Friday, June 27, 2014

Starting our Vegetable garden

In the first week of May, the ground finally thawed out enough that we could start digging our beds for our new vegetable garden.

This is my first vegetable garden EVER.  I am pretty good at flowers and plants but never attempted vegetables before.

The area just behind the house gets the most sun during the day, so we decided that was the best spot.

We made 3 big beds, each about 4 ft X 20 ft.

The hardest part was getting the layer of grass off the top. Tim and 2 of our sons, Patrick and Chris, helped us get the beds started.

Once we had the grass taken off the top, we used shovels to turn the dirt over and loosen it all up.

We added sand to help with drainage of the soil.

Tim tilled the sand in with the soil to get it mixed in really good.

We also added fertilizer (we used 10-10-10 brand fertilizer)  

We happened to have just enough bricks to go around all 3 beds

To protect the garden from squirrels and bunny rabbits, Tim put a fence around the entire garden. He left plenty of room inside the fence line so we could dig more beds in there. 

I painted a few bricks to use as garden markers so I could remember what we planted in each bed.
We started almost everything from seed, and we planted our seeds directly into the garden beds around May 15th.

After a few days, everything began to grow. 
This pic was taken in early June


Tim's sister gave us some Raspberry starters from her garden. We planted them in a new bed that we dug out along one side of the fence.
The first year, these raspberries won't bear much fruit (if any at all). As they grow and spread their roots, we should have plenty of raspberries from these plants next year.

Randi also gave us some Strawberry starters. Same as the raspberries, these strawberries won't bear much fruit the first year. Next year we should have a lot more berries from these plants.

This pic was taken a few weeks ago, just as everything was beginning to grow.

As of today, some of those tomato plants are about 4 feet tall!
The cucumber plants have grown so much lately they seem to be trying to take over the whole garden. I had to cut some of them back last night to keep them from overtaking the tomatoes.

More pics and garden updates coming soon!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What's goin' on??

It's been a long time since I've written a blog post, and several people have messaged me asking where I went.

I'm here..........I have overloaded my daily schedule and it's taking me longer than I thought it would to straighten things out. If you know me personally, you know I am more of a "planner" and not too good at last minute stuff.
Well, I had some last minute stuff come up with my day job and I don't have my brain wrapped around these changes quite yet........but I'm working on it.

Here, let me explain:

In a nutshell, I have had the same day job for the last 8 years.
It's been a great job and I was shocked at the end of 2013 when I found out that my department was closing due to budget cuts. I knew my job would end in May 2014 and I scrambled to try to figure out what to do. It took me some time to re-group but I finally came up with a plan for myself.

I started Travel Agent training so I could open my own TA business. Here is my post about how I decided to become a travel agent.

I was also planning to open my Ebay store back up and sell my jewelry again. I like to make beaded jewelry, and I did OK selling some of it a few years ago.

I also decided since I would be working from home from now on, I would start my very first vegetable garden in our back yard. I figured those 3 things would keep me busy and also bring a little money in, the vegetable garden would help cut grocery costs.

I spent the first half of 2014 gearing up for my day job to end and my new Travel Agent and Jewelry businesses to start. I worked really hard and spent a lot of time to get my 2 new businesses off the ground by the time my day job was to end.

Then, just ONE day before my day job was over, my boss found me another position with the company.

Of course, I accepted it............with so many people looking for good jobs with steady paychecks, I felt I had to keep the day job since it was offered to me.

I started the new position about 2 weeks ago, and it's quite different than my previous position. I do basically the same job (with some variations) but now it's in a totally different setting.

Here is my cozy cubicle office I have had for the last several years:

And now.........I find myself behind this counter, in a huge atrium lobby.'s the same job but different...............and it's taking some time for me to get used to it.
It's a much farther commute, and now I work 5 days a week instead of 4.

As for my Travel Agency, my jewelry business, and my garden??  I'm still trying to work it all in, and I'll admit I'm completely overloaded.

I'll get used to the new day job position in time, and I'll work the rest in too somehow. At this point I am not willing to give up the travel agency or the jewelry business (or the day job).

Things like this blog and my DIY projects around the house have been put on hold for now. I do miss keeping up this blog so I'll try to post as often as I can. Hopefully I can get my life under control and resume my projects AND writing here on a semi-regular basis.

For now, here is an update on whats been happening around here in the last few months:

Here is some  BIG news:
My birth mother wants to meet me! WOW!

(It's about time, I've only been waiting 48 years for this)

Here is the post I wrote about my adoption and my birth mom (AND MY BROTHERS!!!!)  if you are curious about the story. (beware: it's a really long post)

So anyway, I have been in touch with a friend of my birth mom, who was kind enough to search for my brothers and I.
She sent us some cards our birth mom had written for us, and we are trying to arrange a meeting in St Louis in the next month or so to have lunch (or something like that) with our birth mom.  I'll definitely post about it here if and when it happens.

Here is the inside of my card from my birth mom. This is the first time she has ever acknowledged me as her daughter (you can read about that in the link above)

It's actually petty huge that she wrote that card to me. It feels very good.

I'm still listening to my audio books (with headphones) when I lay down to go to sleep at night. Lately I am re-listening to one of my old favorites:

We've been grilling A LOT lately. It keeps the house from getting hot from the oven being on, and I have found the clean up is much easier when grilling. No pots and pans!!

I think I was supposed to empty out some grease collecting tray under the grill, but I didn't know it was there.

So I caught the entire grill on fire about 3 weeks ago.

The fire was so bad it burned the knobs off the front of the grill. We did save the dinner I was grilling though.

I'm so glad Timmy was home when that happened. He pulled the propane tank out from under the grill just as the rubber tube connecting the grill to the propane tank was catching on fire.

Timmy saved the day and all was well, although our grill is unusable. 
He bought us a new grill, and it should be delivered soon. 
Now I know about the grease pan, so hopefully I won't catch this one on fire.

Timmy went on a weekend motorcycle trip in May. They drove all around Arkansas for three days. 
I snapped this picture of him just as he was packed and ready to head out at 5:00 AM that morning. 
It was 33 degrees out when he left and he must have been cold (although he wouldn't admit it if he was).
Thats way too cold for me to be on a motorcycle. I'm pretty sure I got back into our warm bed after he left and went back to sleep.
He had a good time and I'm glad he got to go for a long ride and also spend some time with his guy friends.

Now I have a fun little trip coming up. I have a travel agent convention in LAS VEGAS!!
I'm SO excited! 
First of all, I've never been to any kind of convention in my life, so this will be interesting (and fun!) to be an actual participant at a convention. Also, it's a travel agent convention, so I'm especially excited to meet people and learn more about the biz. I am really enjoying being a TA, and this should be really helpful to my business. 
The other part that I'm excited about is VEGAS!!! I lived there for a short time, but haven't been to Vegas in about 10 years now. I'm sure it's changed a lot in 10 years, I can't wait to see.
 My sister decided to join me while I'm in Vegas. We have traveled a lot together over the years. Most recently we did Disney World together a few years ago, we cruised together last September, and I went with her on her business trip to New York City last March. Since we don't live in the same state, traveling together is a good way for us to spend sister time together. (we have a Seattle trip coming up in August too!)

Last week my convention badge card came in the mail. This is the card for the lanyard that I'll wear around my neck - it will be so fun to be part of a REAL convention!

In preparation for Vegas, my friend told me about a facebook game I could play to win show tix, free meals, etc... for my Vegas trip. It's a gambling game and its totally free (you can opt to pay, but I played for free).

It took me about 2 months of playing to win my 3 prizes, and I did pretty good!  
In exchange for playing, I got "gold coins". I exchanged the gold coins in for certificates for free buffets at some of the MGM hotels.
Here is my certificate for 2 free buffets at the Mirage!
( I can not get this pic to turn the right way, sorry!)

I also won free buffets for my sis and I at MGM Grand and Aria hotels for this trip.

On the homefront, we really want to rip out our entire bathroom and start over.
We aren't quite ready to do that yet, so meanwhile, I asked Tim if we could remove the giant sink that didn't work anyway, and replace it with a smaller sink.

It would be nice to have more room in this bathroom.

Since he's a sweetheart, he bought a new sink and went to work on removing the old sink.

He ran into some problems when one of the old pipes (in the wall) broke and he had to do some pipe repair he hadn't planned on doing. He had to tear out the lower half of the wall behind the sink to fix the pipes.

He got the pipes fixed, the drywall replaced and the new sink in.
I LOVE IT!! (But so sorry Tim had to go through ALL THAT trouble to replace a sink for me)

We still have to tape and mud the drywall and repaint. Maybe a whole new color scheme? I'm tired of the brown.
 The bathroom looks so much better with the smaller sink.

Outside, I have spent the last month planting THOUSANDS of seeds.
We did start the vegetable garden in Mid-may, and I planted hundreds of vegetable seeds (more about that coming in a new post), and

I also planted hundreds of flower seeds in the front yard, in the flower beds and in pots.
The buds are just now coming up, here is my sage:

I have climbing vine flowers coming up all along this temporary fence. Eventually there will be a privacy fence here, but for now maybe the flowers will climb up the wire fence and look pretty.

These were seeds a few weeks ago, they are growing pretty fast now:

Marigolds in my big black pot:
It's been raining so much this past week, my poor baby flower plants and vegetables are out there drowning. I hope they survive.

I managed to get the back porch cleaned up. That was a huge job. It was a mess in there and it took me a whole weekend to make it look nice.
My overgrown plants are happy to be out on the porch. They love it out there.

And the new patio has been getting some use this summer.
Now if it would only stop raining, I'd love to paint that old porch swing.

Timmy welded up some steel scraps he had and made this fire ring for our back yard.
It's really awesome, and I have wanted one of these for a while now.
If we decide this is a good spot for it, permanently, we may get those curved bricks/blocks and build a little round wall around it.

Standing on the back patio looking out into the back yard, it's starting to take shape. 
You can see the garden, and I have another post coming (hopefully this week) about our garden progress.

I think I've hit the most important happenings around here in the last few months.
I'll try to come back and post as often as I can..............