Yard & Garden

There are two months around here that always seem super busy with yard/garden work: April and October, the beginning and the end of gardening season, and the shift between inside and outside.


Here are some highlights of what’s been happening in April (so far):

  • firewood collecting has ended
  • lawn mowing has begun
  • walks deep into the woods have ended
  • walks along the established paths in the woods have started
  • the front yard has been completely cleared of debris from the winter
  • the area where the new pool will go is being leveled
  • 2 of the 4 garden beds have been prepped and planted
    • lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, green onions, peas
    • strawberries
  • garden bed 3 is being turned under
  • compost beds 1 and 2 are both being filled
  • herb and flower bed is being planned
  • talks have been had about possibly buying a tiller (right now all garden work is done with hand tools and elbow grease)
  • talks have been had about how far apart to space trees in the meadow turned new woods
  • cistern 2 is being dug
  • trench from cistern 1 to cistern 2 is complete
  • trench from cistern 2 to creek bed is complete
  • old rabbit yard is cleared of debris
  • east backyard has been cleared of debris
  • laundry is being hung outside again — and it is delightful
  • the driveway is being used as a driveway and a staging area for clean-up piles


The past two tornados have been hard on our woods. I’d estimate we’ve lost about a third of our trees. We started clearing the downed wood starting at the south end of the woods and moving northward. It has kept us in firewood for 4 years. We’re only about half way done. There is still a lot down that needs to be cut up. Our guys don’t work in the woods during the spring, summer and fall. Too much poison ivy and Michael is super allergic.

Our woods were littered with a zillion things from the tornados. Its rough work getting it all out of there. I found 6 tires and hauled them up to the driveway. Today I spotted about 4 more — sigh. I’m not quite sure how you dispose of used tires, but I suppose I’ll make some calls and find out.

Tasks to be finished in April – May include:

  • continue lawn mowing
  • continue walks on the established paths of the woods
  • finish leveling pool area
  • install pool
  • plan deck for around pool and price out options.
  • get two rockers for the front porch
  • get a new hammock (just the fabric part)
  • complete prep of garden bed 3 and plant
  • start and complete prep of garden bed 4
  • finalize plans for herb & flower bed
  • continue work on cistern 2
  • clear west backyard of debris
  • call about dumpster, if needed
  • plant 1 cherry and 1 plum tree
  • plant willow branches in wet spots
  • plant Mothers’ Day trees


more language, an update

More language . . . less social media, an update on my progress.


Since my first post on Feb 11, 2018 about re-learning German for my depth year project, I have steadily worked my way through 10 beginner readers, 5 intermediate readers, most of the Duolingo app, and a grammar book.

I recently started reading and listening to the Harry Potter series in German. I didn’t anticipate it being this challenging, but I am slowly working my way through. It helps that I love the stories and am familiar with them. The vocabulary is the biggest challenge as many of the words aren’t in my dictionary (admittedly it is a very old dictionary, 1985).

I’ve noticed that after a reading session I am more mentally tired and that naturally seems to make me want to move my body rather than sitting still. So I am getting in some extra movement.

For more posts about my Depth Year: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7


Reading: Harry Potter 1 (German), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Glass Houses (Gamache #13, L Penny), The Book of Three (L Alexander)

Listening: Harry Potter 1 (German)

Watching:  Krypton


Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials


The kitchen is a tough area to minimize, at least for me. That said, I would never voluntarily give up my InstaPot. It can (and often does) replace many of my pots, pans, and specialty items.  It is my pressure cooker, my slow cooker, my rice maker, cake pan, stock pot, and so much more.

My favorite things to make in the IP are chicken (and then turning the broth into stock — Yum and so good for you), roast (for roast beef and also for beef stew, beef stock), beans (from bag to done in less than an hour), and rice (again, from bag to done in about 30 minutes). I tend not to make super complicated recipes, but I tend to not do that for any reason.


Reading:  Glass Houses (Gamache #13, L Penny), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Listening:  Harry Potter 1 (in German)





Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials


There are weeks that go by when I don’t use the Vitamix and then there are months that go by when I use it daily. It has a lot to do with smoothies. In the Spring, Summer, and early Fall when I crave a smoothie to break my fast the machine gets daily use. In the late fall and winter, I want and crave warm foods and the machine sits tucked away and nearly forgotten.

I was gifted this Vitamix 10 years ago.  I’m not sure if I would have paid quite this much for a blender. I’ve seen others that might be just as good. I can attest to the fact that this thing is a workhorse. It chomps through ice, through frozen fruit, and it makes a piping hot squash soup — provided the squash is hot when you put in in the pitcher.


Reading:  Glass Houses (Gamache #13, L Penny), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Heidis Fruhstuck (German), Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Listening:  Harry Potter 1 (in German)



meals in bowls

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I primarily eat my meals out of a pasta bowl.  I’ve been doing this for about 8 years. It started when my husband was in an period of unemployment and we were looking for satisfying ways to have lunch when it was just the two of us at home.

We called them Buddha bowls from the story:

A monk said to Chao Chou, “I have just entered this monastery. Please teach me.”
Chao Chou said, “Have you eaten your rice gruel?”
The monk said, “Yes, I have.”
Chao Chou said, “Wash your bowl.”
The monk understood.

Our bowls were cheap, easy, and quick to put together.  The formula is quite simple and you can change it up in a never-ending of photos.

  • base of greens (kale, spinach, arugula, romaine)
  • scoop of grain or starchy vegetables (rice, quinoa, sweet potato, potato)
  • scoop of protein (beans, fish, chicken, turkey . . .)
  • two scoops of veggies (red peppers, carrot, onion, broccoli, cauliflower . . .)
  • a spoon of toppings (jalapeño, bacon, nuts, seeds, parmesan, feta,  . . .)
  • drizzle with sauce (salsa, tahini/garlic, guacamole, green goddess, cucumber-yoghurt, spicy peanut . . .)

Each week I cook a big batch of grain (2 lb bag), 2 bags of beans (1 lb each), and chop up all the veggies. It is all kept in the fridge and each day I just pull out what I feel like having and. load up my bowl.

*Today’s post includes pictures I have taken this week of my lunches.

Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce:

  • grate 1 cucumber
  • mince 1 clove garlic
  • mix with 1 cup yogurt
  • you can add: mint leaves and lemon juice too

Guacamole Sauce

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 c cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper

Green Goddess

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 green onions
  • juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • fresh green herbs (I like basil, sage, thyme, and sometimes rosemary)



Reading:  Glass Houses (Gamache #13, L Penny), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Heidis Fruhstuck (German), Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Listening:  Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Watching:  Krypton, Timeless, The Last Jedi


pasta bowls & other dishes

Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials


Maybe it is just me, because my family certainly doesn’t follow my lead here, but I primarily eat out of bowls. Pasta bowls to be precise. There is something very satisfying about the aesthetics of it all. I haven’t found anything that wasn’t simply fantastic served in my pasta bowl.

I do have a luncheon plate and a regular bowl too. I tend not to use them very much. I use my cup as a cup and an ice cream bowl for those times you really just need some ice cream. My coffee/tea mug alternates between a more European size (coffee and chai) and a big old  American style mug (herbal tea).

Pasta Bowls and European style coffee cup are Dansk. Luncheon Plate and regular American mug are from Target — although I don’t think they sell this particular one anymore.


I wrote a bit about my dishes and why I chose them here . . . . Simpleness


Reading:  Harry Potter 1 (German edition), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), A Great Reckoning (Gamache #12, L Penny)


Watching: Krypton


it is a “thing”

I’ve been blogging for a couple of months about my desire to live small, but well. To dig deep instead of staying on the surface. I have chosen areas of focus: more language, more favorites, more simple, and more wellness.

One thing I was very cautious about was quantifying all this. I have purposefully not numbered my books read this year. I am just re-reading my favorites. I don’t have a set amount of time I sit down to focus on my German lessons.  I just sit down with a grammar chapter, a duolingo lesson, and then I read a chapter from my reader. I am not counting my possessions.  However, I am really thinking about what I own and why I own it. My list of essentials is just that . . . MY list of essentials. As an exercise it has been liberating to learn why I love what I love. I am not weighing myself and tying my self-worth on that number.  I am following the “program” as I learn how to fuel my body and move my body.

But it turns out . .  it is a thing. I was just poking around the internet this morning as I sat down to do some thinking about one of my #100 Essentials, why it is an essential for me, and more about the company who makes my essential. I stumbled into a rabbit hole and am emerging 2 hours later energized. It was interesting to read how others are going about this deep year, why they chose to do one, and how they measure success.

I think I’ll continue do it my way. Without charts, graphs, without measuring . . . just learning to trust myself and really lean into the areas I choose to focus on.  I know all the areas are doing good things in my life.

For instance, my German is really improving. I have finished 13 beginners and intermediate readers. I started reading Harry Potter #1 in German (and listening to each chapter as I complete it). I am enjoying the distance from social media too. I still get on each day, but it isn’t the first thing I grab when I sit down.

This same focus is bleeding over into my devotion time, reading time, and the time I spend researching for various things that interest me. I used to get pulled along diversions on-line. Now I have a purpose, a focus, and I stick with that. I am enjoying shorter bursts of reading time but coming away from the book with more understanding and in some cases just more enjoyment of the story.

I’m staying off the scale, but I know that my clothes feel looser in certain areas (hello abdomen and triceps). I know I am getting stronger because I can complete my sets with a heavier weight than when I started. I know my endurance is getting better too because I can get more motion/steps in during my HIIT workouts.

And the simple part of my depth year continues to be a source of joy and thoughtfulness. I have found that with this fitness program I am going to have to buy a few things, and at first that made me grumbly. But, if it contributes to strength and endurance and I am really going to use it, then I plan to go ahead. Examples include: heavier dumbbells.


Other blog posts about going deep:

Go Deeper, Not Wider on the blog Raptitude by David Cain had an essay about this earlier in the year.  He seems to have inspired quite a few people to give this a try.

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits is working on it too.




Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials


This little 2 cup teapot from Stash Tea was given to me by a friend. It is the perfect size for 2 people. There is an infuser basket that you can purchase separately that fits in it perfectly. The deep warm brown is a classic teapot color.

During my morning fasting time I enjoy a cup of ginseng peppermint tea. Here’s the easy way to make looseleaf tea perfectly each time.

  • fill tea kettle with fresh water and turn on
  • fill teapot (without the infuser basket) with water and place in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Take out of microwave but leave water in pot.
  • when water in the kettle has come to a boil, dump the warm water from the teapot into your mug, put the infuser basket into the teapot, and put 1 TBSN of looseleaf tea (per cup) into the infuser basket.
  • fill the teapot from the kettle (the water will be just under the boiling point now)
  • set a timer for 3-5 minutes and walk away
  • when the timer goes off, empty your tea mug, put in your sweetener of choice, and pour tea from the teapot.

I’ve never had this method fail me. I sip my tea while doing morning office (Book of Common Prayer) and find that after a couple cups of water and this mug of tea, I can easily wait for my 11 am eating window to open.


Reading:  Des Spielers Tot (German), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), A Great Reckoning (Gamache #12, L Penny)

Watching:  Coco

weight bench

Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials


Yet another fitness related essential to add to my list. This bench has many roles in my life.  Obviously I use it for weight training days, but I also use it just like a regular bench. I sit there to put on/take off shoes, gather my thoughts for the day, a place to prop my legs up to stretch them a bit more. I also like that it isn’t super heavy and we can use it in the living room if we need more seats.


Reading: Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Des Spielers Tot (German), A Great Reckoning (Gamache #12, L Penny)

Listening: A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Watching: Krypton, Timeless