Thursday, May 28, 2009

Vegetable Garden

We have attempted to grow a vegetable garden every year since moving into our house over three years ago.  

2006:  Nick did all the work.  We enjoyed lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and other delights all summer long.

2007:  I took over.  The lettuce and mesclun started off OK, but eventually my lack of watering and weeding condemned the entire garden to failure.

2008:  The garden was my responsibility again.  I was now a stay-at-home-mom with all the time in the world, what could go wrong?  It turns out that having a baby at the end of April was not the best timing, gardening-wise.  Even the lettuce went to seed in about two seconds; the only success was a few stubby carrots that managed to find some sun in spite of the weeds.  

I have high hopes for 2009!  Last fall I amended the soil and put down a thick mulch of pine needles from our front yard after reading that Colorado soil tends to be alkaline.  I was also spoiled by the incredibly flavorful garlic sold at our local farmer's markets.  When my stash ran out in October I took a gamble and planted my last head of garlic.  Check it out, it looks like I may be harvesting twenty or so heads of garlic in a just a few weeks!  I wish I could peek underground and see how they're doing.

We have this fenced dog run in our back yard, and we decided this would be a perfect place for a veggie garden just in case some rabbits try to sneak in.  Sure, it's not as convenient as a raised garden bed, but it is nice to have such a large dedicated space.  This weekend I planted lettuce, mesclun, carrots, basil, cucumbers, zucchini, purple bush beans, yellow banana peppers, and yellow pear, jelly bean, and roma tomatoes (thanks to a trade with a neighbor).  I only planted seeds, so this picture is not very impressive...yet!

I started these tomatoes and peppers from seed this year, and the poor things are pretty sad.  I know, I should cut my losses and buy some thriving tomato plants at the nursery, but I have been nurturing these babies with such hope for the past ten weeks, and I just couldn't bear to give up on them when it came time to transplant into the ground.  

Nick built a trellis against the house to guide our clematis flowers.  I decided this would be the perfect place to plant sugar snap peas this year.  I think I'll pick up some chicken wire to help guide these guys up to the first rung of the trellis (I actually drove all the way to Lowe's today before realizing that I left my wallet at home, so hopefully I get around to this soon!).  The seeds I planted a few weeks ago have sprouted into 12 plants, each about 8" tall.

Finally, we have the raspberry bushes.  These have been weakly surviving for the last three years, basically emerging as sticks with a few tasty berries.  This year, we noticed a little shoot coming up in the peony bed a few feet away.  Hmmmm...are these guys being hindered by the weed barrier at their feet?  I cut back the weed barrier and now we have dozens of new shoots coming up!  Hopefully we get more raspberries than we can eat this year, especially the yellow variety, as they are the sweetest.

Does anyone know what this perky little volunteer could be?

I'll be sure to show off my bounteous harvest as the season progresses!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

On Sunday, we had to wake up Baby from a nap when it was time to go to church.  I HATE waking up a sleeping baby, since to me, every nap is a miracle.  Nick and I tiptoed into her room and somehow our presence didn't automatically wake her up.  I realized that it's been so long since I've gotten to see Baby sleeping!  When she was just a few months old, we would sneak into her room every night for a "Baby Viewing".  Eventually, she became a lighter sleeper and we are no longer that brave.  I thought I'd dig up some old pictures of our Sleeping Beauty just for fun.

At the hospital when Baby was one day old.

The drive home from the hospital.

A "baby nap" with Daddy.  I miss those!

Baby always sleeps with her "dukes up".

Enjoying a nap in the baby sling.

Baby can't fool us when she's tired.  She rubs those eyes like crazy!

Sunday's interrupted nap.  Would you want to wake this angel up?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hiking in Fox Run Regional Park

Baby and I went hiking this morning with our friends Tammy and Aysha (and Aysha's 4 month old baby) at Fox Run Regional Park near the Monument/Black Forest area.  This park is a short drive from Colorado Springs; just head North on I-25, turn East on Baptist Rd., then South on Roller Coaster Road after 4 miles.  The trailhead is easy to find on the right side of the street after about 0.2 miles.  

A beautiful sunny Colorado day

One of my goals with this blog was to provide pictures and descriptions of family-friendly hikes within 45 minutes of Colorado Springs.  I have had a difficult time finding that kind of information anywhere other than the Gazette's website (which doesn't have any pictures), so if you know of any other local hiking blogs, please send me a link!  In fact, when I googled (actually swagbuck-ed) "Colorado Springs hiking blog", it said "did you mean:  Colorado Springs hiking blong?".  Wow.   I just really like to see pictures of a trail before making the drive so I figure that other people would too.  That being said, I usually forget that I brought a camera until that last quarter mile or so, which explains my lack of hiking posts so far!

Baby is getting heavier every day, so we chose a pretty easy trail.  The Red Fox Loop at Fox Run Regional Park is only 3-5 miles long with very little elevation gain (about 200 feet) and plenty of shade.  That's why they call it Black Forest, I suppose!  Tammy pointed out that the dried sap from these ponderosa pine trees can be chewed like gum, but I wasn't brave enough to try it.  If you follow the Gazette's directions, you will be taking the full 5 mile loop around the perimeter of the Fallen Timbers Wilderness Area.  Unfortunately, we missed the right turn at 0.75 miles and ended up taking a short cut through the center of the park, making the walk about 3 miles.  

The gazebo on Aspen lake.

The highlight of the hike?  The Gazette doesn't even mention the beautiful, well-maintained lakes right smack-dab in the middle of the park!  Children were wading in the upper one, Spruce Lake, and dogs catching frisbees in the lower one, Aspen Lake (Baby used her only word, "doggy", very cute).  The ponds were full of fat goldfish and white ducks, and Aysha noticed a turtle.  A beautiful gazebo extends into Aspen Lake, and there is even an amphitheatre with 4 or 5 rows of seating cut into the hill nearby that could probably hold about 100 people.  There is a parking lot here, so you could easily drive in for a picnic if you didn't feel like hiking.  

The amphitheatre between the two lakes.

Scattered throughout the park are signs describing local flora and fauna, including a variety of mushrooms.  The Gazette describes this trail as a favorite of cross-country skiers in wintertime, but I would definitely recommend it as an escape on the hottest summer days.  The entire hike is in the shade of the ponderosa pine, and then you are rewarded with a quick dip in the pond; although the signs said "no swimming", I'm sure you wouldn't get arrested for cooling your feet in the water.  

Babymodeling her birthday sunglasses for probably the last time.  She refused to wear them hiking today.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Have you heard of Swagbucks?

Search & Win

I discovered this weird search engine that rewards you for using it.  Every time that you complete a search with Swagbucks, you enter for a chance to randomly win points that can be redeemed for a variety of prizes, including books, video games, musical instruments, gift cards, and more.  I'm saving my points for an gift card so I can buy whatever I want!  

I know what you're love Google, so why trust some random new search engine?  Swagbucks is actually powered by Google, and I've tested both and found that they produce identical results (just a different layout).  I've been using it for a couple weeks and have earned 31 swagbucks so far.  To give you an idea of what that means, you can get a $5 gift card to for 45 swagbucks.  It'll take a while to earn prizes, but I use search engines all the time, so why not be rewarded for it?  

I'm only blogging about this for my own selfish benefit :).  For each of my friends that signs up, I will be rewarded with Swagbucks whenever you are rewarded!  The same will happen for you when you invite friends of your own.  Search and win!

If you decide to sign up, would you mind leaving a comment here to let me know?  Thanks!

Thanks to Common Sense with Money for the tip!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Baby's First Birthday Party

Three weeks later I'm finally getting around to posting about Baby's birthday. It reminds me of my college newspaper days (advertising, not reporting -- obviously) with our slogan of "bringing you yesterday's news tomorrow".

We just had a few family members over to celebrate, partly because we have a small house and partly because Baby doesn't have any friends to speak of yet. I borrowed a "ball pit" from my friend Cindy for Baby's enjoyment while opening gifts, and she really raked in with a bike trailer, books, clothes, and toys.

Call me crazy, but I'm one of those moms that never let sugar pass those sweet little lips until she turned one (although I'm sure she developed a healthy addiction during the pregnancy and from mommy's milk). Here she is enjoying a huge piece of chocolate cake. I will spare you the torture of listening to everyone sing "Happy Birthday" and just include a couple seconds of pigging out.

On Baby's first day home from the hospital at the age of 3 days, I remember tearing up thinking about how this precious little angel would soon be growing and walking and talking! Well, we haven't quite hit the walking milestone yet, but it's amazing how much she has changed. I'm proud of surviving the first year of mommyhood and having a blast getting to know Baby's cute little personality.

In this next video, try to ignore the part where she stabs herself in the eye with a knife, ok?

Happy Birthday!