America, Celebration, Family, Farm, Garden, Health, History, Summer, Uncategorized

Potatoes, Po-tah-toes

My mom wanted me to write another blog post, so here I am.

She was sitting behind me in church yesterday and leaned up and whispered in my ear that it had been too long since I’d written a blog post. Opportune time, mom.

She, apparently, doesn’t think I need some creative burst of inspiration to produce any sort of written materials. I just need her suggestion and that is enough.

I guess it is enough, because again, here I am. Maybe sometimes all we need is for someone to believe in us and tell us what to do. Maybe that’s the secret to life I’ve been missing.

Anyway, back to my mom. She obviously loves to see me practicing my hobbies, but there is one thing that comes around every Spring that she is not a huge fan of.

I love to grow sweet potatoes.

I love growing everything, but sweet potatoes were really my first love of gardening. I think it was just the fact that I’d never grown them before and I researched it and they were successful in the first year. This is really no thanks to me, as sweet potatoes are super easy to grow and do so without much coaxing.

But, in order to grow sweet potatoes, you have to have sweet potato plants. They don’t come up from seed or sprout in the ground like other potatoes do. They’re a different breed altogether.

Now, you can go to your local greenhouse or feed store and find the plants. But, you can also grow them really easily in your own kitchen and then transplant them outside into the garden once they are ready. And, the first year I grew them, I wanted to grow varieties that I couldn’t find pre-grown plants for, so I tried the kitchen method.

It looks like a bad effort at a science experiment at first. Which is what my mom dislikes about it.

You take half of a sweet potato, put toothpicks in it, pick out your favorite mason jars, fill them up with water, and set the potatoes in them.

And, you wait.

And, when you have guests over, you politely explain to them why you have mason jar, water potatoes adorning your windowsill.

It’s a weird process, I’ll admit. But, it’s effective.

About a month or so later, you’ll start seeing plants emerge from the potatoes, both underwater and above water. Eventually when they get a little better established, you cut them off the potato, keep the plant still in the water for a few days while they produce roots, then plant them in the ground outside and let them go all summer long.

I started my sweet potato project a little earlier this year and I’ve had two potatoes sitting in the windowsill for about two months now.

About a month ago, my mom said: I think this one isn’t going to do anything, you probably just want to scrap it. Which I knew was just her way of trying to clear out atleast one of the offenders from the windowsill. Nice try, mom.

What she didn’t know is that one of the sweet potatoes growing in the window is a white sweet potato. If you’ve never tried one, try them! They’re really moist and have a lighter flavor than the typical orange ones. The other potato growing in the window is a regular orange one. The white ones, I have observed, are much more prolific than the orange ones. This one was almost sprouting already when I put started it in the jar. The orange ones take more time.

If you compare only those two, side by side, it looks like the white one is much further ahead and that the orange one is a dud. But, if you study closely, with a sweet potato trained eye, you can see where the orange one is just barely barely barely getting ready to break through with a sprout. I also know this because I have some sweet potatoes growing in the window in my office (what can I say, I’m obsessed) and the white one there is further ahead than the orange one.

I’ve heard all my life that comparison is a killer of joy. If you spend your time looking side by side at other people’s lives, timelines, accomplishments, you’re going to be miserable and not be able to see the great place that you’re at yourself. These two potatoes are the same in almost all regards. But one is designed differently, it blooms faster. Not because it’s necessarily better, but just because it was time for it to bloom. In this age of social media, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the lives of others, to compare, to try to rush, to push to get ahead. But, maybe it’s not quite your time to shine yet. Maybe there are great things in store, just about ready to break ground. Maybe you shouldn’t scrap the plan, thinking it’ll never work. Maybe you should just sit where you’re at, keep growing and changing day by day and wait for your time.

Maybe we’re all just potatoes.

Update: today’s progress with the white vs orange

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America, Asia, Celebration, Food, Travel

Statistic Stories

So, I checked and out of the 31 days in January, I was gone 22 of those days. My life is becoming a little bit ridiculous.

                                            

Apparently, at the beginning of every year, my blog site sends out an informational email to show you how you’ve done for the year. I’m still very much a novice, but the statistics are kinda cool, so I’ll share them with you.

                                            

                                

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 Almost 500 pictures is crazy! Blonde Beijinger is kind of a strange post to be the most popular one. I wouldn’t have guessed that. Here are a few of my faves (in no particular order) :

                                                                        

                                

It is really hard for me to choose my favorites because I lived all of the stories, so they each seem special to me in their own ways. Luckily, they provided me with a statistic on the posts that got the most views in 2015. And, it looks like I chose some of the popular ones in my list too. Enough is Enough and Checkmate can be found here if you want to check those out again!

                                                                                        

                                

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They also included my posting patterns, which isn’t super interesting to me. But, here they are anyway.

                                            

                                

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And finally, where does everyone come from?

                                                                                       

                                

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While I’m sure all of this is really interesting to everyone, I also created some statistics of my own because I feel like mine may give you a better idea of my life.                                                                                                            
Since I began this blog, I have

                                

– travelled to 12 countries (South Korea [x2], Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, China, Canada, Italy, Jordan [x2], Israel, France, Hong Kong, and Germany)

                                

– endured 174 hours of being stuck in an airplane (just calculated it, that is over a week straight of flying. As in 7 whole days, plus some. And that doesn’t even account for the amount of hours spent in airports. Mind boggling.) Here is my favorite post from an airport: Moving On

                                

– Eaten 353 enchiladas. See Cinco Celebrations for reference.

                                       

– Grown 3432 pounds of produce in the garden. Peas, Please!

                                            

– Embroidered 782 hats, in case you want to know what a Day In The Life Of Me is like.
                                                                                         

                             

Most of these are approximations, but probably close enough to true to be legitimate estimations. Which essentially tells you my life can be split into four categories: travel, work, Mexican food and gardening. Which actually really is accurate.

                                            

So, here’s to 2016 and all the stories yet to come!

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Farm, Food, Funny, Garden, Health

Peas, Please!

Is it bad that going to the dentist this week feels like a spa treatment? You get to lay back in the chair and zone out for awhile, so that’s kinda like a spa, right? I think it may just be because this week has been so hectic that I just needed the 20 minutes it took for Sydni to clean my teeth (yes, my dental hygienist and I are on a first name basis) for me to re-evaluate my life. Now, my teeth are clean, my life is back in order and I can continue on about my business.
We got a few boxes in today.

We got a few boxes in today.

You know the smell of jalapeño that’s just been picked and brought in from out in the hot sun? That spicy, fresh, warm smell. Nostalgic. Probably because that’s the first thing I remember growing and probably what we’ve grown the longest. It would be a close race between jalapeños and tomatoes for what’s been grown the longest. It’s also a classic summer scent because I’m the salsa maker, so I am the one who usually cuts and cleans all the peppers.
I haven’t done very well at keeping up with everything that’s been growing lately, so I’ll give a quick update.
Sugar Snap Peas: the first thing that started producing, these are the sweetest little guys. And, I am obsessed. I eat them raw, steamed, every which way and they’re so good! And pretty too! Actually, I was on a delivery the other day and it was lunch time and I was crunched and couldn’t take time for a proper lunch, so I grabbed a bag of fresh peas to eat in the car. What I didn’t consider is that it is apparently a little strange to be eating snap peas while sitting in traffic. I finally did consider this as I was sitting in the car doing so and getting a few odd glances from the other drivers around me. Oh well, not the strangest thing I’ve done in public. Well, to be honest, my views of “public” places get a little bit skewed. This is being said by someone who found it absolutely necessary to brush her teeth at a semi-abandoned carwash one time. It really was absolutely necessary, it’s a long story, but trust me, it was. But, semi-abandoned means not public, right? So it’s okay? Who decides these rules of etiquette anyway? Is your car considered a public place when you are sitting in traffic?  Nevermind, look at these peas!
Sugar Snaps

Sugar Snaps

Cauliflower: I’ve never grown this before and we’ve ended up with nearly 10 heads of it. It’s one of my favorite vegetables so no complaints here. My favorite thing to do with it? Eat it with guacamole instead of chips. Did I mention that I’m the chief guacamole maker too? I wear many hats, I know. Really, though, I feel like instead of wearing salsa and guacamole making hats, I should just carry a dip making umbrella and forego the hats. Is everyone liking all my analogies today?
Pretty, right?

Pretty, right?

Broccoli: I’m quickly realizing that I’m just a veggie freak because I love this too. I’ve never successfully grown this before, so we’ll count this year as a minor success. A few of the plants flowered early, but we salvaged what we could. I have no interesting analogy, anecdote, or story of inappropriate “public” behavior for this one, the picture will have to suffice.
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Raspberries: I’m pretty sure everyone is so tired of hearing about raspberries from me. I planted 8 plants last year and they are producing so abundantly this year. Last year, they produced some, nothing outstanding. So, this year, I wisely decided to transplant from the roots and those are doing beautifully. All 31 plants. So, let’s do the math. I planted 8 last year and they are now producing faster than they can be picked. And, there are 31 new plants that are thriving out in the big garden. So, just shy of 4 times the amount that I started with. No big deal. I cannot even imagine the bounty that those will be producing next year. Who wants to come pick raspberries? Any takers?
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I finally got all of the sweet potatoes in the ground. 105 slips total. We did 25 slips last year. I think I planted nearly 40 slips from a purple sweet potato. Want to know what a purple sweet potato tastes like? Yeah, me too. I’ve never actually tasted one. I went to the store and thought it sounded good. I mean, anthocyanins, right? I knew that’s what you were thinking, too, when I said purple sweet potatoes. You can never go wrong with anthocyanins. I don’t know why, when I was at the store buying the potatoes for the slips, I didn’t get an extra one to bake and eat before I planted a zillion plants of it. Pre-planning has never been my strong suit. But, I’m assuming, if you know me at all, that’s pretty obvious by now. If it wasn’t, the teeth brushing at the carwash should pretty much seal that up for you. On a positive note, Sydni (remember her, my dental hygienist?) said my teeth looked very good at my check up and that I should keep doing what I’ve been doing. Looks like that carwash brushing wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
{Personal note: I am not homeless. I do not regularly brush my teeth in strange places. It was a one (maybe two) time thing that was absolutely necessary. It should just be a sign that I am dentally conscientious and dedicated. And, sorry again, Mom, for sharing too much in a public forum. Wait, is a blog post considered public?}
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Farm, Food, Garden

Sweet Potato Dreamin’

I graduated college exactly two year and two days ago. And, I had no idea where life would take me. Well, so far today I have: tracked down and ordered 865 specialty dyed t-shirts, planted 64 sweet potato slips (17 of which were grown in my kitchen window) and cooked 1 vat of smoked chicken stock. This is an improvement from yesterday, which was spent sewing 125 koozies together to send out to a band in Omaha. Although, yesterday did include baking a chocolate cake made with bananas and applesauce. Pretty sure this is not where I would’ve guessed life would’ve taken me in two years. But, what can I say? My life is weird.

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Did you know that you grow sweet potato slips in water? Last year was my first year to grow sweet potatoes and they were a huge success. Literally. These potatoes came out of the ground and some of them weighed 2 and 3 lbs per potato. They were giant. I purchased the slips from a local feed store. But, this year, I wanted to try growing the slips for myself. So, I read about it online and saw how to grow them, but to be honest, I was a little bit skeptical. I bought my potatoes (organic varieties from a food co-op) and put them in mason jars in the window sill and let nature do it’s thing.

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A month later and here we are. These things are crazy! The leaves sprout out of the potatoes and will grow under water. I am pretty fascinated by them. I did buy 50 sweet potato slips from the same feed store this year. I was reluctant, but my dad claimed that I needed them as “insurance”. I assured him that my window sill experiment would yield us as many slips as we needed. And, it has. So, in short, we should have an abundance of sweet potatoes come Fall.

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My great grandpa farmed sweet potatoes on the same land that I am now growing them on. He grew so many that he was known in the area for growing them and would have people stop by to buy them from him. I’m thinking I might follow in his footsteps if this harvest turns out. I always dreamed of being a sweet potato farmer. Sometimes dreams do come true.

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