Category Archives: The Great Outdoors

Back in the Blogging Saddle

It’s been nearly two years since I last posted. TWO YEARS! I haven’t forgotten about my little blog. It’s been quietly nagging me in the back of my mind. For two years I’ve been thinking about and meaning to get back to it, but life has been so busy. In those two years I increased the amount of hours I am at work and our two kids are now school age and involved in more activities (soccer, swimming, gymnastics, piano). I value our quiet time and we all enjoy just hanging out at home and playing in the back yard. We aren’t usually involved in that many things at one time. However, in an effort to try different things and see what the kids really enjoy (in addition to wanting the kids to learn how to swim), it feels like we’ve been overdoing it. My son informed me last night that he’s ready to take a break from swimming. Right on. He’s been doing great and has really progressed since he started winter lessons in January, but a break is definitely due.

One of the highlights of the last year is that we now have backyard chickens! I plan to write a whole post on that, but in short: husband built a coop and a run, and in March 2015 we got six Golden Comet chicks (red sexlinks). The kids loved watching them grow from chicks and have continued to love and care for them. They even gave them names. The chickens deserve a blog post of their own, so we’ll cover all that next time around.

In the meantime, it’s April and the weather has been gorgeous (except for the last few days of heavy rain). We’ve gotten our garden started, and since my garden is the topic I blog about most (aside from my kids, maybe), I wanted to share a few pics of what we’ve got going. I’m also home today with a sick kindergartener, so while she’s resting and watching The Land Before Time (a favorite movie series around here), I decided to finally bring back the blog. πŸ™‚

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Our new chicken coop and run along the side of the garden. Also, last year Mr. L. added a fence around the garden to keep the chickens, dogs and deer out. It’s been working great!

 

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This is late afternoon and as you can see, the garden gets a good bit of shade then. I usually try to start planting in the far end and save the sunniest parts of the garden for tomatoes.

 

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The first transplants include cabbage, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. I will need to keep an eye on them so I can see when the cabbage worms start to show up, then take action.

 

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Our “walking onions” popping through! My dad gave me a bunch of these a few years ago and I save the bulbs to replant each year. They develop a flower at the top with a bunch of new bulbs that get heavy and plop over, starting a new plant, which is how they “walk”.

 

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These two were really into helping garden this month, so we harnessed that enthusiasm! They helped plant onions, potatoes, and green beans. Miss D. also helped transplant the Brassicas one afternoon when her brother was at soccer practice. We still have lots to do!

At the recommendation of my Uncle Joe, I’m currently reading Growing Great Tomatoes in preparation of planting our own tomatoes in the next week or so. I’m also checking out Straw Bale Gardens and am thinking of giving that technique a try at some point. There’s always so much to learn!

To be continued…

 

 

Gettin’ Dirty

What a gorgeous weekend! The late, heavy snows that we got in March delayed the start of our gardening, so I tried to get caught up this weekend. It was the perfect weather for it; just like those perfect couple of weeks of true spring weather that we get between winter and the hot summer weather that always seems to come too early. I remember a couple of years ago we had what felt like two full months of true spring weather. Hoping for another spring like that this year, now that spring has finally arrived.

We spent most of the weekend in our back yard, transplanting and sowing in the vegetable garden, as well as making a butterfly garden next to the kids’ play house. I’ll follow-up with a post on those, but in the meantime, here’s what we got started in the vegetable garden this weekend:

  • Egyptian (“walking”) onions (actually planted a few weeks ago; my Dad gave me these spring onions a couple of years ago)
  • sweet onions
  • potatoes (Kennebec and red)
  • lettuces (Buttercrunch, Bibb, and mesclun)
  • swiss chard
  • cabbage (early flat Dutch and red)
  • peas (frosty pea, sugar snap and dwarf sugar bush)
  • Tepary beans (heirloom from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company)
  • carrots (short n’ sweet, and rainbow)
  • radishes (easter egg mix)
  • arugula
  • parsley
  • dill

After all of that, I have over half of the garden planted already, which I always find a little depressing. I can never keep up with our garden, once the weeds move in. Then I wish it were smaller. But when I’m planting and sowing, I always wish it were bigger.

We all got very dirty and by Sunday evening, I was tired and sore. But it was a divine weekend. I took this photo of my daughter playing in the less-than-half of the garden that we haven’t planted yet. She had gone inside to fetch her favorite blanket and brought it out to the garden. This photo pretty much sums up how I felt about the weekend. πŸ™‚

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Hoping you also had beautiful weather this past weekend and got outside to enjoy it!

 

Where Has Summer Gone?

I can’t believe it’s already August and I haven’t posted a blog since January! The summer is nearly over, my boy is about to start kindergarten, and my garden is drying up and full of weeds. Ugh. There is just not enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do (or even to accomplish the list of things I should do)!

We did manage to take our first family vacation to the beach last month though! It was Miss D’s first time to the beach, and though it was Mr. D’s second time, he doesn’t remember his first visit (at 18 months old), so it was like his first time too. They loved it! I was just looking at some photos of our visit and was really appreciating this one in particular, which seems to simply say “slow down and enjoy the journey”.

A Beautiful Day for a Hike

It’s been so warm outside! It’s almost impossible to come up with an excuse to NOT be out there. Last week the four of us went to a nearby park that has a small network of trails. My son LOVES this sort of thing. He loves to lead the way while we follow. My daughter also enjoys being out in the woods, but we’re usually slow to get our act together on the weekends and we didn’t get to the trails until almost lunchtime, which is always followed by a nap for my daughter. So, she was starting to fade and we had to carry her much of the way. (I confess, part of me really looks forward to when we drop that afternoon nap!)

Of course, I had to bring my camera (much to my husband’s dismay, who said “Next time we go hiking, no camera!”) I guess I’m just not smooth enough with it to not let it slow us down. But I know if I hadn’t taken it, I would have been wishing I had. So, it’s always better if I take it along… “just in case”. πŸ˜‰

It wasn’t long after we set off that my daughter asked to be carried. (Why do I always forget to bring that Ergo?) We took turns carrying her, but she got a special treat when Daddy put her on his shoulders.

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Everybody follow while big brother leads the way!

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The hikers share the trails with horses and their riders, so much of the trails are a bit muddy and heavily trodden, with horse “droppings” for us to dodge along the way. It’s not bad, but you do have to watch where you step. Little sister was happier walking in the drier stretches.

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But she still wanted at least a little help getting around some of the muddy spots.

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My son didn’t mind the mud. He was having a blast!

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“Daddy, take a picture of me and D!”

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Hiking around a bend, we came upon a small stream. The kids love to explore streams and big brother’s favorite thing to do is to jump over them.

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“I told you I could jump over it!”

Little D mostly just looked around and watched with curiosity…

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At one point she was mesmerized by a large pile of horse doody on the trail.

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I’m not sure what she spotted overhead, but it must have been interesting!

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A little wooden bench along the trail makes for a nice break and photo-op. πŸ™‚

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Little D started to lose steam, so it was back up on Daddy’s shoulders!

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When we got back to the parking lot, my son insisted that we sit at a picnic bench to have a snack break before heading home. So, that’s what we did. Then we went home for the rest of lunch and nap time.

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We’re really loving this warm weather. However, whenever Mother Nature feels like sending some snow our way… at least enough to pack a few snowballs or make a small snowman… we’re ready. πŸ™‚

Simple Things: Missing Summer

I haven’t blogged in quite a while. I think I just got tired, but I’ve also been missing it. Just needed a little break, I guess. I tend to work that way. I’m very passionate about something for a while until I burn myself out. Then I move on to something else, and eventually find my way back when the time is right.

It’s been a mild winter so far, which I have mixed feelings about. I don’t mind the mild weather, except for the fact that I find the unseasonably warm conditions (a la global warming) unsettling. Despite the light-jacket-weather, I finally took the kids to get snow boots, in anticipation of a heavy snow that we’re bound to get at some point in the coming weeks.

I don’t think I have the winter blues, but I do miss the sights and sounds of summer. I also just upgraded my Photoshop Elements software and bought some textures and brushes from 2 Lil’ Owls Studio today, so I wanted to play with some photos I took back in July. It’s a bit of a cheat for the “Simple Things Sunday” link-up, but I didn’t think anyone would mind. πŸ˜‰

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Then I did a little more playing with a Florabella action and got this, which I like even more.

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Simple Things Sunday: Trailblazing

Daddy got a new tractor recently and today he went into the woods behind our house (which we don’t often venture into because of the undergrowth and abundance of spiders, ticks, and chiggers) and cleared a walking trail for us! Afterward, three of us took a walk and used clippers to clear some of the smaller branches that were blocking the new path.

Little Buddy was excited to sit on this rocky outcropping and wanted me to take a picture. I took a few of him looking at the camera (saying “cheeese…burg…eeerrrrrrrrr”), but this one is my favorite. Our neighbors have a similar outcropping that they call “Rock Mountain”, so I asked D what he wanted to call this rock. He said “Smile Rock”.

I’m looking forward to adding some fun elements to the trail… maybe some faces on trees, or a log-stump table and chairs. Eventually maybe we’ll put in a rope web between a couple of trees to climb on. So much possibility! I’ll have to revisit my “outdoor play” board on Pinterest to see what else we can do out there. Do you have any ideas? I envision lots of walks and scavenger hunts with the kids back there, now that we can get around a little easier. Thanks, Daddy!

Simple Things Sunday: Magical Mushrooms

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I guess we’ve gotten carried away with the summer. We’ve been busy working on a playhouse for our kids, so that’s been taking up a lot of our free time lately. (More on that later.) The garden has also been a bit of a disappointment this year, so I haven’t had much to share in that arena. I made some rookie gardening mistakes that have made keeping up with its maintenance, with two small kids around, pretty hard to do. (More on that later too.)

We’ve gotten a lot of rain over the past couple of weeks. Seems like every afternoon we get a thunderstorm. When the rain is plentiful around here, so are the mushrooms. I actually bought a field guide to mushrooms, but haven’t used it nearly as much as my reptiles/amphibians or spiders/insects field guides. But I do enjoy the sight of the colorful little mushrooms that seem to pop up out of nowhere.

I spotted these three orange mushrooms growing at the base of a tree near our driveway today.

I wanted to get some photos of them, and my son came along. But for some reason he decided to throw rocks at them while I photographed them, eventually breaking one of them. I was pretty disappointed, as I had asked him several times to stop, but he didn’t. So, I let him know I was disappointed, which must have made him feel bad because he insisted on leading me to another group of mushrooms he had found earlier today. He said they were “so tiny and cute” and he was sure I’d like to photograph them just as much.Β  At first I just wanted to put the camera away, but he was persistent, so I followed him and he led me to this amazing little patch of beautiful mushrooms.

How magical are these little mushrooms? I loved photographing them and I couldn’t help imagine myself as a tiny person, creature, or even a smurf, hanging out underneath them. (Seriously, where’s Smurfette?) So, I took about 20 pictures of them, then kissed and hugged my son and thanked him for showing me the special patch of mushrooms he found today… they were much more fun to photograph than the three I started with!