Friday, July 5, 2019

Our Summer Veggie Garden

A veggie garden changes everyday; you can almost watch the growth happen. And also, it happens so very quietly ... a spring garden turns so silently and so quickly into a summer garden. 

The first two photos (above) were taken on July 1st. My hubby and I just love our garden ... isn't it beautiful? This is our seventh year to be planting in this 10x30 foot spot on the west side of our house, up a bit on a little hill. It makes for a perfect view from our living room windows. 

It has grown quickly! Click here for a photo taken of the same spot just a bit over a month ago, on May 30th. And click here for another photo taken on June 20th, about two weeks ago. So amazing to see the growth!

What we thought were bush beans (labeled as such on the seed package) turned out to be pole beans. We purchased a little trellis fence for the beans to vine up on. The photo above was taken one week ago, on June 27th. The beans are in the foreground in the photo. We also are trying to contain the cucumber plants a bit with another little trellis fence (behind the beans). The cucumbers always really get carried away and try to take over the whole garden, it seems.

The cucumber plants are in the foreground in the photo above, with the green bean plants behind. (Photo taken July 1st.)

And here's a close-up photo of the green beans plants, July 1st.

We have two tomato plants this year, as they always produce so bountifully. This year we purchased bigger tomato cages, and got them in place just in time! The plants are growing fast!

So far we've been enjoy radishes, leaf lettuce, and romaine lettuce. The photo above shows a row shared by carrots and romaine.

At the north end of our garden is a border trellis which I love! We've tried planting several different things here over the years. And it's so great to have it looking beautiful this year again, as the past few years the rabbits have nibbled off what we planted. Our small electric garden fence has taken care of that problem this year. A bit later this summer these Hyacinth Bean plants should bear delicate rose-purple flowers.

Some of these photos are already outdated, as there has been significant growth even since these photos were taken 4 days ago. It is a joy to watch our veggie garden grow. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

BBQ Ranch Grilled Chicken & Veggie Bowls

This recipe post is an update of a previous one posted a few years ago (click here) ... and this recipe is absolutely delicious! It has been awhile since I have made it, and after having it again recently, I wonder why I have waited so long to prepare this dish again. It is listed as one of my favorite recipes on my "Our Family Recipes" page here on the blog.

There are several steps to preparing this dish, but the time spent is well worth it. First step is to prepare the rice and beans. (This would also make a good side dish to go along with other main dishes.)

Next you'll want to prepare the chicken breast to refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before grilling, basting it with Hidden Valley Honey BBQ Ranch Dressing. It's worth the purchase of this tasty dressing just to use with this recipe.

While the chicken is basting in the refrigerator, you'll grill the sliced zucchini and red pepper in a grill basket. You can also grill the corn-on-cob, or can choose to prepare frozen corn.

While the chicken breast is grilling, you slice up the avocodo. When all is prepared, spoon the cooked rice into bowls. Top with the sliced, cooked chicken, zucchini & bell peppers, corn, and avocado. Drizzle more of the dressing on top, and add some fresh cilantro, if desired. 

Click here for the recipe ingredients, for detailed instructions, and to print the recipe. You'll also see some beautiful photos of this dish! (Thanks to "Tastes Better from Scratch" blog for sharing this delicious recipe!)

An update from a previous recipe post.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Just Three Weeks Later

Three weeks of soaking up the rays of the sun and the nutrients from the soil and the rain. The seeds were planted in mid-May, and then this happened (photo above). Click here to see a photo of this same garden spot taken just three weeks ago. It has been amazing to watch the growth. I almost cannot believe my eyes ... just three weeks later, and you can see all the beauty in the photo above.

The growth has been steady. Day by day. It happened quietly; no noise and no fanfare. Just the various seeds and plant starts faithfully doing what they were created to do. Taking in the sun's rays, and soaking up the rain. 

The transformation takes place so slowly, so quietly; we are taken by surprise. The growth, hidden at first under the soil, then visible. Each morning we wake up to more growth. Slowly, but surely. The beauty captivates us; it feeds our souls. How do we even comprehend, how do we even explain the beauty of God's creation?

And I am reminded, and I am challenged. If you, and if I, faithfully pause our busyness to soak up the Word, and to open our eyes and our hearts up to His love and grace - daily, moment-by-moment throughout our days - what could happen? How would we be changed in even just three short weeks? If every day, every evening, and throughout the day ... we would pause, be still, and let Truth soak in deep to our hearts and our minds. If we open our eyes and our hearts through our days, in the midst of our days - watching, looking for all the ways that He loves us. 

It's a paradox; I cannot explain. To be still, is to grow. The seeds are silent, still. In position to receive. And then they grow. 

Be still, 
and know that I am God.
(Psalm 46:10 ESV)

And I desire the same. To be still is to receive. To faithfully pause, to soak up His Love and His Grace. The soaking up, the receiving, is what brings growth. To still our souls is to open the door to receive. To be what we were created to be. To grow into something beautiful. By His power alone. Becoming beautiful and fruitful. For Him.

"Growth is a natural result of being with God
and deeply connected to Him."

For He satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul,
He fills with good things.
(Psalm 107:9 NLT)

Monday, June 3, 2019

Slowing, Savoring, and Soaking Up the Sun

Spring brought the beauty of apple tree and peach tree blossoms, and our whole yard has been transformed into beautiful fresh shades of green. New life has sprung after the hard, cold winter.

The ground has been tilled, and the nutrients have been added to our veggie garden soil. This year we even have a new look to our veggie garden as my hubby put up an electric garden fence. The rabbits had a feast in our garden last summer, and we knew it was time to try a new approach. 

The patio planters have been mostly planted, though there are still a few to plant yet. I love all our pots of flowers, and last week I planted a few herbs: basil, parsley, and cilantro.

It's all been a process, in the midst of days of rain and also some cooler weather here and there. But now the months of April and May are past, and we're turning the page to a brand new month, and the season of summer!

And it has been the same with my heart ...

It is of crucial importance to tend to our hearts - to ask God to till up the soil of our hearts, to add the necessary nutrients for a new season of growth. I always long for new growth, for a freshness to come to my heart in the springtime. 

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
(Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

I've been aware of God's gentle tilling of my heart, adding blessed nutrients, and also weeding out the unnecessary and the harmful. It is a daily process. And I am thankful. 

And now, after the busyness that the spring months can bring with all the activity and all the celebrations, I'm reminded to pause, slow my pace, and just soak up His love and His grace. 

The new growth is beginning to pop up in our gardens and patio planters, and it's now a time of waiting; a time to be still, and soak up the sun. For it's in soaking up the sun and the rain that the beauty will appear. Over time. One day at a time.

And my heart needs the same. Summer calls me to still my heart, to just rest. To let my roots go down deep, soaking up the refreshing rains, and looking up to the Son.

"As you slow your pace,
savor God's Word,
and draw closer to God,
your soul will be fed."

"And when your soul 
is fed with God's love,
the overflow will 
pour out to others."

Lord, You are my rest, the source of all that I long for. May I pause, still my heart, and soak up Your Love this month of June. May I be as the veggie plants, the herbs, and the flowers - just resting, soaking up the life-giving rains and absorbing the energizing rays of the Son.

"You're my place of quiet retreat;
I wait for Your Word to renew me."
(Psalm 119:114 MSG)

Friday, May 31, 2019

A Collection: In the Yard, and In the Kitchen

I absolutely love the season of spring! It's a lovely time of year, and it's a busy time of year! And here I am, on this last day of May, with a short but sweet collection of just a few of the joys of this spring season.

After multiple trips to the nursery stores in the area, we have most all of our seeds and veggie & flower plants purchased! There is nothing quite as fun as planning for and starting up new garden spots! And I'm a lucky gal, with a hubby who has a green thumb! I am slowly learning ... 

And along with the beauty outdoors, there's the beauty of food on the table. This photo shows a new main dish salad recipe that I tried out in May, using bow-tie pasta, bacon, cherry tomatoes, red onion, a bit of pepper, shredded romaine lettuce, and some parsley - mixed together with some ranch salad dressing. A taste of spring!

A brand new cast-iron dutch oven - a wonderful Mother's Day gift from my dear hubby! I love the 6-quart size, and the beauty of this one - and, of course, love how it cooks up food evenly, and also can go from stovetop to oven. I've been using it for a few recipes already, and know it will be used a lot!

It's been awhile since I've made a pie, and so was a joy to prepare this one for Easter Sunday back in April. You can't really go wrong with a pie called "Coconut Cream Meringue Pie". I'll plan to post the recipe sometime in the coming weeks. 

And now, the month of June is right around the corner ... and I'll look forward to sharing some more collections of things that bring me joy in the summer months!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

My Favorite Things

What are your favorite things?

My (in)courage Devotional Bible, my journal, and my planner would have to be high on my list of favorite things. 

And I have quite a collection of these favorite things by this season of my life.

Above (top of pile) is my new planner for May/June: I use a version of bullet-style planners now, two months per notebook. This planner helps me keep my focus on the most important things for each week, each day.

In the middle of the pile (photo above), is my journal. It takes me about four months to fill up a journal. This one will carry me from May through August. My journal is where I connect deeply with God, writing as I am learning from Him, from His Word.

And my (in)courage Devotional Bible is my go-to Bible at this time. I love the extra space on each page to add notes, and I love the beauty of His Word along with the beautiful format of this Bible. His Word is our treasure; where we hear from Him, where we soak in His love and His truth.

These three favorite things hold my heart together, as my heart is filled to overflowing with all that God is teaching me in the quiet, and also in the midst of a busy life. All I do and all I am flows from my heart. It is critical to nurture our hearts.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
(Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him.
(Psalm 62: 5 NLT)

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Preparing the Soil

The start of a new month always calls me to a fresh focus, a new beginning. And in the spring, freshness is everywhere. I love the fresh air, the vibrant hues of green on our trees and in our lawns, the new flower starts, and the touch of color everywhere.

Spring brings new life in our yards, our flower beds, and our veggie gardens ... 

And it all starts
with the soil. We need to
prepare the soil, till up the soil,
add the necessary nutrients
to our garden spots, our planters.

It's the first step. A garden
or a patio planter needs soil,
good soil. Healthy soil will
produce the beautiful blooms, the
fresh homegrown produce.

And in an even deeper way, in the
midst of busy days and full lives,
we do not want to neglect to care
for the soil of our hearts. 
For everything comes from the heart. 

Does my heart feel crowded? 
Am I even able to hear His whispers?
How can I make room for heart-space
this new month, each new day?

Lord, will you work up the soil of
my heart, will you add the necessary
ingredients needed for new growth?
May I make it a priority this spring,
to tend to my heart.

"Let today be a fresh beginning 
to create heart-space so that 
the garden of your life will 
begin to truly flourish." 
(Whispers and Wildflowers)

"Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it."
(Proverbs 4:23 NIV)