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This blog chronicles the adventures I share with my husband, daughter and son. It is also a place to share what I am learning as a homemaker, gardener, book lover and homeschooling mother. Welcome.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

because, strawberries

A few years ago I purchased a handful of strawberry plants for fun from Stark Bros. when I purchased our blackberry bushes. I didn't realize how much room strawberries would need to grow since they vine so rapidly. Due to transplanting to a new place each year (for space) we really haven't reaped much from the plants.

In the fall of 2015 we moved about 50 plants to a new location with not the best of soil. Last Spring nothing was harvested and we really just forgot about the plants except for the occasional moment of weeding.

This year, though, there is no forgetting these plants. For the past two weeks we have been harvesting almost daily and are already over the 50 pound mark! The fruit tastes amazing fresh, and that is mostly how we have been eating them. I've also make a strawberry syrup which tastes heavenly over homemade waffles, and we've been enjoying strawberries in our salads, with lettuce and kale fresh from the garden. A strawberry pie has been repeatedly requested, and, yes, I really do need to make one! I also have been able to put 20 quarts in the freezer for later in the year and shared many with neighbors and family.

Since we were not expecting anything from these plants, I think just because we hadn't reaped much from them yet, this is quite the surprise for May and gives me one other reason to love my favorite season of Spring.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

the april garden

lemon balm (background) & oregano (foreground)

kale, lettuce & spinach

strawberry plants

clockwise from top left: carrots, garlic & onions

25 lbs. of russet seed potatoes for planting

We have had an abundant amount of rainfall this Spring and we are so thankful that everything is bright green and healthy! Any seeds that have been planted (kale, spinach, lettuce, carrots, potatoes) have already sprouted, and most of the herbs, tomatoes, peppers and onions that were purchased as small plants are happy and survived the strong winds from Spring storms. Perennial herbs such as lemon balm, oregano and sage are already thriving and I've begun to harvest and dry oregano already. The strawberry plants love their new location and it looks like this year's harvest will make up for what we did not reap last year due to transplanting. 

Last year I weighed everything from the garden except greens and herbs. I think because they weigh so little and I frequently run outside and grab what I need in the moment right before a meal, that it's more tedious to make the effort. However, it really doesn't take that much time and I'm curious enough to want to find out how much we actually harvest of those items so I think I'll be motivated this year. From gardens measuring almost 1,000 square feet we hope to use our space even more wisely this year and grow more than the 500 pounds we did last year.

2017 Produce in Pounds (Ounces so far!)
12 ounces - Oregano
5 ounces - Kale
5 ounces - Strawberries

Thursday, April 27, 2017

april in pictures


strawberry blossoms

reading/writing/drawing american ladies

crabapple blossoms



nerf night with the church youth group

apple tree blossoms

first lady florence harding

easter sunday

robin's nest just outside the kitchen window

olympus mons experiment 

peony blooms - these usually don't appear until mother's day weekend!

The month of April juxtaposes beginnings and endings.

All the greens with accompanying blooms signify, that yes!, Spring is here.The plants survived and the sun and warmth are our regular days now. An unseasonably warm Spring means the blooms are early this year,and I'll take the grace because seeing the beauty and the life right outside my windows is a great gift.

The end of the month of  April signifies the completion of our school book work. According to Missouri state law I can keep tracking hours through the month of June, but our workbooks will be put away and our days will be more "free." Teacher and students are equally welcoming the time.

We finished the year with math (always), dictation (usually hymns), scripture memorization,studying astronomy (Roone) and studying prominent American women (Ella). The frequent question for us is whether or not we will home school through high school. The answer to that question could be a very long post, but the short answer is, what we are doing is working so why change? 

April has also brought the first, albeit small, harvests from the garden, but I'll save those for a garden specific post.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

10 of 40: pa-huska nature trail

sun-dappled selfie

April sped by without any hiking until this past weekend. We are diligently finishing school work, preparing the vegetable garden, beginning new events for the children and prepping a home project. Hiking hasn't been on the forefront of our minds. It was with this in mind that we took the long hikes in March. They really tided me over knowing we wouldn't be out in the woods as much in April. The warm weather (and ticks) come out soon, so Summer will have less hikes too.

The hike this past Saturday was sweet, though. It was simple, mostly a stroll, rather than a rocky hike and at 2.2 miles was short enough that it didn't take a half day because we didn't have that much time to give it. The Pa-Huska Nature Trail is at Lake Jacomo. It seems there are three trail heads and we actually began on one not marked (this is characteristic of us!). The marked trail head is at Sailboat Cove, which we did see on the hike and even saw sailboats since it was lovely weather.

The woods are turning bright green and it is wonderful! Such beauty. And the blooms! They really were the feature presentation of the day. My favorite was the may apple. I have seen the plant before, but not the bloom. We saw blankets of blooms on this hike, and to me that was very special. The plants grow low to the ground and the bloom is under the "umbrella" so you have to squat to actually see (and photograph) the beauty. 

It seems that each trail we hike has something memorable for me about it and the may apples take the cake on this one. The refreshment, as always, was a gift and the time with Jesse and the children, as always, so fun. I did see a couple of white-tailed deer (I think because I was at the back of group and the kids scared them), but mostly I think we are too loud (laughing and chatting) to see much wildlife although Jesse is on a mission, I think, to minimize our volume. 

I should mention this trail is a loop and doesn't seem connected to other trails so the odds of getting lost are minimal, but it is currently not marked the most clearly and has a broken bridge unable to be crossed. I would love to be able to label the above blooms, but am in need of further education on the topic and have Missouri Wildflowers on my list.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

9 of 40: horsethief canyon trail

Another day trip we took soon after our Ha Ha Tonka State Park adventure was to Kanopolis State Park. Having another day to spare, but not wanting to spend a night away from home we found this park just south of Salina, KS about four hours away from the Kansas City area. We rarely cross the state line into Kansas for hiking, it really is mostly flat land, but there are some amazingly pretty scenic spots and we found one. I always like to be impressed with a hike, and this one did just that.

After a south west drive through the farmlands we came to the state park. The canyons pictured below can't be seen unless you are in them, so beginning the hike I was skeptical! Just a few feet on the Horsethief Canyon Trail and the beautiful sandstone formations were to be seen. It took us about four hours to hike 4.8 miles. The trail took us up through the formations, into prairie and near the river. 

The recent hike at Ha Ha Tonka was heavily populated on a warm day. The Horsethief Canyon trail was remote, although we did see about 15 people over the course of our time there, and the weather cool and overcast. The contrast from our time at Ha Ha Tonka was nice. The sun on these open trails would have been a bit bright and hot.

There are many miles of trails at this state park and it would be a good place to revisit and camp overnight.