Ah Pickles!

We made refrigerator dills today.  Didn’t take very long but we will have pickles in a few days.  We’ll see if we like them.


Here is what we started with.

IMG_0803yes, I bought some of those long skinny ones so we could make Hamburger dills, since I knew my cucumbers were going to be too fat and seedy.

IMG_0804 Packed in the jars with dill, some onion, a dash of clove, and some garlic.

IMG_0805Pour on the brine (vinegar, water, salt and alum) and they are ready to sit for a few hours then take up residence in the frig.


I made pickles once before… loooooooooong time ago (BC)… hope these turn out yummy!


Ketchup or Catsup?

Ketchup or Catsup?  Does it really matter?

I made a valiant attempt at making some today from the tomatoes out of my garden.  Some of them I had frozen because I couldn’t get to them quick enough.


The recipe I found online that seemed the easiest called for 25 pounds and actually canning it.  Since I didn’t have 25 pounds of tomatoes and I really just wanted to make a little bit and put it in the frig, I cooked 8 lbs (1/3 of a recipe).  You put it in a crockpot and let it simmer/cook down/evaporate all day.  It was really watery.  12 hours later – some of the time on high (when I was home) and some of the day on low (when I was not home) – it has cooked down several inches, but still seems watery, but I gave up and put it in jars anyways.  I’m going to work with the theory that it is watery because it was hot.  Yeah, that’s what I’m going with.

It tastes OK.  Not sure if it tastes like ketchup or not.  Not sure any child will actually eat it.  But hey, I can use it for a chili base or dump in soup or something.  It won’t be a total loss.

This is how much it made.  2 small jars and a little bit leftover in a tupperware container.


Tomorrow’s excitement (after I work in the morning)?  Dill Pickles!!  We have lots of cucumbers so refrigerator dills it will be.  Unfortunately all my mason jars have been kidnapped by someone who uses them to store coffee in the freezer… so I will have to use those peanut butter jars I keep saving for a great GS craft.  They can still be used for a craft, AFTER we eat the pickles!   😉

**for reference, the taller of the jars is a Heinz gravy jar.  

End of August Garden

Here is an update on our garden.


As you know, some of our produce won in the fair.   Our marigolds won twice in the Junior fair.   🙂

IMG_0795My tomatoes did not place.  Though I do have enough thrown in the freezer that we are going to try making ketchup.

IMG_0797The cucumbers got 2nd   and are still going strong. There are quite a few more still in the garden.

Esther’s pumpkin got 1st.

IMG_0794 We have several little pumpkins in the garden.  None got really huge, but we had fun watching them grow.

I also entered a sunflower.  It was supposed to be multiple heads, which I didn’t have.  I should have entered one into the tallest category because look how tall that one is, taller than a single story building! IMG_0796

All-in-all it has been a successful garden season.  Our peppers didn’t do as well as we would have liked.  There are still a few on the plant so maybe we’ll get a couple more this fall yet.

What will we experiment with next year?  Love the sunflowers, so will most likely grow those again.  Tomatoes, of course.  But what else?  Maybe beans or peas?

Where Do You Go?

Do you know this song?

“Where do I go when I need a shelter?
Where do I go when I need a friend?
Where do I go when I need some helping?
Where do I go? Back on my knees again…”


Do you have a physical place that you go as well?  Is there someplace that you retreat to that is a special place, a comforting place?

For me that place is Camp Wanake.  It has been like a second home since I was 4 or 5.  We came here as a family every year for Memorial Day and Labor Day.  I came here as a camper every summer that I could.  I was on staff for 4 summers.  I volunteered for years after that.  Now that I have my own family, again I come for those family camp weekends.  Our children come to camp every summer.  2 have been on staff (so far).  It is part of my blood.

What makes it so special?  Besides it living up to the meaning of its name “beautiful spiritual place among the hills?”  It is one of those places that never changes.  Sure, physically, there have been changes over the years… new buildings built, old ones torn down, buildings that were bathrooms turned into craft houses… additions to buildings, slight changes to camping programs… new property purchased, property sold, other property purchased…

But what doesn’t change are the basics.  God is Nigh!  The sign leading to Vesper Hill declares this and it is true.  There is a peace that settles over this land.  The spirit is the same from 1946 to today.

The dining hall, while now linoleum (instead of cement floor with shuffleboard triangles and 4 square painted on it), air conditioned, painted and other improvements, is still the dining hall.  The ceiling still has “oatmeal” for insulation.  You still have to “hop” your tables.  The kitchen still cooks the same foods (mostly).  The wood beams, the brick fireplace, the sandstone walls… all the same for the last 60+ years.  A hub of camp and a meeting place for everyone!

IMG_0687What else remains the same?  The smell of the cabins, the dilapidated pool shower house (really?  We were sure that wouldn’t withstand the 80’s and it is still here – it even survived the severe storms this summer that took down 100s of trees… none of which even came close to hitting it!), the smell of a campfire, the joy of children playing games in the yard in front of the barn, the frog pond, the trails, people singing, laughing, playing, making new friends, renewing old friendships, the views from inspiration points (though there are more trees now), the feeling of peace and rest and being home that comes over you when you drive down the dusty gravel driveway.

What memories are evoked as I drive down that driveway?  40 years ago… coming as a family and camping in our tent… my father teaching us about nature and loving nature… my dad singing, he loved to sing and he loved leading singing, especially at camp.  30 years ago… being on staff and meeting and loving some of the best people on earth and growing with them and being able to still call them friends after 30 years… people like Wayne, Kris, Tom, Billy, Russ… to name just  a handful.  There is something about the bond of working with each other 24/7 for 3 months that bonds you like no other.  10 (or so) years ago… bringing my children here as campers for their first time for a whole week (they had already been here as family campers) and then hearing their excitement and joy and chuckling at their tears and “re-entry issues” as we went home because camp is so wonderful no one ever wants to leave.  3 years ago… when my oldest was dropped off for her first year as a summer staff… so proud of her and her choice to be part of the ministry of serving God by leading and teaching children in God’s great outdoors and helping them come to know more about Jesus.  Of course there are all kinds of great memories in between, but those are the primary ones that come to mind first.

What has changed?  I could list so many things that have changed in my lifetime.  But none of them are significant enough to counter the feelings that being here evoke.  Some changes include:  the driveway, the “new/green” shower house, less apple trees, the loss of cabins 1, 2, 3, and 3A as well as the Porcelain Pagoda, turning the Cedar Chest into a craft cabin, building 2 new retreat centers, new pool system,  new caretaker’s house, new Ranch property, …. and so on… oh… and WIFI!   🙂   Some/Most of the changes in the last 30 years have been for the better.  Though, the WIFI could stand to have a booster since this post is now on day 2 of trying to get it to go.   🙂


I pray that this place remains basically unchanged in the next 60 years, so that my children’s children and grandchildren can also enjoy and grow and love in this special place.

This place has brought me peace through the years.  It has brought me love.  It has encouraged my children in closer walks with Christ.   What more can you want when you “..need a shelter… need a friend?”