Archive | June, 2016

Friday Favorites, catch-up edition.

10 Jun

Friday Favorites, it’s been a while.  Here have been my favorite things of late:

Mabel’s new dog bed pillow.  I sewed it in a Friday night a couple months ago.  A quilter’s dog should have a quilted dog bed!IMG_5506

Dinner plates as garden border.  I loved it so much in the front of the straw bale garden that I brought the technique to the front.  It will keep the squirrels from getting the mulch all over the sidewalk.  Plus, it just adds a touch of whimsy.  I need to get to Goodwill for a few more to complete the look.  (See the newly added cream separator planter in the back too?  I’m in love.)IMG_5607

Planting flowers.  I went overboard (again) but I’m happy with the pots and boxes surrounding the house.  IMG_5603

I can cook a lot of things but -now this will sound silly- I have a hard time cooking rice.  Silly, right?  I can handle risotto but I can’t master rice.  It just never seems to have the right consistency, or there is water in the bottom of the pan, it’s soggy, etc.  A couple months ago, I found 2-serving size bags of microwave rice at Hyvee.  It’s perfect for me.   Microwave for 90 seconds and get leftovers for the next day (but not the next week too).  But at Hyvee, they were a bit pricey.  Enter Aldi.  Aldi has the same concept – two serving microwave packs of brown rice for half the cost of Hyvee.  I stocked up!

Hope your weekend is filled with favorite things!

A Day Camp story.

8 Jun

At Red Oak Grove for the last couple years, we’ve done day camp.  Kiddos of all ages come to church for a full day, three times in a summer.  We read stories, eat snacks, play games, and do wacky things.  And we play Sardines.  Of course.  It’s the classic church game.  Someone goes to hide, everyone else searches, and once they find the person hiding, they hide with them.  We always end up playing Sardines.

Today was no exception.  I teamed up with Lacey.  She just finished first grade and she’s the custodian’s daughter.  Needless to say, we had an advantage in that we both know the church pretty well.  We were the first to find a hidden person in one round which meant we got to hide in the next round.

We crawled to the back of the closet under the stairs in the basement.  The key to this hiding spot was that the closet was deep, and if you didn’t fully walk into the closet, you wouldn’t see that there was a tiny space under the stairs.  That’s where we camped.  Right beside the quilt frames and the Christmas trees that go in the narthex every year.

People, again and again, opened the door to the closet but they didn’t turn on the light or walk in – hence, we stayed hidden.  Pretty soon, the searchers got frustrated.  No one had found us.  Lacey and I were just hanging out, probably for 15 minutes, giggling every time someone opened the door to the closet just to close it again.

Then, from inside the closet, I hear yelling.  Quite a bit of yelling.

Charley puked all over!  Ewww!  Charley puked! 

Here were my internal thoughts: Shit.  I don’t do puke.  This is one of my worst day camp fears.  How do I clean up puke?  Can I stay inside the closet and pretend I didn’t hear it?  Will the other adult take care of it?  Shit.  I’ll just stay here.  No.  I can’t.  I need to be a leader and address this.  Do I? 

I tried to rationalize with Lacey, the seven year old.  Do I go?  Do I stay?  What should I do, Lacey?  Finally I decided I had to go.  Brave Lacey agreed to stay hidden in the dark, creepy closet if I left her my phone/flashlight.  I waited until I heard no one else in the basement and snuck out.

I found a big group gathered near the nursery.  They immediately were all over me.  Where are you hiding?  We can’t find you!  Give us a clue.  Is Lacey still hiding?  I saw Charley in the group.  Charley!  Are you okay, I asked.

The group laughs.  Charley hadn’t puked.  I’d been played.  They made it all up to smoke me out.


(But their smoke out didn’t completely work because they didn’t see where I came from and Lacey was still hiding.  It was ten minutes later, and only with my clues, that they found our spot.  *Lacey and I high five*)


Straw bale update.

5 Jun

Things are growing!

So far, the straw bale garden has been a fair bit of work.  I conditioned/watered the bales with fertilizer for about two weeks to get the insides cooking.  As things cook, the bales get hot inside.  One of the bales reached 120 degrees!  (You shouldn’t plant in the bales if they are over 105 degrees; I had to wait many days for that bale to cool down before it could be planted!)  Other bales never showed temperatures of much more than 15 degrees above air temperature.

I trusted the process and started planting.  Here’s the list: (deep breath) tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, carrots, lettuce, shallots, sunflowers, cucumbers, snap peas, pole beans, acorn and butternut squash, herbs a plenty, and, as of two days ago, sweet potatoes.  A little bit of a lot of things!  Many of those things are planted on the tops of the bales but those veggies that trail – winter squash and sweet potatoes – I planted on the sides so they will vine on the ground.  (I’ve read conflicting reports on the sweet potatoes; supposedly, they are best on top of the bale.  Top bale real estate was limited when I picked the plants up at the store on a whim a couple days ago.  What the hay – get it? – it’s a $3 sweet potato experiment.)

Right off the bat, quite a few of the plants died.   I’m not quite sure what that was all about.  Maybe the bales spiked in temperature and it was too hot for them.  Not all of the fertilizer washed into the bales and perhaps that burned the plants.  However, most of those things that died (cucumber, squash, and pepper) I’ve replanted with success so far.

In the midst of all of that, I installed a soaker hose on top of the bales and trenched the garden hose that leads to the garden into the ground.  (No hose to move when I have to mow!  It’s the little things that make me happy.)  The soaker hose is on a timer and so everyday, twice a day, it waters for 10 minutes.  This was how I was able to plant before leaving on vacation – the watering was taken care of!

It was also super exciting – I came home from vacation to mushrooms!  Cue the band!  Release the balloons!  Mushrooms (the not edible kind) are a great sign that your bales are decomposing as they should to be good “soil” for your plants.  Mushrooms are littered all over the bales.  And Lindsay rejoiced.

Things are growing and soon the rest of the trellis system will need to be finished.  In a couple photos, you can see the fence posts at the end of the rows.  A 2×4 will be attached to the top and then wire strung tightly between the posts every ten inches.  The wire will act as the trellis as things begin to grow and need support.

I’ll continue to keep you updated!

Clockwise: landscape fabric down; bales arrived and my dinner plate border added for fun and whimsy; soaker hose installed on top of bales; upon arriving home from vacation and seeing green things still alive and bigger than when I left!  (The decomposing bales don’t look super pretty so since that photo was taken, I added some extra petunias in the sides of the front bales!)

Vacation chronicles.

4 Jun

We returned to MN four days ago and this is the first moment I’ve had to consider sharing a bit of our adventures with you.  (And, let’s be honest, I shouldn’t even be blogging right now … I should be finishing a sermon …)  Here’s the story:

We set out for Duluth.  Two nights.  Summary: Canal Park + barge + lift bridge = coolest thing ever.  Lazy river.  Checkers.  Yummy food.

From Duluth, we were UP bound.  The plan was to camp for a night but the weather was icky and the air was mosquito-filled.  We stayed a lovely night in Escanaba after eating a pastie for lunch.  The weather remained icky so we went to a movie and then ate deli sandwiches in the motel room while watching Harry Potter.

Escanaba > Mackinac Bridge > Tunnel of Trees > Petoskey, a town on Lake Michigan I would recommend to any and everyone.  We hopped wineries/breweries, explored downtown, and sat by the water.

From here, the trip shifted from exploring on our own to seeing friends and family.  We spent a day in East Lansing, with The Boyfriend showing me his school, Michigan State, via bicycle.  We spent a few days with his family in southeast Michigan, throwing in some flea markets, canoeing, and bike riding.  From there, it was to southern Wisconsin for a couple low-key days with my mom and Jeff.  Oh, and a few horses that showed up in the yard one night.

We returned Wednesday morning and since then, it’s been church work and yard work non-stop.  A garden update will come soon!

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