Friday, June 29, 2012

Ahhhh Sweet Rain!

It FINALLY rained today!  It's been weeks!  We were getting so close to drought conditions here in Illinois.  I've been watering like crazy, but haven't been able to keep up with my apple trees as much as I would like.   I woke up to dark skies and the sound of thunder rolling in.  We ran outside and watched and waited.  Praying, hoping, it wouldn't pass over, yet again.  We could hear the thunder and see the lightening in the distance.  And finally, sweet rain!  We all sat in the porch and just watched as the rain swept through.

I've never been more thankful for rain.  It was a beautiful sight! Such a relief, and that's just for me, a lady with a garden and some trees.  I can't imagine how the farmers must feel.  Between yesterday's hot temperature and todays rain the garden is really growing and so are the weeds.

Here are a few pictures I took after the heat and rain.  I love July, because that is when you really start to see some serious progress in the garden!

I see raspberries!

Everything looks so bright and green now.  Thank you God for the rain!!

♥  Shannon

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

From the Heart ♥

Today I'm going to do a more personal entry, because it's what's been on my heart lately.  We traveled to Wisconsin this last weekend for a family reunion, but before we went to the reunion, my husband had meetings up North.  So we made a fun family trip of it.  We traveled up North with him, stayed in a Bed and Breakfast with the kids, and when his meetings were over, we traveled a few hours down to the reunion.  It was a very relaxing, much needed small vacation!

A beautiful trail, the kids and I hiked, while up North in Wisconsin

I've mentioned before how my husband's job has caused us to move quite a few times in the last few years.  We moved from Iowa to Wisconsin and lived there about 6 years.  We thought we would live there forever and raise our family in our nice little farmhouse on 3 acres.  We loved it there.  Then in 2007 my husband had a chance at a job in our hometown, where we grew up, in Iowa.  We now had 5 kids, ages 7 and under and jumped at the chance to live near grandparents.  We were sad to leave our home, the only home any of our kids knew, or were old enough to remember.  But, we felt God leading.  Since then (2007) my husband has been transfered or we've chose to move from WI to Iowa, over to Indiana and now to Illinois, where we hope to stay. So from 2007 to 2012 we've lived in 4 states!   It's been tough emotionally at times to pick up and move, but mostly it's been good, and we've made great friends along the way. 

My babies in 2007, the summer we moved from Wisconsin

Now, I wanted to give you that background to understand what I've been thinking about lately.  I don't know what the future holds.  I would love to stay here.  I love it here, my house, my flowers, my apple orchard, my church family and friends, the small town community.  I don't want to ever leave, but I've felt that before.

Okay, now back to the family reunion :)  While visiting with one of my husband's Aunts, who we see once every few years she asked me a question that caught me off guard.  Now you see, she is not a friend of mine on facebook, and doesn't read my blog.  We catch up every few years, and only hears about our family through my mother in law.  She said to me "What get's you through it, every time you move.  There has to be one thing that gets you through moving so much?"  I stood there for only a few seconds, and it's as if I had been studying for this question, I responded "God has always provided".  These words, they just slipped off my tongue, without even thinking about it.  Her response to me was "You truely are like the Proverbs 31 woman, creating a home wherever you go, for your family"  Wow!  What kind words, I felt so undeserving of. 

This got me thinking that, that is exactly the example I want to be, when others look at me.  I want them to see me as a supportive, encouraging wife to my husband.  Because now days, that's not really the popular thing to do.  This is what I've been wanting to teach my children all along.   My job is to set an example to my children and hopefully to other women, that as long as my husband has a great job and is supporting our family, why would I have anything to complain about.  I am so proud of my husband's accomplishments. He is determined, persistent and has a very strong work ethic. Every move has been a step up for him in his career and again, I'm so proud of him!   I love my life, staying home taking care of my children.  No matter where we live, it's always felt like home, because we are together, love and support one another.  Nothing else matters! God has always provided.  Sure, there have been some tough times.  We were down to one car, I was stuck home during the day's,  and we were short on money for almost a year in one of our moves, but in the end God had a plan.  He was making a way for us to move here, to Illinois, to this beautiful home, I couldn't have even imagined that 2 years ago!  It reminds me of the verse:

 " Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God"  Philippians 4:6-7 

God hears our prayers, he is listening and hopefully we are coming to him with Thanksgiving.  I have nothing to be anxious about, but oh, so much to be thankful for!  If moving around the midwest, is the worst thing to ever happen to our family, then we are truely blessed.  We could be fighting sickness, cancer, death, etc.  God has ALWAYS provided!  We have learned alot in each move, about ourselves, our family, and became closer to each other, as we were "alone" at times, but God has always been there, each step of the way. 

It's always nice to get a little encouragement, and to know, people are noticing the example we are trying to live.  God knew I needed that, especially this weekend.  You see, when I mentioned my husband had meetings up North, he was actually interviewing with his company for another position.  I don't know what the future holds for my family, but I do know, as long as we follow God's leading, we will be okay, and have more then enough.  We have each other!

♥  Shannon

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Just wanted to share a picture of my grapevine.  I planted this last summer after we moved in.  It is doing beautifully, this year.  I took this picture yesterday in the morning and was so excited with the progress.  Then last night, my daughter, the one who loves to garden with me, said she saw Japanese beetles all over my grapevine.  I was so disappointed.  They can just destroy a plant in a matter of days.  It will come back next year, but for the remaining of this year, if I don't get rid of them, it will no longer be a pretty sight.

I did some quick research, and ended up applying some food grade, diatomaceous earth, liberally all over the vine and soil below.  This is an all natural, safe for the environment, animals, and human,  approach.  Ideally, it's suppose to get rid of all bugs, so we will watch and see.  I think today I'm headed up to check on my apple and cherry trees, and may need to dust some on them as well.  I have a feeling, the beautiful, bug free, humid free, summer weather of June is about to end, and the bugs, weeds, and humidity are about to catch up to us.  July is looking to be a tough month for gardening, especially if we don't start getting some rain!

♥  Shannon

Monday, June 18, 2012

Watching the corn grow

You know you're from Iowa when... you find yourself watching the corn grow!  Seriously though, I can't tell you how many times I heard yesterday from one of the kids, or my husband "look, the corn grew"  

  Me and my husband grew up in Iowa.  We live only 25 miles from Iowa now.  If there wasn't a giant sign welcoming you to Illinois, you'd think you were still in Iowa.  We are surrounded by farms and corn fields. 

It finally rained Saturday night.  It was a nice, steady, rain all night.  The next morning you could see the difference in all the plants, but especially the corn.

I like to see the progress of my garden from one week to the next, so here are a few pictures, after the rain

The pumpkins were starting to, almost, stand up

Bountiful green rows, a beautiful sight

Corn, only 3 of the five rows came up, but I'll take it

The pepper and tomato plants are starting to get tiny blossoms.  The carrots are slowly coming up.  I'm a little concerned about them

So that's the progress of my garden so far.  I was able to make some coleslaw this weekend, with a cabbage from the garden.  It's really early this year, but I guess that's okay.  If I can have everything done by the time we start school in the fall, I would be one, happy mom!

♥  Shannon

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Building our garden shed

We were in desperate need of a garden shed.  We wanted to clean out our garage, so we could comfortably fit our cars in there, between the bikes, balls, skateboards, and boxes, that still need to be unpacked.  It just wasn't in the budget right now to start from scratch on a big shed or, what we would really like, a small barn.  So we compromised. 

We have this bottom patio, under our deck, off our family room.  It was the perfect fit.  There were cement walls already there, and the deck is 10 ft high, so the shed would have plenty of room, if we decided to add a loft for extra storage.  But first, we had some cleaning to do.  We had a wood pile to move, and the cats house was here before.  The boys helped spray off the patio.  We had a nice, clean slate to start with. 

We started  by adding a metal roof under the entire deck.  So in the end we would have a small shed, and also a covered porch.  We then started framing it up.

We were  going for a "country" look, and we designed the door to look like a barn door.  We used cedar deck boards, the rough sides facing out. 

Construction zone.  You can see here the whole picture.  The metal roof turned out beautifully, especially since we have never done anything like this before.

Finished!  It is my absolute favorite spot in the yard now, as it over looks the backyard, and I have a great view of the kids playing.

The door turned out great.  We were afraid it would be too heavy, but it actually isn't at all.  I love the look, and love having a covered porch for my swing! 

My husband on this Father's Day, enjoying the swing and drinks on this very hot summer day, with 3 of the kids.  This was a really fun, lost cost project for us.  Turning an unexpected area, into useful space, it's one of my favorite things. 

♥  Shannon

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blessed with berries

We have been beyond blessed with an abundance of berries this month.  Today as I was driving home from piano lessons with my kids, I received a phone call from a neighbor and fellow church member, inviting us to come black raspberry picking.  We jumped at the chance.  My kids LOVE picking berries, and someday, I hope to have huge berry patches of my own, but for now we are just getting started.

These two are my little gardeners.  We picked a full pail in under 30 minutes, which is pretty good when dealing with pokey, scratchy raspberry bushes.

I think she was more concerned with tasting, then picking.  They were delicious!

And he was more concerned with tree climbing!  It was a great, unexpected treat, added to our day!
I made a raspberry crisp for dinner (I don't do pie), and froze a few gallon bags.  I left some in the fridge for fresh eating.

I am thankful, humbled, and so grateful for the generosity of these wonderful new friends, here in our community.  They are such a loving, kind, generous group of people, and I am blessed to be a part of it! 

♥  Shannon

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Days

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here.  70's and sunny.  It was even a little too chilly to have the windows open this morning, imagine that!  We have been busy as bees with all our strawberries, cherries and a few black raspberries.  Yesterday I made 23 jars of freezer jam, various sizes.  I made some cherry raspberry, and just plain ole' strawberry.  I also made 2 strawberry pies, which we finished off at breakfast.  Who say's you can't have pie for breakfast!!??

Unfortunately, last night when editing my photos, I accidentally deleted all  my strawberry pickin', jam making photos :(

Our Summer always starts off celebrating our oldest child's birthday.  It's a great time of year for a teenage birthday celebration! 

Yes, that's right, we are now parents of a teenager!  We started her birthday celebration Friday night with a friend, at the local state park.  We had a picnic and did some fishing. 

We have at least one "picnic" a day. (That is until the humidity kicks in and the bugs come out). Our grill is getting a lot of use, and our deck has become an outdoor kitchen.
 One fun thing I'm trying out this summer, is some fun new recipes!  My kids are always hungry for a snack in the afternoon and I've discovered homemade push up's!  My kids love them and they are very refreshing on those really hot days.  It is so much more economical for me to make them myself then to buy a box from the store, which never goes very far with five kids, and sometimes mom!!

So far we have tried chocolate pudding push up's, orange, and just today I experimented with strawberry lemonade!  I found all my recipes on pinterest, but like most things I tweak them a bit to fit my style.  I'm looking forward to trying out a few more flavors this summer!

Here, I have some strawberry lemonade push up's:

2 quarts of lemonade
2 cups of  frozen strawberries
2 cups of ice

Blend together the strawberries and ice in a blender, then add to the lemonade.  Pour into dixie cups.  I place all the full dixie cups in a baking pan, (to prevent them from tipping over), and place them in the freezer for about 1-2 hours.  Pull them out of the freezer and insert Popsicle sticks.  Place back into freezer until frozen solid.  It only takes a few hours total.  So simple, fun and delicious!  Needless to say, I have stocked up on dixie cups and Popsicle sticks.  I've also added paper plates to that list, a I don't feel like being stuck in the kitchen all summer with the dishes.  So for now, paper has taken the place of my corelleware. 

Isn't that what Summer is all about?  Picnic's, grilling out,
lemonade, fishing, and time spent with family outdoors!

♥  Shannon


Monday, June 11, 2012

Just another weekend

Guess who got a sandbox this weekend??  Saturday morning we went strawberry picking at a local berry patch, and on the way home we decided to stop at the tire/mechanic shop, because our truck was having a few issues.  When we were leaving my husband spotted the large tractor tire sitting outside and asked if he could have it.  They said, if you want it, take it!  So we did! 

The baby loves it!  In fact they all do.  They spent hours, upon hours playing on Saturday evening.  On Sunday morning my son said "I just want to get home from church, so I can play in the sandbox all day", and that's exactly what he did!

Because the kids were occupied for hours, we had lots of time to till the rows of the garden.  We tilled, pulled weeds between the plants and mulched around the berry bushes.  We even picked a hand full of blueberries!  I've never been able to get blueberries to grow, so this was exciting, especially since they are only a year old.  I love how the garden looks after it's tilled.  Because we haven't had much rain, there are  not a lot of weeds right now either.

From the pumpkin patch looking up.  You can see, the ground is really dry.  I have been watering, which takes a lot of time!  My tomato plants are even starting to get a few blossoms on them, and there are medium size cabbage already.  I think it may be a earlier harvest then normal!  This morning I woke up to the sound of thunder and a little rain, and I have never been more happy!  They are calling for scattered thunderstorms today and I pray they are right.  The farmers corn is really dry and I don't think it's going to be "knee high by the 4th of July".  Plus, I could really use a rainy day to catch up on laundry, housework and I have strawberry jam to make!

♥  Shannon

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cherry Pickin'

Today was one of those days... days where we are too busy to enjoy anything going on around us.  We just move from one thing to the next and keep watching the clock to make sure we are still on schedule.  These are my least favorite of days.   We had dentist appointments, swimming lessons, errands to run, from one end of town to the other.  By the time we got home it was almost time for dinner and we were tired.  Then I received a call from a friend letting me know, we could come pick cherries.  They were ready, but not for long.  If we could get to them before the birds, we could have them.  We piled back into the car and headed out further into the country.  I'm so glad we did.....

We had such a great, relaxing time.  It brought my day, back down, to my kind of comfortable.  Here is some of what we saw on the farm .....

and winner for best picture of the night...

(BTW, if you are wondering where my oldest, fifth child is.  She is always behind the camera.  She is my photographer and takes (mostly) all the photos, I post on my blog.  She even created my header :)  

We had a lovely time and someday, I hope to have cherry trees this big in my yard, and maybe then I can invite my children and grandchildren to come pickin' !!

♥  Shannon

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Boys will be boys

My husband is building a small garden shed, to clear out our garage and make more room for our cars... I mean, bikes and scooters,  jump ropes, basketballs, wagons, etc.  You get my point.  He had a LOT of scrap wood left over laying in the yard.  Well there was no way my 8 yr. old could pass up a chance at a big pile of wood just laying there, waiting for him to get his hands on.  Here is what he came up with. 

They made a fort.  It was all engineered, designed and built by my 8 yr. old, but my 5 yr. old thinks he played a pretty big part in the design as well :)

He did a great job at the design, and there was no way that thing was going to fall down.  We even had a few rain storms with a bit of wind, and it held strong.

I love it when my kids get creative and use their imaginations!  On another note, it's been very busy around here.  I'm trying to keep up with the garden and spent all day today weeding, watering and transplanting.  So far so good.  I even spotted a few blooms on my tomato plants, yay!!  The baby kittens have turned into little rascals and we enjoy sitting on the porch every night (after they've had their afternoon nap) watching them wrestle, and race around the front yard.  They've taken over my front landscaping, much to my husbands dismay.

If any of you know me personally,  you know, I was never much of a cat person, but these kittens are really growing on me.  I mean, come on, how can I resist that face.  They are so cute and playful.

So that's what's been going on, around here lately.  We are enjoying our summer vacation, so far and again, I feel so blessed to be right here, living this life, right now, right where I am suppose to be!  God is good and my heart is full!

♥  Shannon