A Long Overdue Update

All spring and summer long we’ve been enjoying the fruits of our garden.  We’ve had greens, lots and lots of tomatoes, some bell peppers, beans, a few cucumbers, several hot peppers, a lonely tiny pumpkin, and a little ol’ watermelon.  We’re also growing in other ways…

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That’s right, our sweet bouncing baby BOY is due to arrive some time in January and we can’t wait to meet him!  This makes 6 boys and 3 girls for our family, making 4 boys in a row 🙂 that is a LOT of little boys!

In other news, I’ve been taking an herbalist class with Vintage Remedies, which has been enlightening among other things.  I knew I was taking the right course when the last paragraph of the first unit summed up what I’ve pretty much more or less been saying to myself for years – health is about the WHOLE person and needs to include a view of our WHOLE world.  A big reason I’m taking this is to educate myself, but to also share that information with others.  I don’t want to just give someone something that will help them, but teach them why it helps, and then show them how they can make it or do it themselves if they have the inclination to do so.

So that’s it for now 🙂 I’ll hopefully be posting more often in the near future.

Tomato Notes

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This is the biggest one from last year, probably 10 ft long. Letting it “sprawl” like this was kinda fun, but since it wasn’t mulched under the plant itself, we lost a lot of tomatoes at the end of the season to slugs (yuck!).

 

Growing tomatoes last year was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done and I’m very much looking forward to giving it a good try again this year.  Last year I did not have success starting my own seeds (for a variety of reasons), but my mom saved the day and donated some healthy tomato plants seedlings to our family and we were able to grow 6 prolific indeterminate tomato plants that we let more or less take over the garden 😛 (I let the plants down from their stakes to install larger stakes, but didn’t get back to them in time and the tomato plants rooted themselves to the ground!).  I feel tremendously blessed that all the seedings I’ve started are doing very well so far.  Here are the varieties we are growing at the moment.

  1. Riesentraube Tomatoes – They are said to be prolific producers with clusters of 20-40, 1 inch round tomatoes that have an average height of only 5ft, which is a perfect height for managing them.  The advantage I see to this variety is high production without having the massive height to deal with.
  2. Amish Paste Tomatoes – They ripen into 6-12 ounce sized fruit with an average height of 5-7 feet which is still a very doable size.  These are said to be good for making tomato paste (duh, lol), and I hope we can try our hand at making ketchup this year!  The kids really wanted to last year, but we never had quite enough to eat them fresh and make fun things.
  3. Pink Brandywine Tomatoes – I’m growing these because I absolutely love to eat them, but can’t find room in my budget on a regular basis for a tomato that sells for $4+ a lb (and brandywines usually weight about a pound, they’re huge!).  These do get VERY tall, but as I’m growing them for big fat tomatoes to enjoy fresh (and not for storage or cooking), I plan to keep them well pruned and topped so we aren’t overtaken by a monster tomato plant.  As a side note, the leaf shape is different than your typical tomato plant.  It’s described as a “potato leaf”.
  4. A Grappoli D’Inverno – also known as “Winter Grapes” in Italy.  These are said to store for 4+ weeks after being pulled up from the ground.  Traditionally they are pulled (plant and all) and hung in a cellar, and can be eaten long after the growing season is over!  They are also said to be very tasty when dried, and I’d like to try my hand at it.  These grow to an average height of 4ft (yay!), and the fruit are about 2 inches round.

So there you have it 🙂 What tomato varieties to you plan to grow this year?

“Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.'” Genesis 1:29

 

School Happenings

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Cute as a button! 🙂

Since I last posted on schooling we’ve made a shift that has made a huge difference for us.  We’ve switched most of our subjects over to Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) and it has been a tremendous help.  We are still using Christian Light Education (CLE) for our learning to read students and beginning math grades because it’s great and I know how to use it already 🙂 no sense in changing that.  So why did we change to ACE?

  • self paced learning
  • self lead learning
  • guided parental supervision
  • the bible and character lessons are in EVERY subject
  • yes the cartoon drawings are out of date, but the content is not 🙂
  • free’s up my mind space for the rest of life!  No prep work or lesson planning needed

What have you been doing to make school easier, but still effective for your goals in your family this year?

Garden Project 2014

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My goals for the year:

  • Getting a head start by starting my own seeds indoors
  • Increase garden space a little beyond last year (this involves taking up turf manually – volunteers being accepted) 😛
  • Grow more flowers (they’re so good for the soul!)
  • Grow enough to ease our grocery budget a bit during growing months

What we’re planning on growing:

  • Tomatoes (4 heirloom varieties, including my favorite, the Pink Brandywine Tomato)
  • Peppers (Chinese 5 peppers – a colorful bush of hot peppers, green peppers and red peppers)
  • Cucumbers (two varieties, we had success with one last year, not the other)
  • Summer Squash and Zucchini (they were killed off by mildew last year while we were on vacation)
  • Greens!  As much as I can 😀 including kale, arugula, mustard greens, cabbage, and some other lettuces
  • Radishes & Beets
  • Pumpkins, just one vine
  • Watermelon, just one vine
  • Spaghetti Squash & Butternut Squash, one vine of each
  • Flowers!  Morgan would like to grow sunflowers.  I plan to do zinnias, feverfew, yarrow, petunias, and various flowering herbs
  • Herbs, LOTS OF HERBS! 😀  I adore them because they make my heart happy 🙂

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A Desperate Prayer

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I feel desperate.  Desperate for answers.  Desperate for comfort.  Desperate for peace.  Desperate for healing.  I get so discouraged in the “waiting“.  Lord help me remain faithful, even if I’m waiting until there is no more waiting left to be done.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7, ESV)

Lord help me in the enduring.  I love you and so I endure.  I love you and so I keep fighting to hope and believe in you and all your goodness.  Give me strength in the refining and when all is done, let nothing remain but you.  Nothing else matters.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1, ESV)

Let all I do be done because of love… because I love you Lord.  No other love will do.  When my soul is beyond weary and I am “done”, let your words flow out of my mouth as I surrender myself to you.  When the pain consumes every last ounce of my patience, may your grace and mercy sustain me (and my children!).

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:4-8, ESV)

Help me refocus my thoughts on you Lord.  Fill me with your peace as I dwell on your goodness.

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Hummus Dressing

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I had a conundrum.  I wanted to keep my chickpeas whole for texture in my salad, but I wanted hummus on my salad.  The solution?  Hummus dressing!  I used all the spice used in making hummus to make a dressing, and poured it over my salad and chickpeas for a delicious treat.  Feel free to add 1/4 cup of olive oil if you need the extra calories 🙂

Here is the recipe:

Hummus Dressing

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 rounded tbsps tahini
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin

Blend up in your blender and pour over a large salad and enjoy! 🙂