Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I can finally post about some gardening. This has been an odd year. We were drowning in school in the beginning of the year and never got any seeds started. Tim isn't happy because we won't have oodles of amazing tomatoes again this year. I kind of decided that I wasn't going to garden this year and that I was just going to buy a LOT of stuff at our farmer's market.

We had crazy weather this spring. We had a couple of nice weeks and we though Spring had sprung but then we had a couple of weeks of below freezing temps in the evenings. If we had put anything out, it most likely would died. A couple of weeks ago I began to regret not starting anything in the garden and decided to go out and try and get some things.

Two weeks ago, I went over to our local dairy to see if they had any heirloom tomatoes growing. They had Rutgers there, but were gone by the time I got there. I walked through their amazing greenhouses and met this lady Anne. We got to talking and I learned so much from her. I came home and my head was swimming with knowledge and I kind of felt like I was drowning. I did come home with one Legend tomato plant. Anne gave me the ever so generous price of one dollar because she was having a hard time keeping up with them and she didn't want it to die. She also gave me some seed for Abernaki corn, some barley and some oats. She also recommended a seed company if I was looking for organic and heirloom seeds.

I came home and tried to tell Tim all I had learned but couldn't remember it all. I then did some research on the things I came home with. The corn, for instance, is not a sweet corn. It's a corn used to grind into flour. That will be fun. The barley I learned will make for a good cover crop in the fall to feed our garden beds.

The next day, it was cool and windy out and we were getting ready for some big storms and Nancy suggested that we all get out there before the rain hit and get the four beds cleared out. They were in dire need of attention. Tim, Nancy, Ethan and I worked furiously to get the beds done. We got three of them done and then it started pouring. In the torrential downpour we mixed in manure into one of the beds and planted the corn. Then we ran inside. Then I ordered some seeds from Fedco. I ordered some Kentucky Wonder pole beans, some New England Pie pumpkins, some Table Queen acorn squash and some Blackstrap sorghum seeds.

We wanted to try the Native American "three sisters" way of growing. The corn came up last week so I planted the Kentucky wonders around each of the corn sprouts that came up. They will grow up the corn stalks. At least that is what they are supposed to do. I think the beans add nutrients to the soil that corn needs too. It's all an experiment now. The third sister is squash. The Native Americans used to plant them around the corn/bean patch. The prickly nature of squash plants kept the corn and beans safe from animals. We don't have enough room in the bed to put the squash, so I'm going to plant the squash in the bed behind the corn.

Last weekend I went back to the farm to see if I could get another couple of tomato plants and see if I could chat with Anne some more. Score on both. I came home with two more Legend tomato plants and one Razzleberry tomato plant. I learned the difference between hybrid, open pollinated and heirloom varieties. I also came home with some sorghum plants. I told Anne that I got some Blackstrap seeds and she said that those wouldn't make syrup (which I why I wanted it) and then she handed me a tray of 18 plants. She said she was going to end up composting them because she didn't have the room to plant them so I gladly accepted them. I just finished planting them and I look forward to seeing them get tall and hopefully I'll be able to figure out how to make syrup.

Hmmm, what else? I did start a salsa mix of hot peppers for Tim and he transplanted them into four containers. I am looking up how to build a cold frame so that in the fall I can grow some lettuce and chard. I'll also be able to start them early in the spring too. I have decided that I'm going to take gardening seriously next year again. I'm going to order my seeds in January/February and then start the seeds March/April. We are striving to eat as locally as possible and there is nothing more local than our back yard. I can't wait until next week because Farmer's market opens up again and I'm going to stock up things to preserve.

In other news, I took the boys strawberry picking last week. The weather was gorgeous. I knew storms would be rolling in the next day so we loaded up and drove through some beautiful countryside and picked 11 pounds of strawberries. I haven't had fresh picked strawberries since I was a child. My mom would load my brother and I up and drive to Plant City, FL to spend the day picking berries. I remember coming home with sunburns and belly aches from eating the berries as we picked them. The boys and I had a lot of fun picking. I think made 23 half pint jars of strawberry jam, some of which were strawberry lemon marmalade. I wish I had made more of that because it tasted way better than I thought it would. I'll see if there are any fresh berries at the market next week. If so, then I'll make some more of the marmalade. I know that I want to make peach jam this year too.

I think that should bring everything up to date around here. We have finally started gardening, albeit not as much as last year, but it's something. Next year I will be more organized. In fact, I should go order some beet seeds to plant in the fall. I'll share some pictures of the garden. It doesn't look like much now. I'll have to wait and see if they work out or not.

Legend Tomatoes
Three Legend tomato plants. In the background are some onions that were left in the ground from last year and Tim's containers of hot peppers. I need to stake the tomatoes still.

Razzleberry Tomato Plant
1 Razzleberry Tomato plant. The tomatoes are supposed to be a hot pink color. I can't wait to see them.

Abernaki corn
Four rows of Abernaki corn and in the background one bed that still needs to be cleared out. That is where the acorn squash are going to go.

My bee balm plants (two of them) have finally exploded with these gorgeous red flowers.

Connor and Aidan picking lots and lots of berries.

The Haul
Eleven pounds of fresh picked strawberries

First jam!
The first of three batches of Strawberry jam.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Crazy weather

Here it is the 10th of May. I'm sitting at my desk looking out the window to a beautiful sunny day. It's breezy and cold. I have the heat on again. A couple of weekends ago, we had to break down and put the air conditioner on as it hit the 90's here and the humidity was making my ever so stick straight hair start to curl. We closed up the house and put set the thermostat to 75. Last weekend, we had to put the heat back on as it got to 60 degrees in our house. We've had overnight lows between 29 and 33. This is May people. I should be out gardening. I should be getting beds ready for plants to be planted. I'm hoping that this cool weather is on it's way out and that maybe next weekend we can get some work done in the gardens. I have pepper seedlings that are ready to be put out and Aidan's watermelon seedlings are taking over my kitchen table.


The weather doesn't seem to be bothering our honey bees. All of our flowers that are brave enough to stand up to the cooler weather are literally buzzing with activity. I was taking a picture of one of my clematis vines and the roar of their little wings was nice to hear. I'm happy that it appears our bees are back.

Not much else is going on. My baby turned 10. He's learning to ride a bike. He's not enjoying that. We are trying to finish up school so that we can get out and enjoy some fresh air. I'm hoping the weather will cooperate with us and be warm by the time we are done. I've been doing a lot of reading about eating seasonally and locally. I've been blogging on my Real Food blog and trying not to make it too boring. I've also been trying to survive what is either a cold or some nasty allergies. I can't tell the difference, but I'll be happy when it's done with.

Well, until we get into serious gardening , that is all I have for you now. I hope everyone is well and warm.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gardening soon?

Here we are rolling close to the month of May and I have done nothing gardening wise. Maybe my laziness is being directed by mother nature. I just checked my blog from last year and saw that I put plants down into the ground on April 26th. Fast forward 327 days and we are due to have temps down to 30 tonight. I'm glad I've been lazy this year and not put anything out yet, it would all be dead.

We have had some crazy weather this spring. One week it's in the 80's and sunny and kind of too hot for spring. The next week it's grey, windy and cold. It didn't even get above 50 yesterday. We've had below freezing temps for a couple of nights. Heck, today while I was taking Connor to his PSSA tests, we saw snow flakes. So maybe I'm not being lazy. Maybe I am one with the earth and know that it's too soon. Yeah, that's what I'm sticking to.

I did work in one of the beds last Friday. It was actually a nice day and spent most of the day outdoors working in the garden and cutting grass. I bought some bee balm plants and some dahlias (which thankfully I didn't plant in the ground yet so I could bring them in) and I got a bunch of herbs planted.

One of my dahlias that are being transported indoors at night.

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do about gardening this year. The plots that we've been using over behind Nancy's other house don't look like they are going to work this year. The house next door is now a huge apartment building for the college kids. Their parking lot is in the back yard. Basically if one drunken student falls out of his/her car, they will land in a garden plot. Add to that some pretty gross neighbor who live behind that house now who have taken to throwing their bag fulls of garbage over the fence onto the gardens. Nice classy neighborhood we are living in these days. I have been kind of hinting to Nancy that I want to build a couple of raised beds in our back yard, but she doesn't seem too keen on the idea. It looks like I'll be working some container gardens this year and hitting the farmer's market with a vengeance.

I've been happy with our living conditions for a couple of years but now I'm starting to really want to get out of the city and have a little land to garden and have some chickens. The only reason we haven't left here yet is because we LOVE our immediate neighbors. They are the best. I realized though that we will all still be friends, we just won't live next door to them anymore. Last Friday night we drove out to the country to pick up our 50 lbs of grass fed beef and all four of us said how nice it would be to live out there. It was so quiet and it smelled clean. Of course, that would mean a 30 minute commute for Tim every day and he's not too keen on that. Our lease is up in September and hopefully by then we'll have something figured out.

So, what else has been going on? We've been keeping busy, that's for sure. It seems like every weekend we have something going on. We go out of town one weekend, then have events planned all the following weekend, then we go out of town again. It's been fun though. We spent Saturday at the local dairy farm volunteering and then Sunday we took the kids to a minnow trapping and stream exploration class. I think we'll be looking into getting fishing licenses soon. Both boys were ready to get in the water and start trapping fish while we were there.

Connor holding a monster sized tadpoles caught in a local stream.

Aidan checking out one of the minnow traps.

School is finally winding down. It's been a long year and we are all ready for the summer off. Connor has just finished the last of his PSSA testing so those are done too. We're not really sure what the summer holds for us yet, but I do know sleeping in a couple of days will be on the list of things to do. Actually I think the boys will be spending a couple of weeks at a summer camp at the local farm. It's Monday through Friday 9 to 4 and they will learn about living on a farm, taking care of animals, working in gardens, etc. I think they will both take part in the peace camp this year too. We don't really have any vacations planned yet. I guess we are just waiting to see what comes up.

Well, that is all I have for now. I have to go print out a science test for Aidan and try to keep the boys quiet while Tim tries to write code. Not an easy task.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

The crocus are in full bloom reaching up towards the sun.

A bee rests his pollen covered body for a moment.

Another bee dives in to gather some of the yellow pollen dust.

Hi there Mr. Bee. I know you are as happy to see the sun and flowers as I am.

A boy tests his brother's water gun out to see if it's ready for action. It is.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


What is it about this time of year that I start to ponder things that I want to do? I chalk it up to Spring Fever. We are still in full swing of home schooling. We have our struggles. We are a bit behind schedule right now (as we seem to be every year at this time). I sit here looking at the kids' schedulers and figure out how to catch up with classes. At the same time I long to do the things I want to do too.

Tim and I have already started to map out our year and trips that we want to take. We have a growing list of weekend trips we want to take the boys on. We want to take them up to Syracuse to the zoo. We haven't been there since Connor was a baby (he'll be 10 in two months), we want to go down to Philadelphia and take the boys through some historical sites. We want to venture over to Portland, OR and see if that is someplace we will want to live in the future. We want to go to Baltimore and take the boys to see the National aquarium. There will be trips to NY to visit grandparents. There will be trips to GA for more grandparents. We have to get this stuff on the calendar or we will end up doing none of it. That is what happened last year. We had all kinds of trips that we wanted to take but never did. Mind you, we still went away a lot (more than Tim would like) but we never seemed to get anything done that we wanted to. Our family trips have to be scheduled out so that they will happen.

Photography. Oh, how I long to get out there with my camera and go take pictures. There is a problem with that though. I am bored with my lenses. I want a couple of new lenses. Why, oh why do they have to be so bloody expensive? Also, I'm kind of tired of taking pictures of our dingy little city. That ties in with taking new trips. I suppose my thirst for better pictures will be quenched with some planned trips. I just need to figure out how to afford a couple of new gadgets for my camera.

Exercise. This is one thing that I think I might be getting a handle on. I don't want to say I've got it figure out because I know once I do, I'll falter and quit. We spent some of our tax refund on a new treadmill. I love it. It's so nice and easy to use. It lets me plug my iPod into it and blast whatever music I want. We've had it for two weeks now and I think I've walked on it almost every day. I ramped up from 20 minute walks to over an hour now. I struggle with the time it takes because I know there are piles of laundry that need to get done. I know that there is a good chance that there are dishes that need to be stacked. I am trying to look at my hour of walking as "me time". It's my one hour to go downstairs, get away from the kids, get away from the everyday crap that needs to be done and I can blast my music and slowly (much too slowly for my liking) get in shape.

Our home. There are a lot of projects in the house that I would like to get done. When? Who knows? Which one do we start on? Again, who knows? I suppose this should get penciled onto our calendar as well. We need to pick one thing and do it well and finish it. I know I would like to get our basement cleaned out. We started cleaning it out a month ago when we had a potential move pending. I don't want to move crap that we don't have to move. Tim and I spent a day down there going through bins. Needless to say, the basement is now a bigger mess than it started out as. We have a giant pile of garbage that needs to out. So, yes, I think the basement will be the first thing we should tackle. Then we can move on to other projects in the house.

Gardening. This is a gardening blog, no? It used to be. I started it two years ago when I tried my hand at gardening. I can now say "been there, done that". I haven't even started seeds this year. Why? I don't know. I guess part of it is because I can't think about planting a garden when we get 15 inches of snow. I'm sitting here at the desk watching the snow melt and seeing the birds flit all over the place. Spring will be here soon. I just won't have my seedlings ready. I think I've kind of decided just to hit one of the many local nurseries and buy my veggie plants. I'm also really wanted to plant more flower gardens this year. I would like to figure out how to get a nice flower garden in the back yard. Maybe back by the rhododendron.

Well, Connor's 15 minute break from Social Studies has turned into a 30 minute break as I try to get this mish mash out of my head. He's not complaining. It's just going to push back our day a bit.

Priorities. I need to figure them out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Ain't that the truth?! You've missed me, right? It has been a long time since I've been here little blog. For that I do apologize. I have a laundry list of excuses that I may or may not hit you with. I have not decided. I'll see where my late night tapping of fingers on the keyboard takes me.

Why do I blog tonight? Why now instead of say, five months ago when I stopped. Short answer, I can' sleep. You see, my dear sweet hubby is out of town on a business trip. Man, that makes us sound so grown up now. He's in Atlanta meeting up with his new team. He flew out Sunday and will be home on Friday. We've been married 11 years in August and I think we've only been apart for three times. It sucks. I miss him. The boys and I are fine. We are doing our daily routine of school, reading, playing, etc. It's just different when Tim isn't around.

I told the boys we would have a sleep over tonight. They have been dying to sleep in the "big bed" with me while daddy is gone. I've been able to hold them off for two nights because I had some back issues but relented today and told them tonight was the night. I was in there sleeping with them but was awoken because both of them are snoring. Not cute little boy snores, but head cold snores. Maybe they are trying to make up for daddy not being here. Were they missing his snores? Who knows? I am now wondering if I'm going to get any sleep tonight at all.

So, what's new, you might ask? Where do I even begin? Does anyone really care? Huh...I just paused because I'm not even really sure. I guess nothing major is new. We are still living in the same home that we have lived in for three years. I think that is the longest we have stayed in one place in our marriage. That being said, we are itching to move. We are trying to figure out where to move on to. We came very close to picking up everything and heading to the opposite side of the states. Tim had a very good job offer in Oregon and we were soooo close to taking it but fear set in. Now, Tim's team is wanting us to relocate to Atlanta. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I did my time in the south. I'm in no real hurry to end up back down there again. The only plus to it would be that we would be 2 hours from my family.

School is still going well. We have our days when we just don't feel like doing much. On the other hand, we have days that the boys impress the hell out of me. We are sailing through our second semester now and we have our eye on the end of May, first of June to be done with another year.

It seems like I have worn myself out with this little post. Maybe I can go back and snuggle between my boys and try to get some sleep now. We have errands to run tomorrow and I'm hoping we can get them done. Aidan ran a fever all day. It broke around dinner time but it appears it is back now. If he's still running it tomorrow, the errands will have to get pushed back another day.

I'll try to get back into the groove of blogging again. I'll post some pictures soon. All of my pictures are on Flickr now and I feel like it's redundant to post them everywhere. I can sneak one in here and there though.

Night all.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Week (end) recap.

I could not have asked for a more perfect week last week. Both boys blew me away with their getting right back into the school routine. They were both so grown up about everything, from earlier bedtimes to going back to classes. I keep kind of pinching myself because it was perfect. It led up to a fabulous weekend.

Saturday ran smoothly. The plan right now is to have Saturday be our cleaning/laundry/errand day. That way we can save Sundays for a nice big breakfast and then football. I would say by 12:30 on Saturday we had the house cleaned. Tim did all of the floors and I did everything else (four loads of laundry included). Then I worked on menus and shopping list for next week. Then we took our weekly trip out to the dairy to get our milk and farm fresh eggs. The kids look forward to that trip because they get ice cream cones. Saturday night the boys got a surprise too. I had a party to go to so Tim surprised them with Pizza Hut. Now, we don't normally do chain pizza places because we have a really good pizza place down the street from us, but they saw a commercial for this pizza that the crust is wrapped in cheese and they've been longing for it since they saw it. They haven't had "real" pizza for a couple of months now since we've gone gluten free. Tim ordered the pizza without their knowledge and then piled them in the car without them knowing what was going on. They were extremely happy to find out they were having pizza for dinner. I had a great night with all of my friends from the Obama campaign. We had lots of margarita's and some amazing food. I didn't get home until 11 and I was tired.

Sunday I was up early with the boys and let Tim sleep in, although I could have used the sleep. It was a nice cool morning and I was missing cinnamon rolls so I looked up online to see if I could find a gluten free recipe. I did, and they were easy to make and the dough was so unbelievably easy to work with. The other GF doughs I've made have been crazy sticky and hard to work with, not these. They whipped up really fast and baked up nicely. It was so nice to smell cinnamon and coffee through the house. Like a Sunday morning should be. We then lazed around a bit and then took the kids to the park. The park was nice except for the inordinate amount of little bugs that kept flying into my eyes. The kids were annoyed with them after a while and they were ready to come home when we did.
Our day started with GF Cinnamon buns. Oh so tasty.
Partly cloudy skies, but on the cooler side.
Connor balancing his way across. He used to hate these things.
Aidan doing what he does best, climbing.
Patchy watching them to make sure they were safe.
A couple of races up the giant berm.
And a couple of chases down. Although the boys loved rolling down the hill the first time.

Today was another lazy day. Aidan and I did our shopping since we didn't do that on Saturday. Tim burned another pot of rice making the whole house get smokey and it still stinks in here. It's making my throat hurt. I say again, because this is like the third time he's done this. He's not allowed to make rice anymore. Thankfully, we were able to get out of the house for a couple of hours because we took the kids to see G-Force. I had hoped we could wait and see this once it was on DVD, but they were begging to see it. They loved, not so much. They were happy though and that is all that matters.

Now we are two hours away from bed time. I've got our lesson plans all ready for tomorrow and we are good to go for another fantastic week. I'm tired tonight and plan on going to bed probably when the kids do because the alarm will be going off at 6:30 for Patchy's walk and then our week is rolling again.