Sunday, June 18, 2017

Garden Tour

The garden is really growing now, so I thought I'd take you on a little tour.  I took pictures of most of the gardens, but not the pots on the front or back decks, the potatoes, or the veggies and herbs out front mixed into the flower beds.  Let's start with the original garden.  Here is the sadly small cabbage:
And below is a cauliflower, which still has not formed a head.  The broccoli looks the same.

This is the cilantro.  It's very prettily flowering right now, which is good.  It will go to seed, and reseed the bed, and hopefully I will have fresh cilantro ready when the tomatoes are ripe.

The tomatoes are growing.  As you can see from each side of the garden, they are big, healthy plants on one end and much smaller on the other.  The trees have grown so much in the past year that the end is shaded part of the day, and the tomatoes really don't like it.

Below is the kids' square foot garden.  Most of the plants are quite small, partially due to the fact that some of them waited to plant.  Lydia's zucchini is flowering, though, and the beans are growing well.

And my square garden next:

I've already replanted a few squares, because we harvested all of the radishes out of it.  Also, I just harvested a bunch of swiss chard from the front right box, so it was actually fuller.  In the back left, the Edmonson cucumbers are doing very well, and on the back right are sweet peas that are very tasty.  I've also got carrots, beets, peppers, and kholrabi doing well.

This is a beautiful butternut squash:

It is situated to the right of this bed.  You can just see the edge of the trellis here:
Sadly, the chipmunks ate most of the corn, so we only have a few plants.  There are beans, blue pumpkins, zucchini, and cantaloupes in there, too.  In the concrete blocks, there are some herbs and green onions.  I harvested 7 of the green onions yesterday, though.

Now, on to the hugelkultur.  This is the smaller bed, which actually isn't hugelkultur, since it's just dirt, but anyways, it looks good with mostly purple sweet potato plants, a few beans, a cantaloupe, and that tall sunflower growing in the center.

The main hugelkultur bed now has stakes around it due to a deer attack.  You can see the big arugula patch on the left.  I've already harvested 3 cups of it this week.  There are Cinderella pumpkins, Sugar baby watermelons, Calypso beans, a few peas, a cherry tomato or two, sunflowers, onions, and a Russian pickling cucumber here as well.  

And lastly, Malachi finally got his banana tree!

He's so excited about it.  I hope we can keep it alive.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Review - Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson

Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson is the kind of book you take on vacation, when you want something to read but don't want to have to think too much.  The story line is predictable, but the main characters are pleasant and the author is good at descriptive writing.  I enjoyed "touring" Savannah, and it was easy to picture the city.  Many things in the novel are a bit too-good-to-be-true.  It's an easy read, and you know it will have a happy ending, even if it seemed to tie everything up a bit abruptly.  This contemporary romance is part of a series, but I didn't read the previous books and did not feel that I needed to do so.  

I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Busy week

We had a really busy week last week.  We were able to attend a Colonial Fair at our local history center, where the kids got to play dulcimers.  Gyunay really enjoyed it, and it actually sounded really good.

Malachi is always ready to try out an instrument.
The kids really enjoyed the magician.  He entertained them for quite a while.

Then we had 2 mini-trips visiting family and friends.  I'm pretty tired after all that, and I have tons of laundry to do, but I've been busy around the yard today.  I planted this white nectarine tree in the old pyramid by the clothes lines.  I grew it from seed, and it's actually only a few months old, but it's nearly 3 feet tall now.  I hope it thrives here.  One of the reasons I was able to plant it in this spot, is because of the trees you see down in the background.  We've had several trees die (emerald ash borer?), and Nathaniel has been busy taking them down and cutting them up for fire wood.  We bought a new garden cart for the kids to help with hauling the logs to our firewood stacks.  Lydia was sad that we were replacing the old red wagon, which she says is her pet donkey named "Goatie," but I assured her that she can still use the wagon if she wants, and now Goatie has a friend.  So she named the garden cart, too, and she has elaborate stories about her friendly animal helpers as she works.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

May Harvest Totals

Eggs - 230
Radishes - 19
Pea Pods - 1 1/2cups
garlic scapes - 10
kale - 1 bunch
plenty of mint, galen, arugula, and cilantro
a few strawberries

Friday, June 2, 2017


It's the first day of summer break, and we are taking advantage of the big boxes we recently acquired.

This is still the construction phase.  They are now decorating with markers and stickers, and I cut some window holes for them.  And spy holes, don't forget the spy holes!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bible Buddies

I've been doing a little Bible story time for preschoolers.  Gyunay really enjoys it, and it is at the preschool he will attend in the fall, so it is making him more comfortable with transitioning to a new school.  Here he is showing off his sheep (while eating kholrabi):
He made the sheep all by himself, and he was very proud of that!  I read a picture book that illustrated Psalm 23 (by Barry Moser) to the children, and we talked about how David was a shepherd before he was king, and how he wrote songs for God.  The kids loved making the sheep and using the musical instruments.  Granted, we didn't have harps, and shaky eggs are not exactly like what David used, but hey, it was good.

Then, there was our Memorial Day weekend.  Usually, it is the weekend of Nathaniel's big kayak trip, but the river was too high, and only one of his friends was going to kayak anyway, so instead that friend and his wife and their kids joined us for a fabulous weekend.  The kids all had a blast.  We ended up taking all of us to a lake with the kayaks, and then took turns.  (We have 4 kayaks, so it really worked out well for the 12 of us.)  And although it was supposed to storm most of the weekend, the weather ended up being beautiful.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Last week

It's felt like summer here the last week, and Gyunay has been enjoying daily water gun fights.  Malachi is pretty much always ready for one, so the two of them enjoy spraying each other frequently, but everyone joins in some days.
The chickens apparently don't mind the heat; they laid 61 eggs last week.
The gardens are looking better all the time.  We've been harvesting a handful of radishes, pea pods, and herbs every few days.
And I took the kids to pick strawberries yesterday.  We did really well in a short amount of time - about 16 pounds in 40 minutes.  Elijah and Lydia are very good strawberry pickers.  Malachi isn't, but he kept Gyunay occupied.  Gyunay has no desire to actually pick the berries; he just wants to carry the bucket, but this is best when the bucket is nearly empty, since he spills frequently.  They also have a little petting "zoo" area, where the kids were thrilled to see a newborn goat, among other goats, donkeys, and sheep.  Malachi, of course, spent most of his time with the chickens.  We may go back and pick strawberries again.  So far, we've had strawberry shortcake, strawberry crisp, and today I hope to make strawberry jam, but we could always use some more strawberries.  Those fresh ones are so good, and don't last long!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pea Pods and Snappy

I harvested the first of our pea pods today!
Notice the dark purple one?  It tastes like the green ones, but is a very striking pod.  Gyunay promptly ate some of these pods, and I ate the rest.  I should have saved some for Malachi; he likes them, too, but I forgot about that until after they were gone.  But there are many more to come, so he will get his chance in about 2 days.

Also, Lydia found a tiny snapping turtle in the backyard.  She named it "Snappy" and had fun playing with it for about a half hour before releasing it by the pond.  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Girl and a Frog

Lydia was delighted to find this frog on the deck after school today.  She's always looking for frogs.

I'm not sure if she remembers the princess and the frog fairytale, but I'm confident that she'd rather have a frog than a prince any day!

Book Review - A Love So True by Melissa Jagears

A Love So True (Teaville Moral Society)I stayed up way too late to finish this book, and it was well worth it.  A novel set in 1908 about a woman who helps orphans and tries to get women out of prostitution would always catch my attention, and this one is well-written.  I loved the complexity of the characters, and that although they certainly had good moral characters, they didn't come across as "holier-than-thou".  Also, often when writers take on social problems in the past, they project a more modern viewpoint onto the characters, but that wasn't the case here.

This book is the second in a series, but I didn't read the first.  This is easily a stand-alone novel, although for fans of the first book, the main characters in it are minor characters in this one.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany house, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Playing with Chickens

A couple of days ago, the weather was perfect, and the kids had a lot of fun playing with the chickens.

These are their "chicken ninja" shots.  They are showing the chicken's feet in ninja pose,  According to my kids, our chickens are ninjas who secretly protect the innocent.

Gyunay really didn't want his picture taken, so I only got him incidentally.  He enjoys petting the chickens, but he is now nervous about holding them.  ("Too little!  I too little!")  He used to hold them when Malachi or Lydia handed them to him, but not right now.

Monday, May 1, 2017


Elijah was sick, and Malachi was at a birthday party, so we took the younger two for some biking fun on Saturday.
Gyunay has decided that he likes this trike best.  He flies on it!  The adaptive bar is off, and he no longer needs it.

And Lydia also enjoyed getting to really ride her new bike.  

This is a very old picture, from when we lived in Madisonville and we only had two little boys.  I dug out this picture for the 8th grade slide show- it's Elijah, age 1 1/2, helping Mama bake.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

April Garden Harvests

Naturally, April is not a big month for produce, but we did get some.

219 eggs
2 c pak choy
4 radishes
1 bunch of chard
1 bunch of arugula
some mint, cilantro, and galen
1 carrot

And we discovered that Lydia loves to eat fresh galen (a type of Chinese kale), and Gyunay loves fresh arugula and radishes.  Both of them regularly eat mint leaves, too.  And everyone will eat the mild pak choy in salads.  Many of our plants are looking good, so I'm hoping to get much more food in May.

Friday, April 28, 2017


We have a really pretty pond area, which includes this fairly useless dock:
But the dock gets full sun most of the day, so I decided to put it to use.  Gyunay helped me plant potatoes in these bags on the dock:

We planted 5 bags of Kennebec white potatoes, and 5 bags of Purple Viking.  The Purple Viking were the kind I planted last year.  I did many things wrong, but we did harvest some potatoes, and they were the best roasted potatoes I've ever eaten, so we are hoping to have a good harvest.  The Kennebec ones are supposed to be good for mashing, which all of the boys will appreciate.  I also planted some fingerling potatoes in the ground (and one more purple viking, because, you know...)  I ordered 1 pound of each type of seed potato, so I have leftovers, but luckily a friend has shown interest in growing them so I won't spend time trying to figure out where to put more potatoes!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Growth Abounds

Today was gorgeous, and I was out checking on the gardens and the multitude of plants that we have here.  First up, check out the blackberries:
The plant has never been so big, or so full of blooms.  I don't care for blackberries, but Nathaniel and some of the kids like them.  

Also recently, we had this little tree frog as our guest.  He was perched on the back door, and Malachi and Elijah worked to take pictures of him to show Lydia, since it was well past her and Gyunay's bedtime, and she just adores frogs.

Back to food.  Here is the garlic that Malachi and I planted in the fall.  It is growing really well, and should be ready for harvest in late June.

And lastly, these beauties:

I love lilies of the valley, and they are starting to bloom and smell divine right by my front steps.  I planted some years ago, and now they have multiplied into quite a nice little patch.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A baby and more gardening

We were able to finally meet my newest nephew on Saturday:
He's a doll, of course, and we all enjoyed spending time with him and his family.  And he was wearing spiderman, which my kids all enjoyed.  My one-year-old niece loves her uncle Nathaniel so much; she made sure that he was with her all day.  And Lydia and her four-year-old cousin had a good time together.

In the garden, I've been busy.  I planted most of the tomatoes and tomatillos that I had started from seed.  I've even eaten my first radish, and some pak choy and arugula.  It turns out that Gyunay loves to just eat arugula leaves.

I also left one pile of just dirt beside the hugelkultur, where I planted purple Molokai sweet potatoes:

I have some orange sweet potatoes planted, too, in another spot.  I also had ordered some seed potatoes, and I hope they arrive soon so I can plant those as well.

And, of course, it was Easter weekend.  I was received into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil Saturday night, and then we all attended Mass on Sunday.  So we clean up pretty well, but it's hard to get a decent picture!
Nathaniel actually gave Elijah a hair cut Easter afternoon, so I'll have to get a photo of him up soon showing off his new haircut.  
Happy Easter!

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

-          -St John Paul II