Friday, January 13, 2017

A Cup of Encouragement

I love winter mornings.  The cold air that rushes over me like a bucket of icy water when I crawl from under the warm covers.... makes me shiver thinking about it. The freezing floor that sucks the, cozy just out of bed, warmth from my feet....brrr..another shiver. What's not to love about that? Generally,  I hurry into the bathroom, brush my teeth, moisturize my face, consider brushing my hair but sweep that thought away and jump into my clothes.  Why all the rush? I need a cup of coffee, of course.  Hmmm....might be because I'm cold too.

This morning I chose a cup of cherries as a prelude to a piece of toast and boiled egg for breakfast.  Cherries are one of my favorite fruits. I love plucking the stem off and popping them into my mouth.  Yum!

This morning along with my cup of cherries I enjoyed a remarkable passage in Zechariah 4.  A few days ago while I was praying about things that were heavy on my heart, the Lord directed me to this chapter in Zechariah.  What an encouraging portion of Scripture!  Zerubbabel, the Governor of Judah, was given the task to rebuild the Temple after the Jewish people were released from a 70 year exile in Babylon. The Temple had been destroyed along with the walls of Jerusalem. The once beautiful Temple built by Solomon was a charred mountainous heap before Zerubbabel. The gold and silver had been stripped from the temple and carted off to different kingdoms.  The beautiful fragrant cedars of Lebanon and the large quarried stones crafted into the foundation and walls of the Temple, the pride of Israel, laid in ruined heaps...all of it.  

The monumental task of removing the debris before re-laying the foundation must have been overwhelming to Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest. Perhaps a larger mountain was the opposition the returning captives faced from their neighbors the Samaritans.  Once the foundation was laid, the Samaritans began to oppose the rebuilding and frustrated the work by sending false and negative reports back to the governors of the King of Persia, the ruling kingdom at that time. The work on the Temple was halted for 7 years until King Darius became Ruler of Persia.  God gave a word to the prophet Zechariah for Zerubbabel; a word of hope and encouragement.  God said "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of Host".  What a Word!  In essence, Zerubbable, it's not going to be by your own might or your own strength that this work will be done.  It's going to happen because My Spirit is working on your behalf, helping you, giving you all that you need including favor with the new king of Persia, Darius.  As a side is mind boggling how kingdoms rose and fell during this time.

When King Darius received a missive from the leaders of Israel, he had the scribes search the archives and discovered that King Cyrus had given edicts for the House of God to be rebuilt at Jerusalem. So, Darius issued a decree for Cyrus' plans to continue.  Not only did he approve the Israelites continuing work on the House of God but he footed the cost; Darius also released the articles belonging to the House of God which had been taken to Babylon! Plus, he decreed that

"whoever alters this edict, let a timber be pulled from his house and erected and let him be hanged on it; and let his house be made a refuse heap because of this. And may the God who causes His name to dwell there destroy any king or people who put their hand to alter it, or to destroy this House of God which is in Jerusalem. I Darius issue a decree; let it be done diligently."  

 That's the Spirit of God at work upon the heart of a king. Don't interrupt this venture again...or else!

"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Host", a great promise to a nation trying to rebuild their country again, but, God didn't stop there, He also said Zerubbable would be the one to add the capstone to the finished Temple.

"And he (Zerubbable) shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of "Grace, grace to it!" "

  From a mountain of ruins and a constant battle from opposing forces the building of the Temple and walls were completed. I can imagine the celebration as that capstone was set in place.

When the task we are facing looks bigger than a mountain, God's word is still true to us today.  "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Host". We can accomplish that task, not because of ourselves but because of Him.  It will take effort, it will take working in spite of  opposition but we will finish and we will look at what is accomplished and say "grace, grace to it".


Monday, November 21, 2016

From Behind

The story of the woman in Luke 8: 42-48 has always captured my attention.  Many times I have imagined her touching Jesus, imagined her hand reaching out and touching the hem of His clothes; imagined her slipping through the crowd that jostled around Him; imagined her stretching her arm out as far as she could, hoping it was far enough.

I've imagined her hopelessness with the medical situation she was in.  As a woman I could imagine that very well.  I imagined her hoping that each time she was treated by a doctor that it would work this time.  I imagined the 12 long years she endured this "issue of blood" and the uncleanness she was forced to live with.  I imagined her counting out her coins and putting them into the hand of the doctor, a payment that was futile. I imagined the bloody rags she changed often and the tears that probably rolled down her cheeks.

I imagined her letting go of hope.

I imagined her hearing about Jesus, maybe just maybe.....

I imagined the day He came to her town; I imagine her cleaning herself up and walking out of her home, dare she do it since she was unclean.  I imagined her slipping into the crowd.  I imagined her hearing Him speak, He's going to heal Jairus' daughter;  I imagined she knew Jairus; Jairus wouldn't ask Jesus to come heal his daughter if Jesus couldn't, would he?  I imagined faith flaring in her heart.

I imagined her desperation as she weaved between humanity that crowed around Jesus.  I imagined her being shoved, pushed aside, each shove feeding her determination to reach Him.

I imagined her coming from behind, the tips of her fingers touching Him and the feeling of the issue of blood drying up.  I imagined her hearing Jesus say "who touched Me".  I imagined her fear as everyone denied it, I imagined her guilt. I imagined Jesus' eyes connecting with hers as He said " I felt power go out of Me".  I imagined she knew because she felt that power charge through her.

I imagined her coming forward, afraid, He is a clean man, a holy man and she had touched Him. I imagined her falling down, her bowed head; I imagined her confession, a silent plea for mercy.  I imagined hearing Jesus' words to her "Daughter, be of good cheer, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace".

I imagined her getting to her feet, cherishing the thought He called her Daughter.  I imagined her joy at being healed, changed, free, at peace.

Then, I imagine my hand reaching out to touch Him.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chop...Chop. Collection of Cutting Boards.

It's been a windy day here at Maywood Cottage, a good day to stay indoors and watch life outside from my kitchen window while sitting at the bar.

I can hear the chimes on the front porch and on the arbor at the side of the house.  They are keeping time with the gusts that are sweeping through.

I've seen this idea for storing a collection of chopping boards on several blogs listed on Pinterest.  Some are stored in baskets, others in sewing drawers and some in crates or wooden boxes.  I found this beachy style wooden box at Target in the 3.00 - 5.00 section of the store.  I fell in love with the rope handles and knew I wanted to use it somewhere in my kitchen.

I painted the box with a sage green color, then varnished it.

Thorough the years I have found a few chopping boards in my favorite vintage/antique shops that I frequent.  I have painted designs on a few and sold them in my Etsy shop.  They are one of my favorite surfaces to paint on.



Tuesday, April 12, 2016


I love infused vinegar and olive oils.  I've bought them from speciality shops but have aways wanted to make my own.  Finally....I did!!

Step No-1 in making these infused vinegars was to research how to do it.  And research I did...lots and lots of research.  While there are many recipes for different flavors out there on the ever expanding and seemingly endless information highway, there is also lots of debate about keep these fresh and uncontaminated by bacteria....that's scary, huh!!  While I definitely want the wonderful flavor, I definitely don't want the bacteria.

So, after miles and miles of travel down that information highway, these are the articles I found that best suited me for my quest in making these wonderful infused delights...HERE and HERE But, be sure and research because there are lots of recipes and great advice out there.

 Step No~2 in this adventure was to decide on what bottles I would use.  I looked on different sites that sell speciality bottles but just couldn't get away from the desire to use a couple of recycled bottles.  I prowled through some of my "stored away to be used later" glass jars but none of them screamed "pick me".

Not long after this search I was looking through my cabinet for a bottle of Balsamic vinegar that I needed for a recipe.  I pushed canned goods out of my way in this direction and that direction looking  for a bottle of the vinegar I just knew I had...hadn't I just used it not too long ago.  Finally, I found what I was looking for.  I pulled it out of the cabinet and noticed the bottle looked kind of old.  Hmmm..what's the expiration date on this thing.  2011....what?  That was that....I might have used it if it was stamped 2014 but....nope, not 2011.  I poured the liquid down the drain and rinsed out the bottle.  Wait a minute....that's a nice looking bottle, it would be perfect for my infused vinegar.  So, I washed it and set it aside.

That same day looking through the fridge I spotted a Jarritos flavored soda and had the same heavenly musical thought ring through my head....that's a great bottle for my infused vinegar so I chugged the soda down and washed and de-labled the bottle.

Step No~2 accomplished.

Now for a  step No~3.  What about the lid?  I tried a wine cork in these and they fit but it wasn't the look I had in my creative thought bubble for these. Then, I remembered... I had purchased a package of wine toppers at Target a few weeks prior to this adventure and knew these would be perfect, they are colorful and fit these bottles like it was meant to be.

Step No~4.  A label.  Scrubbing a label off a bottle isn't my favorite thing to do so I eliminated that sticky labels.  I created these labels in PicMonkey, printed them out on card stock, placed a piece of masking tape to reinforce where the hole would be, punched a hole with a hole punch and used some jute to loop them on the bottle.

Simple, simple, simple! use them.

Next, I'm looking forward to making some infused olive oil.



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Name That Herb

It's that time of year, visiting the local nurseries and picking out a few veggies and some herbs.

We usually don't plant a big garden, just a few tomatoes, green beans, peppers and a plant or two of squash.  Most of our property is wooded, we hate to cut down trees to enlarge our current garden plot.  We are researching container or bale gardening.  I'm looking forward to experimenting with these options.

I made these plant pokes from the bottom of a disposable cake pan. To make these, cut the tin into rectangles with a pair of scissors, and score 1/4 of an inch in on the back side with a ball point pen, then, fold the edges in and smooth them down with a pencil.  Write the herb name on the front side and score it with a ball point pen. Paint the sign with a primer and once the paint is dry cover it with a creamy white color ( I used DecoArt Americana paint, in Buttermilk).  Once it is dry, water down a cinnamon color ( again, I used DecoArt American in Light Cinnamon) and wash it over the corners of the sign.  Next, water down a Burnt Umber color (Also DecoArt Americana) and with a small lettering brush trace over the indented letters.  Punch a hole in the top center with a pointed hole punch.  I used a portion of a metal hanger to create the poke for the sign.  Make a crook in the top and then bend up to form a hook to hold the sign. Of course, any bendable metal will work for this.

I love fresh herbs, there's no other flavor like them!

These pokes were made using carpenter's shims.

For these herb pokes, I cut the shims down the center using a bandsaw.  I painted them with a creamy white, then wrote the herb names in with black paint. Once the paint was dried I sanded over the letters to antique them slightly, and then stained them with a brown stain.  I varnished them with an exterior varnish so they will hold up under the weather.

These were fun to make and look great in the pots. What a help these will be in identifying the herbs once they are plated in a larger container.  Yes, I do forget what they are and need a little reminder.



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My Life With a Border Collie

The Happenings of Maywood Cottage.

The Border Collie is definitely my choice of breed, they are full of energy and have the best antics.

This is my girl SadieMae.  She's the pup of Maywood Cottage.

Cute antics?  Yes
Border Collie Stubborn?  Yes
Love for life?  Yes
A little crazy?  Yes, yes, yes
Finds trouble easily?  Yes
Neurotic?  Absolutely, YES!

SadieMae is a rescue Border Collie.  She was a rescue from an animal shelter in West Virginia.  She was somewhere between 1 and 1.5 years old when she came to live with us back in August 2008.  We don't know her history, she was found on the animal shelter grounds and no one came to claim her.  I assume she was dumped by someone who did not understand a Border Collie and could not handle her energy and love for life.  That's just an assumption; what I do know is that she came with a lot of baggage.

We were told SadieMae was house trained and knew a few basic commands but that was wishful thinking.  She was raw, untrained in every way.  But, that did not deter us.  Once she was a part of our family she received all the help she needed to become a vital part of the pack. I spent month after month teaching and training her.  That's when her baggage came into focus. She had many fears, one of which was fear of men.  SadieMae gladly accepted me but was fearful of my husband. It made me wonder what happened.  Why is she so afraid? Who hurt her? What is her story?  The story only her actions could tell.  This was the hardest and longest part of working through her hangups.  My husband had to win her trust and help her confidence.  The slightest rise in his voice sent her skittering.  She would sit with me but not by least in the beginning.  But his patience finally won her over.

Even though Sadie had fears we had to work through, she's also a dominate force and reactive.  Sadie had a strong motion sensitivity which sent her full throttle after running kids, cars, squirrels, rabbits, anything that moved.  And, any sudden movement caused her to react.

I remember the day I realized Sadie and I had made it.  I was walking her in our rural neighborhood and one of my neighbors stopped his truck along side us and asked me if this was the same dog I had the previous summer.  I looked over at SadieMae sitting calmly while I talked to this "male neighbor"  and said "yes, it's the same one".  He replied, "it's amazing how well behaved she's become".

When I arrived home I thought of all that SadieMae had learned since she had come to live at Maywood Cottage and be a part of our home.  She had learned more than just basic commands like sit, stay, here, heel.  She had learned her territory, where the property boundaries are and not cross them, she had made excellent strides in not herding the grandchildren (but they also learned what to do if she did), she would walk with me off her lead and was making a great trail dog.  Sadie learned fun things like search and rescue, hide and seek, how to play dead,  high fives and a few dance moves.  She plays frisbee and became a great babysitter for the kids.  There are more things she learned that first year and the years that followed, she has a learning mentality and I found that the more I challenged her to learn the less reactive she is.  But the biggest and most endearing thing she learned was to trust us.  That we would not hurt her, that we would love her and nurture her to become the best dog she could be; that she is a vital part of our family and would never be dumped off because of her quirks. After all, we all have a few quirks and hers fit right in with us.

But, Sadie is not the only one who went through a learning process  I have learned too.  That first year wasn't easy but I learned I could make it through the difficult times by taking it one day at a time. I learned that a diamond in the rough after polishing will shine if you put in the effort and don't give up.  I learned to break the training into smaller steps and work on it everyday.  I learned to keep looking ahead and only look back to measure how far we've advanced.  I learned that trust isn't always a 2 way street, but, that it is a single lane where you learn to walk together, side by side.  Through my sweet puppy and my adventure together I have learned that your future doesn't have to be defined by your past.

SadieMae is around 9 years old this year, lately she's living life in the "slower" lane.  She likes to lay around more but true to her nature is still loves to learn.  When I offer her a treat she usually has to work for it so rather than patiently waiting for a direction she starts going through most of her treat commands.  She such a trooper.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Snow... Plus...Kids...Plus...Camera Challenge

The Happenings of Maywood Cottage.

I was hoping for another snow before Spring erased winter's vestige and yesterday, the day before the first day of Spring, it snowed.  Big wet flakes of the white stuff fell for most of the day.  The temps hovered around freezing so most the snow melted away following its wistful landing. Hubby and I watched it fall from the warm rooms of our home. We read while it fell, we baked carrot cake muffins while it fell, we took care of a few chores around the house while it fell, we watched a couple of programs while it fell.

Then, I remembered, I need to take a few photos of inclement weather for a photo challenge I'm participating in.  I asked the grandkids if they would be willing to be my amazing models; "of course" they all chimed in, well, all except one who was recovering from the stomach flu.

I researched the camera settings I would need for falling snow, pulled on my hiking boots, shrugged into my coat, grabbed my camera, tripod and an umbrella and met the kids outside.  It was so much fun capturing their sweet smiles and personalities on film...I mean a memory card.

Even the Cottage pup posed for a few shots.

It's was a great snow day.