Archive for the ‘Gardening and Canning’ Category

Summer Pictures —   Leave a comment


Jeni and Jason with my mother —


Canning time —  Beans, beans, and more beans —  for which we are very thankful!




My beautiful mother in my front garden —  I owe my love of gardening to this woman although I will always with I had received more than a finger tip of her “green thumb” abilities!   🙂





Mandy and my mom


Saying goodbye to my mom.  We spent the night in Green Bay at Matthew’s house, went to church in the morning and then Mom flew out in the afternoon.  So much fun to be together and I am once again thankful that our son bought such a roomy home which enables us to be with him overnight without the least bit of feeling crowded!   Good job Matthew!





Picking beans in our wild garden!   Our college girl – as well as her sisters have a dreaded fear of snakes– hence the tall boots!


Beautiful girls!


Saying goodbye to Kristi the morning we headed out for VA.


What a precious picture — my husband loves his children so much and although it is hard to have his daughter Kristi so far from home, he has adjusted well!  They keep in touch via texting, especially during Packer games!


Dinner for four once again — except for the meat, all of the meal is from our garden — soooo  good.



August brought our dear friends from VA to visit — We all fell in love with Aaron, especially my sweet husband.


Did I mention that Aaron loved us too!



We love this family so much, they are precious and baby Aaron will be raised for the glory of the Lord and to know God for which we are very thankful.!

Did I mention we have been VERY busy!  August is crunch time — Work, College, getting our school plans up and running, enjoying guests, gardening and canning —   and to some degree trying to survive Door County at the height of it’s busy season well, let’s just say it has been very stressful.  But, as always, God enabled us to get through and to be honest, this was the hardest summer season we have ever had.  The fishing has been lean for a year but the restaurants need just as much as ever if not more for their orders.  The combination has been difficult for all the Commercial Fishermen in Door County.  Thankfully we have all worked together and bought from each other and shared the stress!  It had truly been a season of bearing each other’s burdens as Galatians tells us to do.

I am thankful that God has lead us and strengthened us and taught us to be diligent in our prayers and seeking Him.  There have not been great tides of overwhelming faith in this for us, but there has been an ever increasing step by step, sometimes crawling 🙂 walk of faith when it comes to our fishery.  It is not over as we head into our fall season when fishing is supposed to be at it’s peak, but as we know from last year can also be a season of failure.  And yet God provides — through other work and jobs and the gift of faith.  He is so good and we thank Him for meeting our needs.

I have more to tell and will in days to come —

School is started and the canning is still keeping me busy every week along with my cleaning jobs but there is much share.

Blessed today!




Apple sauce 2011   Leave a comment

These are some old pictures but they show the seasons of our lives.  Here is the apples-sauce making for 2011.  Gretel had stayed overnight so being one of our dark-haired daughters, she was called to this chore.  They did a great job and after a whole day of work se ended up with well over 50 quarts.  With Rick at the helm, not a pan scorched and the taste was delicious.

Kristi saw a picture of our working together in the kitchen and her comment was that Gretel had better not be taking her place….  one of the joys of a large family is the working together and producing our good organic food together.  Everyone is needed and learns early to be a part of the process as they will also reap the benefits of good food for the next year.  No one is replaceable and as the children are leaving the nest I do have concerns about doing all this work on my own!   That is a few years away so for now I will enjoy the work with my daughters and sweet husband.


End of the Harvest….. Finally!   Leave a comment

Today will be the end of the harvesting and I am ready for this year to be done.  I have carrots to dig and the last of the broccoli to cut and thenI will put the garden to bed for the winter.  I would be happy if I could get all of the perennials cut back as well today, but that might be more than this day will give me!

These are the carrots that we picked from our friend’s garden a week ago.  He said to go take what ever I wanted so I roped Melody and her friend Collin to help me and this was the reward for thirty minutes of work!  I have enjoyed using this table for cleaning vegetables as I can power wash from above and below and then they air-dry quickly afterward.

I may pressure can some of these carrots in the coming week, so I can make the harvest last longer.

We will can our applesauce next week as well.  I want to do it on Monday or Tuesday so that I can give some pints of sauce as a birthday present to a little one year old who’s birthday party is on Tuesday.  He likes my applesauce and his mother does not can so I thought this would be a neat idea for some of his present.

So far this week we have had Andrew for a day and Mia for a day as well as Robyn for supper.  It has gone well with these little folks and we enjoy loving them in our home.

We also had our Foster Care appreciation dinner on Tuesday night.  Rick was not able to attend but I picked up another mom and her two sons and we drove together to a very nice lodge in southern Door County where we enjoyed a fun evening.  There were door prizes and I won a dinner for two at a fancy eatery.  We also had an exchange where everyone brought items that were home made from our homes.  We brought a beaded bookmark, some grape jelly and one of Melody’s hair flowers that she makes.  We won a set of red-neck wine glasses as the lady who made them called them.  They are pint canning jars glued to glass candle sticks.  They come with lids so that you can fill the jar with wine and then put the lids on when you are walking around with them, cuz, you know how I spill my wine when I am drinking!  🙂   That’s a joke folks!  They are very pretty and I will use them for candles and especially for outdoors when the wind is blowing, they will work perfectly.

We are starting school a little late due to Rick being off the lake. I wanted to make him a nice breakfast of eggs and bacon to celebrate being done with this season.  They pulled all the nets out of the water and will spend today and tomorrow cleaning them and sorting them to be repaired.  Although I still woke up at five this morning I was glad that Rick got to sleep in until a little after six.  He is exhausted and told me this morning that every muscle aches from all the pulling of these huge nets.  I wish he would take a hot soak to ease his muscles but that doesn’t fit his image of being a manly Scandinavian!   He will feel much better in a few days.

Today will be filled with finishing up paper work for the fishing licenses, school, violin lessons and preparing a meal for our dear friend Betty and her husband.  I received opinions from everyone on what I should make as we are one very opinionated family!   I will finish the garden and do some cleaning around the house later so that we will have less to clean tomorrow.  I have already heard from Mandy and Jeni and will talk to Kristi later, I do love that our family keeps in touch! The sun is shining and it looks lovely outside, a beautiful day for some outside work!

Choosing joy


Happenings in Oct.   Leave a comment


Jeni and Jason — Two years of marriage, God is so good.

Jason and Jeni came for the weekend and we had such a wonderful time.  Jason was recovering from an accident where he was rear-ended on the way to work.  Many prayed for him and he did not suffer nearly as badly as I have heard others suffer after whip lash.  God is so kind to answer our prayers on his behalf.  They left on Monday and you won’t believe this, but Jeni was rear-ended going into Milwaukee.  She was driving their other car while Jason was driving Matthew’s car which he loaned to Jason and Jeni until they purchased a new car.  Wild times!  We prayed again and Jeni was also covered by God’s healing hand and recovered quickly.



Love this bunch, love who they are and the joy they give us!

Beautiful, beautiful people


Matthew came up to fix a light on Kristi’s car and check out what was wrong with it.

He had lots of help and lots of blonde opinions, because we blondes love to share our thoughts when it come to car repair!

When he took it for a drive, Annie and Melody piled in and went with.  All they said when they got home was that “He went really fast”.  I DO NOT want to know those kind of things……. when will they learn that!

Precious brother, always quick to bless and help our family.


Melody was a help with Baley.  Baley is a city dog so we can’t let her loose or she might run away or run in the street.  We enjoy her.

Jazmin is a country dog so we can’t let her loose or she might run away or run in the street!  We enjoy her too!

We are doing a very focused year of Spanish.  We have signs around the house on objects to help us with associating the words to what they mean.  Jazmin has to wear this sign.  It makes her uncomfortable and sulky as she thought the sign should have read “human”.

Our dear friend Betty recently suffered from a serious illness.  Praise the Lord, she is being made well by prayers and medicine. We are taking care of her grandchildren to help the family.  Robyn has Mia and Betty’s son Eric and his wife have Andrew. When they are here they make the day very busy but so much fun.  I finally figured out how to get Andrew to nap so we are making progress at keeping his days in order.  He is such a sweety and we love both him and Mia.

This is Robyn.  She is the same age as Matthew and we have watched her grow up but only in the last five years have we really connected and spent lots of time together.  I love this young woman, our whole family does!  She is such a delight to be with and blesses our home with her kindness. God is doing a wonderful work in her life and we are blessed to know her.

Rick was home for lunch one day last week and we were trying to get a picture of Mia and her cousin Andrew together.  Mia would not leave Rick alone and wanted his applesauce which of course he freely shared with her.  He is such a softy with little ones!

Rick made sure that Andrew knew where to look on the internet to see the latest Packer news!  Aren’t his eyes just precious?  He loves sitting on “uncle Rick’s” lap.

We have enjoyed our October even though it has been the strangest for fishing on record.  I will have a separate post all about it soon.  We have done well with school and gardening and caring for these little ones.  We have had wonderful fellowship times in our homes with meals and watching great preaching, the Packer parties continue and Annie’s job has now ended for the season.  We have homes left to close down for our care-taking business and some cleaning to do but that is also winding down.  We celebrated Kristi’s birthday without her being with us and I survived. 🙂

Life is precious








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Here we are at Mandy’s job site in her office space —  Her screen saver is of her dad and her together — tricking a familiar facial expression.  We met her co-workers and enjoyed seeing her place of work.  She has an important job as she recruits folks to donate blood for the sake of saving the lives of others.  We are proud of her work and pray for her to be a blessing to all whom she comes in contact with every day.

I am catching up today on our lives.  It has been a wonderful couple of weeks, busy but good, stressful but accomplishing, wearying but peaceful at times…. isn’t that just how life is?   The mystery of days filled with a gamut of emotions and experiences all combining together to make up our days and ultimately our lives..

Jason and the girls, having dinner together in Milwaukee before seeing Hillsong United in concert.

Sometimes life is more overwhelming than other times, or maybe sometimes the work load wears us down and we get too tired to handle the daily stresses, we feel to sad to handle the pressures of everything that consumes our days.  That is when our faith becomes more real to us as we call on the name of the Lord for strength and joy and peace and patience.  We ask for wisdom, we cry out for His presence and His balm for our souls.  Our faith takes on new qualities as we experience anew His daily meeting of our needs, all of them!   Rejoicing and thankfulness is mingled together as we receive His grace and mercy for each hour and it causes us to worship, pure worship, raw and open and honest, welling out of the moment.


This is the secret to keeping our lives in order — the BOARD!

On this board we write phone messages, the chores for the day, appointments, etc..  I have to admit that it rarely gets completely accomplished and most days there is an item or two on the list that is rolled over onto the next days agenda.  I am still  glad to cross thing off the list and see work being accomplished.



Here is our Sammy, Rick’s race-car fan!  He was more than happy to have his picture taken with the race- car as he proudly supports Uncle Rick and recently came over just to get Uncle Rick’s autograph for his notebook.   


Big sister — little brother,  It is good for Sammy to be with us for the day, to experience being part of a family with a big sister to do things with and to interact with.  His father says that he enjoys his days here and I am glad that he can be with us.  It is a “little” bit like having his mother here, even though I know she is in heaven with her Lord, and I miss her so.





Sammy and Melody rescued this robin which had been outed of the nest but either had a birth defect with it’s legs or injured them in the fall.

Annie our resident animal rescuer and animal protector studied about the care of birds and went to great lengths to feed and help this little bird.  Despite her best efforts, the bird did not make it and after three days died.  It was sad, but at the same time rewarding to know that although we did our best to care for it and it fell asleep to die peacefully.   Life is fragile, for people and animals… 



Nick and Garrett Voight, friends of ours who we enjoy caring for now and then.  They remind me of our son Matthew with their tow-heads.



Melody and Lidia balancing cards–  a feat that I have never been able to accomplish at all.  Melody was struggling, hence the hidden face.  



The truth about Sammy — Sammy loves our family, every one in our family.  But, the truth is, he likes it best when he gets ALL of my attention.  His siblings are all much older as he was the surprise baby when his mother was 46!  With Donna’s death when he was 11 months old, it left him with only his father at home.  Being raised with just his father, in an adult world, he is an old soul in many ways.  He also has expressed to his father that he would like it if I went and lived at their house and was his mama.  His dad has explained to him that Uncle Rick would get really mad if that happened.  Sammy is just expressing his heart, which wants a mama, wants something of normalcy that others have but he does not.   So, this was his anniversary card to me on our 30th.  Notice that it is not to Uncle Rick, just me!  The picture is of he and I together, no mention of Rick!  Rick and I laughed when we saw this, so precious and a reminder that in the body of Christ we are family to others and that means for me mothering Sammy and giving him a sense of normal for the day — letting him know he is loved and cherished here.


Garden picture One

Annie made a delicious meal of Haitian food — 

Living and learning each beautiful day.   Our days are filled with work and chores to maintain our home, people coming and going, stopping in for visits and meals, Bible study and teaching — getting to the heart of the matter in all of our lives.  Times of prayer are beautiful whether out under the tree or at our table.  We replaced a chair in the cottage and the comfy chair was brought down to our house and place next to the couch, in front of the the woodstove.  This would never work come fall and the start of woodburning, but for now it is perfect as we gather in these chairs to visit and share lives, to relax for the moment before the work of life calls us to the next chore.  I do love gathering spots within my home!

This day —

We will have breakfast with a dear friend from Brazil and her children.  She wants to watch Jeni and Jason’s wedding DVD, what fun.  Annie and Kristi work at nine and Melody and I have work here in the gardens and house before we head out this afternoon to a cleaning job.  Full day — wonderful day!

Blessed in it all —





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I really like this picture that Melody took last week.  We are blessed to have many white birch trees on our property and they are so beautiful.  As you can see, spring is so late this year.  The trees are just starting to leaf out and there are still plenty with only buds on the branches.  I was told yesterday that the cherry season may not start until end of July or around the first of August.  There have been no cherry blossoms as of yet.

It is looking like a beautiful day, the sun is shining and the sky is blue which is contrary to what the weather man is predicting.  The birds are at the feeder although one feeder is dominated by a grey squirrel and the red squirrel is perched on the grill making that odd purring sound that they make and anxiously waiting to take a jump at the feeders for it’s turn.  There is a humming-bird in the garden feasting off of a hyacinth flower and I would say it is peaceful here but the girls let Jazmin out of their room so they could sleep in and she is barking viciously at the squirrels,  the direct opposite of peace as her bark pierces to the middle brain.  Oh good, Kristi just came stumbling around the corner and took Jazmin off to somewhere else!

What a delightful week, and tragically sad week.  I will start with sad.  About three weeks ago we sat at the local Lutheran church for the funeral of the son of our dear friends Dale and Joan.  This week another son fell ill to pneumonia which went septic within 24 hours and he is not expected to live.  We sat with this family less then ten years ago at the death of their daughter.  They will have lost half their children by the end of this week if the Lord does not intervene.  This is pain, lives lost with no hope of heaven as far as we know.   Feeling our friend’s pain has cast a shadow in my heart.

I am glad that there has been beauty in this week as well.  God in His wonderful Sovereignty has ordered these weeks of work and we are nearing the close of the openings and we are on track for school to be almost completely done by the end of next week.  I DO NOT KNOW HOW HE DOES IT!    I know that part of this success is due to the girls all working with me which made the jobs go quickly.  They have been excellent in their work and I am so glad for such workers to be with on the job.  We have fun while we work!   I also focused on cleaning out the office/library/craft/sewing and guest room!!!!    Can you say multi-purpose room??   We have had a beautiful roll top desk for years that is just not working for us anymore so I moved that out of the office and put it by the front door.  I am going to take some pictures of it and put it on Craig’s list to sell.  I sorted through things in that room and although it will still be a multi-purpose room, it will be better organized, well, in a few days it will be!   We also received the exciting news that the Penrods will be coming our way and we will be caring for the five younger children for a week while G&A are on a cruise where he is performing.  So much fun…..  so motivating to get the spring cleaning done!   Another wonderful part of this week was meeting a young couple who are staying in our cottage as part of the ministry use of our cottage.  They were heading to Rome as part of a group of missionaries heading there to bring the Gospel to Italy.  But, God gave them a baby and so they are waiting another year for the baby to be born and to get their fundraising together.  It was a joy to hear their story and how God is using them and their hope for the future.  We shared hearts and encouraged each other as the family of God is so able to do!

Plans for the day–

I am going to head outside to work on my rock wall garden, pull weeds and replant some perennials.  I want to have Rick bring the rotatiller and help me add some gardening area in the front.  I need to pull boards off of a bed that has fallen apart and prepare the area for Jeff to come and rotatill with his tractor.  I also hope to spread some wood chips on our paths and plant some bulbs that I bought.  In the middle of this day I will need to clean up, dress up and then go to a funeral where I will play piano.  My girls will come for the luncheon to help with clean up, then I will come home and put on the work clothes and head back outside to continue gardening.  I will post a chore list on our white board so that the girls do not get confused and think it is the Sabbath and a work-free day.  They will help me outside as well but if they get a few things done IN the house I will not feel like the house is totally lost for the weekend.

I also need to get lunch together for tomorrow because we will not have long to eat before we need to get Melody down to her recital.  I am so excited and I will be playing piano for one of her pieces, a minuet by Bach.

Rick races this evening unless it rains.  I am hoping it does not rain as then I need to have “real” food for supper if Rick is home.  With just the girls and I we will grab a salad and veggies and call it supper, but that does not satisfy my man!    He needs to race, it de-stresses him and he has so much fun, well most of the time he does!

Off to the garden,

Choosing joy,


Catching up —   Leave a comment


I can not believe that it has been so long since I posted.  It always takes me a bit to catch up with our Door County life after we have been in our other “home”, Tennessee.  It is a different pace down in the south and so coming back to the fast pace of running businesses and getting back to home-schooling here in the north is always a shock to my system, and family for that matter.  Rick was fishing within days and our caretaking business went into full gear at the same time.  I came home with a horrible sore throat which I dealt with for two weeks before going to the doctor.  Some amoxocillin made all the difference.

Within a week of getting home we were hit with a doozy of a snowstorm.  At least twelve inches fell with gusting winds which made huge drifts on the highway and driving very dangerous.  What?  You mean you don’t have a wood stove sitting outside your back door?  I am tempted to haul it to the side and cook in it now and then when the weather gets hot.  It is really rusty from the snow but would probably still be useable for a couple years for backing…. hmmm  we’ll see!

One of my favorite sights during snow storms … beautiful red cardinals.

With Rick fishing we had our first fresh fish meal in months.  My family never favors the same taste so I makes fish in packets with everything from plain old salt and pepper to lemon pepper and dill and lemon.  It tasted SO good.   There is story behind this meal.  It was a Wed. and I texted Rick in the morning asking him if he would bring his love ( that is me!) some fish for supper.  He responded in a text Tom??    I, being not so text savvy replied Tom who??     He gave up on texting and called me…  He was saying TOMORROW —  the scalers were not being used and so he did not want to dirty up the machines for a couple of fish.  I reminded him that tomorrow would not work because we had Bible study.  i told him that was OK and I would make something else, told him I loved him and hung up.  As I did I knew that I would be having fish for supper—–   🙂   Sure enough.  I had to be gone in the afternoon and came home to find fish in the fridge!.   He told the girls to tell me ( teasingly) that I was a brat  🙂    All I know is that I am loved and it thrills my heart that my husband desires to please me when he is able.  Those fish tasted the best I have had in years,  seasoned with love!

Besides getting all of the above mentioned things going, it is also race car season!   Here are Rick and his crew getting the car going and putting the frame together.  After all these years of racing I learned a few things in the last month.  Such as, when he said he was buying a car, he did not mean a car with a an engine in it, just the frame.  I call that getting ripped off!   Also, when he buys the seat for the car, it does not include the seat belt, or safety harness.   Seems cheap to me!


We have had an issue with birds hitting the windows around here.  I would blame it on my windows being too clean but THAT is not the case here at the Johnsons, no siree!   I came home from a music practice and was quickly told to keep it quiet and not to make any loud noises.  Annie, our in-house animal lover had rescued a bird that had hit the window.  These things only go one of two ways…..  this one went well as when I checked in the bag I saw the bird hopping around looking out the screen window and trying to communicate to me that it was ready to leave this mock bird hospital!  Annie gloved herself and went out to deposit the bird which immediately flew away.  Good thing!

One of our good friends flew out from California for a few days and invited us out to dinner to a very fancy place.  John, the husband, invited the girls along which was a great treat for them.  It was a four course dinner and the girls enjoyed eating delicious foods that they had never tasted before.  The night was fun and we were so proud of the girls conversation and manners as they openly shared their thoughts with our friends.   Wonderful fun, and don’t they look lovely?

Last Saturday Melody performed before a professional violin player who judged her and also gave her pointers on her playing.  We were so proud of her, she did a beautiful job.  It was so fun to hear the different instruments and when a young man played the cello my heart was stirred to pray for a cello.  I have always wanted to play the cello.  We will see.  God does love to delight His children doesn’t He?  THe lady playing the piano is Melody’s teacher and she is a very sweet had happy lady.


Even though the judge looks tough in this picture, she was so kind and sweet, very good with children.

Sweet beautiful women of God,  just a joy to hang around with and be with.

Sunday was the celebration of Rick’s Aunt Ruth’s birthday.  We went to the care center where she lives and sang to her and visited with the Nelson family who were all there as well.  Such a nice time.  Aunt Ruth is animated and told us that she was waiting for her rich man to come into her life!  She is always entertaining… telling us who of the other patients drives everyone crazy and who she thinks can’t be trusted..  We were glad that we could go and be with her, she is an amazing women.  Her sister to the right is the sweetest lady who loves our family and my father.  I always enjoy my moments with her as well.

Door County is beautiful, the spring sunsets are vivid and capture our eye every evening.  It is good to be back into our routine and with lots of planning and scheduling we should be able to run the caretaking business without losing our minds!   I am always reminding myself that God is a God of order, it is His way and He knows best.  Living daily in His order for our lives brings peace…. and joy!