Category Archives: days of spring
Like most seasonal transitions, it begins slowly and quietly…tiny little shifts in the air, the plants, the sky, the soul. It might seem odd, but spring has never really been my favorite season. Maybe it’s because I’ve always lived in the south, but I usually prefer the shift from summer to fall. The cool weather and the harvest; the feast days and the rich, earthy colors. But something about this spring has just really inspired me.
I think that it may have to do with the way that the seasons have really aligned with my life events in the past months…the reaping of what had been sown in the fall, the cold, dark winter (the only light in the dark being the celebration of our Savior’s birth) and now, finally spring. With Lent leading up to it, it feels especially like a season of newness for me. Filled with hope and rejoicing in a God who came to save us. I’ve noticed every little part of the shift, every honey-toned ray of sunshine saturating patches of neon green grass. Every sweet bloom that has opened so slowly, and so quickly fallen away. The smell of rain and freshly turned soil.
It’s truly spring in my soul right now.
I’m going to miss my dad’s back yard and garden, it’s always felt like a little oasis to me. Asher and I spent countless hours in it the year that Dash was deployed and we were living here, and although a lot has changed since then, this backyard still feels like a timeless little slice of heaven. It’s such a treat to watch spring unfold in it, the trees and vines and annual blooms, the birds and squirrels and of course, the garden. Back in the fall we planted a new little strawberry patch and it has been growing beautifully so far. We have been picking plenty of lettuce and herbs lately and peas are already starting to bloom and set. I’m thankful that a northward move will mean a long spring for us this year, extra blooms to behold, and the possibility of having time to plant another garden of our own.
I’m feeling confident that we will join nature in beautiful bloom, once we are finally planted.
I’m starting this new post series in the hopes that it will help me keep better track of our gardening adventures!
The garden has been a half-nurtured place this past fall and spring. Between planning for an overseas move that ended up not happening to welcoming a new baby into our family (and planning another move- hopefully closer to Austin and to daddy’s NEW JOB!), that beloved space back there just hasn’t gotten the attention and investment that I really dream of giving a garden. But given that fact, I think things are still looking pretty good out there.
Since constructing all of the raised beds, I decided to keep all of the herbs in pots. Hopefully I will find a prettier way to place them about the yard, but for now they are just sitting in a row along the side of a raised bed. Basil is looking and smelling great and we are getting lots of ripening cherry tomatoes-perfect combo! We’ve got lots of different tomatoes growing and looking good out there right now- we purchased them all from starts, but maybe in the fall we will actually start our own seeds.
I am also really missing having a compost pile right now. We had to buy compost/soil to amend beds and I hate spending money on dirt So far we haven’t seen too many pests, but this morning I noticed that something seems to be chewing tiny little holes in everything. I may try a simple soap/water spray before going for the neem oil stuff.
The seeds that I did directly sow were in the ground a bit later than I would have liked, but they are coming up and looking good now! When I added soil to a few of the beds, I got a little bit too much compost and not enough sandy loam type soil, so the seeds were having trouble coming up at first and I had to amend the soil a bit more. It’s also probably due to the fact that I bought the cheapest bags of organic compost that I could find.
The growing list right now includes about 10 tomatoes, 8 different types of peppers, eggplant, okra, tomatillo, green and yellow beans, yellow summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, salad greens, lots of chard, calendula and zinnia and tons of different herbs including lavender, tarragon, oregano, basil and more. It looks like we even have a volunteer cantaloupe that has popped up. We still have the tree citrus trees, but for some reason that I cannot figure out, they aren’t looking very well. The mandarin tree, which gave us a few fruits this past season has some healthy new growth toward the bottom, but after blooming well up top the branches are all slowly losing leaves, turning brown and dying. I’m suspecting some sort of fungus or blight? Both the lemon and mexican lime are doing the same and although all three bloomed beautifully, no fruit set. I have checked my watering methods and have been sure to fertilize and add good soil so, I just don’t know. We are in a rough area for bugs and blights I have learned- it’s sad. We also lost our pear tree to fire blight The peach tree is doing great though!
I’m content with what we have out there for now because as I mentioned before, we have another move on the horizon! Hopefully headed to the Austin area to be settled in a place that will allow us to put down some more garden roots and to at least have a small flock of chickens again!
May 2012 garden (with one last bed to be weeded, soiled and planted- hopefully with some roots like carrots and beets!)
How’s your garden growing these days?
I always want to title posts with some sort of lead-on that ends with the first words of the blog post. For example, “a love affair…..with caprese!”
Man I am such a nerd.
Anyways. I went with the simple title, because it is definitely fitting for this simple salad that our family so loves.
The perfect salad (or at least one of them in my humble opinion).
Someday I am going to have a dairy cow and I am going to make our own mozzarella cheese, but for now I will settle with growing our own basil and tomatoes and buying our little mozzarella perlini at the grocery store.
Our usual method for this salad is a simple slice it and toss it, but today I thought we would try something new. With my little shadow (aka princess of the house) at my side, we placed sliced cherry tomatoes and mozzarella inside of basil boats and stuck a toothpick through it all. Then we sprinkled the plate with kosher salt, cracked pepper, olive oil and balsamic. Simple and delish.
You should definitely make it. It’s even better with freshly baked french bread.
Let me know if you make it and love it too!
I thought I would pop in here and say hello today before I sign off tomorrow for Good Friday and the weekend that follows (we all know there is a happy ending!).
This Holy Week has been such a great one for me.
After a slow and steady decline of my household and time management over the past few weeks, things finally hit rock bottom. This past weekend I was feeling like a big fat failure. I felt like everything I usually have under control (even if barely) had slowly piled up to a mountain of “unfinished business” (laundry, bills, garden, kids rooms, my room, for that matter pretty much everything in the house, kids school, healthy eats for the family). When the house is a mess, I always feel like before I do anything in it, I need to clean it. When the kitchen is a huge mess, I have no space or motivation to bake our bread for the week. And then when I want to throw together PB+Js for a quick lunch I am wishing I just bought the bread at the store, but then I feel guilty doing that when I can make fresh, healthy bread for MUCH less than $4 a loaf….and on and on. Do you see the spiral here? Am I crazy or does this happen to anyone else? And when I am overwhelmed and guilt-ridden like this, I lose the ability to be productive in any way. While the kids are out playing and the baby is asleep, I wander around folding 3 shirts, washing 5 dishes, rewashing that load of laundry that sat wet in the washer overnight, sweeping a floor, then the baby wakes up and I sit there nursing him and looking around. It looks like nothing got done even though I was moving around working for 30 straight minutes. But the work isn’t productive because it is unfocused and I never get one single task completely finished…..
I woke up Monday morning feeling motivated and determined to pull myself out of this rut and I sat down in front of google and started creating. We now have a family calendar (that Dash and I can both access remotely since he doesn’t have an iphone), a weekly meal plan spreadsheet and a daily schedule. It has already made such a huge difference in our day to day living! When I know I have a block of time to do xyz, I can decide on a task to take on and finish it completely. I also forgot how much of a difference an hour or two of quiet time in the afternoon makes- especially since both of the big kids have given up naps. Now that the house is coming back together, our meals are planned and healthy for us and our school time is back on track, I am planning other changes that will help us live(and sleep) a bit better in this our home. I think that Asher and Amelia will soon be sharing a bedroom…..
I have also gotten back into my much loved habit of photographing our days and all of the moments in them that make me grateful. There is a difference in my photos right now though- most of them are on instagram! I keep the big camera around to grab and shoot like usual, but with an 8 week old in my arms a lot of the times, my phone is just so easy and convenient to use. It is definitely just the tool for my photojournaling tendencies.
So here it is, a productive Holy Week at Casa Ballarta. Complete with lots of clean rooms, clean clothes, school completed, prayers said, books read and healthy meals eaten.
How has your Holy Week been?
To the garden. Days at the park. Bare feet and water guns. Into Spring!
This past Saturday I spent the entire day out back building the rest of my raised garden beds (I now have six 8×4 ft beds!). It was 85 degrees, the kids were frolicking (and hanging out in the bouncer seat), I broke a sweat and got a sunburn. It. was. glorious.
I always feel like this come February/March and getting out to enjoy those first warm, sunny days really renews my spirit.
I am still riding the vitamin d high (which is good because today is cloudy and cool and the kids are whining to fill up the plastic pool with water again).
This Lent has been a good, productive season for my spirit and now that we are in the midst of Passiontide, I am trying to be extra mindful that I don’t lose focus and thinking that some of my new Lenten prayer habits should remain permanent.
Aside from some fun and busy weekends we’ve had lately, the weeks have been calm and SEVEN of them have already passed since Oliver’s birth. I’ve been seeing TONS of this lately…
Our Mr. Oliver is quite a smiley guy. His eyes are always big, bright and inquisitive and his lips are possibly the most kissable lips I have ever seen on a baby. And he is not lacking in those willing to give kisses either His big brother and sister always make him smile and sometimes they can even get him to talk to us. We’ve been having so much fun as a family of five and blessedly, we have all been getting some pretty great nights of sleep as well. I know that the great sleep is not always permanent, but I’ll take it and be grateful for it while I can!
Life is so very full of blessings right now, even amidst our struggles and trials. I am grateful for pain which helps me see beauty in even more vibrant color.
Winter is over. Spring has arrived.