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.

13 February 2013

New hemp

After a long hiatus, the shop is open again. Hooray! Feels good to be sewing again, and I have accomplished something that has been on my to-do list for months now, with the listing of some new items.

Sandwich & snack bag sets in your choice of three different colors of hemp. This fabric was a sweet deal scored from my local fabric lady, infinitecosmoshemp--she recently moved and gave me all her scraps and pieces of this gorgeous hemp for an amazing price. The lightest color is a hemp/cotton blend, soft as you can imagine, and is also the base of the brown one at the front there--I was experimenting with dyeing the fabric, and was happy with how it turned out. The middle one is a 100% hemp fabric.

These are also my first snack/sandwich bags that have the choice of muslin or ripstop nylon for the lining. I have found that muslin keeps food just as fresh as the ripstop, and I really like the look of it, so decided to offer it as an option.

These are some items that have been brewing and stewing in my head for a long time, so it feels good to have them finally made, pictures taken, and listed for sale.

08 February 2013

Origami Valentines

Since the origami craze is going strong, the boys and I found this pattern for a folded heart to give away in their classrooms for valentines.  The older boys decided they both wanted to do these hearts, and they were happy with the finished product.

Pattern was found here, we tried it with origami paper and also red cardstock, and decided the stiffness of the cardstock was better since we wanted to put a reeses heart inside. Once the heart is folded, a magic pocket is created that is just the size to fit one flat piece of candy.

We cut the 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock in half, squared each piece, making two 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 squares per sheet, and it was a perfect size.

I remain convinced that handmade valentines are much better than the boxes from the store, mostly for the good times we have making them together.

In other news, I'm loving the new Jason Castro album. I have followed him since American Idol, and still listen to his first album. This one is faith-based without being cheesy, IMO, and I find it inspirational and refreshing.

Also, our local newspaper just started printing seven little words each day and it is another thing that I can do with James that might be more fun for me than him. The format is so great--simple, quick and yet you feel like you really accomplished something when you finish one.

06 February 2013

Origami craze

Last weekend while Jeff was gone picking up our van and making the unbelievably long drive home, the boys and I watched Between the Folds on Netflix. The documentary is just the right length for kids to watch, was interesting enough to keep us all interested, and we were fascinated to have a glimpse into the world of these extreme paper folders.

The older boys were riveted, especially since their interest in origami was recently  re-kindled after reading The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, which was on the OBOB list this year. We have dabbled in origami at different times over the years--I have always encouraged it and participated with them, since I loved it as a kid and find that I still love it as an adult. I think this time around the whole process of folding is easier for them, as they can follow the directions much better, and have a bit more patience. Origami is not easy!

These are a couple of great books we found at the library: Uber Origami--much more difficult; Origami Zoo--a lot easier; and one James bought with his precious Christmas gift card, The Joy of Origami, which has some easy and some difficult.

30 January 2013

Family Life

Yesterday began with a productive carpet cleaning session, laundry, playing on the floor with the baby and a bit of sewing. It ended with baby vomiting at the pinewood derby, a broken toilet, and 9-year-old boy grumpiness & attitude.

In between were some regular family-life moments: cooking and feeding dinner, encouraging/nagging homework to be done, hugs, kisses, daily battle with managing electronic time, yada, yada, yada.

I received some pretty direct counsel/chastising from heaven about how better to deal with the good and the bad of family life; mostly about how to deal with the bad & frustrating without making everyone's life miserable. It came in the form of Jacob 6:7 :For behold, after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit? . . .

It is my tendency to become a bit hot-tempered, and grumpy when things don't run smoothly. Since family life has a tendency to not run smoothly at least once per day, this isn't a great equation for peace in the home. Fortunately I'm married to someone who already recognizes the benefit of handling problems in a calm, even-tempered manner and he is my best example of that each day. I am a slow learner, but this divine instruction has me looking at my grumpiness in a different way. I don't want to be the bringer of evil fruit in my home, especially because I truly do feel nourished all day long by the good word of God.

23 January 2013

Fine, wear whatever you want!

I cracked up at a friend's facebook post the other day:
Packed almost my entire house today (except kitchen). I packed most of all of our clothes, which doesn't affect the boys since they only want to wear 2 items all the time anyway. 

I'm here to say that much of the conflict between me and my children has to do with clothing. Heaven help me with this one.

I am that mom who puts clothing under the Christmas tree and when the kids open it, they only like maybe one of the shirts, sort of.

I am that annoyed mom who cannot figure out why these boys want to wear the same pair of jeans every single day.

I am that mom who spews out lame threats about how today they have to wear something they haven't worn in a whole week. The conversation begins with a smile, and ends with a major meltdown.

And don't even get me started on the battle it is to get four children out the door wearing a coat right now. It makes me and them so uptight.

This battle is not worth fighting. I keep trying to tell myself that. But for some reason, this battle with clothing makes me hot-tempered daily. I am working on it.


21 January 2013

A few opening thoughts

Since I haven't posted anything on this blog in four months, the continuity of writing and sharing has been a bit lost, so I feel as if I am starting again. Hence, the title of this post. 

So, I will just attempt to start again, as I do miss writing and sharing publicly. Most of the recent writing in my life has been in a scripture journal, which has become my most prized possession. Through this writing I am learning about my own personal weaknesses, God's promises to me and others, what I can do to improve my family on a daily basis, and how the Lord wants me to change in ways that are not easy for me at all.

I recently wrote and delivered a talk about how to really find peace in our lives. One of the scriptures I used in this talk: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid, found in John 14:27, reminded me of why daily personal scripture study is so vital if we want to find success in raising our families. 

On our trip to Utah to visit family after Christmas, we were involved in an accident just past Baker City, OR on Highway 84 where our van slid on black ice, spun around and hit backwards on the guard rail. Those moments when we were spinning were unbelievably humbling, as I had no idea how it would end, and I fully expected to see the side of the car crumple on my children in the back seat. Fortunately, we were very blessed, and most of the damage to the van was down low, since it was a short guard rail, and none of the damage was to the engine at all, so the car could still be driven.

The passenger's side back window, however, shattered due to the impact, and the glass landed all over my most fragile, anxious child, 7-year-old Owen. Because we weren't sure what to do in those minutes following the accident, we ended up sitting in the van for about an hour talking to various family members and roadside assistance. During the first 20 minutes, Owen could not be comforted. All the boys were shaken, nervous, and unsure, but Owen was the one who was whimpering and crying and kept saying all the things I was thinking in my mind, but was trying to replace with positive thoughts. Things like, "I don't want to be here anymore, I just want to go home. I wish this never happened. I'm freezing. I hate this, I hate this." 

It was freezing, as you can imagine. None of us wanted to be there, as you can imagine. We all wished it hadn't happened, and I also had some real moments where my heart was very troubled and afraid. We had said a prayer pleading for help just after we hit, but Owen still continued to cry and whine. I was feeling so helpless, and finally this scripture popped into my head. I sat with him and talked quietly about this promise that Jesus made while he walked on the earth. I believe He means it; He really does not want us to have a troubled, afraid heart in these difficult moments. 

Owen said his own little prayer, putting faith in that glorious promise of peace, and almost immediately we experienced the first of many miracles on our journey through this difficult trip. Peace filled his heart, the kind of peace that can only come from heaven, the kind of peace a mother would like to give to her child, but physically cannot. In that moment, when I watched his whole countenance change from trouble to peace, I have never been more grateful for Christ, and the real promises of His gospel.

The weeks that followed were very trying for our family: illness, freezing cold temperatures, having to borrow family members' cars while on vacation, and knowing we still had to drive home on the same icy roads. They were filled with many moments of trouble and fear that entered our hearts at different times. We were also surrounded by family who helped and served us in every way, priesthood blessings, and lots of love and support from friends back home.

The story is not over. Our van is still stuck in freezing cold Utah being repaired, but we were safe on our journey home in a rental van -although it included diarrhea, lots of slowing down for icy conditions, and a snowstorm at the very end. I have tried my very best to focus on the blessings received through a difficult experience, and know that more blessings are waiting out there until the story really ends and our car is back safely in the garage again.