Happy Birthday Connor!

This past Sunday 2 years ago, my sweet little blue-eyed wonder entered this world to make me a mommy for the second time. This year we celebrated his precious second birthday. I cannot believe how fast this time flew by, my precious little boy, and how much you have grown. You are out of the baby stage now and are prodly referring to yourself as a “big boy”, and you are all ready to become a big brother soon!

Mommy loves you and is so proud of you my sweet little one. Keep on smiling and staying as happy as you are, my love! Happy Birthday, Connor-boy!

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Happy Sunday!

Beautiful Rose after the abundant rain…

Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation today.

I just wanted to share a couple of beautiful summer flowers with all of you. These are all from our garden/yard.

Beautiful Azaleas

Cheerful gerbera daisies

Bright orange daylilies

Delicate hydrangea

What is blooming in your garden today?

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The True Russian Borsch Recipe

A friend of mine recently asked me to give her my Russian borsch recipe as she had too many beets she was trying to figure out what to do with. Since I had to get it from my head down onto paper (well, the computer screen) anyway, I figured I would post it here as well. Guess what we had for dinner today? 😉

Russian Borsch

by the way, there’s no “T” at the end of that word 🙂

Ingredients

homemade or low-sodium chicken or beef Stock – 3 quarts
boneless, skinless chicken or beef, cut into small cubes – 1 lb
onion (shredded very small) – 3/4 lb
carrots (cut into small narrow strips) – 1/2 lb
beets (cut into small narrow strips) – 1/2 lb
bell pepper (cut into short narrow strips) – 1/2 lb
tomato sauce – 1 14 oz can
potatoes (peeled and cubed ) – 3 lbs
cabbage (shredded thinly) – 1 1/2 lbs
vegetable oil – 3 tbsp
salt, pepper, garlic, parsley and dill (shredded very small) to taste, 2 bay leaves

Directions

In a large sauteing pan pre-heat the oil, then saute the carrots until they are just starting to turn golden brown, add beats and cook until they are tender. Add onions and bell pepper, and saute everything together for about 3-4 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and a little water (if necessary to be able to stir easily). Cover with a lid and let saute for about 3-5 minutes (on medium heat). Turn off and set aside.

In a large stock pot bring chicken or beef stock to a rapid boil. Add cut-up pieces of meat, and let it boil for about 20 minutes. Add potatoes and bring to boil again. Add the vegetable mix from the pan, bring everything to boil. Let it boil for a few minutes, then add shredded cabbage. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook until the potatoes, cabbage, and meat are ready. Add 2 bay leaves and let sit for a few minutes. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Serve with sour cream, garlic slices, parsley and dill on the side, and fresh bread.

Serves 12.

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Summer Gardening Series: The Progress by the End of June

Despite numerous challenges that I wrote about yesterday, our garden keeps growing. Partly abundant rains and hot weather might be to blame for that, partly Stan’s vigilance about keeping the critters out of the garden so that they would not inflict any further damage on the poor little plants. Having two little helpers who like to help with weeding (well, at least so far) helps too 🙂

I promised to share some pictures of the current state of the garden. Here’s where we are about 1 month after planting, even though most all of the plants got damaged during this month in one way or the other. They are bouncing back, I think 🙂

Boys’ planter – check out those enormous pumpkin leaves on the left  – Edward planted those from seeds and this is how huge they’ve gotten in the 1.5 months since.

Tomatoes are all caged up and supported finally.

Eggplants, herbs, squash and cantaloupes

More tomatoes and pepper plants. Even though pepper plants hardly got attacked by the woodchucks they are not growing as fast as they should – they are still pretty small…

Tiny tomatoes still have little raindrops on them

Garden overview

Happy summer squash plant has little squashes on it already 🙂 It makes me smile 🙂

Edward by his huge pumpkin plant

Herbs – rosemary, mint, parsley, and basil

Zucchini plant with baby zucchinis on it

Edward weeding in his planter

Connor weeding in the main garden bed. He did an excellent job!

Happy helper

And this is where we are at this stage. As the garden grows and progresses more (God willing!) I’ll be sharing more pictures with all of you. Come back tomorrow to see some photos of my favorite summer flowers here on Simple Motherhood Blog.

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Summer Gardening Series: The Early Challenges

In my post yesterday, I wrote about how excited we were about starting on the road to raised garden bed gardening and the whole adventure of it. However, we did already have to deal with quite a few challenges. I do not have any pictures for this post, but let me just say there were times, when we were so upset about the gravity of the situation we wondered why we even started it all in the first place.

Challenge #1: The Woodchucks.

These were the worst (still are, actually). Even though we put up the fence around the garden right on the day when we planted everything, they would still get in multiple times a day. Stan then went around the garden and put a second (chicken wire) fence around it too. Then we bought overpriced repellent pellets at Home Depot that were supposed to keep woodchucks and the likes of them away from the tiny plants. Imagine our disappointment when we discovered that those mindless creatures actually liked the powder! We were appalled, but every day (and sometimes multiple times a day) we would look in the garden, and something new would be missing (as in entire plant would be eaten down practically to the ground). One day we got back and found every single one of our tomato plants missing a top and some of them missing a large chunk of a plant. That was literally the straw that broke the camels’ back, and Stan since then dealt with the creatures much more severely than just sprinkling repellent powder. We’ve had at least a dozen of them, and now we are down to just a few (maybe 4 or so), but even those don’t come out as often as before, as they’ve gotten to be more skittish. They have ruined almost all the plants we had, and some of those plants never recovered, although some are slowly coming back to life.

Challenge #2: Moles, chipmunks, rabbits, and other little critters.

Realistically, woodchucks should have just gone into this category as well, but since they’ve been the biggest pain, I had to single them out as the biggest challenge. 🙂 Here again, we’ve sprinkled repellent powder that’s designed specifically against those species, but I’m not sure how much it helped. Just a few days ago, we saw a rabbit right inside the garden happily nibbling on baby cauliflower. I was so mad, I wanted to go back to Home Depot and return the rest of those repellent powders right then and tell them that those do absolutely no good, and how can they charge $20 a bottle for it… But alas, those bottles were more than half empty, and I’m sure Home Depot people would have looked at me funny trying to return something that has been opened and used 🙂

Challenge #3: Some kind of bugs.

Some kind of bugs are attacking out tomatoes, eggplants, and pepper plants, as well as some of the cantaloupe plants. I’m not sure what they are, but everyday I see new holes in the leaves of those poor plants and start wondering what we need to do to keep those alive. We didn’t want to spray those plants with any harsh chemicals, as we are trying to keep the food (if anything ever grows that is) as close to natural as possible, but we might need to look for some sort of solution to prevent those bugs from spreading.

There are lots of other challenges  that I won’t cover in detail, but regardless I am still glad we put in the garden. The kids get so much enjoyment out of it, and it’s a joy for us as parents as well to show them where the real food comes from, and to watch them take care of those plants and help them grow.

Tomorrow I will share some pictures of the current state of our garden, that is still growing despite all the obstacles. If you want to see all the progress we’ve had so far, be sure to come back and check it out.

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Summer Gardening Series: The Planning and Planting

 

After a long bloggy break, I am finally back and ready to blog again. We’ve been busy this past spring, and the summer is not promising to be any less busy, but I wanted to share our raised garden bed gardening adventures with all of you. Like I mentioned in this post, in the past we’ve tried every single year, albeight unsuccessfully, to put in a regular garden, and sadly nothing would grow. And not for the lack of trying. Just something about the soil here, being all clay and rocks, as well as lack of sunshine in the spots we’ve picked out for the garden before, and of course, unfriendly little critters, would not allow any produce to grow, even if it would happen to sprout.

This year we decided to put in the raised garden bed. We knew that this would be quite an expense, and all upfront too, but decided that if we are going to bother wasting our time putting the garden in at all, we might as well do it correctly. In the second half of May my sweet husband (with the help of 2 little helpers) assembled and installed our new garden beds. I drew up the charts to scale, planning out what should go where. Both little boys were super excited to get their own little garden bed. We told them they could plant anything they wanted in it, but they would have to be the ones taking care of it, weeding it, watering it, etc. Even those “harsh” conditions couldn’t dampen their spirits 🙂

We went to one of the local nurseries and bought a lot of small plants (more than we were planning to). I could say, we got a little excited and carried away. And then… we had to find space to put it all. 🙂 Some of the plants had to even go into our Topsy Turvy Upside down planters (of which I didn’t even get a picture yet).

Here are some pictures of the garden as it was being put in about a month ago:

Little plants waiting to be planted
My older son Edward is excited to plant the tomatoes!
My younger son Connor is not any less excited about the cucumbers, which he loves to eat!
Connor is helping plant
Original garden layout plans
Edward with the tomato he planted in his garden bed
Both boys are helping plant together
Young cucumbers

And here’s what the garden ended up looking like on the day we put it in (before the fence was installed) 

Our garden
Boys’ garden bed
Little tiny new plants

 Tomorrow I will share a bit about the challenges we’ve encountered during this past month, so be sure to come back and check out my new post! How has your summer been?

Posted in children, frugal living, gardening | 3 Comments

Out of the mouths of the babes

I was getting out 2 cookies for Stan and myself to have tonight with tea, and Stan happened to ask about the box of girl scout cookies he noticed in the pantry. I told him they were still sealed, but that he could open them. He said, that no, that way they were zero calories 😉 At which point Connor, carefully listening to and absorbing this whole exchange, chimes in: “I want a calorie. Give me a calorie please!”  Both of us just melted into a puddle. How could you not give that little guy a cookie?

After he finished his cookie he piped up again: “I need another calorie! I need lots of calories!” 🙂 No kidding son. You DO need to grow, you know 🙂

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Later tonight, Edward, our 4-year-old,  decided to be a bit philosophical too:
 “You know what’s interesting? Connor is only one, and he talks so well! That’s very amazing!” 🙂

These two boys never stop to amaze me with their pearls of wisdom 😉

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