Outside my Window… we are enjoying blooming flowers!  The roses are blooming as are the Day Lilies and the purple clematis climbing up the fence.  In bright, brutal, summertime force.

I am thinking… about the novel I’m writing, the children’s books that are on my mind and the non-fiction health book I’ve also got planned out.  You might not have seen much of me here on the blog, lately, but I’ve been busy taking the time to think, imagine and write.  It’s an exciting, creative time, with a lot of work to go!

From the learning room. . . John is reading up a storm!!  Regular visits to the library have been essential this summer and we are looking forward to more.   Michael has also shown an interest in learning to read but he’s just barely four so I ‘m going to take it slow. We’ve been using The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading at home and it’s been super simple.  Sophia is signing up a storm, beginning to talk a bit and loves to dance!

I am thankful for . . .  my healthy, active family.

From the kitchen . . . With all three little one’s home all day now, and very active boys, I’ve been trying to get more dense calories into them at meals, otherwise they’re hungry and asking for a snack just moments after I clean up the kitchen from the last meal. But I’ve been in the mood to keep it light as it’s hot and summertime, so we’ve been working on having a bit of both at each meal.  Lots of light summer fruit and cold meats and salads and smoothies for me, and those PLUS PLUS for the boys.

And in our garden . . . weeds!  It’s very weedy at the moment.  We’ve had lots of rain lately and it’s been great for the plants but the weeds have grown up too.  Most of the lettuce has bolted (we’re saving the seeds so it’s going to hang out and look scraggly for a while), but some is still edible as is our dinosaur and curly kale and our rainbow chard, tiny baby cucumbers are starting to grow, a handful of beans is ready (the rabbits have been doing a number to my beans), and the first summer squash is almost ready.  Squash blossoms are also blooming on my other summer and winter squash and two of my tomato plants are growing tomatoes, but the others are still simply just growing.  I think I’ve learned that I need to start tomato plants indoors around New Years instead of mid-March as I did this year.  They’re taking their time.  We also planted two tomatillo plants this year and are looking forward to those . . . we just picked up a few bales of straw at the feed store yesterday with big plans for weeding and heavy mulching this week.  I’m thinking that since the plants are now well established, we might put a layer of cardboard down first on the weeded ground, wet it, and then add the straw for extra insurance.

I am creating… lesson plans!  After public schooling last year, we’ve decided to homeschool this year.  I have been tentatively planning a year round schedule, with school for about 9-10 weeks at a time followed by a week or two break and a longer “summer” break in mid-May and June.  This all sounded great when I started planning, but now I’m a week away from our intended start date and I’m both excited but also anxious about starting!  More details on  homeschooling coming in a future post . . .

I am reading…. I’ve been reading a lot lately.  Notable books I’m loving lately include Bird by Bird, Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and The Art Forger.

I am hearing. . . the washer washing and Yo Gabba Gabba in the background. Sophia and I are the only one’s up right now.

Around the house… lots of legos, lots of markers, lots of books.

One of my favorite things . . .  the abundance of summer fruit.  I can’t get enough!

A Few Plans and Prayer Intentions For The Rest Of The Week …

  • Pray for guidance, patience and grace
  • Pray for continued health
 July 1, 2013  Posted by Heartland Renaissance Daybook Comments Off
 

 

Earlier this spring, when the snow was still on the ground, I began my garden indoors.

I bought special seed starting trays, special organic, seed starting potting mix, and inventoried my seeds. Lots of tomatoes, some herbs, some peppers.

I wrote diligent notes and a diagram of what I planted where.

In about ten days the first few sprouts came up. I studied my diagram and my heart leapt – German Chamomile! I’ve been hoping to expand my medicinal herb garden and was ready to get that chamomile in the garden, as soon as it was warm enough.  A few days later more sprouts came up – basil and tomatoes, parsley and summer savory.  None of my peppers survived, but that’s a whole other post.

As soon as the ground was warm enough, the danger of frost past, the 10-day forecast thoroughly reviewed, I planted my baby seedlings in the garden, carefully placing my chamomile in just the right spot in the herb garden.

Within a week all those little pampered, spindly sprouts promptly shriveled up and died.

So the next time I was in a nursery, I picked up a healthy, hearty, gigantic (compared to what I’d planted ten days before) German chamomile plant and planted it in my herb garden. Determined to at least get it started, hoping that it would self-seed this fall and I’d have more coming up next year. It now sits, quiet and alone, on the edge of the herb garden with (literally) the future of it’s offspring completely reliant on it’s health.

And then the other day I was in our front yard, near the driveway and was noticing how quickly the weeds were growing. One particularly variety looked familiar and I bent in closely to take a look.  Spindly, dill-like leaves, greenish-yellow bud getting ready to open, about four to six inches tall, soft to the touch.

Chamomile.

Hundreds of plants of wild chamomile all around the outskirts of our driveway – the no-plants-land between the driveway and the fence. Popping up between the tire tracks on the driveway, softening and surrounding the spot where the trash can sits, even hanging out by the front steps by the potted geraniums.

I had struggled so hard to start them from seed, babied them for weeks with spritzes of water hand-sprayed from a bottle, determined the best spot for them in my herb garden based upon water availability, sunlight, room to spread and companion plants nearby, calculated the weather pattern before putting them outdoors, only to watch them die within a week.

And then, only a few weeks later, noticing God’s glory and providence sprouting out of the most inauspicious place, the driveway. Realizing that God had given me chamomile, IN ABUNDANCE, if only I had waited and kept my eyes open.

God speaks to me in lessons in gardening and parenting. Sarah, be patient. Sarah, my plans are not your plans. Sarah, come and see what I’ve given you. Not where you thought it should be, but where I thought it should be, and in my timing.  It doesn’t have to be a struggle, just trust in me.

A lesson I desperately need to keep learning.

 

image source 1, image source 2

 

With Mother’s and Father’s Day coming up, along with graduation season, for today’s Fabulous Friday Five I wanted to share my favorite can’t-live-without kitchen essentials, all under $20.  These items have been hand-picked and tested by me, a foodie who also ruthlessly purges her kitchen of single-use items on an almost quarterly basis. I have a small kitchen, so if it takes up space, it must be useful.  Here’s my favorites:

  1. Wooden Cooking Utensils – my two can’t-live-without favorites are a Bamboo Stir Fry Spatula with a pointed edge which helps get “the goodie” out the edges of certain pans, along with a Flat edged Spatula (the linked one is olive wood, while mine at home is bamboo. Both are fab) which I use all the time for scrambled eggs and frittatas.  Wooden cooking utensils are long-wearing and won’t scratch pans, nor melt at high heat, and are happily welcome in my kitchen without the potential issue that plastic or neoprene have with leaching toxins into foods.  Handwash only, please!
  2. Fish Turner Spatulas – I have three and I love them.  And, frankly, I rarely use them for fish.  I have this exact one which I use for frying eggs and flipping pancakes, one similar to this big, stainless steel one which I use for fish (on the grill) as well as unloading pizzas and breads from the oven, and a smaller, stainless steel fish turner like this one for turning anything that I cook that is not being cooked in non-stick pans.
  3. Tongs – how can you cook without tongs?  I have two pairs of these silicon-tipped locking Tongs; we use them so often one pair is almost always in the dishwasher.  I’ve found that anything smaller than a twelve-inch tong isn’t really useful for me, and I always keep a pair of 16-inch Stainless Steel Locking Tongs around for grilling.
  4. Good Knives – I have a really nice Henckel knife set that I recieved for a graduation gift several years ago, and I use them regularly, but I have to admit that if I got rid of them tomorrow, I’d still be able to cook.  Instead, I’ve acquired three favorite knives that I almost ALWAYS go for.  My Santoku Knife, which has replaced my chef’s knife as my go-to chopping knife, and my Miracle Blade bread and steak knives.  Miracle Blade?  I know!  But I have to tell you I use the little steak knives DAILY for cutting cooked steak and other meats, as well as my go-to paring knife for all small fruit and veg.  The bread knife is great for bread, but also for slicing pineapples, melons and tomatoes because the blade flexes allowing you to sort of fillet a slice of mango or quarter of pineapple away from the skin, or slice a tomato very thin without squishing it.  Love it.
  5. Speaking of sharp things, I also love my Handheld Zester/Grater – I have one with a fine grate that I use for citrus and hard cheese, and one with a Medium Two-Way Grater like this one for garlic and ginger.  Finally, I always have on hand two (TWO!) good potato peelers (because it’s no fun to peel potatoes by yourself) and a good knife sharpener (for all those knives EXCEPT Miracle Blades! :) . My dad (a hunter, fisherman and gourmet chef, and did I mention he MAKES knives? Yeah,  the guy values a sharp knife) gave me an Edge Maker Knife Sharpener and it’s the only kind I use. Highly recommended.

What are your favorite kitchen must-haves?  Anything I missed?  Feel free to share in the comments!

 

image source

 May 3, 2013  Posted by Heartland Renaissance Fabulous Friday Comments Off
 

I’m going to be sending out my Fabulous Friday Five post a bit early because I JUST found out about this awesome gardening e-book bundle and it’s only available (at this price) until Monday, April 29th!  I thought it was perfect for my readers, so I had to share!  Here’s the details: Whether you’re a new or experienced gardener, this week’s collection includes a variety of gardening tips for everyone! Learn how to garden without a big budget or a lot of space, discover tips for organic gardening and preserving your harvest, and get organized with custom printables. But don’t wait because this bundle is on sale for 75% off this week only! Frugal Gardening 101 by Phoebe Hendricks In Frugal Gardening 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Vegetable Gardening Without [... To read more, click here ...]

 April 25, 2013  Posted by Heartland Renaissance e-books, Fabulous Friday Comments Off
Apr 242013
 

I didn’t have any expectations. No friends, not even an acquaintance. But I walked in the door with my shoulders back, ready to take on this writing retreat, with my eyes and heart wide open. And I was embraced. Loved on. Showered with kindness and grace from ladies who were strangers Friday afternoon but dear friends, soul sisters, by Sunday morning. I was challenged.  Left mystified, tired and teary-eyed. But trusted and followed God’s lead. We talked about writing.  The business of blogging.  Not one person knew of my blog, and that was okay.  We weren’t there to talk about niche, stats, scheduling or strategy. We were there to talk about dreams. We were there to talk about our God-Sized Dreams.  The one’s we hold in our hearts and excite [... To read more, click here ...]

 April 24, 2013  Posted by Heartland Renaissance Faith 7 Responses »
Log in here!