Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Garden Update - July 2015

Happy Wednesday!
I realized last evening that I haven't shared any garden progress in a while.
I planted a lettuce bed twice and it didn't come up either time. No idea what I did wrong. I know I planted the first time too deep. So I barely sunk them the second time - still nothing. Lettuce was a fail. I'll try again next year.
My cilantro came up and did great, but I couldn't use it fast enough, it seeded, and we now have coriander. Ha! My dill is thriving, and I need to get it picked and dried so I can use it all winter!

My tomato plants have given us a lot of grape tomatoes, and we've eaten them in salads all summer so far, but the plants are very sick right now. The leaves have all turned brown and they're dying a slow death. Sadness.
My sunflowers - they're a tragic story that pains me to repeat.  I had a row of about 10 sunflowers. They were thriving. They were taller than my kids, and the top set of leaves were as big around as the steering wheel on my car. Then the deer came and decimated every single one of them in a single swoop. Gone. I'm still working through the heartache.
I've got a couple pods of peas on the far west side of the garden that I need to pick before we head out for our camping trip this weekend!
My corn is taller than the kids, and a few ears are tasseling. (Please ignore the weeds.)

My jalapenos and bell peppers are growing fantastically! I can't wait to chop some of those jalapenos up into salsa, and grill the bells!

The zucchini is also thriving. I haven't got a ton of flowers, but they're growing! Those will probably go into either loaves of bread or brownies. Yum.

My pumpkin patch is full and huge!  I've had two female flowers that have opened up that I have hand-pollinated, though I don't think there's any shortage of bees. Now I'm just waiting for the bulbs to turn into big orange beauties! I'll try to get some photos of the pumpkin plants to share with you soon!
I've decided that I'm going to put any birthday money that I get this years towards a mini-tiller. I've tried to keep up with the weeds manually, and it's just impossible. I'm sure it's possible, but not in the amount of time I have to dedicate to the garden each day. I spend about a half hour a day watering, and a couple hours a week weeding. But with my full time job and busy life, I unfortunately don't have more time than that to dedicate to it.
A mini-tiller should do the trick. I can go up and down each row a couple times a week, and that should really help control the weeds. They're crazy!
Do you garden?
What are you growing?
Any gardening tips you'd like to share?


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fitness Rewind!

Living healthfully isn't a race to the finish. It's a lifestyle or a journey (which you've heard 8,000 times, I'm sure), and there are bumps in the road.
After I had Jameson, I started running and lost thirty pounds. I felt amazing.
I weighed somewhere between 125 and 130 pounds when we moved to South Dakota. If you follow me on Facebook (which is currently and temporarily de-activated, by the way), you might remember me posting the red bikini pic.
Then I decided I wanted to start lifting weights. I'm so very glad that I educated myself on female lifting. It's a super empowering thing to get into, and so interesting how it's not only the action of lifting weights, but the diet that really can turn your body into anything you want it to be.
But with weight lifting came weight gain. Some of it is muscle that I never had two years ago. But most of it is me trying to out-train my crappy diet and as a result, gaining fat.
I'm currently navigating one of those bumps in the road. I'm nowhere near where I was two years ago, nor anywhere near where I'd like to be. But I don't give up.
I'm going to start doing what I did three years ago to lose the baby weight and get myself back to where I want to be: tons of water, super healthy food choices, and running.
I tracked my mileage religiously, and plan to start doing that again.
There is no right or wrong body weight or body composition, but it's awesome to set goals for yourself. That's exactly what I'm doing, so please don't get offended because I want to lose body fat and get fit. I'm doing this for myself and no one else.
I have a blogger friend and high school classmate that is a runner. She just had a baby and is going to get back into running, and she does a weekly blog post on Mondays with the previous week's mileage. I think I'll do something similar.
It feels great to:
eat healthful and clean foods
get your heart pumping
be outside
shattering goals
sleeping well
enjoying treats in moderation.
And that's exactly what I intend to do.
Hope you can join me along the way!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Independence Day 2015

And here I am posting about July 4th. I can see summer flying by right before my eyes and I'm not loving it. I feel like we haven't done NEARLY all the things I had on my summer bucket list. We still have time, but as quickly as these last couple months have passed us by, the leaves will be turning orange before I blink again.
We have a camping trip planned for a couple weeks from now, and we'll be heading back to central Indiana again in August when our nephew is born (yay!). Then, Mr. Hendrix is going to be starting school. It's going to be a busy few weeks ahead of us!
This past weekend, Matt had to work on Friday and Sunday, while I was off. The boys and I decided to pack up and head to Portland for the weekend! I felt bad about leaving Matt home alone, but had we stayed in Michigan, the kids would have spent the weekend getting bored and fighting, which would have left me frustrated and snippety. So, Matt got three days of relaxed silence at home, and the boys and I had fun with family!
I got off work around 2:30 on Thursday, picked them up from daycare, and we headed out. We stopped for dinner, and arrived in Portland around 7 pm. The kids played for a bit, then went to bed. It was a relaxed evening, which was good because the next day was crazy. :)
This picture should have been an indication of the level of exhaustion that was to come!

Friday morning started out relaxed. Ha. I always say that coffee tastes better when you drink it in the company of people you love. The kids played while I drank coffee and talked with my parents. It was perfect.

After we formulated our plan for the day, we headed to Muncie (about 40 minutes SOUTH of Portland) to meet my good friend, Amy, and her daughter for lunch at Qdoba. $20 worth of food for the 2 boys and I and they each took about one and a half bites. Awesome. Anyway, we enjoyed Amy's company, and the boys liked seeing Kenna.
After lunch, we went back to Portland, re-convened at my parents' house, then put on swim trunks and headed to Berne (about 20-25 minutes NORTH of Portland) so the kids could play in the splash pad. They had lots of fun!

After we got back to Portland, we rested for a little while, I took a shower, then we headed out to my sister's house, which is in Ridgeville - about 25 minutes SOUTH of Portland. My sister lives in the sticks. Ha! We had a cookout and the boys continued to run out every last bit of their energy with their cousin Rylee.

They stayed the night at my sister's house, and they LOVED it! This was their first sleepover at someone else's house where I did not stay with them. My sister called me before they went to bed, and I walked her through adjusting Jameson's basal rate, and she called me at breakfast so I could help her dose bg and carbs. She's a nurse and a rock star, and it was a huge success. Saturday evening, Hendrix asked if he could stay with them again. Ha!
I used my "me time" on Friday night to get together with some friends and it was relaxing and fantastic to catch up with the people I've known so long, but have seen to little in the last few years of my life.
Saturday morning, we went to the parade downtown. Now, I've lived in three different states in the past 8 years, and I've been to several parades. They always leave me disappointed. I'm pretty sure the parades in my hometown are the reason for that. The parade went on for a good 40 minutes, everyone was very spirited, and it was just fun to watch. Love it.

Granny and Grandfather with their boys.
One of the big sources of pride for Jay County.

After the parade, we had plans to go to El Camino - the best place to get Mexican food. They were closed. Booooooo. So we went to Pizza Hut instead. Gluten-free pizza is always iffy. It's hard to trust something that's prepared in the same kitchen as a food known for the abundant gluten it contains. But we tried it.
Not only does Pizza Hut serve GF pizza, they go above and beyond to train their employees on safe preparation and storage also. I was so excited to see this! Check it out:
After lunch, the kids played a little while, and we rested before heading out to the fairgrounds to have a cookout with my brother-in-law's family and watch the fireworks.

Jameson was fascinated by Travis's half-missing finger. Ha.
And this is basically how the week leading up to this past weekend went, versus the speed with which the actual holiday weekend flew by. Sadness.
We headed out Sunday morning around 8:45. After a stop for gas, a potty break, and lunch, we got back home around 1:30 pm. Jameson discovered that the fingernail polish that Rylee had put on his toes came off and he was distraught. These tears were legitimate sadness. No fit-throwing here. Just grief.
Sweet boy.
Jamers and I took a nap together, then we just messed around the house, the boys took a much-needed bath, and went to bed a bit early.
Matt discovered this ridiculous wasp nest under our second story deck while we were gone. That needs taken care of ASAP, but makes me super nervous.

Hendrix refused to nap all weekend, and insisted that he wasn't tired at bedtime Sunday night.
Alright, man. You aren't tired. That's cool. :)
It was a much-needed weekend with all the people I love. It's a LONG drive to Indiana (though much better than the 19 hours it was previously), but it's really worth the time and exhaustion. The kids just adore their grandparents and cousins, and play so hard they can barely walk.
We can't wait to visit again in August so we can meet our newest little family member, and the boys can play with their Metz cousins!
See you again soon, Indiana!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend 2015

Hi! I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. Can you believe we're already staring at the first of June!? I can't wrap my head around that!
We had one of the most productive weekends we've had in a long time. We did a ton of manual labor, our bodies were very sore and sunburned, but it felt so good. Do you get a lot of satisfaction from working your tail off in a manual way? I certainly do!
The first thing I did when I woke up on Saturday morning was head to the garden! My goals were:
1) Re-plant the corn and peas. I planted them too deep the first time.
2) Transplant my pumpkins.
3) Plant zucchini seeds.
4) Transplant tomatoes and peppers (purchased as starts).

One of my pumpkin starts.
Hendrix was off running around, but Jameson was my garden helper. We took a selfie with our matching mosquito hats. Ha.

After the garden was done, we took a lunch break, then set up the pool we got!
I really wanted to get the 48" deep pool, for my own selfish desires. But after thinking about it, I decided against it. I got the 30" deep pool. This way, the kids can both touch the bottom, and while they still need supervised 150% of the time, there's less of a risk and it will be more enjoyable for them.
In a couple of years, we can get the deeper pool, as long as it's something we will be using a lot. And I foresee much pool usage in this crazy humid Midwest.


We got the pool filled up, and it was green. Ugh. I balanced it, chlorinated it, shocked it, and it was just green. Very frustrating. So we turned to the googles and learned that we most likely had an iron problem. I took my fourth trip to WalMart for this silly pool, put a dose of Metal Control in the water, and it cleared up very nicely.

At the end of the day on Saturday, I was fried. No sunscreen was a big "oops" on my part. It's now Wednesday and it's just now starting to turn from pain to itching. Ha.
Saturday evening, we grilled some pork ribs and relaxed.
Sunday morning, we went to church, and when we got home, Matt got busy....
...building this!!!!!
In my garden research this year, I learned that what the soil needs most is compost. I learned that it's difficult to find, and when you can find it for sale, it's really expensive.
So we're going to start making our own! Hopefully, next spring, I can amend my soil with nutrient-rich compost and it'll produce an even better crop of homegrown veggies. My soil this year is lacking it, I purchased a couple bags of mushroom compost and some chicken manure, but I feel like that's barely going to suit it. We'll see.

Looks gross now, but it's going to turn into some mighty fine black gold!
Small pile. But don't worry. It's going to grow. :)
We are re-training ourselves to put things into the compost bucket in the kitchen now, rather than the trash or the garbage disposal. We're using everything from fruit and veggie peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, basically anything that isn't meat or dairy! I've also added paper towels and shredded junk mail, along with yard trimmings, twigs, and dried leaves. Good, good stuff.
After Matt finished the compost bin (which was made 100% out of stuff we already had lying around the house, by the way), he got to work on our "thicket" as we call it. We don't have a bush hog or anything like that, but there are a ton of little stick-trees growing out by the garden. He pulled them up by hand (they came up easily), then mowed that area to make it much more pleasing to the eye.
The kids like to play back there, and I worry about all the bugs and possibly snakes in the overgrown grass.
Sunday evening, we had dinner and relaxed some more.
Having lived in the Black Hills for a little over two years (which are amazing, by the way), I had forgotten how GREEN everything is in the springs and summers of the Midwest.
Our woods have bloomed like crazy, and you can't even see the road from our backyard anymore. Love it.
Well, except for the mosquitos, of course. Turns out, West Michigan is the 12th worst place in the entire country this summer for mosquitos. Awesome.
Monday equaled much relaxation.
It was a very busy and exhausting weekend, but one I'd LOVE to repeat soon!
This coming weekend, our friends from South Dakota are bringing our camper to us! I could not be more excited to get the camper back, and am already planning a camping trip for the following weekend, hopefully.
I also have big plans for the interior of the camper, so stay tuned!
What were you up to over the holiday weekend?
Do you have any friends or family members who gave all in the service?
What are you most excited about for summer 2015?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Imagine With Me, For A Moment...

If you aren't aware of the high level of racial tension in this country, you've been living under a very large rock. Racial tension so thick you could probably grab a butter knife and slice right through it.
I tend to shy away from politics and current controversy on this blog here, but when I read about a news story and I'm sitting here with tears literally rolling down my face, I can't just ignore it. I also don't like to use the word "unfair," as it sounds kind of childish and immature to me. But I can't think of many better words that describe this situation.
Maybe you saw the article about the group of teens who brutally attacked a 61-year old man and beat him within inches of his life.
Oh, what's that? You weren't aware of this story?
I wasn't either, until today. (Granted, I've been on social media a lot less lately, and this is exactly why.) It happened on April 22nd. That was 20 days ago, if you don't feel like counting. Almost three weeks ago, yet I hadn't heard a word about it until today, when it randomly popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. I decided to check Yahoo and MSN. Nothing, without a somewhat extensive search. The articles I did come across were anywhere from 15 minutes to 11 hours old. Brand new articles, mostly speaking of the charges these kids are facing now, rather than articles that reported what happened WHEN it happened three weeks ago.
Hmm, interesting, isn't it?
All we've heard about for the last five weeks are the riots in Baltimore, how these citizens are so angry and want justice. (Which they appear to have gotten, since the police involved in the case were charged with murder, manslaughter, illegal arrest. But I digress. What do I know?)
Yet, a group of teens who almost kills a man for no reason at all goes without reporting?
You'll notice that the article I linked above doesn't mention race of the teens. And it doesn't need to. Whether these kids are black, white, hispanic, or yellow with purple polka-dots, they're still a bunch of worthless punk-a** jerks. #notsorry
But imagine with me, just for a moment.
Let's say a couple of Caucasian teens were fighting outside the home and on top of the truck of a 61 year old African-American. The owner of the home simply walks outside to try and break up the fight, and a mob of 40+ Caucasian teenagers attacks him and beats him within inches of his life. He is put into a medically induced coma because of the amount of damage that is done to his body.
What are you seeing?
I'm seeing complete, utter, un-controllable CHAOS. More of Baltimore. More of Ferguson. More of whatever else is to come - because you know more is coming.
But the teens that did this to this man were African-American. The article doesn't state that, but follow-up articles that explain the charges against some of these teens do state that and they show pictures of these teens.
What happens? Three weeks pass and no one even knows about this story.
Does this make your blood boil? My chest is literally pounding with anger as I write this post.
The media skews, over-reports, under-reports, hides things, and is basically as corrupt as you can imagine. Don't rely on the media. However, facts are facts. This happened, and we SHOULD be angry that it was all but covered up. We should be angry that this man's life was all but taken, and that he'll never be the same - physically, mentally, or emotionally. We should be livid. But I do not recommend burning down our neighborhoods, or going out for "retaliation" on anyone. I do not recommend breaking into any stores to loot and steal from people who had nothing to do with any of this. I certainly do not condone throwing rocks or anything at other teens, just because of what happened with a group of them.
But anger? You sure as hell better believe I'm feeling ANGER.
There are unfortunate exceptions, as there always are. But generally speaking, my fellow Americans - the racists in this country, of which I USED to be proud to be a part, are NOT the Caucasians.
Have a good day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Current Mayberry Routine

We don't have cable.
For the past few weeks, after we get the boys to bed, Matt and I sit down and turn on the classic TV channel that we do receive via our $13 rabbit ears (best investment!). The Andy Griffith Show is on every night between 8 and 9, and we watch that.
I just adore the simplicity of this show. Language is never a concern, the jokes are always tasteful, and it has us belly laughing without fail during every episode. Love it!
Do you watch any classic TV?
What's your favorite show?
(I Love Lucy is mine!)
Happy Hump Day, friends! Hang in there, the week's half over!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Garden 2015: Prepwork!

If you read my post where I shared photos of the exterior of our new house in Michigan, you saw how excited I was about that little 500 square feet of garden space!
Ok, 500 square feet is significant, but I'm super excited and am going to do my best not to get overwhelmed or over-do it.
As with any undertaking, there is always prep-work involved.
We had some pretty nice weather this past weekend, so I rented a Roto-Tiller and got to work breaking up the compact soil that had had feet of snow sitting on top of it for so many months (before I got here, thank goodness - but I have a feeling I'll get my share this next winter....).

You'll need to move, sir.

After I smoothed it out a bit, and broke the rake into two pieces. Didn't know my own strength, it appears. Oops.
Who doesn't have time for a couple sunny selfies when they're working in their garden?

The last frost date in my zip code is May 19th. I hope to plant very close to that, if not that day. But I want to make sure the soil is warm. To assist with the warmer soil temperatures, I covered the soil with this black plastic. This creates the black t-shirt effect - heat gets in and can't get back out. (I purchased more plastic and covered the middle strip a couple days later.)

On Sunday, I went back out and just planned and schemed. I have drawn up a plan, and know what's going where. We'll see how close to the drawing everything is when it's all seeded and sprouted, though. :)
I'm VERY excited about the whole process. The boys and I started sunflower and pumpkin seeds Sunday afternoon. I can't wait until we can direct-sow our seeds, and buy our tomato and pepper plants from the greenhouse and get those into the ground.
I feel like it's going to be therapeutic for me to work in the garden. It's so quiet and peaceful out there, with birds chirping and the breeze blowing.
I'm looking forward to sharing it with you!
Do you garden?
What's your favorite vegetable to plant?
Any advice for a semi-beginner?