Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vacation Day 3

Today was another full day!  We visited our "home church"- the church we spent our first married years together in.  It was wonderful to see old friends.  Today was a special day at church-rather than a traditional service, just specials were sung by those who wanted, and a short message was given by the Children's Pastor.  Our oldest played the piano, my hubby played the piano and sang, and my father-in-law sang and played his guitar.  The service was followed by a fellowship dinner.  We had a great time!

After church, we separated ways.  The boys went to a friends house to hang out.  My hubby went 4 wheeler and motor bike riding with friends, and I went shopping and to a movie with a friend.  We all had a great time, and a late night!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Vacation Day 2

Today can be summed up by two words: water park!  I loved hanging out in the lazy river with the hubby.  The boys enjoyed the water slides.  Weather-wise it was the perfect day to be in the water.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Vacation Day 1

Our vacation began today.  We just plan to take each day as it comes-no real plans!  That is the best kind of vacation!  Today I slept in until 7:30 (that is sleeping in for me!), and then did my workout.  Next we headed south.  We stopped at the fried pie shop (thankfully I wasn't hungry so they weren't even tempting-but the family enjoyed theirs).  Then we spent a few hours with the in-laws.

They gave us some gift certificates to the Dead Fish Grill overlooking the lake.  We invited some friends to join us and had a great time visiting with them.  The food there was quite tasty (between the 4 of us, we had gumbo, steak, mahi mahi and a burger).  Unfortunately, the portions were very small, so we headed over to DQ for dessert (I just had a Sprite Zero, so I feel like did well calorie wise today!)  It was so good to catch up with old friends!

Here is the gorgeous view from our dinner table:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Big Reveal

We started Youth Pastoring at our church three or four months ago.  What we noticed immediately about the physical appearance of the youth room was that it was a bit on the junky side.  Junk was piled up all over the place.  The floors had multiple colors of paint where things had been painted around (the walls did too we later learned as the bulletin boards came down).  There was one whole wall devoted to scribbling.  The stage was awkward-four feet off the ground due to the storage of water tanks below the stage.  Here is one picture I found from shortly before we came on staff at the church.

We feel like many times in churches, the students are given what is last-the unwanted portion of the church.  In order to build a sense of belonging and importance in the students, my husband made plans of a new room layout and petitioned the church to renovate the youth room, to which they approved!  The renovation was planned to happen during the week of Youth Camp so there would be two full weeks to make all the changes.  We were excited to reveal the new youth room last night in service!  

Here are the pics of the renovation!

Front stage with overhead lights on:

Front stage with ambient lighting for service:

Back hangout area with overhead lights on:

Back hangout area with ambient lighting for relationship building time:

The lighting was as much as part of the renovation as the paint, stage changes, etc. because with the overhead lights, it becomes a useful room to other departments needing use of the room, but with the additional lighting, it meets the needs of bringing a youthful atmosphere to the room.

The youth and the youth sponsors loved the room!  We are so excited to see the change!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Couch to 5K Update

Two weeks ago I began the Couch to 5K program.  The first week went well, meaning I didn't miss any days.  I missed one morning, and ran at night instead, but I got it done.

The second week I began behind schedule.  I overslept on Day 1, and didn't have any time to complete it that day.  So I was one day behind the whole time.  Thankfully, there is an extra day built in for this reason-I just don't like using it up so early in the week, and I don't like that it means I have to wake up twice at 4AM during the work week just to get it done.  Regardless, I didn't let my dislike of the situation stop me from getting it done.

I am getting ready to go on vacation during most of Week 3.  I am nervous about not being able to complete this week-if we stay in a hotel that doesn't have a gym, for example.  The days I try to exercise on are Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday or Wednesday.  The main difficultly will be Sunday.  I am hoping for the best!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I could use some more fruit in my diet

People that act nice are easy to love!  It's the hateful people that I need to show love to.  That's not easy!  I try to remind myself of that cliche saying (but it's so true) "Hurting people hurt people."  When people act hateful to me, it is so easy to be mean back.  But my Bible tells me to turn the other cheek, and rise above that.  I need to learn to "be the better man" so to speak.

I am always printing out a Bible verse to tape to my computer at work when I need to meditate on something specific.  This week I printed out Galatians 5:23:  "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." 

When dealing with hateful people, I definitely need more fruit!  The Bible doesn't say when to stop producing fruit, either!  If they have been hateful for a week, a month, a year, at no time does He tell me to stop being loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, or in control of my actions.

My prayer is that He keeps bringing this scripture to my remembrance when I want to react my way to others' actions.  I'm thankful He never stopped being loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, good, faithful, gentle, or controlled when dealing with me-even though I have deserved it.

An exciting day!

I already knew today was going to be a great day when I got up. 

Today we celebrate our 14 year anniversary.  In some ways it seems like we just got married, but in other ways, it seems like we have been together forever.  This year also marks the year I have spent half my life with my hubby!  I cannot imagine living life without him!  One of the best decisions I have ever made!

In other exciting news-I stood on the scales this morning and I have dropped 5 pounds!  I tried on my dress pants, and sure enough, they fit again!  Yippee!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Get To Know You Games

Tonight we had a get-together at church for the 20-something crowd.  (No, we're not 20-something, but we are pastors at the church, so we got to go to meet everyone.)  The main goal of the evening was for everyone to get acquainted.  So, we played several get to know you games.

I have played many types of these games over the years, although the games tonight were a bit different than those I had played before.  They have one recurring theme, though.  As you are playing them, you are thinking to yourself, "This is probably the silliest thing I have ever done in my life."

But they do accomplish what their purpose is!  We walked around making animal noises.  We shot paper ball baskets backwards.  We lined up in order of our ages, how long we have attended church here, and our shoe sizes.  At the very end, we did something kind of like speed dating, only the point was to meet everyone.  Interesting take!  To top it off, we had barbecue along with potluck veggies and tons of cake.  It was lots of fun, and we got to meet some great people!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I'm So Thankful!

Every November, many people talk about what they are thankful for, as we are coming into the season of Thanksgiving.  I wish we could adopt this pattern of thankfulness year round.  "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever."  Psalm 107:1

So many blessings the Lord has given me!  I am thankful for a Christian family-a loving husband, and 2 teenage sons who love the Lord.  I am thankful to come home to a peaceful home each night!  I am thankful for financial blessings.  I am thankful for food in the fridge, and a place to call home.  I am thankful for a real church family.  I am thankful for a steady job in this tough economy.

I am thankful for my health, and the health of my family.  I am thankful He has made a way for us so many times, when there seemed to be no way.  Surely He has looked upon our family and smiled!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Some Days

Some days are easier than others when it comes to diet and exercise.

Some days my alarm goes off, and I get up and quickly get ready-my clothes have been set out the night before, and I am ready.

Some days I have time to eat breakfast at home, and I remember to bring my lunch to work.  Some days I check the restaurants website for calories before I go.

But then there are days when I get to bed late and forget to set my alarm.  My laundry is all dirty so it takes time to find clean running clothes, and before I know it I don't have time to run.

Some days I oversleep, so there is no time to eat breakfast.  On days like that I forget to bring lunch to work.  I hit the drive through.  Some days I get treated to lunch or dinner and have no idea of the calorie content of the food.

But through it all, I have to remind myself that some days are not all days.  I can't let some days dictate my whole life.  It's one bad meal.  It's one missed workout.

I have to remind myself that, as a whole, I am getting closer to my goal.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Many years ago, I bought my husband a paintball marker for Christmas.  It quickly became a family tradition to play with friends of the family each Christmas.  Much more paintball paraphenalia has been purchased since that time.  Our boys share the love of paintball, too, although they don't get the opportunity to play as often.  My husband has also run the paintball fields for Youth Camps for the past three summers.

Through all that, I have never played.  I have shot the hubby's marker a few times to see what it is like, but I just had no desire to get shot at and bruised up-especially since the group the family plays with is primarily men and boys.  They all would tell me, "It doesn't hurt.  It just stings a little."  Sure-I've seen the enormous bruises-how can you tell me that doesn't hurt?

We are at Youth Camp this week, and when I arrived at the paintball field, 4 of the girls and 5 of the guys from our church were in full gear ready to head out to the field.  But they had a problem-the guys had more people on their team.  I think this was the first time I had been asked to play when there was an actual whole team of girls.  It was my time!  I grabbed a marker and helmet and headed out to the field before I could change my mind!

The game that we played was guys versus girls, two shot elimination.  Having watched paintball for years, I determined that I would not be the person that bunkered down in a safe place for the whole game.  I was going to keep the game moving.  I ran quickly from bunker to bunker, taking a few shots, and moving closer to my opponents.  Since I did this, I got shot relatively quickly 3 times.  I surrendered and walked off the field.  Then I realized that no one cared about 2 shot elimination, so I masked back up, and went back out.  I played generally the same way, and as a result I ended up getting shot 3 more times.

It was a rush!  Despite having been shot six times, it truly didn't hurt!  (In fact I thought I had only been shot 5 times, and didn't discover the sixth wound until a couple hours later.)  I can now see what the big deal is, and why everyone says it is so much fun!  I can't wait until the next time I can go out!

Here is a picture of me with the girls after our game!

Here is a shot of my leg the morning after-it looks way worse than it feels!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Taming the Tongue

 I had so much fun taking this picture a few years back.  No, it's not real-but it could be.  How many times have I been quick to anger, and said things I've regretted?  I am glad there are no pictures to remember those moments by.  Unfortunately, just because there are no pictures, does not mean I haven't had to learn (and keep learning!) when to speak, and when to think quietly before answering. 

The book of James has so much wisdom for putting our faith and what we believe into action.  The area of taming the tongue is no different.  James 3 has much to say in verses 7-10 of The Message:  "This is scary.  You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue-it's never been done.  The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer.  With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women He made in His image.  Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!"

How can my tongue be compared to a tiger?  Is it really that bad?  How many times have I said something I later regretted?  Or followed up by saying, "I'm not saying anything I wouldn't say in front of her!"?  Maybe I need to re-think that-just because I wouldn't say something in front of whoever, doesn't mean I should say something in front of whoever.  Maybe God would just prefer I kept my mouth shut.  Maybe my negativity is just what that other person is feeding on-adding fuel to their fire, or giving them negative thoughts about others they would not have had otherwise.  But also, is what I am saying hurting my witness?

You've heard the old saying, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all!"  Surely there is some good in everything I can speak of.

I've been around people who are optimistic, and those who are pessimistic.  The optimists seem to always be able to find a piece of hope in a grim situation.  When I have gone through struggles, it is these people that I choose to talk to-they helped me to see the good when I wasn't able to.  Pessimists just bring you down-you go tell them an exciting idea you have or good news, and they find a way to let you know why or how it won't work, or what makes the news not so great.

I wonder how people perceive me-am I an optimist or a pessimist?  Do the words I speak bring people a glimmer of hope, or bring them down?  But more importantly-I wonder how God sees me?  Am I helping His Kingdom or hurting it by the words I choose to speak?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Inspired By Food, But Sadly No Time!

This is a busy week for our family!  Our church is at Youth Camp.  The hubby and boys are at camp, and I am working during the day, and going there at night.  Summer is always busy like this, and while I wouldn't have it any other way, I sometimes get inspired, but have no outlet for my inspiration due to lack of time.  Today is one of those days.

I checked a few blogs this morning, and in the process ended up at Food Gawker, which is an amazing website-you really must check it out!  I was immediately inspired!

I am not a great cook.  I can follow a recipe, but if the recipe is no good, I can't fix it.  I just have to trust in the recipe.  My husband is a chef, so he cooks most of the meals at our house.  When I do attempt to cook something, he frequently comes and "fixes" it for me-sometimes by my request, and sometimes when he notices that he might have to suffer by eating bad food (haha) although he would never admit that I'm sure.  All joking aside, I am always grateful when he comes and rescues my meals-even if I don't show it!

So this morning I was inspired by seeing all the wonderful things being prepared on Food Gawker, and it is one of those days when I would actually gladly find myself in the kitchen, if I were going to be at home.

Look at these awesome foods I found:

Homemade Ginger Ale (I am from Virginia where we drink Ginger Ale like Texans drink Dr Pepper.  It is one of the things I really miss about back home.)

Vanilla Cardamom French Toast (I love French Toast, but it never turns out the way I want it to.  This picture makes it look absolutely amazing!)

Cold Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Salad (I love the colors in this dish!)
Grilled Butterflied Brown Sugar Chicken (I am not completely sure how I feel about the brown sugar, but it just looks divine!  I cannot remember the last time we had bone-in, skin-on chicken on the grill, but the looks of this just makes my mouth water!)

Summer Squash and Chive Pancakes (My first experience with non-traditional pancakes were corn cakes, and they were amazing!  I think it is time to branch out, and use the last bit of our squash from the garden for the year.) 

Watermelon Hedgehog (Okay-this one I would never attempt on my own!  It would not turn out good!  But I love the creativity!)

Beehive Cake (Again-I would never attempt this on my own.  But it is adorable!  Perhaps I could hint to the hubby that this would be a great birthday cake for me this year?)

Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Mayonnaise (I thought nothing got better than fresh corn on the cob, but this just looks amazing!)

Old Fashioned Pull Apart Buns (I absolutely love homemade bread, although it has been years since I have made any.  I'll have to keep this recipe handy for when the weather starts coling off a bit.)
Maybe sometime when life slows down a little, I will look back at todays blog and get re-inspired to try a few of these dishes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Running motivation has arrived!

I planned well for my second run.  I set my alarm early to get up and run before church.  I knew where my shoes were.  I had a plan!

My alarm went off as planned, and my husband rolled over and told me we had to be at church early today.  But what about my plan?  I got ready for church, trying to figure out how to keep at this and not lose steam on my 2nd time out.  I would just have to run at night.

Running at night is not my favorite.  I have more energy in the mornings (although since it's Sunday that means I can fit a nap in to help my evening energy level).  And this is July in Texas-which means it will still be 100 degrees at 9pm.  Wait a minute-there I go making excuses again!

If I'm going to make this happen, I am just going to have to tough it out.  And I did!  I wouldn't let schedule changes and my preferences get in the way.  I made it happen because it needed to be a priority.

Yay!  A win for me!  (And on a side note-no itchy legs today!  Strange, but welcome!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Allergic to Exercise?

Yesterday was my first day back to exercising.  I ran and walked according to the Couch to 5K plan.  It is very similar to what I have done in the past to get started running-simply alternating between running and walking to get your body adjusted to running.  Overall I would have to say that I think it went very well.  I was able to keep up without feeling overly winded.  Despite making myself wake up to an alarm (if I hadn't I would not have had time to run), I had enough energy to get through the workout-although after the run I felt exhausted.

What I had forgotten about running, though, was this:  after running for about 5 minutes, my legs itch like crazy!  It starts on my legs and then spreads to my torso.  I try not to scratch, but it is the kind of itchiness that just drives you crazy until you give in and just scratch.  I remember having this from when I have run in the past, but I had forgotten the intensity.  When I run in the winter it never seemed quite as bad-I guess because of the tight fitting pants that I wear in the cold.  But, in this Texas heat, even at 6:30 in the morning, it is simply too hot to consider that.

In the past, I never thought much about the itchiness-right after my run I would get a shower, and it would stop immediately, until my next run.  This time around, though I was curious about why it was happening, and how to make it stop.  I had already broken my skin scratching it on day one, and knew that I certainly didn't need it to get any worse.

So I did what I always do-I googled away.  I found questions concerning itchiness while running on several running message boards.  What I found out is that it is incredibly normal (why hadn't I heard about it before then?), and that it will probably eventually go away or at least be reduced when I get in shape.  It is called exercise urticaria, and it is an allergic reaction to exercise!  How crazy is that!  Taking an antihistamine will mask the symptoms, although, I don't think I need to go that far for treatment.  So the next time someone tells you they are allergic to exercise-they might just be telling the truth!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I have been doing really well the past few days eating sensibly.  I feel like I can already see a difference in the way my pants fit!  I still need to start the Couch to 5K program, and I believe tomorrow morning is my time!  I'll set my running shoes out tonight as a reminder to myself.

I changed my facebook profile picture to this one for motivation earlier today.  It was taken shortly before I reached my goal last time I lost weight.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


The hubby was working late tonight, and he usually cooks, so instead of scrounging for leftovers, I decided that I would take advantage of all the vegetables we have growing, and make something with them.  One of the vegetables that I have not used yet (because they just recently started growing) is eggplant.  So I searched eggplant recipes, and decided on ratatouille.  I found this ratatouille recipe.

I didn't quite have all the ingredients, so I had to tweak it a bit.  Instead of regular olive oil, which I was out of, I used chili garlic infused olive oil.  We didn't plant zucchini, so I used summer squash in it's place.  I omitted the mushrooms (because we didn't have any and because I don't like them), and replaced the parmesan with shredded cheese (again-we were out of parmesan).  I figured the boys would like the cheesy-ness of the shredded cheese a little better than what parmesan would have to offer, anyhow.  It looked so colorful and pretty as I was putting it all together with reds, yellows, and greens!  I had a hard time waiting for it to finish cooking because it smelled so good, too!

I have a family of meat-eaters, and I was a bit concerned these veggies would not be filling enough for them, so I checked the fridge for any leftovers I could put with it.  I found a chicken breast, which I sliced and heated; and I found some bowtie pasta that had been tossed with cheese (probably queso fresco) and something green (probably green onion if I had to guess). 

The verdict:  I thought it was amazingly delicious!  The fresh garden tomatoes were full of flavor, as were the squash and green pepper.  The eggplant was really good, too, although next time I will be sure to use regular olive oil (surprise-after I started baking it I found it!)  The cheese did not seem out-of-place, which I had worried about.  The chicken and pasta were perfect accompaniments, too!  The boys felt a little differently, though.  They don't care for "weird" vegetables, and they barely picked at their plates.  Oh, well-more seconds for me!

Running for Missions

Several years ago I successfully lost 60 pounds.  I was within 10 pounds of my goal weight.  I had been motivated for 9 months to count calories and exercise 6 days a week.  Some life changes knocked me out of routine, and almost all of those pounds have slowly crept back.

I am unhappy, not only with the way I look, but with the way I feel.  I get winded easily and have trouble keeping up a quick pace for any length of time.  Several times since I have been gaining my weight back, I have attempted to lose weight again, but with no "luck".  (I guess I can't really use the word "luck"-truth is I just haven't stuck with it.)

I think if nothing else over the past few years I have learned that what I need can be summed up by simply one word:  motivation.  And so, I begin my journey again!  I have been eating reduced calories for a couple weeks now, but have not been exercising.  My excuse for this is lack of time.  I think it is a pretty valid excuse, but it is an excuse, nonetheless.  If I want to lose weight then I MUST make time for exercise.

To keep me motivated, I decided to sign up for a 5K Run/Walk at the end of October.  It is for "The Matam Project" whose purpose is to raise funds to build a school in Senegal, Africa, and spread the Word of God in a 0% Christian area.  That makes this not just about me, but about helping with missions, too.  It makes me feel like I HAVE to do this!

I did an internet search for the Couch to 5K program.  It requires only 3 days a week, which is something that I feel like I should be able to force into my schedule to start with.  Today begins my goal to drop 60 pounds.  To keep me accountable, I plan to update this blog somewhat regularly.  Knowing that I am going to have to "report back" somewhere will hopefully help keep me motivated, as well!

Let the journey begin!

Monday, July 11, 2011


I think everyone has one area in their life in which they continually struggle-that area for me is apathy.  I struggle with apathy most when I am hurt by someone.  A couple years ago, I was tremendously hurt by multiple Christians in our church.  The way that I typically choose to cope when I get hurt is by withdrawing from people and refusing to get close to people.  I have never been a "people person", but I began to take that to an extreme.  Life was fine as long as I didn’t have to trust people.  Shortly after I was hurt, I realized that withdrawing was taking it’s toll on me, and I needed to step out and trust people again.

I took an opportunity to trust, and was hurt again.  I felt like it was a slap in the face since the person I chose to trust this time knew my story, and knew what I had been through.  Life just didn’t seem fair.  Withdrawing only seemed fair, when nothing else did.  But my coping mechanism-withdrawing-made me apathetic.  I realized this one day when my husband called me with some exciting news,and I found myself knowing I should be excited, but yet couldn't muster up any excitement within me.

Not knowing what to do about it, I began searching for a way to get over my apathy.  Almost by accident I came across a podcast called Choosing Action Over Apathy.  It was a sermon by Jack Graham from Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.  I had never heard of him or his church before, but this sermon has helped me tremendously!

Here is some of what he had to say:
-Have a personal vision!  (This is something I was lacking, and knew I needed to work on.)  God calls us from doing nothing to being active, aggressive, obedient, joyful servants of Christ.  Don't be idle, and don't settle!

According to Pastor Graham, there are 3 virtues to help us move towards action from apathy:
1.  Obedience.  "Where there is no vision, the people perish."  Finding your purpose in life motivates you to obey God.  Vision produces passion!
2.  Diligence. Don't be slothful/lazy!  Have a strong work ethic.  Whatever you do in word or deed, do unto Christ, and not man!  It's about choices-choose diligence!
3.  Resilience.  Keep going even when you don't want to!  God has given us a life-what we do with it is our gift back to God.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I recently have been dealing with a great bit of work-related stress, and in turn, anxiety.  I turned to God and asked for change in the situation.  What He has given me, though, was the ability to cope with  the situation.  He has shown me that by changing my focus from the problem to Him, He is taking care of the situation.  The main way I have been able to effectively change my focus to Him is by replacing the negative thoughts with praise and worship music.  What an amazing difference!

Today in church, our pastor talked about suffering, and more specifically, how suffering grows patience and makes us better people.  His message re-emphasized so many points that I have been meditating on, and were a great reminder that "all things work together for the good to those who diligently seek Him" (Romans 8:28).  

Here were some of his scriptures:
-James 1:3 "because you know that that testing of your faith produces perseverance."
-Romans 5:3 "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance."
-James 5:11 "As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered.  You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally has brought about.  The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."

Some of our goals as Christians should be:  patience, maturity, confidence, faithfulness, and peace.  Tough times produce great people.  Our pastor said that whenever a hard time comes to you, let your response be "Thank God that He can trust me with this particular situation/suffering."

He brought up 2 more great verses to meditate on:
-1 Peter 4:1  "Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin."
-James 5:10  "Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord."

Russ finished up by giving us, as Christians, some actions to embrace:
-Building (spiritual) muscles

This was such a great reminder to me to stay strong, and to keep a positive attitude.  I love my church! :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011


We have so many cucumbers growing!  I am the only person in the family that likes cucumbers, but these just don't taste quite...good.  But I don't want to waste them, so I guess it is pickle time!  I don't care for dills (okay, that is a bit of an understatement-I despise dills), so I am concentrating on sweets and bread & butters.

Last weekend, I found a recipe here for refrigerator bread and butter pickles.  It was very simple-I just cooked the vinegar, sugar, and a few other ingredients to get the sugar to dissolve, and then covered my sliced cucumbers (sliced with a machine-not by hand) with the liquid, and refrigerated them for 24 hours.  Voila!  They were ready!  I thought they were delicious, but my family said they still tasted like cucumbers. I am hoping that in a couple weeks when they have had more time to meld together, the cucumber taste will have disappeared.

In the meantime, I have more cucumbers growing, and don't want to use the same recipe if no one but me likes them.  So I found another recipe today here that is for microwave bread and butter pickles.  I was getting ready to ignore the recipe because I kind of figured "who makes pickles in the microwave?", but then I read the "reviews" of the pickles below the recipe.  So many people have commented on how great they tasted, that I figured, "why not give it a try?  It's just one cucumber."  I made them this morning-this time slicing the cucumber long ways, and combining all ingredients in the microwave for 9 minutes before placing the concoction in a jar and in the fridge.  As soon as they are cooled they will be ready to eat.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Our First Garden

We have been married almost 14 years, and we have said for many of those years that we would like to plant a garden.  Many things prevented us with the follow-through:  living in a place that didn't allow gardens, knowledge that we would be moving in the middle of harvesting time, the initial investment, just to list a few.

We finally decided that this year was our year for the garden back in April or so.  We went to Home Depot and rented a tiller to till up our back yard.  We live in an area of Texas known for the limestone in the soil, so digging is difficult.  Raised in Virginia and with family in Ohio, I thought basements were a very common thing-not here-the limestone is too difficult to deal with, and expensive to remove.  The tilling took some time, especially since this area had never been tilled before.

Once that was done, we added a little potting soil, and planted small plants since we waited too long to plant seeds.  We planted several varieties of tomatoes, several varieties of peppers, squash, eggplant, cucumbers, okra, strawberries, watermelon, and cantalope.  I'm probably leaving some others out, but that's all I can think of at the moment.  The strawberries did not survive. 

The tomatoes and squash were the first to start growing.  I like tomato products, but am not a fan of eating a raw tomato; however, these are delicious with just a little salt.  Birds keep eating the tomatoes if we let them ripe on the vine, so as soon as they start to blush we have to pick them and let them finish ripening inside.  The squash we have eaten fried so far-a recipe from my father-in-law.  Yum!  I was starting to realize that we planted way too much for our family of four, but was not interested in canning.  We gave away a ton of produce at this point.

June is a very busy month for our family-there is literally no time to even eat at home, much less tend to a garden.  I was beginning to wonder what we were thinking planting a garden!  The weeds started taking over, but surprisingly, it was still flourishing.  We finally have had a little more time to spend on the garden, and have harvested a huge amount of veggies in the past couple weeks.  I ended up chopping and freezing some green bell peppers and some okra.  We bought some canning jars and a canner.  So far all we have canned is 1 quart of refrigerator bread and butter pickles, but we are planning for more.