I meant to post about the garden all summer long, but life was so busy that I had no time for this blog. I was first consumed in home school planning, then theological editing for the new small group studies published by Blessed is She (Blessed Conversations–link here), then we traveled, then we came home, had two weeks and then started school.
I also researched and wrote a Bible study to give at my home parish in every free moment I had between everything else. The monthly Bible study started last night, and there is a bit of relief as it went really well. I have always been intimidated by the idea of public speaking, but I guess being a writer makes people want you to speak. It seems to be a skill worth developing.
Now that everything is becoming beautifully Autumnal in Minnesota, it is kind of fun to peak back at the heights of our summer garden.
The gardens which I planted in May were lovely all summer and peaked in July and August. We added black-eyed Susans and a few other plants to our flower beds along the driveway, and they filled the garden so beautifully, that I am planning to put in black-eyed Susans and cone flowers along our front walk next summer. I am trying to pace myself with our garden additions even though I just really want my yard to be full of ALL THE FLOWERS now. I just love having flowers everywhere.
I have always put in annuals in the beds along the side of the house. They are so narrow, I do not think that I could put perennials here in addition to the tulips that come up every Easter. The girls helped me pick out the snap dragons, allysum, vinca, and marigolds. We also did our traditional morning glory window cover.
I added some potted flowers to the edges of our patio, and I loved having flowers there. I can’t remember any of the names of these flowers, but the little purple ones were my favorites.
I added some raspberry bushes along the edge of my yard (you can see our neighbor’s ferns and hydrangeas)
In the first food garden bed we had an abundance of mint, oregano, and basil. I planted some cabbages that we will probably harvest this weekend. The squash plant you see to the left voluntarily grew out from under our compost pile and ended up taking over much of the garden and crept into the yard. It gave us gorgeous ornamental gourds in great abundance.
Our tomato plants were so abundant that we made salsa (twice). We might can some green tomato pickles this weekend as well, since the frost will come eventually and this weekend we have time to can pickles. We also had the glorious time of harvesting a cucumber a day that we have been always delighted to have each summer. We just slice it, salt it, and eat it fresh!
Our sugar snap peas and green beans did not do as well as I had hoped. We were out of town for most of the pea harvest, but the summer was so mild that the peas trickled on into early August. Our beans kind of wimped out, and I am thinking of not doing them next summer. Maybe double the peas and freeze the ones we can’t eat… though we can eat a lot of fresh garden peas.
We also grew broccoli (which I have let bloom at this point), carrots (which the girls harvested and washed for me last week), and Swiss chard (which I largely neglected, but it is a forgiving plant and does not mind). I meant to plant collard greens, but never got to it. I also planted rows of lettuce between all of these things which finished up by July before these plants got too big.
The garden is slowly dying these days, and I am thinking about winterizing. I am always grateful for the end of the garden season where we can just sit tight inside and enjoy being warm. Yard work is wonderful in summer, but when it overlaps with school time, it makes things a little too busy.
My plans for the colder months are to focus more on being patient in home schooling and putting my energy into reading and writing. I also am looking forward to the liturgical season changes as we end this year in November and dive into Advent, then Christmastide, then Lent, and finally Easter. When Spring comes I am sure I will be daydreaming about what flowers to plant, what fresh foods I cannot wait to feast upon, and warm Summer days.
|My stock Advent wreath photo.. this is a few years old…but looks the same this year!|
1. One of the goals I have in setting family traditions is for them seamlessly be apart of our days, weeks, and years. I think that our Advent ones are pretty well established. We have not changed anything from last year or the year before. It took me about 20 minutes to set up our Advent in the home: wreath, Jesse tree, wreath on door. We fit the Jesse Tree into our night time prayer time. We sing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel with the lights out a dinner. We pray for Jesus to help us prepare to receive Him in our hearts at Christmas.
2. I was just talking to some other moms at our home school co-op this morning about how easy the internet has made Christmas shopping. You can do it in a few hours plus you get the excitement of packages almost every day!
3. The main laborious part of Advent for us is Christmas cards. We still write them all by hand, even the addresses. We purchase our cards from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priests, and the recipients of each card is enrolled in their novena of Christmas Masses, which I think is so cool. It is worth the card writing tradition to give this gift to all our family and friends. We like to spread out the card writing. The professor and I each do ten a night until we are finished.
4. The weekend before Thanksgiving I took the advice of a few Facebook friends and let my garden Brussel Sprouts brave a cold front. I harvested them on Tuesday in my last harvest of the Spencer Garden 2016 season. They were nearly frozen when I brought them in, so we blanched and froze them immediately for use on the Immaculate Conception. I am going to try them again next year, but plant them earlier and actually space them out so they get more sun. We had a small forest of plants, that only yielded 1.3 lbs of marble sized sprouts.
5. Yesterday, for the Solemnity, I made the Professor’s favorite pie, steak, stout, and mushroom, accompanied by the garden brussel sprouts braised in cream and served with bacon from our “happy” half hog. The “happy” beef is from the Professor’s aunt and uncle’s hobby farm; G even got to pick which of the beeves she wanted for our freezer. It was all delicious. My dear toddler son has yet to discover that Good Food is worth eating, so we had a leftover pie to freeze and eat at a later date. Maybe on the octave?
|A little blurry, but perhaps that captures the mischievous glee he takes in all he does…|
6. Speaking of toddler sons, I am pretty sure that God made toddler boys for the purpose of having cute haircuts. The hair cutting process itself it not cute: fussing on his part and my fear of cutting my own fingers off as he flops about. But the result is adorable. I am a little obsessed with his hair and eyes these days. But also so thankful that he naps and has an early bedtime as his favorite things to do are drag chairs around, turn lights on and off, and try to get at everything on the kitchen counters.
7. I had heard that there will be a new Rite of Marriage in the Roman Catholic Church soon, but I did not realize that it was so simple. According to my girls to get married a bride has to walk down the aisle to the singing of “Alleluia” and then “Kiss Lips” with the intended groom. When one daughter announced that she had married her balloon I informed her that she had the wrong matter to have the Sacrament of Matrimony and probably the wrong form as well…
Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes. Please pray for the repose of the soul of a friend of hers, a husband and father, who passed away suddenly this week.
I am linking up, yet again, with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes.
1. We celebrated the Nativity of Our Lady yesterday, and the girls wanted me to make all of ours favorite cake. It was inspired by the peanut-butter cup cream pie I always order for my birthday. It is chocolate cake, frosted in chocolate with peanut butter frosting decorations and chopped Reese’s cups on top and on the side, and the middle layer consists of a thick layer of peanut butter frosting, chocolate frosting, and more chopped peanut butter cups. It is sooooo good. We figured if Our Lady was having cake with us for her birthday, this is the one she would want.
2. The girls devised a new way to elect a president while I was working on the cake.
“We should have whoever can make the best cake be the next president!”
“Yeah, that would be awesome!”
“Mom makes the best cakes.”
“Mom, do you want to be the next president?”
“Not really, but I bet I can make a better cake then the people running…”
It might be time for the 28th amendment, but I hope someone else can make a better cake than I do.
3. I featured our house growing morning glories a month or so ago, but we also planted them all along the fence adjacent to the driveway. They are pretty stunning these days.
4. We also have some blue ones on the house, which are our particular favorite.
5. We sent the professor off to his first day of school this semester, and because we had already started school a month ago, I did not mind as much the fussing of a certain toddler-baby. He had been so cheerful all of August that I knew it was just him feeling unwell. The school week went fine after that, and we are peacefully anticipating the weekend!
6. Blessed is She made a liturgical planner for the school year, and I have been using it and loving it. It makes my life feel so much more ordered.
For some reason it is helping to have my day written down, instead of scheduled in my head. It is not that I am doing things any differently than I was before; I am just writing it in the planner. It is absolutely lovely as well, with a full two page calendar every month, notes for planning things at the beginning of each week, and hourly slots for each day.
So, so, nice. They are taking preorders right now for one for the 2017 Calendar year. Don’t miss out if you are interested!
7. Speaking of Anna, and our friend Jacqui, all of us were featured together in an article in The Catholic Spirit, the Archdiocesan newspaper for the Twin Cities. Check it out, mom-bloggers are so interesting… 😉
1. Here is F to take us on a tour of the garden this year. First, note the wild flowers abounding in the lawn. We have switched from gangling dandelion stalks to patches of white clover. It is a visual improvement in my opinion. We like to be chemical free in our yard, so we let the wild things grow. We even have a pretty sort of wilderness growing around the primroses that a nice gardener left for free outside of morning mass one day. We do have plans for weeding and mulching in this spot soon, but for now the wild things abound.
2. In a spurt of weeding about a month ago, I found this Easter Lily growing under my hostas. I planted it in the ground two springs ago and it did not even come up last year, so I presumed that it was dead. I moved it out amongst the daffodil bulbs and have hopes that it will flower one of these years.
3. My tulips have all dried up and I switched over to annuals along the house. This year we have periwinkles and alyssum.
And L who helped me pick out plants planned her own spot of marigolds and these red flowers whose name I cannot currently recall. We also have a patch of morning glories not photographed.
4. Onto the food garden. Here are my herbs for the year: mint, parsley, basil, oregano, and a small blueberry bush that is two years old. I think I will transplant the potted basil once our lettuce is finished to have more room to grow. We are all about pesto sauce.
5. The lettuces are ready for harvesting, and we also have some kohlrabi, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and a wide variety of weeds. The only brussel sprouts I have even enjoyed have been garden grown, and the only kind the professor has even enjoyed have been cooked in bacon fat, so we are giving them a try this year.
Pictured below is the cucumber plant and the carrots. I am working on training it up the trellis, and it will be dominated.
6. Here we have the other garden box. The peas are taking off again, and the girls made a first harvest of tiny pea pods yesterday. I am hoping for some green beans to be climbing upward soon, though some insect is feasting on them ever since they came out of the ground. We put the eight tomato plants in the sunny garden box as well, and have high hopes for delicious tomatoes. I saw a few green ones already!
7. Finally, here are some little apples on one of our apple trees. According to my research we should remove the young fruits to help the tree get established and to not weigh down the tender young branches. But I think we are going to leave a few just to see what the taste like.
Head on over to Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes!
1. Happy Friday! Home schooling has made me love Fridays more than ever. It makes my weekdays fuller, and makes the weekends more of a break. It reminds me of how life was when I was in school, except, no homework! Perhaps that is how all working adults feel as well.
2. I am also sooooo ready for summer break, but don’t tell that to my daughter; we have at least 6 more weeks of math to do. I am half contemplating hiring a mother’s helper to watch the kids for a few mornings a week so that I can do a little bit more writing guilt free. That would be nice. Patio writing with a cold-pressed coffee. That would be the life.
3. Speaking of warmer weather, I planted some seeds last week. Everytime I plant seeds I think of the Frog and Toad story where frog plants seeds and then panics that they will not grow. He goes out and reads to his seeds, sings, brings light at night. Well these seeds got watered by me twice, and then the Spring began to do the rainy thing, which is so much better than the snowy thing now that it is almost the end of April. I planted some carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and broccoli raab, lettuces, and snow peas. Once it is more consistently warmer I will do more.
4. Broccoli seedlings. Yay!
5. I love tulips; they are so happy.
7. My three year old F informed me this morning that she is “going to cut off all [her] hair, and find some red hair, and sew it to [her] head, and make two braids” and be Anne of Green Gables. And to her sister L she is “going to cut off all her hair and find some black curly hair and sew it on her head and she will be Diana.” I think I better hide the scissors.
That’s all folks!
I am linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.
1. Happy Easter! We had a lovely Triduum, not pushing our limits with four kids. M and G went to Holy Thursday. I made it out to the altar of repose at our territorial parish once they came home from St. Agnes. On Good Friday we all went to the afternoon Mass of the Presanctified (that is the traditional name for it, the Eucharist is already consecrated, hence “presanctified”). I
had a wrestling match stood in back with T for most of it. Saturday we stayed home. It was a good idea all around. M and I like to do the 12 readings from the old, old Easter vigil on the Holy Saturdays that we don’t get to go. So we did that, and it was nice. We went to Sunday morning mass and then spent the day at the farm in Wisconsin with M’s aunt, uncle, and cousins. We had a lovely time there as usual.
2. Secondly, thank you all for your prayers for my dad and I a couple of weeks ago. Dad had another scan, and will be seeing his doctor next week to hear about his options. As for my concussion, I am going to be going to physical therapy for about a month to help me become more tolerant of visual stimulation (too much of which has been causing me to be lightheaded, dizzy, and nauseated).
3. Today did not turn out at all like I expected. We were planning on going to our home school co-op only to have the baby wake up sick. The poor little guy had to have two baths this morning from various effects of his illness and has been running a fever all day. Instead we stayed home, and did things like plant some seeds. I think everyone enjoyed it. We had four little starter sets from Easter baskets, but they came with so many seeds that we planted 7 more basil plants, and two strawberry plants from another starter kit. I am hoping the light from the AeroGarden will give our plants the help they need to get a head start on summer.
4. I got around to some things I have been wanting to do for awhile, like put the Easter grass away and organize this school supply cabinet. I have been meaning to organize it since September, but never got around to buying the paper organizing racks. So, these stacks of paper have been laying in a messy stack with other things scattered about. I do not have before pictures for you. At any rate, my dad had some extra office organizing supplies and brought them when he came to visit it. A sick day for baby and canceled outing was the perfect time to get started!
5. I meant to write in the afternoon, but the girls asked me to help them build their Lego pizzaria. This set was mine as a little girl. So, instead of writing I spent 45 minutes digging through Legos and building with my kids. I think it was worth it. And I have discovered that most Lego sets have directions online.
6. Spring is springing even though we were in the 30s today. I am thinking about buying seeds this weekend and planting cold crops outside soon. Our tulip bulbs are well on their way to flowering. And these daffodils are on their third spring and finally look established. In the past we have gotten a few straggler in May. It looks like we will have an abundance this year! I love daffodils!
7. We have been a little delayed in our indoor plant traditions this year, so instead of an Easter lily, we have an Easter Amaryllis…
We were also late in that we planted the Resurrection garden grass thing on Good Friday, so our grass is just starting to come in. I suppose it is a good thing Easter lasts 7 weeks–maybe this little lawn in symbolic in that the joy of Easter does not happen all at once, but we grow closer to God slowly over the Eastertide so that we are more spiritually ready to receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
I am linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum. Head on over for more quick takes!
1. Nine years ago today I woke up to go to the 6:30 am Mass in Christ the King Chapel. I woke at 6:07, got dressed in running clothes, stumbled down the second floor Marian Hall to the bathroom, popped in my contacts, and pulled my hair up. Then I rushed quickly back to my room to grab my phone and raced off to Mass. I noticed my phone light up with a call as I was walking. My sister was in labor. In labor! A couple of weeks early! I promised to pray, especially at Mass. After Mass, I went for a short run. This was back when I convinced M to go running with me. I think it lasted about two runs. But anyway, I was trying to get into running. It was a tough jog, but I offered it up for my laboring sister. And by the time we were walking to the cafeteria for breakfast, my new baby niece was born. Hooray! And now she is nine years old. Happy Birthday to my first niece!
2. The garden is still going strong, though our tomatoes are not ripening as quickly as they had been, and our cucumbers are down to once a week or so. I picked this carrot yesterday.
I think it is part Twi’lek or at least distantly related to Bib Fortuna. (Please, please, catch my Star Wars reference.)
3. Our morning glories on the side of the house have really taken off.
This was a winning experiment, so we plan to do it again next year. I am going to let each girl pick a seed packet. Not pictured are our annuals. I have a sense for what works in our side garden and what does not. I am forming a plan beyond, “lets try some random flowers.”
4. Fall clothes… I need some jeans that fit. I found a great pair last September while thrifting, but my PP midsection is far from being ready for those… so I need to go out and find new ones. M promised me some shopping time soon, but I am not sure that the baby will let me go… I also am going to hunt down a cute trench coat, because we have enough chilly days that are not freezing that I am ready in find a nice cool weather jacket that will last and fit my varying sizes.
5. Guess who has been irritable, drooling, having trouble napping for long stretches and has two swollen bumps on his bottom gum?
This guy…wish us luck…
6. Quiet time has been my saving grace these days. Even quiet time with T is awake is so so necessary. The rules for the non-nappers are: stay in your quiet time space and play quietly until I say you can get up… we may or may not milk two hours out of them most afternoons. T sleeps whenever he is tired still, but F (almost 3) sleeps habitually at 1:30pm or stays in her crib. If you have little kids who don’t nap and don’t do quiet time, I highly recommend it…
7. And check out this artsy shot. It cracks me up…
This is only my second Five Favorites ever (linking up with Jenna at Call her Happy), and really it is just bunch of links to recipes I don’t want to lose.
I should write them down on paper, because I still use cookbooks and my recipe book most of the time.
|Making pesto with the baby.|
Now that I have an 8 week old/am 8 weeks postpartum I am trying to cook again. Plus, I have a whole bunch of great foods coming out of my garden.
1. Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesean, Basil, and Parsley
This is going to be a go-to Friday night meal for a long time, I think. So, yummy, so easy. And it would go great with Tabbouleh salad.
I love Tabbouleh; maybe it is my 1/8 Lebanese coming out. (I also love Falafel, and the garlic sauce at the Maronite church fish fry…) I finally made it. This is not the exact recipe I used, but close enough. You really just need a lot of parsley, and then the other stuff: burghul, garlic, lemon juice (lemony is essential), oil, tomatoes, and cucumber. Any ratio that you like will work.
3. Carrot Top Pesto…
I was determined to use my nice green luscious carrot tops. So, I made this pesto despite rumors that carrot tops might be poisonous? I think it is the same issue the presence of alkaloids in vegetables like raw spinach. So, basically, don’t eat tons of it everyday, and you won’t have a toxic build-up.
As for the pesto, the kids loved it because of the garlic and parmesan… M thought it was very similar to basil pesto, which I didn’t quite agree with. Next time I might do half carrot, half basil. Or parsley…. or oregano. We have a ton of oregano.
|Yes, that is a quart of cold press concentrate…|
4. Cold Press Coffee
I can’t believe that I did not try this sooner. So good. I also drink mine with milk and a little bit of simple sugar syrup sweetener departing from my normal black hot coffee. It almost tasted chocolatey.
5. Easy to Peel Hard Boiled Eggs
Not exactly new thing for us, but I wanted eggs that I could peel easily. This technique nailed it. I have been eating a ton of salads since T was born, because we had a lot of lettuce, and a hard boiled egg really tops them off nicely… especially on meatless days.
There you go… Happy Summer eating!
1. Tomorrow is the last day of the novena to Bl. Louis and Zelie Martin! I will post a link to a litany for their feast day. I had forgotten since last year how powerful and realistic the daily reflections are on marriage and family life. When these two are canonized, they are going to be an even greater example for marriage and family life.
2. I had a birthday since we last did quick takes, with my traditional chocolate peanut butter cup pie. Also, here is the only photo of me and T since I was in the hospital.
3. My sister asked for more baby photos. I have not really been able to take many photos of the baby. Here is one from last week.
But today I got his FIVE WEEK old self dressed in his first 3-6 month outfit (he is in a cloth diaper), fed him, and he was happy. I set him down to snap a photo and he did this. This is why we don’t have lots of photos of the baby.
4. Garden update! Our lettuce harvest was massive and delicious. There are still a few plants that have not bolted. And I am trying a second planting in a shadier spot. The cold crops don’t like the heat of the summer. The peas are still going strong. The chard has been delicious. The carrots, cabbages, and leeks are still coming.
Here is the first of our cucumbers.
5. Other Garden: These nine tomato plants (in front of the lilac bush) are covered in grape, cherry, or yellow pear tomatoes waiting to ripen. We are going to have tomatoes coming out of our ears soon. The pepper plants are not really growing, so we will see. The herbs are doing well. And those are potato plants in the far back.
6. We did some peach canning yesterday, but I am going to give it its own post next week, because a days worth of canning deserves its own post. For real.
7. In case you missed it, M and I published our second article for ChurchPOP reviewing the films on the Vatican Film List. This time was the Religion category.