Garden Update & Cashmere!

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Somehow I missed the opportunity to photograph the raspberries loaded down with beautiful ripe berries, but they were wonderful while they lasted. I think the birds got to them quicker than me! We have quite a bit of new growth so we are hoping for more berries next year. I need to research pruning to make them easier to access. We have been gifted a volunteer tomato plant in appreciation from the birds also.

The tomato garden is growing great with a few volunteers also. Depending on spacing, we let some of them grow. Sometimes the best producing cherry tomatos are volunteers! We grew tired of the radishes, especially when the weather got warmer and they were spicier, and haven’t picked what remains. The girls wanted lots of cucumbers so we planted two more vines this past weekend in that bed also.

The earliest bed we planted began with turnips, which we harvested completely. Zucchini is now flowering. We are starting to see some fruit and the flowers are gorgeous. We planted a row of zinnias between the zucchini and the cucumbers. After that is a row of bush beans and more cucumbers. Did I mention we love cucumbers?

The rains have slowed and we now have these brief afternoon thunderstorms, enough to give everything a quick drink and make the air really muggy.

As a side note, so much cashmere yarn is on sale at Jimmy Beans wool! I bought a bit of the Lotus Cashmere Fingering for some Christmas gifting. Have you used this brand?

 

Finding My Summer Groove

These first few weeks of summer have been chaotic for us as we try to create some structure in the day for the kids, because my husband and I both work full time.

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We have challenged the girls to take more responsibility keeping the house tidy (and their rooms especially). Each week I post an “I’m bored” list of ideas for them to be creative as well as some chores I would like them to do. We have tried an allowance in the past and were not successful, so the reward for the responsibility is experiences. We go out for ice cream, get pedicures, go to a movie, etc if we are all working together well and keeping the house clean.

I don’t like cleaning with harsh chemicals because I don’t enjoy the smell, and I especially don’t like the kids being exposed to them because they want to help our family. Each week I mix some of Young Living’s Thieves Cleaner in a spray bottle and it makes it easy for the kids to spray down the kitchen or bathroom.

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It is also easier to keep the house clean when I get rid of clutter, and I tried to overhaul our house last month. I was not 100% successful following my list. I went down a rabbit hole reading The Curated Closet and got off track in my own closet, AND it took a full week to finish cleaning out the garage. So while I got rid of the quantity I wanted to meet the challenge, there are several areas that continue to need work. It feels good when you finish a room! (At least that’s what I’m telling myself.)

How is your summer going?

Minimalism

Minimalism is so buzzy these days, from instagram to several of the blogs I follow and books I have been reading. Certainly it’s not a new idea, but it is new to me. New because college and for several years after, I moved around every year or two and I just didn’t have time to collect THE STUFF. But with kids, and staying in the same place now for a bit, I have accumulated so much STUFF. So much that the house that we bought and thought we would never fill, is filled to the brim. That’s where this minimalism game I found comes into play, and I decided to play it this month. So for every day of May, I will give, donate or throw away that day’s date of items (May 1 is 1 item, May 2 is 2 items, etc). I decided to start with a list of where THE STUFF accumulates to give myself a jump start on this culling process.

  1. change jar to the bank
  2. coats
  3. ratty dog toys
  4. old computer equipment
  5. winter gear
  6. playdoh/ junk cabinet
  7. old holiday decor
  8. wrapping paper
  9. yarn
  10. hats
  11. baby blankets
  12. the freezer
  13. junk drawer
  14. socks that don’t have matches
  15. art supplies
  16. kids’ bathroom
  17. cups
  18. books
  19. clothing- me
  20. clothing- my husband
  21. clothing- the kids
  22. toys
  23. office junk
  24. my bathroom cabinet
  25. the hairbow box
  26. grocery store bags
  27. the pantry
  28. more toys
  29. laundry room storage
  30. the garage
  31. the garage (so messy it deserves two days)

It’s so exciting to think I will be almost 500 items lighter as of June 1st! Have you tried anything like this before?

Snapshots

IMG_3855Spring is my favorite time to get out into the mountains and appreciate nature at its finest.

We visited Vogel State Park in Northeast Geogia, hiking a handful of breathtaking waterfalls and celebrating my youngest daughter’s birthday as well. We had lunch in the town of Helen, GA, a quaint German village (& tourist hotspot).

How are you celebrating spring?

Grocery Budgets

The other day I was talking casually with my friend and mentioned that our weekly grocery budget is $125 – $150. She couldn’t believe it. Now of course, it’s not the total food budget. The kids eat out Wednesday nights (usually Chick-fil-a) and we eat out as a family for after-church lunch or order pizza with the neighborhood kids at least once the weekend too. All in all, I would say less than $200 a week.
Taking time to plan and make most of our food ourselves is the key to making it work. We spend a the biggest portion along the outsides of the grocery, in produce and meat, but there are some other tricks that are important to mention:

· We pack lunches. Usually sandwich or salad with chips or cookie, fruit or raw veggie, and yogurt. Sometimes I make a soup or roast/sauté veggies because I can heat up my lunch, but that’s not an option for everyone.
· We buy the produce that is in season. Right now we are eating lettuce, winter squashes, citrus and apples, strawberries, asparagus and root vegetables like potatoes and carrots. If you plan around what’s on sale in your grocery ad, you’re usually planning around what is in season and more plentiful.
· We buy a little bit of good meat and make sure to use and eat all of it. Bone-in chicken has more flavor when roasted, and we’re more likely to Eat the leftovers. It’s also easy to stretch a good beef roast or pork roast. A little bit of sausage or bacon goes a long way to adding flavor to pizza or pasta. Also buying on sale and freezing is wallet-friendly if you have the freezer space.
· We buy some items in bulk. Yogurt, applesauce, chips, oatmeal, rice, dry beans, and potatoes come to mind. Those little lunch packs are convenient, but are also full of processed ingredients and can be pricey. (With that said, my kids love Lunchables. I limit it to once a week, but yuck yuck yuck!)
· We make cookies or brownies for our dessert. Homemade always tastes better; Peanut Butter and chocolate chip cookies are my go-tos. And rice krispy treats are always a hit when you don’t want to turn on the oven.
· We plan a night to eat leftovers. We think this is especially friendly for those nights where everyone has to scatter in different directions anyway. And is it just me or does spaghetti always taste better the second night?

What is your grocery budget? Where do you splurge?

The Nightingale

Another one of the favorite books I read last month was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Hannah is a best-selling historical fiction author of over 20 books. I loved Winter Garden and I’m adding Firefly Lane to my wish list.

If you need a book for your next book club read, this one is perfect and would spark some wonderful “what would I have done” conversation, as well as spark some wonderful conversations about how we currently stand up to government-sponsored racism.

This story was delicate and maybe a little glossier and romantic than Lilac Girls or The Paris Key. The story follows two very brave sisters shaped by loss and morality during Occupied France. Vianne, the steady and agreeable older sister, is mother to a young daughter and hosting German soldiers in her home. Isabelle, the brave but impetuous younger sister, begins on a journey with the French Resistance, taking on increasingly dangerous missions to aid the Allied cause. Their relationship is tenuous at best, and the story of how they survive and grow through this together will move you to tears.

I loved the humanness that Hannah presented in her characters. I can only imagine the fear and the guilt that would have reigned, that every person on each side of the fight was just one misstep away from brutal consequences. Maybe glossy isn’t the perfect word to describe the way she presented the German occupation, because reality was presented, but her themes of hope and sacrifice and love were part of what I loved about the story. At one point, one of the characters resolves, “Wounds heal. Love lasts. We remain.”

If you like happy endings, you will love this. I promise. Do you have any recommendations for me?