Saturday, July 13, 2019

Shelling Walnuts

We didn't know for sometime that we had a walnut tree at the back of our garden. It has been growing for sometime and I don't remember planting it but somehow it has arrived. It certainly wasn't there when we first bought the section in 1989.

Walnuts, like a lot of nuts trees take a long time to produce, hence the saying:

If you want to provide for your children, plant fruit trees; and if you want to provide for your grandchildren, plant nuts.


And it would appear that for us, that is true as it has only been the last few years that we have found the walnuts and it is the grandchildren who happily gather them. Quite a bonus as they  see it as a fun activity we do together rather than a chore.

A couple of years ago we had noticed the tree in amongst an area we had never cleared and as it was over grown we chopped out most of the dead or weedy plants leaving the tree and the big Rimu. It may have been the clearing out around it that helped it to produce, but it was then that we noticed its early fruit. I picked some and cut them open trying to find what kind of "fruit" it was even wondering if it was a quince.

Then one late summer we noticed the hens having a good old scratch around the base of the trees and saw the walnuts. So for the last two years we have been gathering and drying our crop.
It's been great having our own supply as I use them in a lot of my recipes, but it can be a long drawn out time cracking and storing the inside nut.

A walnut first grows as a green 'fruit' as it ripens the outer green skin splits and draws back over the shell and turns black. At this stage the nuts fall from the trees either by 'escaping' the dried up black covering or just coming off completely in tact.

It's best to gather these in the Autumn as soon as possible so they don't get too wet and succumb to rot or diseases, then we dry them in little plant pots in the hot water cupboard.

Then its time to shell them. We've found if you leave them in the shell for too long they still deteriorate.

Today I wanted to bake some of my Jam Muffins which have walnuts in so I decided to crack open the last nuts, so also clearing out the spot in the laundry where they had been stored.

With a cup tea and a few bowls for collecting nuts and then shells I sat out in the warm winter air. With the crack, crack sound, it didn't take long for the hens to come checking out what I was doing.
I had noticed in the past they would rummage around below the deck finding grubs etc and thought they also enjoyed the shells. Little did I know that it was actually the walnuts they wanted. (well of course - they were having a great time under the walnut tree before we knew what they were doing!)



I had already given them a few old crusts but they wanted more. To the extent that they would grab anything near enough. Then just when I was on the last few and Harry had come to crack the hard shells, they decided they had to get in or miss out!


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Leave Them at the Altar

In the garden at the bottom of our section we have a sort of native part. There are native trees and plants, a stepping stone path to the letter box and bark chips as a covering so you can just walk amongst it.

Hidden at the back is a pile of different sizes stones – a small stone altar I made many years ago after I had a break down.

Exodus 20:25 If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it.

It is built of stones from around the section and each stone was a representative of people in my life that I was worried about and God had told me I needed to leave them there as an altar, trusting Him to be in control.

Over the years there have been times when I have laid another stone on it as a symbol of letting things go and trusting God in it.

I have been reading the first few chapters of the Old Testament in the Bible and there is often reference to building an altar especially as a reminder of God.

In Genesis 8:20 after the flood… Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. This was a form of thanks to God for bringing Noah and his family safely through the flood.

When God appear to Abram and showed him the land he was going to possess he built an altar as a place of remembrance

Genesis 12:8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. 

Genesis 26:25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.

Genesis 35:1-3  Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3 Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”

Exodus 17:15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner.

If you do a search on Bible Gateway.com for ‘an altar’ you will come up with over 300 to 400 references (depending on which Bible you base the search on). That’s a lot of talk on altars.
The building of the altar is laid out in detail in Exodus being God’s instructions to Moses and the building of the first tent or tabernacle and altar to God. It is carried on with references in the first seven chapters in Leviticus of what these offerings and sacrifices are to be. The more you read the more you see that God sees the altar as a place of coming and bringing our sacrifices to Him whatever they were for
Burnt Offering 
Grain Offering - also called Meal or Tribute Offering 
Sin Offering 
Guilt Offering 
Peace Offering - also called Fellowship Offering: includes: (1) Thank Offering, (2) Vow Offering, (3) Freewill Offering
These offerings were of animals
Oxen – service and strength (Proverbs 14:4 ) 
Sheep – meekness and purity (Isaiah 53:7 ) 
Goats – sin and judgment (Christ became sin for us) 
Pigeon – poverty (Leviticus 12:8 ) 
Turtledoves – innocence (Psalm 74:19 ) 
with different types of bread. Whatever the response was for, it was a physical coming to a place of significance to God and a giving over of an offering to Him.

An altar always represented a place of dedicating something in this case to God. They were often built to commemorate an encounter with God that had a profound impact upon someone. When we surrender areas of our lives to the control of the Holy Spirit, we are in effect laying that area on the altar before God. We can symbolically lay that on the altar and let go.

I found that as part of my prayers, if I am really struggling with prayer for someone or something there comes a time when I have to physically hand it over as a reminder of doing so. When it comes again into my head or heart I can claim that I have handed it over to God in faith knowing He will take control with the best outcome for the issue.

1 Chronicles 21:26 David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. 

God honoured David’s desire to be right and to fellowship with God by answering with consuming fire from heaven on the altar he had built on a simple, unadorned place.  As it always is when we draw near to God for cleansing and fellowship.


So I found four stones (don’t ask me where they come from but they keep turning up around our place!) one each for my husband, my youngest, my parents and my job and naming them with the prayer I am praying, I placed each one on the altar.

While I sat and pondered this the birds above me were feeding on the berries in the tree I was sitting on Cotoneaster 'Cornubia' . I picked them and scattered them as the berries for me were a symbol of the blood of Jesus who is the living sacrificial lamb.

To walk away from this act means for me I am truly leaving the things I have named there for God.
I’m not to ‘pick them up again’.
This in itself can be hard but then its only with God’s help that I can do so.

“Do not believe for a moment that visible grandeur is necessary to the place where God will meet with you. Go to your threshing floor and pray; aye, while the unmuzzled oxen take their rest, bow your knee and cry to the Lord of the harvest, and you shall meet with God there amongst the straw and the grain. Fear not to draw nigh to God in these streets, but consecrate all space to the Lord your God.” (Spurgeon)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Just For Today

Do you ever have one of those days… or weeks... or maybe even a year?
Well so far this year – yes the first five or six months, have not been the best.
In fact right now I have taken a sip of a cup of Healtheries Chamomile & Vanilla tea and burnt my bottom lip!

Earlier today after making a decision last night about my future I was still not feeling like I was in a good place. I had to run some errands between finishing work late and a JP appointment and as I drove I talked to God. My car CD player no longer works and I think it was something God let happen as I spend a lot of time talking to Him now!

You know all the “stuff” that happens in your life that in most cases you cope with or get through - like entering a tunnel on a train where it is all dark and you finally come back into the light and all is OK even though you knew it would be that way. But from past experiences you’re not sure how long that tunnel is or if there might be a breakdown in it and someone has to come and rescue you.

If you have read my blog you will know my husbands and my history with mental health issues.

With the decision I’ve made things should feel better but I was still troubled. I heard God say, tell me about it… so this is how it went….

“I feel so weak with everything going on.
Too weak to deal with it.
I know that when I am weak You are strong.
I know when I just can’t do it I just have to hand it over to You and that is what You want.
To surrender it all to You.
You want me to say ‘I can’t do it’ because then I let You take control instead of trying to sort it myself.
But in that I still feel I want to know it will be OK.
How do I relax in knowing You are in control
I can’t see it.
I want a sign – assurance.
It’s like I’m stuck in that tunnel
I trust that You only have the best.
That only good is what You have for us who believe.
That I should believe that all will be well.
When I hand it all over to You, and I do.
But there always seems to be a ‘but’
I know my faith should just trust.
But
There are too many people I love and want the best for.
My family (and I named what I pray for them)
I want to know it will all be well“

God spoke

“Your faith is all you need”

With that I sighed. It’s funny it was like I had been holding my breath – and then let it out.

Later that night I was browsing facebook and saw this post from Ann Voskamp

…just for today -- DO. NOT. WORRY. "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Matt6:34MSG

Just for today: Be a prayer warrior--not a panicked worrier.

Worry is just the facade of taking action -- when prayer really is. Bottom line -- keep breathing deep and give your worries to God -- He'll give you His peace.

His Word gently lifts our chins:
"The Lord bless you & keep you;
the Lord make His face to shine upon you & be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up His countenance upon you & give you peace.” Nu.6

While reading this I had some Hillsong music playing, and an older song I Will Exalt You played


I will exalt You
I will exalt You
I will exalt You
You are my God

My hiding place, my safe refuge
My treasure Lord You are
My friend and King Anointed One
Most Holy

Because You're with me
Because You're with me
Because You're with me
I will not fear

Even though the 'stuff' hasn't really changed - yet - my heart is rested.
Throughout the day God was saying 'all is well.' Right through Facebook kposts and songs I listened to!

Like my lip – it’s sore, but I know in time it will heal and all will be well.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Feijoa and Apple Loaf


I made a banana and feijoa loaf the other day and Daniel asked if I could make an apple and feijoa one. I have plenty of feijoa loaf recipes but I had to go looking for one with apple in.
I found a cake recipe from here and have adapted it to bake as a loaf.
You will need a food processor or kitchen whiz. Not sure how it would work without one.
It definitely has cake consistency to it but is nice eaten in slices.


Feijoa and Apple Loaf 

Ingredients

Skin of 1 orange
1 cup raw sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup white flour
½ tsp ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
Good pinch of tsp salt
½ cup wholemeal flour
¾ cups sliced apple (cored and quartered – skin on – thinly sliced cross-ways)
¾ cups sliced feijoas (skin, halve and slice thinly)
½ cup vegetable oil (not olive – I used canola)

Method

Preheat oven to 180ÂșC.
Grease or line a loaf tin with baking or grease proof paper.
With a potato peeler finely peel the skin from the orange. You don’t want any of the white pith so be careful as you peel.
Place this and the sugar into a processor bowl and pulse until the peel is chopped a bit.
Break the eggs into the orange sugar. Pulse for a few seconds and leave sitting while you assemble other ingredients.
Sift white flour, baking soda, ginger and salt together into a small bowl then gently stir in wholemeal flour. Set aside
Measured sliced feijoas and apple flesh separately.
Process the sugar and egg combo for a further couple of minutes.
With the motor running, dribble the oil very slowly down the feed tube.
Process for another couple of minutes, adding the apple slices.
Remove lid and add half the dry ingredients, pulse, add the remainder and pulse again.
Add the feijoas to the mixture and pulse briefly until just combined.
Spoon mixture into prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until a screw comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely and with serve with icing sugar sprinkled on the top or with a light spread of butter.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Feijoa and Banana Loaf

 I do not claim this as my recipe. It can also be found on the food in a minute page

If you have to buy feijoas - I'm sorry
If you get given feijoas - enjoy
If like me you have trees and so many by now you are over them...
Try this. Its lovely and moist and I just have a bit of butter on it.
It would be nice served as a desert or just thicker with a hot drink and served with custard, whipped cream, ice-cream, yogurt or a combination.

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp mixed spice
1 cup raw sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil  (I used olive oil as I didn't have any vegetable)
1 egg
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
1 cup chopped ripe feijoas (about 3-4 feijoas)

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C .
Grease and line the base of a 13cm x 23cm x 70 (6 cup capacity) loaf tin with baking paper.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and mixed spice into a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl beat together raw sugar, oil, egg to combine.
Add banana in hunks and beat in.
Pour into the dry ingredients along with the chopped feijoas and fold in trying not to over mix.
Spoon into prepared loaf tin.
Bake for 55 - 60 minutes until cooked. A skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf will come out clean.
Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes before turning onto a cake rack to cool completely.
Cut into slices when cool to serve.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

I Am Who I Am

The title of this post is NOT blasphemy or dis-respectable to God. In fact if anything it is honouring God.

Have you ever had a time when you think "I have had enough. I'm not going to preform anymore to someone else's script, do what everyone else expects, or be what everyone else wants"?

Last Saturday I woke and after wrestling with how things had gone over the last few weeks I really felt like that. I never seemed to have any real me time, and the demands from all directions often meant I couldn't do things I wanted to or to what I felt was the best. I'm not pointing my finger at anyone or any particular incident as it really comes down to what I let happen in agreeing or not, to requests, demands and expectations.

I was sleeping eight hours a night and it didn't seem enough. I was at work for an extra hour or so each day and I still didn't get everything finished. The love of doing all things to be 'homely' seemed lost and I felt angry, especially when I saw others doing the things I longed to be doing.

It was like I was being tied down and bound to what I had become. I didn't like it and it was making me grumpy at almost anyone or anything.

I'm reading a book by Shelia Walsh called "In the Middle of the Mess". I started it so many weeks ago i decided to restart it. A quote right at the start reached out to me. Shelia was interviewing Rich Mullins on her show and asked him a question.
"What are the most important things in your life?" 
He answered "At any given moment it might be slightly different, but I would imagine that nothing would be more important than becoming fully who you were supposed to be...."

To be who you are supposed to be - I wanted that. I wanted to be fully who I am. I didn't like how I'd been feeling and with a sort of freedom I broke from the ties and claimed "I am who I am". In God's Word, the Bible, we read in Psalm 139:13-16
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
New International Version 

I am happiest when I am being who I believe I was fully created to be - a woman of God. And for me I believe that is a well-loved child of God, a wife, mother, daughter, nana, someone who can teach by example the roles God made for me.

So that day I put aside all that people were wanting and spent the day in the freedom of being who I am.

I spent time with God in His word. He showed me how much He continues to love us even when we grumble and complain. (Exodus 16 when the Israelite's started out in the desert and complained for food and water. God heard them and gave them quail and manna 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.)






I baked - something I haven't done for ages for just us.







I fed the men in our home lunch of toasted sandwiches, baking and cups of tea, while they worked on dismantling a vehicle on the property.


I'd been rostered on do the flowers for church. Something I had to do, but I do enjoy arranging flowers. And even though I didn't think I had anything in the garden. I found enough to put two vases together.

And I just rested and read.

By the time I went to bed I had a sense of satisfaction of being who I am and also being who God wants me to be.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A Smile

I am lucky to have both my parents still living - Mum is 89 and Dad turns 90 next month. As they have aged, their bodies are slowing down and their minds are not as sharp as they used to be. The things around them sort of stay the same. Either because they don't change anything, they don't want to or they just don't notice the need to do so.

From the outside I see them living as they do, and how they see it all as being fine, but the truth is, they need more and more help for some basic things to help them cope and be safe and well.

As the years and months go by I desire to spend more and more time with them as I know the time of being able to do this is coming to an end. They would come and spend Christmas or some of the summer with us and a couple of times during the year but that is not possible now so I travel to them when I can.

I was tidying some of my kitchen cupboards a little while ago and actually shed a tear that my silver tea pot would not really be used much any more.
Dad loves his tea made with tea leaves in a pot and I would get it out along with what I called his special cup and saucer.

When I visit them I always love to make Dad his cup of tea, just a little bit of what I did for him when they were here.

Mum spends most of her days now sitting in her chair in the lounge. She doesn't want to watch day time television and can't hold long conversations so spends most of the day dozing. Mum was very talented with hand crafts and could play the piano and sing. Standing next to her in church I could always hear her strong voice and although it is not so loud now she still can sing the songs.

The chair she sits in is very near her piano but the space between has been full of boxes of 'stuff' that never got sorted or thrown out. We can all be guilty of keeping things because we will read them later, file them away or use or sort them for something else but the days/weeks/months go by and it never gets done. If this then blends into years and more and more piles and boxes collect, there is soon an area of hoarding being developed.

At then end of my last visit my brother, his wife and I got to work and cleared the space to the piano, cleaning and moving the boxes to another place. We tried to make the path from Mum's chair wide enough for her to be able to get to the stool and sit and play. I found some music  titled "It Is Time" and placed it on the stand for her to see.

In the morning both Mum and Dad didn't seem to even notice what we had done so I drew their attention to it and explained I chose the music because "Now is the time Mum, for you to get back and play some music" I wasn't quite sure how she would react or what she would say but when I looked at her, she turned from looking at the piano and smiled.

Whether she gets to sit at the piano again and plays or is even able to play, and whether I get to hear her, the smile just filled me with a joy that really can't be explained. Something in her liked the whole idea and I felt that we had made that happen by the tidying we did.





When I leave after each visit I often wonder if it will be the last time, or what it will be like the next time but this time I felt a smile forming on my face as I started my long 470 kilometer drive home.

A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing... 
Proverbs 17:22 AMP