginning to feel like a broken record. The people of Jericho have got to be confused because to them this looks ridiculous. This is the army they have feared, so much that they have retreated into the city and shut the gates behind them, but all they've done is walk, and blow their horns. Day 6 looks a whole light like the last 5, but what they don't know is God's getting ready to move, each step around that city takes them closer, each blast of the horns ushers it a little closer, I wonder did they know in those inky hours of darkness before dawn on day 7? Did they sense the difference? As the darkness on the horizon shifted, and the Israelite's once again prepared to repeat what they have done all week. Could you feel the anticipation in the camp, that God was going to come through just like He's promised so many times? Or feel the nervousness,  that comes when we know He is going to come through, we just don't know how. Did the townspeople go about their business as normal as Rahab gathered her family into the very thing that is about to fall? I wonder did she explain the promise that she was clinging to?

God doesn't ask us to understand, He just asks us to show up, and then keep showing up- when you've been doing the same thing over and over again and nothing changes, when you've been praying the same prayer day after day but you can't see a difference, when you've walked around your personal Jericho again and again but the walls are still standing and you can't see any result, keep showing up. Keep praying that prayer, keep doing the last thing He told you to do until He is ready to move.

Jericho never falls on the first round, only in the repetitive act of faith that brings us back each day. It's in the obedience, that the Israelite's returned each time that the walls fell. It's easy to do something once and then give up when the walls don't immediately fall, when our request isn't instantly met, but the lesson of this place is in the waiting. The lesson is in the following even when it doesn't make sense and continuing when we've already done this.

God likes to use what the world deems as ridiculous, He likes taking what we would say is out of place -like Rahab and using it for His glory. So often we want to throw our hands in the air and walk away after the first round, but there are some Jericho's, some strongholds in our lives that can only be won when we buckle down and keep walking. It is here that our faith grows - I don't see the way, but I'm still here. It doesn't make sense, it's not physically possible, but this is where He has called me and this is where I will stay. I may look weird, people may not get it- but my God has promised me this place and I am going to keep walking around this city until the walls fall.

Day 7 dawns and the Israelite's head out but this time when the priests blow their horns the people shout and God moves just like He promised, and the walls crumble. The battles we fight aren't always quick, sometimes they take the day in day out kind of fighting that requires the faith to move past the disappointment of not seeing a change, we get so caught up needing to understand, needing it to make sense when we just need to keep going, to keep obeying and keep walking around our Jerichos until they to fall.