I Love Tuesdays

Ever since my family and I have gone completely organic when it comes to food and household products, it has been difficult to stay on budget and be creative with meals.  But then I heard about a company called Washington's Green Grocer

On Tuesdays, I get this box.




From the outside, it looks like your typical cardboard box.  But then you open it up and see this.



Oh it is so exciting.  You start digging and it seems like a bottomless box packed full of fresh produce.  I always put it all out on a table and just admire it for a moment before putting it all away.



Splendid.




This is their SMALL box of organic produce and costs $37.75.  It delivered right to my front door for no extra charge.  There must be like 20 pounds of fruits and veggies there.  The food is fresh, local, delicious, nutritious and affordable.  It's about as close as you can get to having your own garden.  So it saves us money and gas, is certified organic and supports local and seasonal agriculture.  It is a win all around.

Every Monday morning, they send me an email with a list of all the produce that will be in the box.  At that point, I can log on to my account and replace things I do not like or need with other fruits and vegetables they have available.  You do not usually get that option with a regular CSA so that is a great feature of Washington's Green Grocer.  They have different boxes sizes and also conventional and organic options.  You can even do all fruits or all veggies if you want to.  Also, unlike a regular CSA, you do not have to pay for an entire year in advance.  You pay week to week and cancel or start up again whenever you want to.  Needless to say, this is the most flexible CSA program I have found - and I have researched this quite a bit.

Their box prices range from $31.25 to $44.25.  Washington's Green Grocer also have a great selection of a la cart veggies and fruits, bulk items, baking supplies, bread, meat, dairy products and feature new items from local companies each week.  You could do all your shopping right from your laptop and never have to leave the house.  It's a really sweet set-up and I am thankful that I found them.

If any of you are interested in trying out this program, please let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook.  They have several delivery options for several cities in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.  Normally, they do not deliver to Greenwood but they made a special exception for me since my house since it is right on their route to the beach from the Bay Bridge.  They have generously offered to drop of boxes here for family, friends, readers and anyone else in Greenwood that wants a delivery. So let me know and we will set something up for you.

Think about it - you could enjoy Tuesdays as much as I do!

Note - Washington's Green Grocer did not provide the produce or any compensation for this post.  I just can't contain my excitement when I can get a good deal on fresh and delicious produce.  I had to share it with you all!

Summer Squash Caprese Salad

I love fall.  It is definitely my favorite season.  Something about it just feels - right. 


But for some reason I am clinging onto summer this year.  My new found love and appreciation of vegetables has me reaching towards the last zucchini, squash and vine ripened tomatoes at the market.  So this salad was sort of a goodbye to summer for me.  It is time to start embracing the warm comfort food of fall and be in anticipation for another summer full of these flavors grown right in our own soil.


I have said before that it is tough to beat the tomato and basil combination.  And this salad showcases that flavor profile so well.  The fresh summer squash give it a crunch and the tomatoes add just the right acidic bite.  Topping it with the basil right before serving gives that fresh and slightly lemony flavor that really gives a good nod to summertime.

Enjoy!



Summer Squash Caprese Salad
adapted slightly from Practical Paleo

2 large zucchini, shredded
2 small yellow squash, shredded
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup basil, torn or chopped

Toss the first four ingredients together and allow place in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour.  Top with the fresh basil, mix and serve.  This was delicious served alone but would make a great topping on some crusty multi-grain bread, too!
 

Homestead Update - End of September

Lately, I have been feeling this sense of urgency inside to become more sustainable.  I do not think it is caused by the upcoming election or the countless articles about rising food costs and GMO debates.  I believe it is a prompting within my spirit to start utilizing wisdom and allowing God to provide through the land and resources He has given us.  I am so thankful for our 1.5 acre parcel of lower Delaware and I want to ensure that we are using it as wisely as possible.  So the theme of this month has been dreaming and planning. 

We have taken time to list all the things that we wish we could do as homesteaders.  That includes acres of cattle pasture, a hundred or so free range chickens, a green house and large family garden.  However, we are limited by deed restrictions, county set backs and acreage.  So we have to prioritize and be realistic with what we can actually do and be thankful for that.  We have gotten it down to three main priorities.

Garden
Chickens
Milk Source (goat or mini dairy cow)

We believe we can at least accomplish all three of these goals within the next few years while still leaving some play and relaxation space for our family to enjoy.  This leaves us with only having to purchase beef, grains and pantry items (nuts, oils, flours, etc.) at the store or from a reputable bulk food supplier.  This should also cut a large dent out of our household budget.

Of course, we need to do this as inexpensively as possible and we also need to make a call to planning and zoning to check on the guidelines we must follow to do everything legally.  It's a lot of work but I know it will all pay off in the end.  And I have a peace in my spirit about it as long as we keep it simple and do everything slowly.  There is no way we could make all these changes all at once - it would be impossible.  God leads us to do things one small step at a time as He provides.  Such a loving Father!

In the meantime, I wanted to give you an update on how things are going around here. Even though we never got the garden we had planned into the ground, we still got quite a bit of produce that we were able to enjoy fresh and lots that I was able to freeze and can. Even though I still have a lot to learn about preserving, I feel more comfortable doing it than I did last year. So that is good progress. We have also enjoyed our patio quite a bit this year. We have eaten dinner out there a few times and enjoy it on cool evenings as a family. Joshua loves being outside so we take advantage of that as much as we can.

The raised beds have been our workhorse this season.  They produce so much for very little effort.  Even if I ignore weeding for weeks, it usually only takes ten minutes to get everything back in order.  I am hoping to have more of these some day.

 
I finally figured out how to grow lettuce.  The small mounds work extremely well and I get to enjoy truly fresh salads whenever I want to.  The plan is to cover these during the winter to extend the growing season.  I am trying to find a great and cheap way to do it.  Any suggestions?

 
 
I planted a small fall crop of green beans and want to do a few more rows to help offset some veggie costs in the beginning of the winter. 
 
 
These moss roses are my first rose experience.  I hope to have a small rose garden somewhere on our property someday.  These have been beautiful because they have been blooming for almost two months.  They are yellow and light pink.
 
 
These herbs are getting clipped soon.  The basil will be turned into pesto and the others will be chopped and frozen with water into ice cube trays to add to dishes I make throughout the winter.  Brilliant idea, huh?  My Mom thought of that.
 
 
Our asparagus bed is coming in nicely.  We planted two year old crowns.  Next spring, we should have some delicious green and purple asparagus to enjoy!
 
 
These Jerusalem Artichokes started off with three TINY plants.  They have grown into this gorgeous display of green foliage and yellow flowers.  The flowers were a real surprise to me.  I had no idea they would be this beautiful!  We have had fun watching these grow and multiply.
 

We are hoping to borrow some tarps from friends and family to lay down in our new garden bed area.  We found that with the size of this year's garden and its distance from the house, it was not easy to care for.  So this year, we are going smaller and are planting around our patio and raised bed area.  So we are going to lay down tarps to kill the grass weeds  and then till it under a few times.  Then, we will spread some organic manure and compost and allow that to sit over the winter.  Come spring, we should have beautiful soil to plant in.  We are so excited!

How is your fall garden looking?  Any projects you are working on now to prepare for next spring?

Brookmere Winery and Vineyard Inn

Our family recently spent the weekend in Belleville, Pennsylvania for the Sharp Family Reunion.  This is Anthony's favorite family tradition so he looks forward to it every year.  We always stay in "the cabin" which is a cute house on a mountain in Big Valley, where his ancestors are from.  While I absolutely love seeing his family and experiencing Amish Country for a weekend, the cabin was not a good option for us with a small child.  There are usually at least 20 people in there at a time and he is not used to that much commotion at night. 

So we went searching for a quieter place to stay.  With a tight travel budget in mind, I called several places and finally reached Brookmere Winery and Vineyard Inn.  Even though the owners were going to be out of town that weekend, she said she would bring in a chef to cook us breakfast.  A chef was cooking breakfast for us... we were getting our own room... and our own bathroom... for $125 a night.  I did not hesitate booking it.  Since there were not many pictures of the Inn online, we headed up to Belleville on Friday without knowing what to expect.  To say we were pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. 

This is what you see when you first pull into the driveway.  It is a grand mansion right next to a luscious vineyard.  The grounds are immaculately maintained.




I could not wait to get inside.  When you first walk in, you enter the beautiful eat in kitchen.  There is a massive fireplace and table with several chairs and the kitchen is also lovely and well stocked.  We were able to use the refrigerator and freezer for all of Joshua's snacks and meals that I had brought with us. 



Cheryl, who owns the Inn with her husband, Ed, greeted us at the door and gave us a tour of the entire mansion.  Their vacation plans moved to a different week so we were able to meet them.  Everything was perfect.  I was delighted to see where we would be spending the weekend.  Our bedroom was so bright and comfortable.  The bathroom was a dream.  Every corner of the home was beautifully restored and decorated.  We even had our own balcony that could be accessed by both our bedroom and bathroom.






There was a large living room there which is where we spent most of our time with our family that also stayed at the Inn.  We brought the baby monitor with us so when Joshua went to bed or down for a nap, we made our way down here to relax and play games.  This room boasted great views of their beautiful gardens and pavilion which you can rent for special events.






I already mentioned that this Inn is seated right next to a vineyard.  Well Cheryl and Ed own that as well and these vines produce some of the best wine I have ever tasted.  There is a great store right next to the Inn so you can stop in anytime and pick up and bottle (or two).

  



The owners were extremely hospitable and accommodating.  I began a grain free diet the week before we went on vacation and she made sure to include options for me in the delicious breakfasts that we enjoyed so that I would not have to cheat on my new eating plan.  Each time we saw them, they were friendly and made sure that we had everything we needed for a good stay.  

Anthony and I are planning on booking the same room at the Vineyard Inn for the reunion next year and I cannot wait to go back.  I highly recommend this as a perfect place to stay to enjoy the Amish country.  Their phone number is (717) 935-5380 or you can visit their website for more information (www.brookmerewine.com).

Love Always Wins

First I want to thank you all for continuing to visit my little slice of the web even though it has been weeks since my last post.  It has been encouraging to see the page views go up even though not much has been invested on my end lately.  I am truly blessed by my faithful readers.


Anthony and I miscarried our baby almost two weeks ago.  We were 15 weeks along and I started having complications.  We went to the hospital where they confirmed with a sonogram that although there was a developing baby, there was no heartbeat. 


This has been the hardest thing we have ever had to go through.  There is so much temptation to blame myself and dwell on the negative side of all of this.  However, we have decided to acknowledge The Truth and move forward.  God loves us and is always good.  We know that He never creates life to destroy it and it was not His will for this precious child to die.  We live in a fallen world where bad things happen that sometimes cannot be explained... and we have accepted that.  We are incredibly thankful that our child will never be affected by the cares of this world and that it is being very well taken care of by our loving Father.  Although we will miss seeing it grow and fulfill God's purpose, we have peace knowing that we will see it, hold its hand and hear it laugh one day.  Satan may think he won, but he hasn't.  Love always wins.   God turns ALL things together for good (Romans 8:28).


At times, the grief overtakes me.  But I was encouraged this week by a pastor that said, "You cannot avoid grief but you can avoid the destruction that grief can cause."  I have Joshua to focus on and he certainly keeps me distracted.  It would be a shame to allow the grief to determine all my thoughts and actions.  He needs me to be a good Mommy and I cannot do that if I constantly focus on the negative. It is OK to cry sometimes and grieve but I refuse to allow it to control my life.  God is teaching me so much about His Love right now and I am thankful.  I need this revelation if I want to truly experience Him in this life.


I will try to post some pictures of Joshua, our patio and garden soon.  Both have taken a back burner to morning sickness and everything else the past few weeks so we spent some time catching up this weekend.  And by catching up I mean composting the dead flowers and mowing the weed plot that used to be our garden.  There is still some hope remaining for a few of the plants but I will go over all that in my next post.


Again - Thank you all for your faithful support and patience with me as we go through this time in our lives.  You encourage me more than you will ever know.

The Reality





Things you can see in this picture...

  • Toys.  Everywhere.
  • My son playing with an empty cup and a toilet paper roll even though there are toys everywhere.
  • Food Network on TV.  Sometimes, this stays on all day.  Yesterday, the satellite shut itself off after six hours of inactivity.  
  • A cold cup of coffee.
  • Dirty diapers on the floor.
  • An empty dish of applesauce and yogurt - because I cannot seem to find the energy to make Joshua more delicious fruit purees.
  • Toys. Everywhere.
  • My son using a pacifier.  Yes - He is nine months old an still has one.  No - I have no idea when or how we will have him give them up.  No - I am not worried about it.
  • A vase of peonies that are clearly dead.  But I can't throw them out.  My Mom gave them to me last Sunday and they are beautiful and glamorous and remind me of our wedding day.
  • A stack of Andrew Wommack books and DVDs.  Some have been read/watched and some have not.  It is sort of like a literal to do list.
  • Toys. Everywhere.
  • Joshua isn't wearing socks and the ceiling fan is on.  I wonder how many more times I will have to defend myself on this issue.  When I put socks on him, he pulls them off.  Then, he tries to eat them and gags himself.  I pick chilly feet over choking child.  Sometimes, motherhood is about the lesser of two evils. 
  • Pillows blocking Joshua from the TV receiver where he reprograms things by pressing random buttons.  We need to get a gate. 

Things you cannot see in this picture...

  • More. Toys. Everywhere.
  • A dirty kitchen floor, kitchen sink full of dishes and a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded.
  • A garden full of weeds.
  • Flowers, shrubs and trees that need to be planted.
  • A car that needs to be washed.
  • An unfinished not-started hutch painting project.
  • An unfinished not-started bathroom art project.
  • My greasy hair.
  • The sweatpants I have worn for three days.
  • A stinky trash can.
  • A fridge full of leftover frozen pizza, glazed donuts and cookie dough.
  • The fact that I had to peel our son off the stairs twenty times in the 30 minutes it took me to write this post.
  • My dark eye circles.
  • My out of control eye brows because I had to cancel my waxing appointment yesterday due to a napping child.
  • Dusty furniture.  (Maybe you can see that from this picture...)
  • Those horrible pink rings you get in our toilets.
  • Those horrible pink rings you get around your shower drains.
  • Nearly dead plants on the front porch.
  • Dirty windows, dusty baseboards and dusty window blinds.  
  • A stack of unreconciled bank statements.
  • The fact that I am now harassing my husband about freshening up the mulch in our yard before we have 25 people here for a BBQ on Memorial Day.  Because apparently people will show up and immediately leave when they see bare dirt and landscape fabric in our flower beds.
  • Strawberries that need to be picked.
  • Strawberries that need to be cleaned and frozen.
  • Beds that need to be made.
  • A HUGE pile of laundry.
  • And now... a nine month old sitting in a dirty diaper and still playing with an empty cup and a toilet paper roll.  And his feet.



Just wanted to give you a little snap shot of my reality.  As a blogger, it is really easy to paint a picture of what we wish our lives always look like.  But, that is just not realistic.  


I am learning that even in the midst of some not so peaceful circumstances, I can be peaceful.


Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27


For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6


God never promised that our circumstances would be perfect but He did promise us that we would have peace.  Today, I would encourage you to acknowledge the peace that you have.  Stop giving life to the circumstances and give life to The Truth of His Word.  Because, dear friends, that is what produces real peace.  And that is what we need to be truly successful women.


Even though this entire list is my reality, the TRUTH is that I am more content than I have ever been.  God gives me the grace I need to truly love my life.  I am one blessed woman!

Priorities

This is a really busy time around our home.  Joshua is in the crawling and standing phase.  The days of him being content in his activity jumper are over and now he is always getting into mischief.  Discipline has become a part of parenting for us since he seems to find every electrical cord and outlet in the house.  Although tiring and frustrating at times, I really love this phase he is in.  He is learning and growing and it is such a blessing to be a part of that. 


It is also planting season for our garden.  Getting the garden ready was more work this year than I had anticipated.  Thankfully, I have not had the extreme fatigue with this pregnancy that I had with Joshua so I have been able to work on it a little bit everyday.  Although it will be worth it when our freezer is full of home grown fruits and vegetables, the planning, planting, maintaining, harvesting and preserving takes a lot of time.


Then there is the business of being a homemaker.  The cooking, cleaning and laundry are all daily tasks that cannot be ignored.  There is always something to do and the list seems to grow with each passing day. 


With all of this going on, it is so easy to allow the business of life to get in the way of what is truly important - renewing my mind with God's Word. 


Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Pslam 1:1-3


This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 
Joshua 1:8


If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
John 15:7


There are a lot of Scriptures that explain the importance of God's Word and what it has the ability to produce in our lives.  I have always believed that we make time for the things that are important to us.  We make time to sleep, exercise, work, watch TV and to spend time with family and friends.  Job said, "I have esteemed the words of his (God's) mouth more than my necessary food."  He did not just say that God's Word is more important than his mid morning snack or after dinner dessert.  He said they are more important than his necessary food - the food he needs to survive!  What an incredible perspective.


That is exactly the perspective that all Christians should have.  We need a real revelation of the importance of God's Word and what it can produce in our lives. 


It produces health to ALL your flesh?  (Proverbs 4:20-22) 
It produces prosperity.  (Joshua 1:8) 
It stops the power of sin in our lives.  (Psalm 119:11) 
It gives us wisdom and direction. (Psalm 119:105)  
It gives us life and peace. (Romans 8:6)
It cleanses our minds. (Ephesians 5:26)
It tells us who we really are. (James 1:23)


We need to understand everything that Christ died to give us so that when things come up in our lives we can say, "Was his provided at The Cross?"  Did Jesus provide strife, sickness, poverty, guilt and condemnation?  According to the Bible, He provided peace, healing, prosperity and freedom from sin and its effects on us.  Our circumstances will not reveal this to us.  When we look around us, we may not always see the things that Jesus provided.  This does not mean they are not there.  It just means we have submitted to satan is some area of our lives and we need to realize that Jesus has redeemed us from the curse and rise above those negative circumstances (Galatians 3:13 and James 4:7).


How do we do his?


By spending time in His Word.


No amount of list making, gardening, cooking or cleaning will bring us true and lasting victory.  The only thing that will do this is His Word.


During this busy season, I encourage all of you to believe that God will give you an awesome revelation of the importance of His Word.  Ask Him to give you a glimpse of what your life SHOULD look like and allow that to challenge you to submit to him and resist the things that He has not provided for you.  As difficult as it may be to understand or believe that words on a page will actually make a difference in your life and circumstances, it is true.  God wants you in His Word so much more than you do.  He will give you more of a desire if you ask him and choose to make it a priority.

Paul said that to be carnally minded is death and to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6).  Carnal things are not always sinful.  Our tasks as wives and mothers are mostly carnal.  If all you ever think about are those things, it will NOT produce life and peace.  And that is exactly what satan wants.  He wants you to be constantly distracted with carnal things because it brings death. Remember that the only thing he does is kill, steal and destroy.  All of those carnal things will eventually leave you tired and frustrated.  If we want real life and peace, we have to discipline ourselves to think spiritually.


As you do this, please share your victories with me!  It will bless me as well as other readers.


This post is linked to the Homestead Revival Barn Hop.