Finding Joy in Him

Through Every Season

Year: 2011 (page 2 of 9)

Wicking House Plants

My good friend Suzanne sent me this beautiful arrangement for my birthday.
I wasn’t super excited at first.. 
I think because I was anticipating the guilt of killing them.
In less than 2 months, I’d already killed 5 leaves off this one plant.
But now that I know about wicking planters..
all my plants have to have them.
I did a trial run with this on in a glass dish so I could see
if it really worked before digging my big planters out side. 
It worked beautifully.
I found these pots at Old Time Pottery for a deal.
Her one arrangement filled two pots.
Drilled an overflow hole.
Siliconed in a little tubing.
 Drilled holes in my plastic containers.
Filled in the rest with rocks.
Put in my fill tube. 
Put in my screen. 
 George thinks the overflow tube is cool.
Put in my dirt and plants.
 Sprinkled them with cayenne pepper to keep
George from eating them.
Works like a charm.
 My plants are so happy now.
Perked right up.

Wicking Planters Part 2

The next step in putting together my wicking planters was to 
cover the inside of my overflow pipe with screen and a cable tie.  
This will keep the bugs out of my water reservoir
and keep my pipe from getting clogged.
Next, I scoured my neighborhood for plastic containers.
Just happened to be recycling day.
It’s times like these when I wish my car was a little less conspicuous.  
I washed out then drilled half inch holes in all the containers.
The idea is to make space for your water reservoir and hold up the soil. 
I filled in the rest of the space with old packing peanuts.
Then lava rocks.  
The more containers the less rocks I had to buy.
My little car was more than full.
Our bank account less full.
Almost forgot to mention the filling tube.
I cut the end of at an angle to add to the ease of filling water reservoir. 
See it in the corner below?  You stick your water hose in your fill pipe and 
fill your reservoir until your overflow pipe lets you know it’s full.
Your soil wicks up the water as your plants use it up.
The air pocket left when the water is used up is also very good for your plants.
The only time your soil gets soaked is when it there’s a down pour..
and even then your plants won’t drown because 
the extra water will drain out your overflow pipe.
Genius. Right?
I knew I had enough rocks when it looked soupy.
 I lined up all my soil components.
I read that the best mix for my flowers is 
1 part top soil
1 part compost
1 part perlite 
I bought two different kinds of compost.
Cow and chicken.
The chicken has this written on the bag
“As oder free as naturally composted poultry waste can be.”
Can be translated.. “IT STINKS!” 
I will never buy it again.
 and more bags.
 I used every last bag, too.
 This planater was leaking..
Joel and Judi helped me empty it out.
I re-lined it in the rain.
 Before filling with dirt, I lined the planter with screen
to help keep the dirt from falling into the water reservoir.
You can see it in the picture above.
This one’s ready for the bulbs.
Five in this box.  
In the spring I plan to buy some other flowers to plant with them.
In my research I learned that their blooms only last for 3 weeks. 🙁
So much work for 3 weeks.
But hopefully they will bloom for years to come. 
My last batch of soil.
I really enjoyed the hard work.
So nice to be feeling up to it. 
Here’s the box topped off with mulch out our back window.
Can’t wait to take pictures of the flowers 
overlooking the lake next spring. 
Boxes in the front.  Should get plenty of sun.  Yay!
Now I need to power wash the clay off our sidewalk.

My “Usual” Breakfast

I tend to eat the same things all the time.  
A few months ago I did some research on what the healthiest foods were.
I was surprised by what I learned.. and promptly forgot most of it.
A couple of things I remembered was that 
onions and kale were really good for you,
so I started making myself this breakfast.
Chop some onions.. this one looks like a heart.  🙂
 Add in some frozen bell pepper.  I usually buy several at a time,
 chop them up and put them in zip lock bags in the freezer. 
I also started buying bags of carrots and chopping a couple of them 
up in my Ninja Blender, which I love.  It only takes about 5 seconds.
 I keep the carrots and my onion in containers in my fridge door.
 I buy organic red kale.. making my number one super food pesticide free.
 Fry it all in olive oil for a few minutes while..
 I let Zoe outside.
 Then I add in an egg for protein.
Add a little salt and eat it up.

Wicking Planters

When Mike and I were in Alaska, we saw these awesome purple flowers.  I remembered seeing them in San Antonio too and loved them.  We found their name on google: “Purple Sensation Allium” and discovered that they are related to the onion and come from a bulb that you plant in October.
Mike surprised me with 22 bulbs for my birthday! 🙂 
My thumbs are far from green so I started doing lots of research 
on how to care for them and discovered that they will rot in clay soil..
which is exactly what we have.. so I did more research..
About this time, the weather turned cooler and Mike started taking me and 
the dogs for walks.. wonderful.. feeling so much better.
One afternoon, I spotted this climbing wall etc. out for the trash 
and thought, “Those would make great planters.”
They wouldn’t fit in my car so one of Judi’s friends 
came by with a truck and picked them up for me.
A random hot air ballon flew over our house.
At first, I thought they were red wood, but while Joel and I 
were cutting them down to size we realized they were just pine 🙁 
So I bought some 5 year stain to help them last longer.
While I was waiting for them to dry, I started wondering how I was 
going to water these flowers.  I am always killing plants 
with either too much or too little water.  
So I googled “how to water your planters” and learned about “self wicking planters” and “earth boxes.”  
They are watertight planters with a water 
reservoir in the bottom and an overflow pipe so you can’t overwater them.
They only need to be filled about once a week.  Sounded great to me.
I did a bunch more studying and shopping and here’s how they went.
Josh, Joel and Mike helped me dig out the water reservoirs.
I cut an 1″ hole for the overflow pipe.
 I used WeedX in the bottom of the planters to help
protect the plastic liners from rock punctures.
I have a bunch and it’s not good for much else.
After a bunch of reading, I decided to make the water reservoirs
between 8 and 12″ deep and the soil 13″ deep.
The water will only wick up through 12″ of soil. 
 I used 8 mil. plastic liner.
 Measured and cut it.
 It’d make a great green house.
 Folded and stapled the corners over.
Enjoyed the fall scenery. 
 Ta da.. watertight planter.
 I had to be really creative with the overflow pipe.
Spent an hour at Lowes thinking in the plumbing section. 
I needed something to go through the wood 
and plastic and be water tight.
I used 3/4″ nipples and adapters..
Punched a small hole through the plastic.
Squeezed the nipple through the plastic and the 1″ hole I drilled.
Then used a bunch of silicone calk
and tightened the adapters on snugly.
Then I went in for breakfast while I waited for it to dry.

Why and How to Pray for Missionaries

I have this pamphlet.  I don’t remember where I got it, but I love it.. 
I love it because it’s prayer points are so insightful. 
There is so much in it that we can not only pray for missionaries,
but for our leaders, pastors, friends, family, and ourselves.
I was so happy when I found it on line to share with you.
The link above includes a pdf file you can download.
Go check it out.
Here are a few highlights and my thoughts:
We cannot work independently 
We need God.  We need each other.
There is much to discourage and frustrate the missionary.  
• Language Disparity
• Customs and Culture
• Unfamiliar Food 
• Climate
• Lack of Results
I’ve experienced all these just moving state to state.  Embracing all these 
differences was so much easier in Thailand than in some of the places 
I’ve lived in the US.  I think partly because I expected them there and partly 
because it’s so easy to remember that you have a “mission” while in a foreign country.
It is not long before we are again forced to face up to the fact of 
our own sinful flesh. We then recognize afresh how human we are! 
It’s rough to learn what we are really like. 
So true!
Pray that the missionary will experience fellowship with God in new and satisfying ways.  
Amen!  Loneliness is such a struggle for me.  “Moving” is such a bitter/sweet word.
Our mission is to be servants to all. 
Amen.  Amen.
Spiritually, there must be doctrinal stability through the study of the Bible and its
 application to our daily living. Mentally, we must learn how to combat 
Satan’s great tool of depression. Emotionally, we need to 
strike a happy balance between becoming too calloused or too sympathetic.  
Pray that the missionary will get his true identity and self-worth from 
who he is in Christ and not from success or 
what others think or say about him. 
Pray that the missionary will have a heightened sympathy and 
insight into the heart-needs of those around him. Pray, too, that he will have insight 
and heavenly wisdom to know what God would have him undertake, 
and how he would have him go about it. 
His gracious fruit must show in our lives, or our work will accomplish nothing. 
Unless we have daily communion with our Lord, the pressure will result in failure..
 We must keep spiritually fresh if we are to glorify him. 
Pray that God will keep the missionary in that condition of health 
that will best glorify him.
We need wisdom to train and teach our children in ways well-pleasing to God 
and in full accordance with his Word. Pray that both parents will be godly role models 
and will do all they can to help their children develop godly self-worth. 
Pray that parents may have wisdom in providing for their education.
Let’s remember to pray.

Busy Week with Mitch and Nana

I decorated for fall for the first time.  
I think I am normally just too busy with school this time of year.  
 I bought these flowers last December at 80% off with 
the intention of making a wreath.  At least I got them out.. 
and I made the pumpkins from scratch with some found wood.
Back in in 2003, after we’d just moved to Florida, I ended up with 
second degree burns on my right arm after opening this pressure 
cooker while it was under pressure.  I was tired, wasn’t thinking clearly, 
and couldn’t find directions on how long I should cook the fresh 
corn on the cob I had just bought from the vegetable stand.
 We decided to make chili for Mike’s parents one night last week, 
and I took some time to look up the best way to cook dried pinto beans, 
because ever since I started making my chili in the crock pot 
my beans had been coming out crunchy – yuck!
I found the national bean council’s suggested method for 
“gas free” soaking:  Wash, cover with water, boil 3 minutes,
 cover, set aside over night, rinse, cook.

Then I stumbled upon a you-tube video on pressure cooking beans,
and decided to conquer my fear and try it out.  It worked great!  
Just 12 min. under pressure and they were done.  
Way better than 2 hrs. simmering on the stove. 
Can’t wait to try out some more recipes. 
While the chili was simmering in the crock pot, we got to go 
to an open house at Mike’s work.. first one they’ve had one in years.
All the kids had off work and Mitch and Nana had just happened to plan 
their visit at the right time.  It was great to learn about what all his office does.
We’d planned to pick up our favorite BBQ another night..
only to discover that Chuck Wagon was closed because they had a booth
at the 45th Annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention.
How fun.  We had no idea what we’d been missing all these years.
Gatherings of fiddlers playing blue grass while dancing.. gospel singing.  
Banjo, dulcimer, dobro, harmonica.. all ages.. competing for the title of
 Tennessee Valley Fiddle Champion.  Food, arts and crafts, perfect weather.. 
Can’t wait to go again next year.
Saturday we went up to Fort Payne to show Nana Little River Canyon Falls.
 The weather was perfect all week.
 And Fall was really starting to show it’s colors.
 We took the scenic drive.
 Saw some hawks.
 Had a really good time.
 Got a few pictures.. but the sun wasn’t especially corporative.
 Sunday afternoon we had a partly cloudy day 
and decided to try for a family picture.
 Took a ton of pictures.. this was the last one.. somehow the last one 
usually turns out to be the best one.. glad we took “one more”.
Our eyes are a little squinty.. but it’s better than last year.. we never got one.
It was great seeing Mitch and Nana.  Judi won every game she played..
didn’t matter who her partner was.  The boys had a couple of days
off work and it was great to get in some family time.

Talladega Trip: Favorite Part

If you were to ask us what our favorite part of our trip was,
we’d probably both agree: eating – with friends, at Shakey’s Pizza,
Blue Bell ice cream, at a stake place down the road from our 
time share at the Cheaha State park with a view..
Mike’s second would probably be the speedway..
My second would be photographing this mill and covered bridge..
 It was just so beautiful..
And easy to photograph..
Kymulga Grist Mill and Bridge
Mike asked..  
“Why did they build covered bridges?” 
 Do you know the answer?
 A friend told me last year.. 
 To protect them from the elements.. 
Keeping the ice off them helped them last much longer.
 They actually have a camp ground at this park.
 And a nice trail..
 So nice..

Talladega Speedway

Before heading back we had to stop at the Talladega Speedway.
And visit their museum. 
We saw a bunch of cars.
 Including a rocket car (on my left)
that broke the sound bearer driving 739.6 mph.
Mike’s favorite..
 Trying on one for size.
 Then we took a private tour of the speedway.
(We were the only ones there.)
Stood in the winner’s circle.
 Learned things like..
Their bleachers run a mile long…
 The track banks at 31 degrees.  So steep you have  
drive at least 80 mph to avoid falling off.
 At 2.6 miles long, it’s Nascar’s biggest race track.  
Start your engines.

Talladega National Forest ~ 2

On my birthday we went to Sylacauga, AL for a special treat:
 a tour at a Blue Bell Creamery that ended with a big scoop of ice cream.  
Mike had his standard: Mint Chocolate Chip and I tried something new:
Mocha Madness.  It’s my new favorite.
There are only 3 Blue Bell creameries in the country.  
This was my first factory tour.  Pretty cool.
Did you know that they make 42 different flavors.
Over half they rotate through – the year.
Mike and I decided that we could never work there.
Their employees get 4 breaks a day and are allowed to grab
and eat 1/2 a gallon on each of their breaks.
We also stopped by the Comer Museum.  It’s an art/history/ Jim Nabors’ 
museum.  Jim grew up there and sang in the school and church choirs. 

Wednesday we went to Cheaha State Park.
Saw a beautiful tower.
 You could see for miles.
I’d like to watch an approaching storm from there someday.
 I am a little obsessed with taking pictures of my little car.
It looks so at home in the forest that
I found a forest name for it.. (see end of post).
This little dear was hungry; we had nothing to feed her.
While waiting for time for our lunch we took a
hike down Bald Rock Boardwalk Trail.

and saw signs of fall.
We are so glad it’s September and the weather’s turned cooler.
What a view.
Here we are.

at Bald Rock

 Here we are with the view in view.

Before leaving the park we at at the Cheaha Restaurant;
reasonably priced, great food with an awesome view.
Did I mention that were are on the highest mountain in Alabama?

Next we drove about 6 miles South to find High Falls Trial.

I’d found impressive pictures of the falls on line.
The trickle we found there was a little underwhelming.
We climbed up the side of the falls along it’s three tiers.
Lowest tier above.  Middle tier below.
Then way up these stairs..
The grand finale.  Maybe we should try again in the Spring.
The on-line review of the hike described it as short;
they forgot to mention steep.  It’s not named “High Falls” for nothing.
Time to catch my breath.

At least it’s cool in the shade.

Loving the trees.
Did I say steep?
Some flowers along the trail.
And something that reminded me of my car.
Green and small.. but big on the inside.
“My Little Green Acorn” – does the name fit?

Talladega National Forest ~ 1

For my birthday week Mike took me to the 
Talladega National Forest for a relaxing time away.
On our way there, we stopped at a new outlet mall 
just East of Birmingham where I scored big time.
 Got this new cordless tool set for $75 with tax 
and some new dresses and slacks.
Saturday we went out to explore the area around a nearby lake
 Gorgeous roads.
 We took my car.  Mike got an amazing 38 miles to the gallon one time.
It averages around 27 mpg.
It’s so cute.  Doesn’t it look right at home in the woods?
Sunday we went to Montgomery to visit old friends.
and their kids
River’s Edge Church was celebrating their 6th anniversary.
Red Robbin is our favorite place in Montgomery to eat with friends.
 It was great seeing everyone.
Before going back to our time share we drove an hour and a half 
to Shakey’s to catch part of a football game and of course
 for some of our favorite pizza, mojos and chicken.
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