Saturday, June 30, 2012

Strength in Obedience
(One-Minute Prayers for Women - an excerpt)

She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
~Proverbs 31:17

God, let me dive into the tasks I have before me at work and at home. I want to face my resposnibilities with great strength and effort. I want to be hardworking in every setting. May my focus be to serve You, no matter what the job. When I honor You with the labor of my hands and mind, I know it strengthens me spiritually. Everything is connected to what is good and right.

Lead me to responsibilities that are of importance to You. Guide me away from fruitless efforts. I want my life to count. I want my work to please You.


All I can say is 'Amen!'

How very true this verse and prayer are to me, especially after the type of week I've had. We all have our own battles, struggles,  & obstacles to fight and work through each week...this week has made me acutely aware of this. Our mind-set tells us that if we long for something and  it feels like it is the right course of action, we should whole-heartedly try to change the situation.

This week has been the turning point for me...I have come to the very clear realization that if what I 'feel' is not in God's plans for me, it won't happen, no matter how hard I try. This week, particularly, has had one little issue I was certain God was telling me to address and try to help. So, help I tried, and all I did was fail in every way!

My husband, Cam, and I spent the day together and we had an opportunity to listen to a podcast by Joel Osteen entitled, "Run Your Race". Mr. Osteen told of many examples of when a person followed what they 'thought' God was telling them to do...and many of those attempts ended in failure. Why? Simple really. If God has a plan for us, he'll make it happen. If not, then we will find out we have to rely on those around us for support...which usually doesn't work out. If it's truly in God's plan for our lives, we will succeed!

I have been struggeling with some issues lately that I was confident God was trying to show me how to 'fix' . After several failed attempts, I found myself at the throne of God asking why I couldn't change the situation. My answer came today in a sermon. I can't fix things. If God has willed it for my life, He will help me make it happen. Period.

God is leading me where He has planned me to go...and no where else! Now I must have the faith to follow Him in whatever direction He leads.

I feel this is true for us all. When we can accept and follow God's will for our lives, things will happen and change! Have faith and persue it!


Has this changed your thoughts about a situation or your journey in life? Please share it! I would love to hear it a pray for you! Keep running the race...the finish line is with-in sight!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

And So It Begins...

After months of anticipation, longing, care, devotion, and attention, my garden fruits and vegetables are finally beginning to produce consistantly! I felt as though this day would never come but there is a season for everything - I must be faithful :) - and that season has finally arrived...and I couldn't be more delighted!

Every day in my garden - whether it be in the dead of winter or in the zenith of summer - is spent finding  joy in everything there is to do.  I seldom complain about the work because I know I am continually striving to attain the 'greater good' and health of (at least my version of) my oasis.

I have been enjoying my Alaska snap peas, Sugar snap peas, spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, kale, beets, trunips and their greens, radishes, strawberries, and very excitedly...I found my first pale red raspberry of the year!! It won't be long now!

As my patience seems to be paying off, I also know I am so thankful for what I am receiveing. There is so much joy in being able to grow the foods you love, or just want to try, and be able to go out and pick it at the height of freshness and taste food the way is was created!

I hope you can all take a moment and try something for yourself...whether it be just a patio with fresh herbs and potted vegetables, or a small plot with your favorites...make it yours and enjoy every piece of it!! You'll be amazed at what you can do and how you will feel!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dinner on the Fly!

I have noticed my husband and I have been in a dinner 'rut' lately. It's sad, and to be quite honest, very boring, to admit. We've taken some comfort in the fact that each evening's dinner will consist of basically the same thing: starch, vegetable, and protein. Well, when I've been working as much as I have lately, I don't always feel like delving into something new when I get home.

So last night, I said; "find something in one of these cookbooks that sounds good and we'll make that for dinner." So, we did just that. Cam opened up an Italian cooking cook book we've had and began to flip though the pages. After five minutes of looking at the book and examining our freezer, he decided what we would have:

Beet, tomato, and mozzarella salad
Roasted lamb chops with rosemary and garlic
Turnip greens with asiago vinaigrette
Homemade French bread

This was our menu for the evening (and with bread prep...most of my day :-) From the moment we both decided it was close to dinner time, we started to work on our meal.

This dinner was provided by almost solely local ingredients: the lamb chops came from a very dear friend just down the road, as did the tomatoes; the bread I made today and the turnip greens, beets, and herbs all came from our garden!! All-in-all it couldn't have been much fresher...always a plus in my book!

The time spent together while making something new is always phenomenal for me! I am given the opportunity to experience something new with my husband; so, I'm always surprised, no matter how it turns out (and yes, we've made some things that were not-so-good) we are able to sit back and enjoy our culinary experience, not necessarily the outcome :-) Tonight was just that for us!

It was not a failure, by any means! It was delicious. We both took our time and enjoyed every morsel that passed over our lips. This dinner took us on a culinary journey so exciting we are longing for tomorrow's excursion around the globe...embarking on a new cuisine!

Tonight wasn't so much about the food for me as it was the experience and time spent. I'm a sentimental person: so tonight's exquisite dinner will be remembered! However, I will never fail to forget what this dinner meant to me; I was given the opportunity to try something new with my husband, eat fresh produce straight from our garden, enjoy meat and fruits grown from loved one's with-in walking distance, and the satisfaction of knowing how healthy it's the serenity of being self-sufficient that is so fulfilling! I am quite honestly complete!

I hope you can read this and be motivated and encouraged to try something different, fresh, and, if you are fortunate enough, something purely local for dinner. No matter what it is, at least for me, I just feel 'healthier' at the end of the day...something I long for you to enjoy as well. Take pride in the 'family dinner around the dinner table' and mix it up! Delve into something'll only peak your arousal and excitement for tomorrow's fresh and healthy meal time! (You may also be surprised at how this 'healthy' meal will lead into so many other fun activities!)

Embrace, enjoy, and share!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Indoor Gardens

When the words 'indoor garden' are uttered to me I automatically associate a large greenhouse filled with all of the fruits and vegetables I would have in my outdoor garden, and would even encompass many of the more tropical/exotic plants that thrive in heat and humidity. It would be a place lush and full of intrigue...I envision my little paradise! But as I grow in age and experience :-), I have come to understand that there is so much more to the meaning of indoor gardening than I had originally thought. Grandiouse is wonderful, but it is not necessary. A few herbs in a window box, or tomatoes in a warm window, or an orange tree in your greenhouse...I would even go as far to say that many houseplants would even fall into this category (my defininition is pretty broad :-). Whatever you have or are trying out, the extent of your 'indoor garden' is purly up to your discretion!

I think one of the best things about my indoor garden is that the foods I have decided to grow are those that mature and die quickly, then you must replant - however, this doesn't include my houseplants, just my food indoor garden - like lettuce, herbs, and sprouts! I've gotten several pickings off my lettuces this year and I'm learning to grow my own sporuts. I LOVE spouts! Some people compare them to eating grass...but I enjoy their refreshing flavor and the cool crispiness of each tender young sprout! As a plus, they are easy and fast to grow, and I'd like to show you how rewarding and easy they are!

Most importantly, you must first outfit yourself with the right equipment for the job. You will need either a sprout growing kit (I have seen some that are a series of plastic containers you porcess your sprouts in...for a kit, definately follow the manufacturer insturctions) or simply a mason jar, a jar-ring fitted with screen, and sprourting seeds. It's that simple.

  •  Starting with a clean jar, lid, and screen, simply add the amout  of  seeds you desire to sprout into the empty mason jar. My seeds recommend anywhere from a tablespoon to a quarter-cup of seeds. I generally do two to three tablespoons of seed per jar.

  • Fill the jar with tap water, room temperature, to cover all of the seeds. Replace the screen lid and let it sit on the counter for 24 hrs.

  • After 24 hrs., drain the water from the seeds by simply pouring the water out through the screen lid. When almost all of the water is out of the jar, simply tap the seeds off the screen and back into the jar and lay the jar on its side. Let it sit for another 24 hrs.

  • Every day, all you have to do is fill the jar with water, swish it about, and strain the water out; rinsing the seeds.

  • After about a day or two, you will begin to see the seeds sprout. Keep rinsing and drianing until you are ready to eat!

 A breif word of caution: If your sprouts are left too long in warmer temperatures, they can begin to spoil in the moist jar. I have found if I am diligent with my rinsing and start to place them in the refridgerator when thery are almost ready to eat, they last slightly longer.

I hope whatever you choose to encompass in your indoor garden it is something you enjoy and can share with others. Just remember: beauty and bounty don't have to mean difficult...sometimes simplicity is key!

Best of luck!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Rains

For the last two days, we have been blessed with grey skies and rain. Every single flower, tree, & shrub is enjoying it immensely...I, on the other hand, am not so sure. The change is welcome. I have been working a lot recently (hence the lack of posts as of late...I apologize!) so it's nice to know my plants are being cared for naturally. I am also slightly on edge because with the rain came falling temperatures; I need the heat & sun for my vitals garden!

But as I look through my window at the raindrops gracefully falling from above, I cannot help but be thankful. The rain has reminded me so slow down; enjoy the chance to watch my garden instead of having to just work on or in it.

Embrace change, just like rainy days in June. They are placed in our lives as learning moments and great things happen when we allow ourselves to grow with the changes!

Enjoy today, whatever it may bring, and look forward to the newness of tomorrow!

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Sing unto the Lord"

(the following is an excerpt from "One-minute Prayers for Women")

"You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that I may sing to you and not be silent."
- Psalm 30:11-12 -

"With all that You have going on, Lord, I am amazed that You still encourage my heart to express its emotions. One day I am asking for tour mercy. Another day I await Your blessing for an opportunity. Toy do nit call me to be silent. While people rarely have time to hear the thoughts if another, You lovingly wait for my life's song.

When my circumstances change, I owe it all to You. It is not my doing that rain turns to sunshine. So it is not my doing when tears are dried by pure joy. Thank You, Lord."

I've been extremely busy at work this week and I'm beginning to feel somewhat downtrodden. I pray this verse & reflection means as much to you as it has to me...especially in our most vulnerable state; we can still find light and thankfulness every where!

Monday, June 18, 2012

An Evening With...

As we go throughout our normal busy lives, we are often completely overwhelmed by the happenings of the day to experience any sort of peace in the evening. Today, I wanted to change that. God created the dawn and the dusk...not favoring one over the over, so I am choosing to rejoice in them both!

Prayer Song
(excerpt from One-Minute Prayers for Women)

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me - a prayer to the God of my life.

~Psalm 42:8

I sing to You, Lord. My joy, heartache, and thanksgiving create a symphony of emotion. In the solitude of nightfall, I cannot help but sing. I release the worries of my day to Your care. I trust Your with my today and my tomorrow. My panic turns to peace as the first notes of praise drift heavenward.

Your concern touches me. Your voice blends with mine for a few sweet moments. You wrote this song to comfort me every night. You share it with me so I can come to You when the confines of words and dialogue stifle meaning. By day, Lord, guide me with Your love. By night, free me with Your melody. In every moment Your are the God of my life.

May peace and fulfillment find you at any point in the day!

Strawberries Are Here!

There is nothing like biting into a freshly picked, perfectly ripe strawberry. To me, its like the first blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, grapes, peaches, plums, apricots, peaches, watermelon, list goes on and on. You see, I'm very much a fruit girl. I grew up picking strawberries and blueberries in the summer for money; picking raspberries, apples, plums, and grapes because we had them in our garden; picking ripe blackberries as we rode our bikes around one of Salem's nature parks or as we went wading in the creek in Aumsville; visiting my grandparents in Texas and either helping pick a melon from my grandfather's beautiful garden or helping my daddy pick one out of the local watermelon truck; going on a camping road trip with my family and picking fresh apricots from the farm at Coral Reef National Park. My past is very steeped in fresh fruit picking and I know good fruit from the moment I can smell it.

I am extremely blessed having been able to experience fresh fruit...when their true flavors come out and they taste as God created them to. However, when I got married and moved to the High Desert, good FRESH fruit is hard to come by. Sometimes I have to settle for the almost flavorless versions from the grocery store. Now, sometimes you can find good fruit there - I'm not a snob, by any means - I just know what I'm looking for and it is hard to live up to my expectations :-)

Our solution has been to try to find fresh fruit when we can and preserve it for later. We have access to several different varieties of apples, pears, and plums that are grown locally; I drive to the mountains to pick fresh blueberries to eat and freeze. As for the rest, we've been trying to grow our own.

So here's the first fruit of the year for me...strawberries! It's exciting to go out and pick two perfect berries - grown with patience and love - and bring them in to share. I'm one of those girls who likes to make a somewhat big occasion out of a small happening, and this is a good example. In order for Cam and I to eat these berries, we had to sit, un-distracted, and enjoy them. Corny, I know, but we did it anyway! They were delicious! Given more sunshine and warm weather, they will continue to sweeten up, making them all the more delectable! I can't wait for the next batch!!

As spring comes to a close and summer comes full-swing, let us enjoy all our garden has to share with us in its time. When we strive for healthy plants and patiently await mature fruits and vegetables, we will be generously rewarded. It's worth every ounce of work and waiting in my book!

Let me know how your garden in doing these days. I'd love to hear what else you are enjoying from your gardens!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

I'd like to take a moment and wish all of the father's out there a very happy father's day!

Today I was blessed to be able to spend the day with my father and our entire family. We all met early this morning for a beautiful day of hiking along the Metolius river in Oregon...a place none of us have had the privilege of experiencing until today! The weather was perfect - warm breeze, bright sun, and only one small cloud in the sky - as was the entire day!

We hiked along the river on a beautiful dirt trail that wound through wild flowers, pine forest, & small river alcoves, and led to the Fish Hatchery near Camp Sherman.

When we came to the hatchery, we all scrambled for our quarters to feed the fish!! We carefully and curiously examined each fish bed there; the tiny fish in the incubation room to the large trout they had swimming in a natural pond...we saw them all. The most fun was probably throwing in a small finger full of food and watching all the fish swarm and wriggle at the top of water like a bunch of eels. It was awesome!!

Trout in fish pond...they were huge!
 We took a moment at the dock of the natural fish pond to just stand still and enjoy ourselves. My dad and I shared stories about taking my grandpa to the fish hatchery years ago...stories I have sadly pushed to the back of my memory (but not anymore!), and memories of us girls (there are three of us in my family...poor dad! ;-).

When hunger pangs struck us, we all started our trek back to the car for our picnic lunch. We spread out our blankets in the pine needles and enjoyed lunch and exchanged presents.  We also drove dad in and treated him to a walk around the town of Sisters, Oregon and frozen yogurt; yummy!

It was special for us all to be able to spend this time together and to celebrate our dad! Speaking personally, without his guidance, wisdom, and love, I know I wouldn't be the woman I am today! Thanks Dad!

Me & my dad!
 Happy Father's Day to all!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Realizing Our True Wealth

Today, I was every sense of the word. My body cried out for rest, my eyes longed to close, my head screamed for down-time. And yet, non of that found me today. I have been overwhelmed by lifes' demands to the point I've had trouble finding joy in almost anything. I'm sure this may sound all-too-familiar to many of you; we want so badly to do everything, have everything, and be everything to everyone that we stretch ourselves thin, often to breaking points.

I hit that very 'thin' point today. I didn't feel like I had anything left to give to anyone, not even myself. I paused for a moment and thought "why"? Why am I feeling this way? What is driving me to continually give until I have nothing left? Am I hoping to make enough money to get ahead in life and be happy? Could it really be the lure of luxury I've been secretly seeking? I certainly hope not. That's not the life I want or want to lead.

So this evening has been a time to just retreat and relax; ground myself once again. After supper, I took a nice walk with Cam in the warm, low-lying sun. We stopped by to see some very special friends and visit. I really just wanted to take the time to remind myself not only all that life has, but how truly blessed I am, no matter how monetarily well-off we are or aren't.

This also helped put things into perspective for me:

Rich with Redemption
(One-Minute Prayers for Women)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

~Ephesians 1:7-8

Keep me from being spiritually poor, Lord. In the material realm, I want for nothing. I have food to eat and a roof over my head. I have the means to care for my family. I even have tasted the luxury of abundance. But it takes wisdom to amass spiritual riches. Lead me to understand the treasures of salvation.
Your love inspires and satisfies me, Lord. I have been redeemed through the sacrifice of Christ. Your grace leads to spiritual riches. It multiplies to cover every one of my iniquities. My soul was purchased for a price, and it has made me a wealthy child of God. 

Sometimes, all we need is a simple reminder to stop. Stop and not only be thankful, but realize how rich our lives are because we are unconditionally loved. That is true wealth.

May this encourage and direct you wherever you may be!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Lost Glamour of the Gooseberry

 When we first moved into our home, Cam and I immediately scoped out our little plot. We have always dreamed of having fruit trees so we could step out our back door and pick a an apple, plum, a handful of raspberries or grapes. Knowing that fruit trees take some time to mature, we were disappointed when we found absolutely no kind of fruit anything. It was bare.

We knew we would plant raspberries, grapes, and strawberries so we immediately planted those. But I also knew I wanted something out-of -the-ordinary, unique, to try out and hopefully fall in love with. In my quest for my new 'fruit' I stumbled across an old gardening book that talked about growing Gooseberries. I was intrigued. When I read that they were hardy, easy to grow, grew well in shaded areas (the spot I have gets half-days sun), and produced sweet berries, I was sold!! Cam went to the nursery and came home with Captivator Gooseberry Semithornless. We put it in the ground fertilized, watered, and waited.

The first year, we got two berries! I was so much in fact that as soon as they were big and a transparent green, I snatched them and ran to show Cam. But when I held my hand out and he looked at what it contained, I wasn't met with excitement like I had anticipated; no, his face was flooded with utter disappointment. You see, he bought a RED gooseberry, not green. I picked the only two berries on the bush and they weren't even ripe...OOPS!!

I learned my lesson after that and we babied that bush through the winter, the spring, and clear until it was covered in beautiful green berries. We would check on it three to four times a week, beginning at the end of July, to see if they were ripe. It took a while but our patience was greatly rewarded. That summer, my first picking was this:

The following weeks were met with numerous more trays just like these! So many in fact, that after everything was said-and-done, I had picked over 30 pints of berries off that thing!! We ate them fresh and froze the rest. They are delicious any way!!

I know Gooseberries have gotten a bad rap from some, and rightly so. The green Gooseberries are extremely tart and very much a required taste, so I've heard. Some really love them others absolutely despise them. However, the red Gooseberry is nothing like the green. Instead of being met with an orb or sourness, when the red berry bursts in your mouth, a flavor much like a grape and blueberry engulfs your taste buds. They are refreshing, sweet - but not overly so - crisp, and just....well, wonderful! I love them.

I guess my reasoning for blog is to remind us all to try new things for ourselves. Everyones' tastes and likes are different; we're all individual. If you always play safe and stick to the known, you will miss out on a host of new possibilities and experiences. Obviously, if you know you already hate something, don't wast your time and energy on it. But if you are just taking someones word for it, do a little research for yourself. If it intrigues you, don't hesitate to try it out; if you hate it, you know you won't be trying that again. But if you love it, you can take the opportunity to brag a little about your new and unexpected food/item/experience you've grown/acquired/tried. It's a good feeling. It's also a learning experience we can all benefit from!

Experiment...let me know what you try and how it turns out!!


Monday, June 11, 2012

My Miracle Fence

Here they are...these two precious puppies were the beginning of my hunt for a perfect boundary fence. Sure, we have deer, rabbits, squirrels, cats, stray dogs, raccoons, even skunks...but none really seemed to hinder my - or my gardens - potential more than these two! They trampled through my beds, destroying what few flowers would sprout , dug up bushes, ate and tore out my got to the point where just the sight of my back gardens would bring tears to my eyes. It was on that day that I decided to take a stand and reclaim my garden - ALL of it!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I have just put in the last of my crops for the year, I think ;-) Between rain showers and work last week, I managed to plant two more different varieties of green beans (I have a lot of plants...I'm hoping for lots of beans...I love to freeze them and enjoy them all winter!!). My two newest varieties are Yard Long Asian pole beans (long delicious pods often used in Asian dishes) and Royal Burgundy bush beans (burgundy on the bush but turn green when cooked!!). I'm excited to see how these do!

I was also able to plant my cucumbers. I have been unable to be a successful cucumber grower in previous years, but I feel this is MY year! I have Straight-Eight, Tendergreen, and Lime Crisp...I am confident I will be able to enjoy fresh cucumbers this summer! I'll keep you posted on their progress!

Are you trying anything new this year? Please share any advice or new/interesting produce varieties you are trying out! I'd love to hear and even try them out myself! :-)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

To Your Health!

As spring begins to turn the corner and summer takes hold, I am always reminded of how 'healthy' I feel this time of year. The word 'health' has many different meanings; for example:

health - (as defined by
  1. the general condition of the body or mind with reference to soundness and vigor: good health; poor health.
  2. soundness of body or mind; freedom from disease or ailment: to have one's health; to lose one's health.
  3. a polite or complimentary wish for a person's health, happiness, etc., especially as a toast: We drank a health to our guest of honor.
I'm not entirely sure why I take my mind and body health for granted the rest of the year, but as the weather warms up, so too does my gratefulness and mindfulness. I can sit and bask in the morning sun and develop such excitement for the work that awaits me; every evening is a new culinary journey for's fun to go pick fresh vegetables and fruits to create a meal; happiness and relaxation have never seemed so close to me than this time of year!
As I sat and read my evening devotional book, I stumbled across one that reflects my feelings perfectly and I'd like to share it!
Healthy Soul
(One-Minute Prayers for Women)
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.
~ 3 John 2
I have noticed how my efforts toward a healthy life have also enriched my soul. I am clear-thinking, brighter, more attentive to my spiritual needs. Lord, I know I complain about this body of mine, but I ask You to bless it with healing and wholeness. Where I am having physical difficulties, direct me toward the right care. Don't let me abuse my body just because I am tired of its shortcomings.
When I focus on my breath and think about the oxygen soaring through my system, I am so grateful for the intricate workings of my body. I was made by You, and I will treat Your creation with kindness - inside and out.
As you dig your hands into the fresh earth, I hope you are reminded - just as I was - of how very blessed we are to be ABLE to do this work and benefit in so many different ways! When we are healthy and happy, it's easy to go throughout our days without noticing these simple feelings. But since it's so very easy to notice and dwell on bad things and bad days, let us start to take the time to really appreciate all of the good and normal things our lives bring us. That is something I plan to begin working on!

Utelizing What You Have

I love to try new recipes. I am one of those people who flip through any magazine and if I come across a recipe that even remotely interests me, I tear out the page to save. I do this so often, in fact, I have had to flip through to 'purge' these pages because my tastes have changed or I simply have too many! Well recently I have been noticing a build-up of these 'recipes-to-try' so I've tried to make a pact with myself: I have to try one new recipe a week from the stack of recipes I've been collecting or something new from a cookbook I own. The second criteria for these dinners is that they must utilize things we have, or most of what we already save on grocery bills. So far, my husband and I have been fairly successful!

Every night has become almost a game as far as dinner is concerned. We have BOTH been working full-time as of late, so my enthusiasm isn't always at its peak, but none-the-less, we always try to find something to make with the ingredients in our fridge, pantry, garden, or freezer; and something out of our norm. My husband, Cam, has made me several phenomenal dinners of sushi, poke salad, shrimp scampi, mushroom pasta, mushroom & onion quinoa...I've tried barley gratin, new fish dishes (Cam is a fisherman...we have been blessed with quite a bit of fish!!), coleslaws, and lately, new potato salad concoctions! It's exciting for us both, but most rewarding of all is that we are making good use of what we have, save on our grocery bill, and our food waste has dropped to almost nil! To me, that is benefit enough!!

I celebrated my fourth year anniversary with my husband this past Thursday and wanted to make him a special dinner (we went our for the actual day-of, but after that I wanted to show him how special he is, always...) This recipe is one I stumbled across as I flipped through the pages of the newest Cooking Light magazine. From the moment I laid eyes on the picture and read the ingredient list, I knew it was the one I wanted to try. Well, I did. It tasted just as good as the picture signified, and now I'm excited to share it with you!! This recipe almost turns out like a hash...honestly, I think it would be stellar with two fried eggs on it for breakfast...just saying! :-) I made this to go alongside grilled chicken thighs and a basic red leaf salad.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Lemony Grilled Potato Salad
(adapted from Cooking Light, June 2012, pg.128)

2 pounds of potatoes (russets or Yukon gold)
3 TBS olive oil
1 small-medium onion, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 red or orange bell pepper, seeded, and cut into bite-sized chunks

3TBS fresh basil, finely chopped
2 TBS fresh chives, finely chopped
3 TBS fresh lemon juice, from about one lemon
1-2 tsp capers, chopped
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, more if you like the spice:-)

(Please keep in mind, I strayed away, slightly, from the recipe as it is written in the magazine. I adapted it to what I had and to what I was able to do!)

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
2. Wash and chop potatoes into bite-sized chunks. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tsp Olive oil and stir. Place on a baking sheet, put in oven, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are golden brown.
3. While the potatoes are cooking, chop the onion and bell pepper and place in a grill pan or baking
sheet. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tsp oil and place in oven with potatoes and roast until tender and slightly charred (you can also do these on the grill; sear them until they are soft and slightly charred).
4. As the vegetables cook, combine the remaining 2 TBS olive oil, basil, chives, lemon juice, capers, salt & pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to blend.
5. When the veggies and potatoes are done, place them into a large bowl. Pour dressing over top and combine thoroughly. Serve!!

This is absolutely delicious warm, equally as good at room temperature, and would be wonderful cold. I still think I'm going to fry an egg and put it on top of this in the morning!! If I have  the gumption in the morning, I'll tell you how it turns out!!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Evenings of Garden Fresh Veggies

It's finally time for me to say, "I went out into my back garden and picked kale, collards, and turnips to enjoy for dinner!!" That feels so fulfilling to say; to know that a big part of my meal was provided to us by my hard work, care, and a certain amount of dedication. I'm feeling my rewards now, and this is just the beginning of it!

We sauteed the kale, collards, and turnip greens with garlic, olive oil, and mushrooms...added some brown rice and chicken...dinner was served!

There is something about going into your garden and being able to provide food for your family that I find so completing. It refreshes my spirit and reminds me that no matter how hectic things seem, everything begins - and ends - with such simple complexity.

Go out and enjoy! Experience all that is around you, try a new food, experiment with a new seed variety, or simply try out a small garden (even if it's only a few pots on your patio!). Wherever you are in life, experience, or dreams, I hope you will enjoy the simple satisfaction which you can create!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Standing Strong

As I examine my garden and the 'garden' which surrounds me, I am completely amazed how everything has adapted to our sometimes extreme weather. Whether it be the wind, or rain, or hot days and cold nights, or the wind (yes, I did meant to say it's horrible at times in the spring!), or the almost torrential rains we matter the situation, things seem to acclimatize and thrive! Sometimes I have such a hard time because I can't even adapt to the cloudy gray skies we've been having, let alone try to adapt to the changing climates and outside conditions!

This being said, I know I owe a lot to my creator Father, who so dutifully and strategically planned how all things would and could work together for good.

When you take a moment to notice how plants adapt to their environments, you will notice a common theme...each one does it. There is always an ideal time, temperature, and condition for each and when this time arises, each flourishes! They do not worry if beautiful days will come...they just wait for them to arrive. This is a lesson we should all learn. We need to stand strong in our beliefs and dreams. Stand strong in faith and be confident in that faith that good days and blessings will find us...we just have to trust and wait.

Let It Be

'Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.'
~Matthew 6:34

I want control over today and tomorrow. I know You can do a much better job, Lord, but I still battle for control. I don't have a great track record when I try to take the reins from Your hands. Let today affect my tomorrow. Give me the strength I need in this moment to give You my tomorrow.

There will be worries. There will be struggles. But tomorrow is also filled with possibility. I am inching close to eternity, and this is a journey I want to savor, not suffer through. Give me the courage to live fully today and await tomorrow with great hope.

(from One Minute Prayers For Women)

I hope this provides some encouragement as you move throughout your days! Enjoy

Protecting Warm 'Blooded' Crops in Cool Weather

Now that the weather has started to improve, I have been more than eager to plant; anything and everything...I want my garden to flourish! Sometimes though, I'm a little 'gung-hoe' and begin to plant everything without regards to temperature forecasts or weather outlooks. Tomatoes, a warm weather crop; corn, zucchini, and beans all thrive and produce magnificent crops in warm sunny climates. So why then, at the first sight of sunshine and satisfyingly warm afternoons, do I immediately pull out my seeds, seedlings, a shovel, and begin to work, dig, and plant? Cognitively, I know better. I know that the sun won't be out everyday and the nights will still creep below freezing. But deep down I'm an eternal optimist...the sun is hanging high in the sky with only a few wispy clouds dancing across the horizon; a gentle breeze carries the melody of the birds across my yard and through my windows; I can finally emerge from my winter 'cave' and into the fresh air - perfection in my book. I can't contain my enthusiasm at the prospect of working in my garden, so I jump right into it! And every year...I regret my hastiness.

This year was no different. At the first inkling of nice weather emerging, I swung open my garage door and got ready to plant! This year since I've gotten my early spring crops in (some are ready to be eaten, others still have a ways to go yet but are none-the-less quite established!) I was much more secure with my decision to move back my planting date. But on the last week of May, I went for it. Everybody (plant or seed) was carefully tucked into their new home on a very warm and sunny morning.

As things tend to go in the High desert, we had a week of gorgeous weather, a week of nasty high winds and LOTS of rain, and now, this week, we have cold weather...nights are supposed to reach lows of 33-34 degrees.  My poor tomatoes!

I figure since it's only going to be cool for a little wile longer, I didn't really want to drag out my wool blankets, risk breaking my plants, and then have to wash them all when the evenings begin to warm back up. So my solution, a greenhouse tepee! I made it with scrap wood we had laying around our house, standard medium duty clear garden plastic, screws, staples, and rocks. I had everything I needed at my house and an I just needed to initiate my plan of action!

I cut my 1"x1 1/2" posts into three foot lengths (making six of them total). I took two at a time, brought them together and made a two sided tepee or an upside down 'V'. I placed a screw at the fulcrum of all three sets. I took one more of these 1"x1 1/2" posts and kept it at about the 6' length. I placed each inverted 'V' on the pavement and placed the 6' board on top (the three sets of inverted 'V's created the legs to support the long post across the top creating the top of my tepee greenhouse). After securing them all together with screws, I cut down my plastic to fit and stapled it into place. Now I have something that is light, easy to move, and should provide enough of a barrier against the nights' elements to protect my tomatoes (I used rocks to act as stakes to keep it from shifting or blowing off).

Eagerness doesn't have to end in disaster...we just have to adapt. Make the most of what you have and you will be pleasantly surprised what you can come up with!


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Raising Tomatoes

 Tomatoes; either you love them or you hate them, not much in-between most times. So, for those of us who LOVE tomatoes, we live for summer. It is a time when these fruits thrive and develop, providing us with beauty and pride, and so much flavor and nourishment!

I am definitely one of these people. I love my tomatoes and I definitely love to eat them when they are at their peak! That is the pinnacle of summer for me.

Often times when we transplant our tomato plants, either from our seedlings or nursery/store stock, we can encounter a few problems. After battling with a few problems of my own this year, I was determined to know what was going on and I thought I'd share what I found; I hope it helps!

My tomato plants were hardened outside on my porch for about a week before I planted them into the soil. The temperature was warm (65-70 degrees +), still quite breezy, but each plant was deliberately planted deep to help them grow stronger and to ensure more nutrient uptake (since tomatoes root along their stem anywhere that is in soil). The day they were transplanted, they wilted. Totally normal; no reason for alarm or concern. However, it has been a week and I have noticed all of the lower leaves are still wilted and yellowing, but their tops are green and bushy.

As I researched, I learned that tomatoes can express transplantation shock in different forms. One of which is the yellowing of the lower leaves. If this is the case, we simply need to give the plants time to adjust to outside conditions and extremes.

The yellowing of leaves, especially when primarily the lower leaves,  can also be due to lack of sun. This is common, especially in Oregon's valleys' spring since it rains a lot and often times very little sunshine ever emerges. When this happens, the plant is not up-taking adequate nutrition from photosynthesis, or the soil, so it begins to shut down.

Unfortunately, sometimes yellowing can also be caused by disease. Either a pest (which will most times be visible and you can attack with a mild detergent or insecticide) or soil disease. If its in the soil, your best option would be to replace some of the soil, at least, with sterile topsoil and compost. If this makes a difference next year, you will know you were able to rid yourself of the problem.

As for the rest of the ailments, one easy step can be taken to offset these 'problems'. I like to apply a small amount of diluted fish fertilizer to all of my crops. I usually notice a difference within a few days to a week. If you live in an area where some animals (dogs, cats, raccoons, skunks, etc.) are attracted to the smell of fish, I would recommend either another type of natural fertilizer or even miracle grow; especially something high in nitrogen. Nitrogen deficiency causes yellowing of leaves in any this is helpful for all crops and landscape plants.

I just put out some fertilizer on my tomato plants and am waiting to see a difference. I put fish I'll let you know how it turns out!!

No matter what happens, it was worth a try, and I - painfully sometimes- have learned yet another way in which tomatoes do not prosper! You are never a failure; you are simply an eternal learner!

Enjoy and best of luck! I'll let you know how mine fare! :)
This BIG beauty was a Pineapple tomato I got off of one of my plants I started from seed last year!
I hope this year is just as wonderful!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

What Do I Do Now?

As I walked my two dogs through the field next to my house this morning, I began to reflect on all of the things awaiting me in my garden. I needed to, I need to tie, I need to longer I contemplated, the more 'no's I began to hear. And I will admit, for a brief moment, I became discouraged; I was so looking forward to a beautiful day spent in my garden!

Now, there are always weeds which need pulling around my house, but I was anticipating something more; more rewarding, in my humble opinion, than simply beautifying my flower beds and garden. No, I was looking for something different but exactly what, I couldnt' pinpoint.

So in my state of monotony, I began to water every row of seeds I had planted, every tomato plant, until everything that was thirsty had had its roots quenched by the cool water.  I watered and listened. I heard every coo, chirp, flutter, and buzz, of birds, bees, crickets, frogs, and mosquitoes (which are horrific here in the summertime!). And then it struck me...I don't have to 'busy' myself every second of the day with chores. I can just experience my garden as I care for it! So that is precisely what I did!

The rest of my time in my garden was purely indulgent! I watered my flowers, my seeds, each vegetable or fruit plants and examined them closely for health and progress. I then dead-headed my flower boxes (dead-heading is the act of removing the dead flowers from plants, annuals in particular, so they continue to produce blooms),  tied up the rest of my peas (I do have three large rows of them...I love pea pods!!), and took a moment to establish, with-in myself, where my garden was at.

Several months ago, in March, I planted peas, radishes, carrots, and beets directly into my very cold garden soil. It took a little longer than normal, since it stayed so cold this spring, for my seedlings to finally germinate. One thing that is different for me now that I live in the High Desert is that in the Valley, if you plant seeds too early, the seeds rot. Here, if you plant too early, seeds simply take longer to peak their little green cotyledons out of the soft soil. And that's exactly what happened this year. Just when I had given up on my carrots, there they sprang; and my peas; and beets; and even my turnips and kohlrabi!! Exciting for me, and also more work that was warmly welcomed.

Chacoogia beets from last year! I'm so excited for
our beets this year.
If you haven't gathered it by now, I thrive on complication and difficulty. If someone says, "You can't do that on your own", or, "just wait for someone to help you", I immediately become defiant...if you don't think I can, I'm going to show you that I CAN! I have found myself trying and working about 10x's harder than I need to just to prove a point. Whether its to show others or it's just to prove something to myself, that's "how I roll!" (to borrow young'n speech ;)!

As I explored my gardens this afternoon, I became acutely aware of just how mature things had gotten. Since I have had to work more recently outside my home, I haven't paid as much attention to my spring crops as I should have. I have a flower on my peas! My radishes are ready to enjoy! My wintered over collard greens, spinach, and swiss chard are about to bolt (flower) on me! Needless to say, I have a lot of produce ready for the picking!!

When we step back for a moment and notice what our garden is doing and telling us, we realize that even when we believe things are stagnant, everything is continuing to grow and evolve. Don't see this as waisted time and effort by any means! Take the time to acknowledge growth and maturity. That is what I've learned this season; no matter how slowly I feel things are progressing, they are always mature far before I'm ready for them!

I think you can look forward to a few recipes involving collards or swiss chard. Cam loves radishes plain or in salads, so I doubt he'll let me try anything with them. Only time and abundance will tell though! Stay tuned!

Horseradish...very prolific! :)

If you have any good radish, collard,or swiss chard recipes...please share them! I love to try new recipes and experience new flavors!!

Until tomorrow: Live for today and embrace each moment. Our days are limited so we must truly appreciated them in their entirety. Not only will we be grateful, but we will be happy as well!

Much love!