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Masters of Their Craft // Love ‘n Fresh Flowers

Interviewing Jennie Love left me in amazement over the incredible flower farm she started outside of Philadelphia. She grows every flower herself that she uses in her floral business. This woman knows how to work, and she knows how to create beauty with her hands. The way her business has flourished is remarkable, and she began and continues to run Love ‘n Fresh without debt. Remarkable! Her story is worth reading, and you can see the feature and all the beautiful pictures Char captured here.

Our Little El

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Today, Elsa and I took a morning jog, played in the kiddie pool on our patio, stopped by the orchard for some cantaloupe, and stayed to have lunch with my parents. Summer as it should be.

I also want to note one of my favorite moments of being a parent thus far…yesterday, I was cutting fruit in the kitchen while Elsa was riding on her toy car in the living room. I said, “Elsa, will you come give Mama a hug?” She left her toy, ran to me, gave me a hug, and ran back into the living room. So this is why they say fruit of the womb is a reward.

How to make a clothing budget

The girls at the studio asked me to write an article on how I budget for clothing. I enjoy budgets and making sure we use our money wisely. I also love clothing so this is how I reconcile the two. I think women have a tendency to either spend and spend, racking up debt, or they spend nothing because they feel guilty with all the other places money seems to be needed. The following article is how Kyle and I have established our clothing budget, and it has worked well so far for us for the past four years. 

Image Source: Thanks, Char, for taking the photos.

The frost of heaven

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Photo Source: The Lebanon Daily News

The newspaper interviewed my dad and another fruit farmer about this year’s cherry freeze for this article. Oh, how I will miss those cherries. No making sweet cherry jam and none of my mom’s montmorency sour cherry pie. No Mennonite or Amish families with their 6 or 7 little sets of helping hands pulling red wagons full of buckets of cherries. Bucket by bucket we would use the same old black scale to weigh them that has appeared in the orchard every June since the first cherry harvest years ago. It was not uncommon for them to have picked 100, 150, even 200 pounds of cherries. Cherry picking always seemed somewhat of a social event to me with grandparents arriving with their grandchildren, friends meeting fellow friends before heading to work, and sisters bringing their children for a morning of picking.

The reward from farming doesn’t make logical sense to me. Maybe because I have PA Dutch veins or maybe because of my 30 plus years of American life, I have embedded as one of my core beliefs that the harder you work, the more you succeed. Work hard and reap what you sow. But not always with farming. Work hard each year and maybe you’ll reap what you sow. No guarantees. I watched my father wake before dawn almost every day (he slept in on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s) and some Sundays (which for him was 6:30 am). He left the house in jeans, a t-shirt, and a John Deere cap, but on blistering summer days, he wore shorts. We knew by seeing Dad’s stark white legs contrasting with his browned arms it wasn’t hot but HOT. Every day at noon, we saw him drive down the lane in one of his farm trucks to join us for lunch, take a 20 minute nap, and return to the orchards. He came home for supper, caught a few baseballs or played a round of kickball with us girls, and then returned until his work was finished. Sometimes after dark, sometimes before. Press repeat for the remainder of the summer.

So when fruit freezes, I imagine it’s a bit of a slap in the face. What did I do wrong? Why this year? I wish I could have tried a little harder or done a little more. There is an element to farming that requires our best effort, but there’s an element to farming that does not require our best effort. I think farmers who endure decades of their work well are men and women of faith. And not faith in the vapid, vague, politically correct sense of the word but the Greek pistis sense of the word: We walk by faith not sight. He did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

 My father has yet to enjoy a lunch break devoid of the meteorologist’s latest report playing on the TV set in the next room. But I think he has survived his almost 40 year farming career because he trusts in a very wise Weatherman who commands the mornings, who keeps the storehouses of snow and hail, and who tips the water jars of the heavens (Job 38).

From whose womb has come the ice?

And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?

Job 38: 29

Masters of Their Craft // The Fishers

This was my second Masters of Their Craft feature for the studio. Learning about the journey of Chris and Karen Fisher along with their four children that brought them to Lititz, PA to open a quaint cafe called Tomato Pie amazed me.  They dabbled in other sorts of businesses before finding the ones that fit, but their experiences in Ohio, Virginia, and Colorado equipped them for their life in PA. Entrepreneurs inspire me, and husband/wife entrepreneurial teams just seem right to me. For their full story and pictures, click here

Photos: Thanks, Char, for taking the photos to accompany this!

The Art of Woodworking

Tomorrow at midnight is the last night to sign up for The Art of Woodworking held at the studio. Please join us! You will make this reclaimed wood box as well as learn some woodworking info and tips from two skilled guys whose creations always impress me. I’m very much looking forward to Thursday evening and meeting everyone who attends. Reserve your spot here.

Images: Char Co.

start to the day

What better way to start the day than rolling around on Mama and Dada’s bed?

mothers day 2014

Elsa seemed to realize there was something special about last Sunday. The day started when I asked her for a hug, and she leaned towards me and kissed me on the forehead. A little later that morning, she ran to me while I was playing piano and wrapped her arms around my waist. No prompting from Kyle whatsoever!

As you can see, it’s a highly complicated task getting a Mother-Daughter photo with a 20 month old!

the ranch

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Kyle’s grandmother passed away a couple of weeks ago. She gave all of us an example of an older woman who numbered her days well and had a heart of wisdom (Ps. 90:12). We have a little book she wrote and gave to her children and grandchildren that explains her life story and God’s faithfulness to her throughout her life. I want to do the same some day. I think older people who age well, laugh at the future, and continue to invest in the lives of the younger ones around them are rare. It’s why we are drawn to them and love them so much. We notice their absence. We order our steps to follow their example.

We met up with Kyle’s family in Missouri for the funeral, and we stayed together at a ranch. Regardless of the state, God’s creation never disappoints.

april and may

There is something about April and May, trees budding, the grass returning to life, the dandelions saying their quick hello, and asparagus and spinach making their arrival at farm stands which brings about a feeling of discontent in me. I begin a fervent search online of real estate in our price range that will give me a little portion of the earth to tend. I don’t need an acre of a yard or even half an acre of a yard, just a yard. Kyle revealed to me the other day that every spring since we’ve been married, this has been the pattern. Spring comes and suddenly I’m passing along to him every potential place I can find for us to move. What about this place? Or this one? I think this one has potential. This has has so little to fix! Look, this one has a front porch! What are the taxes? Oh, I have no clue. You have to pay taxes every year on a house? Oil costs that much more than natural gas? That’s news to me. And on and on. Kyle is the more steady, content (dare I say, knowledgable) one. I’m carried away to whatever place my mood at the time takes me. 

But where I grew up, we didn’t close the blinds. My dad trimmed his nails on the porch in his underwear. My mom, normally strictly modest, mowed the lawn in a strapless, faded teal and white romper. Raccoons, opossums, deer, fox, and groundhogs were often making some kind of appearance in our yard. When I sat on the porch swing to relax, everything my eye could see was earth—nothing man-made—and earth cared for by my father. Today, my view from the front porch is siding, shutters, pavement, and houses mimicking the ones to their right and left.

To ward off a bit of this discontent, I want to note the blessings of living here, because I know God gives us blessings wherever we are.

1. Indoor plants. Air plants on the kitchen table, cactus on the coffee table, and sansevieria trifasciata in the bedroom. House plants make me happy!

2. Herbs in pots. I just planted chives and parsley and chocolate mint and peppermint and basil and oregano in pots on our back patio, and that is just the start. 

3. The view from our back patio. There is a line of trees and a small field of Christmas trees which are lovely to gaze upon. Some people in our development have to look at more houses from their back porch and their front porch. I think that would be too much for me! Kyle picked just the right spot when he moved here.

4. The birds nest in our wreath on our front porch. Four blue eggs sit in it, and I get to hear the birds each morning.

5. Heads of lettuce growing in our old, tin tub. I’ve had to master container gardening. Maybe “master” is too strong a word.

One day, we’ll have a yard. I think the wait will make us better caretakers of it.