Saturday, July 30, 2011

slow and steady

I gathered this from the garden Thursday morning. I probably could have picked a few more tomatoes but I thought they could handle one more day on the vine. (Especially given the high temperatures we've been having.)

I finally noticed two Blue Hubbard squash forming on the crazy, huge, dominating vine. All that vine and only two measly squash. I know I've said it before, but I'm saying it again, I am NOT growing THAT again.

The pepper plants are full of peppers...and the purple bell pepper has a ton more blossoms. It looks like we're going to have lots of jalapenos...might have to try this recipe and soon! Real soon.

Libby is broody...and persistent. And because of her nesting box hogging tendencies, egg production is down. I shoo her out of the nesting box every day...more like coax her out with a treat as bribery. It works like a charm. I noticed a few of the eggs had very soft shells, one of them even just sort of fell apart. I fed the girls a few extra crushed egg shells and some yogurt...seems to have helped.

On the companion planting front, apparently you're not supposed to grow green beans near tomatoes. Guess where my beans are planted? Yes. So...while they're producing beans, the actual plants aren't looking as healthy as they should be. They're not awful...but I am definitely noticing a difference from when I planted them year before last. They were huge and lush and produced tons of beans.

Note to self...apply companion planting knowledge when planting the garden.

And that cute harvest basket in the photo? Thrift store...$6. I love a bargain!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday in the Word

You can be sure of this:
The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
The Lord will answer when I call to him.

Psalm 4:3

I love it. Don't you love it? A promise from God.

It says, right there in black and white, "You can be sure of this.."

That's basically like God saying to us, "I promise."

"I will answer when you call to me. I promise."

And God always keeps His promises.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

nothing and everything.

 Sometimes I don't know what to say...sometimes things just don't make any sense to me. And at the risk of getting "too deep"...sometimes it seems like nothing really matters. I don't mean that in a "woe is me" nothing really matters. It's more like the world is in such a crazy state of chaos and so many things matter, that anything I might have to say or want to talk about just really doesn't matter.

I could talk about gardening...but then I think about those who are struggling just to cart a pail of water 4 miles to their home just to have something to drink (and many times the water is full of disease anyway...but they have no choice) and maybe wash a dish or a cup, if they own one. Does my garden, the garden I water with ease, sometimes even forgetting that I've left the very convenient drip system on because I forgot about it, does it really matter when there are people in the world with no access to any water?

I could talk about this week's menu plan and gush on and on about the delectable meals I'm going to cook with the abundance of food available to me...but then I think about the millions of people literally dying of starvation around the world, even here in our privileged USA, and I almost feel guilty at all that is available to me.

Yes, yes...I know, this is where I was born, this is where God blessed me to be, it's a fact of life that some are less privileged, and that is that. Why feel guilty? I know. But...why not feel at least something? No, I don't have to deprive myself of basic life giving essentials just because others don't have it. But as Jane at Thy Hand Hath Provided states so wisely...we can live a bit more simply in order to give more generously. That's all I'm saying.

There are so many things I could talk, menus, gardening, decorating...oh my gosh, don't get me started about decorating. Don't get me wrong...I love decorating. I love beautiful things and a beautiful home. But I have to admit...I have a hard time reading blogs about decorating knowing there are so many human beings that don't even have a roof over their head, let alone a lovely duvet cover in the perfect shade of taupe.

I'm not a bleeding-heart liberal. (I tried to be for a while. But quickly came to the conclusion that I'm actually quite conservative. Who knew?) No, I'm not a bleeding-heart but I am compassionate. I care. I feel for those who are in need...truly in need. I don't necessarily feel for those who are choosing drugs over real life and thus choosing to live on the streets or under bridges. I mean, I feel for them. I hate that they are in bondage to a drug or to alcohol. It breaks my heart. But the end, addiction is a choice. I also have a hard time feeling for those who choose to sit and hold a "Will work for food" sign rather than getting a job so that they can buy food. If you are willing to work then go do it.

But I do feel for those who have hit hard times (and these past few years have been rough for many)...who are truly trying to live their lives as well as possible and still can't seem to get a hand up.

(And...before you get yourself all a dither about my judgmental ways, I'm not saying that just because someone does have a decorating blog they don't care. I'm sure they care very much. And might even hold yard sales to sell their surplus bath towels and area rugs in order to donate all proceeds to help feed people. So don't even go, please. :)

So. Now what? What can you talk about when nothing really matters? (Dramatic, I know. I never said I didn't have dramatic tendencies now and then.) I have learned over the past few years that it is easier to be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.

Want to help someone gain access to clean, healthy water? Water for LIFE is an excellent ministry that helps to provide good, clean water that is literally saving lives.

Want to provide food for starving children? This same ministry also feeds the hungry.

Want to teach someone to fish rather than just giving them a fish? is an amazing ministry. I recently gave the gift of baby chicks.

Want to rescue someone from the bondage of sexual slavery? Well, yes, you guessed it, they have a ministry for that, too.  

Really, it's not that nothing matters. It's that everything matters.

Monday, July 25, 2011

focusing on the good.

Flickr know the routine.
I hate to admit it...but I think I am one of those "the glass is half empty" people. I'm not proud. Not at all. As a matter of fact, it's actually quite annoying. I know I get annoyed by others who always see the glass as half empty...constantly complaining or whining or pointing out the negatives. It drives me crazy!

So why is it that it's OK for me? Does it sound any better coming out of my mouth than it does, say, your mouth? No. It doesn't. It sounds yucky.'s not OK. It's annoying. I mean, come on, you know it's bad when you are so negative you even annoy your SELF.

Last week I was feeling particularly negative...and down in the dumps. So in an effort to combat those feelings I decided to try something new: focusing on the good. It's amazing what thinking on good things can do for one's mindset...for one's outlook...for one's spirit. As a matter of was so effective I decided to do it again.

Ready? Here goes...I'm going to spend some time focusing on the good.
  • Spending the day in San Francisco with my mom and her long-time friend, Leslie. (They've been friends since jr. high...this fact truly should be a bullet-point of its's to good friends!)
  • The baby praying mantis that lives in the garden. He started on the Japanese maple, moved to the sunflower and is now hanging out on the grape vines.
  • Cooking a meal for friends and having everything turn out good. :)
  • Sitting under the ceiling fan.
  • Sun tea. (Did I list this last week? Oh well...I will probably list it next week,'s just that good!)
  • Friends who call you up from the church parking lot offering to bring your kids home for you.
  • Ripe avocado with my hubby's homemade salsa...summer perfection!
  • A neat and tidy backyard.
  • Checking things off of the home-improvement to-do list.
  • Strawberry shortcake for breakfast!
  • Chickens taking sun baths in the dappled shade.
  • Setting goals.
  • Knowing that church camp truly had an impact on my kids. xo
  • Birds at the bird feeder.
Life is good. Even on the bad days. It's just a matter of how I see it. I am making an effort to see the glass as be positive...and to focus on the good.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Philippians 4:8

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday in the Word

The Branch of the LORD

2 In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. 3 Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4 The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit[a] of judgment and a spirit[b] of fire. 5 Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. 6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
Isaiah 4:2-6
Beautiful and glorious...
The Lord will wash away the filth of the women...
..he will cleanse the bloodstains...
The Lord will create...a canopy.
It will be a shelter..
..a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
God always keeps His promises.

Friday, July 15, 2011

sometimes you just have to focus on the good.

It's no secret...summer throws me completely off. There's no schedule. There's heat. There' schedule...and heat. We stay up late and get up late. We eat late. If I cook. The kids are running here and there and all over the place. There's sleepovers and youth camp and water slides with friends. For as much as I don't like a tight schedule...I think I prefer having a tight schedule!

Then there's still the whole spiritual issue...I'm coming to some realizations on the spirituality front that I will share...sometime. I'm still figuring them all out. When I know more...I'll share. (Don't I always?)

And I am still missing Papa so much. And funnily that Papa is gone, I am missing Noni more than ever, too. Kind of a weird dynamic that I wasn't expecting...

These things can have a tendency to get me down...if I let them. I can let them get me down...or I can purposely focus on good things. Because really, in the whole scheme of is good. And because it's good, I'm going to list some good no particular order.
  • 99 cent hydrangea...because it was "wilted".
  • Cooler temps...wonderful breezes...perfect weather...absolutely perfect.
  • Backyard landscape steadily coming's so nice to look out and see green everywhere!
  • Health...we are all healthy...and that is very good.
  • Plenty.
  • A loving, hard-working, kind husband...xo
  • Library books.
  • (go see who created all of that green goodness! One of you might even be reading this!)
  • Fresh, organic tomatoes...right in my own backyard!
  • Fresh, organic eggs...right in my own backyard!
  • Summer bugs under control...ick.
  • Time with friends.
  • Interesting, funny, handsome, entertaining (and sometimes aggravating) sons.
  • A few hours on the work schedule. (Every little bit helps)
  • The local farm stand...and a new opportunity.
  • Creativity.
  • Family. I've got a really, really great family. (Love you guys...near and far...blood or in Christ. It's all good.)
  • Lists. I love lists. (But I really need to do something about these piles!)
  • Running water...I really try not to take it for granted.
  • Migraine medicine.
  • Japanese maples started from seeds. (Good job Honey!)
  • Dinner for two. xo
  • Summer camp...the boys are gonna have a blast!
  • Eyeglasses.
  • Sun tea.
  • Coupons. ;)
  • YOU!

12 How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?
Psalm 116:12

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday in the Word.

9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Monday, July 11, 2011

Around the homestead.

What's going on around the homestead {by proxy} bullet-points:

  • We have what we refer to as a "tomato jungle". We planted about 10 tomato plants I think. Then we got three volunteers that are actually growing tomatoes. (I didn't think that particular plant was's got tomatoes. Maybe it's a hybrid in its second bloom? Anyone know how that works?) Two of the plants are as tall as me. Lots of tomatoes are forming...a few have turned red (or orange or green sriped!) and they taste won-der-ful. Can't wait to get a real harvest!
  • The bush bean plants are full of green beans. I should be able to harvest them in a few days. The pole beans are just now beginning to flower. I didn't plant too many of either...need to make some time to sow a second planting.
  • We bought two table grape plants for 50% off one day on a whim. One green, one purple.Then we let them sit in their pots for a few weeks. And...I forgot to water them. looked like it bit the dust. But we planted them both anyway...and they are both growing like crazy! I am hoping we actually get grapes next season.
  • I planted one zucchini plant, one acorn squash plant and one Blue Hubbard squash plant. It was an experiment. And one I probably won't do again. I should have stuck to plain ol' zucchini. The Blue Hubbard is a prolific grower...the vine is long and healthy...and a bit invasive, with not much food to show for all the space it's taking up. The acorn squash is quite compact and has tons of little squash on it. And this is fine, I just don't think it's going to be a huge hit as far as eating. We are a plain ol' zucchini kind of family. Next summer? All zucchini, all the time. Probably 3-4 plants so I can have plenty to shred and freeze.
  • Peppers. We planted 6 pepper plants. One purple bell pepper which was beautiful We already harvested one...and already ate it! Two jalapenos, two Anaheim's and one other that I can't recall the name of. The weird weather stunted the peppers quite a bit...but they're making a comeback and are going strong. Lots of blossoms...quite a few little peppers...they should be fine.
  • I planted one little cucumber plant. And it's doing fine, but could probably stand more sun. Our pecan tree still hasn't been trimmed so the garden is too shady. But we're trying to make it work.
  • Lettuce. I planted lettuce when we first put the garden in. And the slugs and snails and earwigs enjoyed it very much. It was gone before it could take off. I recently planted another small patch of lettuce. And it sprouted in like 2 days!! So far, so good. I planted it in a shady spot and it seems to like it, especially in this heat.
  • We planted some Walla Walla onions...also on a whim. I've never grown onions. I have no idea what to do...when to harvest...nothing. So we're wingin' it! So far so good...they seem happy in their little row along the side fence.
  • Chris wanted to try his hand at growing cantaloupe from seed. So he tossed a few seeds in the ground and lo and behold, a few days later, sprouts! Now they're good strong vines with flowers and everything! I hope we actually get some melons. I hear they're hard to grow...but so far so good.
  • We also planted one lone little blackberry plant. I bought it (on a whim...I tend to do that a lot, don't I?) at the discount grocery store for $5 then set it out on the deck and didn't water it right along with the poor grapes. It croaked. Poor little thing. But...we planted it anyway...and that little sucker sprouted leaves. Now it's fine. And I'm sure one day we'll regret planting that least it's thornless!
  • We also planted some non-food plants...Japanese maples. Chris planted a bunch of seeds that my uncle gave him and he's got about 7 or 8 trees growing...they're adorable! We also had a volunteer maple from our neighbors tree growing in the raised bed. I dug it up, put it in a pot and it promptly went into shock. I thought we'd lost it. But after a day or two it perked back up and now looks healthy and happy. Not sure what we're going to do with it once it's bigger...we really don't need more shade around here. So we'll see... ( would be nice if the shade was near the house and the sun was near the fence...and not the other way around. But we're sort of stuck with this pecan tree for the time is what it is.)
I wish we could have planted more but the shade issue needs to be settled before we plant anymore. Next year...we'll grow more for sure.

So that's what's going on around here...what's happening at your place?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Book Review: Backyard Medicine

I love books. So you can imagine how excited I was when I got an email asking if I'd be interested in receiving a few free books! Of course I'd be interested in free books! All that was asked of me was that I review them here on my blog...and I am more than happy to do that.

I was given my choice of books. One of the books I chose is
Backyard Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal.

I have been interested in herbal and home remedies for some time now. I have looked information up online, I've borrowed herbal books from the library, I've wandered aimlessly in the nutrition store...and in doing these things I've gleaned bits of information here and there. But I have to say, I've always felt a bit overwhelmed with it all.

Well, enter Backyard Medicine. As soon as it came in the mail I thumbed through the pages and knew instantly it was what I'd been looking for in a book on medicinal plants. The author covers 50 different plants that you can harvest from the wild, many from your own yard, ranging from Agrimony to Yarrow. It covers these medicinal plants in depth...many plants that you'll recognize such as Blackberry, Dandelion, Horseradish, Nettle, Oak and well as a few that were new to me like Coltsfoot, Lycium and Teasel.

The author dedicates at least 2 pages, sometimes up to 5, to each plant. She shares the history of the plant, what it's used for, where it grows, how to harvest it, how to use it and what to use it for. She presents the information clearly and simply making it very user-friendly.

I am looking forward to trying some of the remedies using plants that are readily available to dandelions! And to think I thought the dandelion was the enemy. Aren't we always trying to rid our huge expanses of lawn of these pesky weeds? Who knew they were so incredibly beneficial? Dandelion can be used for liver problems, constipation, skin problems, arthritis, gout, hangovers and more. You can use the leaves, the flowers, the sap and the roots. Dang near the whole plant! Dandelion can be turned into tinctures and teas, salads and infused oils, even beer! And this is just the dandelion!

On a cautious note, one thing that crossed my mind while reading about foraging and harvesting these beneficial plants was making sure I was harvesting the right thing and not the poisonous thing. To help with this I will purchase a field guide on wild plants, one that shows the differences between good plants and the poisonous plants that mimic them. Just to be sure...wink!

I am so excited about Backyard Medicine...and so excited to learn more about foraging and harvesting plants that grow like "weeds" right in my yard. (And also in my neighbor's yards. I saw a bunch of dandelion's in one yard and some clover in another when I took Reggie for his nightly stroll last night! Won't they be surprised when I offer to pull their weeds for them?)

If you'd like to purchase Backyard Medicine I provided links for you to I am no longer an affiliate (I'll fill you in more on that next week) so I don't receive any monetary compensation for sharing this information, but am sharing the link to Amazon as part of the agreement with the publishing company.

And I am doing it gladly...I think you will really appreciate this book as much as I do.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

the dust is settling...

Flickr favorites...mostly brown...see who did all of this....
I'm going slow...yesterday and today.

Yesterday turned into an impromptu "clean out under the kitchen sink" day...which then led to a on my hands and knees bathroom floor scrubbing day...not to mention taking care of a good four or five loads of laundry.

Thank goodness for leftovers.

I don't have much to say thoughts are still deep...but there were a few things that I wanted to share.

Some of you have inquired about the mosaics of photos like the one above...I make them at on Mosaic Maker..and go for it!

Chris and I signed up for Netflix a few weeks ago. I was searching around for a documentary...had clicked on Food Inc. and was going to watch it but really wasn't in the mood for something that heavy. I dug around a bit more when I came across Food amazing and informative documentary focusing on food for health...vs. medications. It really confirmed much of what's been rumbling through my brain lately.

Have you seen Born Into Brothels? Incredible. Moving. And hard to take. This documentary should not be viewed around children...the language is over the top offensive. Really. And the subject matter, obviously, is not for everyone. I grabbed it on a whim at the library and was glad that I eye-opener to say the least.

I'm reading through The Kind's inspiring me to add more raw food to our meals. I'm quite sure I won't be making raw pizza or raw lasagna...the idea of trying to make something gooey out of uncooked random ingredients is not at all appetizing to me. However, eating raw veggies, raw fruits and good salads full of good, nutritious food is.

I'm also reading through A Householder's Guide to the Universe: A Calendar of Basics for the Home and Beyond. Entertaining. Informative. And down to earth...

Oh...and while I'm at it, sharing controversial things and all, I'll go ahead and recommend another great documentary...Collapse by Michael Ruppert. I'll let you look it up if you want to...peak oil...government...etc. Good stuff...if you're interested in those things.

I hope all is well in your little corner of the world. I hope your gardens are growing...your families are well...and your hearts are full. xo

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Grandparents are there to help the child get
into mischief they haven't thought of yet.
~Gene Perret


Friday, July 1, 2011

life in the meantime.

Chris and I went to a yard sale a few weeks ago...

It's Friday...I slept in late. I don't usually like to do that...but I'm thinking I must have needed it. Rather than beat myself up about it...I'm going with it...taking it slow...puttering around the house...

The boys slept in, is summer after all. It's gonna be a rude awakening when school rolls back around...for all of us.

I am still processing the fact that Papa is no longer here on this earth with's so hard to believe. As much as I didn't want to, I believed it when Noni went to be with Jesus. I am figuring because Noni's passing was a family affair, it was such a process, and I had the privilege of being a part of that process. I am so grateful for that time with, so grateful.

Papa's departure wasn't a wasn't a family affair. It was him...and Jesus...and they decided the time...and that was that. There is peace in that, too because we all believe that is exactly how Papa wanted it.

That was a gift... The gift of peace...  God is good...all the time.

In the gathers, plans are made, tears are shed, and in the middle of it all there is laughter and gratitude and good times and hugs and memories and love...lots and lots of love...another gift.

In the meantime...groceries need to be picked up, dinners need to be made, kids need to go to practice and parties and games and youth groups. Business needs to be run...gardens need to be watered...and all the while there are the underlying and sorrow, gratitude and peace.

I will always miss Papa. For my whole life. I still miss Noni immensely and it's been two years. I miss my Papa Gene and he's been in heaven for over 10 years. I miss Grandpa Fred, Chris' grandpa (but I claim him as my Grandpa, too!) . I will always miss them...always. Always and forever. They held special places on this earth...and they hold special places in my heart...that only they can fill.

Until we meet again...I'm so grateful for amazing memories of amazing human beings that I am so blessed to call family.