Friday, April 30, 2010

Our Garden of Eden

If anyone out there can walk into a garden center and actually come out with nothing... you deserve a medal in my opinion.

Granted there is always the budget to consider when putting oneself into such a position, but even the smallest of budgets (like ours) has just a little money to spare for another plant, tree, shrub, or flower!!

Lowes was having a really good sale on top soil!! You saw what our soil looked like in a previous post so we really couldn't pass up an opportunity to get good soil cheap. 40lb. bags for $1.33 each, buy one get one!!!

While perusing the other plants, trees and flowers (because who can't go in without at least looking around?) we ended up with a couple of eggplant plants, 2 more tomato plants and these little beauties...

Oh my gosh, they really have us believing we can plant a lemon and lime tree into a pot leave them out all summer and bring them in for the cold months? The tag even says can grow to 20' tall!! We're actually going to "Grow Our Own" and "Enjoy Your Harvest"?

Yeah feeling a little like a "sucker" this morning! Then I figure at $2.50 for each tree, Mike and I can at least enjoy the dream of growing our own lemons and limes for a time in our own little Garden of Eden here in Virginia.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mmmm Cracker Candy

Typically I bake cookies, brownies or cake every 2/3 days. There is usually something sweet to eat. Then there are those weeks I just can't seem to get it done.

I'm not the one in the family who has a sweet tooth, it is more Mike and the girls. But there are those days you just need a little something sweet!! Yesterday I even asked Haley to bake a cake and she didn't want to. So, I remembered I had this great quick recipe that would solve the problem.

Thought I'd share it with you so took pictures all the way through.

Cracker Candy
1 cup of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
2 cups of chocolate/carob chips
40 saltine crackers

Heat oven to 400 degrees
Line a cookie sheet with foil and place saltines on it.
Heat 1 cup of butter and brown sugar together for 3-5 minutes
stir constantly until it thickens
Pour mixture over saltines
Bake for 5 minutes
Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate/carob chips - allow to sit for 5 minutes
Spread chocolate
Cool in fridge to harden and then break into pieces.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Life Began in a Garden

My expectations are way too high Michael says. Our first official garden here in Virginia and I am already thinking about buying what I need to start canning and freezing all it produces. I just can't help myself!!

Deep down inside I know he is right, we can't expect too much from it this first year. Especially when you consider the soil here in this area is more terracotta pot clay than real dirt, and neither one of us has ever tried to grow anything in this stuff before. It is going to take several years of fertilizing and tilling to get it working well.

As we work together in the soil my mind wanders to the reading from Genesis 1;28-29
"God blessed them, saying to them: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food."

Genesis 2: 15 "The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it."
Potatoes (before Mike weeded)
Planting cucumbers.
Some of the lettuce. Almost ready for harvest.
Watering the newly planted cucumber seeds.
We have several hills of things we aren't sure of. Someone let the seeds fall out of the packages all together. They are either: zucchini, summer squash, spaghetti squash or cantaloupe. It will be fund to find out what is there!

Monday, April 26, 2010

It Can't Always Be Done My Way

Not every day can be picture perfect when home schooling, or in the world of stay-at-home moms in general.

Our kids don't work the same way we do and this can sometimes cause frustration. I like to sit and get all my work done. I also like to plan and spread my work load oat if I have a big project to do. My kids do NOT work like me! This makes me stop and wonder... Was I always this diligent about my work, or did I procrastinate too at their age?

Here is Faith this morning doing her handwriting page. Some pages have 2 sides to do and some only one. Today was a 2 sided day, causing her to be unhappy. We discussed wasting energy on complaining about the work load, and just get it done. She did! And is now a happy girl again! Lesson learned? Maybe? Time will tell.
As Jacob gets older and finds other things to fill his time, such as telephone, texting, and facebook, his skills of procrastination have gone to an all new level! Thankfully Mike and I have been able to control some of this with rules and guidelines, but he still works at a different pace and method than I would.

Haley hasn't quite reached the level of social life Jacob has, but she would much rather not work as a general rule. Just how her personality is. She has a book to read and a report to write on it. I don't think she has even cracked the book open yet. However, she has gotten 100% on the last 3 reports she has written so I can't say there is anything really wrong with her methods. It just isn't how I would do it.

Today God I pray for patience and understanding. They are individuals who have their own system of accomplishing the work, and it isn't always going to be the way I would do things. Is it okay to let them go and do it their way, and if they fail just pick up the pieces?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Busy Saturday

Yesterday was a full day! Hence no post.

Started the day at the church flea market/plant sale/car wash. I worked the concession stand with a good friend, making work much easier. While Haley washed cars with the youth group. Jacob stayed home with Faith. Making it easier for me to work and not worry about what she was getting in to, and Lord knows Jacob didn't mind the excuse to not have to work.

I did have an opportunity to peruse the plant sale. Came home with an awesome tomato plant, grown by a parishioner in his green house.

And a healthy forsythia shrub. To help Mike and I with our landscaping efforts.

Then we were off to a local elementary school for their music jamboree. Where Jacob's band DTK (Dressed to Kill) had a 45 minute set to play. They do well for teenage boys with big dreams.

Back home to get cleaned up and ready for mass at 5:00. As I sat in the pew listening to the Gospel, I remembered... Feast of The Good Shepherd. I hadn't planned anything to celebrate it with my kids! Does this make me a bad Catholic mom? I don't know, but I do know I put a lot of pressure on myself when I don't feel I measure up.

The day is still young and I do have some house work to do that I didn't have time for yesterday. But I will at least discuss the readings with the kids and pray I haven't damaged their spiritual souls too much from this oversight.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Memories for a Lifetime

On Thursdays Jacob takes piano lessons at Liberty University. Since we are making the trip to the "big city" anyway, we try to plan other things that can be done that day with all of us.

Yesterday, we took the kids skating at the University's ice rink. Okay I didn't skate (don't think I remember how and I can't risk breaking an arm and not being able to knit) but Mike skated. I was just enjoying the entertainment of watching them, and it was quite entertaining.

Thank you Lord for these fun times and memories my kids will have for a lifetime.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Documentary was Enlightening

My husband and son both hunt so our diet consists mostly of venison from the deer they shoot in the fall. Thankfully God has provided well for us this way.

I bake our bread, rolls, cookies, and pizza using whole wheat flour and limited sugar supplement sweetening with honey.
It can get really expensive to buy all organic, but I do it whenever I can. We have our vegetable garden and pray that will bring enough variety and abundance to keep us going for the summer and fall. We have an abundance of eggs from our free range chickens. Also, we have planted our own fruit trees, but they won't bare fruit for a few years.
There are still some things I purchase from the grocery store that I know aren't the best options, but I feel there is no alternative. Such as chicken, bacon, and dairy products. Options for organic choices for these just don't exist in our area.
Last night on PBS I watched a documentary on the Food industry in America. Scary stuff!! I tossed and turned all night, wondering how I can make more changes in our diet, and still satisfy my kids. Without blowing the food budget.

One thing I'm definitely going to do is have my kids, at least the older 2, watch this documentary. They need to be aware of these scary facts. If they are educated they will know why I'm making the dietary choices I do for them. When they are off on their own they can also make better choices for themselves.

You may want to check the listing and watch it, even if you think you have all the facts there is some really enlightening information you may discover!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Summer's End

Here is my newest sweater! Finished it Monday. It still needs to be blocked and buttons added (haven't bought them yet), but I am soo excited couldn't wait to share it.

This photo really shows the tweed of the yarn.

Will try to remember to post a photo of me wearing it.

The pattern is Summer's End, using Plymouth Tweed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Simple but True

Being a stay-at-home mom who home schools is wonderful! There are some days that are a real challenge, but I prefer to look at those as opportunities to draw me closer to God in prayer.

I love taking care of my husband, because he works so hard in order for me to be at home with our kids. Having a single income isn't always easy again allowing me to draw closer to God in prayer for guidance, and control of financial anxieties.

Thank you God for this opportunity, I pray what I do everyday brings you glory.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Guilty Thoughts

My wonderful husband works Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 12 hours shifts, then most every Monday is an 8 hour shift. On his work days the alarm goes off at 5:30 am!! On the days he doesn't work he usually will sleep until 7:00. He's a trooper!!

Me? I love to sleep!! Age however has caused me to not sleep real well through the night. Thankfully I don't have to set an alarm and can allow myself the luxury of sleeping until I wake. Because we home school I usually allow the kids the luxury of sleeping until 8:00 or 8:30 on school days. And we do make them go to bed at a reasonable hour on school nights, so they get plenty of rest. (They inherited my sleep gene.)

On some strange level all this make me feel very guilty. Mike is up and going and working hard and we all get to sleep. It really doesn't bother him one way or the other. Maybe it doesn't matter. Is it my Catholic upbringing that allows such guilty feelings over something so trivial?

Maybe I should start getting up and enjoying the quiet of the house and allowing myself prayer time then, instead of during the day?

Well, just wanted to put my thoughts out there in cyber blog land...

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Yesterday I ended up enjoying the outdoors and planted my day lilies. My friend stopped in and also gave me some hyacinth bulbs. Got right to work and put those in too. (The spindly green things on the right in the photo. LOL)

At church, last night, a friend gave me some clippings from her spearmint. I planted those this morning in my pajamas!! No photo to share from that! (Probably would have been if Mike had been home. LOL)

Mike and I are both feeling overwhelmed again with the amount of work our yard needs. Between trying to get grass to grow and putting in a vegetable garden it can really overpower a person. We'll just continue to lean on one another and inspire each other and know that it even took God 6 days of work to create the world and all that is in it.

After all that work...
Allowed myself some much needed downtime with the knitting needles last night. Although I didn't finish the sweater yet I was able to finish up another dish cloth.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Random Things

Good Job
I did it!! I blogged every day this week and I'm still going strong!! Yay me! Hopefully no one was put to sleep too easily out there! LOL

We celebrated Pope Benedict's birthday yesterday. We made cupcakes that were decorated with his Coat of Arms and the #83. (Got these from Catholic Cuisine)
You can see my color cartridge is empty, but we still thought of him when eating them.
We also had Bratwurst for dinner.

Oh what to do?
Almost finished with my spring fever sweater I can taste it... It could easily be finished today... well all except the buttons, haven't found any yet... But the weather outside is perfect for working in the yard, cool 60's, breezy and not too sunny. My friend and neighbor gave me some clippings from her day lilies that I really should get planted. Oh the dilemma of what to do...

Friday, April 16, 2010

More yarn? Is it necessary?

The spring fever sweater I'm knitting, ironically the pattern is Summer's End, is nearing finishing. I've also been working on new dish clothes for my kitchen here and there.

Like every good knitter I have a yarn stash, but somehow still can't avoid purchasing new yarn.
In my defense this purchase is for a specific project. I'm going to to make an afghan for my niece and her fiancé as a wedding gift, the wedding will be in August.

Now to find just the right pattern to crochet or knit... any suggestions?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What can I do for Mother Mary?

When Mike and I bought our first house there was one purchase we made that was the most important, a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We bought her with as much pride as our new home and placed her in our garden on the day of the closing.

Here she is several years later in our 2nd home and looking a little worn.

I would really like to freshen her up with new paint and little cost, does anyone have any recommendations? I would really like to get her spruced up before May.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Will Someone Please Listen?

Today's post is going to be a place for me to voice some frustration, and I will warn it has built up. If you aren't Catholic you may think I'm ridiculous, so I apologize before hand.

We belong to a sweet small satellite Catholic church here in Central Virginia. People are kind and because there are so few of us pretty close. Not much can happen that we don't all notice or know about.

It happened some time ago I noticed a young altar server chewing gum during mass! Then I realized that cow cud chewing noise I was hearing on a regular basis was coming from another young adult chewing her gum behind us. What was that over there? A young mother, who prides herself on her Catholic faith and beliefs, chewing gum! All around the church every week, usually the same culprits chewing their gum. These people participate in the mass in different capacities all chewing their gum. Walking up to communion chewing their gum! UGH!!

Then I begin to feel guilty. I'm spending my quality once a week prayer time, and presence with the blessed sacrament time noticing all these faults!! UGH!!

Why doesn't our pastor notice? Why doesn't someone tell them what they do isn't right? UGH!!

Then I notice the short skirts, bare shoulder and low cut tops! One more thing that urks me!! UGH!!

Is this satan trying to ruin my time with God? I'm not sure, but I guess I should continue to offer it up in prayer because it really does consume me. Thanks for listening...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Burger Anyone?

You know I make my own bread and my own bagels right? Well for a LONG time I've even considered trying to make my own hamburger buns. Could never find the courage to tackle it. Every time I put cheeseburgers on the menu that is my plan, but I have always found an excuse to run out and buy them instead.

Yesterday I bit the bullet! I made them.

They were a hit with the family. We even had friends over for dinner and they enjoyed them as well. Yes, that's right we had friends for dinner and I still didn't use that as an excuse to run out and buy them. I'm really proud of myself.

These are the delicious venison burgers before grilling.

We got so busy eating and chatting with friends I did't think to take a photo of anything after they were cooked and put together.

Let me know if you need a good recipe for venison burgers. I made this one up several months ago. It was such a big hit that I've made it the staple recipe. I even shared it with my sister out in Utah when a friend of hers gave her some elk to try. Her family loved it too!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday

To celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, Catholic Cuisine had an awesome suggestion.

Here is Faith working on mixing the cake. Notice the t-shirt? When we started the project she ran and put it on in honor of Divine Mercy. For her it represented it and that is what counts.
Our finished results. (The cool whip was blue, just not in the photo.)
Faith was very proud and couldn't wait to serve it up
We all enjoyed a piece.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mercy and Around the Yard

Let me start this Sunday, April 11th post by wishing everyone a Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!
Around the Yard
The very first job I ever had was working on a fruit and vegetable farm, "Amato's Farm". One of the biggest parts of the farm was the pick-your-own strawberry business. Growing and cultivating the strawberries for harvest was a big part of my job. So if there is one thing I can grow with confidence it is strawberries.

Last spring, when Mike and I were itching to plant and landscape our yard I picked up 8 strawberry plants. Mike put together an awesome raised bed for them and I put them in. The first year of a strawberry plant, if left alone, you will get a few strawberries. However, if you pick all the flowers off, the plants produce new plants and they will quadruple the number of plants you have easily.

Last summer with my mom and dad living with us and dad being in the final stages of cancer I wasn't able to train the new plants real well so this year they kind of took over the strawberry patch! We will have LOTS of strawberries this year for sure!
You can see there are a couple of bald spots in the raised bed where we had put a tomato plant and a basil plant last year.

After this year's harvest I will have to thin the plants out and replant them. Mike will expand the raised bed to make more room. Promise to post again during the harvest!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gardening and Outdoor Fun

Mike will probably be upset with me for showing this photo because it is over a week old and the garden is completely tilled now. But, I wanted to share with you all the work my husband put in to making our back yard into the garden.
He has done a wonderful job! We have: lettuce, spinach, peas, radishes and potatoes in the ground already. We will be planting the beets we have started in trays in the next week or so.

Our landscaping may be a work in progress for several years, but we just have to have a garden! So what grass was growing in the back yard got dug up! Feeding the family is more important.

Adventure for the Week
On Tuesday afternoon we were all outside doing this and that, when Jake came across this little guy walking around the yard.

Now it is technically a homing pigeon, but I prefer to think of it as a visit from the Holy Spirit. It spent most of the afternoon just walking around our yard.
Mike gave it a tray of water to drink and it found some cracked corn that had been placed out for the deer to eat. After watching this little thing for several hours it didn't appear to be seriously hurt, we figured it was just tired and week.

I made a call to our veterinarian to find out if they knew of anyone locally that may raise and keep homing pigeons. After a few phone calls we talked to a local elderly man who had raised and raced pigeons for most of his life. He told us he would take it and keep it with his own he no longer races, if we could catch it.

Mike and I together, each armed with a towel, made attempts to catch it. It however flew in a tree and wasn't reachable. We gave up and continued to watch it make short flights around the yard and follow our chickens around. By evening it was no where to be found and we assumed it had moved on after resting.

Morning came and Haley saw it again wandering around. She told Mike and I she could catch and went out. We just looked at each other and smiled to ourselves thinking, "yeah right". A few minutes later, our little "Ellie May Clampet" walked in with this:
We don't have a lot of excitement around here, but this qualified for this week!