Saturday, June 4, 2011

Road Trips

The beauty that I love about my blog is this: I write when life swells
within me and inspiration spills apon my fingertips.

It is amazing as I look back at my entries, it is a scapbook of sorts,
to the road on which I travel in life. It is beautiful and full, tiring and

Most every road that I have ever traveled on, from the open prairies
of Kansas, the coastline of Martha's Vineyard to the cliffs of Kauai,
the road meandered, curved and at times veered dangerously on a
hair-pin curve.  Isn't this a picture of our lives?

Before we had children, my husband and I set out on a road trip.

Our eventual destination was to visit his family in the Bay area of
California.  From Colorado, we headed west crossing through
beautiful and rugged mountains, green valleys and then we came
to dry, grayish-brown desert.  My husband was tired and asked
if his bride would take the wheel for awhile as he climbed in the
back to take a nap. 

Now that we have a quiver-full of children, that is no longer an option.

To keep from getting bored (or crazy) I looked at the time and milege
when my sweet husband layed down in the back and thought, "I wonder
how FAR I can get on the road before he wakes up".  I know, crazy.

Because I have such a patient and merciful Lord and husband, we did not get in an accident, but I did cover ALOT of miles in the short time my husband napped. I don't reccomend this.

As I have thought about that trip, I have seen how I have done this "hurry-up-and-get-this-over-with" spill into other areas of my life.  When the Lord blessed us with each of my children, at times, I couldn't wait till they reached the age that they could (fill in the blank).  Or when we could afford to......I would have the time to.........

Could it be, that I have not been enjoying the current view out the window on the current road I travel?

One day, my preschooler will not find sheer joy in letting me hold her, count her little toes and sing to her.  One day, my teen daughters will not be borrowing my earrings and the late-night talks will be replaced with the sounds of crickets. One day, my nine-year old son will not sit on the floor and re-inact a LEGO battle scene (with noises) for me.

But TODAY, on this road, I will slow my racing thoughts and slowly savor the fleeting and precious view.

Under His Wings,

Malinda B.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Gift of A Letter

"An inspired letter can be as riveting as a stare. It can move us to tears, spur us to action, provoke us, uplift us, touch us. Transform us.  When written from the heart, letters are dreams on paper, wishes fullfilled,  desires statified. Letters can be powerful."
                          "Gift Of A Letter" by Alexandra Stoddard

As far back as I can remember, I anticipated the mailman.  Running to the mailbox when the flag on the box was lowered, I was eager to the possibility of recieving the gift of a letter.  Not much has changed, except maybe I don't run......the neighbors might wonder.....

For my entire childhood, I never lived in the same area as my maternal grandparents. But it felt as if I knew their life.  They scripted it for me in their letters.  I learned about the elderly neighbor lady who discovered she could paint.  What my grandparents enjoyed at the weekly jaunt to their favorite resturant.  The treasures they found at a garage sale. What the young preacher preached on a church.  I was even sent sermon notes. 

I still carry them in my Bible. 

I still trace with my finger the beautiful penmanship that my grandmother had. In time, Parkinson's disease stole it away and then she would dictate her cards and letters to my grandfather.  The beauty of old love.

The enjoyment found in writing and receiving letters runs deep. 

I have found the actual process of writing to be a natural form of autobiography.  As I articulate my thoughts to the person I am writing, my experience of actually living, is made more deliberate and with more acute awareness.  I become aware of what is currently happening in our family, struggles that I might be dealing with  and specific things that have recently inspired my life, such as a good book, recipe or conversation. I narrate my life.

As I think about the person I am writing, I am able to focus on how much they mean to me, to pray for them and thank God for their life intersecting with mine.  I am able to think about what life might be like for them and the think of questions I would like to ask.

Through the years, I have organized my top desk drawer with pretty liner, pens, stamps, stickers, address labels and collected a variety of paper and notecards.  By doing so, it is easier for my children and myself to set to the enjoyment of a thank you or letter.

It's been so enjoyable to be on the look-out for pretty envelopes, cards, stationary, colored pens, stamps and return address labels.

I recently got a letter from a new friend from Oregon.  We had participated in a seed swap.  When my daughter brought in the mail the other day (I think she runs....oh how I am proud), she handed me a padded envelope.  I was a bit giddy.

Later when I had a time of quiet and brewed a cup of tea, I opened the anticipated envelope.  Inside, I found a beautiful seed packet tied in raffia and an antique, painted button.  Also enclosed was a beautiful card and letter and a little coin purse my new friend had sewn!  What joy this small token of another brought that week.  A kindred spirit I have found.

How do we set aside time for letter writing?

"Letter writing used to be the principle form of communication prior to 1876 and the introduction of the now ubiquitous telephone at America's Centennial celebration.  Often letter writing was an art form.  In today's lightning-paced, nuclear obsessed society, we are virtually starved for the individual stamp of a personally handwritten letter.  We live longer than ever before.  So what is our maddening rush?  What makes us "too busy" to send the gift of a letter to someone we care about?  We all get caught up but to busy for what?" questions Alexandra Stoddard in A Gift of a Letter.

I have been deeply pondering those words.

For me, the quiet moments woven throughtout Sunday afternoons have been ideal for me to pen someone a letter.  In those hours, our home is quietly humming with children, pets and hubby.  A wonderful time for reflection.  A perfect recipe for letter writing. 

A personal letter can be a most intimate and touching of human experiences, one to another. 

A letter is a gift signature of you.

Spring Blessings!


Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Trails We Blaze

North of where I live is the Oregon Trail. 

Two summers ago, in route to a Yellowstone camping trip with my family, we took a side turn off the beaten path to see the Oregon Trail ruts. 

Could they really still be there after over one hundred fifty years of blizzards, thunderstorms and other rugged weather?  They were.

Our family being a big fan of everything pioneer and reading the "Little House On the Prairie" series to our kids, I felt a moment of reverence amidst these wheel-marked paths. I felt choked with hot, welling tears.

How does a family endure what they did?

One thing was evident when gazing at such a scene: alot of covered wagons passed through these rolling and at times very rocky, terrian.  Again and again they came.  Some whistling as they worked their teams.  Others crying over the family and life they left behind for who knows what were to greet them ahead.

As we drove away, the children were happy and content to see some actual pioneer artifacts.  I sat in the passenger seat, watching the sea of open sky & prairie and really pondered those tracks.  Again and again they came.  Tracks being carved into the rugged prairie. From the prairie transitioned my thoughts to my own life

What tracks am I carving into my life? 

What makes them?


That's it!  What do I return time and time again to? One thing is for sure, tracks are made by the constant  returning of wheels ginding and pressing down.  Habits are of the same nature.

What has made me ponder these thoughts as of recent, is the time of year.  New Year's resolutions have been earnestly made, begun and sadly, many abandoned.

What now remains, those resolutions, have a good chance to be on their way to becoming habits.

I reflect back to my own life, I look at the habits that I have absorbed into who I am.  Ways of thinking, how I interact with others, how I manage my home and the daily rhythm with my children, the way I speak and respond to my husband, how I take care of my body, what I do to grow deeper in my faith.

This I know:

I am what I do daily.

I first form my habits; then my habits form me.

Every day I live, I am in the process of becoming.  Whether I am becoming better or worse depends on what I give myself to.

I do what I have committed to, even when I don't feel like it.

My habits are my future.  They will determine who I will be ten or thirty years from now. 

Like the Oregon Trail ruts, my habits now will effect those generations ahead of me.
Maybe one hundred and fifty years from now.

Vintage Homestead


Pioneer Girl Gingersnaps

My daughters at Pioneer camp.  Not sure what my youngest
was eating.....
Several summers ago, two of my daughters had the opportunity to spend a week at Pioneer Camp.  It was held at our local museum who had relocated old log cabins onto their grounds were the girls "lived" for the camp.  Throughout the week, our girls came and were taken back in time learning the ways of pioneer women and children.

Among all their adventures, they brought home this delicious & healthy recipe that we all have been enjoying.

Pioneer Girl Gingersnaps

3/4 cup real butter
1 cup sugar (instead, we did 1/2 cup honey & 2 packets of Stevia)
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon Ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
several teaspoons of water as needed to moisten.

Cream the first three ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add teaspoons of water if necessary to moisten a bit.  Make little balls (approx. 1 Tbsp. dough) and drop onto greased cookie sheet.  Take back of spoon and flatten ball.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 7-8 minutes.

                             Enjoy a taste of the good ol' Pioneer days!



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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vintage Modern Farmgirl

How does a woman thrive today whose heart longs for the virtues and ways of living of the past?

These thoughts have been stirring in my mind for the last several years.

I am a great-grandaughter of those who settled the West.

August of this past year, I found myself on the dirt road heading to the homestead of my great-grandparents with my wonderful mom next to me and my precious children in the backseats.  Dust gathering behind my vehicle and farmland sprinkled with cattle, sunflowers and windmills, I made the journey to the homestead.

I have lots of memories of visiting as a child.  Getting up at the crack of dawn with my great uncle to gather eggs, riding on the back of an old truck as it slowly crept through the prairie throwing bales of hay to cows who gathered behind.  Listening to the coyotes howl at night, worrying about the little kittens nestled in the warmth of the old barn.

Walchle Homestead: taken by Cathy Stewart, cousin

My children have no memories of this place.  My heart feels sad that I am the last generation of my family to have these memories of a working homestead.  My uncle now is now gone, his grave on the bluffs of the small, nearby town.  His wife, in a nursing home of that small town.  They had no children.  Ironically, she lives on another bluff across from the graveyard.  My maternal grandparents and several great-aunts and uncles all buried here.  Their lives beginning and coming full circle to the hills and bluffs of the prairie.

I have farmgirl roots.  How do I keep from losing my heritage?  How do I spill these thoughts and way of living into my life and the lives of my children? 

I have experienced and enjoyed the theatre and art museums of New York City, symphony orchestras (I was a violinist) and other "modern" life.  But it has been the joy found in daily living, that I have done much soul searching.  As a teenager, I thought it too old-fashioned & a bit embarrassed.  It's funny how sometimes we reject things that we later learn is an immense treasure.

"Steadfast at home" or committed to a home-centered life is what it has been boiled down to.  Interacting with God's creation in the way I was meant to, becoming less dependent on government and big business and more dependent on our Creator.  Putting my husband, children and home first in my priorities.  Viewing my home as a place of creativity, industry and ministry.

For me, it physically began when I started wearing aprons again
So simple, yet as I began to think about it, I don't have any memories of my Grammie or great aunts not wearing aprons (unless they were dressed for church on Sunday).  As I get to work in my kitchen, I tie those strings around my waist and feel the heritage of those precious, hardworking and Godly women who have gone before me. 

As I studied the daily lives of the women in my family's heritage,  I began to see some areas that I could re-capture and cultivate in my own family and life.  Lots of the following ideas we have begun adding into our family's way of life.  Others, I am prayfully considering.

Things like:

growing a vegetable garden


using natural products for medicines, beauty, etc.


stocking a deep pantry


writing letters

raising chickens


making own cleaners & laundry soap

cake decorating

nature studying/sketching

listening to sermons & radio dramas together as a family

bee keeping

making menus from scratch

planting and harvesting own orchard

reading great books aloud as a family

candle making

growing herbs for cooking, medicine & teas

grinding wheat  & baking homemade bread

What I didn't expect in doing these things was the changes that would take place in my family's hearts and relationships as we've learned to plant, harvest, can, bake, sew and mend together.  It has really brought a deep sense of joy and satisfaction. 

Can a woman of today be a Vintage Modern Farmgirl?

Yes.  She not only can, but it's a tiring, rewarding & beautiful life. She may also change the lives of those who walk in her footsteps and those around her.  The fruit has the potential to live beyond her own lifetime.

"Her children arise up, and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her.  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all."  Proverbs 31:28-29

Homestead Blessings!


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

She Looketh Well Over Her Household

"She lookethwell to the ways of her household
and eateth not the bread of idleness"
Proverbs 31: 27
These past two weeks or so has found me with a mission:


Once, as a mother with young children, I began to research how to more efficiently run my household.  I began to slowly take apart Proverbs 31 and reflect on each verse and how those categories "she looketh after" apply to my life. 

I also came across two books, specifically, that help me also"looketh well to the ways" of my household.  They were Emilie Barnes's "More Hours In My Day" and  Kathy Peel's "The Family Manager"The books had specific ideas for life in the twenty-first century.  I also in recent years, came across several great books on organization/family management from Edith Schaffer (her books are very thought provoking!)

As I have reflected on many great ideas on home management, I thought I would share what I have found works for our family: a house full of children (preschool through high school), a husband, wife and a cat named Pepper.

   It works for me to......

* Straighten up & clean the house at night before bed
   (it is such a great way to start the day....fresh & clean!)

* Check the menu plan for the day in the morning.  Looking at what I need to do  (thaw, chop, etc.) for lunch & dinner, so I know when I need to begin. Example: it takes about 6 hours to thaw a pound of ground beef on my windowsill.  I have to calculate when I will begin preparation.

Get up earlier than my family.  At least one hour.  I spend it reading God's Word, devotional, journaling, exercising and reading a chapter from my book.  I am what I put in and what I think about.  That is the well my family draws from in me.  He fills me.

Have a ritual of quiet time everyday. 
   From 1p.m. (or so) to about 3p.m. I have "quiet time".  Naps, quiet activities, reading, etc.  Even my high school daughter does this with no problems. My children get a better mommy (I get refilled) and they all get along alot better.

Make a list before I go to bed of any pressing projects or thoughts before I go to bed.  I sleep soo much better when I am don't spend all night turning those thoughts over and over in an attempt to remember them the next day.

* Take some time in the afternoon to have tea or coffee.
   I know this might sounds very old-fashioned and English, but this ritual has been so refreshing to me and is a time of reflection (as I sip), prayer and doing mid-day course correction.

* Set a day(s) each week that the major categories (laundry & dishes) get done.
   For example, Mondays and Fridays are laundry day. Thursday afternoons I go grocery shopping.  This has changed throughout the years as my family has changed.  I no longer have to spend a couple precious hours on the weekend shopping (it's also too crowded)!

* Have your children help you.
   I have certain days that I have them do different jobs around the house.  They have quickly learned that if they complain, they get more jobs.  I try to be fair and thank them for helping our family.  Showing gratitude is important for me.  (I don't want my children to being doing chores and harboring bitterness).

* Stop running all over town.
  This used to be my life and I was always worn out.  My house was very messy and my children were always tired and cranky.  My priorities were out of order.  I have found the more consistent days I have that I do not leave my home, the more peaceful & content my children and myself are.   My husband is also blessed to come home to a joyful wife, happy kids, clean home and home-cooked meals (most of the time....).  Yes, my children have interests.  Yes, they have classes/clubs sprinkled here and there.  But we have put quantity family time first over living in a minivan, going different directions and not knowing one another. (Again, most of the time.....)

* 10 Minute Miracles
   I can't remember where I learned this, but it has been so wonderful to practice.  Do 10 minutes worth of organizing..... something.  In ten minutes I have straightened our junk drawer, sorted through the kids' drawers, read a chapter in a book, organized bathroom drawers, stacked the tupperwear & lids, wiped off refridge shelves and so much more!  If I know that I have to only work for 10 minutes, it is not so overwhelming.  I also get alot done knowing that timing is ticking (it's sometimes a fun game for me......I know!)

What I have listed has evolved through the years as my family changes and I (finally) get what is frustrating me--or go back to Proverbs 31 or the other books I mentioned.  I want to be constantly learning and growing in household management and make this home a beautiful and fun sanctuary for my family. 
I'd love to hear what you do that works for your family!

May you have a wonderful New Year!

Malinda B.