Thursday, July 30, 2015

Family Campout


Summers are for:

Family reunions
Sleeping in tents
Tubing down a river
Stinky Out houses
Nature collections
Frisbee with cousins
Camp skits
Mosquito bites
Riding bikes
Gathering rays of sunshine to store for the dark winter months ahead.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Louisa is Seven!

It's funny how people often ask when a birthday arrives, "so, do you feel any older?"  Of course twenty four hours won't make a difference in size, maturity, wisdom, wrinkles or abilities.  Growth, physical and otherwise is gradual.  It's scarcely noticeable from day to day, but those days do add up and within a year, the signs that time is passing becomes apparent.  It seems for the young and the old particularly, a year means a lot.  And I noticed especially for my Louisa, this year has brought great changes, many of them very recent.

Her teeth, for one, have been falling out like stars in the sky.  My kids get their teeth really early and consequently loose them very early.  She's lost seven teeth to date.  Seven teeth for seven years.  Also, just within the past couple of weeks she decided to take the leap and learn to ride a two wheel bike.  We got her bike all ready and I took her out on a couple of different occasions.  It didn't come as quickly as either of us had hoped.  Nate took her out a different time but she was just a bit too nervous.  She still insisted, however, on getting on her bike and walking it while straddling it to various friend's houses.  And on one of these occasions, it just happened.  She learned to ride.  She came home to show us that she had figured it out.  What a great day.  The next day, she learned how to stop.  That was a bit painful.

And most recently she has conquered her fear of water slides!  Hooray!  For years she's been too frightened to go on one.  Thanks to some really awful parenting on my part (forcing her to ride with me) she was even more against the idea.  But last week, she did it!  And then again, and again and again.

Also within the year her reading abilities have taken off along with a love of reading.  It's so fun to watch her curled up with a book or sounding out words on street signs.

It's such a joy to watch her grow and become her own person with her own ideas and personality.  Happy seventh Louisa!  We love you!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Garden Journal


Well, my photographic garden journal doesn't exactly show gradual progress.  In fact I haven't taken pictures of my garden since the first seedlings appeared.  But we've been busy this summer, even in the garden.  Every year I feel like I need to make excuses for my garden; for the small plants and less than desired harvest.  There's not enough sun, that's for sure.  Sometimes I don't water as regularly as I should.  That'll do it.  And then there are any number of contributing factors that add to this not so productive plot of land.

But also, every year I need to remind myself that my harvest doesn't need to be bountiful in order for it to be a successful garden.  There's more than growing food that makes for a good garden.  There are lessons learned for myself and my children that can best be taught in caring for and tending a garden.  We learn about faith, we learn about hard work, we learn about obstacles and overcoming those obstacles.

And this week I feel like I learned a lot about vegetable gardening.  We were invited to dinner by one of Nate's friends who's a wonderful gardener with a beautiful organic garden brimming with inspiration and lessons to learn.  My big eye opening lesson this week was about weeds.  As everyone knows weeds are bad for gardens.  I got a little confused earlier this season however, when I read about the benefits of different plants and "weeds" in keeping moisture in the ground.  For instance clover is very good to plant around your grape vines.  Well, I figured, why not let that clover stay in my vegetable garden and benefit them as well.  Well, I'm a little embarrassed by this thinking now.  But I loved how Dave explained it to me.  There is only so much space for your plant's roots to grow so you don't want other weeds or plants competing with that space.  He described the "canopy" of the plant.  Nothing should grow under this canopy.  Weeds are fine anywhere else.  It really was an "ah ha" moment for me because I realized that not only was I letting weeds grow where they shouldn't, but I was planting some of my plants too close together.  I need to remember that canopy.  Good garden tip for me.

So, there's nothing I can do about the sun, save cutting down some of our maple trees (a bit too drastic for me).

I've actually been getting out every day and watering and enjoying it thoroughly now that I've abandoned the idea of an automatic watering system.

I've weeded and even moved some plants that are too close together and in the future can avoid that same mistake.

And I've also decided, somewhat apprehensively, that I'm going to add some fertilizer to my garden.  I'll continue to add rabbit poop and compost, but I think I need a little extra help right now.

Although I still can never expect to see the abundance that I envy in others' gardens, I do think I have some hope for improvement in my own.

Oh, also, we finally got around to finishing the inside of the garden shed, well, kind of finishing.  We'll add and change things on a regular basis I'm sure to find what fits our needs best.  But at least it is now organized and cleaned.  I'm loving all of my tools so close and accessible to my garden.  Thanks again Nate for building me my own mini house.

First harvest brought us:

1 zucchini
4 cherry tomatoes
8 green beans (but young and tender!)
a handful of old peas
a handful of raspberries
some beet greens

And how does your garden grow?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rompers for Romping

I came upon a great pattern this past weekend.  It was a sweet sweet romper that I picked up at a yard sale.  A friend was with me and it didn't take us but a minute to decide that this romper would be easier than easy to trace and duplicate and we set up a sewing date for the next week.  We weren't wrong in out assessment of the sweet pattern, or our excitement.  The duplicates turned out every bit as cute as the original.  It was fast, easy, inexpensive and adorable!  Win, win, win!

We opted for a linen print because we really like the drape of the heavier, but still cool fabric.  My girls are wearing here some prints from JoAnn that remind me of a Monet painting.  I love them so.  And so do the twins.  They are so comfortable and roomy and easy for all the moving and romping that toddlers do.   More fabric is on the cutting table.  More rompers will soon follow.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Recent Finds

It's been a while since I posted some recent finds.  And this past weekend was a picker's paradise from where I stood.  There were yard sales galore in my neighborhood, one in particular that did Oliver's drawers a big favor.  He is a little annoyed that I got his hopes up when I told him I got him some stuff and then handed him a large bag full of used socks.  They are in great condition, however and only a dollar for the whole bag.

But socks were the least of my treasures.  I found much more and am excited to incorporate it all into our lives and spaces.

The sweet old gas can came from a church charity yard sale for three dollars.

A great bamboo stool was a steal at two dollars.

The crock wasn't necessarily inexpensive, only compared to other prices I've seen.  But I splurged on it as a fortieth birthday gift to myself.  I had been looking for an attractive way to store wood for our wood burning stove.

It's trash pickup in my mom's neighborhood today so in helping her to clear some stuff out last night I found this little metal cart.  It has a twin that I'll pick up next week.  They'll make the perfect drink carts next to our lounge chairs outside.  They could do with a fun spray paint job but that's no biggie.

The old wooden frame I found for five dollars fits perfectly the old sketches of my grandfather's sculpture monuments that I discovered in a box at my mom's just yesterday.

I went back for the beautiful copper light fixture that I spotted at a yard sale after I came home and figured out where I could hang it.  Nate's not on board unfortunately so either I figure something else out or maybe we'll have to add onto our house just to have a place to hang it.

My favorite finds, however, came from a kind stranger who happened to be unloading her goods at the thrift store donation area when I pulled up to unload some of my donations.  I got there just as she pulled up the back of her car to reveal a load of treasures.  I immediately spotted something that looked like a rug.  I hopped out of my car and gingerly approached her.  "Is this a rug?"  I asked.  "Yes," she replied, "my grandmother made it."  "Do you want it?"  My mind said, "Why on earth are you giving it up?"  My mouth said, "Yes, please."  I spotted a little brass magazine box and asked about that.  She handed it over and asked if I wanted some more rugs that her grandmother made.  Yes, yes and yes!

I'll admit I was a little embarrassed as the Saver's employee asked if I was taking "this and that and also this?"  But I held tight, even when the employee offered to help get this lady's stuff into my car (really so nice of him).

I took the rug immediately up to the girl's room.  I had tired of their old rug but we're not exactly at a place that I can replace a rug just because I'm bored of it.  So this is a fun and free change.  I really love free.  It's such a good no obligation, no stress, no commitment situation.  Thank you random stranger lady with the very talented grandmother.

All in all, some good picking.

How about you?  And good recent finds?