28 September 2009

God did it again...

Yes, God watered my garden again! This time literally within 2 hours after I planted my first vegetables in my brand new raised bed vegetable garden!

But first I have to share with you my emotional connection with and the dreams I had for this vegetable garden.

My story starts decades ago when I was about 6 years old. My parents lived in Bloemfontein in the city, but both grew up on farms just outside Bloemfontein (Free Sate), in Bainsvlei. During this time my grandpa on my mother’s side divided his farm into six, one for each of his children. My dad, longing to go back to the farm, moved us to the farm. My mom didn’t want to live on a farm though, but my dad convinced her to move back, by building her the house of her dreams on the farm. A huge kitchen, with lots of cupboards, spacey bedrooms, an on suite bathroom, it wasn’t the norm in those days. Large windows for letting in lots of sunshine. I can still remember (remember I was only 6 years old) how my dad instructed the architect to let the house face in exactly the right direction, to allow lots of sun in the winter, to give the house a warm atmosphere during the freezing cold winter and only a little sun in the summer, so it could be cool and pleasant in the terrible heat of the Free State!

My dad worked five days a week, building steam trains, but every spare moment he had, he was living his dream on the farm… planting vegetables! He planted rows and rows of vegetables; carrots, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, spinach, cucumbers, strawberries, rhubarb and sold it weekly on the town market. Those days the vegetable market was especially for supermarkets and restaurants and happened on a Wednesday morning. So, every Tuesday night at six o’clock the truck, heavily loaded with the healthiest and most beautiful vegetables would head for the market. We had to unload the vegetables ourselves, at our allocated bay. The vegetables had to be displayed in the most attractive way to attract the buyers. Since my dad didn’t have a son and I was the older of his two daughters, dad and I had to unload and pack the vegetables. These were very special times, which I cherish even more now that he went on to heaven, this October it will be seven years.

Over the years I longed to have my own vegetable garden! After Christo and I got married, it took us a few years to settle, moving from Bloemfontein in the Free State to Durbanville in the Western Cape and then we rented for several years, every time having an excuse NOT to start a vegetable garden. I did try to grow a few herbs in pots though.

Then 5years ago, the house we rented at that stage, was sold and we had to move for the fourth time in six years. I was three months pregnant by the time we had to be out of the house. The previous rented house was also sold at the end of our lease and I was also pregnant. This time I cried out to the Lord: “Please Lord, I need your approval for this. I don’t mind to move every 18 months to 2 years, but then I wanted to know it is the best you intended for me and it is part of Your plan for my life”. Over the past few years we lost everything due to Christo’s business going south. At that stage we didn’t have any debt, but we also didn’t have much and was pregnant with our fifth child. I wanted to make sure the enemy was not stealing God’s first prize from me. During this time it happened that we received a financial gift that would enable us to pay the deposit on a house. But still a loan had to be approved by the bank and this is where I cried out to the Lord. I’ve asked God to clearly direct our path and I will be at peace with His directions! If it wasn’t His desire for us to own our own house I will accept it, but I also knew I am the daughter of the King of the Universe and I knew I could lay before my Dad my heart’s desire – to own my own house, not move again, where I can raise my children… and have my own vegetable garden!

While I was seeking God’s directions and searching His Word, He one day clearly gave me a promise through 2 Samuel 7:9-11. This was one of those rear occasions where, although the passage was specifically for Israel, I could sense God meant it for me personally:
“And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.”

This was powerful! With these verses engraved in our hearts we went out and applied for a loan to buy a house with a beautiful rose garden in the front yard. Needless to say the loan was approved and six weeks later we moved into our own house.

Now I could start my vegetable garden, right? Wrong! I was four months pregnant, exhausted after the move and not having a good pregnancy. There was no way for me to lay out a vegetable garden. Then seven months after Andrew’s birth, I was pregnant again! This time I had an even worse pregnancy. Between David and Daniel we once tried a vegetable garden, only to discover vegetables don’t like clay soil, the carrots didn’t even sprout! I laid aside this one desire of my heart, although I couldn’t understand why God fulfilled all the parts of the promise in 2 Samuel 7:9-11, except the one ‘He will plant us’.

Wow, are you still with me? Such a long intro!

Then a few weeks ago I saw a link on another blog to a vegetable gardening blog. I knew the author of the blog through the home schooling community, and I started reading her postings. I was intrigued by her raised bed vegetable garden, but didn’t want to go through all the excitement to be disappointed again and put it out of my mind. The next Saturday, with no expectation I told Christo about the vegetable garden blog and the interesting raised bed idea. Immediately he grabbed the idea and started to investigate the possibilities.

Within a few days it was clear my dream was coming true!! I’m going to have a vegetable garden!

This is how my vegetable garden had developed over the last two weeks. Thanks to my wonderful husband, who put in a lot of planning, physical effort and finances and my very strong eldest son!

The piece of backyard that has full sun the whole day. Ideal for our vegetable garden, but untidy and crowded by neglected trees and bushes.

Christo, CJ and Josua are taking out the trees and bushes.

Christo and CJ are building the first two raised beds and two of the three compost containers.

CJ is preparing the ground for the first raised bed, with our clay soil, peanut shells (for drainage) and horse manure.

We are planting the first organic vegetables – lettuce, tomatoes, parsley and basil.

Me putting toilet rolls around the stems of the little plants to prevent cutworm getting to the plants.

My vegetable garden on Sunday morning, after God watered it with the best water I could ask for – rain!

I can only add to the Amen of Eph. 30:20-21
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen”

Thank you Lord, you blessed me more than I could ask or think off!

25 September 2009

Planting Strawberries and Flowers on Spring Equinox Day!

Tuesday the 22nd of September was Spring Equinox Day and we planted two strawberry plants and some flowers around my rose bed.

On Saturday I attended a finger pruning course by Ludwig Taschner at Ludwig Roses Winelands. I was amazed at how much bigger the rosebushes that arrived from Gauteng on Thursday were than the roses from the Cape. They were all pruned on the same day, the 15th of July, but the roses of Gauteng were about double the size of those from the Cape, due to our cold, rainy weather in comparison to Gauteng’s warm weather since the 1st of September.

But since Spring Equinox Day the weather started to change a little to the warmer side for the Cape. We have sunnier, blue sky weather now, with only a few, thin, wispy, high clouds and no wind. And the temperature is climbing accordingly.

Since Monday I’m literally measuring my rose bushes to see how much it grew since the previous day! I can’t wait to see my roses in full bloom, especially after everything I learned at the finger pruning course. I never even knew there was something like finger pruning and thought the most important and only pruning was winter pruning! On the contrary you cannot really go wrong with winter pruning, the rose bush will grow again, but finger/summer pruning is the way to manipulate your rose bush to have roses from October right through until late in autumn. I also bought Ludwig Taschner’s DVD on summer pruning.

Back to our planting on Spring Equinox day - we had so much fun planting the flowers and strawberries. Thanks to this website and blog, we could easily find everything we needed to know about planting strawberries. Thank you Wendy!

Planting the strawberries:

The children can’t wait to pick strawberries from their own strawberry plants!

Planting the flowers:

Everyone helped to plant the flowers!

I’m also starting a vegetable garden this spring. But you have to wait to hear my full story and see everything we did until after the weekend. Yesterday, we drove to Somerset West to buy organic vegetable seeds and on Saturday we will buy some organic vegetable plants at the Stellenbosch Organic Market. I’m excited like a little girl about this new project we’ve started!

Hope you’re enjoying spring as much as we do!

23 September 2009

My Growing Tummy and Helping Hands!

Over the past week my tummy had grown quiet a bit and I can feel I’m carrying some extra weight! I cannot walk as swift any more and had to be conscious of not waddle like a duck. When I bend down to pick up a toy or clothes, it is more difficult to get up. I now need to put on an apron when doing dishes. I have to leave some space for the tummy against the sink and this growing tummy attracts water drops! Vacuuming the house is also not as quick any more. I can feel the strain on my back. When sitting down I can feel the strain of keeping my posture straight.

But…my children are such a blessing! They help in every possible way to take the strain off me.

These are the pictures that greeted me this morning:

Heidi-Mari folding underwear.

CJ vacuuming the entire house.

Josua organizing all the others to clean the back porch from fire wood.

"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth."

Ps 127:4

Now that I’m getting older and still having babies; I appreciate the babies of my youth so much! Thank you Lord for these Blessings of mine!

21 September 2009

Our Creation Lapbooks

It feels like ages since I blogged something on our lapbooks.

The little ones, Danika (6years), Andrew (4years) and David (almost 3years) finished these Creation Lapbooks. I got some of the ideas from Lapbooklessons.com.

We first did a mini book on the 7 days of creation, to give them the big picture of creation. Available from Lapbooklessons.com

To enforce what was created on each day, we individually illustrated every day of the 7 days of Creation.
I like to use as many art mediums as possible, so we played with paint, coloring, stickers and tissue paper. When I woke up at night for Daniel or our unborn baby, I let my imagination go, to make it as interesting and creative as possible, for the little ones.

For Day One, separating light from darkness, I let them dress paper dolls with day clothes and pajamas and we stuck it on white paper to illustrate the day and black paper to illustrate the night. We talked about taking off our pajamas when we woke up and dressed for the day. When night comes, we put on our pajamas and it is time to sleep.

For Day Two, gathering the waters, we used cotton wool to illustrate the clouds. For the seas I made finger paint and let them draw patterns with a stick in the paint. Danika practiced the wave pattern on her finger paint. This was David’s attempt.

For Day Three, the trees and its fruit and grass, we rolled small pieces of colored tissue paper balls and stuck them to a template of a tree, with fruit, flowers and grass.

For Day Four, creation of the sun, moon and stars, we stuck stickers to a half circle to illustrate the firmament of the heavens.

For Day Five, water creatures and winged birds, we drew birds and fish with crayons and painted over it with diluted water paint, so the crayon picture stands out from the paint. It is very important to use VERY diluted water paint and only make a single brush stroke over the crayon picture.

To illustrate Day Six, creation of earthly creatures and man, I let them stick animal stickers on a template of a field with trees and I let them colour in a picture from Adam and Ave.

For the Seventh Day, they coloured in a pillow, to illustrate God rest.

These activities enforced God’s creation. They can still recite what was created on what day and I pray that this will lay the foundation for them to always remember God created everything in six days and that they will never buy into the lie of evolution!

16 September 2009

Milktart for CJ - We are proud of you!

This past weekend, CJ took part in his first, Graded Three Phase Horse Jumping Event, over two days, at the Stellenbosh District Riding Club. For Graded Events he needed a formal horse riding outfit. When he put on his outfit on Friday night, to make sure everything is right and ready, I realized my son has grown up! I was making Daniel asleep and as I came out of his room, this young man was standing in my bedroom – it was quite a shock – me still attending to little babies, but also having this young man for a son!

The first phase of this event was a Dressage test on Silverball. CJ had never before done dressage, let alone a dressage test, so we took him for some extra lessons with his instructor during the past week. I would never have had the confidence my son had to do this test with only two or three lessons the week before, but that is his spirit. I believe his confidence, is the fruit of being home schooled. CJ knows we believe in him, he has a positive self esteem - not broken down by pears and teachers. He knows God gave him this talent and is part of his calling in life.

Saturday was a beautiful, spring day, with no wind and a clear sky! Nine O’clock he performed the dressage test. He actually did very well for a first attempt, but needs some more practice and training.

The second phase was the show jumping. He competed in the Pre Novice Class at 90 cm jumps. It was so good to see how CJ had grown in his show jumping over the past year. Very early in the jumping, Silverball showed signs of refusing a jump, but CJ handled it perfectly and got Silverball over the jump. Unfortunately he refused another jump and CJ got 4 penalties.

The last phase, the cross country was the next day. Cross country is CJ’s favourite. He loves to give Silverball the reigns and Silverball just goes for it! This course was into the woods and 2 km long – CJ has never done such a long course, or even into the woods. On Saturday afternoon the participants were allowed to walk the course (without their horses) and familiarize themselves with the jumps. There was also a time limit of 470 meters per minute for finishing the 17 jumping efforts. Thus, to qualify for a win, he didn’t only need to finish a clear round (no refusals or kick off poles) but also needed to finish in 4 min 15 seconds. Now CJ loves challenges like this and Silverball was the right horse, since he used to be a race horse.

Sunday morning was a miserable, cold, rainy day and I needed to seek extra peace from the Lord, for my child’s safety, as I heard the raindrops on our roof. The woods would be wet and slippery. The Lord just knows how to comfort me, almost immediately after my prayers, a song came into my mind and stayed there the rest of the morning – Great Are Thy Faithfulness! Throughout the morning, every time I became unsettled with fear, I could hear this song and trust in the Lord again.

Since it was such an unfriendly day for little ones to be outside, we decided I would stay at home with them. A huge disappointed for me, but I would be kept up to date by the cell phone and Josua would go along with Dad to support his brother. The previous day, the little ones had such a fun time, playing on the wide open grass and in a dry river bank and I could relax and followed CJ’s performance.

At 11h00 Sunday morning Christo let me know CJ was “under starter’s orders” for the 2km cross country and I could only pray the next 5min.

How thankful I was, when the phone rang within 5 min later and Christo reported CJ was through and safe. He finished in 4 min 19 seconds. There was a special “cool down” arena for the horses and I could speak to my son while he led Silverball

I could hear the excitement in his voice, the adrenaline pumping through his veins, as he told me what an amazing experienced it was to go through the woods, on Silverball’s back. It was only him, Silverball and the woods! He was going so fast, the wind drove tears out of his eyes. I know this is what will make him a man! A man that one day would be fearless in the face of challenges and won’t hesitate to go sleigh a dragon if necessary! The fact that Christo and I will be old before our time, because of worries is beside the point! After all, we will be more holy, in the process of God teaching us to pray and trust more!

At one stage CJ miraculously stayed on top of his horse, when he came down some steps, to fast! It was only God and in His mercy answering our prayers, that kept my son safe! (Christo only afterwards realized he almost captured the moment his son fell off his horse!)

CJ enjoyed every moment of this event and did very well for his first graded competition! He learned a lot and can go practice more. His horse riding is now taken to a next level.

While CJ, Josua and Christo was away Sunday morning, Heidi-Mari and I decided to bake milk tart. CJ wanted to say thank you to his instructor for putting in so much effort in preparing him for this event and we wanted to let CJ know we are so proud of him!

The previous day Christo bought me a decorating pen and I wanted to put it to the test.

Here are our decorated milk tarts!

The little ones, enjoying their milk tart, chocolate decorating and some organic strawberries, we got hold of at the Organic Market in Stellenbosch!

Our Milk Tart recipe - made of Spelt flour and Rice milk (Wheat and Diary Free!)

Milk tart crust:

30 g butter
30 ml xylitol or 30 ml white/brown sugar
2 eggs
10 ml baking powder
180 ml spelt flour or 135 ml plain flour
pinch of salt.
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and xylitol or sugar. (I use my Kenwood)
  3. Add eggs one by one and beat until mixture is smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together spelt or flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Gradually stir flour mixture into egg/butter mixture, until ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  6. Spread mixture with a spoon, into bottom and sides of 2 x 23cm or 9-inch tart dishes.
Milk tart filling:

1 250 ml rice milk or milk
30 g butter
200 ml xyitol or white/brown sugar
100 ml spelt flour or 75 ml plain flour
45 ml cornstarch
3 eggs (separate)
10 ml vanilla essence
pinch of salt
  1. In a large saucepan, combine 1 200 ml of the milk, butter and xylitol or sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove from heat.
  2. In a separate bowl (I use my Kenwood), gradually mix together the remaining 50ml milk, flour, cornstarch and yellow yolk until smooth with no lumps.
  3. Add a little of the warm milk/butter/sugar mixture to the egg/flour mixture and mix to form a smooth paste, add to the remaining milk mixture and bring to the boil, stirring continuously until mixture thickens.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla essence.
  5. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and lightly fold into filling.
  6. Divide the filling evenly between the two tart dishes and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until set and crust is golden in colour. Remove from heat.
  7. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve at room temperature.
Bon appetite!
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