The End of Summer…the beginning of YouTube!

I’m so excited about both of these things! Summers are not my favorite, and this year has been no exception. It’s been hot and sometimes miserable, and the ever-present excitement of the new school year has been looming over my head…in a very good way. Kindergarten starts this year for my 5-year-old, and so our first year of “real” homeschooling begins!

And because that’s not challenging enough, I’ve decided to start a YouTube channel…mostly because I’ve been inside all summer thanks to the heat watching DIY videos, and I’m pretty super-inspired. And fall is on the way and so is school and fun and fun and fun…and yes, I’m pretty excited!!!!

So school is starting for us tomorrow! After testing the water for 2 years of preschool, I’ve determined that in order to homeschool we’re going to have to be year-round people. AKA…mama needs a break every 4-6 weeks, so we’re just going to shoot for small goals and go from there. I’m notorious for trying to pack WAY too much into our school time, something that I’ve had to learn the hard way this past year while trying to do school with a new baby. 4-6 time slots give me just enough time to cram in a whole lot, while giving myself a breather to rest and recharge. I’m pumped!

So a good ending to summer was a trip to a Sunflower Festival…pick as many free sunflowers as you’d like! It was wonderful! And while I know that we still have a solid 6 weeks left of summer, my planting guide is telling me to go ahead and plant some kale and broccoli, and the craft stores already have out their fall spread. So I’m calling it…goodbye summer, HELLO PUMPKIN SPICE!

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What’s New in the Garden

This spring thus far has been full of energy…and pollen. Lots and lots and lots of pollen. As I write this, I’m scratching my nose and holding off a sneeze…but I digress…

The hubs and I have gotten back into the yard and are making some great strides. After being in an RV for 3  years, the one thing I really missed more than anything else was having a yard, or more specifically, a garden. Last year’s garden kind of did terrible, mostly because I just couldn’t keep up with it like I should’ve once my pregnancy reached a certain point. This year I have all new energy and I’m ready to give it another go!

I’m a huge fan of Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Garden. His soil plan is basically 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost mixture, and 1/3 vermiculite. The upfront cost is kind of a lot (for dirt), but year after year all you need to do is add more compost to revitalize the soil. I love how this mixture drains so nicely during times of heavy rain.

My garden last year consisted of this mixture (kind of…my own version of it which doesn’t require measuring), but it didn’t have the boxed beds. Basically I piled up little beds that were 4×4 with the mixture. And as soon as it rained, my nice expensive soil went everywhere. So this year the hubs fixed that and I love it! It’s so much easier!

The garden is located in the foundation of what used to be a greenhouse. When we first moved in, the area was so overgrown we didn’t even know that the foundation was there! The good thing is that the soil was somewhat good…the bad thing is that it was a glass greenhouse and I’m pretty sure I’ll be finding shards of glass in the soil for the next 50 years or so.

It’s so much fun digging around in a 80 year old garden…you never know what you’re going to find! I’m still looking for a cannon ball from the civil war….who knows? Maybe I’ll find it!

Every year I look forward to the surprises my compost pile will bring. I have a pile for compost, and when I’m on top of my game, I’ll load up my compost tumbler, tumble it daily for a few weeks or a month and have fresh compost. Full disclosure…I’ve never been on top of my game. So thus, my pile for compost grows larger than my tumbler can keep up with, and I always end up with “surprises” at springtime. Last year it was pumpkins, this year it’s sweet potato and onion.

I think the thing I’m most excited about is my fig tree. I almost dug it up because I was so sure it was dead. But alas! It was just the very last thing to make a comeback! And I’m so glad! Of all the plants in the yard, this one is actually sentimental to me. It is a clipping from my grandparents’ fig tree, something I requested when my grandmother sold her house that I practically grew up in. I’m not sure how long it’s going to take before I actually get some figs from it, but I’m just glad it made it through it’s first winter in zone 7.

Thus far I’ve planted pumpkin, watermelon, corn (yes I’m way early on all of those, but with 3 small kids, if I don’t get it in the ground when I can I may not be able to ever get it in the ground, so I’ll risk it) beets, buttercrunch lettuce, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, herbs, strawberries, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, peas, and companion flowers to attract pollinators. That’s just in 2 beds…I still have 64 square feet to plant!! Oh the veggies!

I found this wonderful (and FREE) gardening planner at Gardeners.com for those who do square foot gardening! It’s wonderful because it tells you just how many seeds/plants you should plant per square foot! Check it out!

Happy Earth Day!! #sharetheharvest

Beating the summer heat….while pregnant

Pardon the serious lack of blogging, but there is a serious lack of motivation on my end right now. It seems that every time I sit down to write a blog or do anything creative, all I can seem to do it think about the heat. That and sweat. And sweat some more. And I’m usually a positive, optimistic person….but I’m pretty sure this heat is frying my brain. I’m glad to know it’s not just me, as this seems to be the hottest summer on record…ever. Of course it’s the hottest summer ever…because I’m pregnant and the AC unit is out. It’s quite fitting, actually.

And I’m sorry to say that the garden is taking the worst of it. I have now harvested my pumpkin…in August. It is likely to be one of maybe 2 pumpkins that I get as of right now. It was supposed to be a full-size jack-o’-lantern…it ripened as a pie pumpkin 🙁 As this is my first year of having pumpkins, I was sure I was doing something wrong. But then after talking to a local farmer, I realized that everyone is having a hard time this year. That makes me feel a little better about my own green thumb, though I’m kind of dreading a fall season with a serious lack of pumpkins 🙁 There is still time, I believe, to get some pumpkins going if the heat and humidity drop, so I’m still hopeful.

This is a female flower...which blooms beautifully and creates a pumpkin in normal weather. I have seen many, many of these this year! And I have seen many, many of them shrivel up and die before ever even opening up :(
This is a female flower…which blooms beautifully and creates a pumpkin in normal weather. I have seen many, many of these this year! And I have seen many, many of them shrivel up and die before ever even opening up 🙁
A pollinated female flower! Notice the growing pumpkin?! Exciting, right! Too bad the heat killed it off a few days later :(
A pollinated female flower! Notice the growing pumpkin?! Exciting, right! Too bad the heat killed it off a few days later 🙁
And finally...my pride and joy! Unfortunately this little fella is already turning orange and not getting much bigger, but I suppose I should be happy with something!
And finally…my pride and joy! Unfortunately this little fella is already turning orange and not getting much bigger, but I suppose I should be happy with something!

And in really good news….the new AC unit is going in as I type!! Hip hip hooray! These fellas are my heroes! Did I mention that we’ve been camping out in the living room in front of the window unit since it went out? Which has been somewhat fun if you like sleeping on the couch while pregnant….which I don’t. This is actually my ideal setup:

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Yes, I have absolutely confiscated every decent pillow in the house….unashamedly. Husband gets one. Children share one. I get the rest…I think my normal count is 6 or 7 now…

But I digress…back to my sure-fire way to beat the summer blues (and heat). It’s simple really….start working on fall! And winter! Harvesting a pumpkin already actually helped with this process! And yesterday we had some fabulous chocolate chip pumpkin muffins! These things were totally worth turning the oven on in this heat, though I probably could have cooked them on my deck.

I’ve also already finished Halloween costume #1 (this might be a bit early for most, but since baby #3 is due in October and I’m pretty certain I will be busier than ever, I thought I’d knock this one out now)! And on that note, this is probably the last “Simplicity” pattern I’ll ever attempt. The name is super-deceptive. It should be called “Super-Difficult And Will Take You Weeks And Cost You Twice As Much In Fabric Than If You Were To Buy It At The Store” pattern. And as excited as my child is for her new costume, there is always that very real possibility of her seeing another costume around Halloween time and becoming completely ungrateful for all my time and effort. I’m trying to prepare myself mentally for that now because I’m so sure it will come, despite the fact that I’ve already threatened to eat all her candy if she so much as longingly stares too long at another costume. I’m a somewhat jealous seamstress…

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Another thing we’ve been doing is youtubing fall/winter DIY videos and recipes. Most of the videos that I have been watching have been made by….teenagers. Yes, I am now officially old. And they are ridiculously young and freakishly talented with their video skills….and their recipes aren’t half bad either! And I’m old enough to be their young, hip mom. In my defense I’ve tried looking up grown-up mommy youtube DIY channels…and they’re very boring and feature a lot of Martha Stewart. Youtube is such a weird world.

You gotta admit those are cute videos! And I swear they make the house feel cooler!

Anyway…the forecast is starting to look reasonable next week, so there is hope in our future! Yay! Don’t give up! Cardigans and pumpkin spice everything is right around the corner!!

 

Loving Fall

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year….hence naming a child after the season. I love the crisp air, the leaf color, and most of all the anticipation of those timeless family traditions!

We’ve had a pretty busy fall season thus far. I knew as soon as October hit that the next 3 months were going to fly…and indeed we’re already to mid-November and I’m just now getting around to this post! We’ve been super-busy exploring the woods around our house, playing dress-up (Mommy scored some great deals on dress-up clothes at the after-Halloween bins!), doing leaf prints, and picking pumpkins. We even had a wonderful visit from two delightful grandmothers!

There are times in life where times seems to stand still. In the midst of my favorite season with my favorite traditions with my favorite little people, I’m trying desperately to grab hold of more and more of those moments. I tuck them away in my consciousness and bring them to the frontal lobe whenever I’m in need of a smile. Moments like watching my eldest trying to grab leaves as they fall from trees, and my youngest watching her every move and trying to be just like big sister.

Though the trees are almost bare where we’re at, I’m hoping that you too will be able to grab hold of some of your own moments. And perhaps glance a bit of heaven as you do…

 

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Preschool Week 1: Apple Week (and apple leather recipe)

So we kicked off our preschool curriculum this past week (you know, again…don’t judge) learning all about apples. The week before, we decided to go ahead and drive to the closest apple orchard, which was almost 2 hours from my home. But it was well worth it!

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This place was at the top of a mountain in Charlottesville and was breathtakingly beautiful!! We ate peach ice cream, donuts, and apples for lunch. Don’t judge…I’m never prepared for these things. Oh and the peach cider was quite possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. Ever.IMG_0048IMG_0054IMG_0055IMG_0060

We picked $13 worth of apples. Not sure how many pounds that was, but it was quite the challenge to keep the toddler from eating all the rotten ones off the ground. For her it was a smorgasbord!

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They had a lookout area where I could experiment with my new phone on how to do a panoramic. Doesn’t do the view justice at all, but I tried!

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I had so much fun learning about apples with my little preschooler! Of course a few days into it I realized I missed an important milestone that every other mother was reminding me of on Facebook. Mom fail.

IMG_0123Our “preschool” days are really only 30 minutes to an hour. And it’s incredible how long it takes me to plan for that 30 minutes to an hour! We practiced writing the letter A, learning about the lifecycle of an apple and the different parts of an apple, making apple leather and apple chips, learning about oxygenation, and did apple crafts all week. Everyday we started with some exercise and a song. It was so much fun!

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It's difficult to tell, but that was supposed to be apple prints. You know...you might need to use your imagination to see it...
It’s difficult to tell, but that was supposed to be apple prints. You know…you might need to use your imagination to see it…

I’ve had some requests for the fruit leather recipe…it’s too easy and kids can help!

For more ideas on how to create your own apple-themed preschool week, check out my pinterest board!
       Follow ReliableRoots’s board Apple Week – Preschool on Pinterest.

Apple Leather
Print Recipe
Really easy, kid-friendly apple leather
Servings
14
Cook Time
3-12 hours
Servings
14
Cook Time
3-12 hours
Apple Leather
Print Recipe
Really easy, kid-friendly apple leather
Servings
14
Cook Time
3-12 hours
Servings
14
Cook Time
3-12 hours
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, then turn down to 180 degrees. If you have a gas oven that doesn't go down that low, preheat to 400, then turn off and just keep the pilot light on. This is how I made mine, and I had to keep it in the oven overnight.
  2. Lightly spray baking sheet with oil spray.
  3. Spread applesauce over baking sheet, just enough to barely cover the sheet (about 1/8th inch).
  4. Place in oven for at least 3 hours to overnight, or until you can peel off the applesauce.
  5. Peel off applesauce into a roll, cut, and enjoy!
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