Sunday, August 29, 2010

Time to Plant the Fall Garden

I know I'm new to vegetable gardening in the hill country, but I've lived in Texas all my life and I never dreamed that August would be the time to plant the Fall garden.  It's crazy.  I have no doubt that everything I am about to plant is going to catch on fire right there in the ground.  How will those little babies not get scorched by the 100 degree heat and blistering sun? Alas, I will throw caution to the wind, ignore my instincts, and listen to the recommendations of the local people.  After all, I am the one who couldn't get a single yellow squash out of my Spring garden!  I need all the help I can get.

Last week I trekked over to my favorite feed store in Fredericksburg to purchase seed and bedding plants.  This was after looking at a local nursery in Kerrville called the Plant Haus.  It is a great nursery and I highly recommend it.  I was able to buy some amazing looking tomato plants there, but they didn't have all of the other vegetables I wanted.  So, I drove to Woerner Warehouse in Fredericksburg and hit the mother load!  They were just unloading a truck full of vegetable transplants when I arrived.  I was able to get everything I needed, short of butternut squash.  They only had one tiny little squash plant and I need a lot.  Anyway, I ordered some butternut squash, got a bit of seed, and loaded up on plants.  Transplants are the way to go, especially if you're getting a late start like I am.  I'm telling you, this Fall garden in August thing really bushwacked me!  Purchasing plants that are already started buys you at least a month of time.  Is it cheating?  Absolutely not.  You have to keep them alive just the same.  

My Fall garden planting list (with respective planting dates): 

Beets (September 1), Broccoli (August 1), Brussels Sprouts (August 1), Cabbage (August 1), Carrots (August 15), Cauliflower (July 1), Swiss Chard (August 15), Collard Greens (August 15), Eggplant (June 15), Garlic (August), Kohlrabi (September 1), Radish (October 1), Spinach (Spinach), Butternut Squash (July 1), Mustard Greens (October 1), and Tomaotes (June 15)

You can see how using transplants instead of seed enables me to plant a Fall garden.  If I only had seed, I would be too late for all but a few!

As a gardener, you have to decide if you are going to follow the planting date recommendations of the nurseries or the recommendations based on the moon.  The idea is to get everything planted so that you can harvest before the first frost, which in the hill country of Texas usually happens around the first of November.  On the left hand side of the chalk board above are the dates based on the moon.  I just happen to be planting my little plants according to the moon this time!

I had too much to fit in my car and had to send for help to get it all back to the garden!

Salad anyone?

The good, the bad, and the ugly- At any garden store it helps to be there right after the truck delivers the goods.  It's just too difficult to keep all of the little peat pots watered this time of year and those babies can start to look rough pretty quick.  The plants on the top shelf are not from the latest delivery and you can see that they have seen better days.

Sallie is watching guard over the new transplants.  I made sure to give them some shade and water as soon as I got them home.  

These are the raised beds where I usually plant herbs and greens.  We cleaned out and composted all of the old stuff and trimmed up what is still good in order to make room for the new transplants for the Fall.  Before we plant, we will add some shade cloth over these areas.  This should especially help the basil and arugula.

Next gardening post will show the new transplants in the ground.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Come to Mama

When I made my quick trip to "big city" as my son would call it, I got the chance to run into the mall for the first time in what seems like FOREVER.  I had a specific purpose and a very limited amount of time, so is was no leisurely stroll through the stores.  It was more of a mad dash.  On my list: a new pair of Jessica Simpson sunglasses (because mine are so badly scratched and stretched out), a new bra (because mine are so badly scratched and stretched out...ha ha...only kidding...stretched out, yes...scratched, not so much!), a new pair of black Reef flip flops (my daily shoe of choice), and I needed very badly to have my glasses repaired since I have been wearing them for months with only one arm.  I managed to prioritize and got my glasses fixed first.  This was a HUGE accomplishment.  I started trying on bras at Dillards...even got measured by the lingerie attendant lady and didn't find anything that I loved.  This is my new shopping mantra:  If you don't absolutely love it and I mean L-O-V-E, don't buy it!!!  I did get sucked into the Spanx display, though.  I was the lady standing in front of the television watching the video for half an hour.  I even tried on a few of their bras because after all, Oprah, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow swear by them, right?  Well,  no L-O-V-E lost for me.  I moved on to shoes.  They were out of my beloved black Reefs.  I am choosing to believe that they are just out of them and not discontinuing them.  I don't think I could handle that at this point in my life.  I mean, life without my Reefs???  No.
I settled for some very cute and VERY comfortable flip flops made out of yoga mats.  REALLY!  Yoga mats!  They are like wearing around clouds on your feet.  They even have some cool zebra striped straps.  I will post a pic another day.  Next stop:  sunglasses.  Of course they didn't have the same ones I adore and have been wearing for a year, but I found a pair I liked and headed for the door.  But wait...what is that I see...OH BABY...COME TO MAMA...


and matching WEEKENDER...aka Mama Purse, which is my kinda purse and doubles as a diaper bag!  I love this brand and am currently carrying a green Gianni Bini bag that has been my best Summer bag ever.  Awesome thing about this leopard print beauty is that the inside is exactly the same as the one I have now.  It holds everything I need in three different compartments and even has separate pockets for my two cell phones, too.  I NEED this purse.  Wait a second...I L-O-V-E this purse.  I shall buy it and it shall be mine and I shall call it...well I need some time to name it.  I feel Fall coming on!  

Another great find that I love and want and need is one of these Fossil laptop cases.  The second one even has oilcloth on the bottom half making it water resistant.  This is a very important thing when you have 42 kids like me!  

I can see myself on the airplane headed to New Hampshire next month with this most awesome accessory holding my precious Mac-Y-Baby ( that's my computer in case you couldn't tell).  I better get to sleep so I can make some money to pay for all of these wonderful things that I love!  Ciao!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The First Day of School

I am sitting in bed while I type this watching the sun rise up over the hills and watching Roger and the boys load into his truck to head off to school.  My little honey is still sound asleep next to me.  We made it through the first day of school yesterday.  Four kids in four new schools.  So much has changed in our family in the past month and all of the children are handling it so well.  I set up a Skype account so Dylan, our daughter who is a freshman at UT, and I can chat while watching funny, contorted versions of our faces on the screen.  Skype is amazing!  I was able to call her up and put her at the dinner table with us yesterday evening.  We visited with her while we ate our roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, and biscuits.  It was great and very difficult to say goodbye.

Roger took Billy and Jackson to school and he was able to talk to Jackson's football coaches.  Thankfully, forgetting about the meeting this weekend wasn't the end of the world after all!  If they wouldn't have allowed Jackson to play football because we weren't at that meeting, I think he would have just died.   It seems like the boys had an okay day at their new schools.  If you ask them they say they hate it, but their body language and good attitudes show otherwise.  I know they just need some time and most importantly Jackson needs the chance to make some friends.  He didn't have football before the first day of school like Billy did, so hasn't had the same opportunity to meet people.  He walked into that school cold turkey and that takes guts.  I am very proud of both of them.  Oh, no...I am now watching Roger speed back into our driveway.  One of the boys must have forgotten something! Yikes!

Anyway, back to the first day of kindergarten...

Harrison was in HIS bed and asleep by 8:15 Sunday evening.  GO TEAM!  (It helped that my parents took Emerson to stay with them this week) He woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, got himself dressed, and had a breakfast of waffles and strawberries (our school morning staple).  He got a little nervous and had to make a run to the bathroom before we made it out the door, but with that out of the way, he was fine and off we went.

His class meets in the cafeteria each morning and then his teacher leads the children to the classroom.  We were both great until that dang walk to the classroom.  I don't know if it was the procession of principals and superintendent or the presence of so many older kids in the hallway, but something happened about halfway to the kindergarten classroom.  Thinking back, I see it all unfolding in slow motion.  Like in the movies when someone dies and they go to Heaven and are greeted by all of their loved ones who have already passed.  That was the scene.  So...halfway down the hallway, I was overwhelmed by this rush of emotion and tears started welling up in my eyes.  A split second later, Harrison, who was walking about ten feet in front of me, turned around and with a very grave look said, "Mommie, I need you!"  Of course, at that moment I had to shake off my bad feeling and put on a happy face and say, "You're gonna have so much fun, Bubbie.  You'll see.  Don't worry."  I hugged him and held his hand the rest of the way.  I wonder if I sensed his bad feeling or if he sensed mine OR if it was just a huge coincidence that we both went down at the same moment.  I like to think it's that we are so close and in tune with one another, that we felt each other's unease and reacted simultaneously.  Either way, I am so proud of that boy (and myself) for making it through that moment.

Once he was settled into his classroom, I slipped out, realizing that this wasn't pre-school at the church in Fort Worth any more.  This is real school and mommies with big cameras hovering around are ...well...not so cool.  I crawled into my car, took a very deep breath, and cried...just for a moment.  That's all I needed...a moment.  My baby boy started school today.

Monday, August 23, 2010

There Was an Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe...

You've heard stories about families with a bunch of kids where the mom takes the children out somewhere and manages to make it home without one of her little darlings.  In a panic she starts counting heads and grilling the other kids regarding the whereabouts of little Johnny.  These things unfortunately do happen, but never, NEVER to me...right?  Well.......I didn't leave a child anywhere, but I forgot a very, very important athletic meeting at our middle son's school this weekend.  I would still be oblivious if my husband didn't remember tonight in a panic.  Each player on the 8th grade football team was supposed to report to the gym last Friday or Saturday to check out their uniforms and check in with the coaches.  We COMPLETELY forgot!  I mean, stepson forgetting is one thing, but my husband and I both forgetting the same thing at the same time is crazy!  And SO EMBARRASSING!  I am really glad he (my husband) is the one having to talk to the coaches tomorrow morning.  There's not even a good lie for this one.  The fact is...we have a LOT of kids and we are doing the BEST we can! I wonder if the old lady in that shoe feels as guilty as I do right now?????  Poor guy...tomorrow's his first day at his new school, first day with a new football team and new coaches, and then THIS!  I will cook him roast beef and potatoes tomorrow night to help ease the pain of having a forgetful stepmom.  And...Lord willing and the creek doesn't rise... we will live to see another day!  Well.....maybe.  My baby starts kindergarten tomorrow (pain through the heart as I type) and I might not like it.  I will report back tomorrow.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Happy Day

Today is a very special day.  It is my husband's birthday.  I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful man as my husband and I look forward to celebrating every day of his 48th year with him!

This picture I took of him on our family vacation to South Padre this Summer is my favorite.  There is nothing sweeter than a big, strong man holding his tiny sleeping daughter in his arms.  So handsome and tender, loving and strong, he is my every day hero, my best friend, and the love of my life.  
Happy Birthday, Roger!

August Break 18

Paper White , originally uploaded by outside lisa.

Paper White

I think that aside from my kids, butterflies are my favorite thing to photograph. The Fort Worth Botanical Gardens has a spectacular butterfly exhibit every Spring and I have gone twice to photograph and enjoy the amazing butterflies with my kids. I want to compile all of my butterfly pictures into a coffee table book some day because I just love looking at these incredible creatures. They are just magical.

August 17

Day with Grandpa, originally uploaded by outside lisa.

Day with Grandpa

I think this captures such a sweet moment between my son and my dad. Harrison has chosen this big rock near our gate as "his rock" and he packs a backpack with all the necessities when he goes there to play. He and Grandpa read a book there and drew some hieroglyphics with a crayon on this particular day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fort Worth or Bust! (the button off my pants!)

I had to make a quick trip to Fort Worth for work...drove up yesterday and back today.  Got my work done, ate way too much good food, and had a little fun, too!  It's always fun to be treated like a queen/superwoman/rockstar and that is just what my sweet mother-in-law, Lynda, orchestrated.  I arrived at her home after work and got dressed for an evening with the girls...Lynda, my sister-in-law, Janet, and my step-daughter, Dylan.  We had dinner at Tillman's Roadhouse near Montgomery Plaza.  It was awesome and, as my sister-in-law pointed out, very "Anthropologie" which is a store whose style I admire.   I had the most amazing trout and some very good wine.  (I'm still thinking about that trout tonight...yum!)  I couldn't have asked for a more awesome, beautiful, and amazing group of women to spend time with.  Thanks ladies for such a great time and for distracting me from missing my bambinos back at home.  I love you!

Sadly, the only picture I got of Tillman's was of the restroom.  So, although it was quite impressive, I will spare you!

I slept like a baby on a brand spankin' new bed at Lynda and Billy's house and had juice and English muffins delivered to my bedside before I even rolled out of the sack!  I'm tellin' ya...the queen treatment!   Back to work this morning and then sushi and great conversation with Janet at Sushi Axiom for lunch.  We rarely get to spend one on one time together since I am usually always three...not one, so it was a treat to say the least.  I am one lucky girl.

Me and my new car...

I cruised back home in my new car (which I love) and made it in one piece, thank the Lord.

My honeys greeted me with lots of hugs and kisses and even a welcome home drawing from Harrison and his daddy.  So, so good to be me!

(Again...Harrison was the creative director here...Roger was merely the artist and author)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August Break 15

Photographer in the Making, originally uploaded by outside lisa.

Photographer in the Making

Today I found this picture of Harrison from back in the Spring. This was the first day I was brave enough to hand over my camera and let him start shooting away. I took it with my iphone as he was intensely concentrating on getting a good shot of his sister playing in the garden. He has been taking pictures with my camera almost daily lately and has gotten quite good. He really seems to enjoy photography and that makes me very happy!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 13

Dylan on the Frio, originally uploaded by outside lisa.
Dylan on the Frio

I love this picture of my beautiful step-daughter, Dylan. I was so happy seven years ago, when I first introduced her to tubing the Frio River, that she loved it as much as I do. It is a place that stole my heart when I was just a girl and I think it has stolen her's, too. I love this picture for so many reasons, but especially because she is about to head off to college and this is our last tubing trip before that milestone. It embodies her creative, playful charm and leaves me smiling and remembering when I was her age and had the whole world at my feet. I love this girl!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Some Kind of Mommie You Turned Out to Be!"

There is a nightly struggle in our house.  It begins every evening at around 5:30 and doesn't end some nights until around 10:30.  My husband calls it the witching hour.  Most call it bed time.  I call it HELL!  Not really, but it can seem that way sometimes.

Harrison has always rejected bedtime.  He says he hates going to sleep and will fight it to the bitter end.  His little sister seems to be following in her brother's footsteps now and it is about to push me over the edge.  The more tired Harrison gets the more wound up he gets and Emerson is obsessed with trying to scratch a mole off of my chest.  If I push her hand away she screams and sits up in the bed doing circles like a dog does before it finally finds the right spot to lay down.  Harrison inevitably gets hungry or his hiney burns or no one is snuggling up to him or I'm squishing him.  The only way lately for them both to fall asleep is for me to fall asleep and then I wake up an hour later all groggy with a dirty kitchen to clean up and a chicken pen still open.  Don't they know that they are cutting into the only ME time I have in the day?  And that the chickens are risking their lives for them to have "snuggle-up-a-gus" (that's what we call snuggling up together) until the moon and stars are aligned just perfectly for them to drift off to sleep?  Note:  There is no drifting off to sleep in our house.  It's more like skidding or screeching off to sleep!

The thing is, I know it's my fault that bed time is miserable.  I never taught them to fall asleep on their own so they think they have to have me there with them until they fall asleep.  Did I mention they sleep in our bed?  Anyway, tonight after reading together a bit, it was time for lights out and immediately Harrison started whining.  " no one wants to snuggle up to me?  No one ever snuggles up to me.  Sister is always in the way!"  Sister gave him a good whack in the forehead and the crying began.  "Harrison, let me get Sister to sleep and then I'll come around to your side."  "Forget it!  Don't even bother.  I'll just sleep over here all by myself!"  Silence.  Sister is almost asleep and... "Hmmhhh!  Some kind of mommie you turned out to be!"  WOW!  He really knows how to jab that knife in doesn't he?

The truth is...I wouldn't trade this time with them for the world.  The mornings are especially good, and Lord willing, we will live through another day and do it all again tomorrow night.

Look at those little angels.  This time with them is priceless and worth every whack in the face, kick in the back, and finger up the nose!  Night, night!

August 12

Sunflowers in my Garden, originally uploaded by outside lisa.
Sunflowers in my Garden

August Break 11

Driving Miss Maisy, originally uploaded by outside lisa.
Driving Miss Maisy

August Break 10

Em's First Pigtails, originally uploaded by outside lisa.
Em's First Pigtails

Monday, August 9, 2010

August 9 Photo

Tomato Preserves
     I intend to post the highly experimental recipe for my tomato preserves as soon as I am sure they are going to set.  So far I am disappointed in their consistency, but time will tell.  The flavor is wonderful, though, and the color exquisite!

Painting Day

     What a great weekend!  I can't say I got much rest, but I did get a lot done.  I did things I needed to do, as well as things I wanted to do.  That, to me, is the measure of a good weekend.  I really covered my bases, too:  Saturday morning we went to Billy's first football scrimmage of the season.  Then I spent the day putting up tomatoes...tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and tomato preserves.  Sunday started out with a dip in the pool with poolside cinnamon rolls.  Then I cooked a "Country Breakfast" for lunch.  That's what we call our traditional weekend breakfast which typically includes bacon, sausage or pigs in a blanket, biscuits, home made jelly, skillet potatoes, scrambled eggs, and orange juice.  There is no way we can handle this much breakfast during the week so we do it up big on at least one day of the weekend!  Harrison and I spent the afternoon painting together and after our beer can chicken dinner, Billy took the kids and I for a ride around the ranch.  I am ready now for another busy week!
     Now that we've got that covered, I'll get on to the really good stuff .  I recently wrote a post called "Artful Living" in which I talked about creating circumstances in your every day life to feed your creative soul.  Well, I have decided it may be helpful to others if I post some examples of how I feed MY creative soul while spending quality time with my family.  So here we go...
     Harrison is very much into animals right now and was asking me if I would help him draw some.  I am not very good at drawing, but I didn't want to let the little guy down so I said, "YES!" and quickly decided I could seize this moment for some creative time for myself as well.  We settled on painting an animal scene for his room and he began looking through his wildlife magazines and books to decide which animal we would paint while I got out our supplies and set up our work area on the screened in porch.

I really like this brand of acrylic paints.

The scene is set...fresh canvases, brushes, water.

Harrison and I made a list of all of his favorite animals.

Next I did some sketching to narrow down our choices.  I discovered very quickly that he was the creative art director and I was the one doing the work!  He IS his parent's son!  He prefers a more realistic look and I am better at whimsical, more abstract creatures, but we found a happy medium, FINALLY!
He chose this father lion and cub and wanted them under the shade of a big tree. I sketched them out on the canvas to give Harrison lines to work within.

We chose our colors and began mixing them to make the perfect shades for our lion family.

Next we chose the greens for our big tree.

The painting begins.

Harrison did a great job!  He has a very steady hand and quite the eye for detail.

I did some touch-up and painted on their faces.

Harrison decided we needed Mama Lion, too.  

Sister gets in on the action.

Proud little artist!

Harrison's new Lion Family painting for his room!  

This all took about an hour and a half, but is worth a lifetime of great memories.  It was a small thing that I was able to do with my child that fed both of our creative souls!

Em still has paint in her hair!

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

August 8 Photo

August 8~  

I love this photo.  It captures not only my beloved pink Zinnias, but also a beautiful dragonfly who stopped by to visit my garden.  I missed two days of entries in my photography assignment, but I think I made up for it with this one!  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

August 4 & 5 Photos

These are the photos I have submitted to my photography assignment (Susannah Conway's August Break) for the last two days.  Enjoy!

August 4-  Plums & Zinnias
These beauties all came from our garden!

August 5-  Kitty in the Short Grass