Gardening on Earth Day

Disclaimer: I’m participating in Hey, Let’s Grow!, a home gardening program sponsored by Monsanto, which provided me with a seed starter kit, Seminis Home Garden seeds, and a gift card for additional gardening supplies. All opinions, along with gardening skills or lack thereof, are my own.

Today, Earth Day, was the perfect day to get outside and work in my garden! A few weeks ago I was very eager to plant my seeds, and they grew quite well. So well, in fact, that they are ready to plant outside now even though we still have a chance of frost in our area. So the tomatoes  and peppers will have to stay inside for just a little longer, but I planted the frost-hardy spinach and lettuce today.

These little guys are growing and need to get outside!

I planted both seedlings and seeds in my raised garden bed. The seedlings were growing right by my patio door, which I have been opening every day to let the fresh air in. I hope that was enough to “harden” the plants and make them accustomed to the cool spring weather!

Green Beret spinach

I’m also risking the chance of frost and planted two bean plants and a cucumber plant. They are already flowering! Along with frost, I worry about the two little rabbits I’ve seen running around my yard, so Ed found some garden netting for me to use to protect my baby plants. If all grows well, we–not the rabbits–will be eating fresh lettuce and spinach pretty soon!

Can you see the netting by my cucumber plant?

I’m planning on planting my other plants outside by Mother’s Day. Read my first #HeyLetsGrow post here: Winter Outside, Spring Inside. Happy Earth Day!

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Problems with Garage Doors

Sometimes problems are pretty obvious. Like when there’s water all over the laundry room floor, I can figure out pretty easily that our sump pump hose has frozen and I need to thaw it out and reattach the hose to the sump pump. That happened twice to me this winter!

However, when our electric garage door wouldn’t close and both Ed and I cleared all the debris that could be blocking the way, such as the leftover leaves and cobwebs from last fall and the little red snow shovels the girls use in the winter, and the door STILL wouldn’t close, the problem wasn’t so obvious.

As I was standing outside, staring at the garage door sensors and wondering why the door wouldn’t close, I noticed that the setting sun was reflecting off of the sensor lens. I moved so that I was blocking the sun from shining on the sensor and yelled at Ed to try closing the garage door again.

And guess what? THE DOOR CLOSED!

That solution was so easy, and yet so unexpected. Ed and I didn’t expect it to work, and yet it did.

April showers!

Strangely enough, this past Sunday we were up at my father-in-law’s place, trying to get it ready to sell. His garage door has always been a little wonky, and this time…we couldn’t get it to close after numerous tries. The light was blinking furiously and the door kept going up and down like it was possessed. I cleaned the lens for the door sensors and Ed tried to make sure they were lined up. There was no sunshine at all! In fact, we were getting rained on as all of this was happening. Finally, we had to detach the garage door from the electric opener and close it manually. Fortunately, I suppose, no one is living there at the moment so it’s not a big hassle. But now we have to get it fixed. *sigh*

Rainy Day

Garage door problems. I guess it could be worse! What problems have you been solving lately?

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3 Ways to Stay Young

Every time when I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by, like dusk to dawn

I rarely drink from a straw, in fear of creating lines around my pursed lips. Lines that lipstick can bleed through, even though I’m not much of a lipstick wearer. Lines that will betray my age. But if I’m afraid of straws, will that mean I have to stop whistling as well? I bought wrinkle cream for the lines radiating from my eyes. They say that age is just a number, and my number is approaching 50. Grey hairs are slowly appearing, drawing fine lines in my mousey blond hair. Should I hide them with color or wear them proudly?

I started writing this post back in February, when I was thinking about my birthday. When I turned 47, I was celebrating a special anniversary–20 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ed and I trained and raised money to be able to walk 39 miles in the Avon Walk to End Breast Cancer. I was so excited about participating in that walk with Ed that 47 didn’t feel that old to me. This year, I turned 48; only two years until I turn 50. Ugh! Usually numbers don’t bother me, but I’ll be honest; this year’s number bothered me! It doesn’t help that many of my friends, parents of my children’s friends, are lamenting their upcoming 40th birthday! When I turned 40, I had a 4 year old, and an 17 month old baby with an ear infection. I was way too tired to even care about turning 40! (How do I remember? I wrote it down on my blog!)

My kids are older now, and so am I! I’m actually much less tired than I was back then. Raising my kids has been so fun, and they keep me young, along with these three things.

3 Ways to Stay Young
1. Learn Something New

As a 40-something, I took downhill ski lessons, which I do not recommend. If you are going to learn how to ski, do it when you are young and stupid, therefore not afraid of heights or going fast or falling and breaking your leg. There is nothing better to keep you young than to scare yourself to death. On second thought, maybe ski lessons aged me instead of keeping me young! So I went in the opposite direction and learned how to knit in my 40’s, which is a very low key and non-risky activity. Now I am part of a knitting group with some nice retired women. That will be much better for my heart!

How does this keep me young? Seriously, though, I love learning new things, including downhill skiing. It really gave me a sense of accomplishment. Learning new things stimulates your brain and helps memory functions. I don’t know about you, but I need help with memory! Where did I put my car keys again?

2. Volunteer

Okay, so I probably volunteer too much. On Wednesday, I baked 22 potatoes for a Lenten dinner. They barely fit in my oven all at one time! Most of my volunteering is at my church and at both my daughters’ schools. Volunteering is a great way to get perspective on age! When I was teaching Sunday school, somehow the subject of Jesus’ second coming came up. I talked about how Jesus was going to come down to Earth and take us up to heaven to live with Him, and how happy we would be. Well, one fifth grade boy did not look so happy. “You mean we’re going to DIE?!?” he exclaimed. “I’m just a kid! I have things I want to do!” So I tried my best to console him and said I didn’t think the second coming was imminent, which was a little tricky as a Sunday school teacher.

Recently I also volunteered at a high school for a show choir competition. Lily was competing in her middle school choir (they sang the song at the beginning of this post), and I’ve never volunteered at the high school level before. It was fun to talk with parents who have older kids than I do; I was able to help out while they went and saw their older kids perform since Lily had already performed the night before.

How does this help keep me young? Volunteering gives you a different perspective, whether it’s caring for old or young people, feeding the hungry, or just volunteering with people different from you. Plus, you feel good after helping others! When my kids are older and I’m not needed at their schools, I hope to volunteer at a hospital or library.

3. Traveling to a new places

Oh, you know this is Ed’s favorite thing to do! Well, somehow he hooked me on traveling too. We had so much fun driving to Yellowstone National Park last summer and visiting a lot of different towns and states. I just booked a trip to Maine, a new state for me! I’m so excited about our summer plans!

How does this help keep me young? The anticipation and excitement of traveling to a new place keeps me feeling young!

What helps keep you young? Let me know in the comments!

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Winter Outside, Spring Inside

Disclaimer: I’m participating in Hey, Let’s Grow, a gardening program sponsored by Monsanto, which provided me with a seed starter kit, Seminis Home Garden seeds, and a gift card for additional gardening supplies. All opinions, along with gardening skills or lack thereof, are my own.

This winter, Chicagoans were surprised by spring-like weather in February, and by winter-like weather in March. We now have quite a few inches of snow on the ground! I mean, seriously, a month ago my kids were ripping off their coats and running to the park to meet their friends, and today they were wearing snow pants and making snow angels in the back yard.

Outside it looks like this
Inside it looks like this

Back when it was warm in February, I was so excited about spring that I wanted to get my garden started! At the beginning of March, I decided which Seminis seeds I was going to plant and used the garden starter kit sent to me by my friends at Monsanto. Even though we usually don’t plant outside until Mother’s Day or later in this area, it’s not too early to start seeds, like tomatoes and peppers, inside.

Well, maybe it’s too early for beans. I’ve already had to put my bean seedlings in bigger pots!

Custard beans

I had no idea what lettuce and spinach seeds and seedlings look like. How fun to be able to plant them and see them sprout! I bought a small grow light from my local garden center to give my seedlings more light to grow by. I hope these little plants flourish–my hope is to have some lettuce and spinach to eat later this spring.

Spinach seedlings on right.

My little pepper seeds haven’t started yet; I think I see one little sprout starting to pop up! I haven’t given up hope; pepper seeds like it warm and take a little longer to sprout, from what I’ve read online.

Do you garden? What would you like to grow? Follow along with my seedlings and me this spring to see what happens!

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Ash Wednesday: Reflections from a small town girl

I never give up anything for Lent. I was explaining to my husband last night that I hadn’t even heard of giving up something for Lent until I was an adult. Well, he said, it was probably because you didn’t know any Catholics when you were growing up. I thought about it, and yes, that was true. I grew up in a small town. By small, I mean no traffic lights, no public library, and no McDonald’s. We had a Lutheran church and a Lutheran school, and if you weren’t Lutheran, you probably didn’t go to church at all. People who live in the suburbs where I live now have a difficult time comprehending the smallness of a town with only 800 people on a good day. But I also had no concept of how Catholics observe Lent. Moving to the suburbs with a high concentration of Catholics changed all that. Signs in local restaurants advertised egg and pepper sandwiches, and I wondered why. Well, if you can’t have red meat, that sandwich would make a good lunch. And not only Catholics gave up things for Lent. When he was single, Ed gave up fast food for Lent, although now he doesn’t because he rarely eats fast food so it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice.

My Catholic acquaintances didn’t quite know what to make of me, either. The girl who sat next to me in homeroom was shocked when she heard my father was a priest! Um, that wasn’t quite right, as I explained that Protestant ministers are allowed to marry and have children. Just a couple of years ago, I mentioned to a friend that All Saints’ Day was difficult for me because I remembered my mom on that day. She was surprised that I, as a Protestant, even knew what All Saints’ Day was.

Today, Ash Wednesday, is an important day for both Catholics and Lutherans; for all Christians, in fact. It signals the beginning of Lent; a time of repentance leading up to Easter.

When I was young, unlike Catholic churches, we didn’t have the imposition of ashes on our foreheads for Ash Wednesday. An article I found about Lutheran worship confirms the loss of this ancient tradition:

“Lutherans at the time of the Reformation did not choose to retain the Imposition of Ashes. The reasons for this are not entirely clear since there is very little written for or against this practice by Luther and his colleagues. Thus, although Lutherans began Lent with Ash Wednesday, they did not retain the use of ashes as part of their Ash Wednesday order of service.”

Many Lutheran churches, including mine, have brought the ashes back into our worship service. It’s a great tradition, one that reminds us where we come from (dust) and where we deserve to go (ashes). The blackness of the ashes remind us of the darkness in our hearts; sins known and unknown. Doesn’t that understanding and knowledge of Lent increase the joys of Easter and the Resurrection?

On my heart imprint Your image, Blessed Jesus, King of Grace.

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