Sunday, June 25, 2017

Book Review - Freedom's Price by Christine Johnson

While I was waiting up for my husband to get home from China, I read Freedom's Price by Christine Johnson.  I was glad that I was able to finish it in one (long) day, since, it was an intriguing historical fiction.  Set in the 1850s in England, Key West, and Louisiana, this story gives readers a good idea of differences in how people lived in that time according to class, race, and location.  The story is told in third person, but mainly through the eyes of Catherine, an English woman who leaves home and heads toward Louisiana to be with family she's never met, and Tom, a sailor who works on ship wrecks off the coast of Key West.  Their verbal sparring is enjoyable, and both characters are well-drawn.  This story is the third in a series, but it is a stand-alone novel.  Readers of the first two books will get a glimpse of some of the main characters from those, but this novel is about Catherine and Tom.  Both characters grow throughout the story, and they are forced to make choices between what they had planned, and what is just.  Both of them find that mysteries from their past involve the same devilish man.  Readers realize right away that this is a romance, but it also has an intriguing and suspenseful plot.  Overall, it is a good read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

I received this book from the publisher, Revell, in exchange for my review, but all opinions are my own.


Nathaniel is home from China, and we are so very glad.  He brought Lydia and me both new dresses, so we wore them to Mass this morning.

And while he was gone, we had a visit from my mom, sister, nieces, and nephew.  The cousins always have fun together!

(obligatory couch photo)

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!