Archive for the ‘Outdoors’ Category

Our Garden 2014 – Part 1

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

We arrived at the end of March to a bare, untouched patch of land.



Within a few days it looked like this


Still on the side of a hill though so Jonathan started moving the dirt around with his super rototiller.



Aww, looking so much better. Still much work to be done before planting though! We are located right next to a wildlife refuge so deer are a huge huge HUGE problem!!! And so began the fence building…



Check out the incredible view, by the way! Enjoy it every day.

Marching the fence around the corner, one rail at a time. Jonathan cut all the rails out of trees from the property.



Slow but sure progress!


A sneak peak at the labor intensive process.




And then for the finishing touch! I am so proud of this beautiful gate Jonathan built! He started with trees, milled the wood down, cut, carved, and assembled all in one day! I was impressed!!! And I enjoy looking at this gate every time I’m in the garden.



And now, at long last, we’re ready to prep the soil for planting! Finally, something I can do!


The 9 foot fence is complete, the beds are raked up, Let’s get to planting!!!



In spite of the fence, the deer have been in the garden twice! Amazing! But the fence is still keeping the garden safe enough. Little did we know the challenges ahead of us for this gardening season. Deer, nutrient deficient clay soil, bugs, watering issues, among other challenges. Part II coming soon!


An Overdue Update

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Life sure is different without internet in your house. I like it that way though, and have no desire to change it. But, that in itself is a lot of the reason that I haven’t updated my blog recently. Jonathan and I have been busy doing all sorts of things and I’m going to make an attempt to tell you about at least a few of the things we have been up to recently.

First I’ll go ahead and give you a breif report on our backpacking trip and show you a few of the best pictures. We decided to go to Idaho this year and we took the whole family with us for a total of 17 people, including 2 babies. It was a lot of fun! The mothers and babies did awesome…but I don’t think I would do it myself. 🙂

Our Group

Our Group at the trailhead

Brooklyn and I fixed each others hair before we headed out.

We camped our first night at a lake which was a long 7 miles from the car. We found it to be infested with mosquitos but we made the most of it. The next day we did a day hike to another lake and then some of us went on over the next pass to a group of 4 lakes in a row. Here’s a couple pictures from our day.

Jonathan & Suzanne Day 2

Matthew & Faith

Day 3 we headed on to yet another lake. We spent a couple days there and had lots of fun. Part of our group went on a day hike, part of us stayed at camp, and part of us moved on to the next lake ahead of the group. Jonathan and I stayed at camp that day. Here’s a couple pictures from our time at this lake.

Jonathan & Suzanne on the trail

Jonathan made himself a raft! 🙂

Jonathan giving me a ride on his raft

Savannah & Rachel playing in the water

Day 5 we hiked to yet another lake where we caught up with the rest of our group again. However, we had still left the tired day hikers at the previous lake so had to wait yet another day for them to catch up so we could all be back together again. While we were separated from Dad, Jonathan got to enjoy being the cook.

Jonathan made himself a nice way to hang the pot over the fire

That night we enjoyed Mac'N Cheese. Here Jonathan & Michelle are draining the water off the noodles. Notice Jonathan's hand made wooden spoon. He made himself a spatula too and I still use both in my kitchen at home. 🙂

Next, Day 7 I guess it would be, we headed to an off trail lake. We spent two nights there and then headed back out. We spent one night at one of the lakes we’d already been to and then hiked that remaining 12 miles to the car. It was quite the trip, especially for the little people. That’s why you’ll see pictures of Jonathan & I carrying the little girls, Savannah & Rachel.

Mariya & Faith

Jonathan is well liked. 🙂

We thought we were bunnies but I guess maybe we're donkeys.

After we got home from backpacking, we found our garden with ripe greenbeans, broccoli, tomatoes, squash, and more. I became quite busy processing all the food from the garden. We bought some Yakima peaches too and some pears that I made into Pear Butter which, btw, is extremely yummy. 🙂 I canned and dried 3 boxes of peaches. One box of pears made 2 batches of canned pear butter as well as some dried pears. I also dried some prune plums.

Here is a pile of green beans and some squash fromt he garden

This is how many green beans it took to do one batch of canned green beans. I used a pressure canner for the first time. It took me 5 hours from start to finish to figure out how everything worked and get through the process. The 2nd time I did it was much faster but still a lot of work. I was very thankful to be able to call Jonathan’s mom who had experience and have her help through the process. She’s a real blessing, I call her frequently with little questions about cooking, canning, sewing, cleaning, sickness and whatever else. Somehow she just seems to have all the answers! I’m very thankful to have a mother-in-law like her.

I was talking to Michelle one day and she informed me that she had tons of tomatoes in her garden and couldn’t use them fast enough. My tomatoes were pretty slow getting ripe and I was afraid I wouldn’t get enough for Salsa before the end of the year. So, Jonathan and I planned a visit to David’s house for the very next day. 🙂 I loaded up all my pint jars, thinking I probably couldn’t fill them all but I wanted to be prepared. When we got there, the kids helped us make quick work out of 36 lbs of tomatoes! I couldn’t believe it! Within 45 minutes we had completely filled Michelle’s biggest pot with chopped tomatoes! Must be nice to have all those helpers around all the time! By the time we were done, I had filled every last one of my pint jars with salsa and had to put the leftovers in a few of Michelle’s jars! I was very pleased to be able to have so much salsa. Thanks guys for the tomatoes and for all your help! It was fun.

A couple weeks ago Jonathan and I bought a woodstove. I’m so glad we’ll be able to heat with wood this winter. I get so tired of paying electric bills and it makes me want to shut the heat off all the time and just bundle up or tough out the cold. This winter I don’t need to worry about being cold. Thanks to a friend of Jonathan’s, we have plenty of firewood for the winter. God has been so good to us with all these blessings and the way he provides for us. Here’s a couple pictures of us getting the firewood.

Suzanne running a hydrolic spliter

Loading up the truck

Getting ready to unload 5 cords of free fire wood at our house. What a load!

And then for our most recent project. We just finished putting a new roof on our trailer. Jonathan and I tore the old roof off, Dad helped lay the new tar paper down and then David’s family and Dad came out and helped us lay the new shingles. It was a lot of work but fun because we were able to do it together. Below you’ll find the pictures of the project. I tried to get just the roof pictures to show up, but, all the backpacking pictures are showing up again too. Oh well. Enjoy the pictures. 🙂

Showers of Blessing

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

After returning home from our honeymoon and getting settled into our new place, Jonathan and I decided we would hunt during late muzzleloader season for deer and elk. After spending several days tromping around in the woods, I was starting to get pretty discouraged. I had seen several deer and even had my gun miss-fire when I tried to shoot one of them. I hadn’t seen any elk at all. There was snow on the ground when we first started hunting which was very nice, it made it very easy to tell whether tracks were fresh or not and also easy to follow the trails. But, even with that advantage I still hadn’t been able to get anything. I was, however, enjoying the fellowship with other hunters (people from my church) and spending time in the woods…at least on the nice days. 🙂 But I was getting pretty tired of waking up at 4:30am, walking around in the woods alllll day long, getting soaked and cold on rainy days, and it was especially frustrating when the woods seemed to be lifeless.

When the alarm rang at 5am on Tuesday, November 30th I did not want to get up and go tromping around in the woods all day. I could hear the rain pouring on the roof. I knew I was going to be soaked and cold within an hour. But, I got up, put on my hunting clothes, ate some breakfast, and went to meet up with the others to go out hunting. I started praying for a deer as I sloshed my way down the muddy trail, already feeling the rain soaking through my gortex jacket.

We arrived at the clearcut and my hunting companions slipped into the cut at various points. I decided to walk a little higher than I had in the past before stepping out into the cut. I rounded a corner and spotted a deer grazing way up high on the hill ahead of me. I pointed it out to John, an experienced hunter, who was still with me to find out if he thought we could sneak up on it somehow. As we were discussing it, I caught motion out of the corner of my eye.  “There!” I said to John, as I cocked my gun and turned towards the two deer that started running up the hill right beside the road. As I excitedly pulled my gun to my shoulder to take aim John had to help me out, “No fooling around now, get down on one knee.” Oh that’s right, I thought, as I remembered that I could hold the gun steady if I was on one knee instead of standing up. “Now just wait.” John said as he put his elk call to his lips and made a noise to catch the deer’s attention. The two deer stopped to look back from the top of the rise, on of them standing broad-side to me. “Okay, take it!” John said. I already had her in my sights, I double checked my aim and pulled the trigger. “BOOM!” I eagerly looked up and watched with great disappointment as one deer ran to the right and the other ran to the left. “I missed.” I said. “Oh no you didn’t!” John said.

“But they both ran away.”

“You saw two run away?”


“Well, that was a different deer then. You hit that deer, I’ve seen a lot of shots and I know you hit that deer. I saw it jump.”

He sent me out in the clearcut to look for the deer even though I was sure I had missed. I looked all around and just as I was about to give up I saw my deer laying about 8 feet from where I had shot her. “She’s over hear!!!” I yelled to John. “She’s over hear!”

Showers of Blessing

The bullet had gone right through the heart. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t really been very confident in my aim when I pulled the trigger. That’s why I was so sure I had missed when I saw two deer run away. God had just given me the deer I was praying for. I was glad to see the bullet went right through the heart because that meant she died right away and didn’t really have to suffer.

John helped me get the meat off the deer and then Pastor carried it out to the truck for me on his pack frame. I shot the deer at 9am and I was so tired and soaking wet already that I just decided to go home. I had violin lessons scheduled for the afternoon anyways. It sure was a blessing to be taking meet home with me at last.

Jonathan and I decided to name our deer Showers of Blessing because we knew God gave her to us, the meet was a great blessing, and I shot her while it was pouring rain.

Spring is here…take time to smell the flowers

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Time sure does get away from me! I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy these days. I spent a lot of time studying and then went and took another CLEP test in an effort to make some progress on my BA degree. However, I didn’t quite pass the CLEP test which was very frustrating. I’d appreciate your prayers as I seek the Lord’s direction as to where he wants me to go from here as far as my education is concerned.

And, with summer quickly approaching, I am in the process of putting together my spring studio recital. Currently the recital is tentatively planned for April 30th and will consist mostly of duets, trios, and hopefully quartets. All of my students are doing very well and working hard. They are a joy to work with. God has blessed me with some neat kids and I’m very thankful for each of them.

And now, before I run out of time for updating my blog, let me show you what Jonathan and I have been up to lately. 🙂

A few weeks ago, Jonathan came to visit me and we got to go canoeing on the Lewis River. We dug the life jackets out of the barn, found some old paddles, and loaded Dad’s canoe onto Jonathan’s little car.

We dropped the canoe off and I stayed with it while Dad and Jonathan drove down river to leave Jonathan’s car so we could float down the river, load up and go home. It worked really well and was a lot of fun. Dad helped saw us off and took this picture for us before he left. 

The river was pretty calm so we were able to just let the river push us along and Jonathan did all the steering. I had a paddle but when I wasn’t really using it, I set it down and just enjoyed the ride. 🙂

The next time I went to visit Jonathan in Salem he had these beautiful flowers waiting specially for me. I brought them home wondering how I was going to keep them safe from predators such as vicious goats and a hyper dog named Mocha. Then I remembered I had a perfectly safe place for them on the roof right outside my bedroom window. So now I get to look at them right out my bedroom window every day. 🙂 I’ve also been able to dry some of the pansies so I’ll always be able to have them.

We went to visit some more waterfalls, this time out near the coast. We also went to the beach but only for a few minutes because we ran out of time. Also, it was super cold, windy, and rainy on the beach that day.

And that is all I have time for right now folks! I hope you enjoyed the pictures and a small update on what I’ve been doing. I’m beginning to think blogs are best for pictures…writing blog posts takes a lot of time. BUT, I do like to write…and I do have things to write about. So, one of these days, I will write a blog post again. 😉

Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”

Psalm 94:18-19 “When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up.  In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”

Silver Falls

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Last weekend I went to Salem to visit Jonathan and his family. While I was there, we went to Silver Falls and walked around for a couple hours. It was very nice and we got some cool pictures…well, that is, we did our best at taking self-portraits. 😉 So, I’ll go ahead and post a couple of those pictures for you to enjoy. Eventually I’ll get a blog post on here with more words than pictures, but for now you’ll just have to be satisfied with pictures. 😉 I am trying to spend a significant amount of time studying as I am hoping to take another CLEP test soon so I would greatly appreciate your prayers for me to be diligent and focused as I study.

Skiing with Jonathan

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

This past Saturday, Jonathan went skiing with me and my family. It was Jonathan’s first time skiing but he got the hang of it really quickly. We started out on the bunny slop and I gave Jonathan a few tips his first time down the hill. He only fell a few times and I could tell he was already starting to get a feel for it. His second time down the bunny hill he didn’t fall at all! I thought,  “What in the world! This is great!” And so I decided he was ready to go to the top of the mountain and face the real adventure. And I was right! He did great and we had a lot of fun together! By the end of the night, Jonathan was skiing as fast as I would ever want to ski.


Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
Thanksgiving Dinner at David's

Thanksgiving Dinner at David's

My family enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving this year at my brother David’s house in Brooklyn, WA. There were 22 people all together, if I am remembering right. Dinner was pretty good too. BTW, have you ever thought about the strange foods that are traditionally part of Thanksgiving? You know, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing…I don’t like any of that stuff. I filled my plate with mashed potatoes, turkey, and rolls. And then to top it off, I had a nice big slice of pumpkin pie. Then I went out hunting with Dad and David. When I got back from hunting, I had another nice piece of pumpkin pie. 😀 And even though I made my own pumpkin pie about a week before thanksgiving (and ate most of it by myself) I still haven’t had enough pumpkin pie for the year. I need to go buy myself a can of Libby’s pumpkin and make myself at least one more pie. 😉


The Saturday after Thanksgiving we went skiing at Mt. Hood Meadows. I got to try out my new skis and was sadly disappointed. I was expecting great things from those skis…and they let me down. I didn’t really notice a significant improvement over my ancient skis. Perhaps it is just because I need someone to teach me how to use them properly. From my understanding, you’re supposed to ski a little differently with shaped skis. So I’ll give them a couple more tries, and hopefully have someone teach me how to carve, and then I’ll make a final decision as to whether or not the skis were worth my money. On the other hand, I think I enjoyed skiing more before I had money invested in it. Too bad I didn’t figure that out before I purchased the new skis. I suppose I could probably sell them if I wanted to, but like I said, I should probably wait until someone teaches me how to carve before I make a decision.

Matthew recently got a new top rack. Yay, now we don’t have to ride home with wet skis dripping melted snow on us while we’re trying to warm up from a day of skiing. 🙂



The sunset was pretty neat from the top of the mountain. If my camera had been easier to get to I would have taken a lot more pictures.

Matthew and Mariya

Matthew and Mariya

Matthew taught Mariya how to snowboard for the first half of the night while my nephew Jeremiah and I skiied. They joined us at the top of the mountain later on so Mariya could try out her new skis. I challenged Matthew (on his snowboard) to a race and he accepted. That was a lot of fun! We really flew down the mountain! But we ended up tieing.

Pastor Shanks and Marshall Hatfield

Pastor Shanks and Marshall Hatfield

And then it was hunting season again. Dad and I went out to our church’s hunting camp on Friday, right after Thanksgiving. We hunted from about 1pm to closing. We didn’t see anything. We spent the night in the camp and hunted again the next morning. Our set up for the night wasn’t so great though. We slept right on the ground, I didn’t even take my mattress pad (I never like taking more gear than I have to, it just gets in the way). BTW, if you own a mattress pad and you’re going camping, take it with you! You may be tough enough to sleep on the hard ground…but when you think about the insulation factor, well, it’s totally worth it. Especially if it’s late November! I actually ended up shivering like a dog ALL night long! Just when I started to get warm, Dad shook my bag and informed me that it had started raining. No wonder I got warm! So then we climbed into the car and slept in the car the rest of the night…which never works well. By morning I’m pretty sure I had only slept one little tiny hour. We headed out hunting at 5am because we wanted to be at our clear cut by daylight. And it was a really good hunting clear cut! We scared 6 deer out of there. :-/ I didn’t get a shot at any of them. But at least we found some! That was an encouraging step in the right direction. After a few more hours of hunting we headed back to the car so I could meet Matthew to go skiing (that’s the day we went skiing….after I’d only slept one miserable hour the night before).

Pastor with his grouse

Pastor with his grouse

The next Monday I left our house at 3:30am so I could be at the camp by 4:30am. All I saw that day was a BEAUTIFUL sunrise and a grouse at the end of the day. The grouse was an unfortunate creature because Pastor Shanks is a really good shot and took the head right off that bird. I also had to test my sense of direction as I walked through some THICK trees with tons of elk trails going every which direction. The fact that I am updating my blog proves that I passed the test. 😉 But it sure is easy to start getting yourself freaked out when you’re in the woods all alone. But if you freak out, then you are no good to yourself anyways.

It's not mine - I just spotted it

It's not mine - I just spotted it

He gets the meat

He gets the meat

Pastor knows how to pose with a deer, notice how much better his picture is than ours. :-)

Pastor knows how to pose with a deer, notice how much better his picture is than ours. 🙂

As we were discussing our plans to split up for a few hours of hunting, we heard a gunshot just over the rise from us in the clear cut. We took off down the road and I spotted this deer running across the side of the hill in front of us. All three of us went after it…and if I had been in the right place, I probably could have shot it, but I didn’t…

The next day (last Friday) I went out yet again. We split up to walk through some big timber in search for elk. And I FOUND ONE! But I’m such an immature hunter that I got all excited and ended up scaring this big beautiful bull. I looked at him through the sights on my gun but I didn’t pull the trigger because I was pretty sure I would only injure him if I shot at him as a running target. SO CLOSE! 🙁 But he was a sight to see and I’m thankful I at least got to see one.

We pushed the deer out on a bike. What a blessing! 2 miles would have been a long haul otherwise.

We pushed the deer out on a bike. What a blessing! 2 miles would have been a long haul otherwise.

Hanging at hunting camp

Hanging at hunting camp

And so here I sit, a rather frustrated hunter. On Sunday night I heard Pastor tell Dad, “Suzanne almost got an elk! And she almost got a deer too!” Well, almost isn’t good enough. I have a little less than a week left to get out there, find, and this time KILL an animal. But I also have a life to live; there’s school to be done, chores to be kept up with, and my violin studio recital is this Friday night. I have to keep my priorities straight even if I do end up eating “tag soup”.

Let’s Go Skiing!

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The mountains have snow again, the ski resorts are opening for the season. A couple weeks ago I went to the ski show in Portland to try to find a new pair of skis for myself. When I first started skiing I would rent my equipment but that gets expensive real fast. So then I started using really old equipment that I found at Goodwill stores. That’s what I’ve been using for the past several years. It works okay but if I’m going to be skiing regularly I thought it would be worth it to invest in a nice pair of skis. And so I did.


They’re Salomon Origins, $1000 new! Of course I didn’t pay anywhere near that much, I got a really good deal because these were used as demo skis. They’re shaped skis (which I’ve only tried a couple times, hope I don’t have too much trouble learning how to carve my way down the mountain.), they’ve got a wood core, and, yes, they’re purple. So they’ll go great with my purple coat. haha. I also got a pair of Salomon ski boots which I’m hoping will work well. I’m sure I’ll be thrilled with my new equipment considering my old skis were from the 70’s or something and my old boots had two broken clasps and only one working clasp. I used to worry that the lift attendant might tell me I wasn’t allowed on the lift with my ancient equipment. But it worked and I had fun so I was happy.

Anyhow, now I’m very excited to get up on the mountain and try out my new gear! I’m planning a trip to Mt. Hood SOON! Probably night skiing Saturday Nov 28th. If you want to go, let me know. Fellowship with friends is one of the best parts of skiing. It’s never fun to go alone.

Well, I’m starting to get used to my new schedule. It is the strangest thing to be in control of so much of my time. I want to use all my time for God and the things he wants me to do. Therefore it’s a huge responsibility to “be in control” of what I do with my time. I will be held accountable to God for everything I do with my time. Rom 14:12  “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Really, I don’t want to “be in control”. I want to hand that control to God and let him steer me in what to do with my time. Rom 6:13  “Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God.” In order to yield myself like that, I must die to myself (my will, my goals) daily as Paul did (1 Cor 15:31). And I must keep my focus on Christ, not on my list of things that need to be accomplished. If I focus on a list of things that need to be done each day, I will feel like I failed if I didn’t accomplish it all at the end of the day. That can get depressing real quick. Yes, goals are good, and striving to be productive is good, but if that is the focus, I am looking to myself and will quickly become discouraged and/or depressed. My purpose IS to please the Lord. Rev 4:11  “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” My purpose is NOT to check off the items I decided to write down on my “To Do” list for the day. Now perhaps, as I continue to seek the Lord and his will with my whole heart (Jere 29:13, Ps 119:2), one day my “To Do” list will align with his will for me and therefore bring him pleasure if I do accomplish those things. If I let my pre-planned schedule run my life, I wouldn’t be available to serve others in the moment that they needed me to take some time for them. I also wouldn’t have time to stop and spend a few minutes in prayer for someone or something that the Lord brought to my attention. (1Th 5:17  “Pray without ceasing.”) Nor would I have time to take a moment to look up that verse I was thinking about but couldn’t remember exactly what it said. (Psa 1:2  “But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”)

My conclusion or point is that I am not to be selfish, self-centered, or self-focused. But rather, I am to be Christ-like, Christ-centered, and Christ-focused because that is what brings him pleasure and therefore fulfills my purpose in life.

John 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Rom 12:10  [Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Matt 6:24  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Gal 5:13  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.