Produce Days

August 30, 2016 at 2:31 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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Last Friday, the kids and I took a bit of the afternoon to use up some produce, grown and bought.  Sometimes life just gets so busy that the produce you planned to use during the week starts going bad.  So I’m trying to find new and creative ways to use those overripe yummies without wasting.  We did get one good Healy melon out of the garden.  Another Healy rotted out on the bottom before we harvested, and then there was that one sweet watermelon…  My melons and cucurbits may have overgrown the garden a little, so hubby had a hard time cutting the grass around the thriving vines.  Little did we know that a beautiful watermelon was growing perfectly among the unruly grass.  Poor hubby weed whacked the side right off the melon.  It was tragic, but lesson learned.  Anyway, the Healy was a big hit with the kids.  Hopefully we’ll do better with the melons next year.

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The grape tomatoes are growing like crazy!  I’ve made a ton of fresh salsa, which has been wonderful for salsa and chips, nachos, and salsa chicken.  But I needed to do something new with them.  So I roasted some with garlic and basil for pasta sauce and then roasted some a couple of nights ago with garlic, basil and mozzarella just to eat straight.  Delicious!

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Fresh salsa, and pineapple jam I made from a store bought pineapple that was getting too ripe to eat straight.  The kids and I also made some grape and mixed berry jams for the same reason🙂.

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So this plate is a total fail when it comes to color variety, but it used up some produce and turned out yummy.  I used some overripe mangos to make mango chutney curry chicken over rice and some apples that were on their way out to make some cinnamon applesauce.  It looks boring, but it tasted good.

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And I used up the last of the fresh sugar pie pumpkin I had canned to make pumpkin French toast bake, pumpkin pancakes, and pumpkin banana bread.  Ah, I love everything pumpkin.  And I got a sweet surprise when one of the sugar pie vines gave us another pumpkin.  I just have to roast and puree it!

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The mini pumpkins and spoon gourds have fallen prey to the evil squash bugs.  But at least we got some cute ones, and about a zillion spoon gourds.  I gave all of it a mild bleach bath so they’ll keep longer.  And I’m drying out the spoon gourds so the kids and I can make fun little gourd ladles as a school project!

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Last weekend also brought the most crabs I’ve eaten in a really long time!  One of our church members brought crabs to the church picnic Saturday.  He came somewhat late, so a lot of people had already left.  Which meant there was a ton of crabs for the few of us who were still there to eat them!  I ate my fill and got to take a bag full home.  Baby K got his first taste of Old Bay seasoned crabs and absolutely loved it, too!  So I took the crabs home and picked them all.  I think I’m now a master crab picker, though it does tear the fingers up a bit.  And I have no idea what the spatula is doing next to the crabs in the picture – LOL.

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So what do you do with a bowl of handpicked crab?

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Crab cakes!!!  I love crab cakes!  For these, I just used mayo, egg, Italian breadcrumbs, my own version of Old Bay seasoning mix, and fried it up in an olive oil, butter mixture.  I added my own version of hollandaise sauce, and the kids really enjoyed it, too.  We also got to go to a crab feast our friends had that Sunday, so it was a lot of back-to-back crab eating – loved it!

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Oh yeah, and some pumpkin cupcakes…  Feeling the need for fall to come with all it’s pumpkin goodness – and maybe I’m just a little more excited for fall this year because the August heat is killing this pregnant lady.

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It was good to use up some of the produce instead of wasting it.  I’ve been freezing cucumbers, squash and zucchini like crazy, hoarding it for fall and winter soups and bread.  And our bean bushes are producing at least 20 new beans to harvest per day, so I’ve been blanching and freezing those for soups and stews since my family isn’t really big on eating green beans straight.  But we’ve still had a lot of our garden goodies go bad.  Gardening seriously requires daily harvest when the picking is good and you have to do something with that fresh produce fast.  I’m getting better, but we have a compost heap by the forest that shows how often I haven’t been able to get to the produce in time.  But I was thrilled to see that someone could make good use of our blunders!  The turtles apparently love rotten cucurbits!  This one had his whole head in that squash (or maybe it’s a cucumber gone very bad?).  It was cute though!

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And now for the one thing that makes me happiest – my family!  Baby K is hubby’s boy.  He loves hanging with his dad!

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He also loves to eat!  Inhaling spaghetti…

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He’s getting steadier on his feet.  He’s up to taking about 10 steps at a time, and he can stop, turn and go again.  He also has gotten better about steadying himself instead of falling to his knees.  What’s really cute, though, is when he tried to knee walk!

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Sweet angel face!

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We got baby girl a felt sewing kit for her birthday, and she’s been working on that lately.  I love how crafty she is!  And she’s doing a good job.  I have had to pull out some of the stitches here and there when she gets in a hurry and makes them too long and too far apart.  But she’s enjoying it so far.  She has asked for a sewing machine, though – especially after she pricked her finger with the needles for the first time.

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So this project is on hold temporarily while she recovers from the needle prick – she is a bit dramatic🙂.

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The most patient dog in the world…

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Always into something he shouldn’t be….but oh those sweet baby eyes!

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Carving pumpkins cut off the vine…

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They are curing for a few days and then we’ll have to store them and hope they last till Halloween.  New corn stalks growing…

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I’ve been harvesting some of our lavender for sachets, too.  They smell so good!

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Hubby found a fun little BINGO set that has become the go-to game for family game nights.

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Someone wanted to spin the BINGO balls…

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Little C really loves being the caller!  Here, he’s got the chocolate milk goatee look going on…

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He also won all the games that night!

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Getting close to caught up on posts.  I hope everyone is having a great week!

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Touch A Truck

August 26, 2016 at 11:28 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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This was the second half of our field trip weekend, a touch-a-truck event at my parents’ church.  It was a really hot and humid day, but this was still a great event, especially for little C.  We started off at the electric truck basket, where the electrician taught the kids a little bit about his work and the tools he uses.

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Sitting in a hay ride wagon…

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The school bus was a big hit…too hot for me to stay on too long, though…

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Pulling the horn on this rig gave baby girl a little startle…

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But little C loved it!

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Pretend tractor driving…

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And what do you do when all the other kids are having fun on the vehicles?  Yup, suck on your toes – LOL!

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Cousins in a basket with Popple…

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Learning how to use power tools…

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And at least this little guy got a fun yellow balloon out of the deal!

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One more post to come, and then probably more from tomorrow’s birthday party and baseball game. Catching up!

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Science Center

August 26, 2016 at 2:24 am (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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I’m way behind on posts, so this one is from a couple of weeks ago.  The kids and I went up to my parents’ and took the kids to the science center and a “touch-a-truck” event at my parents’ church.  It was a really fun time, and my oldest son especially enjoyed the weekend!  The science center was not crowded at all, so he could enjoy everything without feeling completely overwhelmed.  Here he is making dinosaur music on one of the computers…

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Dusting for fossils…

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Aren’t they adorable little paleontologists?!

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Baby K enjoyed the trip, too!

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Touching a tornado…

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They had some really cool looking crabs there!

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This little man wanted to listen to everything.  We did the half price after 5 deal, and the girls weren’t going to wait around, but I may have to get him back up there so he can really take his time at this museum…

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Fun activities…

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I couldn’t believe Little C was the one who braved the bed of nails!  This boy never ceases to surprise me.

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The lack of crowd made for a fun time for baby K, too.  He got to crawl around!

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Flying paper airplanes…

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Making energy…

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Watching a cool crab…

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More crawling!

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Baby K loved crawling on this huge floor map!

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Fake running from the fake crab🙂 …

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The view…

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Turtles for baby K!

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This was cool – my dad’s work was one of the pictures at the museum. So he and baby K took a photo op!

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The harbor on a hazy, humid evening…

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Pretty much as soon as we left the museum, this little guy was out!

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So glad we got to make this field trip this summer!  More posts to come from other adventures!

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Healing Herbs and End of Summer Preparations

August 6, 2016 at 3:19 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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Just a quick photo dump!  I took the kids out to a local plantation again for the kids’ program on healing herbs.  It was a really fun time!

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The kids started out by making little satchels of herb mixtures.  Baby girl used lavender and chamomile.  Little C mixed lavender, chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm, and spearmint.  It smells surprisingly good for all of the different scents being mixed together.

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Grinding up the herbs…

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Then we went over to the huge herb garden and the kids got to learn about different herbs and touch and smell the fragrant plants.

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Then we just wandered the beautiful grounds!

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Baby girl’s favorite flower because it was pretty and “soft”…

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Little C taking in the view…

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Freshly watered…

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The butterflies and bees were out in force!  It was wonderful!

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Bye, plantation…probably until Christmastime…

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And now some miscellaneous stuff.  I got three gorgeous sugar pumpkins out of our garden!

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Chopped, baked…

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…and pureed!  These pumpkins are amazing!  They are so tasty, even straight without a lick of seasoning or butter or sugar or anything.  They have this wonderful sweet taste that’s even better than sweet potatoes.  I’m looking forward to making some pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin oatmeal bars this weekend!

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I also got all of the new homeschool materials on the shelf and last year’s stuff packed away.  I’m almost giddy about this year of homeschooling.  I feel like after two years of homeschooling, I am finally hitting a groove of understanding how my kids learn best and how I teach best.  I put this curriculum together entirely from scratch rather than going with just one complete curriculum.  And I think it’s going to be an amazing year.  I’m most excited about cultural studies that include hands-on activities, a science experiment every week, and teaching the kids about famous artists with special projects each week!  I think the hands-on approach will be a nice break from the overwhelming book learning we did with Sonlight last year.

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I’m using ABeka readers for Little C’s 3rd Grade reading, but I also chose some fun books to supplement!  Love these books!  And I think he will, too.

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Baby girl getting into the school spirit playing with Unifix cubes while I organized!

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And now off to tend to the garden pests and Jimson weeds…  Tomatoes are ripening, so I’m super excited about that!  Oh how I would love to just be a stay-at-home homeschooling mom working my homestead!  Dreams, people, we all have to have dreams!  Have a blessed week!

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Sunday Memories

August 4, 2016 at 2:37 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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Sunday started out with the usual flurry of activity, trying to get all of us up, fed, dressed and out the door in time for me to teach Sunday School.  I made a family favorite for breakfast, blueberry muffins.  And the blueberries I put in must have been extra juicy because I got myself ready for church and came out to this sight – baby K covered in blueberry – hair, ears, face, body, even his back and the back of his neck!  It was too cute, so I had to pause in the rush that is a Sunday morning and take a picture🙂.

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After church, I took the kids over to a local garden that was hosting an insect festival.  It was a really good time!  My kids, and especially my daughter, enjoy bugs.  So this was something that was fun and educational.  There were displays of all kinds of different insects from various places.  One lady had a live butterfly chrysalis  and taught the kids about the stages of butterflies and moths.  My brave daughter held a live Madagascar cock roach.  Yuck!  That was one giant cock roach.  My daughter is also a lover of all things “I Spy,” so she had a blast with the little I Spy game they had where the kids found various pictures in the art displays.

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They also had little LEGO stations set up where kids could make certain bugs out of LEGOs.  Both of my older kiddos had fun with that.

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And when I asked my kids what their favorite part of the day was, they both said petting the baby alligator!  They also got to pet a snake, but I wasn’t quick enough to get a picture of that.

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The event also had story time and plenty of craftiness!  The kids did a cute little beehive out of plastic applesauce cups with a yarn-wrapped Styrofoam peanut bee dangling from the center.  Then they made cute little insect headdresses.

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And we ended the trip with games outside.  It was a bit on the hot and humid side, but the games were fun and cute.

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Baby K looking forward to the day when he can join in the activities…

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Little C was really good at this ring toss game.  He rang the bells pretty much every time!

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Bowling fun!

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Back at home, the kids pulled out my oldest son’s light up cars and track.  Baby K was fascinated!  He tried to catch the cars, but no luck🙂.

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And now I’ll add some Wednesday pics.  The weather cooled considerably and the humidity is down, thankfully.  The dog wanted nothing more than to sit outside with her nose in the gentle breeze.  Baby girl sat out with her for a while.

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And our latest science project…

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So apparently, if you leave the kiddie pool out filled with water, you will attract frogs that spawn a ridiculous amount of tadpoles.  I seriously think the frog plague could have started with our little backyard pool if we hadn’t emptied it.  But we did save seven of these little cuties to watch them grow.

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While out veggie picking, we also spotted this gorgeous cardinal…

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He stuck around for a while, hopping and flying from one place to the next at the edge of our forest.

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Black-eyed susans from the porch…

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The tomatoes seem to be taking forever to ripen!  I’m really looking forward to getting these in the kitchen!

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And mini-pumpkins…

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I picked some sugar pumpkins yesterday and baked, pureed and canned them last night, so that will be the next post.  I hope everyone is having a very blessed week!

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Monday Break

August 1, 2016 at 7:03 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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It’s August already!  Wow, summers seem to fly by faster every year.  But this week, it just really hit me how much I have to be thankful for this summer.  Baby K was only a few weeks old this time last year, and now he’s a healthy, happy 1-year-old bringing smiles, laughter and blessings into our home.  This time last year, my uncle was in the hospital fighting for his life.  Yesterday, he returned from a 2-week cruise to Iceland. When times get tough, or the weather gets oppressively hot and humid, it’s important to remember all of those blessings in our lives.  I got to work from home most of last week because of the heat wave and poor air quality, so I took the opportunity to capture some memories of my sweet little kiddos.

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Baby K is all about being in the playroom with his older siblings these days!  And my older kids love having him around, especially my son.  He’s constantly telling me to let baby K play with him, and he’s teaching baby K about cooking with the little kitchen play set.  It’s adorable!

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Baby K is also all about putting objects in things.  You never know what toy you’re going to find in a box, bowl, basket, or even your shoes!

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But his favorite thing right now is still the birthday balloons that are hanging in there, slowly deflating.

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Hanging with big sis…

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We celebrated my baby girl’s 6th birthday last week.  I can’t believe she’s already 6!  She got plenty of fun crafting things and, of course, some LEGO sets.  She kept herself busy working on her LEGOs for a good part of her birthday.

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She also got a Jake and the Neverland Pirates talking spyglass that all of the kids have been enjoying.

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And some more garden love…

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The pumpkins are starting to turn orange!  I am so excited to pick some sugar pumpkins this week and can some yummy pumpkin puree!  We have some big pumpkins growing, too, getting ready for some Halloween carving.

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There are quite a few mini pumpkins starting to pop up, too.  I can’t wait for fall decorating!  But the plant that’s taking over the garden is the little spoon gourds.  I may have to actually cut those back because that one plant is producing like crazy!  These are just the ones we’ve picked so far, not including the ones we’ve given away…

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There’s probably about a hundred more growing.  They’re cute though.  The tomatoes are starting to really pop up, too.

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We’re growing several different varieties of tomato this year – some for salsa, some for pizza and marinara sauce, some for chili and some for slicing.  So we’ll see how all that turns out.  But they’re looking happy so far!

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The squash and zucchini are still producing, though not quite as prolifically as they were.

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The Black-Eyed Susans seem to be the only flower enjoying this awful heat wave…

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And finally, a yummy snack of Ricotta and bacon stuffed mini peppers.  My dad gave me these little peppers last week, and we all enjoyed them!

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More to post, but it will have to wait.  Have a blessed week!

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Plantation Field Trip

July 23, 2016 at 9:46 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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Our morning yesterday included a trip to a local plantation.  They were having an informational thing for kids on organic gardening, so I thought it would be fun.  The kids didn’t learn much that they haven’t already learned from helping with our garden, but they still had a good time.  They got to pick some smooth squash and plant little biodegradable pots of broccoli and carrots that we can put in the big garden when the weather cools down.

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Plus I got to get some fun pictures of flowers, a favorite pastime.

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The view…

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I love living in a rural area!  It’s so gorgeous…

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We also spent the night at my parents’ after the aquarium, so I got to take some pictures of my dad’s beautiful hibiscus…

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And the fairy garden my parents are creating for my daughter and niece…

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And pretty hastas…

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My mom got some baby K snuggle time, too!  He’s one tuckered out little fella after this weekend!

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Aquarium Birthday

July 23, 2016 at 9:33 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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This weekend brought a fun trip to the aquarium for my daughter’s birthday present from my parents.  She was looking so forward to it, and the kids had a blast!  Lots of pics to share!

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My son has taken a liking to sharks…

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Reflections…

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Baby K’s first trip to the aquarium!  I’m so thankful for family to come along on these trips.  My dad and brother-in-law carried baby K the whole way since I didn’t know we had to check strollers at the beginning.

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Activity center…

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Love this fish!

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The jellies…

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My oldest son even touched one!

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The three-legged turtle…

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Seahorses…

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Puffins…

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Baby K got super tired and slept part of the way!

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This fish was letting other fish clean his scales apparently…

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Pretty coral…

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Feeding frenzy!

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My niece making fishy faces at a fish!  Love that girl!

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My daughter’s favorite part, the dolphins!

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View from the dolphin arena…

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Hanging jelly fish display…

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My oldest son wasn’t too keen on the crowded displays, but he did enjoy the kids’ play area, and especially putting on a puppet show!

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Shark jaws…

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It was a really fun trip!  We also did a plantation trip that morning, but I’m doing a separate post for those pics because this one’s getting long.  Have a blessed weekend!

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Miscellaneous Life

July 21, 2016 at 11:22 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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Ok, time for a quick rundown of the happenings around here because it’s been crazy, as usual.  First, we had pipe issues in the kitchen.  So, of course, hubby had to tear out the bottom cabinets, do a bunch of work, and install new countertops.  We’re still putting the kitchen back together.  But I am really grateful that hubby is willing to put the time into doing home improvement projects right.  He painstakingly leveled the floor and walls, cut the countertop himself, and installed everything.  I think I would have been one to just say, oh well there’s a gap in the countertop.  But he took the time to make it right, and I’m grateful for that because it looks much better than the gapped countertop🙂.

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My daughter got this cute little Colonial Poppet Doll from my uncle for her birthday.  She hand-sewed a good portion of it, which I thought was awesome!  By the time it came to the dress though, I decided a machine sewing lesson was in order, too🙂.

Fun baby K bath time shots!

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Neighbor horses!

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The garden is going crazy!!!!  Hubby wasn’t too thrilled that I way overplanted the squash, zucchini, and gourds.  But the kids and I have been enjoying this year’s garden so much.  We go out every day and check for more veggies.  I actually find it kind of fun wading and digging through the greenery to find the latest fruits of the garden.  Gardening may be becoming my new favorite hobby, especially since it’s one the kids and I enjoy together!

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Baby pumpkin…

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A day’s harvest…

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I was concerned about my bumpy squash…until I took the time to look at the seed packet and realized I ordered a bumpy breed of summer squash….um, yeah.  They’re good though!  We even got some Siamese squash!

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I’ve also been canning a lot of relish with the abundance of cucumbers…yummy!

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And some pretty flowers from the front garden…

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Loving the summer evenings!

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Some more fun baby K shots.  This little guy just keeps us laughing.  He’s gotten into the stage of putting things in and on other things.  And he’s so cute when he dances to any music he hears.  He says dada, mama, hi, dog, and he tries balloon and ball.  He also grunts uh-oh, too adorable!  And he’s started saying ouch every time someone says ow.  Such a ray of sunshine, this little guy!

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I haven’t been tracking this pregnancy all.  But here is the baby bump at…um, I think I’m at 27 weeks now…I’ll have to check that.  Life has been so insane…

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Zucchini bread noshing!  So glad the kids love zucchini bread because we’re eating a lot of it!  Really just eating a lot of zucchini in general – zucchini lasagna, curried zucchini soup, sautéed zucchini and squash, parmesan zucchini crisps.  Feeling like Bubba from Forrest Gump…

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Another day’s haul…

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And the great ladybug release!  When I thought our squash were diseased because they were so bumpy, I ordered live ladybugs to help do away with garden pests.  They came yesterday, and the kids released them into the garden.  They had a blast with these little buggers!

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Sweet little Morris

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The melons are growing!

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Fun little gourds.  Between these and the cute little mini pumpkins, we’re going to have fun decorating this fall!

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Pumpkins!

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A random pumpkin bush even started growing in our backyard…and producing…

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The tomato plants are starting to bear fruit.

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And this…  Yeah, this is apparently called Jimson Weed and is growing at various places throughout our garden.  It’s not a good weed, but it sure does produce pretty flowers.  Eventually I’m going to have to get these out, but for now I’m enjoying the blooms…

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And tomorrow brings some local plantation fun and a trip to the aquarium!!!  Have a blessed end of the week!

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Baby K in B&W

July 15, 2016 at 1:06 am (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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More pictures I uploaded and forgot to post.  Baby K in black and white!

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