The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.


I'm not dead yet.

January 31, 2009 - 9:32 AM

Do you have any of those moments in your life where you think, "I should've died when that happened?"  Growing up my dad would tell us several stories about his life before he met my mom where, for all practical purposes, he should've died.  Maybe you have stories like that too?  Where you reached your hand up just in time, stopped the car, waited a moment longer, decided to go when you did, etc.  (I know I consider that night the tornado hit IC to be one of those times in our whole family's life.)

When Josh and I were flying to NYC last year, I was getting really nervous about landing.  I couldn't figure it out at first but then I said, "I was in a plane whose brakes failed in landing once so I must be thinking about that."  The memory was surreal, covered in a haze and a cloudy sky, to the point that I honestly thought it was a dream and had subsequently failed to tell Josh the tale... 

We were on an architecture field trip of 45+ students and 3 profs (and a 100 other passengers) going to New Orleans in 1997.  The flight was uneventful (other than college students and an inflight mini bar) but when our plane landed we kept going, and going, and going and went all the way to the end of the runway and off the runway, ramming into the mud when we finally stopped.  It was then we were told that the brakes had failed before landing and they had to use the emergency brakes to land/stop.  We had to exit via the escape hatch and be taken by a bus to a dark holding room not allowed to leave, fed bags of chips and after hours finally left the airport bombarded by TV cameras.  Again, the whole event in my memory is covered by the hazy day and is entirely surreal.   

Recently, thanks to the viral trend of "25 Things..." on Facebook, a friend from college posted the event.  It was there that he explained something I never knew before, the actual WHY of our plane landing.  He had researched the plane and found the report that stated our plane had "complete hydraulic failure."  From what the web tells me, this means that our plane had nothing, all things had to be manually done and is very tricky to manuever and based solely on the skills of the flight crew, and is dubbed a "pilot's worst nightmare."  The web also points out that any time a pilot/crew lands a plane without hydraulics they are greatly praised, indeed!  Anywhere from a plane in Sioux City, IA which landed without hydraulics and then flipped over to an plane in West Virginia a couple weeks ago that safely landed, just to name two.


"I love my new iPhone, it does everything."

January 29, 2009 - 5:41 PM

What's smooth and green and smells like a salad?

January 28, 2009 - 9:00 PM

Green Smoothies!

No, I am not on any green smoothie band wagon and trying to convince the world to drink them, simply not my stchiick (sic).  Basically, I have been eating the things for the last 6 days and the first question I get is, "What's in them?" so I thought I would share, :)!

Here's the facts: they are easy to make, they are relatively inexpensive, they are a great way to eat your dark greens, they can be consumed by the youngin's, and if you wanted to they are a great way to flush out your system.

Here's the concept: 1 bunch greens and 3 fruits and wa-la, green sludge. (However, blueberries or purple greens will make it brownish purple sludge.)

Here's a short skinny: The dark green leaves are packed with cleansing antioxidants and toxin-eradicating cholorophyll!  Heavenly!  The cruciferous veggies stimulate the production of a detox enzyme glutathione-s-transferases that bind to heavy metals, solvents and pesticides and gets them out of your body through your stool!  Awesome!  Wait?!  What that mean?  It means the sludge goes in sludge and attaches itself to all sorts of nasty in your system and then carries it out the other end, in the same sludgey format.  Yummy!*

Here's some more notes: Our five dollar blender is no match for green smoothies so we did have to add a cup of water to them, an act that some frown upon.  And, like all things too much of a good thing can be bad, so you have to watch how much of these you drink & their ingredients.  (Something about too much alkaloids can actually be toxic for you and you shouldn't drink the same "green" in these every day...  Thank God for Google!)

Here's the recipes... Found from

Always blend the fruit first (This is where I add the water too) –

2-3 cups any greens of your choice, 2 cups papaya, 2 oranges, 3 dates

1 handful lettuce leaves, 1 handful mint, 4 bananas, 1/2 cup water

1 cup organic frozen berries (any kind), 2 cups fresh spinach, 1/4 inch fresh ginger, water

1/2 bunch romaine lettuce, 1 cup strawberries, 2 bananas, water

4-5 kale leaves, 4 apples, 1/2 lemon juiced, water

2 big handfuls mixed baby greens, 2 pears, 2 mangoes, 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

2 cups argula, 1 cup spinach, 3 mangos

Choc-mint – 2 cups spinach, 10-12 mint leaves, 3 bananas, 2 Tbs. carob powder, 1 cup water

1 handful of spinach, 2 stalks of celery, 2 bananas, 2 pears, 1 apple, 1 cup water

1 small handful of spinach, 2 cups arugula, 2-3 mangoes, 1 cup water

1.5 cup sunflower greens, 1 dried fig, 3 bananas

2 cups spinach, 2 clementines, 2 mangos, 2 (blood) oranges

1/2 head romaine lettuce, 1 small pineapple, 1 large mango, 1-inch fresh ginger

1 handful wild greens (e.g. dandelion), 1 small handful mint leaves, 3 cups honeydew melon

3-4 stalks celery, 2 ripe persimmons, 1 banana

3-4 stalks celery, 1 c blueberries, 3 bananas

1 handful chard leaves, 5-6 kale leaves, 3 large bananas, 1 cup water

1 handful parsley, 3 cups of peeled papaya

AND you can Google and hunt out more on your own!

(My favorite I found was a half bunch of romaine, kale or spinach with 3 pears.  It is simple and crisp every time.)

*There are tons of websites out there that can tell you all the technical ins and outs of the veggies/fruits and their health benefits.  Best to do your own research if you are going to do something like this on a regular basis or talk to someone in the know.  However, if you try one you'll experience the the weird experience of drinking something green that smells like a salad and tastes like fruit with the texture of anything from air filled styrofoam to hair clipping in liquid.  Really, it's THAT good!    

When a snowball rolling down a hill is a good thing.

January 26, 2009 - 9:48 PM

I heard this short analogy about how if a bus was going to hit me, and if you are able, shouldn't you shout out and warn me to move, or physically do something?*

If I had that time machine I've always wanted, then in my story today, the raging bus would be my student loans & college credit card and my action to myself would be yelling, "DON'T DO IT!" 

*Sigh*... why is technology always so far behind?

Most are probably better off than us and did things differently when they were young and never had issues with these things.  If that is you, seriously, congratulations!  What a blessing!  And, if the case applies, you should go thank the person who told you or directed you into such wisdom!

As for us, we each had a student loan, a major credit card each and a car loan in college.  At the time, we had all those debts not because we were stupid, but because we genuinely thought those were normal things that everyone did to go to college and nothing in our then worlds told us anything different.   (Maybe that does make us stupid?)  For better or worse, we had those beasts of burden and married them together. 

In the beginning of our marriage we were simply trying to put food on the table.  While we did destroy all our credit cards and sold all cars with loans when we married, we did not do anything major to get rid of those debts quickly and, as life would have it, added to it several major medical bills along the way.

But as I mentioned, 2 years ago we took this life-changing, 12-week class called Financial Peace University (cheesiest name ever BUT don't let that stop you from going!).  There was one (of many, brilliant) principle that we had never heard before - "The Debt Snowball."  The simplest bit of advice - pay off the smallest debt first (NOT the highest interest rate) "A", then when you pay that off, roll its payment "A" to the next smallest debt's monthly payment "B" and pay it off with "A + B" (the now larger monthly payment), etc.**

When we started the snowball 2 years ago, I was very skeptical of the whole process... would it really work all the way to *gasp* our student loans?  Would it truly speed things up faster than the 7 years technically left on them?  Thanks to not having any new debts added and also maybe it was "thanks" to all the crazy medical bills over the years, as we paid off those bills, one by one our snowball got larger and larger and bills were disappearing until finally it was only the two... then Josh's disappeared and then... mine... AMAZING!

I could not believe it!  5 years early! It is truly a burden that has been lifted from our shoulders!  Talk about financial peace!  The old addage, "The borrower is slave to the lender" is gone!  Vanished!  Praise God!

Again, we know, not having them in the first place is the ideal situation, but like I said, no time machines... yet.

*This was actually taken from a very powerful video blog by Penn of Penn and Teller,  I hope not to disrespect the powerfullness of this video by my referenceing a tiny portion of what he shares out of context.

**There is so much more goodness to this concept, budgeting wisely and tightly, scrimping carefully, throwing everything one has at each smallest debt along the way, changing the whole way you think about money, etc.  It doesn't mean we're done yet either, while we do have some savings and have also saved for the next major medical explosion (that as life has it, will happen), we are now saving for 3-6 months of living expenses, and so on, and so on, as per the class's recommendations. Again, another GREAT reason to take the class,!  I would higly recommend taking the ACTUAL class to EVERYONE, married or single, who has not done it, even if you have no debt or are in retirement, there is SOOO much goodness to be learned!

(Controversial*) Pork Tenderloin

January 17, 2009 - 8:59 AM

Don't flog me, but I am going to talk about pork, the other white meat.  It's what's for dinner!

I know pork doesn't seem that controversial but online there is a whole group of research* that is very much against pork and it is not for religious reasons, there are legitimate health reasons for not eating some cuts of pork (yummmm... bay-con).  If I wasn't such a self-proclaimed, smart-cookie,* I could have easily been swayed, for either camp.  The 1 unbiased site I did find said you can eat pork if: it is a pork tenderloin with fat trimmed and it is cooked to 170 degrees* so that it is safe to eat then the health effects are similar to eating any meat.*

Enter my recipe for controversy!

(Controversial*) Pork Tenderloin
(It's really nothing fancy, but wo/man was it moist!)

1 pork tenderloin
olive oil
salt & pepper
grill pan
olive oil
JB's Fat Boy Apple Cider Honey Mustard Sauce (All natural, no HFCS, best sauces EVER!*)
1 apple

Preheat oven to 375.  Heat grill pan to med/high.  Salt and pepper pork tenderloin on all sides (Controversy 1: I did not cut off the little fat that was on the loin.) and grill on all sides, about 5 minutes a side.  Lightly oil bottom of baking dish, put tenderloin in dish, cover with some JB Fat & a little honey and surround with thin slices of an apple.  Bake loin, flip halfway through and add a little more JB's Fat Boy and honey.  Cook extra 5 minutes at 500, let rest for 5 minutes, slice and serve.*

Well... that's not exactly how I did it...

Complicated Controversy #2: Generally, I hold to the theory of baking pork at 375 for 25 min/lb to get the tenderloin cooked to 160+ (160 is what my Betty Crocker Cookbook tells me).  I did not have enough baking time (I had a 2.79lb loin and only an hour to cook in the oven) so I went online* and wanted to see if I could possibly cook it for less and NOT DIE!  I found this recipe on Recipe Zaar* that said, "According to Sara Moulton on FoodTV, salmonella is killed at 138 degrees, and 145 is a safe temperature for pork, although the USDA recommends 160 degrees (meat will be drier).*"  It instructed to cook at a higher temp, 500 for 5.5min/lb and then let sit in the oven for an hour.*

What to do!  I baked 25 min a side then cranked up the heat to 500 and cooked 5 more minutes, took it out and let it sit for 5 minutes. 

The internal temp was 155 but when I sliced it open, none of it was pink.  And you know what, it was not dry, it was moist...  and... I ain't one to gossip, so you didn't hear this from me... it was delicious... and... shhh... my family loved it, I loved it (I am a "medium" girl) and my husband (who prefers his meat med-rare, more toward the rare) was raving.. he even said, "It tastes like gourmet pork from a 5-star restaurant."*

Be safe and cook it 25min/lb to get above 160+*... I don't want anyone getting ill on my recipe.

I tell you what though, I was very hesitant to post this recipe because of all the negative websites & blogs* about pork and how it is not necessarily the healthiest food out there, because honestly, it isn't.*  However, I kept getting reminded of that old adage, "Damned if you do, damned if you don't," so I decided to post it because it was yummy. 

Don't get me wrong, I think the pros and cons are legitimate and I think eating healthy is a MUST, especially when it comes to heart disease and other illnesses based mostly off the food we eat.  From a researcher standpoint though, isn't it interesting how now-a-days if we want to know something we can go online, search out a question and find the answer from random websites where everyone knows what they are talking about and anybody can be on good authority?**

** - *All my cases in point, :)!

Thinking Spring!

January 12, 2009 - 11:21 AM

I am dreaming of springtime buds while covered in mounds of snow...

I had been dreaming in my mind and not on paper yet but when a friend asked me a question... out came the seed packets and layouts and notes from last year's garden and in came the layouts and plans for this year!

I am no garden whiz mind you, I have a black thumb.  I haven't gone to school for any of this either, just read a myriad of books and I ask lots of questions to those in the know.

Below are a few little things I have learned in the 2, yes 2, years I have had a garden.  Again, can you say, "novice?"  There are many people who know more than me!  :)! 

I don't pretend to know it all and would love to learn more!

Our first year we did minimal quantity and spaced things very far apart.  We weeded like crazy and watered every day, thanks to it being a drought year.  We had a great harvest that year and having started small really helped us learn a lot and be faithful with what we grew.

Our second year I honestly bit off more than we could chew and the weather was incredibly terrible.  Continual rain and the strangest bugs ever.  I tried several new techniques, like block planting and succession planting.  Some of the succession did not work as well due to the crazy weather and plants planted 3 weeks prior were only as big as the new plants.  The block planting produced huge results but I didn't leave enough places to walk around in.

This year I will be paying close attention to the weather and not try and fight with it like last year.  I will not plant too much and be smart about rows and when/if I put down straw everywhere or not.  I will be more patient when planting this year.

Using straw...
Some people use newsprint, some black tarps, some just are faithful at hoeing.  I like to use straw as a way to help prevent funguses on my tomato plants and as a way to keep down our weed population.  I put it down late the first year after having weeded and it worked great.  I put it down early the second year and the weeds grew up like crazy.  I think this year I will do it late and see if it is needed (though I will definitely do it around the tomato plants base) but after having done a good weeding.  Leslie had this awesome tool for weeding that was amazing and not a back breaker like knees weeding but is doesn't work if you have down straw so I may end up with a tool like hers this year and will not do straw (again, except around base of tomatoes).  To lay straw, water ground, lay straw and then water straw.

Raised beds...
I like a mild raised bed, about 2-3".  We used carpet in the bed walkways one year and it was so nice, straw works too.  Raised beds mean that your bed will dry out of water faster, so you will have to water more, but with little kids, I found raised beds remind them where not to walk.  Straw can just be laid in walkways as well and not on raised beds.  No matter what though, make sure you are very delibertate on leaving walkways or providing access to your plants with ease.

If you use raised beds or not, always, always, when you water, water everywhere, not just the plant.  Water the walkways and the other areas around your plants as the plant will want water from not just its 6" diameter.

Rows or Blocks or All Over...
Most seeds/lings will tell you to plant in rows, seeds every 2", thinned to 6" and spaced in rows 12-18" apart. 

Block planting means you mark out squares and then space all the plants as their smaller sizes... example: Kohl Rabi says thin to 6" apart but plant rows 12-18" so in 1.5'x6' (9 sq ft) you'd get 11 plants... with block planting you would plant them all within a 2'x2' (4 sq ft) block at 6" square apart, you'd get 16 plants.  (See how you get more veggie for less sq footage?)  The only thing I found with block planting is making decent access to all the plants within the block system.  I did Kohl Rabi, onions, broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower and garlic in block planting and it worked fine but I made my onion block so big it was really hard to water and move around.

All Over (which isn't it's exact name, I can't quite remember it) means that you plant in a block with a raised bed but the sides of the bed are gradual not sharp making it so you actually plant down the slanting sides as well.  I have not done this style but is noted as being great for producing a lot in small areas and the slanting edges of the bed actually help with better water retention in the bed and it better uses space.  The key they said to do was really prepare your soil in advance, like working in lots of compost / manure / peat moss, etc.  This process of preparing the soil their way takes 6 weeks before you actually plant anything.

Preparing the soil...
You can start working the soil where we live generally in April.  It depends on the moisture of the soil.  If you can pick it up and it is moist and can squish between your fingers it is too moist.  However, I have found if it is too dry it can be a pain as well.  When I first lay out beds and work the soil I add in my peat moss / compost / manure. 

There are lots of trains of thought on this, these are just the ones I have heard and stuck with... Peat moss helps to keep soil to hold in moisture, I like one that Lowe's sells and I add 2-4 inches of it when first working the soil.  I also add organic compost or manure, depending on what's on sale.  I also add extra potting soil in each area where I plant, maybe that is cheating but with my black thumb, I need all the help I can get. 

For planting seeds I want the soil dry, make my holes or troughs and plant, cover, pat and then water.  For seedlings, I want to dig your hole, water plant, put in hole, add dirt, pat and water.

It truly depends on the soil and weather.  Some plants are called cold weather crops and some are warm weather crops.  Cold weather means you can plant them 4-6 wks before the last frost, warm weather means you can plant them after the last frost.  Where we live in IC, and what I have heard from the loacl greenhouses is that the general rule of thumb is April 10-15th for cold and May 10-15th for warm.  This can change depending on how the weather is going.  Two years ago, it was easily 2 weeks earlier on each.  Last year, it was right on if not later.  However, people can have success doing it whenever, it is honestly just up to your seeds or seedlings, location, etc. 

Doing a double planting is good.  Till up the ground for your cold crops first and then do it again when it is time for your warm crops.  This will ease the heartache when your soil is toast for the warm crops.  Also, you can plan to double use your plots, like grow lettuce in one place and then after it bolts, dig it up and plant a warm crop, like squash, or whatnot.

These are some of the plants I have done the last 2 years.  Label everything well!  (One year I did, one year I didn't and boy was it hard when I didn't!  On 1" wide popsicle sticks, or the like, note the date of planting and the earliest expected date of harvest and possibly thinning distances and heights if you have room.

1.) Beans / Edamame -
Bush crop bean seeds, space 2" and thing to 4-6" when 1" tall.
I liked the Bush Bean Trio mix of seeds.
Plant around May 10th depending on weather and moisture as they don't like wet soil.
Use additional 12" tall, very small holed fence around edge of bean area to help them stand up better AND to protect from Peter Rabbit.
Use 18" between rows.
Plant in succession, half or third, spread out by 3 weeks. 
Be on guard for bugs, they sell both organic/non-organic bean sprays for bugs that are very good and will be very necessary.
I have put straw around these but if I get Leslie's cool weeder I won't.
During harvest, be very diligent to take them all as you don't want them to go bad. Look very closely and take them all.

2.) Peppers -
Plant a myriad, green, red, yellow, jalapeno, chili, habanero, etc.
Plant seedlings outside around May 10 depending on weather and moisture can be earlier but they don't like frost.
They say planting hot peppers by sweet peppers can mix flavors.
Stake seedlings with bamboo stick or other long rod at least 2-3' tall and tie pepper plant to stick when it gets about 9-12" tall.  Depending on plant growth and weight of fruit, you may need 2 sticks per plant.
Place straw around base of plants when 12-18" tall, make sure to fertilize once straw is down every week to two weeks.

3.) Lettuce -
Can be planted early, mid-April and can be planted in succession.
Make a trough with a thick popcicle stick and attempt to space seeds every 1", good luck.
6" rows.
Plant varieties but in well marked rows, make note of days till harvest.
Can thin once to 1" high and eat thinnings.
Can cut off above 2" as much as you want until it bolts.
Bolting for lettuce means the leaves start to taste bitter.
Very tiny seeds so make sure to note rows carefully and when planted, when to thin, etc.
can plant in succession, every 2-3 weeks.
My favorite brand/type is Lettuce Mesclum, Bon Vivant by Botanical Interests... yummy!
Keep well weeded and do not put straw around.

4.) Tomatoes -
I have planted them all, big, medium, small, roma and cherry.  All wonderful!
Plant seedlings around May 10th depending on weather and moisture, can be planted earlier, but they don't like frost.
Spacing bigger, like every 2-3 feet, is good not only for ease of harvest but also to help prevent any disease that one plant gets from passing to another plant.
Be faithful with the some type of fertilizer, once a week.
Look for "sucker" leaves, a fake stem growing out of the armpit of a strong stem.
At first sign of blight, take off infected leaves and destory away from the garden.
Use some type of tomato cage and put around plant once planted.  (Kmart sells these foldable cages that are square that I LOVE because when you don't use them, they compact and store nicely, and they are easier to remove when taking down the garden.)
Plant marigolds all around plants to help keep away tomato worms, yucky!
Plant basil around tomato plants, but leave enough spacing and room to still reach basil plants.
Once plant has grown some and is around 2' tall, use straw all around plant base.  The straw is there because as you water and the dirt splashes up on the plant the dirt that gets on the plant can cause a fungus on the plants.  The straw prevents this splashing to happen but it also means that you will have to make sure you are diligent with the fertilizer after straw is laid because the straw will actually suck up good stuff from the soil.  Ironic, I know.

5.) Peas -
Can be planted mid-April as they are a cold weather crop, but some varities do not like warm weather.
Space 2" apart faithfully.
Plant seeds along fencing.
Plant every 3 weeks as suggested.
Water a lot in the beginning. 
Choose bush peas, or other short pea plant (no bigger than 5' tall). 
I like Wando peas for shelling peas, they only grow 30" tall and can be planted really early in April (as long as above 40 degrees) and can be planted in succession until the end of May as they don't mind the warmth like other varities.
I like Super Snappy for another edible pea pod type, they just like cold weather.
If you plant different variety of pea plants make sure to keep 'em separated (and keep them well labeled).
Keep well weeded and no need for straw.  Watch for bunnies.

6.) Onions and garlic -
Buy in onion sets, very cheap generally. 
Buy plantable garlic, and plant individula bulbs every 6"
Don't plant near each other because distinguishing the two can be hard.
Can be planted mid-April.
Plant every 3" for scallions.
Plant A LOT and every where I can.
Pick scallions when green part is at least 6" long.
Onions grow out of the ground and do not be startled when you see them being uncovered. 
When top green turns brown and falls over, gently loosen roots below onion and let cure on ground for 2 weeks.  Then, harvest and store in a cool, dry place.  (I kept them in the bsmt fridge at a mild temp and they kept for up to 3 months, which was as long as they lasted since we ate them all!).
Garlic does what onions do in their tops go brown and turn over.  They can be then raised up and left to dry on top of the soil.
Onions do not generally get as big as you see in the store, generally 2-3" dia.
No need to use straw.

7.) Broccoli -
Plant A LOT, our family can't get enough of this!
Plant seedlings outside (can plant seeds inside).
Can plant mid-April and plant in succession.
Yes, use maggot mats (6" square pieces of cardboard with a 1" diameter hole in the center).
Plant seeds at the same time as seedlings for succession crops. 
Harvest when plant looks tight and depending on type could be from 4" to 9" in diameter.  (Though Leslie had the world's huggest heads of broccoli 9"+, mine were generally around 5" diameter when I harvested before they bolted.  Bolting means that the tight heads start to loosen and start to grow pretty little yellow flowers.)
Cut off high on stalk that way side shoots will produce more heads.
Give 18-24" min. diameter when planting.
Watch for cabbage moths, deceivingly pretty white moths that eat holes in your pretty plants.
Don't have to do straw but I did just to keep down weeds.  Wait till plants are bigger though.

8.) Cauliflower -
Use maggot mats like with broccoli.
Plant seedlings outside (start seeds inside).
Can plant mid-April and plant in succession.
Most types require you to tie leaves.  To do this, once a tiny cauli head shows up, about 1" diameter, pull up all big leaves and loosely tie on top like a pony tail.  This will protect them from getting burned by the sun.  If you have a white cauli plant it turns yellow when burned.   
Harvest cauli when the head is still tight.  When some types of cabbage bolt they turn purple and the once compact veggie loosens up similar to broccoli.
Give 18-24" min diameter when planting.
Watch for cabbage moths.
Don't have to do straw but I did just to keep down weeds.  Wait till plants are bigger though.

9.) Cabbage -
We liked purple or white cabbage.
Can plant mid-April and plant in succession.
Plant seedlings outside (start seeds inside).
Treat like other coles... use maggot mats, space 2' apart.
Will grow tight, compact head and depending on type get to 6"-9" in diameter.
Watch for cabbage moths.
Don't have to do straw but I do just to keep down weeds.  Wait till plants are bigger though.

10.) Cantelopes or winter squash -
Plants seeds or seedlings on mounds.
Plant around May 10th or later depending on weather.
Give lots of room to grow, like 2'x6' minimum.
Squash bugs are a pain!  Check underside of leaves for little egg sacs and then remove with duct tape and destroy.  If you start to see them they will suck the life literally from all your squash plants, mellons, etc.
Don't have to do straw.  But I do straw around the mound, mostly so I can spy the little squash boogers and kill em easier.  I found not weeding the cantes as much helped keep the bugs off them and protected but that may have been a fluke and just my wishful thinking.

11.) Plant Dwarf Bush Type Nasturtium around zucchinis, squashes and melons, should plant seeds before you plant seedlings, like 2 wks early.  (I found seeds at Lowes.)

12.) Zucchini -
I cannot grow zucchini to save my life!
You would know better than me, write in your own suggestions!

13.) Eggplants -
Plant seedlings (can start seeds indoors though).
Plant around May 10th, depending on weather or moisture.
Use tomato cages around them to help them stand up.
Watch for ugly black bugs and Japanese beetles.
Japanese eggplants are long and skinny, Black Beauty are what you think an eggplant should look like.
Pick when nice and shiny, don't need more than 4 plants.
I use straw around once they are bigger.

14.) Kohl Rabi -
Early plant, mid/end April.
I planted seeds right outside and they worked great.
Thin when 2" tall to every 6-9"
I planted to block planting and it worked great.

15.) Cucumbers -
Plant seedlings around May 10th or later or earlier depending on weather and moisture.
Once they start making fruit, feed fertilizer.
Be faithful with blight warning (ie yellow leaves or wilting).
Watch for bugs.
Pick when ripe to help plant produce more.
Only 2 needed but would plant 4 just in case, due to bugs.
Plant oregano around cucumbers to help bug protect.
Plant either near fence or put tomato cage around them as they will grab hold of anything they can.

16.) Carrots -
Tiniest seeds!  Dig a trough and try your best to give some distance.
Plant chives and/or onions near carrots.  (This helps keep carrot worms away as the carrot plants smell will be diluted by the onion smell.) 
Thin to 3" once they are 2" tall.
Mark on stick when planted and when expect to harvest.

17.) Chives -
Are a perienniel plant.
Can do seeds but since you only need 1-2 plants, buying a seedling is fine.
Can cut as soon as 10" long.
During winter can dig up and plant inside pot.

18.) Other Veggies / Herbs Notes -
Oregano works well by cucumbers and scares away bugs.
Rosemary and Sage are great spices too.
Cliantro turns into corriander when it bolts.  Plant cilantro every week if you really want to harvest it. You have to pick it immediately once it looks ready, then it is done.
Basil works good by tomatoes and scares away worms.
Chives work well by carrots and keeps away bugs.
Spinach needs shade to protect from the sun.
Sunflowers are cute but make sure they grow in a spot that does not shade your veggies.
Strawberries take 3 yrs but there are some types that are 1 year, ants like strawberries.
Potatoes should not be planted close to tomatoes/peppers.
Sweet potatoes would be the better spud if you are going to use the space.
Asparagus takes 3-4 years.
Brussel Sprouts don't need more than 3 plants.
Corn needs at least 4 rows, 6' long at least to get full ears.

I buy my seeds/seedlings everywhere.  I do like Botanical Interests seeds a lot though for my lettuces, edamame and wando peas.  I've gotten great seedlings from Fareway, especially broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers.  Tomato and other pepper plants I've gotten from Menards or the local nurseries.  Wherever they are, they look good and the price is good.

My favorite first book was in the Children's Section called The Victory Garden Kids' Book.  It was a wealth of information and great for a first time gardener.

The next year, I found The Fruit and Vegetable Gardener book by Richard Bird.  It is a beautiful book and taught me a lot about the plants and how to plant well.

Please do tell any books you've learned from and any tips you'd have!

Our Journey to the Sea

January 5, 2009 - 11:06 AM

What can I say.... it was surreal, it was a long drive, it was a short time, it was priceless, it makes me cry thinking about it.

We took Max on a trip to the sea. 

max and the sea

He had the idea, I found a beach, Josh found a condo, he raised the gas cash, we scrimped and saved, God kept our van running, we did the driving, God gave us perfect weather, we spent almost the entire time on the beach, we found a thousand shells & 1 live crab, we learned a lot, God united our family closer together and sealed in many things He taught us at Faithwalkers.

We went to Gulf Shores, Alabama.  I chose this place because: it was closest (we wanted to drive it in 1 day and we're OLD, no 24 hr drives for us!), it had been a while since a hurricane hit (Ivan in 2004, Katrina in 2005, and since we weren't going to help we didn't want to get in the way), it had a Sea Lab (so in theory, no matter what, we would have sea creatures to touch), we could take a ferry to an island nearby, and those commercials late at night on Fox made it look beautiful! 

But let me tell you though, I was honestly expecting the worst... terrible weather driving, terrible weather there, a car accident, bugs in the condo, no picturesque beaches, crowded places, getting sick from FW, expensive gas... however, we were determined that even if we had to buy ponchos for the family and be drugged up on NyQuil, this was our shot to go the sea.  Even still, I honestly had to continually trust that no matter what happened, God continued to be good and He knew it all.

z and m and island

The location was a huge blessing too in that Josh found a super cheap (but surprisingly beautiful) condo on Craig's List (thanks to it being "winter" and temps were to be low 40's, high 60's) and outside of the ocean, touristy attractions were closed (we are not into that kind of thing) and there were no massive crowds.

We got great gas prices the whole way down, leaving MO at $1.36/gal.  On average we paid $1.46 for gas and got 24.8 mpg in the van (the cheapest paid was $1.31 and most expensive $1.56).  Josh had Max pay for gas every time from his piggy bank which brought mounds of smiles out of people who normally don't.  The kids traveled great, sans this one hour of complete loopiness coming home through Mississippi, and didn't complain about the long time in the car.  The rainstorm that was suppossed to hit the Thursday and Friday we were going to be there held off till Saturday and the weather was absolutely beautiful.  We actually made the drive in 14.5 hours down from MO and 17 hours up to IC, oy! 

How did he like it? 

max and the sea

He loved it!

He couldn't get enough of the ocean and the hunt!  He was up and dressed and ready to GO each morning as soon as possible and he stayed out as late as possible each night.  He was continually smiling and looking at me saying, "Mom, we're at the sea!"  "Mom, look at this!"

He learned a ton about the sea when we were at the Sea Lab that we didn't know before and got to touch all the creatures we couldn't touch due to the water being too cold to dive under.  He got to experience the power of the sea and play in the waves.  He found barnacles and oysters.  He got to see a pod of dolphins swimming in the ocean just a stone's throw away (we just happened to be in the right place at the right time).  He got to see two kinds of jelly fish up close and personal.  He got a dead, but in one piece, ghost crab.  He got to eat fresh grouper, mahi mahi, alligator and oysters.  He brought home a TON of shells and 1 live tiny sand crab (though sadly, the crab died last night). 

He was literally and figuratively swept away by the ocean and all its power. 

max soaked in sea

I know there are more beautiful places in the world, I know there are more beautiful shells in the world, I know there is more beautiful weather in the world... but honestly, we could not have asked for a more perfect time for our little clan of five.  The excitement of the kids far outweighed all the other factors and they (and us) soaked up each and every minute of it to the fullest. 

fam and sea

Without a doubt, he wants us to go back and without a doubt, we would love to take him there.  It may not be for a long while, but if the Lord wills, we will.   And like this time, no matter what our circumstances may bring, we will praise the Lord for He is good!


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About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
   My Parents Rode in a Plane!

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
   Boulder for the Summer
   Life in Boulder

Begin Our Adventures of Winter/Spring 2012 to UT
   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
   Vacation in Moab
   Living in Moab / Denver

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2011 to CA
   The Drive to CA Begins
   Living in the SF
   Living in the Suburbs
   Coming Home to IC

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2010 to Eastern Europe
   Life at Czech English Camp
   Travels in Germany & Austria
   Travels in Czech & Poland


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