our six tomato plants

tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 In previous years, we’ve planted a lot of tomato varieties. Our second year, we went bonkers with 29 different varieties! Over the last 8 years, we have learned a lot about what planting and tending approaches work best for us; every summer we learn a little bit more and feel better equipped going into the next year. Believe it or not, last year was one of the least fruitful crops for us, so we’re still very much on the learning curve.

We’ve experimented with a lot of different planting and maintenance methods. This year we opted to go as simple as possible; only 6 plants! We skipped the fish heads, and just planted them as Laurel recommends. This is the first time we’ve purchased her mail-order tomatoes and 2 months into the process, we’ve been extremely pleased.

tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 tomatoes 2015 What was our selection process? In the past, it’s always been about how unique the tomato is. This year, it feels as though the decision-making was a bit more practical. Smaller tomatoes have done historically well for us, so those had to be included. Laurel had some varieties that are labeled as heat-tolerant that I haven’t been able to find at local nurseries (Super Sioux, Dagma’s Perfection, and Fireworks), so we’re experimenting with these. They don’t look as interesting as the blue tomatoes that were released last year, or perhaps some exotic heirloom, but hopefully they’ll fare better in the heat we experience. The 3 other tomato plants have 2 varieties grafted onto one plant; kind of like having a “two-headed” tomato plant. So technically, we have 9 tomato varieties that take up the footprint of only 6!



exotica rare fruit nursery in vista

exotica nursery exotica nursery exotica nursery exotica nursery exotica nursery exotica nursery One of our favorite places to go find rare fruit trees is Exotica Nursery in Vista, California. This place is a little gem filled with many varieties of exotic fruits. It is even featured in the documentary The Fruit Hunters. We had already been to this nursery prior to watching the film, so when we saw it pop up on screen, we were all, “Hey! Exotica! We’ve been there!” Ben’s really been getting into growing rare fruits (you probably know that already), and even though our backyard already holds about 60 fruit trees, I don’t think he’s slowing down just yet. This particular visit we came home with 2 guava trees, one was a Allahabadi variety, and the other was a diamond guava. The prices there are fairly good, but of course, depending the type of exotic fruit tree you are looking for, it can get more costly.

One of the things we look forward to when visiting Exotica is the tasting table they have ready for visitors to try. This visit we were all able to try mulberry for the first time, and we loved it so much that Ben is now planning to get a mulberry tree at some point. It’s a drought tolerant tree, so we definitely want to get that one in our garden.



family meals: week 103

family meals family meals Vietnamese Chicken Pho. I’ll never tire of this recipe. It’s so easy, and it even tastes better the next day.

family meals family meals Baked Wontons with Sichuan Red OilAfter making wontons a few times, it’s no longer intimidating and so easy to whip together. A little bit of shallots, garlic, ginger, green onions, together with lean ground turkey make a simply delicious filling. Then, with that red oil sauce… it’s just divine! Beware though, that sauce is not low calorie. Ben was eating it like soup until he realized, and then he said, “Oh my.”

family meals family meals Filipino Chicken Adobo. It’s the one Filipino dish I make, and the girls love it, especially with egg. I usually make with it chicken breast, but this was mainly for the girls, so drumsticks was the meat I had on hand.

Week of 5/25 – 5/29
Monday: Dinner out with family
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Mexican Tacos
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Tilapia Ceviche

Ben’s been working so many late nights that we only get family dinner about once a week. It’s been like this since the beginning of the year, so I’m looking forward to June when his work schedule is a little more balanced. All of us sitting together at the dinner table is something I cherish, so I can’t wait to have more of that again.




On our way to an adventure. This week’s learned, links, and thankfulness…

My sister is almost home!!! One more sleep until we see her!

Tonight, Ben and I are going dancing! My friend Hope Leigh is part of the Dance Free Movement, and I can’t wait to join in the Dancing Man Party!

Not that we really need coat wear in Southern California, but I think this would be a fun one to make.

Love this outfit.

Everlane makes the best basic tees. My favorites are their box cut tees and their cotton U-necks (great quality for under $20!). I’m wearing one here. If you try it, and like it, then spread the word to your friends and you can earn $25 credit to shop again.

This blockitechture set is cool. Another wooden block set I know my girls would love.

If you’re looking for a good candle scent, Capri Blue is by far my favorite! I’ve used it for almost 6 years now and it’s the only candle scent I ever burn.

Thankful for sweet children who put up with me and lavish me with grace and forgiveness. I know I’m totally not easy to live with.

Thankful for time to hang out with friends and seeing all our kids play together.

Even after said hang out with friends, I’m grateful for the quiet afterwards so this extroverted introvert can recharge a little.

While, I am running at full speed a lot of the time, and need to work at being more present, I’m thankful for being able to serve my family. Although the constant cooking, cleaning, refereeing, and laundry wear me out, it brings me joy to love this clan of mine. The days feel super tough now, but I know I will miss this later.

I’ve been behind in emails and responding back to comments (#storyofmylife), but I’m hoping to tackle that this weekend. I want you to know I’m thankful for the time you take to comment and I do read each one even though I’m slow to respond back. Happy weekend friends!




slow growth

prune and grow I’ve felt a little foggy this week, but I guess I’m kind of mentally checked out and ready for summer. Anyone else?! As I was watering my plants the other night, I was thinking about how I’ve grown (or my lack of growth) these past few years. I even texted with our former pastor to let him know how much I appreciated that he still loved us well despite how slowly Ben and I grow. I’m thankful that my standing before God isn’t dependent on the speed of my growth. What matters is that my dead root was made new because of Jesus. Jesus is my righteousness and I praise Him for that!

I guess we match the pace of our garden, although, even that probably grows a lot of faster than Ben and me. We added some avocado trees over the weekend, more citrus trees will go in this weekend (and I think one more avocado). I’ve been having fun taking colorful pictures of things in our garden (see here). There are so many things growing right now and it makes us so excited to see the various trees fruiting. I’ve mentioned it before, but there are about 60 different trees in our backyard (and he still plans on adding more!). It’s insane! We have a regular, suburban Californian yard, so there really isn’t much space. Ben’s been really creative in how he has planned everything out, and after a few gardening blunders (and lots of dollars later), things are starting to take shape. Whew!

This weekend so many fun things are going on! The biggest thing is that my baby sister comes home on Sunday!!! I’m. So. Freaking. Excited!!! I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since she left us. In the countries she has had access to wi-fi, we texted each other often, but those 3 months in South Africa, we barely heard from her at all. I can’t wait to touch her, hug her, and see her face to face again.

I known she’s grown so much, and she’s coming back a completely different person from when she left. Her love for Jesus and people has undoubtedly multiplied and I can’t wait to hear all her stories and learn from her. She is 10 years younger than me, but she definitely understood grace much sooner than I did (like I said, slow grower over here!). I think I spent a good chunk of my teen and college years trying to look and play the part of the “good Christian girl,” scared of what other people would think of me if they knew the things that were really going on in my heart. My baby sister on the other hand, she understood grace and forgiveness well at such a young age, that she was quick to admit her shortcomings and cling to Jesus. She didn’t trust in herself, but she trusted the cross. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for her here at home! If you want to read some of her posts while on her year long trip, check it out here. Every post of hers makes me weep and encourages my heart to seek God’s kingdom more.




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