Fireweed Syrup

Friday, August 12, 2016

I awoke one early morning and still half-asleep made my way downstairs. Quinn was still happily sleeping upstairs until I cried with a loud voice "QUINN! There's BLOOD everywhere!"

Don't worry. Besides Quinn getting very scared and running like a gust of wind down the stairs to make sure I was okay, we're fine. It's poor Greta who wasn't fine...

There were little bloody paw prints all over our floor, some even on the stairs (though in my early morning fog I hadn't seen them). We believe Greta jumped down from our bed in the middle of the night (which is very high off the floor) and because of this, a toe nail on her right front paw was coming out at a terrible angle. We hadn't woken up to her wining or barking at all during the night, so we think she might have been half asleep too.

Everything turned out fine in the end though! As I drove to work, Quinn drove Greta to the vet and got her paw all fixed with some extra shots to boot (she was so angry with the vet afterwards that she wouldn't even take the treat he offered her!).

Because of Greta's amazing flying act off the bed, she got to wear a bandage and a plastic bag for the next two days. And boy, did she despise her bandage.
The plastic bag was really only to keep the bandage dry, but it was so funny hearing Greta as she crashed through the grass and underbrush of our favorite trail. A crinkling sound followed her everywhere, and had Quinn and I laughing quite a bit!

We were out at our favorite trail picking flowers and buds off the abundant fireweed, Alaska's state flower. It is named the Fireweed because it is the first thing that is said to grow after a forest fire. By watching the fireweed, you can also tell when summer is nearing its end. If the flowers are high on the stock and starting to turn into fluff, autumn is not far away!

Though you can't tell from the pictures, it seemed like we were getting poured on by the clouds above us! By the time we were finished all three of us were soaking wet and ready to go home. Haha!

Here I am dancing in the rain, Greta of course had to join in as well.


Back home, we cleaned and washed the flowers and buds and put them on the stove with sugar and water to make syrup. 

Oh, I wish you could see the bright fusia color of the finished fireweed syrup! One of the prettiest things I've ever canned I think, hands-down (though, yes, I haven't yet canned much).

It took a while to use our pretty syrup sadly. With two very busy schedules, Quinn and I were so excited to finally get to try this sweet treat one evening on a family favorite: pancakes! And YUM. Was it ever fantastic!

(And of course we had to use of our frozen blueberries from early last month.)

Greta is feeling much better now, praise Jesus! And we are super happy with our first try at fireweed syrup, which I'm sure will be given away as gifts and made again next summer as well. That's always the best test you can do on a recipe I think: how soon do you want to make it again?

A Lost Boat

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Autumn is soon approaching, and with it the leaves are falling, the sky is growing darker, and cooler temperatures will be nipping at our toes. But until autumn is fully here, lets hold on to summer as long as possible, shall we?

One sunny day after a very long day at work, Quinn and I gathered some of our dear friends together and loaded the sailboat up for an evening spent on the water and on a sandy, far away shore.

But before I share that story, I must share with you another...

One Sunday evening a week or two ago, Quinn and I went on a walk with Greta. We chose one of our favorite trails (the one pictured in the Roses blog post), and made our way through the dimming light and fog to look out over the sea. It was a very quiet night, and it was already quite dark - but out of the fog Quinn called, "Do you see the sailboat?"

No, I didn't. The previous day had been very windy and we decided - much to our worry - that the sailboat had dragged anchor in the wind and made its way elsewhere.

Well. There wasn't much we could do. You see, our dear father was away for the week with the only other boat, and since we had no idea where it had gone anyway, a day long search may not turn up anything. So, we decided to pray.

And so we did! We prayed a lot that week and asked that the boat be safe. A week passed and finally our father Paul returned. Out Quinn and Dad searched, finally finding it stuck fast 20 miles away in front of a string of houses. There was no damage to it, and OH! how we were so thankful!
 Avery and Greta on our way to Portland Island
Greta loves the boat! How she adores looking out 
over the side (much to my panic sometimes!).

And so, a very thankful bunch of good friends headed out into the sun drenched waves, talking and laughing and maybe singing a bar or two of a favorite song. And all the while, Quinn - ever the sea captain - motored us (for the wind was blowing in the wrong direction). 
Callie, Avery, and Aria.

Once we rounded Portland Island's rocky side, our favorite stretch of sandy beach sparked gold waiting to meet us. Of course, we had to get to that sandy stretch of beach first, and that proved a bit more difficult than first thought...
 Quinn paddles Callie and Rob to shore. 
Rob wasn't quite happy about it.
Those who didn't go the first time gathered the supplies that had been carefully packed inside the boat. It was at this time that Quinn's helpful reminder to me("Don't forget the wood and fire starters in the back of the car.") had me wishing I had written it down. Oh well...perhaps we could rub some sticks together to roast our marshmallows? No? Oh dear...

Avery and Greta, both looking very beautiful with the sea as the back ground.
 Avery to me: "Emily, I don't think I should eat this berry. It doesn't quite look like the others."
 Treasures gathered from the sand and seaweed.
She sells sea shells by the sea shore!

We made it safely to the beach, though the small boat we used was very tipsy and Aria shaking it around did not help my calm as Quinn rowed us to shore.

Once there we searched for firewood (since I had forgot the box of it back in the car) and found small sea treasures along the way. Callie also discovered thimble berries still ripe along the woods.

Rob started the fire while Quinn and Avery carved marshmallow roasting sticks. This would be a wonderful night, I was already sure.

 The big X on the side of the boat is from the Coast Guard, who saw the boat drifting and called dad (though there was nothing he could do about it yet.)
 We still managed to find some very nice wood in the forest, left by other campers we guessed.
Rob's silhouette looking out to the mountains beyond.

Yummy marshmallows being made over the fire, the best part of any summer time activity!

Greta decided her treat was a big shell, the perfect thing to chew on in her eyes.

And soon, before we knew it, it was time to sail back.

I love how Greta looks in this picture: peaking out around the corner.

I can't remember if Aria or Avery took this photo, but I love it. The glow of the clouds and mountains remind me of singing Farther On - to me it looks like Heaven could lie right over those mountains.

As we got back to the calm harbor, the shadows were growing long and the only thing left illuminated were the clouds far along the horizon. Quinn carefully paddled everyone back to the rocky shore of North Douglas and sleepy goodbyes were exchanged. It was time to go home. 

But how fondly we will remember memories like these when the cold winter sets in and the sun seems to have forgotten to rise in the morning. I will surely look back at these pictures and remember singing with my dear friends on the beach in the bright setting sun. No, I will not soon forget it.

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly."
Psalm 84:11

Dear Lord, help me to walk uprightly all the days of my life. Though the winds and waves roar around me, I pray that you would be my anchor. For you will not let them blow me astray. I will hold fast to you oh Lord. You are my sun and my shield. 

A Tiny Visiter

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Not more than a week ago I was at work and I suddenly got a string of texts that had me laughing and a bit shocked all at the same time. Quinn had sent me a picture of a small little bird and announced to me that he had saved him and that he was adopting the little visiter as his own. He had named him Chirpy.

Well of course I wanted to know the whole story, but it wasn't until I was off work and home again that I heard it:

Quinn had just let Greta out to play in the yard and he saw that Greta was trying to get something that kept hopping around. He knew at once that it was a bird and immediately tied Greta up so she wouldn't be too friendly (and hurt the little thing). Quinn then spent a good five minutes chasing the birdy around the yard. Once caught however, the bird - Chirpy - sat on his finger and acted as if he didn't care about Quinn anymore.

Chirpy was very good at making a sour and mean expression. And Greta was a bit miffed that a new pet had come into the household. (Do you know what kind of bird he is? Because we weren't sure. Leave any helpful info in the comments below this post!)

Quinn set to work. It appeared that little Chirpy couldn't fly because his wings were very soaked. Quinn left him in a little box to dry inside while he went to the garden to dig for worms. I did get a picture of his bowl of worms, but I am omitting it from this post so as not to gross anyone out.

The whole family came over and looked at little Chirpy and I think he liked the attention. By then it had stopped raining and he was happy to hop around in the dirt watching Quinn dig for worms (and then happily eating them).

Soon though it was time for Chirpy to leave and fly back to his family. So after a last supper of wiggly worms, Quinn set him in the woods and watched him fly off - and I do believe was a bit sad in doing so...but I'm so glad my dear husband cares about the little animals around our home in such a special way.

Goodbye Chirpy!

"I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine."
Psalm 50:11

Strawberry Dreams

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The summer after I graduated from high school was a busy one! I volunteered as a counselor for our local church camp and spent the whole summer having fun, never feeling clean, and picking strawberries.

The sandy beach that surrounds most of the camp is the perfect spot to find teeny-tiny strawberries, ready for picking. The downside of course to picking berries at Echo Ranch Bible Camp is that it is located far, far away from Blueberry Barn, and has camps going every week during the summer.

Quinn and I would need to find a different spot for our berry picking adventures...

One early Sunday morning not long ago I opened my Facebook page to see a huge bowl of freshly picked berries! It seemed that my Aunt and Uncle had been quiet busy picking strawberries, so at church that morning I asked the two of them where they had gone, and if they could recommend a spot for me. Well, my-oh-my! They got so quite! They looked at each other and my Uncle Delt said, "I'm sorry Emily, but all of our places are secret." But my dear Aunt Freddie was not about to let her sweet niece go home without even getting a hint as to where these strawberry fields they apparently kept hidden were, so she nudged her husband and answered "Oh! Tell Emily one of the spots, she's not going to ruin anything for us!"

So I'm terribly sorry, but I am sworn to secrecy now. I can't tell you actually where these strawberries were picked, but I can assure you there were still plenty to go around when we left.

The hard part about picking strawberries is that the leaves of the plant can have bright red spots on them, making you think you have seen a berry when in reality it's just a leaf. In the photo above there are several nice strawberries, but those silly red leaves ALSO look like strawberries from far off. Tricky plants! The strawberries that grow here in Juneau are also quite small, and I've never found one that's even as close to as big as the ones you find in the store. However, I can say with confidence that wild grown strawberries are just as sweet if not sweeter than those found on the grocery store shelves.
A little bouquet of reds, greens, and whites. 
Yes, I am already thinking about Christmas, isn't everyone? 

Not long after we started we found ourselves with four little jars of strawberries - they didn't last long! And that night when I closed my eyes, I saw bright red strawberries in front of me. I had picked berries for so long that my brain continued to search for them, even when I was ready for sleep! 


After we were finished picking berries we hopped back in our car and drove to Eagle Beach, a favorite spot 'out the road' for picnickers and campers. 

Greta loved running around in the sand and digging holes in random places. Wide, open beaches are her most favorite place to romp and play - and I can't blame her!
It was low tide as we traversed the beach, but at high tide most of what you see in these pictures is under water - creating a totally different view from the road that passes along the side of it.

Thinking of the ocean that laid seemingly so far away from the sand where we stood, and knowing that in a matter of hours it would be covering the spot made me think of the story of Peter, walking out to Jesus on the waves of a storm. How often have I had faith in my Lord one moment and then had fear and worry the next?

When I was away from home for many months earlier this year, I was heartbroken to know that my family - who had moved - would not be in Juneau to greet me on my return. A song that kept me positive was the following, sung by my own church, by members of my own family. It helped me to remember that God has a plan for my life, all I have to do is trust in Him and keep my eyes above the waves.

"The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. 
Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before God our Maker."
Psalm 95:5-6

How Great Thou Art

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

When you live in Juneau for most of your life, it is very easy to become accustomed to amazing and awe-inspiring scenes that surround our everyday life. Unless you leave and experience other places, the grandeur of the mountains and sea surrounding us becomes dull and normal. Sometimes all it takes is a tourist, starring in awe up at an eagle to remind me that I am taking something amazing for granted.

Recently, Quinn and I hiked up our local ski area, Eaglecrest, to the very top of a ridge that - during winter - is flooded with skiers and snowboarders. This bright and sunny evening however, we were mostly alone as we hiked the last bit up.

After rounding a corner, we heard a rustle in the underbrush and feared that it was a porcupine. Quinn picked up Greta in a quick motion and all three of us stared into the trees. A small ptarmigan and its little chicks were in the brush, looking out at us with watchful eyes. Greta wanted so badly to go and make friends with them, but we decided it would be wiser to go up the trail a bit before putting her down to walk again on her own.

Here in this picture you can see how well the Alaska state bird hides in the brush of the mountain. If they hadn't moved around, we wouldn't have even known they were there!

We hiked up this same trail for the Southeast Alaska Odyssey movie, back when Quinn and I were only dating (of course at that time we were hiking with a whole load of instruments as well!). Thankfully, we didn't have much to carry besides Quinn's camera bag this time around, and before we knew it we were at the top.

Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur,
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee.
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, my Saviors God, to Thee.
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Both sides of the view were beautiful, causing Quinn and I to sit and sing together in worship. Unromanticly, we were chased off from our nice views by a plague of mosquitoes and we had forgotten to bring bug-spray.

On the way back down we found a patch of leftover snow from the winter, still holding on despite the sun shining above it. Greta had not yet experienced snow (and she still really hasn't, since it was more ice than snow) and she loved running around in it!
She also adored the soft bed of heather that covered the mountain top, jumping through it like a rabbit to our endless enjoyment:

The view of Juneau met our eyes as we descended, shining like a gold coin in the sun.

On the way down I picked a bouquet of flowers and pondered upon the words of How Great Though Art. Even more amazing than the  mountains and views we had seen was the fact that God had sent His son to die for my transgressions. I am as unique and beautiful to God as one of the flowers that made up my bouquet, and its impossible for me to imagine the amount of love He has for me. What an amazing feeling, to be loved so absolutely by someone I have failed so many times in my life - and will still fail many more times! Yet He loves me.

I never want to take God's love for granted, and I encourage you to ponder on the love of God today. His love is so vast, the ocean could not hold it. His love is so vast, the mountains pale in comparison. His love for you. 

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: 
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8
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