Thursday, August 30, 2012

Vegetable Garden Update

Everyone has those times in gardening when you wondered, "What was I thinking"?  I had that thought one year with zucchini plants.  (hasn't everyone?)  I'm sure my sister-in-law had that thought last year with the spaghetti squash. She had enough to sell roadside.  Really!! Well...this year I'm asking myself, "What was I thinking planting 24 tomato plants"?  

I have patio tomatoes.  They are larger than cherry tomatoes.  Almost egg sized...  

and patio tomatoes...

and MORE patio tomatoes!

I also have Scotia tomatoes... (thankfully they are ripening more slowly)

AND Lemon Boy tomatoes.  They are such a pretty yellow.  I had one in my sandwich today for lunch...yum!

I made a batch of tomato sauce this week to test the recipe, and it is really good.  It even passed the "hubby test".  ;)  I found the recipe on the blog "Thy Hand Hath Provided".  So I will do more as the tomatoes ripen.  I also plan on canning some plain diced tomatoes to use in Chili and in my Homemade Turkey Soup this fall and winter.  

The pumpkin patch is looking very much like a...pumpkin patch!!

Is it early for them to be turning orange?

I was so excited to see two white pumpkins today.  I don't want to wish my summer away, but I am really looking forward to doing some fall decorating.   This pretty thing will definitely be a part of it!

Hubby dug a few potatoes to bring home.  

This week I harvested our onion crop.  The tops had all fallen over and I've read that is when they are ready to harvest. 

My sister, Lisa, was with me and helped me braid them all for drying in the shed.  This is just a few of the braids.  

Today I brought home more zucchini and patio tomatoes,  (What was I thinking?) a few potatoes, larger tomatoes and the potential for some great cucumber sandwiches!!! ;)  P.S.  The shed smells wonderful.  :)

"Like" Take Six on Facebook to see what else I've been canning this week!  

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Take 5 with Kathy - "Throw out the Life-Line..."

As I finished yesterday reading over the articles I have posted this summer, I was comforted to see the way in which God has been preparing me spiritually, mentally, and emotionally to share with you today. I am learning to throw my dependence upon God on a whole new level and trust Him to “make all things beautiful in His time” as I wrote about a couple weeks ago. Yesterday I was reading a devotional that reminded me that even while Jesus was on this earth, He depended upon God the Father for everything He did, said, and accomplished.[i] Knowing that Jesus, who is God Himself, did this gives me confidence and hope to do the same.

Bedford, Nova Scotia
There are times in life, when people need someone to “throw out a life- line” and rescue them from something or someone. The Lord brought to my mind the old hymn, “Throw out the Life-Line”. It was primarily written to inspire us to be available and active in sharing God’s plan of salvation with those who don’t know Christ, but I believe it also has wider applications. Perhaps you know the words, but I’d like to share them with you:

“Throw out the lifeline across the dark wave,

There is a brother that someone should save;

Somebody’s brother! Oh, who then will dare

To throw out the Life-Line, his peril to share?


Throw out the Life-Line! Throw out the Life-Line!

Someone is drifting away;

Throw out the Life-Line! Throw out the Life-Line!

Someone is sinking today.

Verse 2:

Throw out the Life-Line with hand quick and strong;

Why do you tarry, why linger so long?

See! He is sinking; oh hasten today

And  out with the Life-Boat! Away, then, away!

Verse 3:

Throw out the Life-Line to danger fraught men,

Sinking in anguish where you’ve never been;

Winds of temptation and billows of woe

Will soon hurl them out where the dark waters flow.

Verse 4:

Soon will the season of rescue be o’er,

Soon will they drift to eternity’s shore;

Haste, then, my brother, no time for delay,

But throw out the Life-Line and save them today.”

          - Edward S. Ulford[ii]
Coast guard ship, St. John's, NL

Three very different situations have affected our lives this week. In each instance, they have needed someone to “throw out a life-line” and I praise God that He provided loving and godly people to be present and available when they were desperately needed. It has caused me to wonder how many times I have missed an opportunity to do whatever I could to rescue someone who was facing a time of desperation and didn’t know where to turn for help. I need to pray every day that I will recognize the signs and not ignore them or try to explain them away. I pray He will enable me to obey Him promptly as I may be just the one He has chosen for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

This week I started reading Chuck Swindoll’s book, Esther: A Woman of Strength and Dignity[iii] and am thoroughly enjoying it. If you’re not familiar with her story, I encourage you to read it as it is an amazing portrayal of how God sovereinly directs our lives to accomplish His greater purposes. In her case, God placed her in a position where she could “throw out a life-line” that would be instrumental in rescuing her people, the Jews, from certain annihilation.

I also saw a documentary during the week that showed coverage of people being rescued from disastrous flash-flooding. Life-lines were thrown to them from boats, helicopters, and the shore-line in an attempt to save these individuals from being swept away to their death. As some of them were able to grasp the line and hang on, they were saved and rescued from danger.

Newfoundland trip
If you’re facing a time of uncertainty, despair, and don’t know where to turn, I encourage you to seize the life-line that Jesus is holding out to you. His love for you is infinite, secure, and forever! He is “…close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18). “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3). And as was prophesied of Christ in Isaiah 61:1, God sent Him to “bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release for the prisoners.”

Whatever situation is threatening to hold us captive and drown us in despair, we must cling to Jesus, our Life-Line, and let Him orchestrate our rescue. My thanksgiving and praise goes to Him!

Until next Sunday,


[i] My Daily Journey with Christ, August 2012, Charles Price, Living Truth
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Spice it up ~ Organizing your spice drawer!

I get such a rush from organizing things.
I love uniformity and organization.
I should qualify this by saying,
you would never know this by visiting my home. 

This is a project that has been simmering on my back burner for ages.
My intention was to use baby food jars for this project. 
 A dear friend Rachel saved me a big bag of them. 
 However it has been awhile since I used baby food, and I didn't remember
them being quite so small.  They just wouldn't be large enough
to hold the contents of one of those yellow packages you see below.

Then I remembered the cute little squatty (is that a word?)
jars I used when I made body lotion last fall.

I was unable to find any more of these particular jars
 until just a few weeks ago.
Yay for a new canning season! :)

3 cases of jars
chalkboard paint
small disposable paint brush
piece of chalk

I gave all the lids one coat of chalkboard paint.
I washed the jars, and dried them well.  
Anything that was too old was disposed of.
Next, all the spices were emptied
 from the jars, packages, and small cans
into their beautiful new homes!

I let the lids dry overnight to ensure they were not tacky,
and labeled each with chalk.
This is such a great way to label them.
If you want to change the contents of the jar,
you can easily change the label.

Ahhhhhh, so much better!  :)

One word of advice:  Do yourself a favor and purchase a regular sized piece of chalk.  You know... like your school teacher used to use.  I used a great big sidewalk chalk and it was very hard to print with it on this small surface.  ;0)

Now as summer winds down, and we usher in my favorite season of all, I will be stocking up on those herbs and spices that have been running low.  I usually do a thorough check of my spice draw in preparation for those wonderful recipes that I associate with fall.  Can you smell the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice in those pumpkin recipes?  Oh my!


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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Take 5 with Kathy - "Growing mussels..."

One week ago, my husband and I were visiting my parents at their cottage in Prince Edward Island. I had been there recently when he was in Hong Kong, so we wanted to make another trip this summer (if you missed that blog, it was posted July 22). It was another relaxing time that we were able to share together.

Our cottage view of the ocean
One thing I always find interesting to observe from the front windows and deck of the cottage is the mussel farmers. For those who are unfamiliar with this type of farming, it takes place out in the water, rather than a field. Wherever you drive in PEI, you usually see a mussel farm just off-shore or in a cove or inlet. In fact, PEI produces 80 per cent of the blue mussels in North America. So, if you order a plate of them in a restaurant in this part of the world, chances are pretty good they came from the smallest province of our country of Canada. We went to a lobster dinner while on the island, and they bring you mussels by the bucket as an appetizer! My husband loves them and I’ll eat a few if they bring you those lovely little pots of melted butter for dipping. Some people will even eat them raw, but I’ve never had an appetite for that!

PEI mussel farm
By the time I get up in the morning at the cottage, the mussel farmers are already out in their boats hard at work and have probably been there since dawn. They usually head back home late afternoon. Sometimes people have wondered what those boats are doing out there just circling around or standing still. Depending on the lighting, you can’t always see the long lines of buoys floating on the water’s surface. Occasionally, they look like dark little dots, while other times they shine brillianty white in the sunlight. A few years ago, my husband had the opportunity to visit a mussel farm in another PEI location (where these pictures were taken). While this production appears rather idyllic and tranquil while viewed afar from on shore, he found out just how hard the work can be!

Harvesting mussels in PEI
While my husband was on the boat, he learned much about this industry. To grow mussels, the mussel farmers begin by placing larvae into a long sleeve or “sock” which is then attached to a long-line. The socks are then lowered into the water several feet below the surface and suspended above the seabed. This helps protect the larvae from most predators and provides them with nutrient-rich water from which to feed. It also reduces the amount of grit in the shells and keeps them much cleaner. These are “cultured” mussels. Every day, the socks must be inspected by divers who remove any predators, mainly starfish, clean out any debris, and ensure the water is clean. It is tedious work requiring much patience, dedication, and care. Without this daily attention, their whole operation could be lost. When harvesting the mussels, they are pulled to the surface with a winch and stored in large containers on the boat until they come ashore and are sent to a processing plant. Once there, the mussels are removed from the socks, graded, inspected, and packaged for transport to a restaurant or grocer near you! PEI mussels are sent all over the world as they have a reputation for being some of the best tasting mussels anywhere.

It's hard work being knee-deep in mussels!
I was thinking about how much more attentive our Heavenly Father is to the daily work He performs while growing us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul was confident that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (NIV) It’s not an easy work as He often has to clean out our sinful ways, protect us from the attacks of our enemy, the Devil, and make sure that we are feeding on the richness of His word, the Bible, and following His wise instructions and commands. He patiently guides us through the often murky and rough waters we navigate in this life and turns our stubborn willfulness into ready submission to His will.

King David often sought this kind of direction from the Lord. In Psalm 139:23-24 he prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (NLT)

As I faced some disappointing and disheartening news this past week, I’m thankful I was under the constant watchful eye and care of my loving God! No matter what you may be enduring right now, I pray you will also be comforted by the abiding presence and nurturing of our faithful God.

Until next Sunday,

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shutters, Bumble Bees & 5 Tips

As in most parts of the country, we are having a warmer and dryer summer than usual.  The lawns are brown, and the gardens need water.  But nothing stops my yellow daisies.  They even bloomed a few weeks early for me this year!

My daughters found an awesome pair of old wooden shutters when they were driving around during a free-cycle weekend in our community last summer.  When I saw this table runner idea on Pinterest, I knew it would be perfect for a summertime tablescape. 

Table runners do not always have to be fabric.  Think outside of the box.  Last fall I used a small wooden ladder in THIS tablescape. 

Flowers and little floater candles in a jar carrier 
give this centerpiece a simple, carefree feeling.  

Gift tags from Michael's dollar bins make a sweet place card tucked into the fork.

I bought these bumble bee plates and napkin rings last year on an after season clearance.  I actually found them at two different stores, but they were both 50% off!!


These tiny vases were once candles that I used HERE on my Christmas Eve table.  When the candles were gone, I washed and saved the containers to use as a vase.  

To elevate these dessert plates I sat them on top of a thrift store candle holder. 

 The cutest little S & P's!

Don't you love the burlap place mats.  I made these several years ago by cutting up a roll of tree and shrub wrap from my favorite Home Hardware store.  I have used them over and over and over again!

I'm so glad you stopped by the back deck on this warm summer day.  I hope you try using one of these easy tips today on a table at your home.  Simple little accessories can make any meal time extra special!

PS.  Our Facebook Fans saw a "teaser pic" of this tablescape a few days ago.  If you are not currently following us via FB, come on over HERE and like our page!

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Take 5 with Kathy - "Everything beautiful in its time..."

Centrepiece at their wedding
Tomorrow is my son and daughter-in-law’s first wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since they were married and we began a new season of our lives as empty-nesters! The phrase is so cliché but, “Where did the time go?!” I’ve been asking that question so often over the past couple weeks, especially as we reminisce, not only about the wedding, but as we have re-connected this summer with so many old friends and acquaintances. I always loved the little chorus I learned as a young girl:

“Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.”

Last Sunday, we had the joy of visiting our former church to hear the pastor who had married us almost 27 years ago. He had been asked to preach a couple Sundays in August while vacationing here. It was just like “old home week” as we met him and his wife and many dear people with whom we had fellowshipped and served in past years. What fun we had comparing pictures of our children and grandchildren (in some cases), recalling great experiences we had shared together, laughing over humorous memories, remembering those who’ve gone on to Heaven before us, and singing and worshiping together. My husband and I were thrilled when the service ended with our favorite benediction that this pastor had blessed us with so often. He had also dedicated our three-week-old son to the Lord, so my mind was flooded with wonderful memories throughout the service, the fellowship time afterward, and during the rest of the day.

King Solomon wrote, “He has made everything beautiful in its time…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV). As he reflected on his life experiences, I believe he was struggling with trying to fathom how the God who loves us can take both the good and the bad and make something so beautiful from it all. I think he questioned the wisdom of God at times, but as he said, “…He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecc. 3:11, Amplified) Many times I’ve wished I could know what lies ahead in my life’s journey, but only God is omniscient and I have to trust that whatever He allows to transpire is for my best. At times, that is very hard!

A while back, I wrote my own version of Solomon’s famous lines in Ecclesiastes 3:1-11:

“If we 'fear God and keep His commandments' (Ecc. 12:13), we are able to conclude that all the times of our lives will be meaningful, producing wisdom from God. This will guide us through…

…times of good and times of bad

…times of happiness and times of sadness

…times of need and times of plenty

…times of confusion and times of revelation

…times of seeing life born anew and times of seeing life slip away

…times of predictability and times we never anticipated

…times we will always remember and times we wish we could forget

…times of embarrassment and times of pride

…times we loved and times we hated

…times of spiritual elation and times of spiritual dryness

…times we felt intimacy with God and times we wondered where God was in it all

'God makes all things beautiful in its time'. Often I see that beauty in a moment, but more often it is several days, months, even years, before I perceive the beauty God unfolds from every situation and season I face in my life. There are other moments of beauty I will never see until I am able to sit down with my Saviour and have that heart-to-heart conversation. Only then will I see with total clarity how He wove the fragmented strands of my life into an intricate and beautiful artistic masterpiece.

Solomon was one of the richest and most successful men that have ever lived, but in the end he realized that all we do, or all we acquire in life, all our successes and failures, really have no purpose apart from God and living for Him. He knew ‘that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it, so men will revere Him.’ (Ecc. 3:14, NIV)”

As I continue to trust God each day for the details of my life, I rest assured that He is making all things beautiful in His time. That’s enough for me!

Until next Sunday,

P.S. Thanks to my husband for his photographs of my garden flowers!


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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Less is more...

I have spent many years making purchases for my future family as well as for my very own home.

That can add up to alot of stuff - especially when one considers the number of years (20+) and the fact that neither a family nor a home have ever been part of God's future for me.

So, a month ago I enlisted the help of one of my sisters. We began "decluttering", "downsizing" and just plain ol' "chucking". 

So MUCH stuff that I thought I needed... I really didn't/don't.

Can I get into your personal space for a second?

What do you think you need that you really don't? Seriously.
What can you get rid if (either materially or emotionally) that will open up more living space for you? Seriously.

Even if you need someone's help, GET IT. Even if it takes days, DO IT.

Make space for more life.
Less is more.


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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Take 5 with Kathy - "Running with purpose..."

I’ve never been much of an athlete. In fact, physical education was at the bottom of my list of subjects in school. I much preferred to be curled up with a good book, practicing piano, drawing, or creating some handcraft. Sports were something my younger sister enjoyed and I was proud of her achievements.

However, I’ve always enjoyed watching sporting events. I’m a NHL hockey fan, love watching figure skating, curling, alpine skiing, tennis, and gymnastics. Being a Canadian, I suppose winter sports are more exciting for me, but I have enjoyed following some of the summer Olympics recently. As I cheer for our Canadian athletes and root for some lesser-known competitors, I really appreciate hearing the stories behind many of these athletes and how they made it to such an elite event.

For instance, the Saudi woman who was able to compete for the first time representing her country…her judo debut may have lasted 82 seconds, but what a victory for Muslim women who have fought so long for the right to participate alongside their male teammates. Yesterday, I was impressed with the South African athlete, Oscar Pistorius, who won a court battle enabling him to compete in the Men’s 400m despite the fact he is a double amputee and runs on prosthetic legs – he came second in his heat to qualify for the semi-finals! In an interview afterward, he was just so jubilant and excited to be there.

And if you happened to catch the tennis match on Friday between Roger Federer and Jaun Martin del Potro…what a treat for everyone who witnessed the 4 hour and 26 minute battle to advance to the gold medal round! I was mesmerized with their degree of physical endurance, mental toughness, and their refusal to give up in this nail-biter of a match.

Yesterday, I was moved to tears as I watched Canadian trampoline athlete, Rosannagh MacLennan, win Canada’s first ever gold in this sport. Earlier in the morning, I had listened to a documentary clip on her path to the Olympics. She gave credit to her grandfather, who died two years ago, for being her inspiration throughout her training. I’m sure she wished he could have been there in London.

On another note, I’ve become increasingly upset by those athletes, coaches, and national federations who compete in the games intent on doing whatever they can or are instructed to do in order to simply gain an advantage in their quest for gold. I’m all for working hard, employing fair strategizing, and benefiting from the latest equipment and technology to become the best you can be. But, when teams/athletes so obviously play far below their best effort because they are trying to avoid playing against a team they think may defeat them in the next round…that really annoys me! Whatever happened to putting your best foot forward in every race or game and attempting to be the best you can be all because you love your sport and are proud to represent your country? I find the political aspect of the Olympics disturbing and demoralizing for the athletes who train so diligently.

I also get upset sometimes with the way the media covers these events. Just yesterday, when an athlete favoured to win a medal didn’t attain that goal, I heard more than one broadcaster say the same words, “She failed to reach the podium.” Failed? Really? The fact that any of these tremendous athletes qualified for the Olympics is already a success and an achievement to be totally proud of.

And what about those athletes who feel they need to apologize for not doing as well as expected or who don’t match or exceed their prior performances? I felt such empathy for one girl I heard interviewed yesterday after she finished a race well back from where she usually does. She was apologizing to her home country and supporters, felt she’d had nothing left, and was embarrassed. “I did finish though,” she concluded. At least this time, the broadcaster who followed the interview got it right by saying this girl had “no reason to be embarrassed or to apologize”.

In the world of sport, it is true that only one athlete or team will win the ultimate prize of gold or to be ranked number one. For every person who realizes that goal, they should be celebrated and given the respect they deserve. But let’s not minimize the ones who came second, third, tenth, or thirty-fifth. Their dedication to training and crossing that finish line deserves praise and recognition as well.

In our spiritual lives, we are also exhorted to do our best and run the race well. Paul says in I Corinthians 9: 24-27, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing (or ‘beating the air’ – Amplified Bible). I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (NLT)

As believers and followers of Christ, let’s take some inspiration from these Olympians and strive to do our best, never give up, fight hard against our spiritual adversaries, and keep our eyes on the prize of eternal life that is ours to claim. Thank God we all can be winners!

Until next Sunday,


Seasonal Sunday
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Thursday, August 2, 2012

This Week In The Garden

We are on vacation this week and just came home from a few days in the country.  Since that is where our vegetable garden is, I am able to putter in it every day while we are there.  I'm the type that feels a bit restricted and "all thumbs" when I'm wearing gardening gloves.  So let's just say, it's probably a good thing you can't see my fingernails right now.    ;)

Most things in our garden are doing great.  Here's what we did this week:

  1.  Picked a truckload of green and yellow beans - still lots to go!
  2.  Picked the remainder of our main row of peas
  3.  Pulled the pea vines out and composted them
  4.  Picked the remainder of the broccoli
  5.  Pulled the broccoli plants and composted them
  6.  Weeded this morning after it rained
  7.  Helped my Handyman build a support for our tomatoes & cucs
       (It's a good thing he enjoys this as much as I do)  ;)
  8.  Fertilized the watermelon, zucchini, pumpkins & squash
  9.  Thinned the beats by picking a bunch to bottle
10.  I also followed the Victory Gardener's advice and picked off the bottom 6" of leaves of our brussel sprout stock.  He says if you do that once you see the little sprouts beginning, then more energy will go into forming the sprouts faster.  Once you pick those bottom sprouts, pick off more leaves up another 6" and your second harvest will mature faster.  Have you tried this before?  I'd love to know.

Here's what some of our garden looked like yesterday. 
Come and take a walk with me!

We have hundreds of tomatoes.  I'm getting a little impatient for some red ones!  Every single one is still green.  Has anyone ever planted some of the different color tomatoes?  I planted some "Lemon Boy" this year.  Looking forward to some yellow tomatoes too!  

I think I'm going to have to pull this turnip before too long.  It's been calling out to me as I walk by.  I love them raw, cut up like carrot sticks as much as I do cooked.

When we planted zucchini seeds this spring, I made a promise to myself.  No baseball bat sized zucchini's.  I brought one home yesterday that is about 10" long.  That's the biggest one yet.  

The squash is blooming!  We planted Buttercup and Acorn!

Lots of onions! 
 We planted some onions from seeds in among the big onions. 
 The perfect size for using as green onion.

The green beans are still blooming!

I bottled some of the beans I picked this week!
  First time to use a pressure cooker!
  My baby sister, Paula, gave me a crash course!

Lest you think everything is wonderful in the garden...

Our cabbages all look like Swiss Cheese.  :(

Beautiful pepper plants...but no blossoms, or peppers!  :(

Some blight on our potatoes.  No blossoms.  No potatoes underneath.  :(


This is what I picked before we left for home yesterday.  The beets are bottled already, and today my daughter, Jenna, grated the zucchini and we made 2 Zucchini chocolate chip loaves.  The zucchini in the picture yielded 2C of grated flesh.  I guess the Chocolate zucchini cake, and Lemon zucchini loaf will wait for the next zucchini!!

Thanks for walking with me.  Wishing you a great week in your garden!


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