Potato Box

Last year, around this time, I got into urban gardening.  Inspired by my sister, I built a square foot box for spring planting and had a blast learning about growing your own garden.  I didn't have the most prolific crop, but I did have a lot of fun doing it.  While doing some research I ran across the idea of a potato box.  I was attempting to grow potatoes in my square foot box and it was not working out.  I was not familiar with how potatoes grow, but apparently if you grow them vertically and continue to cover up the vines as they grow (leaving a few inches of uncovered vine up top of course) they will continue to root and put out potatoes.  I found this website that tells you how to build a "Potato Condo," which supposedly grows 100 lbs of potatoes in 4 sq feet.  My sister and I talked about this idea right after I found it and she was really interested in doing it, so I built her a box for Christmas.  It turned out pretty great.  Here is a picture of the final product...

The idea is that you start with your box set-up with 2-3 boards around the base. I decided to build 1 side that wouldn't be removed all the way up.   You fill the box with soil and plant your potatoes in the base of the box.  Once they grow up high enough, you add another layer of wood (which is already cut and pre-drilled) and then more dirt.  You continue doing this until you reach the top.  You will need to be familiar with planting and harvest times.  When the potatoes on the bottom have been maturing for long enough, you take off the second layer of boards from the bottom and harvest the mature potatoes.  You continue to work your way up the layers as the potatoes mature.  Supposedly by the end of this, you will have yourself 100 lbs. of potatoes.  I built myself one too, so I suppose we will see very soon if it works!  If it works, I am going to need a lot more recipes that use potatoes.  


If you like hummus...

I was a hummus hater.  Hummus was one of those things that I tried to like so many times and it just wasn't working.  I hated hummus. until I found some that I liked.  Two years ago I went to the Middle East; Jordan to be exact, and it was there that I first had hummus that I liked.  It was incredible.  Gradually, I found hummus in the states that I liked; a local greek restaurant owned by a man from Jordan and the Trader Joe's brand is also good.  I had hated the store brand Sabre hummus from the beginning, but I have recently grown to like it okay.
A few months ago, I decided to make my own black bean hummus.  I came across this recipe and it is so simple and so good.  If you like hummus, and especially if you like black beans, you should try this.  The Tahini can be a little hard to find.  Your best bet is an international grocer or a farmers market.  ENJOY!

Black Bean Hummus
  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans; drain and reserve liquid
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Mince garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Add black beans, 2 tablespoons reserved liquid, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, tahini, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper; process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add additional seasoning and liquid to taste. Garnish with paprika and Greek olives.


Gifts of Hope

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. For me, it brings a great amount of joy, anticipation and hope, but for many people, Christmas holds very little hope at all.  For many, Christmas is often a painful reminder of what or who they don't have.  The people who have get more and the people who have not continue to dream about the time when things might be different for them.
I work with underprivileged kids.  I can't tell you the number of times kids told me they didn't think they were going to do Christmas this year because money was tight.  I would just sit there with nothing to say back to them, surprised that that was their reality because that is no where close to my reality.  I have never been in a place where money was too tight to have Christmas, but millions of people are.

I have plenty of things.  My roommate and I were talking about how we wanted this Christmas to be more about giving and less about receiving.  We each wanted to find families to give back to this Christmas.  We both work with people in great need and we live in one of the places in the United States with the highest refugee population, so it was not difficult to find families in need.  All together we shopped for 10 kids, 5 families and it was such an amazing experience.

There was no fanfare.  None of the kids will ever know who gave them the gifts and that is the beauty of it.  Hopefully when they think about this Christmas, and the things that they received, they will say that God provided a blessing for them...that He gave them hope during a dark time.  This is the reason for this season. It is much greater than trees and twinkle lights, egg nog and carols; it is about the sacrificial gift of God that changed the world forever.  And it is our calling, as followers of Jesus to do Christmas in a way that honors that sacrifice and shines light into the darkness.

Now, I am not writing this to bring any attention to what I have done.  I am writing this as an affirmation of what God has promised to us about giving to others. This was the most meaningful part of my Christmas.  This was the part that will endure long after all of my gifts have been opened and the tree has come down.  This act of obedience stirred something in my soul, that continues to rise even though the act is over; it stirred up a heart of generosity.  I want others to experience this; to know that giving (the type of giving where you stand to gain nothing) is much better than receiving. Find a way to give before this season ends.  Here is an article about practical ways to give this season and throughout the year; because this shouldn't be a seasonal thing, it should be a daily rhythm of life for us as believers.  


So small

This summer I went on a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana.  I have been very blessed, in that I have traveled a good deal and seen a lot of beautiful places.  I am not sure I have been anywhere as beautiful and grand as Glacier National Park.  It is absolutely breathtaking.  There are waterfalls, pastures, forests, fields of flowers, lakes, rivers and wildlife.

I was going through pictures this week while making some Christmas gifts and I came across this set of pictures from Glacier with me at the top of this huge waterfall. On the last day we stopped at this short hiking trail that was suppose to have a pretty waterfall at the end of it.  A pretty waterfall was an understatement.  This set of falls is massive with a giant pool of rushing water at the bottom.  It was a huge reward for such a small hike.  I climbed to the top of the falls in hopes of having an awesome picture taken from the bottom, but as you look at this picture you can barely find me at the top of the falls.  I am dwarfed by the size and majesty of the waterfall.  As I was looking at this picture I was struck by how very small I am.  This is 1 waterfall in 1 part of 1 park in 1 town in 1 state in 1 country on 1 continent on 1 planet and it dwarfs me.  And suddenly my world, my life, my agenda becomes very, very tiny and if only for a moment, I gain a little perspective...

He is...

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens.  When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him..." Psalms 8:1, 3-4

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." Psalm 19:1

"He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.  He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them...The pillars of heaven tremble at his rebuke.  By his power he stilled the sea...by his wind the heavens were made fair....Behold, these are but the fringes of his ways."  Job 26: 7-8, 11-14

We are...

"What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?  A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.  There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after."  Ecclesiastes 1:2-4, 11

"O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?  Man is like a breath; his days are passing shadow."  Psalm 144:3-4

"All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever."  Isaiah 40:6-8

And yet...

"Yet you have made him a little lower then the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.  You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet." Psalm 8:5-6

"The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry."  Psalm 34:15

"In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help.  From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears."  Psalm 18:6


The things you can do with a pallet

This should have posted months ago...not sure why it didn't.

For a while now, I have been itching to build something.  I am envious of all these people who know how to take something from a trash heap and turn it into something awesome. I would love to be one of those people. I would love to know how to build things and renovate spaces.  I admire people with those talents.  Recently, I began researching all of things that you can make with old wooden pallets.  This was sparked by the compost bin I made out of pallets at the beginning of the year.  Did you know that there are tons of things that can be constructed from old wooden pallets?  Coffee tables, shelves, end tables, headboards, swings and even this:

This picture is terrible, but it is the stage backdrop at my church made entirely from old pallet wood and it is beautiful.
Anyway, I found this swing online that I wanted to make.  It was featured on this link below:
Pallet Swing

It is awesome.  It looked pretty easy and I was dieing to make it.  Amy's mom, who is a jack of all trades and tools, came into town last weekend and we built us a pallet swing.  Her mom has a million tools and can build or create anything.  We got us some old pallets, some rope and wood stain from home depot and below is the finished product:

We are quite proud of what we created.  It looks awesome and so that you would know it actually holds a human, we took this picture of Amy trying it out. It also comes equipped with cup holders on both sides!  I may now be asking for some tools for Christmas.  Maybe I will one day work on HGTV...who knows!