Saturday, May 28, 2011

Becoming a farmer

It's here and it's working! What you may ask?... My Growbox! You may remember my mentioning that it would be arriving in the mail. You can see that post here. If you don't want to go back and read it that is fine because I'm going to tell you all about it here. Warning: it may be a little more information then you'd like to know. Sorry, it's my blog and I can cry if I do what I want too.

The Growbox is an above ground planting system designed to create the perfect growing environment for pretty much any kind of vegetable, herb, or flower you could ever want to have. Of course, it depends a little on the climate that you live in but as long as it is something commonly grown in your area, then it will work. The kit includes: a nutrient patch (to lay over the soil) that contains a fertilizer strip, the actual Growbox itself, instructions for putting the box together, and tips as well as planting instructions.

My favorite thing about the Growbox is the reservoir and water spout that you use to water the garden. It's awesome. You just add water to the well through the side spout as needed. Water from the built-in well continuously moves upwards towards the roots of the plants because of the two "wicking columns" as I have now called them.

That is my hand pushing the plastic out of the way so that the columns can be filled and packed with soil. Below is a shot taken from above so you can see both columns that I'm talking about. The area below the screen is the reservoir.

Anyway, the Growbox company had some issues this year with their manufacturing plant. In addition to that they had way more orders placed early in the season than usual. These two things coupled together to make my Growbox almost an entire 30 days late... But it is here now:)

Unfortunately it got here and I had to stare at it like this for several days while I worked three 12 hour shifts. Then it rained and I started at it some more. Finally, on a nice off day, Patrick and I ran our favorite home improvement center and purchased the soil and plants. I didn't want my Growbox to feel left behind (because I'd already planted in my other containers 4 weeks earlier) so I went with some good sized peppers and okra.

Here you can see the entire vegetable and herb garden. The Growbox is the orange container in the lower right. It's a happy little garden and it's already been way more successful than last year. Patrick and I have been enjoying fresh basil on anything and everything that fresh basil can go with. Even though it took a little longer than expected, I am finally declaring Aprils' project complete. Of course, it will still need to be looked after, but the planting is over.

Our Garden includes:
- 6 okra
- 2 zucchini
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 3 bell pepper (yellow, green, and red)
- 3 tomato
- 2 sweet basil
- 1 boxwood basil
- 1 cinnimon basil
- 1 cilantro
- 1 rosemary
- 1 mint
- 1 lavender

Here's some pictures of the progress. This was right after planting.

This was taken last week.

The other side of the garden after planting.

Photo of the same box taken last week from a different angle.

It's funny to post these pictures and compare what you're going to see and what I saw this morning when I was watering. I think the basil has doubled in size since this picture. I am having a lot of fun being a farmer. If you have a garden this year I hope that you're enjoying it as much as I am.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Office Revamp

Patrick went to the beach for a week the first week of May and if you know anything about me, then you know that when he leaves I spend money or change something in our home while he is gone (it's usually both actually). Anyway, I know I said that I wasn't going to do any projects, but this just kind of happened... I have a serious problem I think. However, I am so happy with the results.

So here is the before picture of our home office way back when. This was taken the night after closing on the house.

Here is what it looked like in the between stage. We were still painting those &*%$ doors. Our office has looked like this half finished project for about a year and half I would guess.

So the Friday morning of Patrick's return home (late evening return), I decided that I would finish the office. Honestly, it wasn't planned before that morning. I woke up around 7 (I get up early even when I don't work), made some coffee, and ventured to the office to check some e-mail and facebook.

Eight hours later I had this...

My "Welcome Home" message.
So here is how it all went down. As I sat there sipping my coffee I looked around the room and thought, "this is ridiculous... I can finish this." I grabbed a piece of notebook paper and began scribbling out a list of things to buy. I think my list looked something like this.

- curtain rod extender
- bookshelf
- magnetic/dry erase board

Yep, that is all it took. One quick shower and shopping trip later, I was home putting together my new bookshelf from World Market.

It sure beats my dad's old bookshelf that he had during medical school. The whole revamp was simple and I can't believe it took me so long to complete. Of course, rooms and homes are always evolving and I'm already coming up with ways to improve the room, but at least it's more user friendly now. Patrick has actually used the office a few times this past week to work on seminary classes. He has never used it before except to quickly print something off his laptop.

Honestly, that was my goal for this room. I wanted to give us a space that we both could use. In the past, Patrick always felt that it was my space. I'm trying to do a better job of cleaning up when I'm finished in there so that he can walk in and have a tidy workspace when he needs it. I'm also working on finding a comfy chair to put in there. I think that will help a lot since Patrick has tons of reading to do and it's always nice to have a good chair for that. Speaking of chairs, our current desk chair will have to go. It's pretty uncomfortable so I'm going to have to hunt down something different. Other than those few things though, we are pretty much finished with the office.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Devastation brings with it perspective.

I arrived home from the beach last Thursday evening (the day after all the tornadoes) with a heavy heart. I ached for people who were suffering and had lost so much. When I made it home, I did what anyone would do after hours spent in the car- I ran to answer natures call. When I flushed the toilet I took notice of its odd sound and then I went to wash my hands. I lifted the knob... nothing. No water. At this point I could hear Patrick walking into the bedroom saying, "I know." I came out to see him half sitting and half standing against the edge of our bed looking at me with a guilty face. He said, "I have some bad news."

Apparently, while Patrick was trying to pull out the root system from a stump in our front yard he managed to hit our water main with a pick axe. Yes, this is the same water main that we paid $1500 to replace back in January.

In light of everything that had happened during the 24 hours leading up to that point, I took his face in my hands and told him it was okay. I was so thankful to have a home with a roof, power, and him safe in my arms that it didn't matter one bit that we didn't have water.

With no water and nothing to eat, we headed out to our usual Thursday night mexican dinner restaurant (yes, we eat mexican every Thursday- don't hate). I was shocked when 3 miles down the road we came upon a neighborhood with extensive damage from trees. Power lines were down everywhere, trees had gone through houses, several homes no longer had roofs. As we slowly made our way through that area I noticed one couple standing in their front yard looking as though they didn't know where to start. A huge tree appeared as though it had sliced their roof in half and two cars sat in the driveway smashed in by another tree. More perspective...

At that point I felt even luckier to have my husband and best friend sitting next to me in the car. In that moment, I felt sick. I was on my way to dinner while these people (and many others for that matter) where trying to pick up the pieces.

In reality, there wasn't really anything I could have done right then to help any of those families. However, right now is a different story. I know that I have been all about this "a project a month" goal but, in light of what has happened, my plans have changed. It just seems silly for me to work or worry with a little house project when so many people are without a home all around me. My project for the month are those people.

I plan to take this new perspective and do something with it.

**Patrick was able to fix the water main the very next day for around $10 thanks to an awesome friend and youth volunteer who gave him instruction and told him what supplies to buy. Counting our many blessings today. God is so good.**

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Road Ahead

Last Wednesday I sat in utter disbelief as I watched this unfold.

The massive tornado that got up to a mile wide in Tuscaloosa.

My brain took a few minutes to process what was happening. It felt like a dream. Even then, I don't think that I or anyone I was with realized how many homes were being destroyed, lives were being lost, and the wake of destruction the storms and tornadoes would leave across the entire state.

You are looking at where a home used to sit.
In the aftermath of the storms, stories of survival and unfortunately, stories of death have started to emerge. When you see pictures of many of these homes it is hard to fathom how anyone made it out alive.

a view of damage near Tuscaloosa.
It is believed that 328 people were killed during the storms and that 236 of those deaths were in Alabama. Tuscaloosa is now reporting that they still have 80 people unaccounted for which is down from the 300 reported towards the end of last week.

Thankfully, they are almost finished with the search, rescue, and recovery portion of the healing process (not that there will ever be complete healing). Cleanup and debris removal has started in areas where they are allowing volunteers. Food, water, and clothing is being provided at various distribution centers that have been set up across the state by faith based groups, state and federal government. From what I hear, the "TIDE" bus (a rolling laundry facility) has arrived in areas for people without power (which is still a lot). We have our hands full and I pray that we can remain strong and steady as we continue the restoration of homes and lives.

Right now, I covet your prayers and I plead for your support. We have a long road ahead of us.

**An easy way to help right now is to text the word REDCROSS to 90999 and a $10 donation will be added to your next cell phone bill.