25 February 2014

Right Now I Am

Reading "We took to the Woods", a piece of non-fiction by Louise Dickinson Rich, where she chronicles tidbits of her life living deep in the woods of Maine. I can't get enough of the rich, descriptive writing where she describes what they eat, how they survive, the visitors that come through, and how they make a living.

Eating less calories than usual, trying to use My Fitness Pal to count, and having good days & bad days in doing so. Weekends are always the most difficult to stay focused on the goal.

Loving early morning workouts. I never thought I would be someone to enjoy the 5:30 a.m. step class, but I love having it done and over with by the time I drop the kids off at school. Jeff's sister Amber was the first to promote early morning workouts, and I have always admired her ability to get up early and do it.

Behind on laundry, as usual.

Looking forward to spring break and a possible fun vacation to the Redwoods our little family is considering.

Enjoying our new furnace and the quiet, efficient way it heats our house without us even being aware. Life is good and comfortable and I feel so blessed.

A little nervous about the prospect of finding a new car to replace our old 1995 Honda Accord that has given us so many good years, but just isn't worth repairing anymore.

24 February 2014

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2013

I always want to remember the fun the boys have in making Christmas gifts for each other. This is a tradition that makes special memories for weeks during the planning, making, wrapping and opening of each gift.

Henry made all the brothers a "medicine bottle" full of candy. "When you are sick, use these". When they opened up each bottle, he couldn't wait for them to read the funny joke.

Owen made James a  mod podge bowl for his dresser to hold all the random small items that always seem to be piled on dressers. He was originally going to make the whole thing out of newspaper and paint it, but when it was dry, he used his creative license to leave the newspaper showing. He even cut out the date from one newspaper and mod podged it to the bottom for a memory of when it was made.
For the little brothers, Owen and I found many pictures of them over the few years of their lives, had them printed and he made each a special photo book that they love to look through.

 James and I found this idea for clipboard chalkboards. He made one for each brother, including a little fabric chalk holder that he hot-glued to the back and a felt eraser mitt in three different sizes for three different hands.

25 June 2013

The Great Kiwi Experiment: part 2

For anyone interested in a kiwi update:

The mammoth plant got so top heavy, it threatened to tip the trellis over.

Our only solution was to prune all the non-fruiting vines, hoping that this doesn't affect the development and growth of the fruit.

Here are all the little kiwi bunches. There are more than we expected, and here's to hoping they all survive and get their fuzz.
Glimpse at my garden. The boys planted pumpkin vines on the left that are growing better than we all hoped. The tomatoes in the middle are also growing like crazy, and cucumbers, jalapenos and volunteer squash in the front bed.
 Raspberries are prolific. Jeff is in heaven.
 A closer look at the pea vines, which have produced decently, but got decimated by snails.

 Harvest from today. The rest of the peas, and a whole pile of tender baby kale.

15 May 2013

The Great Kiwi Experiment

When we bought our house, we were surprised to find that kiwi vines (both a male and female) had been planted next to the kitchen window. The realtor tried to make it a big selling feature of the house, along with the raspberries vines which were planted nearby. In our third year of living here, the results are these: raspberries have been awesome; kiwi, not so much.

To give it some credit, we had to cut the kiwi vines to the ground before we even moved in. They had become so large and uncontrollable and were growing up the house, which is always a pest problem for inspectors. So they began growing all over again, but, as we discovered, kiwi vines don't need much coaxing to grow. In fact, they are prolific viners and in no time were huge and leafy. However, as we were told, if the plant doesn't have flowers by May, it won't produce any fruit that year. And so it went like that, all leaf, no fruit for the 1st year and 2nd year of living here.

Here we are in the third year, and as I said in my previous gardening post:
Because I'm only a medium kiwi fan, and this plant is threatening to take over the side of the house, if by May it doesn't have flowers I am going to dig it up and use that beautiful trellis for my beautiful raspberries that do produce fruit.

It is now the 15th of May. AND. . .
we have some indication that it might flower this year! There are these little buds, that, according to my internet research, should either turn into male or female flowers (male=no fruit, female=fruit). It is very exciting, and the kids are thrilled to see if anything comes of it. There are literally hundreds of these all over the vine, so this little experiment is about to get very interesting. Stay tuned.

12 April 2013

Garden 2013: Part 1

Here is the first update on the garden. The compost has been stewing  for a couple of months and some plants are growing. I decided to try something new and planted some bush sugar snap peas at the beginning of March. Normally I start the peas from seed, but I had never seen this variety before, and they are growing quite well. The plant card describes them like this: SUGAR FLASH PEA--Early, easy to harvest and no need to trellis the short, sturdy bushes. So we'll see if they live up to their description. I also have some climbing sugar snap peas in the ground, which I know produce delicious peas. Those are barely peeking up, so I am hoping to have a long pea harvest. Yum.

In front of those bush peas is a crop of kale--it is also my first attempt at growing kale, so we'll see how it turns out. I am pretty excited about it, as I love raw kale in a salad. But, as I have found with broccoli and other veggies that have completely failed in my gardening hands, being excited about a vegetable alone doesn't make it grow into something that I can actually eat.

And finally, we have a kiwi plant that has grown from a stump to this huge behemoth. It came with the house and has yet to produce a kiwi. Our friend who has great success with her kiwi plants told us that if the plant doesn't have flowers by May, it won't produce any fruit that year. We have found that to be true in the two years we've lived in this house; not a single flower yet. Because I'm only a medium kiwi fan, and this plant is threatening to take over the side of the house, if by May it doesn't have flowers I am going to dig it up and use that beautiful trellis for my beautiful raspberries that do produce fruit.

11 April 2013

Small improvements

Since receiving this inspiration and posting this back in January, I am happy to report that things have been going more smoothly in our house, and I feel more calm and less grumpy. There has been a lot of self-reflection, mixed in with good and bad days. But I will say, looking back over the past few months, there have been more good days than bad and for me that is something. 

I have tried so very hard to use a softer voice in all the words I say to my kids. That is not easy, but definitely becomes easier as I do it day after day. 

I also started taking Melaleuca vitamins and a product also from Melaleuca called: 
Luminex® St. John's Wort Supplement
Maintain a balanced mood and better cope with the ups and downs of life gently and naturally—without resorting to chemicals or hormones. Utilizes a patented natural formula. 

  Luminex includes:
  • St. John’s wort to help support neurotransmitters*
  • Griffonia seed to help support neurotransmitters and to sustain a positive mood and emotionally stable outlook*
  • Vitamin B12 and folic acid to support the activities of brain messengers and to provide additional maintenance of neurotransmitters*

I will admit that I tried these supplements on a trial basis to see if I felt better, not really expecting big results, but I have noticed a marked difference in my ability to handle problems and stress.

Not trying to promote products. Just sharing what is working for me and why I feel better. 

"be thankful for all the small successes in your home, your family relationships, your education and livelihood, your Church participation and personal improvement. . .these successes may seem tiny to you and they may go unnoticed by others, but God notices them and they are not small to Him."  (as found here)

Love this quote.

15 February 2013

Delicious compost

We always get a few sunny days in the middle of rainy ones in February here. It is a welcome sight, and it is usually the thing that I need to get outside and start preparing the garden beds for the first planting.

I decided to pull off the door to the compost bin to see what was brewing in there that I could shovel into my beds.

Liquid gold at the bottom there. That stuff costs big money in bags at the nursery. I was so happy to have my pitchfork that I splurged on last year, as it was just the tool to sift through and scoop it out to mix in.


This was interesting: SunChips bags claim to be compostable, but obviously they take much longer to biodegrade than raw produce that has been thrown in. I threw it back in to let it keep composting. You can see around the edges have started to biodegrade. It is a fun experiment, if nothing else.

A few of you reading will appreciate these last pictures.
From this                                                          

to this. Now the compost can nourish the soil and get it all ready       for planting.