Sunday, July 19, 2015

How Does Your Garden Grow.....In a Drought?

Yes, believe it or not, this is my first Tomato of the Season.  Isn't it a beautiful Roma?  We actually had two ripen yesterday and Rooster Senior and I sliced them on a cutting board, grabbed the Salt and Pepper, and ate them!  They were sooo good!  There is nothing like a freshly picked tomato from your garden!

Gardening in a Drought:

A few weeks ago, I began to write about Gardening in a Drought and how I planned to water my Raised Bed Garden. Some of the techniques that I am using come from a class I took taught by Caleb Warnock from Renaissance Seeds. 

I thought I would update you and also show you some of my thoughts on vertical gardening that I am using.

I bought these panels of wire mesh from my local big box hardware store.  They are used to reinforce concrete when it is poured.  

See the width of the openings? I can easily fit my hand/fist through the openings to harvest my garden.  The squares are 4 inches by 4 inches.  

Rooster Senior had these wire ties to attach the grid to the PVC Pipe.  Let me tell you about the PVC pipes.  Pieces of Rebar were pounded into the ground. Lengths of PVC pipes were placed over the Rebar for the vertical pieces.  T-fittings and elbow fittings were used to create the horizontal pieces to attach the wire mesh to.

I train my beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers to climb the mesh. This helps keep the vegetables off the ground, supports the vines/stalks, and makes harvesting so much easier.

We all have those rogue socks that we can never find the mate of...right?  These are nylon hose-type socks that I cannot find the mates to.

I used these socks to secure my Tomato stalks to the grid. These plants are heavy laden with Tomatoes already and need the support. I gently tied these to the grid which allows for them to continue growing without being constricted.

Here is another example of re-purposing these socks.  See the blue sock?

Keeping your Garden Watered during a Drought...

Here you can see a little visitor getting a bit of a shower.  You can also see how I water my garden with holes drilled in a PVC pipe.  I only water every 2-3 days and sometimes go longer.  Mr. Warnock says he goes as long as 7-10 days depending upon how deeply he has watered.  He taught me to look at the Panting Peonies. Essentially, I have planted squash and pumpkins (My Peonies). If they wilt during the day, but perk up at night, the soil still has enough moisture.  As my garden is watered per my lawn schedule, I rarely have gone more than 2-3 days.

I have also used my lawn clippings to cover the ground around my plantings. The Tomatoes have loved this.  The clippings hold in the moisture and keep my plants watered and cool.

Although difficult to see behind my beautiful Roma, the Tomato plants, peppers, and herbs are thriving with lawn clippings around their base.

I have also used Mr. Warnock's lettuce seeds that are hearty enough to not only grow in my area, but also they are reportedly more drought tolerant.  You can see that they are thriving with the mulching and periodic water schedule.

Take Home Points:

  • The PVC pipe and wire mesh are reasonably priced.  It cost very little to make the Vertical piece of the garden. I was fortunate that Rooster Senior had pieces of Rebar that we used to hold the vertical frame in place.
  • The grass clippings/mulch really hold the moisture in the soil.  When the top of the clippings look dry, I have looked under them at the soil level. Honestly, there is plenty of moisture at the bottom of the clippings and the soil.  This has been a real surprise for me. 
  • The Peonies have been a pleasant surprise for me as well. It's like a secret code.  I actually have not always been able to water my lawn on the selected days allowed in my area due to the drought.  The Peonies have been a big source of relief for me to ensure that my soil was still moist enough.
  • I love repurposing things when  I can.  Those errand socks, (although a little hillbilly looking), are working well.  
  • The specific seeds that are for my area (heirloom type) really seem to be thriving even in dry conditions.  I have been pleased overall to be blessed enough to use them this year.
You can grow a garden in a drought....and it can thrive.  Please know that if I can do this, anyone can.  My kids can tell you that gardening has not always been my strong suit.  This year, I am feeling very pleased with "how my garden grows".

Try it!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

It's A Matter of .....A Patriotic Dessert From Your Pantry!

Happy 4th of July everyone!  I hope you had time to see a parade, grill out, and spend time with loved ones. I also hope that you make it a point to remember why we have this holiday and thank those who protect us.  Take a moment to thank someone personally.  I have a loved one who has served us all.

Well, I decided to make a twist on a family favorite.....Strawberry Pie.

Prepare your favorite Graham Cracker Crust!

Since it is Strawberry Season, slice your berries and place them in your prepared shell.

I decided to add some Blueberries to make it look a little more "Patriotic"

You may ask why I am using a valved sippy cup.  The recipe calls for Cornstarch and water to be mixed evenly.  I put them in here and shake hard!

Look how smooth is it mixed together!

Add the Sugar and bring to a boil. When the mixture is thick and clear, turn off the heat.  Let the mixture cool a bit and add the Jello packet.

Pour the mixture over the fruit in the pie.

Place the pie in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Add whipped cream!  Dive in!

Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

It's a Matter of Raggedy Ann...... and a Sweet Gift for a Precious Little Girl

A Matter of Preparedness

Aren't these so sweet?  These were gifts for a sweet little family member who just turned 1! I have always made Raggedy Ann Dolls for my little family members, and hope that they will be a keepsake from the Rooster Senior and I.

When I give these to sweet little family members, the adults often ask me how I made the hair look so good.  

A Matter of Preparedness

How To Sew Hair on a Raggedy Ann Doll....

See how tight and thick it is?  I have never liked the directions that come with the pattern that basically ask you to tie a knot and leave short pieces of yarn to make the hair.  I feel like a Raggedy Ann with hair like that looks like the doll needs a hair transplant.  Sooooo, would you like to see how it's done?

A Matter of Preparedness

First, I wrap yarn around my hand until I have a 'clump' that looks about like this. Clip the clump of yarn from the skein.

A Matter of Preparedness

The pattern that you can purchase comes with an iron-on transfer to help you see the lines the hair should be sewn upon.  Lay the 'clump across the line and sew a straight stitch through the middle.

A Matter of Preparedness

This is how the hair around the face will look when you have finished sewing around the iron-on transfer line.

A Matter of Preparedness

In order to sew on all the lines on the back of the head, you will need to hold the hard out of the way with your fingers.

A Matter of Preparedness

This is what the back of the head looks like after sewing on all the iron-on transfer lines.  Look how curly and thick it looks.  

A Matter of Preparedness

Now this is where you have to deviate from the pattern's instructions.  Because of the bulk of the yarn, you will need to pin the back and front pieces together and most likely sew them together by hand.  I use a back-stitch and double-knot it on either end to hold the pieces together.

Next, you turn the head inside out.  Here is the most challenging part of the head and hair.  It will be a little difficult to turn it inside out. I have found starting at one side and carefully turning it inside-out is most helpful.  Halfway through the process, the whole thing will pop around and you will be good to go at that point.

A Matter of Preparedness

Now, you can see that I have two different faces on the dolls in this post.  Most of the dolls I have embroidered by hand.  However, I downloaded the pattern for the face for my Embroidery Machine at the suggestion of my good friend.  I still am undecided which I like better.  As of late, I have been embroidering the name of the little recipient on the Apron as well.

A Matter of Preparedness

I chose to make a little sleeveless dress to match.  This can be worn year-round either as-is in the summer or with a long sleeved blouse in the winter.  I also wanted to point out the flower.  I cut the flower just under the umbel and hand-sewed the flower to the rough side of Velcro.  I sewed the companion smooth side of the Velcro on to the ribbon running across the bodice of the dress.  Sewn this way, the flower is removable for washing.

A Matter of Preparedness

Last, but certainly not least, is the headband.  Honestly these are very simple to make but it sure adds another level of cuteness to this outfit.  I used a ladies knee-high and tied the ends together in a knot.  I then hand-sewed the flower on. These are silk flowers so you can push a needle through the silk petals.

A Matter of Preparedness

This is the end result....and aren't these items just so sweet?  It didn't take too long and this little one and her Momma seemed to really like the doll (and the dress).

Take Home Points:

  • Sewing is a useful skill.  To purchase a Raggedy Ann doll costs about $30.00 on-line.  A similar dress on-line also runs about $30.00. The fact that they are matching would increase the price as well.  I hate to admit this but I made all of this for under $18.00.
  • The doll only requires straight stitching. The Apron takes some zig-zag stitching for the gathering. These are very, very basic stitches that even the most inexperienced sewer can do.
  • The enjoyment of this little one can not be measured.  It was also very fun to be so creative. 
  • The pattern for the doll can be purchased on Etsy for $4-10.00.

Try it!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

It's a Matter of.....Life and The Plan of Happiness

Courtesy of Mormon Newsroom
Image courtesy of
As a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am grateful to have a Living Prophet and Apostles on the earth.  Yesterday, one of our dear Apostles finished his earthly mission.  Here is the official news release:

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died today at about 3:00 p.m. at his home. He was 92 years old. 
Elder Perry was ordained an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April 1974, after serving as an assistant to the Twelve since 1972. Elder Perry’s commanding physical presence combined with his enthusiasm and optimistic style made him a forceful as well as a popular figure among Church members across the world.
I realize there is more than these two-paragraph in the news release does that tells more about about this beloved man.  There are many stories with more information about him all over the news.  These stories are easy to find. However, today I wanted to share my encounter with him....when he was newly called and I was quite a bit younger.

Although I currently live along the Wasatch Front, that has not always been the case. During my teenage years, I lived in the Midwest.  At that time, my local ward/congregation was young and small. Everyone on our ward had one or more callings (assignments) including me.  

Once a month, our Stake (larger congregation of several wards) would hold "Super Saturdays" for the youth 14 years and older. These were Saturdays filled with all kinds of things from gospel instruction, sports, meals, and always a dance to cumulate the end of the action-packed day.  On one particular "Super-Saturday", a new face came into our Seminary group. I'll be honest, I had no idea who this was, but the adults were certainly very polite and welcoming to him.

He was introduced as our new Apostle, "Elder L Tom Perry".  We were invited to shake his hand as we left the class and went on to the next 'event'.  I did take the opportunity to shake his hand. He looked at me and was very genuine. He asked me how I was doing and told me that it was a pleasure to meet me.  I remember thinking at the time "a pleasure to meet me?", what on earth for? I was just an awkward teenager trying to push my 'cool quotient' just like everyone else.  

Since that time, Elder Perry has had a soft spot in my heart. I have heard him at General Conference (Semi-annual meeting world wide) and also when I was a student at Brigham Young University.  He has always struck me as being as genuine as he was when I shook his hand those many years ago.

His death is sad, but also an opportunity for him and his family to celebrate.  We believe that there is a life after death and that if you live as the Savior has taught, you can be reunited with those who has passed away.  Elder Perry's first wife and his daughter finished their earthly missions before he did.  I am sure there is a huge homecoming occurring right now with the Perry family.

I also have lost another loved one this week.  He was an uncle who was a genuine as Elder Perry and certainly very fun.  Yesterday at his funeral, my cousins, my sister, and I reminisced about many things.  Events as children, events with our Grandparents and certainly events with my Aunt and Uncle. As I looked at my cousins, whose parents both had passed away at this point, I felt a pain of sadness for them...and for me.  Although we understand that there is a plan and that all the Savior has he is offering to us, it still hurts to lose loved ones.  I will miss having a reason to go to that small western town that is not on the way to anything.  No one who I am related to lives there any longer, it is just a serious of robust memories for me there.

So as we say goodbye to this beloved family member and Apostle, we rejoice in the knowledge that this life is but a short time in the eternal scheme of things.  I am grateful to know that we have a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who have made the way know and possible for us to return to live with them...and to live with our loved ones.  Life is all about choices. May we all choose to learn, live, and love as the Savior has taught.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite talks by Elder Perry.  It's message to me is that no matter what your circumstances are, there is always an opportunity to do as the Savior would.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

It's A Matter Of.....Illness

Okay, no lovely pictures or catchy titles.  In all honesty, I haven't felt up to it for while.  Why you ask.....because I have been sick.

"So what?" you may say.  Actually, if the shoe were on the other foot, I would say the same thing.  However, I rarely get sick and if I do, it is very short-lived.

Enter my recent bout with a cold/flu/something bad.  I have had no energy, little sleep, and other fun symptoms I chose not to list.  My days were filled with trying to muster enough energy to get up and get on with my long list of things that were waiting for my attention. This worked for a while.

Then it happened, my body said 'enough'!  I had to stay home and stay in bed. This was not only for a few hours, but for days!  This never has been something I traditionally deal with.  Yes, I actually had to use some of my vacation days to recover. Well, I should say recover to the point of having enough stamina to get out of bed and claw my way through a day of work and then come home and hit my pillow.

Finally, I feel like my old self.  I even did yard work yesterday!  It was with a lovely cough, but I actually put my hands in dirt, planted, weeded, and worked in my compost bin.  I came back in the house and crashed for a couple of hours.

So, what does this have to do with anything?  It has made me think of what I might do if I or other loved ones were really sick and could not function as they normally would if we were in a time of challenge or crisis.  I decided to make a mental inventory of things I need.....with most of them in my storage room.


I used up many OTC medications to help me function.  I went through quite a few and I didn't have to trudge to the store and purchase any (or expose anyone).  I was glad that I had them on hand and only had to trudge to my kitchen for most of them.  


Yes, I really mean Hygiene.  I had enough laundry detergent, fabric softener, cleaners, toilet paper etc to address this aspect of being sick.  Again, I only had to trudge to my Laundry room etc to address these needs.


I had enough of everything on hand to make meals for myself or our little family. We were wanting for anything.  Having my Food Storage and the knowledge and skills to use it proved to be a great blessing. 


Okay, this may sound petty, but I was bored!  My body may have been under-the-weather but my mind would not shut off.  I read, watched, etc to keep feeding my racing mind.  I had plenty of 'stuff' to fill that need, maybe too much.  I will have to think about this aspect.  However, I was glad I could feed my need for input and information.


This is something I have had to work on quite a bit over the past two years. Life throws you curve balls out-of-the-blue and learning to catch or dodge requires a measure of patience.  I was bored....really bored.  I wanted my recovery to hurry-up, but in the end I had to be patient.  I could have done some significant complaining, but to what end?  I could have fussed on social media, on the phone, etc....but again to what end?  I did tell Rooster Senior that I did not feel well a few times. He offered to help, but really didn't know what to do for me....and neither did I.  I wasn't sick enough to go the Doctor, but I felt drained of energy, ached, coughed, etc.  It just didn't seem appropriate to complain....because I was being forced to rest.  I decided to see it for what it was, a time to rest and recuperate....something I don't do that often.   


I took time to think about 'things'.  I read, listened and sometimes watched Spiritually themed information. (Remember that need to feed my racing mind!)  I had time to actually listen to what my Heavenly Father may have been trying to tell me for a while.  I need to ensure that I allow myself to have quiet time on a daily basis to listen.


Although I feel like I really haven't accomplished much in the areas I usually address, I am grateful to be feeling better. I am grateful to have had the things I needed on hand and I am grateful my spouse showed care and concern for me.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to do things I may not have always take the opportunity to rest and research.

Take Home Points....

  • Preparing isn't just for big emergencies and catastrophic events. 
  • I was grateful and felt peace that I had medication, etc on hand to address my needs.
  • I am grateful for paid vacation!  Even though I was sick for weeks, my family did not suffer financial loss.
  • I had things to feed my mind...which is a huge mental boost when you are sick.
  • Taking those small steps to prepare your family are worthy of your time and financial investment.
I promise, I will be back at it energy levels are increasing each day!

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