Thursday, August 11, 2016

Since I've Been Gone: July

Hi friends! It's been soooooooooo long. I didn't even mean to take such a long break, it just kind of... happened. I've had a pretty full house since I've been gone, but sadly, it's now empty. My family came to visit for almost a month, and it was AWESOME. Awesome to see and have all my family here, but I did suffer a touch of writer's block. I meant to post the week before everyone got here, but each day was crammed with chores to get the house ready for family. It seemed like every night I went to bed before their visit with a to-do list for the next day pounding in my head. This left little thought for writing.

I got unexpectedly used to having people in the house. I'm a bit OCD, I like things in their place. Well, when you have 9 people staying in a 1700 sq ft house that normally houses 2 people, things get moved around. The first couple of days were hard to shake off the OCD, but at some point things changed. I was unperturbed (for the most part) by everything being moved, a spot of dust here, and the laundry left undone. I was pleased with myself by how well I handled it. I've changed a lot since my parent's first visit to the new house where I chased them around with a polishing rag for the whole trip :-)

And now that everyone is gone, I'm kind of sitting here like, 'What? I have to go back to normal life now? Fiddlesticks'. But the show must go on, and so must the blog. I've got tons to catch up on, so I'll split it into sections. Let's wrap up July first!

On July 1st, I harvested my first batch of carrots! These are the first carrots I've ever grown, and man, I'll be growing more next year. And hopefully over the winter. My grape tomatoes also started to ripen, and I harvested my first handful of strawberries.

Tiny little buggers, aren't they? I've been picking them for 6 weeks now, and I've got 1 quart-size Ziplock bag of them. Not the most prolific harvest. I'm contemplating transplanting 2 plants to pots, and using the patch where I grew strawberries to grow zucchini next year. I haven't decided yet, as my brother suggested that my 3rd-year harvest might exceed my 2nd. We'll see.

What else happened at the beginning of July? The 4 of July, of course. We had our niece and nephew stay with us the night before the holiday, and then we had the family barbecue at our house the next day.

My niece snuggling with her bed-time buddy. Haloti likes to sleep with whoever is staying in the guest room. Nieces, nephews, parents, siblings- he likes to sleep with them all :-)

The hubby worked extra, EXTRA hard to get the backyard ready for the holiday. And wouldn't you know it, it ended up raining cats and dogs ALL day. We moved the fun inside for some family twister instead. 

The girls working that twister board.

My niece loves selfies. I'm more partial to goofy selfies. Ha ha.

Our youngest nephew adores the dogs.

The hubby and his sister, goofing off :-)

After our big barbecue meal, the hubby's mother and our youngest nephew stole off for a nap.

Flash forward to July 18, and my parents were here! Mariota quickly warmed to my mom, but it took him about 5 days to adjust to my dad. Poor Dad!

July 23 was the hubby and I's 7-year anniversary. I loved that my parents were there to celebrate with us. After all, they were one of the few people present at our ceremony that lovely day 7 years ago :-)

We took my parents to Moyer's Vineyard Winery & Restaurant for dinner. It's a little restaurant about 45 minutes up the Ohio River from us (towards Cincinnati). The food and wine were excellent, and I brought home a peanut butter torte that the 4 of us ate on for 3 days!

We got the waitress to snap a picture of the 4 of us.

In garden news, my regular cucumber plant turned out to be a Mandurian cucumber plant. What a pleasant surprise! I planted regular cucumber starts this spring which ended up dying, so I picked up some late-season starts at my local nursery. They were simply labeled "cucumber". I'd had no idea what I'd picked up. Well, I'm here to tell you that these round cucumbers are awesome! Really mild and delicious. I'm going to save the seeds from my last cucumber and try to grow them next year. 

The aforementioned tiny berries. Still growing!

After harvesting all those carrots, I planted another round. It was hard keeping them hydrated enough at first, but I did, and now Round 2 is growing amazingly.

I also planted another round of green onions. I planted these from seed and they are growing like crazy. Oh, and that's a San Marzano photobombing in front of the photo.

I've got loads of cherry tomatoes. Thank you bees!

And speaking of bees, ours are obsessed with the pumpkin and zucchini flowers. They literally roll around in the flower to cover their body with pollen. It's pretty cute.

We've got loads of bumble bees too. Look at all the pollen on his leg!

This year, I grew some hyssop bushes from seed. Let me tell you, honey bees LOVE hyssop. I'll find 20-30 bees on 1 bush at any time of the day. I'm growing more next year, I'll plant them out in the woods if I have to!

The butterflies really like the hyssop too :-)

Our hives are building-out at exceptional rates. The hubby will be putting the honey super on our biggest hive any day now.

I've learned an important lesson this year when it comes to companion planting. Marigolds are great, but I'm not planting them in my raised beds again. I didn't realize how much 1 seed would spread! The marigolds are taking over the beds now, and I'm pretty sure they crowded out and killed my pumpkin and potatoes. Boo. Now I know though. 

Still loving those wildflower mixes. The flowers are gorgeous and attract many bugs that would be bad if they decided to chew on my zucchini or cucumber.

One of the weekends my parents were here, we took them to Serpent Mound. Serpent Mound is a National Historic Landmark in Ohio that is an ancient Indian earthwork. It was really interesting to see as I had no idea something like that was right in the area. And that tower in the above photo? My mom, the hubby, and I all climbed it. My dad chose not to :-)

Mom and I on top of the tower.

View from the tower. From up here, you can see how the earthwork looks like a serpent.

There was also a hiking trail at the park that we chose to meander on.

I gotta say, there were a ton of cool rock formations there. And I like rocks :-) After the hike, we headed back to town for sandwiches, fries, and plenty of beer at one of the local restaurants. 

I sure didn't share a lot of recipes in July, so here are a few of my favorite things I made in July. Numero Uno, I made Red Velvet Cupcakes on the 4th of July. Very patriotic!

Raspberry Peach Jam (recipe to follow soon!)

Garden Veggie Soup (recipe to follow soon!)

That's it friends, enough for today. I'm slowly going to try to get back into blogging. I must say, while I had this stretch of writer's block, I had a lot of thoughts about my New Year's goal of authenticity. Right before I left, I was feeling devoid of inspiration. I felt like every post was either lamenting the state of the world or a laundry list of a busy day's activities. I don't want my posts to be the same old-same old. I want to be creative and have something to say that means something. As Sara Bareilles would say, "Let your words be anything but empty". That's still something I'm working on. 

I'm also behind on reading and commenting! That's also something I'm going to be laboring on over the next couple of days. 

Have a great day friends!


  1. Yay, so good to see a post from you and to read about and see your wonderful July spent with family.

    Your garden looks great and how wonderful to eat your own produce.

    What a great quote from Sara Bareilles.

    Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

  2. P.S. I just watched that video 'Be Brave' and LOVED it. I am shy and timid and this was just great. :-)

    1. I really love that song. I first heard it about 2 years ago, and it's been on my Yoga playlist ever since. Such a good message, to be brave. It can be hard in Blogland, so it's good to have an audio reminder every now and then :-)

      Have a great week FlowerLady!

  3. Sara Bareilles is one of my favorites. "Love Song" is my all time favorite. Guess good taste runs in the Rhoades family! So happy you are back at the keyboard!

    1. Oh yes, I love Sara Bareilles! Very much so. I would say good taste runs in the Rhoades family, minus Dad and his blues obsession, LOL. Just kidding, Dad!

      It definitely feels good to be back! We had such a great time with you guys here, I can't wait until our next get-together :-)

  4. Goodness, but you were busy! And, it looks like a wonderful time! I feel your pain over all the work to get everything ready for the holiday, then the rain, and pull everything indoors. But, it all works out in the end, right?
    We learned a similar less on the companion planting, and tons of seedling already coming up! It was so pretty though... Lessons learned every year :)
    Glad to see you back!

    1. It all works out in the end, you are correct there Kris! :-)

      My only problem with these lessons is I only get 3 months of every year to work on them {shakes fist at sky}. I need to move somewhere where I can grow vegetables year round so I can speed up my education, LOL :-)

      Have a great week Kris!

  5. What a busy month! It looks like you guys had a blast though. We love having a house full of guests (most of the time anyway!) and it looks like you guys are excellent hosts!

    1. It was an awesome time. I just can't believe how fast the time went! I could have had my family for another 3 weeks, that would have been fine with me :-)

      Have a great week Carlee!


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