Garden 2013

I posted my plans for my garden awhile ago, I thought I should post some pics of how it is doing.

The salad greens garden is doing AWESOME.  The used pallet is really working well.

The salad greens garden is doing AWESOME. The used pallet is really working well.

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This is the greens and tomato garden, all are growing really well and the greens are being harvested regularly.

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This plot has cucumber, eggplant and peppers in it plus one volunteer tomato plant. oh yeah, and onions.

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Wider view of the garden. The pallets you see are squash and zucchini.

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Summer reading

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I always look forward to summer reading, the relaxed pace, the lounging about with a good book.  I always look forward to that, but that never happens.  Since I am a mother of three with one on the way, my summers are not that relaxing, and I don’t lounge around with my favorite book.  I read when the moment comes that I can.  I read at the park in between pushing kids on the swing, at the library while they are looking for books, at the occasional outing for myself and before bed, for about 5 mins before I fall asleep.

As much as I think I want to be the kind of person that reads one book at a time, I have come to accept that I am not.  I always have at least two books going at any given time, and usually more.  This summer I am reading books from four different genres.  This summer my genres are; parenting, adoption, cooking and fun reads.

Parenting books:

This summer I am revisiting a series of books that I read when Ewan was younger.  They are great books and I go to them when ever I feel that I need tip on how to handle behaviors or just want to feel normal about what my child is or is not doing.  The author is Louise Bates Ames and here are a few pics of what the books look like.

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These books start at the age of 1 year and go up the book “Your ten-fourteen year old”.  All of the books are layed out very similarly if not the same which is helpful for navigation.  They are older books but I find the information relevent and useful.

 

Adoption books:

I have a lot of books in this genres.  I always find them useful and insightful but I also find them overwhelming too.  They are packed with information and often times tough subject matter, which can be hard to slog through.  This summer I am tackling two books; “The Connected Child” by Karyn Purvis and “Brothers and Sisters in Adoption” by Arleta James.

 

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Cookbooks:

This is a fun genres and I love cooking so for me it is really fun.  Cookbooks are great reading because there is no story to follow and there is no pressure to understand or finish the book.  You can pick it up for 5 minutes or 45 minutes and it doesn’t affect your experience much.  Cookbooks are a great escape, a great motivation and a challenge to experience something new.  They can also provide freedom, especially in the case of a specialized diet or food allergies.

 

The cookbooks I am reading this summer have a lot to do with my gluten free/dairy free lifestyle but also the Vegan/Vegetarian lifestyle of which I have recently entered.  I will say that I am choosing to eat vegetarian because my body does not seem to handle meat protein very well and I feel 100 times better when I eliminate it from my diet.  Vegan cookbooks offer great recipes for even those who are not totally vegan but perhaps vegetarian and dairy free, like me.  Here’s what I am reading:  Mark Bittman’s “The Food Matters Cook Book” and “Kitchen Express”.  Terry Walter’s “Clean Food”, “Learn to Bake Allergen-Free” by Colette Martin  and Kim Barnouin’s “Skinny Bitch, Ultimate Everyday Cookbook”.

 

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Fun Reads:

 

I have only one fun read lined up for the summer, I am hoping that will change but so far my fun read is getting little attention.  Here is it, Patrick Taylor’s “An Irish Country Doctor”.

 

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There you have it, my summer reads, at least that is the plan!

What’s on your summer reading schedule????

 

Home study update

We have been in the home study stage of our second adoption since the early spring. It was a lot of paper pulling, copying and phone calls but about two weeks ago that part came to an end!!! Today our case worker told us that she has sent the draft to her supervisor for approval, this is very exciting. After our local agency approval the home study report will be sent to our international agency for them to look over. After they say it all looks good it will go to the ONE woman that approves home studies for all of Illinois. Once she says we are approved then we are golden, and our official home study goes back to our international agency to be made part of the international paperwork.

My hope is that are home study will be approved quickly and we can start on the dossier this summer. I would love to have the dossier done before school starts back up, but of course that is dependent on a lot of things going right.

Fingers crossed and sending up prayers that we make it through the approval in a flash!

Planning the garden

Last year was my first year with the large garden beds.  It went really well and I learned a lot!  I used the book Square Foot Gardening as a resource for planning out my beds.  It worked pretty well but this year I am definitely going to be tweaking my plans a bit.  Here are my plans from last year.  They are a bit dirty but that’s because I had them out in the garden with me while I was planting.

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I planted this bed just how I planned.  This bed is being changed quite a bit this year, this was the bed that was kind of  a fail last year.  What I plan to do differently;

1. I will probably never grow tomatillos again.  They get huge!!!  I would really have to have a dedicated space for them because they took over my 4’x8′ bed.  My onions and peppers pretty much did nothing because the tomatillo grew right over them.

2. The squash needed more room.  I was pretty sure that it would but the book told me different so I went with it.  This year I have a whole bed just for squash and zuc.

3. Placement; the cucumbers did really well and grew on my fence which I wanted them to do but they were really hard to get to.  This year I will be planting smaller plants in front of my cucumbers so I can more easily harvest the veggies.

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This bed did really well, for the most part I was really happy with the way things turned out here.  I will be making a few changes to this and here they are;

1. I am going to do less tomatoes so I can give them more space.

2. I am either going to but way down on the amount of collards or not grow them at all.  We like collards but not enough to grow that much.

3. Probably not going to do pole beans in that location.

The awesome thing about this bed was that we were able to harvest the kale, collards and chard throughout the entire summer and into late fall. It was awesome!

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This bed was planted differently than you see here.  I did do a lot of lettuce but I also did a lot of herbs as well.  Here are the changes I am making this year to this bed.

1. I have a whole bed for lettuce this year, so I will have more room for other stuff in this bed.

2.  This bed is going to be mostly herbs and maybe some onions too.  This bed tends to be the mish-mash bed and I am ok with that.

These are the new beds that I have drawn out.  I only have two drawings because two of the beds are the same.

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I have two of these beds and they are going to be for zuc and squash only.  I made two of them because I only intend to put two plants in each bed.  Maybe I’ll sneak something else in there too, something small.

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This bed is going to be for lettuce and spinach only, maybe some edible flowers too.  The great thing about this new bed is that it is in a morning sun location that gets afternoon shade, I think my lettuce with be happier this year.

Along with these beds I also have veg growing all over my yard.  Each of my children have a small wash tub garden and I have lots of container gardens too.  I mostly grow herbs in the containers but sometimes radishes or beets make an appearance in a container too.

I know that the bulk of this post has been boring pics so here are some pics to brighten things up.  This was my garden from last year.

The tomatillo's playground!

The tomatillo’s playground!

Kale, chard, collards tomatoes.

Kale, chard, collards tomatoes.

Lettuce and herbs

Lettuce and herbs

Lettuce and flowers

More chard and flowers

Herbs and flowers

Herbs and flowers

Anwen and Esu's garden

Anwen and Esu’s garden

Ewan's garden

Ewan’s garden

Some perennials

Some perennials

Looking back at these pics from last year makes me so excited about this new growing season.  I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt!!!

Coop construction/yard work day

This past Sunday we constructed the coop for our chickens and also did a handful of other projects in the yard.  It was a long but very productive day and by the end I was ready to fall over from exhaustion, but it was the good kind of exhaustion.  Here are the pics of the coop project:

This is the coop spread out in our living room.  Brian was checking to make sure we got all the of parts and that they were in good shape.

This is the coop spread out in our living room. Brian was checking to make sure we recieved all the of parts and that they were in good shape.

Here Brian and my cousin Ian are building a foundation for our coop.  They worked on this for HOURS!  The biggest problem they encountered were the huge tree roots in our yard that make it difficult to dig.

Here Brian and my cousin Ian are building a foundation for our coop. They worked on this for HOURS! The biggest problem they encountered were the huge tree roots in our yard that make it difficult to dig.

Since the foundation took way longer that anyone anticipated the girls started work on assembling the coop.

Since the foundation took way longer than anyone anticipated the girls started work on assembling the coop.

My sister Meghan and my cousin Cammie are working hard screwing together parts of the coop.

My sister Meghan and my cousin Cammie are working hard screwing together parts of the coop.

At this point we realized that we could no longer assemble the coop on the grass.  We moved it into the garage so we would have a level surface to work on.

At this point we realized that we could no longer assemble the coop on the grass. We moved it into the garage so we would have a level surface to work on.

Now that we are on level ground we are back to piecing this coop together.

Now that we are on level ground we are back to piecing this coop together. You see my sister holding the instructions. There was a lot of close inspection of the instructions, because THEY SUCKED! I have never see worse instructions, this was NOT COOL!

The run is almost together.

The run is almost together.

Now that the foundation is done the boys join us in frustrating task of assembling this coop.

Now that the foundation is done the boys join us in frustrating task of assembling this coop.

All smiles!  Probably because at some point about half way through the assembly we decided as a group that what would make this easier was if we all took a beer break.  Seriously, this coop should have been easier to assemble.

All smiles! Probably because at some point about half way through the assembly we decided as a group that what would make this easier was if we all took a beer break. Seriously, this coop should have been easier to assemble.

So, our coop is assembled and in place I don’t have a pic yet because once we were done it was getting dark, and of course it has rained everyday since.  These are my thoughts on this coop so far:

Downside:

1. The directions stunk!!!  They were very hard to read and way to basic, I was shocked how little information was given.  There was a lot of guess work as to where and how things fit.

2. The coop came damaged which was really irritating.  The manufacture is willing to replace the broken peices but still it was annoying.

3. Several people that were helping us put the coop together commented seperatly that they thought we over paid for this coop.  I tend to feel they are right.

Upside:

1. We have had serious flooding rains in Chicago for the past week and for the most part the coop is dry.  That was very encouraging.

2. It has a pull out tray for cleaning under the roosting bars, I like that.

3. It is appealing to the eye, which is great for maintaining good relations with my neighbors. 🙂

I am sure I will have more to say about the coop once the girls occupy it, lets hope it is all good stuff!

Other yard projects that happened were;

Cammie and I made three raised beds out of old wood pallets.  You can see two of them clearly in this pick and the other one is just behind the chicken coop.

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This is the “farm” part of my Chicago yard. I have 3- 4’x3.5′ beds, 2- 4’x8′ beds and 1- 4’x4′ bed. I also have my composter in the back as well as the chicken coop.

I’ll get into more detail about the garden in my next post which will be about my garden plans for this year.

We also moved my compost bin into a sunnier spot of the yard.  The compost was mixed really well in the process of moving it which mean that soon I’ll have some great stuff to add to the garden beds.

The final project we did last weekend was to start preparing a spot in our yard for a small patio to be put in. We cleared the area, marked it with twine and started to level it.  I’ll take pics of that project as soon as it gets underway.

PODCAST PLUG- I have been listening to a pod cast called COOP CAST which is put out by Chicken Thistle Farm.  I am really enjoying it and learning a lot and not just about chickens.  Stop by their website to find out how to listen if your into that kind of thing.

Newest additions

The Grant clan got chickens!!!  As I sit here writing this post, our little ladies are pecking, peeping and scratching away in the brood behind me.  It really is the cutest thing!

Owning chickens has been something I have wanted to do for years, I started day dreaming about it when we lived on our condo.  As we begin our 3rd summer in the house it has finally happened.  Our chicks are about a week and a half old now and are super cute, but what baby chicks aren’t cute.  We have four little chicks each a different breed.

The Chicks: The top photo is of them now, the bottom is what they will look like all grown up.

This is Belina, she is a Buff Orpington

Belina

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This is Mavis and she is a Black Australorp

Mavis

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This is Beatrice, she is a Barred Rock

Beatrice

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This is Saphira and she is a Golden Laced  Wyandotte

Sephira

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When doing my research on what breeds we should get I had a few very specific requirements:

1. The chickens would need to be cold hardy, which means that they needed to be able to live in their coop during a Chicago winter.

2. The chickens would need to be pretty good egg layers, cause that is why we got them!

3. The chickens would also, and this is very important, need to be NICE!  With three kids and a fourth on the way these little ladies needed to be calm, friendly, and docile.

A great resource that I found to help with breed selection was on the website My Pet Chicken.  I had also done a bunch of reading in the book Chickens in your backyard and in the magazine Backyard Poultry.

The Coop!!

When researching what kind of coop to either build or make we looked all over the web and in a few books as well.  We looked at purchasing plans, building from scratch, buying a kit, etc.  What we settled on was a coop kit, the cost seemed right and we have a screw driver. 😉  What turned us away from the plans that we found for purchase everywhere was that they did not give us enough information up front.  That was frustrating for us and we did not want to waste money on plans that we might end up not liking.

This is the coop that our little ladies will move into in about 4 weeks.

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This kit is from the Chicken Saloon website.  We are going to be putting the coop together this weekend with the help of some family.  I’ll try my hardest to take photos of the construction in progress.

Holy Week

I love Holy Week!  I love the closeness with Christ, the closeness to His story, the story of our redemption.  I am taken in at the last supper, I grieve the suffering on the cross, I anticipate with great joy the resurrection and I celebrate new life on Easter.  A week full of emotion, meaning, deeper spiritual growth, love and gratitude.  Holy week has it all and not only to I get to benefit by taking part I get to give back to God by being apart of it and letting it change me.  Here are a few images to stir His spirit within you.

 

Maundy Thursday

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Good Friday

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Holy Saturday

This is a writing I found, author is unknown.

Something strange is happening — there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

 

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ‘And with your spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ‘Awake, o sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’

 

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in Hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in Me and I in you; together we form one person and cannot be separated.

 

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, Whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

 

See on My Face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On My back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See My hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

 

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced My side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in Hell. The sword that pierced Me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

 

Rise. Let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity. “

 

Easter Sunday

 

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Have a blessed Holy Week!

 

 

 

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