Saturday, July 30, 2011

Photo of the Week - Week 21 - Garden Visitor

Week 21 of 52

Location:  Mecosta, MI
Subject:  Frog

We found this little guy while we were out weeding and picking.  At first he was a little skittish but then he let J. pick him up and hold him for a minute.  Grandpa kept teasing him that he was going to get warts for touching a frog.

We also saw a tiny little green one on a giant leaf at the back of the garden but he hopped away before I could snap a shot.  The upside to that is upon spreading the leaves apart to see if we could find him, we found . . . duhn, duhn, duhn a grapevine!  Wooo hooo!  And raspberry bushes!  I guess I should head to the back of the garden more often.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Whew! What a Weekend!

Such a busy, great weekend that it has taken me all the way to Thursday to recuperate and have a few minutes to sit down and chat with you.

The camping was great.  We were camping for our convention.  The boys were dissapointed that it wasn't out in the middle of the forest somewhere, but there was a pool so I guess that was compensation enough for them.  I love camping.  Camping in a pop-up for the convention though, hmmm, it wasn't horrible and I would do it again, but my plea for a regular camper has now made its point.  Yeah!  We camped with 4 other families from our congregation and the rest of the camp was full of brothers and sisters from all over Michigan.  Saturday some of us sat around the campfire and studied our Watchtowers together.

There are my cute kiddos along with a couple of their cousins.  The convention was awesome as always.

When we got home we had to get to work on the garden.  Amazing what happens when you aren't here to tend to it for 4 or 5 days.  The weeds went crazy mad and the deer, of course, ate more things, and the stupid potato bugs went haywire.

hard at work

J.'s job was to try and get as many of those potato bugs and eggs and larvae off of the potato plants as he could.  They stripped down like three or four plants while we were away.  GRRRRR

The enemy!  They are pretty cool looking though.
He was pretty happy he finally got a tomato off his grape tomato plant that is just for him.
Showing off what they were picking.
And as always we had some flying visitors.

We also had a very pretty little butterfly but she refused to be still so I could snap a photo.

Busy time never seems to end around here.  But I must be off.  I am being dragged to a Taylor Swift concert tonight.  The girls are all so excited.  They have been planning for weeks.  They each have little binders and notebooks filled with lists of every little thing imaginable that they need to do to prepare for the concert.  So cute.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lillies - Photo of the Week - Week 20

We are leaving for camping tonight so you get your photo of the week a day early.  And you are actually getting more than one this week.  We have lillies popping up everywhere.  One of these days I will just spend the day driving around and take photos of all the wildflowers along the roads.  The orange lillies are everywhere.

On our property we have lots of different lillies.  They all bloom at different times so sometimes you just assume oh, another orange lilly but you have to go closer and look.  They are all so beautiful.  So here are a few that are blooming at our place.

Week 20 of 52

Location:  Mecosta, MI
Subject:  Lillies

Another Garden Update

I know, I know, enough with the garden already right!?!  Sorry, can't help it.  I am so excited that we are getting more and more veggies, not from the store but from our own garden.  It is pretty awesome to tell one of the kids:  "I need one more jalapeño, can you run out and pick me one".  Yep, pretty awesome.

So a couple of weeks ago while we were out garden Cameron was so excited to find this little guy he called me over to snap a picture of it.

Cute little baby cucumber
Yesterday, as in two weeks later, I went out and got this big ol' guy:

Probably not the same one but all of them two weeks ago were about the size as that little guy up there.  Hopefully the plants bounce back after the deer attack and we keep on getting these.  I wanted to make pickles.

Yesterday I also went out and picked all the green beans that were ready.  Whew, not a fun job really.  It started out fun but after a while as you keep looking down the row and it doesn't seem to be getting much shorter to the end, not so much fun anymore.  And the green beans were not doing so well early on so we planted two more rows of them.  Yep, two whole rows more full of green beans.  Green beans anyone?  Cause I am sure we will have plenty.  Just what I picked yesterday was two quarts full.

They sure are yummy though.  I forgot to take a picture before I started snapping off the ends.  Apologies.  Next time, or the next time, or the next time. . .  because I have a feeling by the time this summer is over I am going to be very, very tired of picking green beans.

This however, I will not ever be tired of picking:

I decided I probably better hurry and just pick all of this before it went bad or went to seed.  So delicious.  I headed out the front door pretty early and forgot that the front door opens from the inside even though it is locked.  grrrrr so frustrating.  So when I was all done and headed back to the house I had to ring the doorbell for the boys.  Jake yanked it open to complain that I should have remembered to unlock it and stopped mid word because the smell of the cilantro finally caught up to him.  He stood there sniffing loudly and said "Oh man, that smells so good it almost makes my nose hurt!"  So cute.  And I totally agree.

The tomato plants are finally getting some pretty good size tomatoes on them.  Can't wait till all of them are ripe and we can really get busy with salsa, and tomato sauce, and tomato juice, and. . . and. . . and oh yea - eat them!  Can't wait.

Beefsteak Tomatoes

And my green onions are doing OK.  Not great, I am really disappointed.  Do you know how many green onions I buy on a weekly basis?  Really, it's ridiculous.  But they are so yummy.  So, I am going to have to figure out what to do different next year.  In the meantime I think they are the most guarded row in the whole garden.

And lastely, radishes.  We have so, so many radishes.  Dad is mostly the only one who eats them.  I slice them up in salads, Cameron is starting to eat more of them and the boys from time to time will eat one. But really, what do you do with radishes.  So I googled yesterday and may try sauteying them and see how that turns out.  I picked some more of those yesterday.  This second batch is not doing nearly as good as the first batch.  They are in a different spot so maybe soil 20 feet away is not as good, who knows.  But I had to share our mutant crop with you all.

So there it is, yet another post about the garden from us here in Michigan.  We are like kids in a candy store.  You would think no one on earth ever had a garden the way we are all amazed every time we pull something out of the ground.  I just wish somehow we could send smells through this thing we call the internet.  Because really, WOW!

Monday, July 18, 2011


"Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby."    - Langston Hughes

Finally today it rained.  It's funny how you can come from a place where it hardly ever rained and you think, if it would only rain.  Then we move here and for a little while it rained every day or every other day and I would think - please can we go at least two or three days with no rain.  Then it doesn't rain for a couple of weeks and then I start to think, come on already, I miss the rain!  Fickle we humans are, fickle!

So today, it rained!  It actually started last night.  I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of thunder.  It is always greeted with mixed reactions.  I love the sound of a good thunderstorm and I always think I am going to lay here and listen to it all night.  But mostly it lulls me to sleep and I wake up feeling disappointed that I missed it.

But everything outside is happy that it rained.  The garden is happy, the little singing birds are happy, the kids are happy because it cooled things off, and I am happy because I got to watch the rain for a little while.  We are camping this weekend and guess what the forecast is for this weekend.  Yep, rain!  So now my fickle little self is hoping it rains but not too much because rain and camping are not a good mix, generally speaking.

Other than the rain, not much happening around here.  This weekend was sort of blah, with people not feeling well, and it was hot.  Yes I have given up saying it is just warm - it was really hot this weekend.  It must have been hot because my little teenager actually went fishing with her Dad.  Something she said she would never do.

And she actually caught fish so she was very happy.  But firmly announced that she would NOT be helping to clean or fillet the fish, so there!  Then she marched into the house without further argument.  Cameron was just happy that she finally went fishing with him so he had no complaints.

Tonight I get to go pick up my bike.  It finally arrived.  So happy to finally have a bike I can ride.  One that is mine and I don't have to adjust the seat so it fits me.  One with a nice seat and not one of those crazy ones that Cameron keeps telling me my "rear" will get used to.  No thanks, give me a big ol' seat that is filled with gel and I am a happy girl.  My "rear" is not getting used to anything that I think may have originally been designed as a torture device!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Garden Massacre

Every day we drive around this beautiful countryside and more often than not we see deer.  Lately it has been does with their cute little spotted fawns.  We always slow down and watch them.  Dad was commenting the other night that he wondered if we would ever get sick of seeing them.  I personally don't think so.

After last night, however; Cameron's view of them may have changed slightly.  Last night Dad, Mom, Rachel, and I spent up until the wee hours of the morning at the hospital with my Grandma.  So not fun.  Cameron was home with all the kiddos and said the dogs were barking like crazy.  Today we discovered why.  Something, a.k.a. deer, went to town on the garden.  I guess they figured it was an all you care to eat buffet because that's what they did.  Sampled a little bit of everything.

Cameron's poor strawberry plants are never going to get anywhere

Cucumbers - another victim

The deer really had a hay day out there.  Thankfully most everything is doing good and most likely what they did eat will grow back.  It is just so frustrating when things are just getting going and then a setback.

Here is what we pulled out of the garden tonight.  Some of the green beans, the ones that the deer missed anyway, were ready to be pulled off.  Most of Rachel's sugar snap peas were eaten but a few were able to be salvaged.  More radishes of course and Cameron accidentally pulled up one of the red onions and a red potato.  Dad ate the potato but said it would be going too far if he ate the onion raw too.  Silly man.

Cameron inspecting some bell pepper plants

More of the garden and a sneak peak at the almost finished pole barn

And today's "something new we've never done before" moment came right after cleaning the kingdom hall.  After polishing the inside we headed out to water all the flowers.  Our KH sits on 10 acres of land, most of which is wooded.  So after all chores were finished we wandered down to the edge of the woods.  Wild raspberry bushes are growing all along the edge.  Yummy!  So we all ate our fill of super sweet little raspberries.

Pretty little flower growing in the flower beds at the KH

Paper Mama Photo Challenge - "Black and White"

Another week, another photo challenge.  This week was super hard.  If anyone has visited my house at all and seen all my black and whites you know why.  Rachel helped me narrow it down.  Here is my submission for this week:

My first freckled nosed kid who is now finally embracing her lovely little freckles.

The Paper Mama

Friday, July 15, 2011

Green Dragonfly - Week 19

Week 19 of 52

Location:  Mecosta, Mi
Subject:  Green Dragonfly

This little beauty visited our garden the other night while we were out there picking some veggies.  We actually had lots of different dragonflies buzzing around.  They are all so beautiful.  They are our helicopter replacements.  And much nicer too since they buzz around eating the mosquitos.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Paper Mama Photo Challenge - "Sweet"

Paper Mama has a weekly photo contest over at her blog.  Amazing photography is displayed every week.  Check it out!  This week her challenge or subject is "Sweet".  Here is my entry:

J. and Bentley enjoying an afternoon snooze together.  So peaceful and quiet.  Bentley heard the camera click and opened his eyes at the last second.  Enjoy!

The Paper Mama

Photo of the Week - Week 18

Week 18 of 52

Location:  Pretty Lake, Mecosta, Mi
Subject:  Catchin' Pike

This weeks photo brings you my proud little man showing off his catch of the week.  He caught a pretty big Pike while fishing with his Dad Friday.  We didn't weigh it but it was around 20 inches.  He was pretty proud of himself and as you can tell by the look on his little brother's face, he was pretty proud of him as well.  We didn't even eat it either.  There were two younger boys fishing off the dock and not doing too well so after we photographed his success he took it over and gave it to them.

And as an added bonus I am throwing in a photo of my hydrangeas that are finally blooming.  The bloomed out white.  I have to do some research to see why it came out a different color this time around.  Last year they were a really pretty greenish blue.  UPDATE:  So apparently turning white means it has used all the nutrients in the soil that give it color.  "Greenist" way to fix it is to add your used coffee grounds to the soil.  So we shall try this in the next couple of weeks and see what happens.

Next week I may post some more flowers of wildflowers.  They are going crazy right now but my camera is stuck in place for pole barn raising photos.  It is coming along nicely.  Will post some progress pictures during the week for you all.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chalk/Bulletin Board for under $20

I have been wanting to get a chalk board for mulitple reasons.  Mostly for a chore board of sorts.  I also want a bulletin board for important notes, etc.  But me and my pickiness and my cheapness couldn't find one the right style or in the right price range.

A couple months ago as I was helping to empty the big moving truck, I picked up Rachel's mirror and the mirror fell out leaving me with just the frame.  OOPS, sorry Rach!  So I saved the frame thinking it had to have a use somewhere.

So, creativity to the rescue.  Here is the before:

Quick trip to Walmart and Joann's to buy some supplies.

What to do for push pins?  I purchased a bag of mismatched and broken jewelry from a yard sale a couple of months ago.  It had a bunch of vintage clip on earrings with no mates.  Perfect!

Add a box of push pins. . .

A little help from the hubby . . .

and voila!

Now I just have to decide which direction to hang it.  And I am loving how the push pins worked out.

I love how it came out.  Reusing some objects that would have otherwise ended up in the trash, and spending less than $20, I have a chalk board AND a bulletin board that I love.  Plus I have tons left over supplies so hmmm, what else can I chalkboard?  :o)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Garden Update

Busy time is about to begin.  We finally finished with the mountains of strawberries, only to hear Dad say - let's go buy two more flats.  Sheesh!  But I found new recipes for jam so some will be put to yummy use and the rest will be - yep, you guessed it - frozen.

The garden is doing great.  Everything is coming up nicely.  It's so nice to go out there and see new little sprouts of this and that.  I can't wait until we can pick more of it.

Little Lady C checking things out.  The empty row there is where all the radishes have already been harvested.  We have another row coming up off to the left near the back and may plant another row here pretty soon.

Corn and potatoes.  Garlic is also growing way off to the right over there along with a few sunflowers.

The potatoes are starting to flower.  Good sign.  This is when they really start to plump up.  Waiting is so hard.  These are the russet potatoes.  The red potatoes should get a pinkish flower.

The tomatillos are doing great.  We have lots and lots of these little buggers popping out everywhere.  The jalapeño's are also doing great.  We have already gotten 5 or 6 spicy little guys off of them and promptly diced them into some salsa.  YUM!  Can't wait 'till the entire bowl of salsa is from our own garden.

And this little basket of loveliness is from the garden and went into our salad tonight.  From left to right it is baby spinach, in the back is buttercrunch lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and finally cilantro.  The cilantro was heavenly.  Cilantro is A. and I's most favorite thing.  When we buy it at the store we smell just about every cluster until we find the one that smells the best.  Not one in all these years has smelled as good as the bunches that we took out of the garden today.  The entire kitchen smelled like cilantro.  Yummy!  We chopped some up into the salad because we couldn't wait to have some.  Definitely puts a different taste in the salad.  So delicious.

Can't wait to harvest the whole garden! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Zebra - Photo of the Week - Week 17

This edition of "Captured Moments" comes with a sad note.  Last night I broke my favorite lens.  I feel like I lost a best friend.  So sad.  Happy news is it can be replaced but GRRRR at myself for breaking the perfectly good one I had.

This little Zebra friend was at the petting zoo we visited last weekend.  He was very cute and friendly and despite the sign that read "WARNING - Zebra WILL bite", he did no such thing and let us pet him.  He even got some scritches from Reuben which he enjoyed immensly.

Week 17 of 52

Location:   Stanton, Michigan
Subject:  Zebra