Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Garden Journal: June 20, 2011

As I said yesterday, we are having a horrible time fighting the blight and fungi around these parts. It just keeps raining, and raining and raining and raining and raining... Continuously. At first I was just so thankful that the rain didn't flood my seeds out but not I just want it to not stop but come more periodically.

With all the blight and fungi, my plants are still growing beautifully for the most part. We are blessed abundantly blessed and I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for this year's harvest!

One of my favorite things when making dinner is walking right out my front door to gather the fresh herbs to add while cooking or to snip some lettuce for a fresh salad!

Herb "garden" right outside the front door

The three different times of leaf lettuce. They are all so delicious!

This was an extra tomato plant I had so I decided to give container tomato planting a try. This plant is growing beautifully due to the blight not being able to attack it as it has everywhere else on the ground.

It actually already has tomatoes forming!

In contrast, this is one of the tomato plants we've been fighting to save from blight and fungi. It is still alive, as are most of them, but looks really pathetic. Kind of reminds me of the "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree". 

The side of house garden really needs weeded but with all that has been going on in these parts, I have not found the time Hopefully this weekend!

Peas - I just love the purple blooms!

We planted 16 pepper plants and surprisingly, the ones we thought were dying from transplant shock, are beginning to look as if they might make it!

The kale is beautiful to look at from the road and I am just amazed at how well it grows. This photo actually doesn't do it justice!

As I said, this side of house garden really needs weeding but here is a picture of the cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli plants.

These are also pepper plants. I think I am going to purchase some large containers and grow them in those. They weren't mature enough to transplant and the blight hit so I think I'm just going to stick to containers for them.

Back of house garden

Rows and rows of green bean plants!

Onions beginning to sow their little heads..


L-R -- Squash -> Pumpkins -> Cucumbers

Carrot and Radish bed - I began weeding it and the carrots were so small that they were coming out as well. I decided to give them time to grow and root better.

See the carrots popping up amongst the weeds?

Garlic bed - This is a perfect picture of what NOT to do with your garlic. See all those scapes that I never got to picking off? No? Well here's a better picture below!

So there are many areas that I need to work on in my garden. I need to convert weekend gardener to one that gardens like her family's food supply depends on it. But I do believe we are off to a good start. 
How about you? How does your garden grow? Any advice for me on converting to a everyday gardener (besides get off my tail!) :)?

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Time with Blight

I know I keep coming back and saying that I will be updating our gardening joys and woes, but we are still dealing with the woes...

The woes being blight and massive amount of fungi. It's been a crazy, crazy ride trying to fight these woes with organic measures but I am hopeful that this last time it worked. Now I am just looking at the forecast of rain for the next 10 days... Oy...

So stay tuned. I am hoping to get outside and take some shots today!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Garden Journal: June 6, 2011

Tomorrow I am going to be sharing the garden woes we had the past weekend. Today I am just going to share how great things are going and focus on the positive! :)

All of my herbs in their containers!
 This batch of lettuce is finally filling out and almost ready to eat!

 This batch has already been cut and eaten once!

 My container tomato plant experiment.

Look how tall the ones in the ground are getting!

 These peas aren't having such a great go at it but we'll eat them up just the same!

These pas are doing MUCH better! :)

Sorry for the horribly shady picture but this weekend, Andy and I took out the spinach and but in 16 pepper plants instead! 
One of the Kale plants bit the dust... I will be writing about my gardening woes tomorrow but for today, I am going to be positive! 
Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cabbage plants - Remember those neighbors who thought I was crazy? Not anymore! Somebody really should weed this!

I just look at this beautiful broccoli plant and get sooo excited!
I spy with my little eyes something is green! Green beans popping up!!

Carrot and Radish bed! See them?!

How is your garden going? I know some of you have been cleaning out the weeds recently. What are you putting in instead of weeds? 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fear Will Consume Me No Longer

It's hard to talk about. It's hard to think about. It was a life ago, yet it continually consumes most of my days.

If I talk about it, it seems real. Like it really did happen. Therefore, I stay quiet and just allow others to think what they want. It's easier than feeling and remembering the pain of yesterday. It's easier just to wear the label of slut, promiscuous teenager or whatever else others might label me as they judge me.

The ones close to me know but many people aren't allowed to get close - my own choice. Those who know, only know some. They only know what I allow them to know. It's easier. Feels safer.

I thought it was working...

But now I have come to the realization that it's not working.

It's hurting.

It's tearing me up inside and it's consuming many thoughts and much energy in which there are such greater blessings to invoke my thoughts. It domineers all of my relationships. It hurts my marriage.

Pretending it didn't happen has sabotaged so many potential friendships due to lack of trust and fear of letting someone see my tarnish. That night, when I came home and scrubbed my skin until it bled, I never really rid myself of the disgusting feeling I felt. I still carry it with me... I cannot pretend that it worked.

But... It really happened. It was hard. I was horrible. However, it made me who I am today. I am a lover and follower of Christ. I am a beloved wife and mother. I am a woman who survived.

However, I am not completely blameless in the lack of judgement and choices in which I made. It's not my fault.

I am a victim. I did not "ask for it" as I was told and I did not "bring it upon myself because I took care of myself". None of that is true. I am a victim.

Out of my greatest anguish, fear and heartache came my greatest light - a renewed relationship with my savior and a beautiful son - a reminder of God's promises. Even if you are in your darkest  hour - a dark alley with no hope in sight - the Lord is with you and if you love Him and turn to Him and His promises, He will never leave you nor forsake you. A reminder that from the dark, there is still Light.

This was my getting it out post. My vent. My searching for a way to get this out so I can claim a good night's sleep again. One without nightmares. One without fearing what tomorrow will bring. This was my silent voice - a voice of typed words on a computer screen. And while I spoke that silent voice, I must be honest and say that my vocal voice is not ready to quit pretending. I am not yet ready to stand face to face and discuss this. I'm just not there yet. I am hoping one day I might be but I cannot promise that either. It is my hope and my prayer that the Lord will one day use me and help other silent women who have endured sexual violence. 

 "He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds."
 Psalm 147:3

Saturday, June 4, 2011

AppleNut Oatmeal Panckaes

I am finally getting to the point where I can try and come up with my own recipes by tweaking and adding. I'm still not very comfortable with it but I am finally finding my way around the kitchen better!

Here is a recipe I came up with this morning:

AppleNut Oatmeal Pancakes

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 2-3 cups of whole wheat flour (I think pancake making is all about the individual. Some like the batter runny, some like it thick. I personally like my batter runny. I think it is easier to work with - therefore, I used 2 cups of whole wheat flour.)
  • 1/3 cup of crushed walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup sucanant 
  • 4 teaspoons of aluminum free baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of applesauce
  • 2 1/2 cup of milk
You can either grind your oatmeal or you can leave it whole. I choose to leave the oatmeal whole. It cooked up well on the griddle.

In one bowl combine oats, whole wheat, walnuts, sucanant, and baking powder. After sifted, add eggs, applesauce and milk.

Pour batter onto griddle, cook and flip. These pancakes are so sweet and full of flavor that you do not need any syrup. You can drizzle melted butter or a small amount of honey.

Trying this recipe, I did not soak any of the grains. Next time I will try soaking. For more information on soaking your grains you can visit Lindsey at Passionate Homemaking.

Friday, June 3, 2011

"No poo" Update: Friday, June 3

I have officially been going strong on the "no poo" method for seven days. It's actually been quite easy and not nearly as embarrassing as I had thought it would be.

For the first five days, I did NOTHING. Nothing at all. I didn't even rinse my hair. I just left it be and took a shower - just cleaning my body. I know - eww!

After those five days, I started feeling yucky so I began washing my hair with a solution of 1/3 cup of baking soda to 1 quart warm water. I put it into an old shampoo bottle and used it over my hair. It was extremely runny. It was almost just like running water through my hair and massaging at the same time. After rinsing my hair thoroughly, I took a bottle of apple cider vinegar and just poured some over my head. Yes - not the most economical and Yes - for a moment I smelled like the inside of a Long John Silver's but after rinsing the vinegar out, the smell soon dissipated.

For the most part, I only had a couple of really greasy days. I would say probably the first five. After that it has been good, I think. No one has said that I look greasy anyway.

I will warn you, though, that as you take part in this little experiment your hair texture, color, etc. will all begin to change. I almost felt as if I had lifted all the chemicals from my hair and I was now finding my new hair. It was really exciting!

I am really struggling with the wavy, curly in the back, straight on the side issues going on with my hair. However, I am determined to do nothing - curling iron, hair dryer, rollers, etc. - that will make any difference in this experiment.

Are you taking the "no poo" challenge? How's it going for you? If not, why not? Fears? Hesitant?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Strawberries Galore!

I feel so blessed to live in the location in which I do. Sometimes I whine that I cannot wait to get out of the city but I am truly blessed and need to remember that from time to time!

About fifteen minutes out of town there is a large farm and they have a farm market. It's not quite a "farmer's market" like many think of when they hear the term but it does us well (next time I will snap a few shots!).

A couple of days ago I decided to take a drive "north" and see what they had. Strawberries were in full bounty! It was beautiful. I was so excited! The boys and I purchased a large passel of strawberries and headed home.

With all these strawberries, I have spent the past couple days making strawberry jam and dehydrating strawberries.  Wanna know the simple process I use to make jam? I'm sure glad you asked because I am excited to tell somebody! :)

Of course the first step in the jam making process is to wash the strawberries thoroughly. After washed, I go through strawberry by strawberry and cut of the stem and leaves as well as cut out all of the bad spots.

This may come as a shock to you but here it goes... I am weird. I do not like the texture of strawberries. The taste is alright but the mushy weird feeling just does not work for me. Keeping that in mind, as I cut the strawberries, I throw them into a blender.
If using the blender method, I would recommend leaving a little juice in the bottom. It makes the blending process go a lot smoother. However, make sure to put the lid back on. It makes a disastrous mess with more liquid in the bottom to begin with.

I have been talking to a lot of mothers who, myself included, are just not happy with the amount of sugar a lot of recipes call for when making jam. While at the store the other day, I found Ball Naturals pectin. With this pectin, you only use 1 cup of apple or white grape juice. No other sugar necessary (Please read the five star review. It explains the product very well and I have had no problem with mine.) Using this pectin, you use four cups of prepared strawberries and 1 cup juice to one box.

Continually stir. Using stainless steel pots, my jam cooked quickly and began sticking to the bottom. Bring to a rolling boil and take off of burner or heat source. I skimmed the foam off of the top and then ladled the jam into pint jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Before putting lids on, be sure to wipe rim of jar. Often the jam gets on the rim and makes sealing impossible.

Place jars in pot in which there is enough room to cover with water. Keep in mind you will be bringing water to a rolling boil when you are looking for a usable pot. Bring water to rolling boil for 10 minutes. Take off of heat and allow to sit for five minutes.

 Carefully, pull jars from water and place on a soft surface. Allow to sit, undisturbed, for twelve hours. Jam should be "set" and sealed. If you see that a jar is not sealing withing a couple of hours, you can reprocess or you can refrigerate.

Isn't this just the most beautiful colored jam you've ever seen? I stand in awe of the wonderfully vibrant colors the Lord saw fit to make strawberries. He's truly amazing!

Next up I will be showing the dehydrating process. Come on back!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cutting Ties

Lately, I have been convicted. I am dedicated to trying to get my family back to the "simple life". However, my actions and the steps I am taking just don't show that importance.

I was reading this blog post the other day about making permanent lifestyle changes and it spoke to me. There are MANY habits I need to change. I just need to "bite the bullet" - "take the plunge" and cut ties.

There are many "necessities" that aren't really necessities being used around here. Therefore, I have compiled a goal list of where I want to be and when. You know I love lists and you can never have too many! :)

Friday May 27 - Cutting ties with shampoo for myself first and then possibly others. I will be embracing the "no poo" method.
Friday June 3 - Cutting ties with the clothes dryer. We have been slowly moving towards this but inevitably we get behind or lazy and revert to using it.
Friday June 10 - Cutting ties with store bought bread. I always get in good habits doing this and once again I get lazy or something happens.
Friday June 17
- Cutting ties with the dishwasher.
Friday June 24 - Cutting ties with disposable diapers. Lincoln WILL be toilet trained or we will go back to using cloth for him.
Friday July 1 - Cutting ties with grocery stores. We will be planning ahead enough to get what we need from the produce delivery, farm or co-op. Other than that, no stores.

On major cutting ties area that will just be for a short time but will need a lot of preparation will be a spending freeze from December to February. The only spending we will be taking part in is fresh milk and eggs from the farm.

That means:
  1. We will need to be working diligently to ensure enough food is put up for the winter months.
  2. We will need to make sure gift ideas are began and finished by December for Christmas.
  3. We will need to have an idea for Kristian's first birthday and have the materials on hand.
With cutting ties with the stores and with the spending freeze, I am hoping to wean my family away from even more "processed" foods. An example is spaghetti noodles. I know spaghetti noodles are not "processed" food per say but they must go through some kind of process in a plant or warehouse from I don't know where with I don't know who/what touching my food. 

How about you? Any ties you want to cut with "necessities" in your home? Have you? What's holding you?