Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Few Introductions

I think it's time for me to introduce you to part of my motley crew. So, here goes...

When we first moved to Madras, I was extremely lonely because I moved so far from all my family and friends. I remember driving by a house one day that had a sing posted at the end of their driveway, "Free Kittens". Needless to say, I found myself knocking at a strangers door to inquire about a kitten.

I remember being greeted by a woman and five gorgeous little specimens of a cat; each one a different color and personality. (At this point I should mention that my husband was not with me...I made this call pretty much on my own:) I immediately grabbed a timid little beauty and knew she was coming home with me! She clung so tightly to me and tried to nuzzle around my neck...absolutely precious!

Then I began to look at the other kittens. I was also drawn to an orange and white kitten who was so curious and friendly. Making matters worse, my husbands childhood cat was 'Sherman' an orange and white cat that held a ton of great memories. What is a girl to do? Does she pick something that she loves or does she sacrifice her wants and act on the love of her spouse?

Neither!! I took them both!!

I was ecstatic but I knew my husband would most likely be less than thrilled...he's a self proclaimed 'dog' person;) So I called him and said I found a free kitten and was bringing her home. He was fine. Then I sent him a picture...of the both of nothing flat, my phone began to ring. When I answered, I wasn't greeted with harsh words or ridicule. No, instead i was embraced with laughter. Not only was he OK with two kittens, he couldn't wait for me to bring them home! I knew his heart would melt just as mine did when he laid eyes on the two of them.

From the instant I let them out of the cat crate clear until we went to bed that night, my husband couldn't keep them out of his sights! They were so curious and adorable. Meet 'Clyde' (Cam's orange and white cat) and 'Bindy' (my angel).

Clyde...he looks angry in this picture
but don't be fooled! He's the most
friendly cat I've ever met!
As kittens go though, they grow up. They soon morphed into two little hellions! They were into everything, everywhere, and broke so much of my nice stuff that I was beginning to rethink the whole pet idea. I remember having to separate the two of them by putting one - usually Clyde- into the bathroom for a 'time-out.' When we did this, Bindy would sit outside the bathroom door and put her paw under the door almost comforting and consoling was adorable!

Two years later, I went out my front door and was met by a very friendly and VERY pregnant cat! It was July and somehow she had made a little home under my front porch. Well, I wanted to make sure she and the babies were safe, so I moved her into one of the bedrooms upstairs; gave her food, water, a litter box, and a bed, and waited for the kittens to arrive.

She finally had six little babies.


I was thrilled until I realized I had seven cats at my house that weren't mine and that I couldn't keep! In almost a panic, I called all our family and friends trying to find someone in need of a cat. After a month of trying, we were able to find homes for all but one kitten. I was more than happy to accept one more into my house. This is 'Izaboo'. She is extremely timid but very loving.

So here they are, three of my crew! Each day is an experience with these three...but just wait 'till I tell you about our dogs!!

"The Rains are Over"

The Past: The Rains are Over

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of spring has come.

~ Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Days of hardship and pain have rained down in my past, Lord. There were storms that destroyed the foundations I had built. Floods swept away the hope I had placed in material things and in the strength I thought I saw in others. All that remained was the washed-out land of disappointment. But that was in the past. A time when I could not see a future.

Now the flowers sprout and shout from the earth. They sing a song of Your faithfulness. This is a new season for me, Lord. Past sorrows fade away and future hopes and dreams grow strong. You offer me this renewal every day, Lord. I am grateful for the rains, for they have prepared my soul to receive the blessings.
(Excerpt from One-minute prayers for Women)

Each day we get out of bed and experience the world, we encounter obstacles, sorrow, joy, and a host of other sentiments. Some days we are more sensitive and/or receptive to these experiences, good or bad. It is on those days when we can become consumed by them...especially when they are negative. Dwelling and holding onto them can be our way to 'deal'. We try to stuff them down and out of our current thoughts. For a bit, it helps; we can move on. Then suddenly, from nowhere, they creep back into the forefront of our minds. It's a fact of nature; happens to us all.

When my eyes fell on these words today, I was strengthened and inspired.  I have had moments when it seems like the hurts of past memories will hang around like the annoying little fly constantly swarming around your head on a beautiful summer day. This prayer reminded me that there is hope, even on the worst of days, because the love of Christ will help heal us and carry us to brighter days.

Just as the rain and wind (for the most part) has finally died down for us in the High Desert, we are reminded that spring is finally among us. Isn't it about time we let spring and summer arrive in our spiritual and emotional lives as well? Move from the winter of pain into the spring of life and joy because of Christ's promise of unconditional love? I believe it is!

Be comforted. Live joyously. All will work out for the glory of God!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Operation 'Garden 2012' Nearing Completion

This weekend was exquisite! Our wind died down a bit, the rain ceased, the sun emerged from its hiding place amongst the clouds, and the days grew warmer; we are finally nearing late spring/early summer in the High Desert, thank goodness!

Fun pic of produce!
So, just as I said I would, I was finally able to plant almost everything out for my garden. My tomatoes (all of which I started from seed in February), my corn, green beans, more beets, zucchini and summer squash. I waited on my peppers since I know they like warmer weather and our nights are still dipping into the upper 30's to low 40's...I will try to get them out this week or next, since we are supposed to start seeing daytime highs of 80+!! Did I mention how exciting that concept is for me?!

I'm thrilled to see my tomato crop this year! It's the first year I haven't bought any tomato plants from the store and the first year trying some new heirlooms! Here is what is growing, tomato-wise, in my garden: Big Rainbow, Pineapple, German Green, Black Ethiopian, Beefsteak, Zapotec Pleated, Black Krim, Georgia Streak, & Crnkovic Yugoslavian. These are all of the heirloom variety so their flavor is immaculate! (Can you tell how much I LOVE tomatoes? :)

I am also looking forward to my corn 'crop.' The decision to plant corn this year was quite extemporaneous for us...but I'm extremely enthusiastic about it. Since our garden plot is small, we planted about six short rows of corn, side-by-side for optimal pollination, in an area that will get plenty of sun and water. I went with Silver Choice Hybrid Sweet Corn because it matures early - and since our growing season is so short, I need something that will grow and mature quickly.

As far as everything else goes thus far, it's beautiful. Things are starting to show signs of growth and are beginning to flourish in the am I! Everything is outrageously green because of all the rain we have had, which is unusual for the High Desert, but I'm thankful for none-the-less!

So, weather permitting, my wish is that you can all get out and dig your hands into the ever warming soil! It's time to get our gardens into gear and a time for you to experience the joys and fruits of your labours! Relish doesn't seem to last long enough!

If you have any stories about your crops, seed varieties, garden techniques, or even questions, please share them. I'd love to see how everyone else is fairing this time of year!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: Remembering Our Heroes

Today was Memorial Day. Many of us Americans, especially the younger generations, see this as just another three-day-weekend...a little vacation right before school ends for the year. While it is a nice break for us all, a 'vacation' is not what today is about; it's a day to honor those who have served this country and sacrificed their lives for the welfare of Americans.

On this day, I also choose to remember those who are serving; we owe them such gratitude for their day-to-day battles to ensure our freedoms and safety.

I am intrigued by how little is actually known about this holiday. This being said, I decided to do a little research on my own. After my brief inquest, I realize just how un-knowledgeable about this day I am and how much I take it for granted. So here I sit, astonished at how long I've gone without basic knowledge of this national holiday...hoping now to be able to share a brief history of this day so you can truly observe it the way it was intended!

Researching Memorial Day is not a difficult task at all! All you simply have to do 'Google' Memorial day and you will be directed to This site gives several different origination's of the day, many different types of observances, and how it has morphed throughout the years. This is what I found to be most interesting.

Some believe Memorial Day began with confederate wives remembering the day their husbands or loved ones paid the ultimate sacrifice by fighting for what they believed in. These 'gatherings'  were not organized, as far as the government was concerned, but took place in the fields in remembrance of the fallen Confederate soldiers.

The first 'official' proclamation of this day was by Gen. John Logan on May 5, 1868, and first observed on May 30, 1868 by the placing of flowers on the graves of the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Waterloo, NY has been officially credited with being the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May of 1966.

The history, stories, traditions of this day are numerous but each tells a story of remembrance; remembrance and respect to those who fought so valiantly for our freedoms. This is why today is so very important. We must not ever forget those who fought and are fighting for us...without them, this country wouldn't be a great nation!

On a very personal note, my grandfatherh Clifford (left), and my great uncle Cecil (right), both served this country. My grandfather was in the Navy and my uncle was in the Merchant Marines and Air Force. I am unable to visit them on this day, but would like to honor them all the same...thank you!

So this memorial day I would like to say to all the service men and women, past and present: Thank you! You have sacrificed, fought, lost, and served us all - both known and unknown to you - and for that, we will always remember you and be grateful to you!

I hope you were able to take this day and celebrate it in its entirety. If not today, then hopefully everyday out of the year we can take a moment to pay gratitude for this nations service men & women. Without them, we wouldn't be able to live such blessed and full lives as we are!

Panoramic view of my Memorial Day sunset!

Sunday, May 27, 2012


After a hard day's work in the garden today - I dug up my eitire garden with one shovel, mowed for an hour and a half all with a push mower, weeded, planted, and watered - I really felt like I was entitled to an evening of complete relaxation.

Cam and I had a really nice barbeque and sat in our front grass with the dogs and just played! I cannot tell you how long it has been since we have let ourselves just 'be' with eachother, but it was definately much needed. We sat around the dining room table after that till the sun went down (about 9 pm) just reminiscing about how we met, our fondest memories, how far we have come as a couple, and so much more. I must was needed and well-worth it!!

When life gets hectic and crazy, it's easy to start taking the best things in our lives for granted. I'm just as guilty as the rest when it comes to this. That's why I think tonight was so important for me.

What we need to remember is who we are in the hub-ub of everyday life. It's truly only when we take a breif moment to reflect that we can see just who we have become and what our lives have morphed into.   We will not be, most of the time, disappointed with what we see. If we remain true to ourselves, we can accomplish so many tihngs!

Take a moment to reflect on what you've done": accomplishments, influences, memories you've created and stirve to continue to make a difference. We can do this through our gardens and our lives. Whichever you choose, do it whole-heartedly! Embrace it and acknowledge it; you will be rewarded for it!!

Much Love!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Being Thankful For Everything

At all times and for everything give thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. 

~Ephesians 5:20

For the past week, we have had anything but ideal least in my opinion. With gray cloudy skies, wind gusting at 20-25 mph, intermittent rain showers (down-pour at times), and dropping temperatures, it's hard for me to have the motivation to care for my garden and even harder for me to be thankful it all!

My 'sour' disposition as of late has led me to try to change my way of thinking: surely there is something positive I can find about this! When I began to change my attitude to one that is grateful for everything, I began to notice my attitude in general improved and I began to find peace in simple day-to-day happenings.

I am thankful for the rain: it nourishes my plants, seedlings, and my soul. 
I am thankful for the wind: it keeps the bugs at bay and brings fresh air into my life.
I am thankful for the clouds: it holds in the heat and moisture to create a cleansing atmosphere.
I am thankful for the cool weather: it will be hot soon enough, so I must enjoy it while it's here.

(These days may have been gloomy...but at the end of each one of them, I've been greeted with a beautiful sunset!)

Whatever is going on, we must try to find the good in it. If we can do that, a whole new perspective on life will emerge. Who knows, it may even offer you many new rewards and opportunities as well!

Be's beautiful!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Vintage Finds!

(I realize that these don't directly relate to gardening, per see, but they do fit perfectly into my interests, passions, and here are the two most recent things I've stumbled upon! I hope you enjoy them as much as I am!)

When I hear the word vintage, I automatically associate it as being old. But because time seems to pass us by so quickly, "old" is almost objective. I know that in order for things to be considered antique they must be at least 100 years old. So the term vintage is often considered to be the Art Deco period of the 1930's. Since this definition is so loosely associated to a specific era, I am going to take a few liberties and say that my finds are vintage :-). No matter the age, I hope you find these items as intriguing as I do!

 The first is an old metal fire engine-cycle. I believe it's a Jalopy, but since there are no markings anywhere on it, I'm not positive. It has two pedals, in order to move the truck, four working wheels and a perfect steering column! My husband's uncle was just going to throw it into the trash, so we asked if we could take it home instead. He agreed, so here we are!

The colors are faded due to sitting exposed to heat and sunlight for probably 7 years or more; it has two wooden ladders that fit onto the sides which have fallen off (but I was able to recover) and a spool on the back to wind a hose! It is extremely cute and I think its looks cool just the way it is!

My husband, on the other hand, wants to restore it; fix it up so it looks like it did when it was new. He is thinking how amazing it would be to get it into fine working condition again so our children can ride around in it on our I'm torn between my desire to retain it's uniqueness and history, and my husbands desire to preserve it for future generations!

I'll keep you posted on what I decide! But, if you have any thoughts or ideas, I'd LOVE to hear them and weigh them carefully in my decision!! :-)

The second of my finds is this beast :-) :

I have no idea as to its age, but it looks AWESOME to me. It has some rust damage, fading paint and some trouble rolling around, but it's in otherwise sturdy condition.  But when I tell you how much I paid for it at a flea market, it'll blow your mind (maybe, if your into this kind of thing:-): I paid $.50  for this beauty of a TONKA truck!! I was soooo excited to bring it home!!

When I was a little girl, I remember playing with a truck very similar to this (if not the same kind) in my grandparents sandbox. I loved to drive it around the box, the yard, the front porch, even their old farm-house living room! So I hesitate to say I picked up this beauty because of the 'vintageness' of said item; or if it simply had to do with such fond childhood memories...either way, for $.50 it was a steal no matter what, in my opinion.

So whatever you think you have your sights set on when you head out to tag-sales, garage-sales, antique or flea markets, or anything similar to this, remember to keep your eyes open! You never know what kind of deals and memories you will stumble across!!

Enjoy your hunt, wherever it may be, and if you have any thoughts on refinishing the Tonka truck or fire engine, please share them...I'd love the input!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Garden Progress

Well, I think we are finally nearing the time when I can actually take my seedlings, begin to harden them, and get them in their final home! The last several days have been cool, extremely windy, and today - wet! The nights are dropping to around 38 degrees but it's projected to warm up!

I'm too eager to wait any longer! Soon, my plants won't have enough time to establish themselves and produce crops before fall sets in.

This Memorial Day weekend is supposed to warm up into the 70's consistently and only drop into the high 30's. Next week's weather forecast looks the this weekend is it for me. I'm going to till my garden, one final time, begin to harden my tomatoes on the front porch, and plant my beans, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, and corn! I'm extremely excited!!

I can't wait for my garden!!

Only part of last summer's bounty...I'm ready for 2012!

A Time of Stillness Amidst Turmoil

"Lifea) the sum of the distinguishing phenomena of organisms, especially metabolism, growth, reproduction, and adaptation to environment
                  b) the general or universal condition of human existence"
(as defined by

Sometimes our lives, at least what we've made of them, can seem almost daunting. Between the running to and from, the needs of EVERYONE, the time constraints and expectations we place on ourselves, the demands of others, we sometimes dread stepping foot out of bed knowing it's only to join the chaos. The second part of the definition of "life" is "the general or universal condition of human existence." That is broad;  all-encompassing of our daily activities. So take a moment and think about this: If everything we do throughout the day is part of our life - makes us who we are - then what defines the quality of our days and the time spent on every activity? Not just "taking care of things" but also the 'you' time; the time spent breathing, feeling, resting, and reflecting. Why is it we are so quickly to tag each day as 'good' or 'bad' based upon the things that demand our time or attention, instead of on what we do/act/add  to the world each day?

There have been many-a-day for me when I have one bad experience first thing in the morning, and I let it ruin my entire day. I'm grumpy, disagreeable, unpleasant, all because I have chosen to focus on one negative. In turn, I display anger, frustration, and sometimes hatred to those who cross my path, even inadvertently. It happens. But it doesn't have to. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Sweet Side of Spring and Early Summer

I love having the opportunity to posses a garden; I am ecstatic to go out each day and see what my garden has prepared for me. It may be as simple as elegant leafs of lettuce or spinach at the peak of ripeness - full of vitamins and nutrients - awaiting my eager hands to pluck them from the earth and prepare them for our afternoon/evening repast. Whatever awaits me, I eagerly await each day.

Each of my gardens tells a story, and has a season. Season meaning - not just the general winter, spring, summer, or fall - but the time when most everything in it begins to peak or hit its prime. My serenity garden (named appropriately because of  a small white picket fence which separates it from my puppies:-) is home to my - at least most of -  my berries! These include one grape, my Captivator gooseberry, raspberries, and strawberries.

When I need a break from the business of life, this is one spot I readily retreat to. It's a place of peace for me; I can sit and just be for a short time to recharge my batteries. I think this is why I chose it to place all of my berry plants.

I LOVE fruit, especially when I have the opportunity to pick it fresh and enjoy the 'completness' of it (not the hard, tasteless version we so frequently find at the grocery store :-( ) Its  so full of the natural flavor, nutrients, vitamins, and goodness the Lord has given it; once it's tasted, its hard to eat anything else! So here I wait, patiently, for my fruits to mature. Here is what lies in store for me...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One Manly Breakfast...Coming Right Up!

Here it is, finally, the first post in the Man Room!

This whole section is dedicated to men and their manliness; brought to you directly from the man of my husband Cam! :-) Here goes nothing...

"This is truly a man's breakfast: warm, hearty, meaty, and cheesy. It's simple enough for us to be able to throw together without help from the women of the house. Great to fill you up and get you set for a day fishing, hunting, boating, or just lounging.

Breakfast Casserole

1 can crescent roll dough
1 lb. uncooked sausage
onion (as many or as few as you like)
red pepper flakes (as much as you can stand)
4 eggs
3/4 c. milk
1 -1 1/2 c. shredded cheese (I prefer cheddar)

Toppings: sour cream

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spring's Bounty: Rhubarb

As spring trudges onward, so does the prolific rhubarb plant. It's not phased by heat, rain, drought, freezing temperatures, or neglect. Poor soil...not a problem for this guy. This is truly a great beginners plant.
I have watched mine grow for three years now. I must say, it has been quite the transformation to whiteness. I started with one small plant with such tender stalks...a mature plant that will continue to provide me with such a great wealth of nourishment has emerged!

Rhubarb has been shown to reduce cancer risks, improve lung health & circulation, and reduce cholesterol. It is also full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy properties, as well as rich in fiber, calcium, lutein, vitamin K, and vitamin C*. An all-around health fruit in my book!

Growing up, we had three massive plants in our garden...always the first thing to sprout, denoting  spring had arrived! I both admired and feared this plant respectably.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Deals, Deals, & More Deals!

I have already confessed to being somewhat of a 'junk-lady'...perhaps not the most flattering of nick names, but that being said, I do love my unique junk! I am also a 'deal junkie'. I LOVE to seek out and hunt down amazing deals!  I suppose you could say I am like those women on Extreme Couponing...on a MUCH smaller scale and not so much with coupons. So, I bet you are probably wondering just what it is that  I do that could possibly have any similarities to this show...bear with me, I can explain!

I enjoy being frugal. It's been ingrained in me since childhood and I see no other reason to live any other way. My frugality reaches from making use of the items I find or already have to providing a garden of produce for my family eat from. All of these things, most of the time, end up saving us money and also give us a sense pride and accomplishment; we know that what we have is because we have worked hard for it - not waiting for someone else to support us - and that we are truly blessed in all facets of life!

But lets face it, gardening involves some money to be spent. For all gardens (food as well as landscape): we pay for water, fertilizer, seeds, plants, soil, tools, not to mention a great deal of time. And over time, this all adds up. I have started planting all of my fruits and vegetables from seed. This is actually my first year for tomatoes, and so far, so good! :) But when it comes to flowers and landscaping plants, I have a hard time just passing by the local nursery or even store nurseries without seeing something I want! And they aren't usually inexpensive :(

I have two wonderful dogs, but for the past three years, they have ruled my back yard and run a-muck! I tried mesh fencing, electric underground fencing, rocks...everything I could think of to keep them out, but to no avail. It just created more frustration and heartache for me.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pause...for just a moment

My Spring tulips and beliefs for each day

Today, of all days, I was ever-so-gently reminded of how blessed I am. Not only can I afford to  pay all of my bills at the moment, I am also fortunate enough to know I am ABLE to work in my garden and change it according to my abilities!

Sometimes I pause where I stand in my garden, for lack of desire or out of pure exhaustion, and reflect on what I have. This time of reflection makes me grateful for everything I have been blessed with and all of the blessings I continue to receive.

While my life is fairly simple, compared to most in this hectic hubbub of a society, I am still often times drawn into a fast-paced life; one that passes you by before you can truly experience it in its entirety. When I step back and notice this, I am able to slow down, reflect, and remember the reason 'why' I am able...because of our Lord!

I am constantly reminded of this verse: I Timothy 6:6-10 :

Creating and Utilizing a Cold Frame.

I love reading "how-to" magazines or those with "how-to" sections: This Old House (One of my faves!!), Better Homes and Gardens, Mother Earth News, Country Living, Organic Gardening ...just to name a few! I read these - cover to cover -  trying to absorb anything and everything that interests me! Sometimes it's a lot; in that case I end up marking the page and saving the magazine :-) However, when it is a single article, I read it, research it, and test it for myself.

Several months ago I found an article in This Old House on how to build your own cold frame. I remember reading this and thinking,  one day, I would like to have one of those for myself! So this year, I stumbled across some old windows - which were removed from an old farm house to be replaced with more efficient windows - so I snagged them! I brought them home, cleaned them up, and knew, right away, they were going to be used to build a cold frame!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Direction: The Guiding Force of Nature"

Excerpt taken from One-Minute Prayers for Women

"He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through them. At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commands them."
- Job 37:11-12


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Proper Care & Feeding of Worms

When we stop for an instant and truly 'be' in the moment, we have an opportunity to submerge ourselves in our surroundings. For me - as well as many other outdoor enthusiasts -  I am immediately drawn to my surroundings; mainly the gardens in-which surround me. I notice the smell, appearance, the openness for interpretation, and, ultimately, how the garden looks.

Successful gardening can be measured on a number of different scales. Some say it is the crop you reap throughout the year, others would contend it is the size of your flowers and garden cohesiveness that matters most. In either case, the "end-result" is very much dependent on the soil in which your garden is to grow and prosper. If you put in five hours a day to weeding and trimming your plants - ignoring the soil in which they grow - it will make a difference, but growth and prosperity for a plant is much the same as it is for young children; when adequately nourished and cared for, they will produce to their highest potential!

In the past three years, I have learned this lesson through some painful experiences. Every year I eagerly planted, watered, and weeded religiously but never REALLY paid attention to the health of my soil. I would always mix in some compost in the early spring (when I began to amend my  garden 'dirt') but other than that, I figured if my plants were going to survive, they would on their own. Boy was I wrong!! I've learned that you may produce a crop each year without regards to soil health or fertilization; but if you pay attention to the needs of the individual plants, your crop yield will be exponentially larger!

This being said, I feel like steer manure and chicken manure are great! But if you want to try your hand at making some fertilizer/manure on your own (since I don't have cows or chickens, yet :-) I have found a very good alternative to the compost pile...may I introduce you to the "Worm Farm"!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Belated but a very 'Happy Mother's Day!'

Yesterday was Mother's Day...a day when we dedicated our time, thoughts, and attention to our mothers.

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the weekend with my mom. It was phenomenal!
We chatted, shopped, helped my sister move, and spent time being thankful for all my mom has done for us!!

To all of the mothers out there: Thank You! Not only do you deserve a rest, but a day in which you are spoiled and pampered the the same way you bless your family!

Happy Belated Mother's Day!

Preparing & Training Spring Peas

Here in the high desert, I've learned it is best to plant peas early March. For the most part, March is warm enough for the cool weather crops to germinate, sprout, and begin to grow.

This year, on March 14th, I planted my peas out. I created a well composted area along the west side of my house and planted my peas between two metal fence posts. The posts took me about three times the time to pound into my hard-pan (the local term for the hard layer of dirt under the normal top-soil) than it did for me to create a row and plant the seeds; aside from the extra effort, it was well worth it!

We had an unusually cool spring in the beginning. My peas have finally begun to grow, so I am just getting around to training them on their strings along the poles. Training your peas is not only beneficial for the plant, but it's utmost benefits are toward the gardener!

Training your peas are simple and takes only a matter of a few minutes to complete. The pay-off of these 'few minutes' will leave you wondering, "why not take the time?!"
(The following are the steps I have taken in my garden for three years and have had enough of a crop to enjoy fresh, almost excessively, and to freeze to enjoy later!)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Taking a Gardening "Time-Out"

Each day in the garden is a beautiful and unique experience. It is constantly changing and always encompasses each of our senses.

But as gardeners, sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the things that need done, or the projects we wish to embark on, or ideas we wish to pursue. While these are what I thrive on, as well as many others I'm sure, sometimes we just need to take a "time-out".

Now this could mean several things: perhaps you've worked yourself to exhaustion or to the point where it has become a chore instead of a passion; maybe you just need a change of pace for a day or a break from "life". Whatever the reason, even if there really isn't one, all of us deserve a time-out; a time when we can walk into our gardens and appreciate its beauty, life, fulfillment, and peace.

I know I take far too few of these so, in honor of National Garden's Day, I did just that.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

National Public Garden's Day

Tomorrow, May 11, is National Public Garden's Day. Don't forget to go visit your local gardens! Remember what this day is about: embracing the outdoors and the simplicity of life!

Go out and enjoy your surroundings, or reach for it as an excuse to visit your local gardens!! I know I am searching out somewhere to experience tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted on what I stumble onto!

Practicality from uselessness!

I am notorious in my family for going out and searching for "junk". I suppose that could be a bad association to have - "junk lady" - but for me, I  not only take it as a compliment, but I see it and embrace it as an opportunity! It is an opportunity to take otherwise neglected and discarded items and turn them into something interesting, useful, and full of history!

So here are a few of my newest garden projects:
(Please keep in mind these are in no way professional nor do you even have to like them. These are just things I have gathered and morphed to fit my personality, style, and abilities! :-)

 Old Wagon Planter:

 I am fortunate enough to live next to a vacant and abandoned golf course where farmers, maintenance men, and road crews seem to discard all of their unwanted "junk". I LOVE it! I have spent many hours looking at all of the "stuff" in the area around our home; every time I go out, I find things I've never seen! It's amazing!!

I went on a "hunt" in the field about a week ago and stumbled across an old-school Radio Flyer wagon that had lost its wheels. I was ecstatic and jumped at the opportunity to bring it home! I brought it back, cleaned it up, and contemplated for about 10 minutes about how I could get the most of this thing! Finally, after much encouragement from Cam (my husband), I finally decided to make it into a planter.

I love spinach! It doesn't matter how it's prepared, I LOVE it! So we decided to extend our very small spinach garden into this planter. I'm not sure how it will do. I always plant spinach in the early spring in my well composted soil. I have had, knock on wood, pretty good luck with that. So, since lettuce grows well in pots, I figured I would give spinach a try. Time will tell if I'm right or if it was a mistake...thank goodness for trial and error! :) I'll keep you posted!

If nothing else, it makes for a rustic, cute little planter. Since it had no wheels, I had to prop it up on treated 2x4's to level it out. I know lettuce would grow well in this (my mom had something very similar when I was growing up) and I'm sure annuals like petunias would do very well in this...if an old wagon fits your decor of course! :)

 Steel and Concrete Bench:

This one, Cam was extremely uneasy about, I must admit! I found this large and VERY heavy piece of steel right outside my house. I knew, from first sight, it would make a perfect bench!

I drug it into my yard, to the back patio and set it up. I had some old concrete pillars, very short ones, I had found months earlier, that I used as the supports  for each end of my bench. It worked out perfectly that both pillars, even though they were different circumfrences', were almost the same height. I simply propped the steel in the center of each concrete pillar, and voila! I have a perfect little bench for admiring my little patio!

Cam's biggest hang-up was the fact I had a steel bench on the West side of our house...that means it will be exposed to the hottest part of the day. He has a point here. I know metal is a great conductor of heat. My solution is to place pillow pads or sheep-skin blankets, some how, over its entirety to make it an appealing place to sit and enjoy my garden with the sunshine. Time will tell, of course, how this one works out! :-D

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Inspirational Quote

This prayer comes from a beautiful book my husband, Cam, bought me for my birthday. It is called One Minute Prayers for Women, text by Hope Lyda.

It is entitled: Refuge

"You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance."    ~Psalm 32:7

"Faced with fear, I go inside myself. Emotionally I curl up so small that any threatening trouble will overlook me and continue on its way. I reach for other people, Lord, but for true comfort and peace I prefer Your presence. Your stillness inside my heart shames away boisterous difficulties. Harm cannot come to me here. You never said You would remove trials for Your children. You offer something better: a place of rescue.

Save me, Lord, from the loneliness of this particular struggle. Once my strength is restored, I will return to the daily clatter. Right now, though, it does my soul good to listen to the melodic voice of my Deliverer."

May this inspire you and help you throughout your day!

Our First Spring Produce

Today, we picked our very first asparagus for dinner! I cannot tell you how exciting this was for me. I planted it three years ago and have honestly been to afraid to eat it until now. Some of the canes were large this year and we decided to pick them and grill them up for dinner...delicious! The sweetness of the spears, all three :-), was incredible! I think it is incomparable to anything you can buy from the grocery store.

Most of the asparagus I planted the year we moved in. So for three years I have watered them, fertilized them, and let them go to flower. It was painful for me not to pick and eat them, but I knew it took several years to establish themselves before they could be eaten.  I bought the roots from a catalogue nursery, planted them, and watched them come to life. My husband kept telling me to "pick them, already!" But I had read one must wait three years (when started from seed) before you harvest.

Every year, I made sure and mulched and fertilized the bed well. I kept them watered and in plenty of sunlight. I watched the spears progress from "asparagus" to a long stalk with flowery fronds; yes it was painful to see this transition and not eat them! However, I knew that if I wanted to increase the longevity of these plants, I'd let them grow, flower, and die. It wasn't until spring the next year that I actually cut down the dead spears and waited for them to start anew.

I was least thus far! I feel like in a way, asparagus is very similar to bulbs. You need to let them flower and die back before you try to trim anything. When you let this happen, the roots have a chance to completely regenerate themselves to be able to survive the harsh winter and thrive in the spring.

This was a VERY small harvest, I know...but one I am very, VERY proud of! My patience and love finally paid off!

Take pride in what you have and completely embrace the dreams you have for the future! You never know what's in-store for you and your garden!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Streusal Rhubarb Bread

This recipe came from one of my good friends in high school. Her mom made it for me once, I got the recipe, and have been making it ever since! The sweet spicyness of the bread is only enhanced by the tartness of the soft rhubarb - truly delicious! Warm with a little pad of butter...heavenly. I like to serve this with a nice pot of tea!

Streusal Rhubarb Bread

1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. oil
1 egg
1 c buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. chopped rhubarb (2c. if you want more twang!)

1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbs. cold butter

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Dream

My name is Jen...short, simple, and to the point. And that pretty much describes ME, except I'm not short :) I'm a fairly "new gardener" as far as experience goes; but if passion, love, and internship account for anything, I'd say I'm a pro! I grew up in a small neighborhood in Oregon's valley, surrounded by lush greenery and so much rain, you pretty much grew webbing between your toes to get to school everyday.

My fondest memories growing up were those spent in the garden with my family. My grandparents always had a beautiful garden that not only provided food for them, but provided beauty and enchantment to those who passed by. My parents, with a father from a small central west Texas farming community, sought to not only provide for our family by way of fresh food, but also yearned to create an appreciation for what a garden can provide; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. These are the "truths" I have carried with me.

I went to college with a dream of becoming a vet. As my studies progressed, I began to see exactly where my passions lay. I had a passion for helping animals and people, yes, but I had a great interest in how things grew; not only what made them thrive but if I could reproduce the same thing in my small apartment. And I did. I finished college with a degree in liberal studies - and no that does not mean I'm an extreme liberal, quite the opposite actually - and rushed into the world with exemplary ideas and no clue as to what I wanted to do!

I had several jobs here and there but i was never satisfied with 'life'. I always felt as if there was more out there;  as if I hadn't found my"'calling" (for lack of a better word). I worked my tush off, got married, and moved to central Oregon, away from everything familiar - climate wise yes, but away from all my family and friends. In essence, I was given a chance to start anew.

At first, I didn't know what to do with this newness I had been given. We bought our first house that was beautiful, but had a completely naked and SMALL yard. It intrigued me at first glance. I began to see how I could morph it into the lush green "paradise" I had grown up in. Boy was I WRONG! Everything I tried, failed, and most of the things I planted, died within the first summer of being in my new home.

I didn't let that stop me though; I saw it as a challenge I was not willing to admit defeat to! So, for the past three years I have worked, experimented, questioned, and learned about many aspects of my garden. Not only about my summer garden (the produce!), but the aesthetics of ALL of my gardens as well. In essence, I've learned what I can provide for my garden and all it can provide for me.

I very often have a very perfectionist outlook on my life...if I'm going to do something, I had better know how to be the best at it. Gardening has taught me lighten up. I can go out into my yard and experience everything it has to offer - from the sound of trickling water to the birds chirping wildly at the sight of fresh food, to the wind rustling the leaves in the trees to the complete stillness of the early morning - without fear of rejection or regret. It is here I am truly happiest.

My wish is not only to one day begin a small farm with my husband and start a family, but I hope I can be a spot of inspiration to everyone who yearns to garden but think they can't. Read, enjoy, and experiment! It has completely changed my appreciation for life!