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Category Archives: Gardening

What I Learned This Summer

I’ve enjoyed linking up with Emily for her monthly “What I’ve Learned” posts throughout the year. I’ve had this one sitting in my drafts for a while, adding a little as time went along because I haven’t seen a post up all summer. Well, turns out she decided to do an end-of-summer round up. Good thinking, lady. Here’s my summer’s worth:

  • My girls enjoying things that I once enjoyed as a young girl brings me even greater joy than the joy it brought me in my youth.

Evelyn and carrots

Toys, clothes, little tchotckes that brought me much joy — slowly, I pull these out for my children and witness a similar love. Evelyn, especially, has a sentimental heart just like here mama and takes great pleasure in knowing that something she is wearing or playing with once belonged to her mama when she was little.

  • A little water can make a big difference for growing a garden.

We’ve been in a terrible drought here the past couple of years. Last year, everyone was asked to kill their lawn for the summer, to reconfigure their landscaping to a more “drought-tolerant” scape. So it shouldn’t have come as any surprise to me that it would be difficult to grow a single thing in that parched soil.

I was close to throwing in the towel when it came to gardening because of this. As much as I suspected the lack of water was a huge culprit in the piddly garden I was producing, I still was feeling like it was my lack of green thumb.

But about a month into our plantings, and we had so many sprouts this year. I was a bit giddy with excitement.

We’ve had several rainfalls throughout the months of April and May and they greatly contributed to the health of the garden. I could tell as I was ripping out weeds, witnessing all the earthworms ranging around, that the soil was a million times healthier. And I was hopeful.

It seems I had reason to be.

Rapunzel tomato plant

munching strawberries

  • Tomatillos cannot cross-pollinate with other tomatoes. They need some of their own kind. {Same goes for squash varieties.}

On that same garden vein, we planted one tomatillo plant and waited. And waited. And waited. Watching tons of flowers pop out, but no tomatillos husks appear. I asked about this at our local nursery and, sure enough, was informed that we needed at least two to produce the little buggers.

It was a little late in the planting season when I realized this, so I had trouble locating others. I eventually found a few tiny seedlings that will likely be too late to help my first, but maybe we’ll get something from them later.

Surprisingly, the other day, a couple husks showed up on my plant! Maybe one of the neighbors has some too. Thank you, kind neighbor, for the good deed you have done unknowingly.

  • Short, but sweet, podcasts are my jam. 

Perhaps it’s because my occasion to listen is always in short spurts, but I’m really a fan of quick podcasts — ones that are 10 minutes or less. This one to inspire writers is one of my favorites right now.

  • Even a three-year old is capable of finding enjoyment in needlecraft.

Evey stitching

Evelyn has been begging me for months to teach her how to knit. I really want to but I’m afraid 1) she’ll find it too difficult and just get frustrated & 2) I feel completely incapable of such a feat. Someone suggested to me trying out finger knitting, which I will have to read up on. But, in the meantime, we found a little embroidery kit at the craft store that she is absolutely enjoying. I mean, she’s not doing the stitches the way that is shown on the box, but I figure, at this point, what is important is getting the hang of threading the needle in and out of the correct side each time. {Easier said than done, even for a seasoned crafter!} I’m so impressed by her desire and drive in working it out.

And last, but not least…

  • I am so happy we chose to live a quieter summer this year.

skipping rocks

All extra-curriculars were cancelled, spontaneous trips to the cabin occurred, many, many books were borrowed, purchased, read, countless hours were spent splashing in the water outside, and we spent a lot more time just being. {Plus, there were about a hundred hiccups/disappoints that needed dealing with and it always helps to have a tad more freedom to give those things the attention their due.}

 

What did you learn this summer??

Starting Somewhere {7QT}

When you’ve been away for a while, it is difficult to know where to start, so I’ll just jump right into the middle since it’s Friday, a.k.a. 7QT’s Day!

summer popsicles

1) I’m following along and living vicariously through friends that are in Poland for the annual World Youth Day with Pope Francis this week. I was blessed to be able to attend in Rome in 2000 and Toronto in 2002. I shared a bit about how Pope St. John Paul the Great has influenced my life through his great sermons given at these two events over at my friend Patty’s space, A Modern Grace.

WYD 2000 Tor Vergata Mass

WYD 2000 Pope John Paul II

WYD 2002 rainy morning Mass

2) I read through Pope Francis’ sermons {source: here and here} from the past two days and walked away with these gems that I’ll be pondering for a while:

“[God] is in our midst and he takes care of us, without making decisions in our place and without troubling himself with issues of power. He prefers to let himself be contained in little things, unlike ourselves, who always want to possess something greater. To be attracted by power, by grandeur, by appearances, is tragically human. It is a great temptation that tries to insinuate itself everywhere. But to give oneself to others, eliminating distances, dwelling in littleness and living the reality of one’s everyday life: this is exquisitely divine.”

“[God] does not want to remain on his throne in heaven or in history books, but loves to come down to our everyday affairs, to walk with us.”

“The eternal is communicated by spending time with people and in concrete situations.”

“Let us ask for the grace to imitate [Mary’s] sensitivity and her creativity in serving those in need, and to know how beautiful it is to spend our lives in the service of others, without favorites or distinctions.”

“To say that Jesus is alive means to rekindle our enthusiasm in following him, to renew our passionate desire to be his disciples. What better opportunity to renew our friendship with Jesus than by building friendships among yourselves! What better way to build our friendship with Jesus than by sharing him with others! What better way to experience the contagious joy of the Gospel than by striving to bring the Good News to all kinds of painful and difficult situations!”

Pope Francis WYD 2016 Poland

{source}

3) On the garden front, we’ve been fighting the good fight against an army of harlequin cabbage beetles {a.k.a. firebugs} that are ravaging our garden. They’ve gone from one plant to the next, taking them out. I finally found them in my tomatoes this morning, after grasping a ripe one and having a billion little babies crawl out of the middle. {Definitely woke up the neighbors with that squeal.} I promptly ran to Home Depot and we sprayed insecticidal soap all over the plant. I’ve tried regular bug spray {when I couldn’t use the soap on the nasturtiums} and pulling them off individually to throw them in a bowl of soapy water. It seems to kill a squad but not the entire army. Once I rip out the remainder of the bed where the nasturtiums are, I’m going to throw down the black tarp of death and hopefully extinguish them while the heat is still high so I can still plant a Fall garden come September.

harlequin/firebugs on chard

red nasturtiums

corn on the stalk

corn stalks

4) Lots of knitting this past month with many beautiful, hand-dyed yarns by this lovely lady, as well as some fun, blue color-way socks for my latest nephew. {First set of socks so please don’t judge.} Also, a warming set for my brother who is headed off for law school in Michigan next month and will get the chill of his life come winter.

blue baby socks

knitting tools

5) The heat burn has been phenomenal this week. Day time temps soaring past 100 and evening not dropping much below 80. Makes me ready for autumn…tomorrow. I’m just grateful we don’t live where the humidity is high or I might melt like a popsicle. The water table, kiddie pool and squirt guns have been our best friends. And I don’t just mean for the children.

watering the pool

throwing water

6) We had a TON of fun with our good friends and Evey’s godparents a couple weeks ago camping near the coast. It was the first time for the girls sleeping in a tent. Other than the scare Lucie experienced when she rolled into the side of the tent in the middle of the night, they were both troopers and slept like logs {albeit rolling logs}. We promptly came home and marked another one on the calendar in September.

munching s'mores

our campsite

searching for mysterious creatures

photo lessons with Matt

7) We’ve been dealing with many house issues this month too, which are slowly getting resolved one by one. The broken dryer for several weeks certainly slowed life down, as I was canvassing every spot in the house that might be “hanging rack” worthy. Maybe we’ll just forget the dryer from now on and install a clothesline. They are much more trustworthy, turns out.

hiking up the hill

Click over to Kelly’s space to read more of this week’s 7QT!

 

Our Spring/Summer Garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

The garden is growing in leaps and strides {as is this little cutie}. California finally received some rainfall this year and I’m noticing a HUGE difference in how well the plants are doing. The plethora of bugs–good and bad–gave an indication of this when I was ripping out weeds. Now, some thriving plants!

I have eight tomato plants–a few heirlooms, a tomatillo, some smaller varieties like pears and cherries, a San Marzano for tomato sauce.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

This is a Rapunzel. It will have a cherry tomatoes that are bunched in double clusters, resembling ‘long hair’ I suppose. Evey is very excited about this one. She picked it out herself. It got a special red cage for that is her favorite color.

spring garden 2016

strawberry picking

The strawberries we’ve been struggling with this year because of all the rain. There is a lot of rot and molding underneath the leaves that is ruining all the strawberries that sprout down there. I’m quite sad about this as I was anticipating making jars and jars of jam.

spring garden 2016

Please notice the random radish that someone pulled and tossed next to the sunflower. {It did get eaten.} Both of these are volunteers from last year’s seeds that spilled onto the ground. Some of the sunflowers I’m letting stay, but others are in odd spots that make navigating the garden difficult. We keep finding radishes in the strangest places and they have no trouble growing in less than ideal conditions.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

The green beans are taking off but I’m having to do some major coaxing to convince them to go up the netting instead of across the rest of the vegetables in the bed.

spring garden 2016

A plethora of chard is growing. We have green and rainbow. I haven’t done much cooking with chard in the past so please send your favorite recipes my way!

spring garden 2016

Lots o’ lettuce. The Romaine is giving off dozens of leaves daily. It is kind of hogging the lettuce space. Pictured here are spinach and butter leaf, I believe. They managed to escape the shade of the Romaine.

spring garden 2016

My marigolds are doing fantastic in this spot. I’ve never had much luck with them flowering, despite dead-heading the old ones. Perhaps this soil is just right for their picky taste. A grouping of nasturtiums to right. Still waiting on the flowers.

spring garden 2016

A few potted things outside the main garden. I have rosemary and thyme in and I’m hoping to add basil, chives, and cilantro to the mix.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

A few rows of corn! I’m not sure how this going to go as their pollination process is better served with a few more rows {I found this out just the other day, so a little late to the game}, but we can always help the process along by hand.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

The peppers are on the hill. They were seriously attacked by the earwigs so aren’t the prettiest looking of plants. I do hope they recover as Steve makes some amazing hot sauces with fresh ones.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

Funny story about these cornflower/bachelor’s buttons: I didn’t know that’s what they were the first time they appeared in the bed a couple years ago. They were hiding amongst a bunch of weeds and I was so terrible about pulling those out that these managed to flower without being yanked. Even after they flowered, I thought they were just a weed flower. Turns out, not. And I’m happy to have them grace our garden this year unscathed. Minus the little girls who love to bring me bouquets of them frequently.

spring garden 2016

There is beauty even in the midst of decay.

This rambling rose has only produced maybe five tops in the three years we’ve been here. There are dozen this year! I’m still learning how to tame it and help it along but I hope that it continues to throw out buds abundantly for years to come.

 

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter‘s {Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real} this week.

What I Learned in March

Linking up with Emily for this fun exercise of sharing what I’ve learned this past month.
Also, with Kelly because when you have 7 and it’s Friday–well, 7QT

brunelleschi's dome florence

Source

One) The Secret of Brunelleschi’s Dome — For those who are unaware, I have a strong fascination with church architecture. This was awakened in me strongly when I studied abroad in Europe. When I was in Italy during my Junior year of college, we visited the town of Florence for a few days. Rightly so, one of our objects of study during our time there was the dome of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. At the time, the mystery of how the dome was standing was still unsolved {this was in 2005}. Although I am no architect and, admittedly, not even great at mathematics, especially geometry, I was intrigued with how even modern man couldn’t solve this puzzle.

Recently, I was browsing the DVD tittles at our local library and I ran across one called Great Cathedral Mystery. I picked it up, not knowing of what cathedral it spoke of initially because I love to learn about any and all, but when I noticed it was Florence’s, I was even more excited to view it. It didn’t reveal on the cover if the problem was actually solved or not, so I was very anxious to watch.

It turns out they have! Besides the herringbone structure of the interior brickwork, which they’ve known about for some time now, they used a specific pattern to build up the rounded walls as they worked. Interestingly, it is the shape of a flower. {If you did not catch the translation from the Italian, the cathedral is name St. Mary of the Flowers.} As they built up the rounding walls of the dome, they used a flower pattern to measure where each brick would go so that it would be secure and hold up the others that were built up around it.

I highly recommend watching the show. Absolutely fascinating. And what a monumental task in having discovered the secret!

Blessed is She Retreat - Ike N'dolo music

Two) The Power of a Retreat — When I was younger, starting about early high school, I used to regularly attend retreats. Some silent, some with discussion, but always very fruitful and inspiring. Since marriage and children, I haven’t been able to attend one, until just a few weeks ago. Blessed is She hosted one in Phoenix, Arizona, which I almost miraculously found funding for, tickets, and a place to stay, making it possible.

Not only was the fellowship wonderful in every way, but the time spent heart-to-heart with Our Lord was so sorely needed, in a way I couldn’t even imagine. I try to maintain that relationship with Him on a regular basis, but a retreat is like a weekend getaway with your Lover–so good for rejuvenating and reconnecting.

garden beginnings

Three) Pulling Weeds Actually Helps My Shoulder Heal — One of my shoulders has been strained for some time now. I was seeing a physical therapist in January and February to help alleviate some of the pain. It is an overuse injury so I’m stuck in a Catch-22: it needs strengthening to prevent further injury, but using it too much makes it worse. I’ve been attempting to strike a good balance, but having a hard time doing so.

With the arrival of Spring, we’ve begun working in the garden in the hopes of a lovely space this year. I started pulling the weeds after the last rainfall {which makes it SO much easier} daily, working an hour or two at a time. The first couple days, my neck and shoulders were literally screaming at me. I would put heat on them a couple of times a day, stretch, etc. I decided to push through a little bit, and by the end of the week, the soreness began to subside.

The movement required for pulling and digging was a great combination for stretching and strengthening my shoulders and neck muscles. I’m getting towards the end of the heavy labor with the weeds, so next up is my birthday gift: the rowing machine.

playing Candy Land

Four) To Say ‘Yes’ More Often to My Children — Too often I’ve made myself too busy to just drop everything and follow the request of one of my girls. Or I’m being too rational or stingy about a request they’ve made. But I’m trying to change that.

Evey has recently taken to playing Candy Land with me on the board I had as a child. {SO much better than the modern one!} She asks daily to play. Sometimes I do need to say no. But the other day she came up to me and asked “Can we play Candy Land tomorrow?” I suggested, “Why not right now?” Her eyes brightened so big and we played a few rounds. I want to incite that joy more.

Another day, I gave the girls an afternoon bath. Immediately after jumping out, Evey asked to wear her Easter dress and all the finery that accompanies it. My initial reaction was “No way!” because, although we were going out for a bit, it was simply to a little cafe for a treat. But I said “yes”. Why can’t she wear what makes her feel lovely for a short time, even if it is just to the store? She had many compliments while we were out…and was proud that she picked it out all on her own. {And she really was just so beautiful!}

every day mess

Five) Blog About the Mundane — I’ve had a serious block recently about writing on the blog because I feel as if no one really cares about the day-to-day here and I’ve nothing super significant to share. But then I realized that that is what others tend to comment on–and what I love to read at others blogs–the every day, nitty gritty. So I’m trying. I’m trying to better about sharing a bit of what we have going on here. Well, that’s what I started this for anyway!

dishcloth and Rising Strong

Six) How to Make a Knit Dishcloth — Kind of ridiculous, isn’t it? I’ve knit probably several dozen things at this point but had never done a dishcloth. They’re really quite simple and a great place to start if you want to learn. They are also wonderful for practicing a stitch you find somewhat vexing. It’ll probably be my go-to during the summer for knit projects as I can’t stand a knit warm blanket in my lap when it is a hundred plus outside.

writer

Source

Seven) I am a Writer — I feel ridiculous even writing this out, but it needs to be said. Although, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic wasn’t a favorite read of mine, there was something that struck me hard. It was this: you have to believe you are, if you want to be a _____ {fill in the blank}. So often I tell others, “Well, I’m trying to write. I’m attempting to make a thing of this.” But, by golly, I am! Not only have I been doing this blogging thing for almost ten years now, but I’ve had articles published in journals, magazines, etc. since I was in high school. I’ve been a copy editor for a publication. {You can’t–certainly shouldn’t!–be doing that job unless you can write!} I’m a regular contributor with Blessed is She. I have experience. I practice my craft {albeit, irregularly, these days}. And I love to share my thoughts and stories through words. What more do I need to proclaim it?? Nada.

There you have it. I said it. I am a writer.

Next up: I am a photographer. Because I am, and I want to be that too.

 

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Moments ~ {Vol. 11}

girls-digging-in-dirt

Dirt, dirt, and lots of dirt. Most mornings are spent outside digging. Pre-lunch time is spent bathing.

little-diggers

Digging with spoons because we’re fancy like that.

evey-scootering

Evey’s becoming a scootering pro.

evey-finger-painting

Never one to paint her body before, Lucie’s encouragement pushed Evey outside her comfort zone.
evey-finger-painting

First finger painting for both girls.
lucie-finger-painting

Doesn’t mind getting messy one bit.

lucie-finger-painting

Who says paint is for paper?

dancing-with-daddy

Daddy-daughter dance to “Let it Go”.

frozen-with-daddy

Saturday morning Frozen viewing with Daddy.

sunday-morning-with-daddy

Sunday morning snuggles with Daddy. Sweetest.
Evey's-cow-drawing

Evey’s cow. 🙂

Evey's-cow-drawing

He got more legs and accessories than he bargained for.

dinner-under-the-lights

End-of-summer party at my parents’ complete with appropriate ambience lighting.

dinner-under-the-lights

Magical.

orange-sunflower

Our first sunflower of the season!

tomato-braised-chicken-and-red-wine

Enjoying a wonderful red from a friend’s family winery in Oregon alongside a delicious Sunday dinner.

anchor-steam-porter-tasting

#muffbrews continues. We’ve been on a porter and stout kick lately.

kitchen-flowers

Beautiful flowers from a #bissisterhood friend. Makes my kitchen so pretty.

post-water-snack

Snacktime post-splash pad fun. They enjoyed themselves. Really.

star-cookie-treat

Grocery day treat. Bribery or reward? You decide. 

free-ice-cream

Free ice cream at the library? Yes, please. {Although, every time we go to the library now she wants to know where the ice cream van is.}

evey-purple-popsicle

Matchy-matchy.

lucie-ice-cream-cone

She knew right what to do with that cone.
sticker-feet

Creative sticker sticking. {She likes to place them over her eyes too. Whatever floats your boat, Ev.}

Moments ~ {Vol. 8}

outdoor play

Lots of time outside during these beautiful Spring days. Evelyn draws, Lucie observes.

rosebuds

We have a single rosebush on our backyard fence. It is very stingy with the roses. It produced twice as much this year and this is half of them.

static hair on the slide

Her hair is the perfect length for the static look after coming down the twirly slide at the park. 😉

coldstone

Summer-like weather one day had us out searching for the biggest ice cream treat. Success.

picnic lunch

Picnic weather!

strawberries!

Need to work on that “talking with our mouth full of food” thing…. 😉

whipped cream!

My daughter possibly loves strawberries more than I do. Is that even possible?!?!

inspecting her hands

“What is this strange stuff on my hands??”

stamping

Fantastic thrift store find. She’s all about stamps right now.

winnie the pooh puzzle

And puzzles. She sits for hours most days working on them.

new york puzzle

Her taxi one we picked up in New York. So proud!

watching the rowers

My youngest brother participated in the Southwest Regional Rowing Championships this past weekend. We enjoyed watching and wading in the warm water.

beach babe

Those rocks were great for sifting through her fingers. Over and over and over….

bean bag love

She had never encountered a bean bag chair before but we happened upon this one at the used kids’ clothing store in town. She carried it over to me and said, “There’s something in here, mom,” very concerned look on her face. I had to explain that it was like a big pillow and it was filled with things to make it soft for sitting on. Next thing I know, I come around the corner and find her like this. She understood. 🙂
fun with friends

We celebrated a good friend’s birthday this week with a gathering of wonderful faces that we love to see.

 

 

happy birthday matt

His wife made a delicious ice cream cake with funfetti cake and butterfinger ice cream per his request. It was a great combo!

 

blowing out the candles

Happy birthday, Matt!

7QT ~ {How Does Your Garden Grow?}

tomato!

Things have been rather silent here the past week or so. Thought we should remedy that! Mostly, my mind has been on our yard, where I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time the past week or so…..

One) California has been experiencing a rather early Spring. The temperatures have been in the high 60s/low 70s during the daytime. Our yard hasn’t had much love since last Fall, so I’ve been spending some time outside each day attempting to clean things up. I’m nervous to plant anything just yet because we all know how fickle the weather can be this time of year. The last thing I would want is a snowfall on my newly-sown crop of green beans. For now, I’m scheming and planning what will go in the ground when I’m a tad more assured of a steady temperature.

Two) Where we planted squash and watermelons last year, I’m hoping to put in a cut-flower garden. However, I think I need to do some amendment on the soil. Has anyone run tests on their soil before? Is it easy?

Three) I planted a few herbs last year but want to add to the collection. I’m absolutely a fan of fresh herbs  to use in the kitchen and it gets rather expensive when you have to buy them weekly at the grocer. So far, I’m planning basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro. Lavender will go in somewhere separately and we have a considerable growth of mint in the front yard. Any other suggestions?

strawberries

Four) I have a strawberry patch in one of the raised beds. It needs some love and pruning. We had a considerable number last year for new plants. I’m hoping they do even better this year and I can can some jam.

Five) We have a formidable foe in the bird flocks that frequent our yard. I’m pretty sure they were the reason for a lack of sprouts among our corn, sunflowers, leeks and carrots last year. I’m planning on fighting back this year with some reflection tape placed on stakes throughout the yard. Maybe even a little “scarecrow” owl depending on how aggressive they are.

Six) We have an unusable fountain smack-dab in the center of the yard. I want to do something with it, especially the bottom portion as it fills with water which is dangerous for the children to be around and a lovely breeding ground for mosquitoes. It can’t drain so I can’t plant anything directly in it. I’m considering filling it with pebbles and, perhaps, a few pots with flowers. I’m nervous that it will still fill with water and overflow the pebbles.

Seven) We are in the midst of a crazy drought here in California so I’m brainstorming ideas to work with it. We also have very rocky, clay soil so for many things, it needs serious amendment. Our veggies didn’t do great in the ground last year because of this {and the crazy-persistent crab grass that kept pushing through}. I know things improve with each year but I’m determined to get a handle on the grass/weed problem beforehand. I’m planning to put some newspaper and mulch down to control things a bit. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7QT

Focusing In

photo 1(6)

Loving these prompts from In the Heart of My Home, Elizabeth Foss’ blog. I need a little help organizing my thoughts here this morning. It’s been a doozy of a week.



 

Outside My Window ~ Sunshine. In the 90s again today. Where is autumn? Cleaner air than yesterday but still smoke-ridden. It hurts my baby’s eyes. 🙁 Another fire was started very near here a few days ago. One of Steve’s commuting companions lost his house in the fire. Very sad.

Listening To ~ Good ol’ bluegrass. Enjoying a compilation of hits. Turned it on to distract Evelyn from something she shouldn’t be doing, but we all don’t mind the distraction.

Clothing Myself In ~ Pajamas still. Getting dressed doesn’t usually happen here until the afternoon unless we are going somewhere, mostly because I like to spend the morning hours doing chores.

Reading My Children These Books ~ We’re still big on trains here. We’ve been enjoying The Last Train and The Little Train the past few weeks. Also, enjoying books of the season on apples and pumpkins, especially Pumpkin Jack, Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Day, Pumpkin Night, The Apple Pie Tree, and Apples. And this fantastic interactive book — Press Here. We like to take full advantage of all our library has to offer.

Reading On My Own ~ I just started Boys in the Boat and I’m really enjoying it. Daniel James Brown is a great storyteller who hooks you on these interweaving lives of the crewsmen and their coaches during the World War II era. Definitely a good read for history buffs. And it’s making me recount my days in the sculls.

boysintheboat

Pondering ~ What we have going on these next few months. I think fall and winter are always the busiest for us. Starting in November, we have Evey’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, three birthdays in January, four birthdays in February, and our anniversary in early February. Lots to plan for!

Quotable ~ When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on. ~Thomas Jefferson It’s been feeling like that often around here lately.

Cultivating Rhythm ~ Trying to regain some semblance of a daily rhythm after having it upended while we were trying to escape the smoke from the fire. Also, we’re living with one car right now which means an early wake up most mornings so we can take Steve to the train station if we want to have a vehicle during the day. So regular naps and early bedtimes are important here right now to ensure enough sleep.

E baking

Creating By Hand ~ I’ve started my Christmas gifts early this year in the hopes I’ll actually have something to show for it come December. I can’t say much about it right now, except that I’m really enjoying getting into learning different knitting techniques and my stitches are getting better by the day. My tension is definitely improving.

Learning Lessons In ~ What I can handle and what I can’t. I’ve always had a tendency to overextend myself, but I’m learning what I’m capable of each day and to say ‘no’ to the things I really don’t want to be involved in.

Encouraging Lessons In ~ Responsible independence. Evey has been wondering off when we’re at the park without saying a word, giving this mama a heart attack. Trying to figure out how to teach her communication about what she wants and where she is going.

playing houseAbout 5 seconds before I turned around to check on Lucie in the stroller, and about 20 seconds before she was halfway across the plaza without a word.

Begging Prayers For ~ Those suffering from the nearby fire. For students in the midst of mid-terms.

Keeping House ~ Attempting to do a major cleaning after a much-neglected house the past month or so. Got the floors vacuumed yesterday and already it feels much better.

Crafting In the Kitchen ~ Enjoying some autumnal meals despite the fact it still feels like summer. {We’ll just crank the AC and pretend.} Made this chicken pot pie dish in the crock pot last night and enjoyed some baked pumpkin spice donuts last weekend for our Saturday brunch.

pumpkindonuts

Keeping Fit ~ Not keeping fit…yet. Picked up some 3 lbs. dumbbells at Target earlier in the week. I’m joining some friends starting Monday for a daily exercise routine for which we are going to keep all accountable. Hopefully. 😉

Giving Thanks ~ For my amazing husband, who has been working so hard, at both school and work, yet always making us his priority. He is such a great and loving father. I love watching him with our girls. <3

Steve and the girls

Loving the Moments ~ We wait for daddy to arrive on the train most evenings at the station. It elates Evelyn’s heart to no end to see the train pull up, her daddy step off, to brush her fingers against the train, to say ‘good night’ to the choo-choo.

Living the Liturgy ~ I’m following the devotions from Blessed is She daily. I’m really loving being to able to read the daily Mass readings along with a short meditation on them. Check it out if you haven’t yet! It’s especially great for those longing to go to Mass more often. Helps you keep up a little with the Church’s seasons.

Planning for the Week Ahead ~ Next week will be one of more major cleaning, thinking/planning Evelyn’s birthday party next month, and planning for next weekend’s adventures with family — looking forward to visiting with Uncle Steve and Aunt Cheryl driving out from Texas. 🙂  Also, getting our yard cleaned up for the winter. I think it might be too late for our fall garden.

This Year’s Garden

Between pregnancy and taking care of a newborn for me and full-time work and part-time grad school for Steve, it is a wonder we got anything out of our garden this year. After my brother and his friend put up a wonderful fence around our side yard and two beautiful planter boxes, we hustled to get a few things into the ground before Lucie made her appearance. Our haste made for a slap-dash tilling and planting without much regard for the suitability of the soil. The side yard was previously some nasty grass. We tossed some fertilized dirt over top, Steve’s dad came over to rototill and we raked it into rows before planting. The planter boxes had a little more attention, being filled only with good soil and the insertion of soaker hoses to aid in the watering process {much-appreciated as I painstakingly tried to do a lot of it with my big belly before it was finished…no easy task}.

ladybug

One entire box we devoted to strawberries which we hope to keep going year after year. {Supposedly, they get better each year at producing.}

my berries

The next was half-filled with peppers — cayenne, ancho, jalapeno and serrano. They’ve done fairly well, although a few peppers ended up with some brown spots at first. Steve has used them to make some FINE! hot sauce. The first, he made using grilled peppers and it turned out being a chipotle hot sauce. SO yummy! {I haven’t tried the second yet. I get nervous because he likes his sauces HOT! ;)}

cayenne

ancho jalapeno

serrano

The other half of the box, we attempted to grow radishes, carrots and leeks from seed. We got a good crop from the radishes {which we reseeded a few times}. The carrots sprouted…and then disappeared one. by. one. It was odd. I think it was either an insect eating them underground or the crazy scrub jays we have sqwaking around our yard. We never saw the leeks. 🙁

radishes

We started many little tomato seeds back in the early Spring. Many came up initially, but we didn’t do a sufficient job moving them into larger containers as they grew. As a result, we ended up with only ONE that could be transplanted. It was a Roma and it hasn’t done that well. Plus, I think it got some sort of mildew on its leaves. We grabbed some plants from a nearby nursery — an heirloom variety, Early Girls, pears and about half a dozen cherry tomato plants. {Needless to say, we have cherry tomatoes coming out our ears.}

tomato plant

 

Evey's tomato!

tomatoes!

Alongside the tomatoes, we grew some some bell peppers that came up from seed. They looked sad when we first put them in the ground, but after Steve gave them a magical potion of coffee grounds, they perked right up and grew twice their size practically overnight. {I just made some stuffed bell peppers with eight of them the other night and it was SO gratifying!}

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dinner prep

stuffed bell peppers

The last thing that went in our garden were a few rows of corn and a few of sunflowers. They never saw the light of day. Again, I think those nasty scrub jays are the culprits in the case of the missing plants.

We had a squash plant and two pumpkins that came up on the hillside, but the squash produced only a few teeny, tiny vegetables and the pumpkins stopped growing after a few weeks. Something wasn’t quite right with the soil, I’m guessing.

We sprinkled in some cheery and bright marigolds to help out the tomatoes, which Evey loved to help water.

marigolds

She also had her own little flower, which she dutifully watered every morning.

Evey's flowers{It looked a lot better earlier in the summer when it was in full bloom!}

Evey's flowers 2

I threw some seed in the flower bed of a flower that attracts butterflies {and lots of bees!} that I can’t remember the name of at the moment. They did well in helping our garden get pollinated!

orange flower

pollinating

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The garden is a bit of an embarrassment at this point with the number of weeds we’ve allowed to get out of hand. {I’ve been pretty good about taking care of the strawberry bed, though. Surprised? ;)}

the garden

 

Our youngest gardener.

 

youngest gardener

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