Wednesday, August 13, 2014

School year goals

My baby girl is starting kindergarten tomorrow. The beginning of a new school year has always been a chance for a fresh start. Since things have been... challenging so far this year in many ways, I could use a fresh start in my own life.

Trying new things is a great goal. This lemon merengue pie was my first attempt at a merengue. This pie and its identical twin were made to bring to our best friends' wedding last month. It was a fun challenge, and I hope to try all sorts of new things in the coming months. 

For my daughter, I am getting her started in piano lessons for the first time. I plan to set a good example for her by practicing my long lost piano skills. 

I hope to take her swimming often, so that she can finally learn to swim. Going to the pool with her is good exercise, even if I'm not swimming laps (which I plan to do also , on my own).

I plan on joining  4H with her, so that she can hang with more like-minded people. I hope to expand our village and meet new friends as well.

I hope to share more activities and quality time with kiddo. This year will be spent helping her learn piano and how to read and how to swim. She's turning into such a joy to be aground.

I'm pleased to find out that baby girl's school is all about healthy eating. From what I've heard, it's a far cry from greasy pizza and cupcakes on your birthday that I experienced as a kid in public school. My goal is to do better all around, so that she has this healthy habit both at home and school. I need it as well.

Encourage her to explore and learn and get dirty.

And instill a love of creepy crawlies and nature in general. I hope 4H will help here.

I want to continue to work on my home. Making it a cleaner, more inviting atmosphere. Getting rid of the shit that reminds me of my predecessor and make this place more my own. I am forcing myself to invite people into my home, because I know it's good for me to be more social and active while my life is in turmoil lately. It's also the only time I ever clean my home - when I know someone is visiting.

Say yes to more activities. This balloon day took a lot out of me, mostly because it was so loud and over stimulating, but it's a good example of stepping out of my comfort zone for the good of my family and for my psyche. 

Be more generous of my time and possessions. This isn't an area I struggle that much with, but I know it makes me feel very good. This is a photo of my very dear friend getting dressed on her wedding day. She created her dress from meaningful components from other dresses. The bodice, neckline and satin fabric of my wedding dress. The lace was taken from her mother in law's dress and veil. I hope to set a good example for my daughter by being a good friend and all around better person.

Also, and no pretty picture to represent this one, but I'm going back to the gym. With my kid in school I finally have the time and more money to work on myself. After all the turmoil going on in my family's life, I've neglected myself. It's time to turn that around.

Garden in August

This summer has been very stressful and the garden has been badly neglected. The big, nasty stressful thing that's been giving me more anxiety attacks than I thought possible and that drove me to near clinical depression has not let up. It's actually gotten worse. But the garden grows on.

Beautiful bell peppers very close to transforming into yellow or red or orange. By forgetting to mark the garden better, I've given myself a surprise to look forward to.

One huge Cinderella pumpkin hanging out in my butternut squash patch.

These hot Hungarian wax peppers are easy to care for, and add a lot of flavor to our food. In the background, the apple trees we planted in the spring are thriving.

These giant California zinnias growing in my squash patch have made my home a little more cheerful inside. They have been a joy to share with others, and have made our best friends' wedding a little brighter. In fact, all of the wedding flowers came from the bride's garden, my garden, and my moms garden. I am so thankful for the resourcefulness, community and love that I've gained in the last few years. These flowers have inspired me to grow more flowers next year... because I love to share them that much.

This year I grew potatoes for the first time.

I finally grew food in an area which produced nothing in the last two years. Neither green beans or zucchini liked this spot. These potatoes taste like persistence.

These carrots are something special. I learned the hard way last year that they need to be thinned. This year my daughter is in love with them, and runs out to the garden to pick a carrot for her snack. These carrots represent the love I have for gardening and sharing that love with my kid.

This salsa tastes like hard work and joy.

This is why we do what we do. Those tomatoes will become the spaghetti sauce my baby eats until next summer when we do it all again. I'm grateful for that.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Our goal this year in the garden was to plant some perennial fruit. We planted three apple trees and several kinds of berry. Shown below is our blackberry/raspberry project.

The area just to the front and right of the trampoline is the spot we chose. Shown with delightful neighborhood friend last summer.

Digging up those bushes and getting rid of the rock mulch was a huge project in itself.

We started small with two nice blackberry bushes and one that apparently was dead from the start.

Those two plants surprised us with fruit right away

We expanded the bed on the left to include two golden raspberry and one red raspberry

Blackberries ready to ripen

Our absolute favorite: golden raspberries. I wish I'd planted a dozen of these. Next spring... next spring.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Brown Thumbs

Gardening can be humbling. For example:

The key lime tree I kept alive all winter

Darn near killed it with too much fertilizer. This photo was taken back in May.

Shown today clinging for life and slowly putting on new growth.

Strawberry update

The last time I wrote, we were sobbing into our gardening gloves while we carefully dug up every strawberry plant in our berry patch... just as they all started flowering. Our strawberry ordeal has finally come to an end with tentative results:

Our strawberries all dug up with June bearing on the left and ever-bearing on the right

This was day #1 of digging in order to fix the house foundation.

Day #2 and installing a 2nd sump pump in our basement


They did a great job putting everything back together, so all I had to do was start planting again

Two weeks later and the plants are definitely worse for the wear, but the strawberries look like they just might survive the whole ordeal. We might just have a crop after all! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Garden Heartbreak

Today was the saddest day of my gardening career.
(Not to be too dramatic, or anything)

Just as my strawberry patch started to bloom...

I had to dig it all up.

With some help from my husband

We got it all dug up (June bearing on the left, ever bearing on the right) in an afternoon.

On Monday we will be having people come dig up this area to fix the house foundation on this side. Our basement walls are caving in and we can't risk another flood in the unpredictable Midwest.

I know the strawberries will perk back up next year, and we are planning on expanding the area (yay!) but it really is heartbreaking to yank them up right when they're so full of potential. Especially after we worked so hard on the strawberry bed last year. I might be a little too sentimental about this whole thing...

In a way, I'm okay with this for one reason - I'll be able to update in a few weeks to let y'all know if the plants survived and actually produced anything. I could not find a single resource online blog or otherwise to tell me if a strawberry harvest could survive this kind of thing. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hand-me-down woes

Beware: even though hand-me-downs rarely have intact wash instructions (or size labels for that matter), this does not mean that you can ignore common sense. Lay flat to dry, or everything in the dryer will need to be re-washed. Twice.

Also, pitch the trashy clothes with glued on glitter before you even bother washing them.