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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Harper's Garden of Eden

We've had a week of almost unending rain but the garden for the most part has loved it! It was fun to get out and see how things are growing and work in the garden on Friday. We had a late freeze in April but it looks like we will have several apples and peaches this year! The buckets are used to water the trees and a deep plug filled with holes going into the ground.

This is a picture of our winter squash, zucchini squash and melon bed! We picked our first squash yesterday.

You can see some of our butternut squash starting to form. We have about four different winter squash varieties that I'm trying out this year!

Boy if our grapes continue to make, we will have a ton! We have two new grape vines we started last fall. One of Michael's honey do jobs is to finish a grape arbor.

Michael made a tomato/bean trellis to put in the middle of our raised beds. We can easily take it down and move it to other beds from year to year. He was half-way putting it up and we had a TERRIBLE thunderstorm on Thursday with high winds. It was bad enough to have some trees down in the area and our trellis, not being finished and anchors was a casualty. I fretted that our beautiful tomato plants would be damaged. They were down but not out! We still have to finish the trellis for the other bed. I think next year I'd like to try pole beans and cucumbers on a trellis!

Here's a view of the garden from the bottom up. We now have 20 raised beds, seven which are newly built this spring! We have nine with strawberries and three with blackberries, raspberries and boysenberries. The rest are for vegetables. We still have to plant in two of them. We can see making our almost acre full of lots of beds and hope to have a southern facing greenhouse which is Michael's big summer project.

Here's a view from one side overlooking the pond. Boy, I love where we live. This morning as I write we have the doors open to hear all of the various birds singing!

Here's a peach that looks like it won't be too long until this variety is ready to pick and eat!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Harvest time

We're still picking strawberries. Here is my harvest from today, almost 4 gallons. So far this year, we've picked 22 gallons of berries. I also picked our first three zucchini squash today and some of our spinach. We've had more than normal rain for May and things are growing great. We're currently building a fence to put in the middle of our raised bed with tomatoes in them so they can be tied up. We realized that this spring we've built 8 new raised beds. I hope to get some garden pictures by the end of the week.

It's heaven with Grandkids

Need I say more than I had a wonderful weekend with 6 out of my 7 1/2 sweet little grandchildren!

The group hug was a tradition we did when our boys were little. We would do a group hug after family prayer and FHE. My favorite one was the time we took Todd to the temple before his mission. For the first time, all of my children were with us in the temple. We did a group hug in the Celestial room. That felt like payback from all of the years of raising our boys!

We played games, bubbles, read stories, picked strawberries, talked, hugged and the boys got to go to the father & son outing while the girls and I (and Bonnie) had fun at a mother and daughter party. In fact, the brave little boys all slept in a small tent together while the adult guys slept in our Harper Hotel.

All weekend, they all played so well together without a single fight! They all hated to have the weekend over. Maggie called when she got home to tell us they were there safe and sound and asked me how far away August was! We'll be coming the end of the month for her baptism and the new baby.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bread of Life and Strawberry jam!

Tomorrow for Relief Society Enrichment we are doing a theme of the Bread of Life and strawberry jam. I've worked up a bread demonstration with the bread ingredients pointing to the Savior. I'm really excited to teach this and how it came out. We are also teaching how to make strawberry jam from some gallons of my strawberries so everyone can take a cup of jam home with them. I want each sister to be able to take home some bread also so today I got busy and did six batches of bread and made 42 small loaves for them to take home and three large loafs for us to eat tomorrow night with some fresh jam. I have to admit that we had to eat one of the small loaves as the smell got to me!

I went out and got a few of my canterbury bells to bring inside for some flowers. I planted these last year and they never bloomed but this year they are so pretty!

I think our rose hedge is about at its peak so I took another quick shot!


This weekend we had a rare opportunity for our stake conference. We had Elder Oaks and Elder Schwitzer visit our stake. We didn’t have any changes, just a visit. Elder Schwitzer is a new 70 and so this was his first stake assignment and came along for training. Boy we were in for a treat.

When you see the apostles and 70s at General Conference, they are mostly business like and more solemn but Elder Oaks seemed very happy and funny and told a lot of funny cute stories on Saturday night. I took a few notes but these are some highlights I want to share:

Elder Oaks said that the most valuable things you can do as a family are these:
1. Have a kneeling family prayer daily.
2. Family Home Evening, studying the scriptures together.
3. Dinner together daily as a family without the TV.

He admonished us to keep an eye on what is most valuable.

He said a TESTIMONY is to know and to say while being CONVERTED is to do and to become. This is steady and tranquil dedication of a lifetime.

A funny thing he said that some in every ward seem to be called to offend. They are the moaners and groaners. They never seem to be released and are good at what they do!

He said he knows we are going to be in times of affliction for a while but his widowed mother’s favorite scripture was in 2 Ne 2:2 which promises that the Lord will consecrate thine afflictions for thy good.

Elder Schwitzer had an interesting talk on commandments which are basic to the gospel and we have four stages to understand them. He calls it the 4 Ws:
1. WHAT - The commandments give us borders on how far to go.
2. WHY - We learn why we live them – scriptures say if we do not keep the commandments we will perish.
3. WANT – We want to have commandments because we see the benefit in our lives and we start to express gratitude for them.
4. WITHIN – The commandments begin to live within us and they help us look for opportunities to live them better. They become covenants with Heavenly Father.
Revelation 22:14 – “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

He also said that our most important calling was to be a teacher in our own homes. We told us to look at our house and look at what the pictures, videos, library and other media are teaching and then to do a spiritual audit of our home. He told us to be creative in teaching and said to make use of the refrigerator door, the dinner table and walks with our family. He said that teaching in our home will bless us to the third and fourth generation of our grandchildren!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Raised beds

Last year we were able to resurrect a grape vine we had planted the year before and got it healthy. We didn't get any grapes off it last year but look at the little clusters this year!
We have it training on a wire and even planted a couple of more to soon train into a grape arbor. This is exciting!

Our big project this year is to expand our gardening. Since we have a steep slope in the yard, we have become fans of raised beds and plan on planting most of our garden in them from here on out. Here are some new beds we just did last week and last night! We have sweet potatoes in one, tomatoes in one, and cucumbers and squash in one. So far so good! We are filling them half full of our garden soil and then adding composted cow manure and peat moss and mixing it all together.
Here are the berries and how beautiful they look. We have picked 7 gallons of berries of the strawberry plants in the past week and our raspberries, blackberries and boysenberries are blooming!

I guess we are green for the planet with our organic gardening of most of our fruits and vegetables.

Rhodes and Roses in bloom

I know I said I wasn't going to make this a garden blog, but the flowers are just so beautiful. Here's a close up of the purple and red rhododendron's. We've had so much rain they have turned brown and not stayed pretty very long. I'm glad I have these pictures for screen savers!
We decided when we moved in to make a border on the property with bush roses. They ended up not being pretty for much of the year, but right now and for the next six weeks they will look like this!
Here's a picture of the whole row of roses. . .
I have to end with a stunning close up!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Time out for Women 2009

I just got back from a wonderful break at Time Our for Women in Columbia, SC. It was a fun Friday night and Saturday. These are most of the presenters that were there: Kenneth Cope, Chieko Okazaki, Emily Freeman, Brent Topp and DeAnn Flynn. Not pictured were Michael McLane and Mark Mabry.The music was fabulous. Kenneth Cope is probably my all time favorite but I love Michael McLane as well. Here's Rachel with Kenneth Cope. Last fall, Beth, her daughter was at a time out for women and had him call her for her birthday! It was funny, they made the men's bathroom into a woman's bathroom and decorated it with pink flowers everywhere!

We had a group of several sisters from the ward that went. Here we all are together having a lot of fun! What a great break.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gardening in the South

We are in full swing with yard and garden work! Here is Michael on his beloved lawnmower. You can see our garden in the back. We are about to pick our first bunch of strawberries! Today we went out to check them and each ate several. We built three more raised beds last week and put in one bed of sweet potatoes, one bed of tomatoes and one bed of cucumbers and squash. I hope we can build 3-6 more beds in the next couple of weeks In another part of the yard, we made a 10 x 40' area for winter squash, watermelons and cantaloupes. I started all of our plants from seed and we haven't lost very many after setting them out and they are growing fast! Michael likes the "Less mow, more hoe" idea (but I do the hoeing!)

On Saturday I noticed that our Rhododendrons were budded and about to open and was shocked today to see them all so pretty. This is another shrub that I had to have that reminds me so much of Oregon and growing up there with the beautiful Rhododendrons. Here they call them Mountain Laurels and they grow wild along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We just got some rain but I think this close up is spectacular! I have a red one that hasn't opened yet. I'm really not making a garden blog but that's what we've been doing a lot of lately!