A Tradition Continues – Crab Apple Time!

We are raising our little family in a home that I grew up visiting my whole life; my grandparents home – and the home my father grew up in. We have been slowly working on updating and improving it to a more modern state, but our chaotic lives have impeded this. Our backyard chickens didn’t pan out as I had hoped. Our small veggie garden is thriving regardless of its neglect. Hubby is diligently working on the construction of our photography studio in the garage.

During naptime today I got inspired to make use of the beautiful crab apples growing on our tree outside. I remembered as a child hopping up into the back of Grampie’s dump truck and climbing a ladder to pick the tiny sour apples that Grammie would then make jelly out of. So, I sent hubby and O out to pick me some. They did excellent ūüôā

Next came the insanely tedious task of washing, cutting and coring this tiny sour apples with hopes of an apple crisp. However, when I got to about 1-2 cups of chopped crab apples I gave up and designated those to a loaf. The rest were going to tradition; crab apple jelly. For the jelly, I just had to chop the ends off and remove all stems. I thought I would share the process with you.

So, 1) wash the crab apples, then cut the “fuzzy” bottom stems off and remove all stems. During this process watch the inside of each apple to ensure they aren’t gone bad.

Next, throw them in a pot and cover with water. Bring it to a boil and allow the apples to cook until soft. This part makes your house smell amazing!

Once the apples are soft, remove from heat and allow them to cool down a bit. As straining the juice off is next and it helps if they are at a temperature you can touch without getting burned. I don’t have enough patience for this, so it was tougher to strain while hot. Strain through cheesecloth; or an clean dish towel.

Squeeze to get all the juice out – you’ll be left with apple mush. Next I measured how much juice I had. Mine was a little over 2 cups, so I added it and 3 cups of sugar to a pot.

Bring the mixture to a rolling boil for two-three minutes.

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Once it has boiled 2-3 mins turn off and set aside to cool a few minutes.

Skim the foam off the top once settles. Prepare your bottles for storage (sterilize, etc). Then pour your jelly into your bottles. 

And tada! Crab apple jelly! O & I tasted it during the bottling step and it passed his approval. Pretty tasty!

If you’d like some crab apples to try your own send me a message. Our giant tree is FULL!

Happy Fall.

Relax. Refresh. Retreat.

I am a creative soul. I thrive when I have projects to do, things to accomplish that I love working on, and just something new to sink my brain into. But life can easily get in the way.

As a stay-at-home-mom, wife and photographer I don’t quite have “spare” time. As you other moms can relate, you don’t pee alone, you eat standing up, laundry seems pointless sometimes because you think it’s possible you’ve mixed up the clean and dirty baskets and keep washing the same clothes?!

Our little family had a rough couple years, especially 2014 (and most of 2105). Health, money, time, relationships, jobs, vehicles, you name it, we encountered a struggle with it. I am so thankful for those struggles. I can now look back and see God’s hand in our lives! I wasn’t always so sure at the time, though.

We chose faith. We walked through the struggles as a new family. We tried to hold our heads high and make our decisions based on priority and what was best for the overall direction of our family. It worked most of the time.

Our lives are much less stressful now. We are starting to return to some level of normalcy. It’s not as easy as it sounds. When you are mid struggle for so long you learn to just live daily life in survival mode, with no real plans for much else but surviving. So when normal started to knock, I didn’t know how to answer. I realized it was time for a retreat, I needed to relax – just breathe. Recharge – reach deep into my soul and find the longings that were safely stored away during the storm.

I have read so many books the past 3 months my brain is full. My heart is calmed with direction and structure. I am excited to share everything on Friday April 8th at CREATE 2016 – Creativity Inspired. Check back in soon for a free printable from the event!

~be inspired~

Melissa

3 Things to Help Plan Your Life

“He who fails to plan is planning to fail” – Winston Churchill

2016 is already one month in. This is about the time many New Years Resolutions get dropped due to lack of motivation and drive to continue. Although, yes, some people definitely do follow through on their resolutions – there is a large number who fall through. Having a plan for your life makes things more intentional, we can achieve more and keep our motivation higher. So I thought (in an effort to motivate myself to plan my own life too) I would share some planning techniques I’ve come across over the past few years.

One thing I love to do every new year is a Top 100 list – which is just simply a list of 100 things I want to do, buy, become, etc. I don’t limit myself to things I know I can afford/accomplish/achieve just this year, I like to stretch myself and write everything that comes to mind. You will be surprised how many of those things you will be able to check off throughout the year; which is incredibly motivating. Write your list. Write everything that comes to mind. If 100 is too intimidating make your list shorter. But just be sure to make a list that stretches you.

Buy a good planner. I like the planners that have a full month calendar and then the weeks broken down right after it. I like to be able to see the whole month, but also be able to write details like phone numbers or addresses of where the event/appointment takes place. Sure we all have our phones, but if you are anything like me its a little too easy to forget to enter things into your phone. Plus I like to be able to flick back through my calendar at the end of the year to see everything I have accomplished that year.

Take a small retreat. Rejuvenate your creativity. It could mean a night away somewhere quiet and inspirational or even just a couple hours alone for a walk in nature then sitting to think and let your inspiration flow out on to paper. Letting yourself refresh is not selfish (even if you have small children at home), it will give you a renewed energy to face life with. It is good for not only you, but your family, they get a renewed version of you.

Let’s start with these three things. The list alone can be very overwhelming at first. Check back for another post with continuing ideas for getting our lives planned out and becoming more intentional!

~M

 

Pump up the Jam

I love good music. But I’m not gonna lie, I know very very little about bands, instruments and music in general. But I know what I like and I know what it does for me, and my little fam-jam. Do you have a favourite song, or band (or two or three)? Is there anything more therapeutic than beautiful music? There probably is – but for the purposes of this post, I’m gonna go with, No there’s totally not. And it may just be the case, at least, in the way and for the purposes I mean.

God created us. He gave us desires for music, and to sing. Many people have told me one of their favourite books of the Bible is the book of Psalms. David was a man after God’s own heart (given the title by God himself), he wrote beautiful songs of encouragement and praise, along with many other themes. Today’s music is definitely ultra-modernized in comparison to that of David’s time, but they represent the same God-given attributes.

Praise, expression, love, hope, hardship, and freedom all remain in our music today. Yes, some are much less “tasteful” (I’m officially old – I use this word now) and certainly wouldn’t be classified as Christian, but all music is created from the talents God gave us. He instilled a longing for music and song and to “make a joyful noise” (Ps100:1).

You may be wondering why I am now writing on music in the midst of a struggle series I just started. Well, actually, it fits. I don’t know about you, but music is often the pick-me-up I need on a bad day. Last year (2014) our little family had the absolute worst year we could have possibly imagined. And just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. But we ran to God, and He put music on our hearts (along with so much more). Matt created an awesome playlist and us and our two baby boys jammed like our lives depended on it – and in many moments, I think it did. Our boys love music, so it made it that much more fun. We’d turn the music too loud, stay up too late, sing out loud and dance our little hearts out; except when Daddy couldn’t use his leg, much less dance on it, in those moments we danced for him while he sang for us. It was beautiful, and it brought our little family closer. We fell in love with random overly popular Christian hits of the time, most of which no one else we knew enjoyed. To us, it had the exact words of encouragement, and the beat we needed to brighten our souls in a time of sheer despair.

Its too easy to get caught up in the latest trend. It’s too easy to forget where we came from and to thank God for our freedoms and salvation. In the blink of an eye it can all change. Everything you thought was what you wanted, all your written out goals and dreams, your future as you knew it, changes. I can’t explain that moment until you experience it. It changes you; if you are blessed and lucky enough it will change you for the better. I can only pray that you will be blessed enough to find strength and comfort in God when your trials come along. And as G now says don’t forget to “shake your bootie!”

“The Lord is my strength and my song” – Exodus 15:2

~M

 

 

“Refresh” – growing through life’s struggles.

A New Year implies a fresh start. It provides the opportunity to “refresh” our lives. We have been quite blessed the past couple of years. One year we were handed struggles that enabled us to grow into stronger people. I believe God gave me the struggles I have faced over the past number of years to grow me in Him, to bring me closer to Him. I am reminded of a quote my little brother has shared with me often – I’ve come home and he had been at our house for something while we were out, our mirror now read “the night is always darkest before the dawn.” It’s from a song I believe. But it’s so beautiful and meaningful in many different ways.

If it never grew dark, would be ever truly appreciate light? (This starts a short blog series on struggles, growth, faith and perseverance – stay tuned for the next post!).

Think of it this way, it’s a blizzard outside, mid-January or February on PEI perhaps; (For all you southerners, use your imaginations) all of a sudden, blink, blink and off goes the electricity. At first, this is fine, enjoyable even. Peace and quiet. You are now forced to enjoy each other’s company, dig deeper into your devotional time, pick up a good book, something that requires little but yourself or those surrounding you. But, the novelty of “peace and quiet” soon wears off as the house gets colder, meal time draws near, the toddler tries to continually flush the toilet despite your attempts to keep him out of the bathroom (in the country this means your toilet does not fill back up – as you have no water if you have no electricity). And you just start to think, wow, I just wish the power would come back on, you just want to have running water, the ability to open the fridge and just look inside, even just a minimal amount of heat so everyone can take off their second pair of socks and long johns- while indoors!

Literal “darkness” in this case reminds you of many daily and regular things that you take advantage of every single day. This darkness reminds you how thankful you are for these little “simple pleasures.” That of which really aren’t small at all, but we have become so accustomed to them that we just have an attitude of ungrateful expectancy for them when we arise each new morning. God grants us these blessings every moment of every day. He deserves much more than thankfulness, but perhaps we should at least start there?!

Now, “darkness” also means much more than the lights literally being out. I am sure you can relate that when you are facing life’s tough moments it feels “dark.” Darkness can imply a sense of feeling alone, being surrounded by the unknown, and feeling somewhat helpless. Struggles are dark. Much like when the power goes out, they can come at us fast and hard. They strip you of the “little luxuries” that you didn’t even realize were a luxury. Struggle can be defined in different ways; I am referring to struggle in the meaning of experiencing something of great difficulty, which requires a very great effort to free from or even function normally. God gives us these struggles though.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2 (NIV)

Notice the usage of wording – “whenever you face trials” – not “if you face trials.” So, although I do understand this is not entirely comforting to be told you WILL face struggles or “trials” (you’d have to be living under one dang big rock to think otherwise though), it is reassuring that everyone will face these and the experience WILL produce a greater strength within us. I personally experienced this (and continue to regularly). The most important things to remember when a struggle comes our way are: “pray unceasingly,” be reminded it will pass and you will grow through and from it, take a step back and be thankful for what you do have right now. At any moment the power can go out. The only thing worse than being in the dark, is being in the dark alone because you aren’t thankful and don’t feel His presence.

~M

 

Home-Education as a Way of Life

Education and schools seem to be a relatively hot topic these days, from bullying, to constant ridicule for underfunding, along with many many other issues. Nothing can be taught without fear of someone being offended, or claiming discrimination. Teachers have no room to educate because they are not allowed to exert any form of discipline on children anymore. Religion is pulled out of schools, as its said that beliefs shouldn’t be forced on children, they should have the freedom to choose. I find it interesting (and sad) the views our society takes on many of these things. We wonder why society is declining into a population of young adults not taking responsibility for their lives, hmm… Could it be they don’t know any better? No one was allowed to teach them what they should have learned, and parents were too busy trying to earn enough money to support their “keep up with the Jones'” lifestyle.

Don’t take offence, we all try to make the best decision based on the knowledge we have today – that of which we learned yesterday – but are you happy with where that got you today (yesterday’s future)? No, me either. So that’s one good reason that my husband & I are choosing to I instill a love of learning in our children, we also plan to create two grown men that have strong morals, values and know how to handle themselves and whatever the world can throw at them. You guessed it…or perhaps you didn’t….we plan to homeschool ūüôā

O doing his activity

 

Sure, some will have “opinions” that it isn’t what’s best, they will be socially awkward and whatever else they can think up. But I have stronger opinions that support educating our children at home, or out of the typical public school setting. My husband and I want our children to understand life, consequences and how to treat people as you would like to be treated. Have you stopped to really think lately…What values do you have? Are you passing them on to your children? Do they know and see you as a person of character, who would fight for what is right?

The specific type of education that’s right or works for one family can be totally unfunctionable (yup, I make up words too ūüėČ haha) for another. The most important part is that today’s parents do their research and make the BEST choice for their family and situation, that is goal-aligned for the future of the children.

Ultimately, we plan to be joyful and eclectic in our home education, creating a love of learning and God, along with a desire to strive for excellence in everything we do. I would love to hear about your eclectic parenting methods, send me an email!

{the Joyful Eclectic Mama}

Begin Again

For our little family the year of 2014 was one of healthcare. Not necessarily all bad/negative, but certainly not all peachy either (As some of you know). We faced so many struggles, and here I am, January 1st, 2015 – blessed with the most amazing little family and life. Therefore, 2014 could be summed up for me in one word: OVER. I am so over worrying, being bummed out and the not knowing that all our “health incidents” brought us in 2014.

I thought it was timely, and I guess God did too – putting it in me today to Begin Again. Wipe the slate clean. Its another year. This year is going to be about inspiration, motivation and growth for my family & I. I want to grow personally, I want to stay on track, I want richer relationships…and so much more.

One of the first things I am doing in my resolve to Begin Again, is through my photography. Yes, I will continue to capture moments for families, children and couples/weddings. But I want to incorporate the inspiration and motivation I love so much into something you can hang in your home, too. Something that gives you a little pick-me-up when you roll out of the wrong side of the bed, when your knickers are in a knot, or when you just feel like the world has it out for you. I have found having something in front of me reminds me to be thankful for what I am blessed with, take a deep breath, and Begin Again. You only have one life, how do you want to live it?

Stay tuned through facebook at www.facebook.com/MelissaDroverPhotography for more details on how you can get your hands on 2015’s first motivations and inspirations from Melissa Drover Photography.

Let’s Begin Again Together,
Melissa

“Just Keep Swimming”

Adversity is defined as being an adverse¬†fortune¬†or¬†fate;¬†a¬†condition¬†marked¬†by¬†misfortune, calamity,¬†or¬†distress. In other words, something not fun – a stick in your bicycle spokes! Additional words used to describe the meaning of adversity include affliction, hardship, trial and trouble. All of which form definitions that include the testing of one’s character, and strength (emotional, mental and physical in some cases). Not in anyway something one would choose to endure. Yet, we can all expect to face some form of adversity in our lives.

‚ÄúCharacter may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.‚Ä̬†–¬†¬†Winston Churchill

The majority of the population does not have any set goals that they are striving for. I am not deceived enough to believe they do; complacency has become a way of life for too many. Everything is being made to be faster and easier for the average person; people are being taught to believe they deserve “simple pleasures” of life. There is a chunk of the population who are set out on a journey to their goals and dreams, though. If this is you, this post is to encourage you to “just keep swimming”. If this isn’t you and you don’t currently have any goals you are actively journeying towards, these next few lines are for you. Then, after you have decided to join in a journey to a life filled with more meaning, excitement and discovery, this post is to encourage you to “just keep swimming” too!

What would your life look like five years from now if you could design it perfectly – time and money being no issue? If you won millions on this weekend’s lottery jackpot, what would you do, where would you go, what would you buy, who would you help? Do you have the answers to any of these written down anywhere? If not, how to you expect to journey in the direction towards your goals and dreams if you have nothing to keep you on course but a few random thoughts you may day dream during a slow day at the office? Perhaps you don’t have the “vehicle” required to get you to your goals and dreams. Perhaps you are scared of failing or looking like a fool. If you aren’t prepared when opportunity does knock, chances are good you will miss it anyway. So why not prepare?

“I will prepare and someday my chance will come” – Abraham Lincoln

Adversity is a part of life. If there is one thing we can be sure of is that we will all have to face some form of adversity throughout our lives. How we choose to prepare ourselves, and then react and respond when the adversity approaches is the key. There is no point to have our heads in the sand like an ostrich, subconsciously we all know we will have to face something, someday.

Choose to live your life with meaning, honour, integrity and respect. Strive to be something great and to make a difference in the lives of others. Start by changing yourself. This change in yourself will have an unknown ripple effect to so many!¬†As I mentioned above, today’s society is one of complacency. Its like everyone is just along for the ride. No one will oppose you as long as you too are just along for the ride. As it has been said by so many “others want you to get by, just not by them.” The moment someone feels intimidated by you striving for greatness get ready for that adversity we spoke about.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
– Harriet Beecher Stowe

Taking a path less travelled is tough. Hence, the reason its less travelled in the first place. But greatness and making a difference in our deteriorating societal values is important. It takes discipline and persistence to achieve the freedoms of a great life. (I say greatness and a great life, because I don’t know specifically what it is for you. Maybe its just raising your children with the values and morals that mean something; maybe its being rich financially, maybe its being rich in relationships like your marriage; I don’t know what it is for you – that’s for you to discover). Whatever it is, it is going to be a journey to get there. You will be faced with adversity along the way. So know that now and prepare mentally, at least. Make a commitment to not give up. You will have nay-sayers; some of which will surprise you as to who they are and the things they may say. But just remember to “just keep swimming” the whole way through.

From the words of Dory in the popular children’s movie Finding Nemo; “when life gets you down , you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

Keep Dreaming,
M