Monday, April 28, 2014

The Garden So Far

Oh, man, I really debated whether or not I was "up" for a garden this year. My life feels so different than it ever has since I became a working mother. I tried to give myself permission to just let it go this once, but the Spirit worked upon me, ever so gently, nudging me to the seeds and soil. 

"The prophet said to plant a garden. . ." The words to the Primary song entered my mind. I thought about my efforts to be self-reliant and prepared and frugal, and well, it just feels wrong to work toward those goals without using the seeds I already own to grow some of my family's food. So, even though I was months later than usual, I decided to just do it already, and trust that my efforts would be blessed.

On March 17th I planted my seeds. Talk about a green way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day! And new this year, I am using grow lights. I have wanted to do this for a few years because I always end up with "leggy" seedlings. 

On March 20th, the first seedlings appeared! The Lacinato kale! Interesting, since that is usually a very slow germinator for me.

One week after planting the seeds, nearly everything was up. The light is adjustable, so I kept it just about two inches from the top of the plants and raised it as they grew. And they grew fast!

This is a week later, two weeks after planting the seeds! These are the zucchini and squash plants, lettuces to the left.

Here are some tomato plants, bell peppers coming up to the left, spinach on the right.

Spinach, two varieties.

Amazing! When the plants were three weeks old, I started taking them outside for a few hours to harden them off. The first day I set them outside and went to sleep for a bit only to wake up and find all my Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce burned to a crisp (that's the lightest lettuce toward the very bottom of this picture.) It happened to be a record hot day. Oh well. I had plenty of other lettuces growing.

After a week of hardening off, and the plants were outside all day and night, I transplanted them into the garden.

I used the Square Foot Gardening spacing that I love so much, but without the grids this year since I'm growing so many tomatoes that don't really need the grids. I focused on planting what I really, really want, instead of a little of a lot of things. More favorites, less variety.

This translates to 9 San Marzano tomato plants (for the best sauce EVER), several other varieties of heirloom tomatoes, some spinach and kale, zucchini, crookneck squash, eggplant, red bell peppers, pickling cucumbers, and some lettuces.

Here's the kale:

A yellow squash plant:


And now two weeks later, here's the way things look in the garden, six weeks after planting the seeds:

(The Fordhook Giant Chard is still growing from last year.)

Bed 1: Tomatoes, zucchini, and kale.

 A zucchini blossom already!

The kale:

Bed 2: More San Marzano tomatoes, kale, and another zucchini

Healthy and strong!

Bed 3: Yellow Pear and Cherry tomatoes (which I need to buy cages for), spinach, lettuce, squash, and cucumbers (back along the trellis).

Pretty lettuce.


Eggplant. This is an Italian variety. It's been very slow growing, so I hope it will make it. I grew three plants.

These are the pickling cucumbers (with little red bell peppers there to the left that also need cages). I have not had good luck with cucumbers, so I'm hoping for the best. You can see the leaves on the bottom turned white. That's because when I first transplanted them I was watering overhead and the leaves got sunburned. The new growth seems okay, so fingers crossed.

There's already a baby cucumber!

A baby red bell pepper.

And here's the Chard jungle still growing strong from last year, but which needs thinning badly.

So far, besides the Black Seeded Simpson lettuce that I fried, since transplanting, I've only lost one tomato plant and one pepper plant. Not bad at all, I think.

Gardening is good for my soul. I'm so glad I just went ahead and put those tiny seeds in the soil. Watching them grow reminds me of miracles and progress and bounty.

Three things I need to pay more attention to in my life.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Bedroom for Aiden, Parts 2 and 3

Remember this post back here? Well, since then we've been working slowly towards getting Aiden a room of his own. After he painted, he moved his desk in (we got him that early in the school year) and has been using the space for homework and hanging out. Since he loves the Arizona Cardinals, he wanted a red and black color scheme. I threw in the gray to make it not so harsh. I thought one of the big Expedit shelving units from IKEA would be a perfect storage solution for him and it came in this beautiful red gloss finish. So, that was our purchase in March.

Then, because I can only do this as finances allow (no going into debt!) we waited until last weekend to be able to get his bed. This would really make the room his own. Back to IKEA we went, and we got the Hemnes bed, which matches his desk.

It's so fantastic the way he can just do all the work. (tee hee)

He's such a good worker and a methodical guy.

And I love that he'll include his little brother.

When I got home from work this morning, I got to see his hard work! He said he slept so well on his new bed. It's a Queen, which makes a huge difference to this long and growing-longer boy who's been in a twin top bunk up until now.

We still need to get real bedding (a comforter/quilt and shams) and curtains. But that will have to wait for another month.

Monday, April 21, 2014


He lives!

Conor may be figuring things out about the Easter Bunny. He's told me he doesn't think there really is one, that it's just me going out to the store late at night. I am neither confirming nor denying his accusations. As long as there's a bit of doubt, he can have the magic of childhood a little longer. He's always happy to find his basket, after all.

And Aiden is nearly impossible to stump. After six kids and nine Easters here in this house, the poor Bunny is about out of hiding spaces.

And even though Lyndsay wouldn't be home until that night, the Bunny still hid hers. See it up there behind her dolls? Yeah, so did she, almost right away. But only because her roommates, whom she brought home for the week, exclaimed, upon walking into her room, "Oh! Look at your dolls!"

I put together baskets for Lyndsay's roommates, feeling sad that they wouldn't be with their families. Come to find out, they were so excited because they'd never (never!!) had an Easter basket in their lives! Their families didn't do that tradition. So, they were really thrilled to get one this year!
(One of the roommates ended up not being able to come at the last second because of finals schedule. So, a basket is going back up to her.)

This is Emily and Abby. I love the girls that love my girl. It seriously can make me weepy, thinking about these special friends of my sweet Lyns. I'm so glad she has them. I've always had a soft spot for the friends of my children, even as they grow up.

Easter dinner was so delicious. Chantilly Potatoes.

Fresh Green Bean Salad.

Lion House Rolls. (That Conor rolled!)

An Easter feast!

On Monday, we finished up traditions. I made Navajo Tacos and all the kids ate two. It's so fun to feed a crowd!

Then we dyed eggs. I was hoping to get out of this tradition this year, to be honest. But late Saturday night, Conor asked if we could do it and started to cry when I told him I didn't think so. It broke my heart. He was really looking forward to it, and I should have known. I sent Adam to the store for one box of dye and two dozen eggs. He came back with three boxes of dye and a Dr. Pepper. Back to the store he went for the eggs. We held it off until we could do it for Family Home Evening with Lyndsay at home.

Abby's hedgehog egg. Love it!

So, dyeing eggs was not a tradition in either of their families either. What?!

And then, a delicious carrot cake for dessert.

I told the girls that in this house you get to cut your own piece of cake, no shame! Emily was happy to hear that:

I love a girl who will eat!

It's been such a great Easter weekend. We spent some time reading about out Savior and the record of the last days before his great atoning sacrifice, and then of his glorious resurrection. I love Him so very much, and want my heart to be more like His.