Category Archives: Outdoors

Distinguishing Elderberry from Silky and Redosier Dogwood

The following is a “guest” post from my hubby- the guy who really knows his plants around here. We recently thought we spotted elderberries at a friend’s house- but Tim’s discerning eye second guessed our initial identification. Read on to find out how to distinguish these two look-alike plants from each other. 

Elderberry or Dogwood

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Reflections From a Family Camping Trip

My little family of four had the privilege to go camping for a couple of nights last week. Granted, things like this are never simple with two young kids, but overall it was a successful and refreshing venture. It also got me thinking a lot about how I view our family and our daily activities.

reflections from a family camping trip

For one, I realize how much I complain about things that I really shouldn’t. Like the stress of managing housekeeping and child-rearing at the same time. Or how it’s hard to time different parts of a meal on three different burners when I’m fending off an unstable-newly-walking-child from my hot and open oven door at home. Or how I don’t have this or that household gadget that I’d like.


Somehow the simplicity and imprecision of camping help me to appreciate more what I have at home. It also helps me to let go of some of my high expectations of how everything turns out. I think this is mostly because my attention is changed from the pressure of getting everything done to the joy of spending time with my family and enjoying the process of what we do have to accomplish.

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For example, at home dinner is a high-speed task. When I’m camping, it’s a time consuming process- but one that we take pleasure in and work at together. At home, making the bed seems tedious. When camping, it’s actually way more effort to set up the tent, camping pads, etc., but somehow it seems more enjoyable because the focus is on doing it together and spending quality time together.

Another wonderful part of camping is that so many of our daily distractions are removed. No internet. No cell phone reception. No TV. No knocks on the door. I’m not an advocate for being isolated, but I do believe it’s very important to “unplug” and simply enjoy the people closest to you. I realize so much more how resourceful my husband is when I am actually watching him work to solve problems. I hear even more how funny and creative my son is when he’s telling stories. I notice my daughter’s coordination in her steps growing stronger each day. It’s not that I don’t see these things when I’m surrounded by technology. However, when we remove the distractions around us, we focus on what is most important with far greater clarity and appreciation.

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Wellsboro Trip Aug 2014 062By the same token, camping provides me more time for reflection.  Have I pursued my God in prayer? Have I held my family close to me, grateful for each day with them gifted to me? Have I been charitable to those around me? Have I been sour and selfish all day? How can I right my wrongs? How can I live more graciously, faithfully, patiently? Under the great sky at night, there is ample time for these types of questions.

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So my question is this:  could I adapt my camping frame of mind for my every day?

Could I settle into my mundane routine with joy and let our regular tasks become an opportunity to spend time together? Could I take quiet time to focus on my children and husband and reawaken my love for them daily? Could I “decompress” a few minutes at the end of the day to purposefully feed my soul? Can I make each day a fresh chance at life?

After all, I certainly shouldn’t save all the best things in life for vacation, right?

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The Self Sufficient HomeAcre