Friday, August 24, 2012

Back To School

Yup....school has started. (And I haven't figured out if I'm drained from the excitement or nervousness.) I wanted to share this little story my daughter's Kindergarten teacher passed out to the parents. Grab a tissue and hug those munchkins as soon as they get off the school bus! 
 
 
 
 
 
Thoughts at the Bottom of a Beanstalk
- Author Unknown
 
Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jack who was about to climb his very first beanstalk. He had a fresh haircut and a brand-new book bag.
 
Even though his friends in the neighborhood had climbed this same beanstalk almost every day last year, this was Jack's first day and he was a little nervous. So was his mother.
 
Early in the morning, she brought him to the foot of the beanstalk. She talked encouragingly to Jack about all the fun he would have that day and how nice his giant would be. She reassured him that she would be back to pick him up at the end of the day. For a moment they stood together, silently holding hands, gazing at the beanstalk. To Jack it seemed much bigger than it had when his mother had pointed it out on the way to the store last week. His mother thought it looked big, too. She swallowed. Maybe she should have held Jack out a year......
 
Jack's mother straightened his shirt one last time, patted his shoulder and smiled down at him. She promised to stay and wave while he started climbing. Jack didn't say a word.
 
He walked forward, grabbed a low-growing stem and slowly pulled himself up to the first leaf. He balanced there for a moment and then climbed more eagerly to the second leaf. Then to the third and soon he had vanished into a high tangle of leaves and stems with never a backward glance at his mother.
 
She stood alone at the bottom of the beanstalk, gazing up at the spot where Jack had disappeared. There was no rustle, no movement, no sound to indicate that he was anywhere inside.
 
"Sometimes," she thought "it's harder to be the one who waves good-bye than it is to be the one who climbs the beanstalk."
 
She wondered how Jack would do. Would he miss her? How would he behave? Did his giant understand that little boys sometimes acted silly when they felt unsure? She fought down an urge to spring up the stalk after Jack and maybe duck behind a bean to take a peek at how he was doing.
 
"I'd better not. What if he saw me?" She knew that Jack was really old enough to handle this on his own. She reminded herself that. After all, this was thought to be an excellent beanstalk and that everyone said his giant was not only kind, but had outstanding qualifications.
 
"It's not so much that I'm worried about him," she thought, rubbing the back of her neck. "It's just that he's growing up and I'm going to miss him."

Jack's mother turned to leave. "Jack's going to have lots of bigger beanstalks to climb in his life," she told herself. "Today's the day he starts practicing for them. And today's the day I start practicing something too: cheering him on and waving good-bye."
 
 
To hoping the beanstalks they climb are full of beans and nice giants.
Happy Trails:)
 
 



Friday, August 17, 2012

A Colorful Summer

"That beautiful season the Summer
filled was the air with a dreamy & magical light
and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



I gotta let this out.... I've been sad....very sad..... that summer break is pretty much over for my kids. Every year I can't believe how fast the summer goes, and as we try to cram fun, new experiences for our children, before we know it....it's passed:( Yes, every parent has that day that you think, 'it's great, they need to go back'....hearing arguing amongst each other & ...ooooh the mess. But at the end of the day I wouldn't change a thing. We enjoyed sleeping in, eating breakfast at 10am instead of 8, playing outside, riding bikes, staying up late every night and most of all~ being together all day long! As shopping for book bags, sneakers, & a fall wardrobe goes underway, I share with my readers a look back at our colorful summer on Instagram.






















































To hoping everyone's last week of summer break is full of laughter, health, happiness, rest & relaxation!

Happy Trails:)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tomatoes

In the years that we've gardened, we never had a turn out quite like this one.


Today's post is all about our tomatoes and the lesson we learned in planting them.




Here's the story:
The first year after we got married, my husband & dad built a beautiful, huge garden that came complete with an arched entrance, raised beds & a tall white fence to keep out animals. I planted roses around the front and blackberries along the sides. But, summer after summer our crops struggled. We had a harvest, just a very small one for the size of the garden (24' by 24'). Our tomatoes suffered every year with wilted leaves and a very sour taste. I just couldn't understand. All I really wanted were tomatoes. I didn't know what we were doing wrong. The soil was tested & it wasn't bad at all. But without hesitation, we continued to add lime, sand, manure & plant tone to see if it would help. The outcome still wasn't good. The tomatoes were always wilting by mid summer. It wasn't until our wise neighbor gave us a clue as to what might be going on. Nope, it wasn't the bugs in the soil, or the 'invisible' fungus our parents had suspected. There obviously was no lack of nutrients.....but maybe, just maybe it was the walnut trees that grow along our wood line that could be the culprit of wilting tomatoes. Sure enough...it was true. Black walnut trees give off a pollen after they bloom, which is in late spring in Ohio. (Their always the last trees to turn green.) The yellow pollen is thick & deadly to the fragile leaves of a tomato. Now...this may seem like old news to some, but we never knew that black walnut trees and gardens couldn't be in close range. For us, close range was within 25 feet. We both new it was inevitable ~ we had to move our garden. There was just no point in keeping it 'there' if it couldn't produce what you needed. So...we changed our garden spot. Literally, we cut the size in half & reused the raised beds, (and some of the soil). There is no arch, no white fence but......this year ~ we've been blown away by the outcome. The new spot sits right between the girls' swing set & a wood line that does not have walnut trees. This year, it's a different story ~ more veggies, more tomatoes, & more green!




There are so many things you can do with tomatoes. One of my favorites is dicing them up with peppers & onions. In a large saucepan, I combine the three ingredients & add a little salt & olive oil. Simmer on a low flame until all ingredients start to blend & fall apart. My mother has always used this homemade sauce for an addition to scrambled eggs, chicken, or pork chops. It truly is delicious. Store your sauce in jars in the fridge or freezer. It can last for months!



Whether your making fresh salsa, spaghetti sauce, gazpacho, or even a face mask, one thing's for sure: you'll be enjoying the healthy benefits tomatoes carry. Packed with vitamins A, C, & E, they are also strong in folic acid & potassium. They are linked to reducing cancers & lung diseases, as well as helping regulate blood sugars & weight management. For your skin, make a mask by mashing them down, seed & all to help shrink pores & tighten your skin. Rinse off after 5 minutes & enjoy soft smooth skin. 
Hip, hip hooray for tomatoes!

To hoping everyone has a tomato filled summer!
Happy Trails:)

P.S. The old garden spot has found a new purpose. It's the site of our new barn:)