Garden notes and drying tomatoes

I knew when we planted our garden this spring that I didn't want to do a lot of canning.  It's just a lot of work, and I was tired and wanted rest

Ahem.  I did NO canning.  Oh, wait.  That's not true.  I think I did up two batches of freezer jam: one strawberry and one peach.  But still.  That's not a lot.  I imagine I'll regret that come fall and winter.  But when it's 80-something degrees in the kitchen, I just cannot get motivated to can.  No way.

I froze a lot of berries- strawberries and raspberries from our yard.  We made several batches of fruit leather.  We ate beans fresh and roasted them up for a few dinners.  We made a lot of tomato-and-cucumber-and-garlic-and-basil-and-feta salads.  YUM.  


I still have tomatoes and basil coming out my ears.  So this morning I was up early in the garden and picked a huge bowl of Sun Gold tomatoes (my favorite), and decided to try drying them.  I just sliced them in half (quartering the larger ones), and then in a food processor, blended about 10 leaves of basil and a couple of garlic cloves and olive oil, and drizzled it all over the top of them.  Sprinkled salt and pepper over the top and we'll see how it goes.  But I cannot WAIT to try them.  They look and smell delicious.  :) 

I'm contemplating doing this with my rhubarb.  Has anyone ever tried this?  And I'm definitely making some more rhubarb syrup just as soon as I can get ahold of some cheesecloth. 

On Duct Tape and Really Awful Mornings

The digital clock in the van read 10:00 and even though there were six of us in there, it was silent.  When I looked for my kids' eyes in the rear view mirror I could see their hurt even through my own tears.

It was one of those hard mornings.  A lot of grumbling and bickering.  An impatient, irritable, hurried mama.  We were supposed to leave the house at 9:30, but between the bickering and the shower nozzle that broke and the duct tape we couldn't find because the last child who used it just a couple of days ago had forgotten to return it and it was now nowhere.  And the child who used said tape and has been dispatched to look for it is now sullen and crabby at me, of course, because ...why?  Apparently it's unfair that he should find the tape he last had.  But no tape is found, so I shower while holding the nozzle above my head which isn't super handy and every time the nozzle slips from my hands water sprays out of the shower and onto the floor and I am crabby.  And we're already late.  The duct tape search is called off but where are my brown sandals?  The strappy ones that aren't in my closet or beneath the bed or by the shoes near the door or in the living room closet or on the back porch.  So I decide on the black shoes but now I can't find my black t-shirt OR my black tank.  And while I'm on my hands and knees looking beneath the bed, again, for my brown sandals, my boy comes in to offer help and I am near tears and then I scrape my arm on the bed frame and snap at him and now my arm is wounded and my son is, too.  That's when I hear more bickering coming from the living room.  So I get up and position myself in the hallway so that I can see and holler at the child causing trouble.  And I tell her to go sit on the porch until we're ready to go.  While I'm in the hallway directing her I see my other little one, sitting on her bed with her hand pressed over her mouth.  Because minutes before she'd been whining for the umpteenth time and I'd told her to put her hand over her mouth.   She had done so and then run to her room in tears, and I had forgotten about her in my shoe/shirt/tank search.  I tell her she can remove her hand and on my way to try to soothe her, the child who is supposed to be on the front porch is making her way back in so I open my mouth again and harsh words tumble out.  And the son I've just wounded is there, standing, and I need to make things right with him, too.  And on our morning goes.

So by the time we're all settled in the van... oh, except that no one is really feeling settled at all because how settled can any child feel when their mommy is on the verge of a full-on sob session?  In my mind I'm blaming PMS and I'm blaming them, the bickering kids and the one who never puts things away where they belong and the one who won't obey and I am feeling sorry for myself, of course.  And the time glares at me, reminding me of our tardiness.  We're leaving the house a half-hour late, and our destination is still 30 minutes away.  It's just some girlfriends and their kids-- but still.  I try to text my friends to let them know how late we'll be and lo and behold, my phone will not text.  Lovely.  So I begin to drive.  All is quiet in the van.  So I fill the van with my words-- words of accusation.  Could you just say sorry, maybe, for losing the tape? And while you're at it, why don't you tell me why you're angry at ME?  How does that make any sense at all?  And you, the whiny one: can you imagine if we all opened our mouths and screeched like that every time something didn't go our way?  And on I went because--ughh- all the ugliness surfaced right there in the van.  And then the child who lost the tape tried to apologize and somehow ended up making it all so much worse because you know, he isn't sorry, really, he's just saying that because I told him he should say it and so I cut his apology off.  And those kids I glance at in the rear-view mirror?  Still silent and now shrinking.  I finally stopped talking, kept right on with the crying, and added prayer. 

Suddenly I knew we had no business going.  I knew we would not settle all of this on the drive there, and I knew it wasn't fair to ask them to go from this awful morning to smiling and playing with their friends.  I also knew it wasn't wise for me to go in my emotional state and sit with a group of  friends and likely sin MORE with my tongue about my kids.  So I announced that we weren't going and reversed direction.  I kept praying.  I kept crying.  (I was still feeling quite sorry for myself and I was also feeling sorry for my words; for the accusations that are so quick to fly out of my mouth and for the ways I had wounded every single one of them and how I knew I needed to mend things with each of them but where to even begin?  And also, I didn't feel especially like saying sorry and I was definitely still crabby at some of them.  So I kept quiet and kept praying. 

I knew we needed to be together.  But I didn't want to get home and have everyone scatter and hide.  I knew I needed to make a public confession, because I had sinned against them in front of each other.  So as we parked the van back in front of our house fifteen minutes later, I asked them to stay in their seats, and then I turned around and met their eyes.  And irregardless of how I felt-- I did the right thing.  I apologized.  I looked each of them in the eye and said that I was sorry and I detailed what I was sorry for.  I made sure things were right with each of them. 

Then I offered to take them to the library.  They love the library, and I thought it might soften the blow of not getting to go play with friends.  I also thought it would be a good place where I could settle my own emotions.  The thought of sitting cross-legged in the children's section and pulling books from the shelves onto my lap with my kids scattered around me doing the same peaceful thing?  Yes.  We all needed the distraction of something else.  Something quieting.  And then after a bit of that, we could go home and then we would be ready to pile onto the couch, all of us, with a stack of books, and I could read aloud.  And that would be the coming together that we all so desperately needed.  So we did.  They each chose a book from the stack, grabbed a homemade chocolate chip cookie, and tucked themselves around me on the couch.  And we read stories. 

I'd like to say all is well, and it is, ultimately.  The ugly of my sinfulness stands in such stark contrast to the holiness of the One who paid it all.  Where I excel in harsh words, He is kind.  Where I am quick to accuse, He is merciful.  Where I am full of anger, He is compassionate and slow to anger.  Where I am impatient, He is long-suffering. Where I am full of self, He is full of love for others.  Where I care for control and everything to go my way, He is far more concerned about my heart and His glory.

I am reminded of how desperately I need a Savior and I am all over again grateful for His mercy. 

I am heartened by the truth that He is not done with me, and that He is gentle in His love and instruction.  He is patient with me and will continue to grow me in love for these He has entrusted to me.  He is present with all of us in the mess of our morning and He will tenderly mend hearts where mending is needed.  (Chocolate chip cookies and new library books went a long way in that mending process, but I trust He will provide more opportunities this day and this evening for me to choose love and be a gracious mama.) 

Blessings to you and yours,

Book Review: The Waiting


I just finished reading The Waiting (Cathy LaGrow, Cindy Coloma).  This is a beautifully rendered story that is a true one, and aren't those always the best types of stories?

In this book we meet Minka, a hard-working young Dutch girl belonging to a family who owns a dairy farm.  On a rare day off at the lake with friends from church, Minka is raped.  She becomes pregnant, and Minka makes the heart-breaking decision to give her baby up for adoption.  The rest of the book details the remarkable story of her life and the way God worked beauty and redemption through that difficult decision.

I loved this book, and highly recommend it.

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