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The past couple of weeks have been quite busy with helping others with their landscapes, writing articles, keeping up with the kids, throwing a baby shower and my first television appearance thrown in to boot.


You would think that all of that would be enough to keep me preoccupied.  But, there was something else going on during those two weeks that made me very happy.



My second oldest daughter, Rachele, came home on leave for the first time since leaving for the Navy 5 months ago.

She has finished with her much of her Navy training and we couldn’t wait to see her.  

While my husband and I had seen her in Chicago after she graduated from basic training in May, the kids hadn’t seen her for a long time.

Once she arrived, the kids were overjoyed to have their big sister back in the house.  Rachele was happy that the dogs remembered her and so did her cat.


Rachele had a full schedule of seeing family and friends while she was home.  She would often return home late at night and fall asleep on the couch.


Even though she was busy, she did find time to work on her 1970 VW Bug with her dad, changing the oil.


For her last night home, we had the family over for dinner (my oldest daughter and her family).

It was rather bittersweet to see her go.  She is off to Gulfport, Mississippi for more training where she will learn navigation, survival skills and advanced first aid.  Earlier this week she had to hike through the swamp & woods to learn navigation.

Rachele will be back in 1 month for a couple of days before she heads to her permanent base in Southern California.  I am so glad that she will only be a few hours away so we will be able to see her more often when she is not deployed.

In the meantime, life carries on with my other kids and work.  But now, I have a little more time to spend with the newest addition to our family…


Meet Penny – our black labrador retriever.  

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I hope you are having a good week.  

I am off to see a sick citrus tree tomorrow…
Spring is my favorite time in the garden.  Is it yours?

Plants are in full bloom and my vegetable garden is filled with both cool-season and a few warm-season crops.

Today, I thought that I would take you to the ‘farm’ to see how my mother’s vegetable garden is growing.


The ‘farm’ is nicknamed “Double S Farms” by the family.  It is just down the road from our house and is a favorite place for all the family to gather.


My mother has two raised vegetable beds and she loves tending her vegetables.

One bed is dedicated to cool-season crops that will soon give way to warm-season vegetables.


She still has lettuce growing, which she uses to make delicious salads when we all gather together for dinner on Tuesday nights.


The broccoli has gone to flower, but it looks so pretty, that she keeps it in the garden.

Do you see the orange flower in the background of the photo, above?  That is a marigold, which is a great ‘companion’ plant for the vegetable garden because it helps to repel bad bugs who might eat her vegetables.


While we spend time looking at the vegetable gardens, the neighbor’s tortoise stops briefly, to see what we are doing from the other side of the fence.


The second vegetable garden was built by the family as a surprise for my mother’s birthday over a year ago.

She has started her warm-season crops in it, including tomatoes, summer squash and gourds.


Sugar snap peas (one of my favorite vegetables) hang from vines growing on a small trellis.


The newest vegetable bed is also home to…


A toad, which is helpful with insect control.

He recently moved from his previous home next to the chicken coop.  My nephew, who is a Star Wars fan, gave him a special name.


While the toad keeps bugs in control around the vegetable gardens – Francie, the resident ‘naked-neck’ chicken, patrols for bugs outside of the garden.

As you can see, spring has sprung at the family farm.  

Soon, summer will be here which heralds another favorite activity…


Picking peaches and making jam!

How about you?
What is growing in your garden this spring?

Will you grow something different this year?
WISHING YOU 
A
VERY
BLESSED
CHRISTMAS

From my family to yours.

**Thank you for taking time out of your day to read what I write.  I am so grateful and I have much more planned for the coming year.

Warning….


There might be a few mentions of my cute granddaughter as well.  (Yes, I HAVE turned into one of ‘those’ grandma’s 😉
Yesterday afternoon, I spent some time having my picture taken.
I must admit, that I don’t like having my picture taken much.  I end up feeling self-conscious and start thinking about how ‘weird’ my expression must look (which is why I didn’t mind posing for the photo, above 😉
Unfortunately, I did need some photos for articles and my other blog that I write for.  I had put it off for a long time But I needed to get my kids annual photos taken AND I had obtained the services of a very talented, up and coming photographer for their photos.  So, it made sense for me to get my pictures done at the same time.
You may be wondering what photographer I was able to engage.  Well, I am blessed that my youngest sister, Grace, is a fabulous photographer.  

She takes photos for other families and for some businesses as well.  She also posts great pictures on her blog FinleyandOliver.com
At this point, I should mention that we haven’t gotten our kids pictures taken at school for a long time.  I got tired of their ‘fake’ smiles, messy hair and the fact that they looked nothing like their normal selves.  So, I have taken ‘school’ pictures of them every year.
This year was going to be the best because my sister was going to take their pictures instead of me…
  
 I love this photo of my three youngest.  This will be the photo we give to the grandmas for Christmas.
They each had their picture taken separately and it was so fun to see my sister in action – she is so good posing the kids and making them feel relaxed.

Then, it was my turn...
  
My sister knows me so well – especially all my ‘quirks’ and hang-ups and the fact that I don’t feel all that comfortable as the sole subject in a picture.  So, she kept talking to me while I was posing – making me feel much more comfortable.

My sister’s dog, Soda Pop, came over to visit while we were taking pictures(Soda is the daughter of my dog, Missy.) 

I had brought some props over from my garden.  An old watering can that I planted annuals in, an antique blue bottle with cosmos from my garden and some gardening tools.

At this point, I was getting more comfortable and we were almost finished; when my sister said, “We need to get a picture of you holding a chicken.”
So, she rushed off to find her friendliest chicken, “Francie”, who is a ‘naked-neck’ chicken.

 I think Francie did better then I did posing for this picture 😉
I am so thankful for my sister’s great photography skills and her ability to work with a ‘difficult’ subject (me).  I might just schedule another photo shoot next year :-)

A couple of months ago, I filmed a series of ten “how-to” gardening videos for SheKnows.com

Five of the videos are ready and are online for you to view, if you like.

 “How to Start Seeds Indoors”

 “Growing Herbs in a Pot” 

“Tips for Starting Your Own Vegetable Garden”


“Adding Soil Amendments to Your Soil”


“Dig the Perfect Hole for Your Plant”

*I will add additional videos as soon as they become available.

**My brother called me and said that although he has never read my blog (he doesn’t read any blogs) – he told me he was nervous when he started to watch my first “how-to” video.  I’m not sure how I should take that – but after he saw it, he said he really liked it 🙂