Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Landscape Garden

We don't have a designated "garden" this year. We're renting and didn't want to tear up the lawn, plus we knew we didn't have time and energy for a real garden. We did, however have empty landscape beds around the house, so we spent a few dollars at Lowe's on Mother's Day and put in a couple of our favorite things.

Since we didn't plant from seed, some things like basil have been producing for us all summer, but other things are just starting to come to fruition! Today was what seemed like the first harvest--finding four cucumbers big enough to pick!

So for our records I busted out the ever-ready cell phone and snapped some pictures of our little landscape garden, as of the third week in July.

We planted these cherry tomatoes for the kids. They've been asked to wait until they turn red, but after than they can pick and eat when they want.

Here's another angle of the cherry tomatoes, which have been the right size for a couple weeks. When will they ever ripen?

I adore eggplant. I know some people don't like the texture, but I've never had issues with that. For some reason they've never done well in the garden for me, so I'm excited about this little guy that's about the size of an apple.

Something is obviously enjoying the leaves of this sweet bell pepper plant, but since the tiny peppers are still doing fine, we're leaving it.

The largest peppers about the size of the cherry tomatoes, but growing fast!

Beefsteak tomatoes are the epitome of summer to me. I can't wait to have a big slice on a piece of gluten-free bread with lots of mayo! And maybe some of the basil you'll see in a big. Mmmm!

I think these tomatoes (above) are supposed to turn yellow. I like those. Somehow they're more mellow than red tomatoes. Yum.

Then of course there are roma tomatoes! Romas mean bruschetta to me. Another summer staple.

This cucumber looks a little funky, but oh well! I'm so tired of spending money on cucumbers and I'm thrilled we got to pick four today! I love cucumber sandwiches and lots of cucumbers in Greek salads too. Hopefully we won't have to buy any more this summer.

Sadly our parsley disappeared (rabbits? squirrels? the wood chip mulch?) and our cilantro bolted so fast I couldn't make it stop, but our basil is big and healthy!

These (below) are jalepeno peppers, our oldest son's request. He and his daddy have shared about three, but they've decided to wait a couple weeks to see if they get spicier. Looks like we have most of the ingredients for salsa!

The one thing missing from our garden is zucchini. We planted several hills but they got rained out and I haven't replaced them yet. I still can, right?

Do you have a garden? Do you throw a few things into your landscaping? I think it's the best way to garden and I'd like to do it on a bigger scale when we have our own property again.

Ok, I'm off to figure out some way to enjoy cucumbers and basil with our supper. We were going to have tacos... Hmm.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thai Peanut Kale Salad

So. We all know that kale is amazing for us, right? I've had my fair share of it and just kinda felt ... like I was eating it for my health, which is awesome, but I didn't love it.

And then I tried this salad.

We've been eating a lot of salads-as-a-meal lately. Greek salad, fruit salad with yogurt dressing, tossed salad, taco salad. It's basically a requirement for summer.

A few weeks ago, a friend brought this salad to a potluck picnic. I brought my favorite Greek salad and took a serving of the Thai Peanut Kale Salad to be polite. I had to go back for seconds, it's so good! I asked Jennifer for the recipe (as did all of the other ladies at the potluck!) so she took a picture of it and uploaded it to Facebook where she tagged us all. I've made it probably four times now and thought I'd save it for personal reference as it's getting harder to dig back in the Facebook archives to find the original!

I'm not sure where Jennifer got the recipe so I can't give credit where credit is due. I've looked online for a similar salad and this one is always better, though Lindsey at Pinch of Yum has a Chopped Thai Salad with a similar sauce. Her recipe is amazing but calls for cabbage as the base. Which is awesome and I've made it several times too, but sometimes you just want kale!

Thai Peanut Kale Salad (serves 4)

1 bunch kale, chopped (I use half of the giant tub of baby kale and arugula from Sam's)
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup shelled edamame or peas or garbanzos 
1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
Any other veggies: cucumber slices, shredded cabbage, scallions, etc

2 heaping spoonfuls of creamy natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce, Bragg’s liquid aminos or tamari 
salt to taste

Clean and prepare veggies. The kale especially, tastes better in small pieces. Place all in a large bowl, then prepare the dressing. If you have added extra veggies, go ahead and double the dressing recipe! (I always do.) Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, then drizzle and massage them over the kale mixture. 

Leftovers will taste great the next day! Thanks for the recipe, Jennifer!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Triple Boy Bedroom

You know, I think this post was what caused my unintended blogging vacation in June. Not that it's a big deal--it's not! The pictures just didn't turn out great and I'm too annoyed to go back and retake them, and editing them was so intimidating... I don't really have chunks of time to spend editing bad pictures. So I took 20 minutes today and just did a few things. No watermark, no painstaking editing, just super-easy short cuts.

And you know what? It's just for the record anyway. I'm not trying to make a bunch of beautiful, pin-worthy pictures. That's not my intention. I just want to look back in a few years and be able to see the cute, triple bedroom we created for our boys. So that's what I'm putting here!

You know, now that I waited a good 6 weeks since I took these pictures, things have changed a little. I'll do some updates soon. Hang on to your seats!

It works best right now for us to have all three boys together in one room. I'm usually a divide-and-conquer kind of person, but instead of dividing the boys, we divided the purpose of the rooms.

This is Josiah's bed. He's in the middle because he's most apt to to to sleep! I know it would have been more practical to have my youngest (he just turned three) against the wall, but he's doing really well and it helps the older boys to have him in the middle. Josiah still uses the original transportation quilt my mom got when Jonathan was just transitioning out of a crib. *Grandma just gave Josiah his jean quilt that she made for him, so in the updates you can see that.

This is Jonathan's bed. This room is long and narrow, and I liked the idea of having two of the beds under windows and the third in the middle with two nightstands in between. The dressers are on the opposite wall. You'll see that in a minute.

Jared is on the right. Each boy's quilt has a different color back. Jonathan's is blue, Jared's is red, Josiah's is green. The color of the blanket is the same as that boys' sheets. Just how we made it work for us!

This room is in the basement, right across the hall from the room Gary and I use. That means the windows are up high, but there are four of them and they're a little larger than most basement windows because we're in a raised ranch. I think this is a bonus room, or family room or something. It doesn't have a real door, but the three boys don't care!

Each boy has a special bear from build-a-bear. They don't have many stuffed animals, but they do like their bears!

At each end of the room, I hung a set of hooks and strung twine between them. The boys keep more artwork here, hung with clothes pins.

Towels on a propeller hook, a bin for laundry, church shoes in a row. The boys have bins of out of season clothes and clothes that are in-between sizes under the stairs. There's also a rod in there for hanging church outfits. Other than that, all their clothes are in the dressers and shoes live upstairs in a closet.

You can tell we once had an airplane theme! We have quite a few pieces left, but some have been given away in our downsizing over the last two years. The red dresser and yellow dressers belonged to Gary and his brother when they were little!

So there you go, a quick little tour of our simple solution for our three boys! What do we do with the upstairs bedrooms? Funny, but they're kinda extra! We're just all cozy downstairs! One is our classroom and one is a guest room where the daycare kids nap and where I keep art supplies. Now you know!

Anyway, hope you have a great day!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Life Lately {June}

Well, shoot! Here it is, July already. I'm ok with that, it's just that I didn't blog in June. I seriously don't mean to do that! And I hate it when that happens. Not that there's nothing to blog about, it's just that life is busy and there are lots of balls I'm trying to keep in the air and I can't do them all at once. It seems like if I'm homeschooling, then I'm not cooking or keeping up with laundry. If I blog, I don't exercise, if I babysit a lot, I don't homeschool... I'm sure you know how that is. 

I love that saying I've seen posted on Facebook and Pinterest lately: Not my circus, not my monkeys! Well, these are and it is. And I love it! I wouldn't have it any other way, except a few more monkeys! I just love them, and they're so much fun! 

Let's see. June was full of signs, healthy coffee, snacks for kids, the park, more signs, iced tea...  I had someone local contact me through my Etsy store about selling my signs at her shop! I'm super excited about the opportunity and was able to make 12 signs in two weeks. The store is called Kindred and it's in Grand Island, about an hour away from Lincoln. It's actually where my husband lived for awhile growing up! Anyway, I have a whole post about the signs I made and will be adding to my Etsy store in the near future. Apparently it takes lots of iced beverages and the occasional pretty skirt to pull that off.

Speaking of my monkeys... They keep growing. And getting tan! And my oldest, Jonathan, got glasses! Apparently, he really needs them. I'm hoping they'll help. He was so brave at the optomitrist! I let him pick out his own frames--they are not at all what I would have chosen, but I wanted him to have something he likes since he has to wear them all the time. He usually does wear them and only sometimes complains that they're in the way.

The sunrise pictures are from my early morning walk. I've been going a lot more frequently, although after our mini-vacation over the 4th I haven't gotten back out there. On days I go I'm SO glad and it's pretty and I feel good getting something good-for-me checked off the list, but it's 4 miles around the lake which just about wears me out for the day. Hopefully that won't always be the case.

For Mother's Day I got a picnic table, and for Father's Day, we got Gary a little fire pit! We've had a couple marshmallow-roasting sessions, but usually the weather is already roasting without adding a fire! And it's not dark until after 9 PM. Hopefully we'll be able to use it more in the fall. We definitely use the backyard a lot! The boys and their daycare friends spend some time there every morning and afternoon, although it does get hot and buggy. Some days we declare it a water day and hook up the sprinkler or slip 'n slide. Sometimes by evening it's cooled off enough to enjoy supper al fresco!

There are lots of lakes around Lincoln. We've spent time at two of them, canoeing, camping, playing in the sand and water, or reading and enjoying an iced tea while you watch from the shore. Hey, I'll take my quiet moments when I can!

We've also had a lot of rain this summer. It's not uncommon to have thunderstorms after a hot day, but we haven't had to wait in the basement much. Things are very green and our garden is happy! I'll try to get some pictures of our cute little landscape garden for you. I'm looking forward to tomatoes and cucumbers!

So, there you go! June according to Instagram! What have you been up to this summer? What do you do to beat the heat?


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