Thursday, March 31, 2011

HSV Garden Challenge

I’ve been following this really neat blog called Homeschool Creations since we decided to take the girls out of preschool. I really enjoy reading Jolanthe’s posts and decided to take the most recent HSV Garden Challenge. In order to play along I have to share the following bits of information: photos of the garden location, my gardening plans, any rescources and involvement of the kiddos. So here goes! I will post more photos of this unit study as we get to it.

First, I’ve had to do some maintenance on my little chinobilly garden because the Arizona weather has taken its toll. 
I'm so thankful that Matt is generally in charge of this kind of stuff or we would be in great big trouble. I did succeed though in staining the fence.
My strawberry bed was a disaster. I left it alone the past two years and now I see that was not the brightest gardening decision I’ve ever made ~ not that I've had to make all that many yet.

Thankfully, the weather has been good to us and I was able to get the bed all cleaned out. I added more soil and gave it a good soak.

(This photo was taken before the fresh soil was added)
Now it is ready for some fresh plants.
After spending many evenings reading up on all sorts of seeds and methods I ordered some fresh seeds and I splurged a bit too. I ordered some strawberry plants and onions. Both are varieties that intrigued me and I knew I wouldn’t find anything similar at our local Home Depot/Lowe’s.
My very favorite gardening book is the Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch. My friend Audrey introduced me to this book and I've read it and marked it so much that I had to get it rebound. It's really a great book. Another book I reccomend is All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholamew. I learned a great deal about gardening from this book and have adapted a lot of his theories in my chinobilly garden.
I'm kinda addicted to tomato varieties now that I am learning the lost art of canning.
I read that seeds will last many years if stored properly and I’ve been working from seed packets that are going on 4 to 5 years old now. I store my unused seeds in canning jars and keep them in the refrigerator out in our garage.
Since I loosely follow the Square Foot Garden method I am able to get a lot of use out of my 10 x 10 garden. This year we are planting: Pole beans, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes, spinach, strawberries, yellow squash, tomatoes, watermelons and zucchinis.  
We started our tomato seeds on Monday with our friend EJ. She is such a doll!  It was so much fun to let my girls show EJ the ropes. They are old pros as this is their 3rd year in planting a garden you know…
Aubrey showing off our 16 hopeful tomato plants.
Abby expressing her love of gardening...and fashion....
It was neat being able to share our unit study with Ella and to see how much our girls have learned over the last two planting seasons.

We will be planting a bit more of our seeds indoors next week but the rest of the seeds are going right into the garden. Our plans are to top off the soil in the garden this weekend and get all the cool weather plants planted. I know I should have done this during the first part of March according to our zone. However life doesn’t particularly like to play by the rules of frost dates and climate zones so we are going to wing it and hope for the best.

I’m so excited to use the garden preschool pack with the kids! Hopefully this will be just the kick in the pants I need to get back on track!

Wish me luck…
The chinobilly garden wannabe

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I know.

I haven’t posted anything in a long time.

But if I’m being totally honest, which I am, I haven’t even felt like it. Or really even thought about it since I don’t have anything outstanding to post. Like I ever have in the past but that is beside the point. Although I did fiddle around with a new blog background the other night which felt like a step in the right direction until I began pushing pixels and thought WOW, THIS SEEMS LIKE A LOT OF WORK I THINK I'LL GO TO BED.

And now I’m ignoring all the partially completed backgrounds and the pictures that never made it to my blog porch.

In other words, my motivation is at an all-time low. We’ve been home for a majority of the past week. Only leaving the house on two occasions. Seriously. Two. Occasions. It was bliss I tell ya! One was a trip to buy milk, eggs, and tortillas to get us through the much anticipated “great snow storm of 2010”. (I swear it would be cheaper to buy the whole dang cow than to buy 2 gallons of milk at Safeway) Then yesterday Matt took us out to eat lunch at Arturo’s before two of our nieces came over. Suffice it to say this Monday is going to be a big slap of reality to us. A shock to our system that will require us to once again be out of our pajamas before noon and get back to our so called routine and quit considering three iced gingerbread cookies to be part of a balanced, healthy breakfast. In other words, January 3rd is going to be a major fun fungus full of organizing and cleaning and steamed broccoli and the 30-day shred.

I wish I had something profound to share with you. Some sort of deep reflections about 2010 and all the ways I grew as a person this year. But I’m not sure I do. I feel like it’s been one of the fastest years I can remember and, although it was filled with many blessings, it was also filled with some hard times and tough lessons and a general overall feeling of WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?

And so I think that’s what 2011 holds for me. I want to be more intentional about how I use my time and all the blessings God has given my family. I want to be a better mother, wife and friend. I want to listen more than I talk. I want to quit being so afraid of failure that I don’t even try. I want to listen for the voice of God and go where He leads even if I’m not sure what that looks like. I want to be the person He created me to be and realize that He knows all my flaws and frailties and there’s no sense to beat myself up about them on a daily basis.

I fell in love with a recent post over at Inspired to Action called 12 Words on Selecting Goals for the New Year. Stop right now and go read it. It will change your life.

So, in short, I have my work cut out for me in 2011.

I wish you all the happiest New Year. I hope it’s filled with everything you hope for and even better things that you didn’t even know you wanted.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Dip

A few weeks ago it was my turn to provide snacks for the kids at preschool. I really wanted to make these cuties but I had to bring enough food to feed 50 kids. Um-yeah Not. Gonna. Happen. So I settled for this recipe and let me tell you it was delicious. I was a bit worried that the kids wouldn't like it they just requested I make more of it. Yay! If you want a copy you many download a pdf of this card for your stash.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bree's song of the week

This is a song the kids are learning and they love to sing it often. It convicts my heart and hope it does the same for you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

There Must Be Something In The Water

click to enlarge

Weighing in at 4 pounds this zucchini was discovered hiding among the lower leaves of a tomato plant in my garden. I swear I think our rain water has steroids in it. One day the cute little zuchs are almost ripe the next day they attempting a complete take-over of my garden! We shredded this sucker up and made 1 zucchini bunt cake, 2 dozen zucchini muffins, 2 loaves of zucchini bread, and put 6 cups shredded zucchini in the freezer for later.
Anybody want any zucchini?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why Daddys Should Never Grow Up

Matt is on vacation this week so the girls are having the time of their life. I remember the days of my own childhood doing the same thing with my brother and daddy too.
Except we didn't have grass...
Or cicadas making it sound like we lived in a pressure cooker...
Or a video recorder...
Oh never mind!
I think Daddy just might be their favorite person.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mr. Salamander Goes To School

Journaling Reads:

One weekend, towards the end of August, Matt was pulling weeds from the flower bed in front of our house. I remember noticing how cold it was that morning and feeling a relief that autumn is just around the corner. I had put the girls in the bathtub and was doing the usual swish and swipe of their bathroom when Matt came traipsing in with a huge grin on his face. “You’ll never guess what I just found!” he said to the girls as he opened his hands to reveal his newest treasure. Matt had found a salamander. in our garden. in the land of “I’ve not seen a salamander since I was 8 years old”. NEATO! The cute little bugger was enjoying being passed around from warm hand to warm hand. Matt totally scored some cool dad points for finding THAT creature! He made sure he tucked Mr. Salamander back in the flower garden under the lily plant.

Fast forward to last week. The girls both had the honor of brining something to preschool for show and tell. Many of my facebook friends saw the comment I made about Abby taking a toad for show and tell. Let me just say he was the hit of the class and Abby declared she had the best day of preschool ever. Never mind she’s only been in school all of five weeks. It was still the best day ever.

Matt and I were wondering how we were going to live up to the coolness of bringing a toad to show and tell when it was Bree’s turn. She had captured a few cicadas and even a weird looking beetle but nothing was really fitting the bill. On Wednesday night she had tearfully settled for a Praying Mantis from the garden. All was not right in Bree’s world. Thursday morning rolled around, much too early in my opinion, and as I was sending Matt off to work and wrangling two grumpy girls to get their hair combed when the light bulb went off in my head. Matt headed out to the flower garden with high hopes of finding Mr. Salamander hangin’ out in the flowers. YES, Daddy scores again!

By this time daddy is running late for work and puts me in charge of finding proper accommodations for Mr. Salamander to travel to preschool for his turn in the hands of every. single. preschooler.

Oh yes Mr. Salamander…the places you’ve been.

You are a world traveler in this Chinobilly’s eyes.

Hopefully he didn’t tell all of his salamander buddies to head for the hills. We may need their assistance again someday.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Spittle Bug Spittle Bug Go Away

Oh no! My grapes, my grapes! See the nasty white blob of foam in the pictures? That icky froth is the spittle bug’s way of invading my grape vines and getting all snugly-cozy like and well I’m not going to take it. No I’m not!

After doing a little bit of online research I found a recipe for organic bug killer to rid these pests of my grape vines once and for all.

I think.

So here is my plan of attack.

Fresh habaƱero peppers are not a kitchen staple in the Chinobilly house. We use the canned stuff; don't judge me it’s just how we roll. Oh and cheesecloth was another item I had to purchase at exorbitant prices here at our local grocery store.
The author at recommended I “spray each of my plants with the spittle bug spray. Squirt some on the ground around the plant, too. Then spread a band of the spray around the outer boundaries of my garden, creating a spittle bug barrier. It will repel other garden pests, as well.”

First, I sprayed down all of the white frothy stuff before I sprayed like crazy in hopes to really get the bugs not just their happy little love nests. Hopefully that will send a message to all their buddies and we won’t have further infestations issues.

I used the entire spray bottle in one visit so maybe my barrier is more like Fort Knox.

Here's hopin' anyhow...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I made this cake for a family picnic over the Labor Day weekend. It is one of Matt's favorite cakes and we like to top our slice with fresh fruit like strawberries or blueberries and of course whipped cream.
click to enlarge
If you would like this recipe card, I'd be glad to email it to you in a pdf version.
Well, that's all I've got for today...back to canning tomatoes.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Wow! In the last two days I have picked over 10 pounds of tomatoes from our little garden. It's very exciting to see our little garden do so well yet quite intimidating to think I have to can all this goodness. I've been skimming through a few canning manuals that my mom gave me. For now I think I'm going to stick with the basics of canned tomatoes then work my way into the sauces and pastes. I think I might have bitten off more than I can chew...ha!

 click to enlarge
Journal reads:
I planted 17 tomato plants in our garden this year in hopes that three would survive. All 17 plants are thriving…much to my dismay. The plants are yielding about 5 pounds a day so I guess I better get this canning thing figured out again. I know it will be so nice this winter to make salsa with tomatoes grown in our very own garden.