Just wanted to share this great giveaway from a blog I came across. Visit http://bjmangelson.blogspot.com/2012/12/little-green-pouch.html and follow the instructions at the bottom to submit entries. I just ordered some of these myself and can’t wait to get them in the mail. I’ve actually been reusing the disposable ones by cutting a slit in the bottom to refill and folding the bottom edge to hold in the stuff but now that the little one has discovered the fun in squeezing the pouch, the contents usually end up everywhere but her mouth.


I’ve been spending a lot of time outside over the last couple of weeks trying to get everything ready for our vegetable garden: building and filling the raised bed (with a lot of help from hubby, of course), starting summer seeds, weeding and watering, etc. But I’m a little saddened to report that we don’t quite have vegetables ready to be planted.

I tried starting seeds for 3 different types of cucumbers, 2 types of legumes, a squash, kohlrabi, sunflowers and amaranth but they just didn’t do anything. They were planted in a seed tray with a lid and in the more expensive coconut coir pots instead of regular old peat pots. I left the whole tray outside, thinking I would get a jump on having to harden off the veggies by just letting them grow outdoors. I may have overwatered the whole tray a bit, thinking too much water would have evaporated in our hot Arizona clime. I dug up a few of the seeds just to take a peek and they really hadn’t done anything. Well, one of the bean seeds was a little mushy (this is what clued me off about the overwatering). So a few days ago I decided to just drop one more of each type of seed into the pots and keep the tray inside to sprout and, lo and behold, I’ve finally got some life in my seed tray. You have to learn a few lessons in the beginning, I suppose. Now that things seem to be back on track I hope we haven’t lost too much in the way of a future harvest because of my ignorance.

Besides the veggies that were started indoors, I’ve also sown some carrot seeds in the containers that once contained pea plants. I’m hoping my nitrogen factories have made the potting soil rich enough to produce some lovely carrots (white and purple heirloom varieties). I had started a couple of varieties of globe carrots in smaller pots a couple of months back and didn’t have much success with germination. We might get enough for Reagan to have a snack in about a month.

On another note, one of the two tomato plants that I purchased has just started flowering. I just planted it in a cactus bed that was already set up in our yard and it seems to be able to get enough water there. The other tomato was planted in the same corner as my leafy greens and it just doesn’t seem to like the clay. I am very surprised that with the onslaught of aphid, worm and bird attacks that nothing has touched the tomatoes. Who would have thought mustard greens were tastier?

As most of my readers know, I have just returned from a 3-week vacation in the Philippines. The trip happened to be less of a vacation and more of a journey. I feel like a large portion of the trip was spent in transit, but had countless wonderful experiences during each method of travel.

In the spirit of David Foster Wallace, I give you a summation of my trip.

I have used a banana leaf as an umbrella. I have consumed coconut wine at 8 in the morning. I have been for a ride on a tricycle (a sort of dirt bike with an attached sidecar). I have risen to the call of a rooster (which speaks Tagalog in the Philippines). I have come within snorting distance of a caribou. I have paid the equivalent of 3.5 cents to use a public toilet, which did not include toilet paper. I have showered in my clothes in the rain simply because it was the most convenient option. I have been utterly disgusted by the endless dirt under my fingernails, but eaten with my hands anyway. I have had juice and pulp from both young green and mature orange coconuts and decided that I prefer the green. I have learned the word for ‘good’ in at least 5 new languages. I have chased chickens out of my bed and witnessed a bonafide cock fight. I have worn the same underwear without washing 3 days in a row. I have run 5 miles in the land of a thousand smiles. I have woven pouches for steaming rice from the leaves of a coconut tree. I have seen larger cockroaches than exist in Florida. I have spent 59 out of 74 hours in some sort of vehicle, including a plane, a ferry, a taxi, and a jeep. I have seen a double rainbow after a hard mountain rain. I have seen cd-roms used as washers. I have concealed a collection of plastic bags and water bottles with the fear that someone else would come by and appropriate them for their own use. I have watched my rather unsightly ankle sock tan evolve into a sexy flip-flop tan. I have accidentally asked my mother whether she would like ‘a penis’ (when trying to be particularly clever and referring to my Tagolog-English dictionary) instead of ‘fish bones’, to which a large fit of laughter was followed by anyone within earshot. I have seen more uses for bamboo than I ever thought possible. I have climbed to the craters of two volcanoes, one of which is still active. I have jogged 172 steps up a hillside to a statue of the Virgin Mary where one is expected to leave a donation and make a confession, left a donation, did not make a confession, and returned feeling a little breathless and dizzy (which I will equate with feeling spiritual).

Photos are soon to follow.

TJ and Sheena have a new member in their family. Just like a big sister, Lola’s quite jealous.

My dad decided when he was home for Thanksgiving that we would start a bunch of traditions this year because we don’t really have any holiday traditions. Actually, I guess it’s more a tradition to just spend the holidays at someone else’s house because we’re never usually all home at the same time. For Thanksgiving, we’re all supposed to run a 5k or participate in the ‘Turkey Trot’. Well, this year only my father and I ever made it around to completing the 3-mile run, but nothing ever goes right the first year, right?

When we all awoke around 9am Christmas Day, I think we were all still a little drunk from the night before. My dad decided he wanted to go to the beach even though the sand was wet from the early-morning rain. Sheena, TJ and my dad and I took the top off of the Jimmy and piled in for a quick ride down to the coast. Crossing the Navarre Beach bridge was a bit eerie because there was so much fog on the water.

The weather was actually a bit warm when we eventually walked down the dunes, but I started toeing the water and realized pretty quickly that I didn’t want to get in.

While the rest of us were standing around being wimps, my brother was stripping down to his underwear and ran and dove into the water. My dad was soon to follow.

It was especially cold when they got out.

Not sure why Sheena was shaking her head, but I thought this shot was neat.

So, maybe next year I’ll muster up the guts to jump in the ocean on Christmas Day since I passed on it this time. We eventually went to dinner at a Chinese buffet in Ft. Walton and came home to watch movies and relax a bit.

Some post-Christmas dinner funny faces.

I could not have asked for a better Christmas.

Most of the people who read this blog know me pretty well and would understand the magnitude of the event of my father being home for Christmas. He had been working in Tennessee and drove through fog and ice on Christmas Eve to be with us for a little more than a week, but didn’t arrive at the house until 11:45pm. You could say he was racing Santa, who ended up bringing us all some interesting gifts. It was great to be able to share this holiday with my family and some good friends. When you’re away for so many years, you realize it’s what you miss the most. Family. And mine is absolutely the best.

After I had a nice morning run, TJ, Sheena and I went to Publix and picked up a few basic things for making dinner. We also made a little pit stop at the liquor store where nobody could really figure out what they wanted to drink and we left collectively about $50 poorer. When we got back to the house, we dragged out a tent and started gathering wood for a fire. As is his style, my brother couldn’t resist having brought something like these shorts without sharing them with everyone.

TJ and Sheena started drinking a bit early with some shots, which amounted to sharpie tattooes, peeing in the yard, and rolling around in the tent (which didn’t get set up).

For the period of time that I was making dinner, not many photos were taken, but very basically the order of events are: Brad and Jose showed up, my mom came home from work, we made a fire and ate dinner outside, we roasted marshmallows and drank a little too much and eventually plugged in Rock Band. Photographic evidence as follows.

Okay, just a little backstory for this next shot: I don’t smoke. I think it’s pretty gross and usually when other people are doing it around me, I start feeling sick. However, I’m known to ask for cigarettes when I’ve had a little too much to drink. When we were all together for Thanksgiving and I got a bit hammered, I was begging everyone for a cigarette and no one would give one to me. My brother had told me for Christmas I was allowed to have just one. So at some point in the night, they handed me a cigarette which I maybe puffed on a total of 3 times and almost singed my eyebrows off trying to light in the fire. I was going to ask for another one later, but thought I’d just be cool and slip one out of the pack when no one was looking. But a better opportunity presented itself! A lone cigarette came flying out of nowhere and landed on the ground in front of me. I pounced on it and lit it immediately. My brother equated my actions with those of a hobo. So, I’m now a hoboer of cigarettes. The flying cigarette was apparently an accident and was not meant to ever touch my lips. But it did.

My dad eventually showed up and we went back outside to drink and be next to the fire.

TJ is showing off his squatting technique?

Santa made a stop.

Apparently, I threw a piece of chocolate directly into my dad’s mouth from over 5 feet away. I wish I remembered this because I don’t normally have this much skill.

We eventually went back to playing more Rock Band into the wee hours of the morning.

Everyone else passed out around 4am and I watched Anchor Man by myself until 5:45am. I’m now done with heavy drinking for a while.

Whoever on the Chiquita marketing team thought this sticker would be a good idea is my hero.

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