The Garden Tour | Side-Yard + Pickle

Hello, and welcome back to the next part of our garden tour!

For today, this post will be about the side yard mini garden, so technically, last month’s post was mainly about the landscaping the front end of our house, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, click here. Honestly, it doesn’t matter which post you read first but if you want to hear my thoughts about these changes, plus the reason why I am even writing these blog posts, you can read them later.


Last fall, we had a miracle happen in our backyard. A single sunflower sprouted up from the ground. The only way it could have flourished was around mid-summer, my mom found me some sunflowers at the store and once they become very droopy and sad, my parents toss them out the back door. Unfortunately, we don’t own a compost contain, so any food leftovers and scarps end up in the back and the cats tend to enjoy most of the food we throw it, however, they don’t eat the dying flowers (thank God!) and it decided to upcycle itself and leave us with a nice present one day!

Everyone seems to know that I am obsessed with sunflowers, and my dad has always wanted to grow a big bunch of them in and around the location of my bedroom window, but I’m very short, even if I am sitting in bed or my wheelchair, so this past spring, we made the decision that we were going to have a wall of sunflowers up against Rumer’s fence. If we didn’t have either of them, I still believe my parents would have planted them in the front anyways. It’s the area where they would have full access to the sun as there are no trees in that whole section, so they have a huge section to grow and spread some joy to the neighborhood.

We actually planted two different kinds of sunflowers, we had the regular yellow and my folks kind of fell in love with the chocolate ones. I was a little hesitant about them because I didn’t exactly know how they would turn out, but they are so beautiful!

In the beginning, we put about five seeds if I remember correctly into five separate pots. They in various sizes but they all seemed to take off around the same time and it was neat to watch them come out of the dirt, and grow little green leaves and stems. Since these were like my babies, everytime I went outside to visit with our cats, I would roll over there to check on their progress. My mom and I were looking at them almost on a daily basis, and since I am a huge namer, I decided to give each pot a name because to name each flower would be too much, especially with the amount we have now.

I became very inspired by the fact that Ukraine’s national flower was actually a sunflower, I thought the pots needed to be named after names used there in a way to honor the people and state. So, with that being said, the first big pot had the largest collection of flowers in it, so I named that one Boris. I don’t know why, but I felt like I needed to use this name. It may not be a well-used name, but I took that as a sign and went with it. The meaning behind Boris is fighter, so I thought it was perfect as the Ukrainians are real fighters, it doesn’t matter whether they are on the front lines or left their homes, schools, life, etc. They are survivors.

The middle pots are similar in size and my mind went, “well they’re fraternal triplets!” so they were all named with my favorite girl names, Oksana (means: welcoming, hospitality), Olesya (means: protector, forest), and Olena (means: torch, shining light). Olena is for the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska! And finally, the last pot was the smaller and I was drawn toward the name Lev, which means lion, so it’s smally but mighty at the same time.

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By June, all of the sprouts were ready to be replanted along the fence line and my parents sent like a whole day and a half getting these guys into place, once there they were given a little bit of water and they began to grow.

Since this was our first time with sunflowers in general, we were a bit puzzled when my mom snapped this picture. We were sort of concerned because it looked like we had planted some very weird Venus Flytraps! We did make a note of the inside of the plant had a small hole in the middle and we realized this was where the seeds were, and the little dark green spikes would become the petals. We were thrilled when they transformed but it was cool to see a part that we never knew happened in their way of becoming regular sunflowers.

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Once they began to climb up the fence, they started to change again–this time it was size! Several of the sunflowers were a little too top heavy and so my dad stuck some dowls into the ground next to them to help give them some stability, and they seemed to relish in the support because they are huge, and I mean, they are so big in the middle part they still have issues lifting up towards the sky. So, these flowers really hide among their leaves and other flowers. They are still pretty but you instantly feel bad for them too.

It’s sort of funny if you really think about it; although we only bought (and planted) two packages of sunflowers, we ended up with three different flowers. We expected all of them being in the same size as the chocolates, but then we have a small section with these bad boys! We are sort of dumbfounded at the mystery, but they’ve been fun to watch as the season changes, and we know going into this we would have a bunch of bees come around to collect pollen, and we were right with that assumption, but we’ve also seen some hummingbirds and yellow birds make their way to them in the last month.

Back in late July, I finally got to go around to see them up close and they were somewhat intimidating as they just towered over my mom, sister, nephew and I. It was sweet to see a couple of the newbies (because we have even more flowers traveling up to the others!) and I’m happy to say, it makes really happy to see cars come around our neighborhood to see them. We had an older man bring his wife around to see them the other day and I thought it was so sweet because I love going to other sunflower gardens too! We also have a lot of bees visiting too. Bees are very important to our ecosystem and even though I am terrified of them, I don’t want them to disappear forever because they are probably the reason why we have baby sunflowers below the veterans.

While I was outside, we made a trip to see the other garden along the left side of the house. Nolan managed to find a baby cucumber and pulled it off its stem. He really loves visiting the gardens and picking the vegetables with Mimi and Papaw. He was very proud of his discovery too! A few days later, my mom went by the same section and found the biggest cucumber we’ve seen so far! We don’t know how we managed to pull these things in the same time span, but it happened.

In this garden, we also have some green pepper plants. As a family, we like to snack of chopped up peppers with dip, use them in stuffed peppers (or stuffed mangos as my dad grew up calling them!) and finally salsa!

As the title says, I’ll be discussing our pickling process as well, but we have also made one batch of marinara sauce, and two large batches of salsa. Now, I will not be going into too much detail about the steps to make each one, but I did have my mom take photos of the packages they used to create them though! I’m hoping that’ll be enough, but I also wanted to leave you with their links as well at the end of the post!

On July 16th, we got our first harvest, and the cucumber was really big. I often wonder why my folks don’t pick them while they are somewhat smaller, but it may have something to do with ripeness like most vegetables. I don’t really know. I was never a fan of cucumbers, unless they transformed into pickles… so I’m not an expert on them. Honestly, I can’t physically grab any of our vegetables out of the gardens, which is why my knowledge is lacking in certain areas.

Anyways, the first time my parents decided to start creating our own pickles, they went all in with it and made four different kinds: bread-and-butter, kosher, garlic kosher and non-kosher dill. I have tried one of the dills and it was WAYYY too strong for any of us! Last month, I finally got to try a bread-and-butter and they were much better, very mild and even though they were sitting on the kitchen table, they were not cold, and it didn’t matter because I got to savor the flavors a lot better compared to them coming out of the fridge and my teeth screaming at me because of the coldness!

My nephew was even part of the pickling process, he really loves to help out, and a way to use this to our advantage was getting him involved with stuffing the wedges inside each mason jar and he really enjoyed being able to do this. What was cute though was my dad had this smaller jar that is like a fraction of the others, and he cut cucumber wedges smaller so Nolan could have his own jar! He seemed to love having his own stash in the fridge but since he went home before the jar itself cooled down, we ended up holding onto it for a couple of weeks!

A couple of weeks after my folks completed their first attempt at the pickles, my mom really wanted to make her own marinara sauce, we eat a lot of pizza and spaghetti in our house! Unfortunately, when my mom tried it, she wasn’t that impressed with it, and hasn’t tried to redeem herself yet. The third venture was salsa, and again we love restaurant style salsa so it wasn’t that big of a surprise they would try it out, but I don’t think they expected us to go through seven jars in a matter of two or three months! One of my dad’s ingredients was adding our baby green peppers into the mix and I can’t taste it in there, but I love the flavor of the whole thing! One day, my dad literally made salsa and the only container he could put it in was our lemonade/tea pitcher!

As we continue to harvest our goods, the room on our kitchen table keeps getting smaller and smaller, so much so that the side I eat on was very chaotic and full of empty jars and rows of cucumbers would feel overwhelming! In order to solve this problem, especially with storing the jars that haven’t been used yet, we have this old pie storage, it has to be extremely old and completely made up of wood, but it is large enough to hold three or four levels of our stuff to last a few in the colder months, but we might want to control our intake of salsa if we truly want to do this though!


Next month I will have the final post of the garden tour and will talk more about the whole setup, because it has been a massive undertaking for my dad, but I think in a secret way, he really enjoys fixing it up! It will include the original plans, more vegetables, and how we were keeping the cats and other animals out of it.

I hope you are enjoying these posts; I’ve been surprising myself on how much fun it is to write them for you. I used to do these types of posts when my sister was in her first year of college, but thankfully, the photos are in a lot better quality! Anyways, be sure to be on the lookout for that sometime at the end of October.

How you ever pickled anything before? Do you know of any other recipes we should try to make with our vegetables? Please leave everything in the comments below.

snowflake

A-Z Disability Challenge | W : Wheelchairs

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It is extremely difficult for me to talk about wheelchairs. Last year, the big contervesory was about the death of Stephan Hawking was announced, an artist made this beautiful drawing of him coming out of his wheelchair and basically walking up to heaven. As a disabled woman, I was very conflicted with this, but it wasn’t for the picture per se. It was because I felt like I had to choose between what I’ve always been taught and agreeing with the rest of the disability community.

The big deal wasn’t necessarily about the drawing itself, it was more about how a disabled person relies on their wheelchair to do things, like simple tasks around the house and/or getting out and having drinks with friends. However, everything just exploded into this chaotic thing that I really did not want to be part of at that time. Honestly, I still didn’t want to talk about it again on here, but I am on the letter “W” and there wasn’t anything else I could talk about other than this.

So, I’ll just say that my wheelchair doesn’t give me freedom. There it’s out and I can separate myself from the crap I’ve been feeling all this time.

I do think it allows me to do tasks better but I still feel stuck whenever I am in it. I really feel I am limited in both varieties of wheelchairs, as I’m either too short or too bulky! I have yet to find the perfect fit. Maybe this is what regular woman deal with picking out new heels! The second point I would like to get across is, it’s also all about your state of mind. I think after so long, you adapt to every different setting, and wheelchairs are a part of this too. You might get to do new or lose some beloved challenges while figuring out your surroundings.

Again, I have conflicting feelings about my freedom. I know I can never get away from my limitations. I say this not a sad note though, I like being able to test them anyways. I think this is really healthy! My family might not always agree with that statement, but you know. Honestly I would lastly like to say, I will believe what I want to. I have been doing pretty good on several other subjects throughout the years, I can add this onto the never ending list too! Even if that means keeping it in for a year and a half until I can find a clean way to discuss it on here, that’s what I’ll do.

If you’re in a wheelchair, whether that is full or part time, what are your thoughts on your freedom to be able do all the things you want to do? 

snowflake

A-Z Disability Challenge | Q&A

Howdy!

This post wasn’t really prepared the best. When I officially decided this was what I was going to do, I was overcome with dread because whenever I ask for questions like this, I don’t get anything on anything! This was the case for both Twitter and Instagram (which I figured!) but surprisingly on Facebook I got several interesting ones! They were only from two people but at least they gave me something for this post!

Questions Asked By Brittany:

How many people have you ran over with your wheelchair?

Since I’ve had three of them at different times in my life, I figured it was only right to do an estimate for all of them! Unfortunately, I actually haven’t used my red one a lot, so for once it’s at zero! I feel like once we have a porch and I can freely go places with it, that number will increase but hopefully not as much as the previous chairs because that is just embarrassing!

I was around four years old when I received my first wheelchair, “the purple one” as my family calls it. I used it for the majority of my childhood, until the age of 14 I think. So, I feel like the number is pretty big because I was a sassy little thing and loved to run people over. I’m thinking it might be over 30-40 people. The second was the ugly hot pink chair, which I had from the age 14 to 27, I don’t feel like I ran over a ton more but I feel like it’s no more than 30 people, because once I was out of school, I didn’t like doing it anymore.

How many times have you fallen out of your wheelchair?

Thankfully I have never fallen out of my power chairs before, but with these manual wheelchairs, it’s a totally different story! The chair with the most falls is one I like to call “death trap” because of the amount of times it’s not only scared me, but others who have had watch me fall out of it. Since last February I don’t use it as much unless I am getting my hair washed. Unfortunately, my dad and I can’t throw it into the dumpster yet!

Oh, and I have fallen out of it four or five times! The last few were semi-controlled, as my mom was in the process of transferring me but the brakes never locked so it would roll back a little if you weren’t careful!

Your favorite memory?

This is so difficult to answer because I have a lot of favorite memories, but the two that jumped out at me won out. The first one was of my sister and I being outside at our grandparent’s house when we were little and one of our favorite things to do at the time was dig in the dirt by the porch. For some reason our spot was always by the big tree and one day while we were digging for treasure that came with killing invaders by the technical names of ants and worms, we found this white thing. We seriously thought it was treasure until my nana pointed out that was part of the water sewer pipe to the house. After the discovery we were told to cover it back up and pick another spot. Unfortunately, we were never as lucky in other places as that one!

The next memory is a special one because in my family, we are mostly known for our eating and laughter, but one time while my Aunt Laurie and cousins Amy and Taylor came down from up north, we managed to get everyone involved with playing Frisbee. This had never happened before, but everybody but nana and I went out into the big part of the yard to toss the Frisbee back and forth to each other. It was so much fun to watch everyone risk life and limb basically to never letting it hit the ground! The only reason we stopped was because somebody got a little overzealous and threw it up a little high and it landed on top of the house!

What did you eat for breakfast? 

This was one of the most random question but I can’t leave it out, so I had a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles with a small amount of milk on top, along with a cup of milk with it too.

Questions Asked By Christine

Is there at least one or two inventions you wish you could have that made your life easier?

You know, I am always thinking of things of little inventions–it’s part of being half of my dad because he use to fix houses years ago, but I mostly try to come up with things that I can use around the house.

For example, I have this foam box that my nana got with her Meals On Wheels once a week a few years ago, and we kept two of them after realizing they were the perfect height and light enough to move around for me while in the wheelchair or on the bed. Ever since I have had thoughts about how to make this better, with using something I remember seeing in school, but I have always had hard time explaining the visions in my head so that’s why the majority of the stuff that I think about, stays in the back of my head!

Do you have the high and low of your experience(s) and how do you handle it?

I think everyone has experienced the highs and lows of things, especially ones you have no control over. You usually feel like everything is working against you, but I have learned that everything happens for a reason and God will guide you away or to things that may not make sense at the time but later will be a learning curve for you.

For the past two years, I have been using the “going with the flow” method and it has helped me out a lot with things like overthinking and the feeling of rejection. I think the best thing to remember when things don’t work out, it doesn’t mean that opportunity will never come knocking again. You just may not be ready for it right now. I have always said that I would never write for magazines but I have, because I found several places that talk about subjects that are close to me and that made me change my mind about doing it in the first place!

I hope you have enjoyed the post today and material given by both Brittany and Christine, and I want to say thank you to both of them for sending me really fun and interesting questions. If you have any more for me, leave a comment down below and I will try my best to get back to you soon!

Did I Watch The Winter Paralympics?

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Howdy!

First off, I wanted to ask how everyone is on this lovely morning? I hope you all are enjoying or have enjoyed your Monday, hopefully you had a good day overall. We are now in April, and spring is in the air, but just because our calendar says “spring” it doesn’t that the snow will suddenly go away! If you live in an area that has had these experiences in the month of April, you should know better!

I wanted to talk about something today, as you can tell from the banner above, we’re going to be discussing the Winter Paralympics, but before I answer the question, I wanted to ask if you got a chance to watch any of the sporting events? A family friend of mine had some issues finding a channel that was airing it on her television, so she ended up having to use Google Play to see it, but unfortunately they didn’t have closed captions so I don’t think she could really keep up with it as much. As far as I know, she was the only one close to me who showed some interest in it.

I don’t know who thought about scheduling the Paralympic games in March, but it was the worst idea ever! I knew that they were going to be airing the events back in December, but I also knew the Big East conference was going to start up too, and I also had to add in any of the professional basketball games that were on during those two weeks! As those coming weeks got closer, I realized I had to make a decision about whether or not to watch the Paralympics at all.

I didn’t think I would like it as much as the summer games. So I made a last minute decision and didn’t watch more than like ten minutes of both wheelchair curling and sled hockey. After watching all of the basketball games, I just wanted to have time in the afternoon to relax and if I wanted to watch anything, it could be one of my food shows or a Disney movie. Sometimes when I was actually sleeping good during the week, I was literally recording any of my games that came on at 10:30pm, because I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer!

So did you get to watch the Winter Olympics and/or Paralympics? If you did, could you tell me what were some of your favorite highlights? If this was your first time ever watching the Paralympic games, were you ever surprised by a certain event or athlete? 

snowflake

My Worst Fear

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Howdy!

Today’s post is going to be a little interesting. For most people, talking about their worst fears would probably be a bad thing, because of the backlash that could come from family members and/or friends who love to tease them about it at different gatherings and holidays. Honestly, I don’t blame them for wanting to keep quiet about it.

People usually are afraid of “little” things like the ones I mentioned in my fetish and phobia post last month, but I actually have a fear of something that is slowly but surely becoming a “great engineering feat” in the world. Are you confused yet? Let me walk (or in this case, roll) you back to when I was in elementary school in the late 90’s!

I want to say I was probably in second grade when all of my classmates were made to sit out in the middle of the gym floor (except me) while we watched a little movie. Now it wasn’t a cheerful Disney film or anything, this was an educational movie for us kids. I vaguely remember it talking about different careers and what the world would look like with all of the advancing technology people were learning at the time. Surprisingly, this was a very stimulating film for all of us, even if the adults had 80’s styled, big rimmed glasses and denim jumpsuits with big hair to match!

One of the things I actually do remember very well, was the “possibility” of self-driven cars. Now to every single one of my classmates and even some of the teachers, this was pretty cool! There was a scene of a man, seemingly driving this crappy looking orange vehicle with his knees and eating cheese burger with his hands. The car just knew where he wanted to go and it took him there without him ever needing to control the steering wheel and feet controls, and it absolutely terrified me! Funnily enough though, the first thing that everybody says when this pops up on the screen, is “Wow!” Meghan, this is something you could look forward to in the future!” I was both amazed and insulted at that comment, because at the time I wanted to be like everybody else and obviously nobody believed that I could drive my own car without needing all of that!

Now looking back years later and seeing Ford create a self parking car. My worst fears were realized whenever I’d see those commercials on my television, and I have to say it absolutely made me feel like I could throw up everytime it came on my TV and on YouTube!

I should probably explain why I’m afraid of these self-driving cars.

It actually goes back a little bit further in my childhood. I was invited to a birthday party, and the girl’s family lived out in the country and that afternoon as we were leaving, it began to pour down rain–eventually it had turned into a medium size thunderstorm! My mom put me in the car and buckled me in. She went back into the house to call my friend’s mom about how to get there and as it continued to rain down overhead. I seriously thought the car was moving without my mom being in it and pressing on the gas pedal. It was the worst situation I had been in and unfortunately, ever since it happened, I’ve had nightmares of being trapped in an empty car and I am usually rolling down hills or just down the street. Every four months, I have a similar dream of being stuck in a beloved family car without a way of getting out!

I’m getting closer and closer to my thirties and it never fails to me that I can still have that fear. My mom probably doesn’t even remember the incident. and hardly anybody in my family actually knows about this either. I’ve always felt that it’s a stupid little thing that why should I share it? In a way, I’m still asking it as I write this post, but I might get lucky (sorry for your sake!) that other people have the same fear. They might’ve experienced a similar thing during their childhood and it’s played a bigger role in their adult lives. I’ve always wondered if that has something to do with the fact that I’ve never wanted my driver’s licences. I tell people all the time that I can’t be trusted with a car because of my speeding record in my power wheelchair, but maybe this is the real reason for it. I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth about that, but it is an interesting theory to make I think.

So do you have any “weird” phobias that you’d like to share with me? What have you done to try to face and get over them completely?

snowflake