Autumn-Spiced Pear Butter

I always find fall harvest time to be so much fun. Autumn is my favorite season – boasting vibrant colors that reflect the yellow hue of the sun, sweet apples, leaves crunching underfoot, fall decorations, cider, pumpkin spice and warm treats. Lest we forget crisp foggy mornings, cozy sweaters, scented candles, backyard fires and festivals of all sorts!

However, since we are void of any festival fun this year (thanks to the nasty “C” word) I determined to get my farm-made apple butter on crusty bread from another source. Me!

Ok, so I ate all of my yummy, crusty bread and only had white bread for the pictures! It’s so yummy it’s even good on plain old slices!

There were no apples on the trees this year due to some hard spring frosts, so apple butter was not an option. But I’d been finding it hard to avoid the large mixing bowl full of ripening pears on the kitchen counter. And knowing that there were yet more falling from the tree, I needed to get cooking-up something with fresh pears sooner rather than later.

This super-simple crockpot pear butter recipe was so easy! When I think of fruit butters I think of hovering around a simmering copper pot suspended over an open fire, and stirring it endlessly with a huge wooden paddle for days! Haha! Okay, so maybe I’m WAY old fashioned in that regard! But seriously, this recipe was so simple, and with very few ingredients. I tweaked it a bit and have shared it here, below. Happy buttering!!

Autumn-Spiced Crockpot Pear Butter

  • About 15 or so ripe pears, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup sugar (I used a 1/2 cup stevia sweetener)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon (give or take – I eyeball everything to taste)
  • The original recipe added a tsp of lemon juice in the end – after cooking – but I omitted that
  1. Peel and slice your pears into your slow cooker (of course leaving out the seeds, stems and cores)
  2. Smash them up (I’m real technical here! You can use a food processor, but I just mashed the fruit with a wooden spatula)
  3. Add in your sweetener and cinnamon, stir
  4. Cook uncovered, on high, for about eight hours

I stirred it occasionally, and stopped cooking prior to that because I felt that it was thick enough. When it will mound up slightly on the spoon and has the thicker consistency of an apple butter, it is ready.

Before removing mine from the crock I (carefully) used a hand held immersion blender to give it a bit smoother texture. If you decide to blend it smoother in any way, be aware that it is hot and will splatter. Or, simply wait until it cools. But I couldn’t be patient. I wanted to try it while it was still sweet and warm and yummy, straight from the crock!

So there it is. I told you it was just that simple. Please feel free to post any questions below. Enjoy!

It’s In Our Blood… Thank You Pioneer Ancestors!

There’s still something to be said for a small harvest. A minimal harvest is better than no harvest at all, right? In my busy weeks and days I don’t have to struggle with making too much time to pick, clean, prep, and cook or preserve what is coming in as the summer winds down. Granted, I didn’t feed my family with an abundance of meals made from our own garden this year like I’d dreamed, (thank you for that, critters!) but I did supplement several meals with side dishes, snacks, or lunch additions this summer.

Right now a yummy pear crisp is browning up all bubbly in the oven and smelling quite welcoming. It will taste good with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce for dessert tonight.

I am getting ready to try my hand at herbed, dried cherry tomatoes – also from the oven – my plan to preserve and use a bunch of those prolific cherry tomatoes falling off the vines right now. The ducks love snacking on them too when they get a chance!

I have discovered that it is possible to dry green beans that have gotten too big or started drying on the plant (who am I kidding? Or those that got dry sitting and waiting for me to do something with them.) They can be shelled and used as dried beans. So that’s a great plan for those errant beans that continue to come in through the fall. I’m thinking some warm, cozy soup will be good when the weather starts to cool. Also seeing some possible pear butter in our future.

I was able to harvest some red potatoes and onions this weekend too. Not many. I am hoping that the Yukon Golds did better, but some fried potatoes and onions sound pretty good right now!

With our meager pickings this year I can’t help but think of our pioneering ancestors as they trod across the country, heading west, with few belongings to their name. Talk about a difficult living by simple means. I think the innate desire to feed my family from scratching the ground surely comes from the blood, sweat and tears of those who came before us. Sure I whine and fuss and become easily discouraged by the groundhog dining his way through each and every squash I have planted for the last two years. But imagine the devastation of  losing an entire crop that your family is relying on to put food in their mouths, clothes on their backs, and money for supplies and animal feed into their hands, destroyed by locusts, a tornado, disease, prairie fire, or drought.

Yes, it could be far worse than bringing in a small harvest. Each year that I put research, effort, time, and money into a garden I am learning. What grows and what doesn’t. What makes things easier, or becomes a big headache. And what keeps pests and critters away or isn’t worth the investment.

But one thing I know for certain, it is always worth the effort to try. Providing for and feeding my family is satisfying and is something deep down in my make up. Especially in these uncertain times. It is important to have knowledge and ability to grow and store your own food. If you can hunt, fish, preserve produce, or even barter, you will be better off for it. And it is always worth the effort to learn!

“Give him a generous farewell gift from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress. Share with him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭15:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬


🌽🍎 I began this particular post a while back and have edited it to better reflect our times. In my effort to move forward with my blog, I will be updating and posting some previous drafts that have not been published, as well adding new material more often. If you follow my blog, please reply below with any subjects that you would like to see me write about regarding the quest to live a simple lifestyle. Thanks!🥕🥬


Simply Follow Your Passion?

I don’t know what I am doing. Or rather, I’m not sure what I want to do, with my life. By mid summer I’d lost my job of twenty years to Covid-19. It was, despite the craziness of 2020, a shock to me. Blindsided, I went through stages of something akin to grief. I was angry. I felt betrayed. It wasn’t right the way it was handled, or decided, by upper management – all while leading us to believe that our jobs remained stable and were secure. We were “doing great” staying on task, continuing to evolve to meet our mission in new and worthwhile ways … but the rug was yanked out from under. It must have been made of the wool that had been covering our eyes. I experienced sadness and disbelief, along with a depressing acceptance that my life’s work was gone. Done. And no longer needed me.

When we were a happy team

Eventually, I began to grow into my new role at home, slowly. Inside, it’s what I’ve always wanted. Time to care for our home and family. To develop better skills at coping – budgeting, learning more about managing our finances, decluttering, spending more time cooking from scratch, gardening, and finding ways to stretch our dollars and save money. The truth? I love it. I don’t want to go back to work. I really don’t. But I’m going to need to at some point. And it’s really scary.

I don’t see myself starting a whole new career at my age. Nor do I feel that I have it in me right now. I still carry strong feelings of betrayal and I don’t think I can dedicate myself so fully to something in that way again. I’ve been burned. Seared. Charred. Receive unemployment compensation for a few months and get back out there! No severance pay, no twenty-year celebration that was being planned as the pandemic struck, instead – here’s your coat and hat and a swift kick to the curb.

My heart is broken for the work to which I’d dedicated my life. For the hundreds of thousands of kids to which my tireless efforts brought hope. Opportunities that I, myself, never had as a child. The inspiration, joy, escape and hope… now lost to a generation of kids that would have been able to see a glimmer of light at the end of a dark tunnel.

But, I must now decide what it is that I want to do. It’s a clean slate. I likely won’t have another opportunity in my life to step into a roll that I always wished I’d tried. The path I didn’t take but always wondered about. Maybe a chance to turn a passion into a paycheck… But it’s not easy. And it’s definitely not simple.

Instead it seems to me that when you are working and thinking of a change, the world tells you: It’s never too late to make a change! You can do anything you set your mind to! It’s your chance to do what you’ve always been passionate about! Go big! Think outside the box! But when reality hits and you are out of the workforce it’s: You have to be realistic. “Those” types of jobs are very limited. What have you already done and what skills do you have? You can’t do that – you’re not educated for it and need a degree. They want to see what experience you already have… (ie: stick with what you already know and only bother going for the same type of work you’ve been in your whole life.)

Where’s the encouragement? Where’s the enthusiasm? Can I get a little support here to dream about what could be possible?

I’m not useless. In fact, I may be the most loyal employee you’ve ever had. I can learn if I don’t already know something, and if it’s my passion? You’d better believe I will put my all into it and you will get your money’s worth and then some. Do I come with a set of skills? Yes, skills that are translatable and can be used in more than one type of application. I’ve honed them, learned new ones, and developed strong character. I’m not beyond team work and changing with organizational needs. My work ethic is tight and will not unravel.

Honesty. Integrity. Respect. Wisdom. Faith. Simplicity. These are the values I live and work by. I had this on the board at my desk and when I cleared out my office I left it there as a reminder of what I brought to the table. The kind of manager I was. The type of dedicated, personable, hard to find professional employee they had, but let get away.

Just A Little Photo Fun

It’s been a while since I have shared a grouping of my photos here. Shooting simple subjects in nature, easily found without leaving my own yard, is something I enjoy doing just to unwind. I hope you enjoy them!

Purple Whirlwind
Cheerful sunny yellow!

On the Horizon
Pretty Poncho! Had to include my daughter’s Chinese Dwarf Hamster 🐹
Pretty in Pink
Delicious Bounty
After the Rain
By His Stripes 🙏🏻

“I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.”
‭‭Psalm 145:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬ – Amen

Read It, Know It, Defend It.

My personal lament for the day is anything but simple as I pray and meditate on God’s Word this morning. Our nation, this government, the good people of this country. WE – need to think critically about what is best for our collective future.
NO ONE’S self-righteous, self-centric ideal can, or will, solve the decline and disintegration of these United States. Pandemic, civil unrest, and a self-destructive divided government filled with evil and greed, that want only to beat each other down in their gluttonous clamber for more power. We are a nation of citizens teeming with anger, hatred, and fear ready to detonate at any second at anyone or anything – filled with rage and irrationality churning under the surface while each day we are smacked by the illogical actions of destruction in our cities and the less tangible DESTRUCTION OF OUR SPIRIT. When our spirit is broken we will no longer have control over our lives.

Do not allow that to happen. Take back control today. Stop. CHECK YOURSELF. What words are you saying? Who are you saying them to, about or in front of? Are they destructive? Hateful? Do they cause more division? Are YOU angry? Turn that rage into something positive. We must become intentional by replacing knee-jerk REACTION (violence, looting, the tearing down of our history as a nation – be it good or bad – hate, rage and entitlement) with profound and positive ACTION (VOTE from your local governing bodies to the POTUS election in November, write to your state representatives and congress, pray for our leaders and those in positions of leadership to seek and know the Will of God, and soften your heart to those around you). Show kindness to those you meet. Listen, learn, and show compassion. But stand firmly for what you believe in.

I admit without any guilt that I am conservative in my thoughts, actions and lifestyle. I’m not ashamed of that or of saying that I am patriotic about the founding ideals of this great nation. Our forefathers had the amazing insight to anticipate what actions would erode the fabric of our society and to put down in writing safeguards against them.

Our United States Constitution.

Read it. Know it. Defend it.

These are, by far, not easy times. You may have found yourself out of work, suffered the loss of a loved one to the virus, been impacted close to heart by the Black Lives Matter movement, watched your city burn or be desecrated by those who can’t begin to process their bitterness and frustration caused by years of systemic racism and oppression, or the reprehensible opportunists who viciously sought personal gain by looting and destruction of businesses and property in an already disparate situation, and even the insanity of a portion of the public that actually think their communities will be safer somehow by disbanding their police. However, we cannot lie down. Our society has been flipped upside down almost overnight. And our government has seized the occasion (exactly like those looting for their personal gain) to step in with their self-centric agendas.

This. This is a time to rise up in strength and like-mindedness for the morals and values that we hold dear. Those we know and trust to bind the moral fabric of humankind in check. Because if you look at world history, divided countries of reckless abandon always fall. And I can only speak for myself, but I do not want to see that happen.

Let the Sunshine In

B0CB61AB-ABB7-4C38-AD3E-BB1DDF66DDD3A little good to remind us that life continues… Nature carries on. Normalcy still remains intact. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Take a deep breath and love those around you. Stand strong for what you believe, but do it in love. Examine yourself, your words, and your actions before your next reaction. Focus on your routines, your 444F17C6-72DD-474D-87D8-9BDDB280A3B0responsibilities and your daily tasks. Focus on the normalcy of your every day. That’s not going away. Stop. Breathe. Take the next right step. Turn off the tv, the news, social media, or the radio… whatever has you wound tight right now and let your mind relax. Think about good things. Normalcy. Everything you know is not going away. Stop allowing all that’s going on in the world today to erode your peace. Journal, go for a hike, ride your bike, visit with a friend and talk about your families, take dinner outside, read a good book, create something, and pray. You’re going to be ok. We’re going to be ok. Remember, this too shall pass. We will do our best, and in the end, overcome. Our world will be a better place. And you will be a better person. Be kind to yourself and take care of yourself today. You still matter.

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
‭‭                                                       Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23

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Simplicity Rushes In

It has taken a long while to trust and appreciate who I am.  I’ve reached an age and stage in life where I am quite comfortable with “me.”  Each and every happenstance throughout my journey has formed the confident person that I have grown to be.  I no longer allow the words and actions of others to paralyze me and take over countless hours in my mind ruminating over thoughts that I am inferior in some way.  That I don’t measure up, and never will. Self-imposed? Maybe. It doesn’t matter.  What does matter is the level of joy in my life, of which there is much.  The key, stop looking outward for acceptance and validation. Others’ expectations of me are what they want.  Not what I need.  And not who I was divinely created to be. Instead, I chose to look inward at the core of what genuinely makes me happy.  And my world has changed.

This shift in thought has allowed me to let go.  Let go of the emotional baggage I have carried for too many decades.  Let go of the self-deprecating ideas I’d held onto about who I thought I was expected to be.  To throw off the chains that have held me back from so much for so long.  It has been a life-freeing experience!  So this is what it means to declutter your mind.

It all seems so clear now.  For longer than I care to admit I have struggled with removing the clutter from my home.  I/d struggled to simplify my life by starting with outward circumstance. Having a natural passion to write this blog, recording my journey of struggles and victories.  Ready to take on the world…!  And then crash. Every. Time.  Why?  Because for me, the key was working through what was on the inside first, before I could tackle the accumulation of “stuff” on the outside.

I find that emotional and mental clutter is usually mentioned somewhere towards the middle or end of any book, advice, or system I have ever explored; or simply not mentioned, with full focus being on how to physically unclutter tangible items.  And that’s OK.  However, I knew that for me, this was an area of personal conflict.  Something that I would eventually have to confront and defeat.  What I didn’t realize was that it was the thing that was holding me back most.

Today? Dark clouds have lifted.  Today, there is both hope and clarity encompassing what truly provides joy in my life.  A life of less.  A life of simplicity.  And it is obtainable.

IMG_3163

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.” – Jeremiah 17:7 NLT

A Delicate Balance

I don’t pretend to be something that I’m not. And, if you’re like me, you are stressed, tired, and overwhelmed – finding it a challenge to maintain the simple lifestyle you crave each time your world begins spiraling back into its usual chaos. So many books, blogs, vlogs and “systems” lead us to believe that becoming organized, downsizing or leading a simpler lifestyle is a once-and-done effort. But I find that, for me, it is an ongoing, long term process of actions and distractions. Much like the determination put into a successful marriage or the effort to sustain a close friendship. Each of us may embrace simplicity in our own distinct way,

stones pebbles wellness balance
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

but one crucial element that remains is in the fine art of balance.  If you are in a season of life that seems to have more of a hold on you than you do on it, managing a lifestyle of simplicity can become quite a challenge.

Establishing and maintaining margin in your days sometimes seems impossible.  Times can become so hectic with a busy work schedule, personal and volunteer obligations, kids at home, or a teenager who is very involved with activities several nights a week. Every once in a while I find that I have to schedule a day off, or long weekend, to catch up on things.  Today I am cleaning and decluttering our kitchen.  Am I overwhelmed? You bet.  But the goal is to get to a point where I will no longer feel that overwhelm, and where my family will feel relaxed and organized when they come home or enter our tiny kitchen.  So today, all of the expired snacks, extra cooking utensils, stained, frayed, or excess kitchen towels, stray cups and plastic containers are going.  Bon Voyage. Ciao. Arrivederci. See ya – I’m kicking you to the curb!  When I am through the counters will be wiped down and clean, the floor will no longer have sticky spots or rolling tumbleweeds of doggy hair. There will be less choices to search through when looking for items we need, and snacks will be organized and visible… no longer hiding in a mess of opened bags at the back corner of the counter going stale.

One thing this process of sorting is reinforcing to me, is that it’s crucial to repeatedly clear out the storage we have in our compact home in order to put away the things that we need, and use, often. Neglecting to do this on a regular basis (and I am beginning to understand that I need to be relentless in this) is what gets me into trouble every time. We have become so accustomed to having things that we don’t use stored away on shelves, in drawers or containers, that we wind up with the things we do use not having a place of their own and sitting around waiting for the next time someone needs them. So, I am doing my best to start decluttering 15 minutes a day, every day.  Getting rid of empty boxes and recyclables,  going through a drawer, closet, or corner in the basement, sorting through a container of items, papers, or keepsakes that got tucked away the last time I decluttered because I just didn’t know what to do with them at the time or had become overwhelmed.

So, I can appreciate that this is easier said than done.  Admittedly, I work a full day, arrive home and hurry to make dinner, run errands, and get our daughter to and from her own activities.  Like seeing the kitchen for the first time when I walk back in the door from the craziness, the thought of scrubbing a sink full of dishes (we have no dishwasher in our tiny kitchen) blindsides me.  I grudgingly do them, and when that is done, I really do not feel like cleaning, decluttering, doing laundry, or

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I just want to crawl back into bed and bury my head in the blankets…!

picking up after myself and family.  I know there are those of you nodding your head right now while reading this.  We’re not lazy.  We’re overwhelmed.

So, what can we do to get it all under control and enter into a home of comfort and peace instead of one more source of stress in our lives?  We have to be the answer.  We must do two simple things. (Note, I said simple, not easy). 1.) Begin throwing out and going through items for 15 minutes a day, every day.  2.) Put items away when you are done with them. Just those two things.  I have confidence that we can do this. Our homes will not be spotless quickly.  No.  This is an ongoing labor of love for our families, and ourselves, to establish the simplicity and peace we crave.

I started this post at the beginning of this month, and before that had not written for four more. I know, I have been too-long absent from this  blog.  My plan was to start a list – every day – of the things I decluttered in 15 minutes a day.  It was the beginning of the holiday season, and the hubs is working on the house again (we are currently living with 3 living room walls) and I  became highly overwhelmed.  So, now, I can’t think of a better time to begin this endeavor.

So, I am starting my list tomorrow, Jan 1, and for the next 31 days, I will post what I got rid of, put away, deep cleaned, or whatever other strides I took toward my goal.  I know this is going to be a bit of a challenge for me.  But I am more than ready.  Please join me in my personal challenge by commenting below.  (If you are still following.  I am so sorry to have let you down).

Now, let’s get started…!

Addendum… I was looking for some photos to add to this since I have not been doing much photography either (do you really want to see my chaos?:) And remembered my lovely new inspirational planner that I am looking forward to using.  Designed by another blogger, whom I find to be amazing, Darlene Schacht of Time-Warp Wife Ministries. I took a couple of quick snaps of it lying next to me on the bed, flipped the pages, and it fell open to a section in the back that I did not know was even there.  I am even more excited now to start both my lovely new planner, and my New Year challenge!

So, I promised I would update what I have been doing.  There is much to be done and some days I have more time than others, but I am feeling confident that I am making a dent in it all and that is what keeps the momentum going!

  • Jan 1 – Three small bags out of the bedroom closet, top drawer of dresser gone through and organized.
  • Jan 2 – Time in kitchen spent washing, drying and putting away dishes, removing boxes and recyclables, cleaning kitchen floor and around doggy dishes.
  • Jan 3 – Grocery shopping and planning ahead.
  • Jan 4 – Deeper clean of bedroom closet (some organizing items I had purchased online have arrived). Started putting them together and am looking forward to the organizing process tomorrow.
  • Jan 5 – Rose early to do a rebound workout (mini trampoline). Will check back with the day’s accomplishments.  – Hello again!  I cleaned out my nightstand tonight. That may sound like an easy one to you, but mine has three deep drawers packed to the gills. I feel lighter having emptied it out.
  • Jan 6 – Made a donation drop, sold some books at Half Price Books, exchanged leggings for correct size, did a load of laundry, went through jewelry and set aside some pieces to sell online and others to donate.
  • Jan 7 – Rebound workout, decluttering kitchen counter and table.
  • Jan 8 – Went through 2 dresser drawers, cleared tops of hubs dresser & nightstand.
  • Jan 9 – Rebound workout, decluttered one drawer and files at my office, deleted all unnecessary emails from my phone.
  • Jan 10 – Honestly, was exhausted and took a nap tonight. But not until all of the dishes from dinner were washed.
  • Jan 11 – Built the small organizer shelf and containers for the closet. Yep.  Just getting around to that!
  • Jan 12 – Started moving my winter sweaters down to the shelf where I can reach them much more easily and situated my soap making items, candles and other ingredients for making natural essential oil products into a new, attractive container. Cleaned the bathroom.
  • Jan 13 – Meal planning, grocery shopping and making meals from mostly what we already have in the pantry, fridge and freezer.
  • Jan 14 – Unsubscribed to several e-mails and gifted some gently used items to a few appreciative friends.
  • Jan 15 – Pampered myself with a glass of wine, a cozy blanket and a good book.  I had a very dear friend at work that left our office today to move onto other opportunities closer to home and I allowed myself the evening “off.”
  • Jan 16 – Went through junk mail and tossed it, along with some ads and our local town paper.  Cleaned out fridge and Trash went out for the morning.
  • Jan 17 –  O
  • Jan 18 –  Went through files at work. Tossed junk mail, washed dishes.

 

Putting On My Super Hero Big Girl Panties

My recent absence from this blog is an indicator that I , myself , am much like you.  I share my journey to simplicity through 0DB31FC6-2FF9-418B-9D53-BE9B9F5C7390writing, but I claim no expertise. I struggle. My house is still as messy and cluttered as yours (maybe worse, even), my schedule has a tendency to get out of control, and the chaos can easily become overwhelming.  It’s a challenge to write on a subject when you’re knee deep in it crashing down around you.

Our daughter recently returned home from a mission trip to New York State with our church youth group. I had missed her, and her dad had to go into work, so I agreed to take her and a friend to see a movie that evening.  We saw The Incredibles 2, a fun film!  During it I heard my daughter lean over and say to her friend, about Elastigirl, “She looks like my mom!”  Mind you, this comment didn’t come as this flexible super-mom reached beyond-human lengths (literally!) to perform an amazing feat or super heroine rescue.  No. She was standing at the bathroom vanity while brushing her teeth and speaking to her husband with a mouthful of toothpaste!  Nonetheless, we do share a physical resemblance and my ego was just a tad inflated, briefly, to have heard my 14 year old daughter compare me to a super hero.

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Ellen Parr, Elastigirl, from the Pixar franchise The Incredibles

Undoubtedly , I fall short – so short – of claiming such a grandiose title. I struggle, REALLY struggle, under the daily weight of responsibility and obligations. I think, if only I had enough time, or energy, to get this or that done. If only I could snap my fingers and my house, yard, gardens and shed would be decluttered, clean, and in perfect order. If only I had the super-power and strength, the amazing flexibility of Elastigirl…

How can I get there? You have followed me as I’ve taken time off work to make serious strides in our basement. You’ve been with me while I took a leap of faith into a smaller, more manageable closet of clothes, pondered ways to reduce my carbon footprint, and even as I attempted different methods of gardening to produce more food with less effort and limited space for my family… These are all things I do not regret and I have definitely learned from and strive to continue.

However, life marches on and keeps throwing new curves. Yep. We’ve had lots of green beans this year! Some tomatoes are starting to ripen, I’m assuming all is well under keeps with the potatoes, the loofah are growing on vines with vibrant yellow flowers, and pears are hanging low on the trees waiting to be harvested. But… I have had another year of battling the critters. It is so disheartening to lose ALL of our zucchini, spaghetti squash, pumpkins, acorn squash, and kale. No blueberries, peaches, or apples. Not a single bite has been left unconsumed by the groundhog, bunnies, deer… Yes. It is very frustrating.

Has my wardrobe grown? Sure – I’ve added a few pieces here and there. But the seasons have changed here, and I am still pretty committed to letting go of what isn’t working, I haven’t used, or have upgraded.

Not sure where my environmental footprint stands these days (feeling like Bigfoot here), but I can say that with recent news stories I am convicted more than ever that we need to stop using all of this “throw-away” plastic and packaging. I am wishing there were more places that would commit somehow to selling items with less packaging. It actually sickens me to realize how much we alone toss, as one small family, and even the amount of our weekly recyclables. It’s staggering.

And the basement? Oh. The basement. It continues in its apparent quest to mock me and remain the family dumping ground and go-to spot for quick stash and dash operations!  I am taking another week in September and will be tackling some of these long-neglected on-going projects once again.

So, now that I’ve “come clean” – yeah, that’s right, corny pun fully intended. It is time for me to put on my big girl panties (or Elastigirl cat suit!) and stop wallowing in my emotionally-stagnating LACK of self-proclaimed simplicity. It’s time to take responsibility for my part in this ongoing declutter of so many areas of my life, stop being overwhelmed by it, and do what I can to continue moving toward the beautiful, uncluttered life of my dreams. It’s that simple.

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A Pinterest-Worthy Garden

IMG_9165This year I have created my first Pinterest-worthy vegetable garden.  It’s far from perfect, but I justify referring to it in this way because of all the research, learning, planning, and serious effort that went into the final product. 🙂  I should say that, though I have been organically growing since I started gardening, I have come from the old school of tilling the ground and planting in rows.  Over the cold winter months, however, I spent much time visiting blogs, listening to podcasts, collecting images and ideas on social media, reading books, and learning all I could about different methods of growing food for my family.

During this time I quickly came to the conclusion that there is not one technique only that will work for us. Instead, I was intrigued by varying types of ideas.  Using a number of these this spring, I was able to create an aesthetically pleasing garden, planting a variety of vegetables in a limited space to feed my family.  I believe it will be a work in progress as I implement different methods and varieties of vegetables over the next couple of seasons to determine what thrives, what veggies we really enjoy, and which methods produce best and make the most sense for us.

There are, as mentioned, a few ideas that I have begun to put into practice this year.  One of those is vertical gardening.  For the first time I have used a few different types of trellises: A bamboo tee-pee for climbing beans, a square cucumber trellis, and an a-frame for varying types of squash, under which I have also planted some more shade-happy varieties of greens such as lettuce and spinach.  In addition, I am trying no-frame raised beds.

As most do, I planned and dreamed of what I would plant while waiting for spring to come.  I poured over catalogs, bought my seeds, and was careful to look for organic and heirloom seeds only.  I am very interested in food sources that will return year after year, or seeds that can be saved from season to season, having a proven track record for being hardy varieties and growing well in our area.

 

With my mind set on my first attempt at no-till gardening, I was heavily discouraged by our lingering winter weather with late snows, freezing cold, and frost that wouldn’t stop. I was wishing that I’d known more about no-till methods in the fall and had prepped the ground then for spring, but since I didn’t, I was confused about when to begin and missed the mark when I should have started laying something on the ground to start killing off grass and weeds before the weather turned.  Before we knew it we’d gone from winter into summer-type weather without much of a spring, and the pressure was on to get all of my seedlings into the ground and we ended up tilling.  We did add loads of peat moss, and I created no-frame raised beds, covered them in mulch, with fresh straw for walkways between the beds.  I am hoping that this will do a good job of keeping the weeds at bay.

We were able to get a chicken wire fence around the garden to keep those pesky groundhogs and bunnies at bay this year, and I have employed many marigold and nasturtium flowers to repel them as well.

Large pots were put into use for the first time, as well, to stretch growing space, and I will also continue to plant seeds on varying weeks to stagger harvest times and keep food reaching its peak consecutively instead of all at once.IMG_9163

It has been several weeks and so far we have seen kale, lettuces, green beans, and asparagus. I am patiently awaiting other vegetables to start growing.  The foliage looks great so far, so I am anticipating many types of squash, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries among many others healthy options for our family.

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