Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Garden Update

We have some growing going on!  (And some failures, but that's part of learning!)

I cut off all the old blooms on the mum.  Underneath I found a ton of buds!  The palm is one I am trying to save.  It got stressed this spring.

The green beans are doing well. They are a bit spindly, but that's because the area really doesn't get as much sun as they'd like. 

I know these are really small, but I am happy to see them growing at all.  The cherry tomatoes may or may not do much this year.  I could bring them inside later since they are in pots.  We'll see what happens.

The herb patch continues to hang in there.  Grace is keeping the weeds at bay.  The cilantro is in bloom.  I am amazed that the garlic is alive at all, since it was a clove that sprouted last year in my kitchen cabinet.  I decided to plant it and see what happens.

These beauties were a gift from my Grace.  I love lilies, and these do not disappoint!  This fall, I am going to move them to the front of the house though.

 The broccoli and cabbage pool is doing well.  I have to thin them.  That is my least favorite job.  I am going to try to replant some of the areas that did not germinate. 

The holyhocks did not do a thing.  So sad, as they are my favorites.  I will try again.  In the meantime, I am going to try sunflowers.  We have a ton of the seeds. 

Here is the over all view of things.  Again, Grace is keeping the area weeded and the grass mulch is really helping, too. 

Here's one last look at my grandfather's geranium.  I just love that thing!  Keeps me connected to him.  I received it in 2009 and he had it for a couple years before that.  Amazing! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

What is Simple Living

“Simple living is about living deliberately. That’s all.”
- Janet Luhrs

For a long time, I've had in my mind an image of what living a simple life looks like.  I saw a small house in the country with chickens, a garden, clothes on a line blowing in the wind, making soap, canning a bounty, and on and on.  But then, I spent some time trying to see myself in that picture by defining what  simple living is to me, and it occurred to me that simple living is not a destination (or address), but rather a state of mind.   

It also occurred to me that if I define simple living as a set of possessions (the right house, chickens, etc,) then I am putting my life on hold right now.  For me, simple living needs to be here and now, because that is all I have, really.  I can't have a smaller house right now and I really don't want chickens (right now), because I want to be able to go camping. And truth be told, I don't really see myself as a homesteader type.  I am not wanting to be self sufficient off grid person either. 

And so, I came to realize that living in a manner that is described as simple can and should be done right now with an attitude of contentment.

Simple living is in the moments.  It's looking for pleasure in the everydayness of life.   It's not about what I don't have. It's about having less and enjoying life more.  It's about having fewer commitments.  It's about not being materialistic.  For me, it is not even being self sustaining, although for others it might be.

The biggest single thing that I could do to make my life more simple is to slow down, do less, and live smaller.  Living smaller for me means to keep doing what I am doing, and look for other ways to live a healthy, happy, God honoring life that I desire to live. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Be Happy

To be happy, we don't need as much as we think.  For me, happiness boils down to knowing that I am in God's will.  Beyond that, it's all "gravy."  And it is the "gravy" that I want to talk about here.

For many years, I wanted stuff.  I wanted what I saw others around me accumulating.  That led to big debt and its oppressiveness.  Then one day we realized that having a big house full of stuff was only making us miserable. So, we chose to downsize.  The only way to keep going down the road we were on was to send our kids to a government school, and get myself a job, in order to pay for a big house full of stuff that I did not love.  We did not want that path. 

So here we are, four years later. We are debt free and renting a nice house in a nice area near our church home of 17 years.  We have a great landlord who is putting lots of money into this 50 year old house to keep it nice.  We have nine months left on a three year lease. 

Still, I struggle being content here as I know the rent is at the maximum we can afford and really, I am not sure we can afford it, as we are not able to save much for our future, something that bothers me.  However, we make multiple trips to church during the week, so it seems wise to stay here as moving to a more affordable area might mean we spend the savings on gasoline.  Unless we change churches and after 17 years, which is not what I really want to do.

Instead of moaning about what I don't have,  I am taking stock of all I do have towards my dream of a simple life...
  •  A hard working husband who supports us well! 
  • I stay home with my kids and am responsible for their education.
  • I cook all our meals from scratch (without a working oven for the last 4 weeks! )
  • I compost.
  • I have a small garden. 
  • I recycle.  
  • I have two old vehicles and a pop up which are paid for. 
  • We are debt free. 
  • I camp instead of taking trips to Disney or other resort. 
  • I rescued a cat instead of getting another pure bred Siamese. 
  • I buy as much organic as I am able. 
  • I buy eggs from a farmer!  
  • I line dry when able.  
  • I use the library as much as possible.  
  • I don't have cable.  (Nor do I miss it.) 
  • We say no to organized sports so that we can do things together, like camping.  

And what exactly is a simple life?  I think it is different for each individual.  It is not going down the exact same path as another.  But we both could be living a simple life!  I think I will take some time to define "a simple life" next post. 

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another "Garden" Update

Last night, my hard working husband mowed the yard and kindly put the grass clippings in the garden for us to use as mulch.  Doing that sure keeps the weeds under control.  I also planted a small plant of cilantro that I got for a dollar at the farm market today. 

I think we are set now.  My daughter has decided to give up on the strawberries this year.  She's afraid the chipmunk will just help himself again.  She's probably right, as I see him darting through the garden all the time. 

So here it is, the humble, simple garden!  (You cannot see them, but there are tiny sprouts from the seeds we planted a week ago.  Yay!)  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Garden on the Prairie

I love gardens!  I love to watch things grow!  Yesterday, my daughter and I were able to go to our living history museum and tour all the gardens, all patterned after 1830's life.  We learned a lot asking questions about different herbs that are growing in our own garden.  I can't wait to go back, very soon. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Garden Progress

Compost pile getting some water.

Hollyhock patch, just waiting to sprout. 

Herb patch:  basil, chives, garlic, catnip, mint, lavender, and a lily. 

Cherry tomato seeds planted. 

Half broccoli, half red cabbage. 

Cherry tomatoes for friends, we hope. 

The whole garden area. 
Still to come.... strawberries!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Farm Market Season

Living in Indiana for most of my life, I know the growing season pretty well.  I know not to expect great things in early May.  However, last night I was a bit disappointed in the farm market.

Two weeks before there was a lot more offered, so I hoped it would always be so.  There were a couple of farmers there who used hoop houses to extend the season.  They did not seem to be there last night, so, I learned a lesson, to be more flexible.  Despite not finding more greens and vegetables, we did get some eggs and yogurt.  And it was a beautiful evening to be outside. 

I love the drive to the farm, too.  It's located in an area that I lived for 5 or so years when I was a little girl.  I used to ride my bike near the farm and fish in the creek with my dad.  I love this area that seems to be protected from urban sprawl, somehow.

We'll be back in a couple weeks to try again.  Next week the local city's farm market opens.  It's more like a festival, but still lots of vendors with great food.  I am looking forward to going.

Today we go get dirt to fill up the container garden and start seeds.  More on that later as well. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Farm Market Time

Excuse the dark pictures, please.  It was a cloudy, cold morning!  But, we finally made it to a local farm that sells grass fed dairy products and hosts a farm market each week.  I was amazed at the variety available already in this part of the world.  Thanks in part to the "hoop" houses I saw pictures of at one farmer's stand.  We bought raw organic honey, fresh spinach, and some yogurt.

We've decided to take a look at our food budget and see exactly how much we already spend on produce, milk, other things we saw today.  We'd like to set aside that money and buy from the farmers.

And, they have CSA pick ups, too!  I think we will sign up for the one in the fall, as I don't think we can come up with an extra couple hundred bucks right now.

And it that is not enough to be excited about, they had a stand that sells the local seeds that I wanted to buy!  We got busy attacking weeds when we got home.  OK, The Mr. and Little Dude got busy.  And they drilled holes into the kiddie pool.  Now I just need some peat moss and perhaps some straw or something to put around the garden to keep the weeds down.  I am also going to go get some Weed Pharm, an organic weed killer.  The dandelions will be tamed!