Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Going Home...

Mr D had a quiet and peaceful Homecoming on Tuesday evening, July 16. God gave me the gift of seeing him draw his last two breaths. As a family, we were incredibly blessed with church, friends and a community of believers supporting us through this time. A thank you seems so mundane but we truly are grateful from the bottom of our hearts for your support - God bless you all!

My nephew sent this song to me via face book and I re posted it to my Fleur Cottage page where it can be accessed by clicking on the right side of this blog. I hope you'll take the time to listen to it...it describes Mr D's passing perfectly.


There are many changes coming into my life...changes that Mr D and I have decided together. I will be taking several months break from posting but plan on being back in October.

Thank you for walking along side of us in our two plus year journey!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Psalm Twenty Three

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me;
thy rod and staff comfort me.
Psalm 23 :4

Mr D is walking this walk.
 Though in his heart of hearts he wishes he could stay awhile,
 he fears no evil.
We did what could be done.
It's all up to God.
Unless He performs a miracle,
Mr D will finish a race he has run well.

(you can follow our journey on Fleur Cottage face book page)

Friday, May 3, 2013

All Around The Globe...

I like old globes. I like old books. I like old, wooden orphan drawers. Link them all together and one has a lovely vignette.

I found three orphan wooden desk drawers on a free pile at a yard sale. I took them home with me because I loved the hardware on them. They sat in in our utility shed for several years collecting more dust, waiting for me to be inspired. Some weeks ago I carried them into the house and the transformation began.
- The Before -
In all their ugly but lots of potential condition.
And the hardware? Oh my...caked with years of neglect and dirt!
Even a soak in water didn't budge the dirt.
Struck gold after a hard scrubbing...amazing!
 The drawers were falling apart and one had lost its bottom...
 and very dirty with spider nest in the crevices and key holes.
I took them completely apart, sanded the wood and the rusty track. Mr D made a new bottom for the bottom-less drawer. I sprayed the insides of the drawers with semi-gloss clear wood finish and what an amazing difference! By now, I was really loving this project, even though I had no idea what I was going to do with them.
Isn't this rustic glamour amazing?
I watered down the paint and without using any primer, I gave the outside of the drawers a quick slap-it-on coat because I wanted a weathered look. Doing that made these dates appear on the sides of each one...love the extra bonus!
- The Beautiful After! -
All the while, I had NO idea what I was going to do with them! As I was finishing them, inspiration came. My Christmas putz houses were still up (yes, from Christmas; I liked them so much!) and it was beyond time to store them again. The books were already there which led me to my small globe collection because reading takes one anywhere in the world one wants to go!
I am so pleased with the results! After scrubbing the hardware with a scrubby (the only to take off the grime) and giving them a shine with steel wool, it turned out it looked like this. I loved that surprise - I had no idea this loveliness was under the dirt! I sanded the paint lightly and put the scubby to use again around the cup handles that would naturally show wear. The globes were picked up over the years thrift-ing; the small one is a glass light shade.
Can I say I'm in love? Because I am!
I want to find more dirty, broken treasures like this!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Homemade Pita Bread

Nope...fleurcottage is not turning into a food blog! Because of my husband's health I have more time to try out recipes that intrigue me and homemade pit bread is one of them. I also made homemade flour tortillas which are so simple and so fun to make, I think I'll go in the business of making them to sell. Ho-ho...THAT is a great big 'just kidding!' because I don't even like to spend time in the kitchen!

You'll find plain and easy instructions at  Stella B's Kitchen and though this is not a direct link to the pita bread, it can be found there by scrolling through her many food recipes.

The dough is very soft and needs lots of flour to work with when dividing
and forming the pita bread - it's a divide and conquer process.
Rolling them out is easy and again, use lots of flour.

My rolling pin is new. We were given one as a wedding gift and it resided in my kitchen drawers for forty-three years until several months ago when I decided I'll never make a pie again. I was glad to get rid of it - it was big and clumsy and didn't fit into my old kitchen drawers. Hence, the need for a new rolling pin that is smaller and lighter...so yay for small and light traded for old and clumsy!
They puff up while baking!
 Now is a good time to do some window peeking while baking.
Finished results.
Like Stella says...odd shapes add character and isn't that heart-shaped one cute!
Proudly showing off my flour tortillas and pita bread.
Just don't do what I did by cutting slits in the side of the pita.
It wasn't until I did that to five pitas it dawned on me to simply cut them in half!
No, I don't have a beautifully staged sandwich to end this with. I'll let that up to the pros.
This post is merely to show you what common, ordinary people-who-don't-like-to-spend-time-in-the-kitchen can do.
Even four year old Bub can do this!

PS #1
You'll notice the cooling rack placed on the oven rack to bake the pita.
Stella explains all about that and I bought mine for five bucks
and it makes cool-looking marks on the bottom.
Not that anyone notices the bottom!
PS #2
I like to know when I eat either of these I'm not eating a long list
of unpronounceable words.
PS #3
Next time I'm using whole wheat flour.

Give both of these a try - they really are simple, easy and quick to make!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Winter/Spring 2013

The snows of 2012/2013 came and went - the snows disappeared the day they came, just how I like it. The 'Big One' was a total washout aside of the predicted four...yep, FOUR inches but it rained instead, dashing many hopes of winter fun. We did, however, have really pretty snow scenes, sunrises and sunsets.
 This was our typical snow this winter.
Lovely sunrises and sunsets.
Warmer weather is very reluctant in coming but my paint-splattered crocs and I took a walk around the garden in the few warmer hours of this week. The evidence of spring growth is all around - one just has to go look for it!
 - tree peony -
 - blooming hellebore -
 - crocus -
 - daffodil -
- peony -
I like this. A lone single stalk pushing up through the cold. A reminder that circumstances may be harsh but LIFE is there!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I Love Fireplace Mantles!

Yep...I'm officially in love with fireplace frames/fireplace mantles! I certainly didn't need a second one but a second one I got...at a thrift store, of course! I fell in love with its truly old design so it came along home with me. I did like the yellow color but I'm still a die-hard shabby chic girl at heart.
- before -
 - after -
 I tried my favorite Gentle Rain by Behr but it didn't work with the rest of the room.
 I experimented with the decoration but that didn't fly either.
 So I ended up painting it all the same without shabby-ing it for now. 
Perhaps in another time in another place...
 This was my winter mantle. 
I have other plans for the backdrop which too will wait for another time and place.
And because of everything else going on in our lives, simple blue jars came to the rescue once more!

Turning Butter Into Ghee

I've been spending more time in the kitchen in the weeks of Mr D's recovery from surgery and have been trying recipes that were in my favorites list. One of these was making ghee from butter in a crock pot - so, so easy!

Why ghee? One..it cooks out the milk that's left in butter. Two...it stores well for a long time. Three...it makes everything taste delicious. It can be done with no work at all other than watching it turn from butter into ghee - you can watch the process for 6-8 hours or you can forget about it until the sixth hour and keep an eye on it til it's finished.

Any butter can be used: however, the closer to organic the better! I bought mine at a local Amish store in a two-three pound roll. I placed it in the crock pot at 8:00 and by 2:00 it was turned into this lovely clear, gold liquid.
 Warning: it's very hot at this stage. Pour it through either a cloth or a coffee strainer that doesn't need a coffee filter into a container. I used recycled glass jars.
 This is what is cooked and strained out of the ghee. The butter was salted which made this very salty but it can be used to add flavor to rice, etc...just do it before adding other salts.
 It looks like this after it's refrigerated. It stays there until I need a fresh container then I let it sit on the counter where it softens again. This gives popcorn a new dimension of flavor!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cream of Mushroom Soup {homemade/home-canned}

I purchased several pounds of day(s)-old mushrooms with the intent of following a recipe with a condensed version for soup but wasn't too thrilled about it. Sometime back I had bought this cookbook that has a lot of good, easy and healthy recipes in it. Sure enough, I found one to try and am very pleased with it.
  This cookbook was first published in February 2008 and is in its ninth printing. It explains anything from fermenting to gardening tips to alternatives for white sugar/white flour. I bought it local but if anyone is interested in buying, it can be sent for at this address...

Katie Stoltzfus
426 Stormtowm Rd.
Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505

Origional Recipe

Cream of Celery Soup
  1 cup butter
5 cups diced celery
1-2 T salt
1 cup tapioca starch (found at health food stores)
8 cups milk
Melt butter in large saucepan. Add celery (mushrooms) and saute for five minutes.
Add salt and tapiocs starch (will be very thick), stir well, then add milk slowly,
cooking until thickened, stirring constantly.
Pour into jars and coldpack for 2 hours.
This fills five pint jars.
Variation: Cream of Mushroom Soup 
Omit celery; add 3 cups chopped or sliced mushrooms.

I added dry ckicken broth for flavor or liquid broth can replace some of the milk; 
it gave it a better flavor.
Do not fill the jars beyond the neck. As it cooks in the canner, the soup swells and seeps out
after the cooking time is finished.
This is delish

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Mother's Ironing Board

I grew up in the days before easy-care clothes were available (or the wrinkle-look was stylish!). For some reason, ironing shirts for six brothers is what I connect the most with ironing. First I 'sprinkled' water on the shirt, then rolled it up tight for the water to dampen it and finished it off by wrapping it in a towel to keep the moisture in. So different from the easy-care clothes of today. I chuckle to myself when I remember what my dear friend Rhoda says..."she hopes folks think her husband's Sunday-go-meetin' shirt just got wrinkly on the way to church!' No, ironing was not a favorite laundry job.

After my parents passed, I ended up with the ironing board because I couldn't bear to let it end up in the trash heap and because of the memories attached to it. It spent a lot of time in storage. I used it outdoors for one summer as a garden prop and it went back into storage again. It came out last summer when I used it to display my collection of watering cans for a garden tour. After browsing through some blogs I saw the beginning of an idea and the ironing board found it's place in 'my hall of memory fame.'

In the laundry, of course!

Our laundry is very narrow and it's impossible to get a direct picture but one gets the idea.
I'm as pleased as punch with it!

Now I think fondly of ironing my brother's shirts and can still hear
my mother's voice giving instructions in the art of ironing.
Because we grew up six boys and six girls in my family,
it made sense to use the number twelve to give it a lovely finish.

Folded up, the back is an art in itself and could be displayed like this as well. I am thinking of cutting the legs off so it hangs flat against the wall but that's still undecided. There are no screws to take out; rather it's a kind of welded (?) bolt on it so I used plastic ties to keep the legs together.
The weathered finish is just gorgeous! Product of the natural aging from the summers spent outdoors.
The lettering was very simple to do and I used a permanent marking pen to outline the letters...
and didn't bother about being particular filling it all in.
 It got a good sanding to finish it off. I'm totally, totally pleased with it
and it comes under my idea of rustic glamour!

What do you think...
let it as is?
cut the legs off?

(wonder what my mother would say if she'd see it now?)

Update on Mr D

I wrote this on my face book page yesterday...

Okay...it's time for a long overdue report on what's happening at our house! Saturday evening was not a good night for my honey and he saw 2:00 AM before he fell asleep. After sleeping most of Sunday forenoon, he felt better and could play table games with son Wayne & family from WV who spent 24 hours at our house. Sunday evening, Loren and family and Julia and family were here for an hour - the g...rands were eager to see Grandpa again!

Dave slept most of Monday morning recovering from the weekend. After lunch we went to Home Depot and he drove for the first in four weeks. We were gone 45 minutes, long enough to not make him too tired and Monday evening he spent some time at the monthly fire hall meeting.

Today he spent several hours at the shop (I was freakin' out!), sitting at the desk and answering phone calls. All of a sudden he's eating more and doing MUCH better. Now to fatten him up to regain some of the 27 lbs he lost and I do believe we're good to go!

This 'pause' in our life for me has had times of facing new realities, of spending lots of 'sitting around waiting' at which I'm not always good at. It was good to spend one on one time with our children on the days they drove me to Mercy. This time forced me out of my comfort zone of my little 'safe' Mennonite world where the hospital staff and the cafeteria cooks became familiar faces and the receptionists and security recognized me. I was forced to learn to drive into and find my way around a big city.

It also was/is good for me to spend concentrated time with my honey and to lay aside for a time the things I love to do. We talk a lot about what's ahead of us which in no way defines our faith in a God who can heal. I say once more - the cold, hard facts DO NOT trump the sovereignetry of God who is good - ALL THE TIME!

Thank you, thank you for your prayers that we felt surrounded with!

Adding a few more words from the surgeon, Dr Sardi...

The risk of the cancer coming back is still very high. Mr D and I are taking this time of recovery to treasure each other, making memories and sharing dreams and it's all good!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

At Mercy Hospital In Baltimore, MD

February 5

Mr D had major surgery Tuesday of this week. The following was written by our daughter moments after we met with the surgeon, Dr. Sardi...
Dad is out of surgery. They took out his spleen, one kidney, part of his pancreas and they cleaned 8 spots off his liver. They got all the tumors but the chance of him having microscopic tumors is extremely high. It will take 8 weeks for him to recuperate and before they can do more chemo. The original tumor was much, much bigger than we thought. They also took a little of his intestine and a sliver of his stomach and a small portion of his diaphragm. It is a gift from God that he didn't have pain since the anointing service.

I wrote this on my Fleur Cottage face book page...

What a day...never did we expect to sit in the surgical waiting room thirteen hours! Our local children and their husband/wives sat with me today all the way through, supporting and caring for me. Good friends Paul and Rhoda Nissley made a special trip from Lancaster to Baltimore, spending an hour with us...thank you, Paul and Rhoda!

The cancer spread was extensive. Dave lost his spleen, a kidney, a sliver of the pancreas, diaphragm and stomach, six to eight inches of intestine and the liver had eight spots of cancer. The tumor itself was the size of a medium-sized cantaloupe. Dr Sardi got all the cancer that could be seen but cannot guarantee small microscopic cancers turning up elsewhere. Two hours of heated chemo was applied before he was closed up.

Dave will need a two month recovery/healing time before he can have more chemo treatments. It is during this time the cancer could show up again. Dr Sardi was very honest with us today and did not guarantee anything, though he did say Dave's chances are better now than what they were by not doing the surgery.

Thank you, my friends, for lifting us up in prayer today!


This is why I've been MIA in posting on my blog. If you're interested in following along on our cancer journey, 'like' my fleurcottage face book page through the face book badge on the side margin.

February 6

Our daughter Julia, took me to Mercy today...I felt a flutter of panic when I realized Dave was still in ICU. Dr Sardi was in his room explaining how the surgery was and what needed to be removed. The cause for an extra day was a sluggish kidney but that was better when we left this evening.

Dave took the news his usual calm way but was so relieved the tumor was out. He's on a managed pain regiment, looks a little drugged, tires easily and sleeps a lot.

Thank you for the care comments and prayers lifted up to our Heavenly Father. I am well taken care of by our children...I am now the 'child' and they are the parent and I'm loving it! :)

God bless you all!

February 7

Friday, February 1, 2013

Forty-Four Years

Today, February 1, 2013 is our forty-fourth wedding anniversary. Even as I write this, it seems impossible to believe but facts do not lie. This forty-fourth anniversary post is for my beloved husband...
 He does things right!
 He fixes my mistakes...this will never fall apart again!
His love of serving took him to Haiti even though the work was more suited for
 someone twenty years younger.
He has regretted selling his first car and this is as close to it as he could get. 
Loves spending time with the grands!
A dream fulfilled - a place for everyone to play in the water at our cabin!
Handles his cancer journey with grace.
 Loves to hunt and he got a big one in Montana.
His winter hobby is putting a 1000 piece puzzle together - the harder the better!
Fulfills my dreams by building them!
 Here we are today - forty-four years later with our seventeen grands (two oldest missing).

Tuesday of next week he'll be having surgery for a second bout of cancer. Like his first one, he's facing this with a serenity that challenges me. To me, the next month feels long and I'm grateful for our children who will be standing with us in this second phase of our journey. God has blessed us with many believers who have been and continue to lift us up to our heavenly Father - thank you, thank you!

I close this post with my theme that has carried me through times when life doesn't make sense: