Preparing a raspberry patch

I’m getting ready to transplant my raspberries to a permanent and dedicated raspberry patch, but first I need to prepare it properly. Here is an excellent article I found that covers all the basics- bed preparation, fertilization, trellising, pruning, and preventing diseases.

http://www.finegardening.com/how-grow-raspberries

Enjoy! 

PS: if you would like some baby raspberry plants for your own, let me know! I have plenty to share! I believe the variety I have is Heritage.

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When Life Eclipses God

My sweet and insightful friend Meredith wrote something recently that I had to share. Please take a moment to read and be encouraged!

When Life Eclipses God

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Dairy-Free Nut-Free Basil Pesto is the Best-o

Great recipe for simple pesto!

Source: Dairy-Free Nut-Free Basil Pesto is the Best-o

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Time to eat- Carrots, Cilantro, and Parley!

I got my first mobile produce delivery from a local Aquaponics farmer last week! Let me tell you, if you want to sell produce to busy moms, doing a delivery service is the way to go. It was so nice to have all my produce delivered to my door! Now that makes it easy to support local farmers! 


I got a grocery bag full of carrots with carrot tops, another bag full of parsley and cilantro, and a third bag full of swiss chard. After my initial “yay, fresh food!” moment though, I realized that I needed to figure out how to use all my new goodies before they were, well, less than fresh. First, I looked up how to store the herbs and Swiss chard so they wouldn’t get all wilty on me. I placed a bouquet each of cilantro and parsley in jars of water which kept it fresh for about a week. I sliced the ends off the chard popped it in a jar of water as well. It looked so pretty with its colorful stems and crisp leaves, I probably could have left it on the table as a decoration and been perfectly happy! I did actually let them sit for a couple of days just so I could enjoy looking at them! Then I cooked half with bacon grease and smoked salt, which was pretty delicious, and blanched and froze the other half. This was my first time blanching a vegetable to freeze. I had always thought that blanching would be too much of a pain, and actually put a good many veggies in the freezer without blanching them. I ended up with some very, shall we say, chewy? green beans that I froze without blanching. They are OK for soup, but I think I will be blanching my green beans next year. It really wasn’t hard at all to blanch the chard and freeze it.

Here’s how to do it:

 1. Heat a pot of water to boiling while you chop your chard. Prepare a large bowl of ice cold water in the sink.

2. Immerse the chard for two minutes in the boiling water. 

3. Strain the chard and immerse in ice cold water immediately.

4. Shake off excess water and spread the chard on a cookie sheet and one layer.

5. Put a cookie sheet in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until the chard has frozen. (this step makes it so when you freeze your chard in the bag you have separate pieces rather than one large chunk.)

6. Use a turner to remove the chard from the cookie sheet and put it in a freezer bag.

7. Freeze immediately. Enjoy later!

I hate to let anything go to waste, so I looked up recipes that use carrot tops, and found this cool recipe for Carrot Top Pesto.  I love putting pesto on my pizza, but this recipe suggests adding it to grilled cheese which sounds fabulous! 

Update: I meant to publish this back in March, but I forgot to publish it publicly, so here it is in May! I am still enjoying fresh carrots from Leesville Aquaponics, along with green beans, zucchini, and salad greens from their greenhouse, and I can’t wait to start harvesting from my little garden!

Do you have a local source of produce? Support your local farmers or better yet, be your own local farmer and grow some of your own food!

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These Precious Years

 

img_3163“Wow, you sure do have your hands full!” This is a phrase I hear almost every time I go out in public with my five children. And it’s true. I generally do literally have my hands full, and probably look at least slightly frazzled most of the times I take my kids shopping.  I’m not quite sure how I’m expected to respond to a comment like that, but when I stop to think about it, I really do have my hands full, but in such a good way. My hands are full of five little humans who bring me more joy than I can express.  These little ones who require so much time and attention give back more love and joy than you would think their little bodies were capable of.  My kids range in age from 8 years old to 9months old, and I am enjoying motherhood so much I can’t imagine a more fun time to be a mom.  Sure, there is plenty of bickering, fighting, diapers, emergencies, and crying to deal with, and I usually fall into bed exhausted at night.  I certainly have a moments (sometimes hours) of frustration every day, and there are many days that I feel like I am at the end of my rope and failing miserably, but every day God gives me some ray of beautiful sunshine through my kids.  When my eight-year-old gives me a hug and tells me she couldn’t wish for a better mom, I am so thankful she feels that way in spite of all my failures.  When my baby grins at me with his 2-tooth grin, or my 2 year old yells, “I wuv you Mom!” at the top of her lungs, I am reminded that these are some of the most precious moments of my life.  When my six year old tells me she wants to grow up to be just like me or my four year old asks me to dance with him, a part of me wants them to stay this way forever.  I know that every year will be sweet and good in its own way, and I pray that my children will continue to grow in grace and love, and bring joy to everyone they meet.  Meanwhile, I will treasure this time while I have my hands full. 

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Salt Dough for Simple Fun


With Christmas fast approaching and plenty to do this time of year, I am always on the lookout for super simple gift and craft ideas for my kids. That’s why I was so happy to rediscover Salt dough today!  There are dozens of recipes for salt dough online, but here is a simple, quick recipe that worked well for us.  I made a large batch that was enough to make two small handprints, two medium (7 year old) handprints, and a couple of medium hearts.  I had a blast making these with my seven-year-old and two-year-old today.

  • 2- 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 cups salt
  • About 1 1/2 cups water (start with 1/2 cup and add slowly)
  • Optional additions: sparkles, food coloring, etc
  1. Mix together salt, flour, and any dry addition such as sparkles.
  2. Slowly add water, starting with a 1/2 cup and slowly adding more until you get to a dough that is not too sticky to work with. 
  3. Mix well with your hands. Add more flour if it is too sticky, or more water if it is too stiff to work with or falling apart.
  4. Roll out to a little more than 1/4 inch thick for handprints, thinner for ornaments, or form shapes, bowls, etc out of the dough
  5. If you want to, use a toothpick to write into the dough (I like to label handprints with names and dates for example).  If you want to be able to hang up the things you make, you will need to use a pen or something to make a nice sized hole at this point.
  6. Bake at 200° F for 1-4 hours, until dry.
  7. To decorate further, you can color with crayons while the dough creations are still hot, paint, or just coat with a clear sealant or modpodge.


Happy creating!

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Delicious Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe


I can’t believe I haven’t shared our favorite recipe for chocolate zucchini bread yet! We have been using this recipe since we started cooking egg and milk free when Filip was a baby, and is still our family favorite.  Most people who try it without knowing what it is think it is just really moist chocolate cake, and many friends have requested the recipe over the years.

I love having my kids help with it and we usually make a quadruple batch every time we make it.  I highly suggest storing any leftovers in the fridge since the moist texture does tend to be a comfortable habitat for mold if it is left at room temperature. Plus, the fridge is a good place to hide it so your kids don’t eat all of it in one day! 😄

The original recipe can be found here, but this recipe has changed and been adjusted numerous times through the years to fit our eating preferences. I generally don’t bother adding chocolate chips because we enjoy the smooth texture of this cake and find it sweet enough without them. I also use less sugar most of the time, especially if we are making it to eat at home. Since we have been cutting back on sugar in general, adding the full amount of sugar called for this recipe makes this too sweet for our taste.  Any kind of milk can be used for the buttermilk, though I usually use coconut milk and add a little vinegar or lemon juice to make it into buttermilk.  This bread does not rise much, so you will want to fill your baking dish of muffin tins a little fuller than you would with regular cake batter. (like three quarters full rather than two thirds).

Delicious Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup white wheat flour (you can also substitute numerous other kinds of flour with good results. I believe this could turn out well with gluten-free mixes as well. Please share your experiments below.)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (we use pink salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I like Ceylon cinnamon best)
  • 1/4 Cup oil (coconut or olive oil are my favorites)
  • 1/4 Cup applesauce
  • 1/4 Cup brown or white sugar 
  • 6-8 Tablespoons  buttermilk (mix your milk of choice with about 1/2 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice. Allow to sit while you measure the other ingredients, then add to wet ingredients.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Mix together wet ingredients (except zucchini) in a separate large bowl.
  4. Gently fold zucchini into wet ingredients.
  5. Carefully add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir just until combined.
  6. Grease well a glass loaf pan or muffin tins.
  7. Pour batter into pan or spoon into muffin tins. I like to use a cookie scoop to measure the batter into muffin tins.
  8. Bake muffins 15 to 20 minutes or a loaf about 55 minutes. You can tell it is done if you tap it with your finger and it bounces back.
  9. Allow to cool thoroughly.
  10. Enjoy! 😀
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