Garden 2011

I should probably be required to write:

I am a bad blogger. I am a bad blogger. I am a bad blogger. I am a bad blogger….

(you get the idea)

At least 100 times on the blackboard.

Sigh.

Funny how completely working and just accomplishing those basic activities of daily living still leave me completely incapacitated at the end of the day.

I makes me REALLY look forward to the day when it won’t be that way. Please, dear Lord, let there be that day one day soon!

Tonight – after dinner, John and I walked out to the garden to see how things are progressing. The remainder of those post is going to pretty much be photos with a few comments.

Enjoy our garden.

We sure are!

…..

The hydrangea is finally in bloom! In August, for heaven’s sake! I love that it blooms right outside the kitchen window.

Here’s a peek at the “new” garden – this is the plot we put in a few years ago and is adjacent to the “old” garden.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that my Romanesco Zucchini is finally putting out fruit! HOORAY! These plants were grown from seed saved from last year’s planting. I love it when a plan comes together!

TONS of grey zucchini blooms coming on the plant.

And with John’s brilliant new fencing job around both garden plots – it looks like we’ll actually get to eat the green beans this year – instead of the chickens and the deer! I can’t tell you how much that thrill my heart. J

John found a volunteer trio of sunflower plants in the pathway between the two garden plots, dug ’em up and planted them next to one of the cucumber trellises – it’s about to bloom – I can’t wait!

Look! Pickling cucumbers actually usable size! Hooray!

…and the first burpless cuke – just about ready for picking.

The lemon cucumber has lots and lots of blossoms – just no cukes yet. (They make the best Cucumber and Green Onion Salad. I can’t wait!)

Tomato plants…. Lots and lots of tomato plants…

Cherry tomatoes! Now all we need is enough sun to get them ripened up!

Look! It’s blushing!

Jessica – just in case you read this – there will be fresh green beans when you’re home – AND – squash. J

Can you believe this? I’ve still got lettuce in August!

The peppers are ripening up.

And the potato plants in the potato condo are at least 6 feet tall!

Yes, it’s true – there are actually still a few pea pods to be had.

And…

:sigh:

They’re back…

Did I mention that I’ve got 50 tomato plants planted in my gardens? And – oh – probably that same number of basil plants, too?

Squash and zucchini. Be still my heart.

Holding out hope for lots more sunny days – even if they’re on the cool-ish side, I’m okay with that.

Here’s to another 60 days of summer! J

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I love this time of year…


I was laying down on the couch-y piece of lawn furniture in the yard this afternoon and looked up and saw this pretty cloud formation. It was about 85° F, there was a bit of a breeze, and it was lovely.

Here’s Crayon checking out the new digs. She – along with the rest of the girls – are trying to figure out the new set up. John built new roosts – so that everyone is at the same height when they sleep. It’s really throwing them for a loop – you should hear them squawk when it’s bed time.

See? It’s cool, huh?

Of course, at the end down there – right before the fan, you take a left into the old part of the coop, where the nest boxes are. There will be additional nest boxes soon – John’s working on them. They’ll be to the right – between the door frame closest to us in the picture and the beginning of that roost.

Are those not the cutest little feet? Isn’t it the cutest little butt? And look! Wing feathers! The chicks are going to be 2 weeks old on Monday. There seriously is nothing more precious than watching these three little adoptees follow their Mama Shelly all through the yard each and every day. She clucks when she finds something yummy for them to eat. She’s teaching them that I am the queen of the world because I bring fun snacks. I love it that they are excited to see me! We are SO doing the letting the broody hen set on fertilized eggs again thing!

There have been lots of visiting kids here the past couple of weeks. My neice and nephew have been visiting off and on over the summer thus far – although they’re returning home on Tuesday. I’m going to miss them so! And my best friend – who lives in Mexico with her husband and children – spends the summers here with her parents, who live right down the street from us and go to the same church that we do. So Pepper has been on recipient of oodles of love overload all week long. I think she’s had more kids throwing balls for her to chase the past two weeks than she has in the entirety of her life. She’s really been sleeping well at night!

 

Here’s one of the Blue Andalusians. I think they’re just beautiful. They are great foragers – and so GREAT for a backyard flock that gets to free range. They’re quiet, polite, and are reputed to be excellent layers – of white eggs! Go figure!

Here’s one of the Delawares in the garden – eating weeds. I love it when they eat weeds – and remember to leave my cucumbers alone! Isn’t she pretty? She’s got black tips on her tail feathers, too. Interestingly enough, the Delawares lay brown eggs!

John and I were lamenting tonight about the sad state of affairs the garden is in this year. Well, I did have a major orthopedic surgery – so I’m almost no help. I can weed some – but as you can see here – not nearly enough! Here a couple of the Speckled Sussex are helping me with weeding. Those are lima and bush beans behind them.

But when it comes right down to it – we’re doing the best we can – and were just so thankful that we have a garden to grow things in!

Look – lots of cucumber flowers – woo hoo!

When this cucumber grows up – it’s going to be in my next batch of Creamy Cucumber Salad!

Here’s Caleb – without a nose. When I was out weeding in the garden tonight he HAD to get close – and as I was trying to take his picture he turned away! Stinker!

OH! And look what we have! I actually ate one tonight – and it was perfectly ripe, sweet, luscious, and perfect. It was the ONLY ONE that was ripe, though. That’s okay – I need the week that it will take them to ripen up to get some projects done before I jump in and start canning jams and jellies.

This is our first year to do corn in AGES. We just really hadn’t had success previously. But with the expanded garden plot we decided to try again. It’s actually about as tall as John – and has put tassels on. I love that! That means there will be corn!

The green beans are coming along nicely. Thus far – no deer have obliterated them. I’ve got a couple of tomato plants that have bites out of them – but so far, they’re leaving the green beans alone.

And if this isn’t cause for rejoicing, then I just don’t know what is!

 

I love these tomatoes – even with the couple of little chicken peck marks in them. They’re a green stripey tomato. I think they’re going to be similar to the ones I eat in Spain – I sure hope so. If so – then it’ll be tomato mush for me!

This really has been the weirdest tomato year we’ve had in a long time. Some of the plants are thriving. Some have set fruit literally at the GROUND – what’s with that? Others are just looking like late bloomers – big time. Virtually every plant has some fruit on it – but man, not the bounty we had last year. Of course, it’s still early…

One of the blogs I’ve read in the past – The Shibaguyz – have constructed potato condos. John decided to give the design a go this year. You build this frame, put the soil in the bottom, add your seed potatoes, and then when the potatoes have come up about a foot or so, you add the next row of boards all around, adding more soil. Again, you wait until more growth, and repeat the process. They say you can harvest 100 pounds of potatoes from one Condo. When it’s time to harvest, you unscrew the bottom row of boards, pull the soil out, and there will be your potatoes! Cool, huh?

Here’s a good peek at the expanded garden plot. See all of the blank space? Yep – it’s the stuff we just haven’t gotten around to planting this year. It’s so bizarre. But, oh well!

Here are my sunflowers (three different varieties, if memory serves), nasturtiums, and poppies that are coming up in the little bed along the street. Please ignore all of the weeds that are coming up along side of them. One day I’ll make it there – just not today, or likely this week.

William was so proud of himself – he caught one of the Delawares!

The hammock my sister sent from Mexico back with Jonathan last year has gotten a real workout the past couple of weeks. The kids swing each other about halfway up the pear tree that it’s tied to. I just don’t watch. They have a great time, though!

So – that’s pretty much what’s going on in the yard!

We’re loving summer – and the beautiful evenings that we can sit out and enjoy the cool breezes and the company of friends and family.

We are blessed.

The Garden, the Flock, et al…

Ever have one of those – well, months! – that just seem to whiz by? I’ve been taking pictures every few days with the sincere intent of updating on the chicks, the big girls, the garden, etc.

Today ends my procrastination! Today I update! (Okay, so technically, it’s tonight now. So sue me!)

The Garden

John has been sick. I’m still recovering from my ankle surgery. Honestly? We’re behind. We’d hoped to get newspaper or brown paper bags down, and then compost or bark mulch on top – but illness, finances, and nuttiness of life took over and it just hasn’t happened yet. That changed today!

A load of compost was delivered – hooray! Yes, this means lots of manual labor on my end, but that will be good for me. I’m just trying to decide how I’m going to keep the stuff out of my cast!

It’s so great to see the corn coming up! And it’s really doing well! We’ve not had much luck with corn in the past, so this is exciting! We’ll try and get it thinned this weekend, and get it mulched.

 John planted two types of pole green beans – the ones in this picture are flourishing – particularly in comparison to the second variety – which seems to be a bit slow and lacking in oomph. I’m hoping a little time will remedy that. I’m determined that WE will eat the green beans this year – NOT the deer!

We were able to actually can some of the green beans from last year – but we ran out quite some time ago – so way not enough! It’s such a bummer when you have to go back to the store bought stuff.

We have actual squash hills now. The plants look so beautiful and healthy – hallelujah! There will be squash soon! I love that so much. Funny how I’ve been missing Mom and Grandma so much this year – the wait for the yellow crookneck squash definitely reminds me of them! J

I’ve done a horrible job of planting flower seed this year. Well, I did get some Cosmos in next to the corn – it’s coming up nicely. And the sunflower, nasturtium, and Shirley poppy in the front bed. It’s nice that the sunflowers are coming along so heartily!

As I’m sure you’ve been able to ascertain from these photos – I haven’t been doing much weeding. I’m a bad gardener! I think that’s part of the reason I’m so excited about the compost delivery today – it’s amazing what a nice layer of mulch can do for a weed problem! Just throw down a layer of saved paper grocery bags, put the compost on top – and voila! No more weeds! You better believe I’ll be out there soon getting that plan into motion!

The Flock

 

 

Remember the Chicken Vortex? First Hallie went missing. Then two of the babies – both Delawares. About a week ago, as I was driving by one of our chicken-owning neighbor’s place, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful Rhode Island Red. “Could it be?” thought I. I promptly determined to bring one of my missing chicken fliers to said neighbor. Later that afternoon William and I did just that, and the neighbor took us to their coop – and said, “Nope. Just our regular group of girls.” She *did* sort of look like Hallie. I wasn’t sure! It was one of those moments when I thought – why haven’t we banded our girls?!

For two nights our babies were missing. Friday we had a family BBQ that we planned to attend. John stayed home – still in the throes of his flu. About halfway into the evening I got a text from him saying, “One of the Delawares is home!”

 We don’t know where she was for 2 nights – but we were thrilled she decided to and found her way home!

 Sunday afternoon as the boys were putting the trash out for collection the next morning Jonathan said, “Doesn’t it smell like there’s something dead over here?” We nosed about but couldn’t find the source. The cats are always finding mice and the likes and playing with them to death – sometimes leaving the partial remains when they’re bored. But couldn’t find anything like that. Yesterday afternoon my cousin Bob and her children were over to play. Her daughter Ari and Karina (my niece who is staying with me this week) were playing hide and seek in the yard when they came in yelling “There’s a dead chicken under the tree!!!” Yes, there certainly was. Poor Hallie. She’d obviously been there for some time. We looked there! But she was quite dark, and it is in a cluster of ground-hugging cedars – and well – we missed her. So – the Chicken Vortex seems to have only gotten one chicken – one of the baby Delawares.

Shelly, one of our California Whites, has gone broody once again. This is the second time for her – the first time was in the dead of winter. You can read about it here. She’s been essentially glued to the nest for several days now – and so after hearing about someone else’s good experiences, we decided to get some fertilized eggs from Eggs 2 U. We got a dozen eggs – part Dominique part Silver Laced Wyandotte. Getting Shelly transferred from the nest boxes where all of the girls lay in the coop to the make-shift “nursery” was an experience for John! But suffice it to say that Shelly and eggs have taken up residence in Pepper’s kennel.

She paced and squawked and paced some more, but she eventually settled down and got to business.

Today she was as happy as a clam to be setting on her eggs.

The funny thing being that she’s always been partial to one of the dummy eggs we’ve kept in the nest boxes in the coop. Last evening we put it in with the fertilized eggs to see if it would entice her to settle down. Don’t know if it did or not – but today – as you can see from the picture – she’s scooted it away from the REAL eggs and is only concerning herself with them!

Our chicks are 9 weeks old today – and are looking less and less like babies – more and more like big girls! I’m still blown away by the fact that the big girls and the not-so-baby-ish babies get along so well. It’s such a relief!

I chose some – well, I guess sort of different – breeds for this batch of chicks. We’re intrigued by the heritage and rare breeds – and so that did have a lot of influence on what we chose.

I’m not sure if my favorites are the Delawares or the Blue Andalusians. They’re completely opposite build. The Delawares are HUGE. The Blues are lanky. We have two roosters for sure – one is a Blue; the other is one of the Buff Minorcas. (There is one other that *might* be a roo – but we’re still watching and waiting.)

We have three different colors of Ameraucana – white, a black with reddish/brownish highlights, and a really golden with brown highlights. They’re all so cute with their puffy little cheeks!

The Fam…

 

 This week we’ve been allowed to have our Jessica home!  She left a week and a half ago to work at a Christian camp about an hour East of here.  She normally wouldn’t be allowed the week off like this, but the camp’s census was down and she was allowed the week off.  (Yay!  I’ve missed her!)  She and William are both working at our church’s version of VBS – called KidFest.  My niece and nephew – Karina and Elijah – are here for the week so that they may attend KidFest, as well.  It’s been great fun for them, too, because my cousin Bob’s children (who are close in age to Karina and Elijah) are attending KidFest, as well.  When they are dismissed at noon, everyone has been congregating at our house for lunch and play time.  These kids sure have been sleeping well!

Jonathan left during the early morning hours Monday for Mexico – where he will go and visit his Mom for the next about six weeks.  It’s so wierd not having him here.  We all miss him!

John is *sort of* getting over the horrible cough/cold/flu or whatever the heck it is that he’s had.  Poor guy – he’s just been having the worst time with this thing.  I’ve threatened actually taking him to the doctor – something he doesn’t much believe in – if he doesn’t get better – soon!

For the most part, we’re all just really glad school is out and the summer is thinking seriously about doing it’s thing.

 What we’re really looking forward to, though…

SLEEPING IN!

I love it when school is out for the summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is way too long – but suffice it all to say that I love this time of year. And here’s one of the big reasons why! J

Aaaagggggghhhhh!!!!!

My blog list disappeared! What will I do?! How will I keep up with everyone? How can I find them all again? Horrors!

See – that’s what I get for being busy as all get out and not spending enough time over here to have my blog list perfectly memorized, darn it! Sigh… Guess I’ll have to work at recreating it. There’s just too much good stuff out there too miss!

So – how’d a whole week go by?! Oh, yeah, that’s right – two nights in the Emergency Room with amazing asthma boy! Some of my time this week, resultingly, as simply been vaporized. There have been weighty things weighing on my mind – as always. Some of them more daunting than others… like, do we buy a house? Or don’t we buy a house? Right now – in light of the financial state of affairs of the country – not seems to be winning out. Danni left a comment on my previous post here that resonated with both John and I… something to the effect that one should perhaps not work so hard at convincing onself that a house may or may not be the right one – that you’d know. We gave a collective sigh and said, “Of course.” What a relief.

You know what? We don’t HAVE to buy a house. We can take our time. There’s no rush. PHEW!

Danni – a deep debt of gratitude bestowed upon your head! Thank you! Although, Madelyn, I must tell you how powerfully tempted we are to pack everything up and head toward your farm in Tennessee! We planned on doing just such a thing a few years ago – had a moving date, plans all made, etc… We love Tennessee. One of these days!

So… during the course of the past week a strange thing has happened… it’s morphed into fall. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it – as if feeling less than thrilled with it would have any impact whatsoever! I struggle quite a bit with kissing summer goodbye… But I’m learning to deal with it.

The change of seasons can escalate the chaos of my life basically without pause is a little dizzying. So – I’m back to the time of year when over 100 miles in a day in my little car without traveling more than 10 miles from home are back. I’ve got to get more serious about being a little more hermit-like! LOL!

Now that’s a BIG egg!

Yesterday BB laid her first egg…


That’s BB on the left. Her name stands for big black – yeah, I know, not very inventive – but we were trying to keep a LOT of chicks straight – and she was just consistently bigger than the other chicks! She (and the rest of the “middle” girls) was 18 weeks old on the 1st of September. So we’ve been watching for her first egg.

Yesterday was the day! It was exciting – but a rather average, albeit a bit smaller than average (compared to the big girls, anyway).

THIS is today’s egg from BB:


Yep – that says 2 7/8ths ounces.

DANG! That’s a BIG egg!

Compared to Rooth’s eggs…And in with the other eggs from the big girls – who routinely lay about 2.25 oz eggs…

By the way… Aren’t they pretty eggs? I love the color variations. The kids are getting expert at being able to identify who laid what egg. Wild!

We live in an old house – and sometime shortly after the house was built (in 1946) someone planted a hydrangea right under the kitchen window. It’s a very large bush! It is kind of wierd, though – the colors on it tend to wash out to almost white in late summer and early fall, and then it seems to shut down production, as I assume other hydrangeas, do. I was walking past the bush – as I do many times each day – and was shocked to see one cluster of flowers on the back to a truly stunning blue. Isn’t it pretty?

Here are a few of the girls out sunbathing the other day… So much for cleaning the carpet and letting it dry in the sun!

It didn’t take us very long along the road of chicken ownership to figure out that chickens make the funniest noises. Henrietta makes the funniest little chirping sound when she’s on the nest box and you dare to disturb her. Here’s a tiny little video clip that Jessica took of her the other day.

And here (the lightest brown egg) is the egg she laid shortly thereafter!

Interestingly enough – Henrietta is still the most consistent egg layer. We get an egg a day from her – pretty much without fail. Rooth is right behind her in consistency. Interesting, huh?

It’s official – I’m outraged!

May 29th, 2008 I celebrated one of the biggest milestones of my adult life: 1 year of being high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) free. (You can read a little about it here.)

I know – seems kinda weird, maybe to wholesale eliminate an ingredient from one’s life, but I have motivation: my bones. I was diagnosed with osteoporosis quite a few years ago – since then I’ve taken big strides to improve my bone density – including losing a couple of hundred pounds, supplementing appropriately, getting appropriate exercise, etc. A little over a year ago it came to my attention that one of my – literally – lifelong addictions was fighting me tooth and nail for my bone density. My love for Coke. One of my orthopedic surgeons mentioned to me a couple of years ago that I wasn’t doing myself any favors by consuming it, but I kinda shrugged the comment off as some health nut type of comment! LOL!

Shortly before I took the plunge and decided to kick the HFCS to the curb my endocrinologist casually mentioned to me that HFCS and carbonation BOTH inhibit calcium absorption.

That stopped me cold in my tracks.

“WHAT?!” I exclaimed. Why didn’t I know that?

That’s when I decided I had to research and decide for myself the veracity of such a statement. I put on my researchers hat and jumped in with both feet. It didn’t take very long to find some alarming information. Timeline was also troubling – introduction of HFCS into the food chain and parallels to the obesity epidemic were difficult to dismiss. Incidence of spikes in the numbers of the general population developing Type II diabetes and that timeline were interesting, as well. And particularly concerning to me, the fact that there were many references to a correlation between increased HFCS consumption overall and declining bone density.

There were some really great resources available. As always, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ was offered lots of interesting articles – one in particular that I found helpful was by Sally Squires entitled, “Sweet but Not So Innocent?” dated March 11, 2003. I wish I could offer a link to the entire article here, but it’s now in their archives and you have to buy it to read the entire thing – the free preview gives you a good idea, tho.

Suffice it to say – there’s a lot of excellent information available for an intelligent person to make an informed choice. My choice, obviously, was to exclude HFCS from my world.

Easier said than done.

Have you ever read labels? I do a lot – one of my motivators for label reading is because I’m allergic to so much stuff, so it’s a pretty important thing for me to do. But have you ever read labels with an end to ferreting out whether or not HFCS is in the ingredient list?

Whoa Nellie!

It’s in almost everything! Good grief!

So why? Why is it everywhere? Why is it in Ritz Crackers? I love Ritz Crackers. Why is it in Wheat Thins? I love Wheat Thins, too! Why is it in crazy stuff that you’d never dream it would be in? Honestly, too much stuff to begin listing. It’s a little bit frightening when you start to pay attention and realize how pervasive the use of the stuff is. And then you look around at your fellow shoppers and the light bulb kind of goes on.

One of the reasons it’s everywhere is money. It’s a cheap way to sweeten stuff. Another reason is that it’s sweeter than table sugar – so your taste buds crave that super sweet sensation. Another reason is convenience – easy to add to stuff, making production costs – even marginally – lessened – which means more profit for the manufacturer.

Maybe another reason is the Corn Refiners Association really, really, really likes having the resources available to produce commercials like the ones I saw last night – over my shoulder as I was sitting at my desk working on a project.

Okay – so let me just preface this by saying – I really don’t watch a lot of TV. Just not a lot of time. Usually it’s kind of by accident that I catch stuff. Kinda like last night. So I don’t know how long these commercials have been playing, or the web site they promote has been active – but last night was the first time I saw them.

Let me just give a brief overview of the first commercial I saw. I’d give you a link to it – but I don’t want to promote the stinkers who are promoting it! Two Moms – at a party of some sort – it’s summer time – happy children playing in the background. One Mom approaches the obviously hosting Mom as she’s pouring some sort of juice into glasses for kids. Approaching Mom says something to the affect (and in an obviously condemning tone) “You must not care what your kids eat/drink. You know that has high fructose corn syrup in that, right? You know what they say about it, don’t you?” Hosting Mom responds with a very laid back persona, “No, what are they saying?” Approaching Mom responds, obviously stumped, with hems and haws… Hosting Mom interjects, “That it’s made from corn, it’s all natural, and should be used in moderation like table sugar?” To which Approaching Mom stammers, “I love your shirt!”

So bottom line – one must conclude that anyone who is opposed to the use of HFCS is:

1. Stupid
2. Really stupid.
3. An idiot as well as stupid.
4. And a fear-monger as well.

Okay – yeah, I know, sorry. I’m mad. I shouldn’t say stuff like that. But STINK!

I know better than to ask, “Don’t they care?” Because obviously – they do – just not about the stuff that seemingly really matters to me.

Okay – I’m gonna shut up now. I’m still too mad.

Glimpses of Fall

I refused at the time to admit I saw it, but I did. I know I did. Not just because I saw it, but because one of the kids did, too – and had the nerve to verbalize it…

“Look! Mom! That tree… it’s starting to turn!”

A perfectly innocuous thing to say, but it does not jive well with my current state of impending Fall denial!

I don’t want it to be fall yet.

I’m still just trying to settle into summer and truly savor the glory of it all.

I don’t want the kids to go back to school yet.

I don’t want to be cold yet. (Well, but I’d also not like to be quite as hot as the past week has been either! Finicky, huh?!)

I don’t want to get rained on a bunch yet.

And I’m not ready for the gray days yet.

See – it’s not really Fall I’m dreading, is it? It’s more winter. Fall is just the first step toward winter, of course. Fall can be simply glorious here. I love the years when we have a lingering summer and enjoy dry, temperate weather far longer than is typical. I could go for a Fall like that.

It’s hard to be in Fall denial, though, when one spends hours upon hours at the high school getting the kids’ schedules and yearbooks and textbooks and photos taken care of!

It’s hard to be in Fall denial, as well, when the high today was I think less than 70 degrees.

And it’s hard to be in Fall denial when it rained – not just a tad bit – and soaked the yard (and me!), and looked not so much like summer – gray, damp, a little bit dreary.

But, I’ll survive it. I don’t know why it’s so profound this year. Maybe it’s because I’ve got two kids in high school this year? Maybe cause I’m feeling like the time is short to hold them tight and love them well? Maybe because my neice and nephew started their school year today, now that they are safely back to their own home after having spent the better part of the summer here.

Whatever the case, I’ll reflect on these lovely verses:

Be glad, O people of Zion,
rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given you
the autumn rains in righteousness.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.
The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
‘I will repay you for the years
the locusts have eaten —
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm—my
great army that I sent among you.
You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the Lord your God,
and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.
Joel 2:23-27 (NIV)
It really is about perspective, isn’t it? Seasons are a good thing. And once again, I’m thinking too far ahead – not reveling in the beauty of this lovely remaining season and the good things God has in store for me while it yet remains. So I’ll try not to miss the present in anticipation of the future.

Our Garden continues to grow…

You get busy with stuff and you turn around and bam! they go and grow up on you! Green beans of course! Can you believe how much they’ve poofed? And there are flowers forming all over the place! Woo Hoo!

Yay! An actual zucchini!

There will be squash for dinner tomorrow night! It is a little unfair, I’m afraid. Jess, my daughter, is away for the week – she’s my squash co-dependent, but in her absence I promise to do my very best to savor every succulent bite! 🙂

I hope this picture shows up okay… It’s a picture of a bumble bee – mid-flight – approaching a German Giant tomato blossom. He was so beautiful – I hoped to get maybe a snatch of a little glimpse of him in a photo – but wow – full-sized it’s quite the photo!

We’ve got a tomato explosion going on! There are green tomatoes everywhere! And they’re beautiful. I’ve got lots of plans for these babies!

Aren’t these the prettiest little pear tomatoes you ever did see?

This is a German Giant heirloom tomato – it’s the most unusual looking little start of a tomato – almost flat. With a name like German Giant you gotta wonder what kinda size this little fella is gonna develop into!You should smell the basil. It’s heavenly. I’m hoping to start making pesto in the next week. I make it up, put it in little freezer-friendly 1-cup containers, and then throw it in the freezer for use throughout the year. Even if I do say so myself, it’s wonderful. What a wonderful thing to thaw it out and be returned to the amazing smell of fresh basil in summer!
The cucumbers are getting bigger!

And John got the next bunch of green beans in. This side is a runner bean called Scarlet – I think they’ll be a great addition to our garden. I honestly can’t remember the name of the beans he planted on the other side, but I promise to try and investigate and report soon!

Here’s a better view of the trellis system that John built a couple of years ago. We’ve used them for cucumbers and peas in the past. It will be interesting to see how it works out for green beans!

They say it’ll rain tomorrow. Today is 22 days without rain. I’m ready for a little rain. It only makes sense, of course, I thorughly watered the garden today! 🙂

Cucumbers!

Do you see that? just above the flower (and the pink construction tape that I use to tie plants with) – the little itty bitty cucumber?

Woo Hoo!

I admit it – I was worried. There are green tomatoes galore, even some peppers present, squash coming on like gangbusters – but no signs of cucumbers! I worried there weren’t enough pollinators. I worried that the ones that we’d seen weren’t getting their job done.

Okay – I admit it – I worried it would be another dismal result with our attempt to grow cucumbers. I thought, “Great – I’ve gotten cocky, now they’re gonna show me how much I don’t know!”


But – sigh of relief – the pollinators are doing their jobs… See? There’s a lovely bumble bee about his business – bless his little heart!

I honestly believe that the sight of a yellow crookneck squash plant in serious bloom is one of the loveliest sights there is… feast your eyes…


Hard to believe summer is halfway over. The kids go back to school in six short weeks. It feels like the summer isn’t just passing – but evaporating!
We are on serious egg watch here. Henrietta, Hallie, and Millie are now 18 weeks old – RIR’s typically start laying somewhere in the 18 to 22 week mark. So we’re keeping them in the coop/run area for the majority of the day, only letting them out to free range in the late afternoons – in hopes that when the day comes that they decide to join the ranks of laying chickens that they’ll decide to do so IN the nest boxes! Updates to come, of course!

Lemon Snap Cookies

I’m pretty sure my kids think it’s a total joke whenever they hear reference to the fact that I once was employed as a baker and even went to culinary school. They look on incredulously when I – on occasion – report just what being the baker at a summer camp entails… you know, things like working from 4am to 1pm six days a week, or making 1200 cookies a day, or making bread – from scratch – very nearly daily in any array of possible forms. I think they must suspect the veracity of these little tidbits simply due to the fact that I pretty much almost never bake! It’s sad and appalling – but true.

So, I made a determination some weeks ago that I would attempt to do a bit more baking – maybe even a lot more baking. We’ll see.

In that spirit, here’s my recipe for Lemon Snap Cookies

Dina’s Lemon Snap Cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

3 cups granulated sugar
1 pound butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda

Some extra granulated sugar in a shallow pan or dish

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. I use my Kitchen Aid Professional stand mixer starting out on a fairly low setting – making sure to soften up the butter pretty well before adding the granulated sugar, lemon extract, and lemon juice. Once these are all incorporated fairly well, kick the speed on the mixer up a bit and allow ingredients to get to a pretty light and fluffy consistency.

Add the eggs one at a time with the mixer still going. Allow a little time to make sure the eggs are incorporated thoroughly.

Mix together the dry ingredients. You can sift them if you feel the need. Turn the mixer off, add the dry ingredients, and then turn the power back on – on the lowest setting. Mix just until the ingredients are completely integrated. Turn the mixer off, remove the guard (if you use one – and if you don’t – why don’t you?! They’re awesome!) and paddle, and scrape the bowl down. Return the paddle and guard, mix a few more times to be certain everything is completely blended.

I like to use a cookie dough scooper – they’re just so quick and easy. I have a couple of different sizes, and for these the smallest size is a MUST! As you can see below, I drop the dough into a dish with granulated sugar to roll each cookie in before depositing it on the cookie sheet.

Bake these at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Very important: these go from being perfectly done to burnt in quick order. That 10 minutes is really and truly all they need!

It’s really important to know that these are very thin – almost lacey – cookies and spread a LOT! They’re kinda crisp on the outside, and kinda chewy on the inside. Thus, spacing them out carefully on the sheet is important.

Here’s what they look like coming out of the oven. Just a little word of advice. They just aren’t that tasty when they’re warm. They really come into their own when they’ve had a chance to cool completely.
Once these are cooled completely, brew yourself a nice cup of hot tea, sit down somewhere and put your feet up, and relax while you sip your tea and nibble on your cookie.
This batch makes about 120 cookies.