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Looking Back

Big Bear: Hiking Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail

Taking in the beauty of the water

The summer temps were on the rise while Grandma and Grandpa were visiting, so we decided to escape from the heat by heading up to Big Bear. The idea of cooler temps, water, and towering green trees was just too much to resist.

Having a picnic amongst the pines was relaxing

I packed us a picnic lunch as I knew that we’d want something to eat before we headed out on our hike. We weren’t sure exactly where we were going to go hiking, so we stopped by the visitor’s center to get some recommendations. It’s a good thing that we did as some of the roads were still closed for the winter.

Munchkin at the trail head getting ready to head out

When we told the park ranger that we were looking for a relaxing hike, he recommended heading over to the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail. It was a shorter hike through the forest that didn’t involve a lot of elevation changes or crazy terrain.

Daddy and daughter hiking the Champion Lodgepole Pine Trail

As is normal, D and Munchkin took the lead. Their long legs tend to give them a bit of an advantage. I’m normally following behind them taking pictures. I couldn’t believe that I forgot my camera, so I just snapped a few pictures with my phone while we were hiking.

The Champion Lodgepole Pine was absolutely huge

Munchkin decided that she really likes being in the forest among the trees as it’s so peaceful. It was a relaxing hike through the forest, and it wasn’t long before we arrived at our original destination. We were all quite impressed with the size of the Champion Lodgepole. The picture certainly does not do it justice.

Munchkin acting like she's holding up the boulder

Of course, we had to make a few stops along the way as it’s hard to resist a large boulder cave.

Everyone squeeze together for a group picture

We also had to try to all squeeze together to get a group shot during the hike.

Beautiful wildlife refuge

After we visited the Champion Lodgepole, we took one of the side trails to see the wildlife reserve. We saw lots of ducks and birds along the way and in the water.

We enjoyed seeing the wildlife at the lake

We were able to walk around the lake. We saw an old log cabin and other homesteading type buildings. It’s always interesting how the fireplace stands long after the building has crumbled away. We would have loved to learn more about the buildings, but there weren’t any signs. We continued on our way around the lake and made our way back to our original trail.

Beautiful location for a picnic and a hike

We definitely want to come back up here to explore more of the trails. It’s such a beautiful location. Our exploration wasn’t over as D decided to take the scenic route back out. It confirmed the fact that I really need new shocks on my truck. lol! The views were stunning, so it was definitely worth the bumpy drive.

Painting Pottery with Grandma

Munchkin painting pottery with Grandma

We had so much fun spending time with Grandma and Grandpa last week. We’re so thankful that we had the time together. We kept things pretty low key without a crazy schedule.

Grandpa taking pictures of us painting pottery

One day, we headed over to the local pottery place to paint some pottery. Grandpa was our cheering section as we took our time painting our pieces. He took some pictures as well as shared our adventure with Munchkin’s cousin. We wish they could have been there as well, but it wasn’t possible this time. Last time they were out we had planned on coming here, but bad weather kept us from taking part in the activity.

Munchkin painting her pottery bird

Munchkin picked out a pottery bird to paint. Originally, she was going to go with something practical, but then she thought it would be fun to paint the bird. She was very meticulous as she painted. Stroke by stroke, she added more depth and detail to her bird. She was definitely the most detail oriented of the three of us.

Munchkin and Grandma painting their pottery

Grandma painted a set of 4 car coasters. Layer after layer she built up the color to create vibrant coasters. Me? Well, I decided to paint a deep dish pie plate. As soon as the owners saw what I decided to paint, they commented that someone was going to be making some pie. It became on common comment as people saw what I painted. Needless to say, I did end up making a strawberry pie once I got the piece back. lol!

Finishing up painting pottery

Grandpa was very patient with our crew as we took our time with our pottery pieces. I tend to jump right into painting while Munchkin planned everything out ahead of time before she even touched a brush to the pottery piece. Grandma was somewhere in between the two of us. Of course, we had some entertaining music to listen to the entire time we painted which made the entire thing even more fun for us. There was singing, laughing, talking, and painting. It was definitely a good day.

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way by Sarah Mae

I received a copy of this book from the publisher to provide feedback.

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to a Clean House and a Satisfied Soul by Sarah Mae

Are you a Martha personality or a Mary personality? I tend lean more towards a Martha personality. I like to get things done, and I have to remember to take time for the important things in life. I have to slow down and treasure the moments before they pass me by. I need to work diligently at filtering what I say and being careful that I don’t come across too strong in conversations. I do believe that we all have a little bit of Mary and Martha in us and sometimes it depends on the situation which personality type is more dominant.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Lately, I’ve been so busy with getting things done outside that things inside of the house have gotten set aside other than the basics – food, general cleaning, laundry…. I needed something to help me get back into the routine of getting things done around the house as things had, once again, gotten cluttered. I have also allowed some other daily habits to slide as I try to get up early to beat the heat.

In Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to a Clean House and Satisfied Soul, Sarah Mae gives readers simple tasks to complete in the home as well as tasks to complete in their spiritual life. The Mary Challenges focus on connecting with the Lord and starting the day off on the right foot. It’s meant to provide inspiration and encouragement. The Martha Challenges are small, manageable cleaning and organizing tasks that can be done each day.

This book recommends that you start with a clean house. It’s not a deep-cleaning, get your house in order book. Oops! Guess I need to get things in order first before I can use the book as recommended. The book does start with a prep day to get your house in order. Of course, I needed more than just a day to get things back in order. I had let quite a few things slide as I was spending a good portion of the day outside working trying to get things done before the heat of summer hit. I could have waited to get the challenge started, but I chose to just dive right in anyway.

Each day starts with a quote or verse and then a little encouraging write-up based upon Sarah’s experiences. I love that she shares the good and the bad. There is no judgement in failing at tasks. As someone who is a perfectionist but not a neat freak, this is something that I appreciate. (Yes, as crazy as it may sound, the two can go hand-in-hand.)

Once you’re done with the daily reading, you come up to the Mary Challenge which gives a scripture passage to read and then several reflection questions. This is a journal type set-up where you can write down your answers directly in the book, if desired. Now you have your Martha Challenge. Some challenges are recommended for daily tasks while others are just that day. She gives recommendations for getting your kids involved.

I admit that I found it odd that she recommended starting the day by cleaning the kitchen. I don’t know about you, but I want to start the day off with a clean kitchen which means ending the day by cleaning up the kitchen. I’m up early to feed the animals, put together hubby’s lunch, and make him breakfast which means I don’t want to have to clean up the kitchen before I’m able to get to work.

The book itself is set up where you are implementing the cleaning ideas (Martha Challenges) Monday through Friday. Saturday can be a day for projects or catch up. Sunday is a day of rest. The system is quite flexible even though it’s designed around a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a living room, kitchen, and dining room.

I really like that she decided to take her original 31 day to clean challenge and turn it into more than just a cleaning challenge. Using Mary and Martha as the role models for the two types of challenges is a smart and interesting approach to the idea.

The book is well written. It’s not meant to be a real in-depth spiritual study or deep housing cleaning project. It’s a great way to get into the habit of meeting with the Lord daily as well as completing certain cleaning tasks daily. It’s flexible and encouraging.


Chicken Run

Dogs checking out the chickens in the chicken run

Continuing on with our theme of utilizing recycled materials for our chicken coop, I set out to make the chicken run out of as many recycled materials as possible. Of course, this means that things aren’t perfectly square or “just so”. Ultimately, the main goal is making sure the chickens are safe and happy.

Gated chicken area made from pallets as well as the split chicken run door

Like the coop, I used pallets for the gate to the chicken area and then to make a split door to the chicken run. I liked the idea of being able open up the bottom on the door separately from the top of the door. I purchased hinges, latches, and the welded wire for the door and gate, but everything else was free. It just took a little work to tear apart the pallets and put them together to make the gate and door. The posts for the door were given to me by a neighbor. They are warped, so it made hanging the door a little tricky. It’s not perfect, but it works. 🙂

Looking out at the chicken run from the door

The run itself is enclosed by some used chain link fence that I picked up locally. It even has the privacy slats which help provide extra protection and shade depending on the time of day. I added a tree stump, some branches, and a couple of bushes to provide some shade and roost areas.

Chicks checking out the new additions to the chicken run

Since the coop and chicken run are in our fenced in backyard, I wasn’t worry about predators going over the chicken run fence. I did, however, need to take precautions against birds of prey as we have a variety of birds that would like to pick off the chicks. I purchased some inexpensive bird netting from the dollar store to cover the run. Eventually, I’ll probably need to cover at least part of the run with a tarp to provide more shade in the summer, but this is working for now. It’s held up well to some fierce sand and wind storms already.

The nesting box is outside of the coop in the chicken run

I decided to place the nesting box outside of the coop to give them more space inside of the coop. We’ll see how this works. If needed, I can always change it up. I’m really just making things up as we go along, and so far, it’s working out okay. I’m following the lead of the chickens. They can’t free-range due to predators and our dogs, so I’m just trying to make their run and coop as comfortable as possible. So far, it’s meeting their needs, and they’re happy. I’m sure I’ll make some changes here and there as we go along, but at least the initial set up is now done.

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs at High Altitude

Perfect high altitude hard boiled egg

The quest for the perfect hard boiled egg… When we lived at sea level or lower altitudes, hard boiled eggs weren’t that difficult to make. I used the same techniques that my mom used, and I ended up with yummy hard boiled eggs. It wasn’t until we moved to a high altitude area that I realized how high elevation changed everything when it came to baking and cooking – including hard boiled eggs.

I tried a variety of techniques to achieve good hard boiled eggs, and the results were okay. What I didn’t like is that the results weren’t consistent each and every time. I wanted needed a technique that would produce great hard boiled eggs every time. I tried different times, ice bath cooling, no ice bath cooling, room temp eggs, fridge temp eggs… and numerous combinations of those things until I came up with this one that I now use.

Previously, I brought eggs to a hard boil and then turned off the stove. I timed the cooking time and then plunged them into an icy bath. That technique needed to change, so this is what I came up with that works for me. I read about steaming eggs and thought it was a bit odd, but I was up for the challenge to see if it would work for me.

You’ll want to set your eggs out and allow them to come to room temperature before you start the cooking process. Once they are at room temperature, you can them place them in your steamer. You’ll want the eggs to be in a single layer, so adjust the size of your pan/pot according to your cooking needs.

Now, you’ll bring the water up to a heavy boil. Once the water is boiling, you’ll place the steamer over the boiling water to begin the steaming process. Set the timer for 15 minutes. You might need to play with the time a little depending on your altitude as I found that the time can vary slightly between altitudes in areas classified as high altitude.

When the timer goes off, remove the eggs from the steamer and place them in ice water. You’re going to allow the eggs to come to a temperature where they are comfortable to handle before removing them from the water. As soon as they’re out of the water, you’ll put them in the fridge to cool completely before attempting to peel them.

Now, you can peel the beautiful hard boiled eggs and eat them as is or turn them into deviled eggs, egg salad, or even toss them in a salad. I liked to keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge pretty much all the time as they make a great snack or addition to a meal. D likes me to add them to his lunch as they work well for a quick pick-me-up during the day.