Simply Mrs. Edwards

{just the life of a new wife}


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Vacationing on a Shoestring Budget

What is a young couple to do when they’re on a shoestring budget but are dying to get away for a long weekend? They find the most breathtaking coastal area in their state and go camping.

A few weeks ago we packed up and headed north up the coast to Bodega Bay for a 3 night camping trip. Honestly, we live in one of the most amazing areas in the state. There is never a lack of places to go see and explore, never too few options for a weekend getaway. Last year we headed a couple of hours south down the coast to Big Sur for a weekend camping trip

We headed to Bodega Dunes Campground which is a part of the Sonoma Coast State Park. When you arrive, they tell you to drive around and find a site that you’d like to claim and head back to the gate to check in. Well, after a few loops around the campground, we thought we found “the one.” It was sunny and open and close  (but not too close) to a restroom. We let the nice lady at the gate know that we wanted to claim it and started to set up. Well, we quickly realized that it was too open and too windy. Strike one.

On to site number two. We found this cute little area that was secluded, yet still sunny. It was set back from the road and there was a perfect nook for our tent. It reminded me a little bit of the Secret Garden. Well…this site definitely had its secrets. And unfortunately those secrets were stinky like a skunky.

After the sun went down, we had not one, not two, but THREE skunks that came out of the bushes. Three skunks that had their own agenda and were not the least bit afraid of us. One of us was exceptionally afraid of the skunks. One hint- he has a beard. Josh may or may not have hid behind me as as I was warding off the the stinky beasts. I’ll let it slide this time…

There was no way that we were going to be able to sit and relax around a fire with our new found friends, so we hid in our tent and played cards. Looking back, it’s hilarious. In the moment, not so much. Strike two.

The next morning we packed up camp once again and began looking for another campsite. After looking for a while, we happened upon a gem. It was a campsite that overlooked the bay and had the perfect combination of sun and shade. No skunks in sight. It was glorious!

This was the view from behind our tent. Pretty great, right?

While we were planning the trip, I scoured Pinterest for as many food ideas as possible (see my camping board right here). We tried a few ideas, but relied on some old favorites like Saturday Morning Breakfast.

My Husband is a bit obsessed with campfires. He brought 1/4 truck full of wood and was determined to use it all before we went home. This meant that we had a HUGE fire each morning and night!

We did our fair share of exploring up and down the coast during our 4 days there. The Sonoma coast is  absolutely beautiful. There are areas of sandy shoreline and sections of rocky sheer cliffs. We quickly realized that the ocean was angry and definitely not worth swimming in.

One afternoon, we drove about 30 minutes north to the town of Jenner. It’s a really cute little area with one hotel, one gas station and one little store. The town is built right where the Russian River comes into the ocean. There is a little peninsula that separates the river from the ocean where people kayak and swim. It is also where 50+ seals hang out, play, and sunbathe.

We’ve decided that all of our camping trips need to be at least 3 nights. If anything, it takes that long to find a campsite that isn’t occupied by skunks…

Some tips on how to plan and enjoy a camping vacation on a budget:

  • Choose a location that is close to home, but is far enough to feel like you’re getting away. We traveled about 3 hours from home, which was close enough to save on gas, but far enough to have a change of scenery.
  • Plan simple, but tasty meals. Use websites such as Pinterest and All Recipes to find new ideas.
  • Save in advance! I found it helpful to stash cash away in an envelope or jar for a few paychecks.
  • Use websites/apps like Yelp to find local favorites and affordable restaurants.
  • Plan simple & free activities to enjoy throughout your stay. If you camp within the State Park system your campsite fees will get you into any other local park. If you don’t own bikes, try to borrow some from friends! Take a picnic to the beach, go tide pooling, take a good book and relax!

The Camper,
Mrs. Edwards


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How’s it Growing?

I have a few updates for you. Things are growing ’round here…

Remember back when we revamped an overgrown flower garden? Well, the bulbs that we planted decided to make themselves known and have brought a ton of color and happiness to our street corner. Daily, I get a neighbor driving by telling me how beautiful my flowers are! I can’t take too much credit…all I do is water them for goodness sake.
How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. EdwardsWe have the marigolds that keep chuggin’ along, some monstrous dahlias behind them and some slightly shorter lilies hiding in the very back. When the dahlias reached the 4 foot mark, we realized that we planted the bulbs in the wrong order. Oh well, you grow and learn, right? I’ll need to dig the bulbs up and reverse the order next spring. But for now, we’re enjoying some amazing blooms! You also may have noticed some clean looking mulch on the ground, too. That’s thanks to my sweet husband! He spread it out while I was at work one day. It’s done a fantastic job of keeping the moisture in and the weeds down.

Let’s take a moment to enjoy these beauties…first up the dahlias:

How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. Edwards

Next up are the day lilies that my mom gave me…How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. Edwards

And lastly the  white lilies that I planted…How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. Edwards

Pretty, huh?! Not to toot my own horn, but dang. That flower garden is lookin’ good!

Next update: our vegetable garden! I have to forewarn you…it’s not the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen. I’m still finding my inner organic vegetable gardener. Unfortunately, a few of my starter plants didn’t make it, and some things are looking a little wimpy. On the upside, I have already harvested my first fruits! Two pea pods. Yep…a whopping two pods! That’s like 12 peas! I know, I know…too impressive to even comprehend. Moving on, let’s take a look…

How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. Edwards

My green beans have climbed to the top of our trellis, but are starting to turn yellow. A friends idea and a quick google search makes me think that it’s from a lack of nitrogen in the soil. I watered with some Miracle Grow this evening, so hopefully that’ll perk ’em up. I think next year we’ll amend our soil a bit more and probably follow the recipe for Mel’s Mix (1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 compost). How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. Edwards

My corn is doing pretty well, so far. A few plants didn’t make it, so I hope to have enough for them to cross pollinate. We’ll see!How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. Edwards

My cilantro has gone to seed and my basil is growing like crazy. Every time I water I get a whiff of the basil…yum! You can see that my bush beans aren’t doing so hot either. Four of the six plants keeled over about a week ago. Ya win some, ya lose some.

How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. Edwards

My broccoli is doing pretty well! The peas, notsomuch. Two didn’t make it, and the two that did are looking like pygmies. BUT, like I said above, I’ve already harvested 2 pea pods! Yeah!How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. Edwards

Two more pea pods ready to be eaten! Yumyumyum.How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. Edwards

Squash! These plants are the pride and joy of my garden right now. The two plants have about 8 little squash growing (what’s the plural of squash…squashes, squash’s, squishes?) I can hardly wait until they’re ready to be picked and eaten. YUM.

How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. Edwards

The broccoli seems to be doing well at this moment. It has it’s days where it’s looking kinda sad and temperamental. It’s a lot like a woman if you think about it.
How's it Growing? // Simply Mrs. EdwardsSo that’s what’s growing here at the Edwards’! How are your summer flowers and crops growing? Do you have an over abundance of big blooms? Have you harvested any veggies yet? Do you have temperamental broccoli? Hope you’re enjoying the process and getting dirt under those fingernails, ’cause I sure am :)

Growing on,
Mrs. Edwards


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Green Thumb

V is for Vegetable...Garden

Growing up I spent hours upon hours playing in my Grandparents acre sized organic vegetable garden. Their garden yielded enough to sustain themselves throughout the year and share with others. They grew tons of crops (figuratively and literally): potatoes, corn, asparagus, squash, zucchini, peas, peppers, green beans, tomatoes, carrots, raspberries, apples, etc. I remember spending lots and lots of time with my Grandmother in their garden, learning to tend the plants, playing with earth worms, and picking flowers that probably weren’t supposed to be picked. One of my favorite things about their garden was their green bean tunnel. It was a wooden trellis tunnel that was about 7 feet tall, 8 feet wide and probably 20ish feet long (as a 5 year old, it seemed HUGE). The plants would grow up and over the top to create this fantastic tunnel with green beans hanging everywhere just begging to be picked. It was a curious child’s paradise. My Mom tells stories of when my Brother was little and she had him in the baby back-pack while she was in the tunnel picking beans. She says that she was picking along and my brother kept reaching out and pulling green beans off and eating them raw. To this day he still eats raw green beans. He probably has many more memories than I do of that garden, but I do know that we both learned a lot from our Grandparents there.

My Parents and Brother all have fantastically green thumbs. I’m still doing my best to find mine…and the project below is a testament to that. Since we moved into this house I’ve been wanting to plant some sort of vegetable garden in our side yard. Neither Josh or I have had the time (or money) to invest into one in the past 2 years, but this year we made some time (and budgeted for it)! This isn’t anything like my Grandparents magical oasis, but it’s something. And something is better than nothing! Our first attempt at a garden is in the form of two raised garden beds.  We absolutely didn’t have the budget to go out and spend upwards of $250 on new redwood lumber to build two 3′ x 6′ boxes, so we improvised and used some awesome reclaimed redwood lumber. Not only was this wood free, but it has some cool history to it. We are blessed to work and live at a Christian Camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Josh works on the Maintenance Team and recently helped a group of volunteers replace a portion of Victory Circle, our outdoor amphitheater. The portion of wood that they removed was about 30 years old and was not sturdy enough for people to sit or walk on anymore, so it was just going to be tossed. My brilliant husband swooped on the stuff he could salvage and brought it home to build the boxes. How cool is it to think that our vegetable gardens are built out of wood that people have been sitting on for 30 years, sharing how their lives have been transformed by Jesus in this place! That gives me chills every time I go out to tend our garden. God is good to remind me of Himself in the small things!

We started out with a hilly portion of our side yard that was overgrown with weeds that were waist high. It didn’t start as much, but it’s the sunniest area of our place! It gets about 6-7 hours of sun per day, which for being in a redwood forest is like finding Narnia.

Raised Garden Bed via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

Josh did a number on the area with the weed whacker, and it turned out looking something like this (that’s my cute Mom helping us clean up the junk!):

Raised Garden Bed via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

We worked on removing the weeds and leveling two spots for the boxes (that’s our neighbors house next door):

Raised Garden Bed via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

Once we got the space cleared out, we went to work on the boxes themselves. My handy hubby whipped up a few boxes pretty quickly out of our lumber. Because portions of the wood were beginning to dry rot, we had to be selective in which pieces we used. Thankfully, we had just enough good pieces to patch together two 3′ x 6′ boxes. We built the boxes out of 2″ x 6″ lumber.

Raised Garden Bed via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com We began by laying chicken wire down first to combat any unwanted moles or gophers. We actually laid two layers that were offset because those sneaky pests can weasel their way through a standard chicken wire opening. Once we got the wire laid, we placed the 6 ft. pieces at the back of our leveled out area and pounded stakes into each corner to give it some stability. The corner stakes were about 3 ft. long; we pounded them into the ground about 2 feet and then stacked two 2″ x 6″ boards to create a 12″ deep bed. Raised Garden Bed via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

Raised Garden Bed via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

Because we were building on a hill we ended up with the uphill side having two 2″ x 6″ planks stacked and the downhill side with three planks to keep the dirt from sliding out from the bottom (not sure if that makes sense, you’ll see it in the other pictures). We tried our hardest to keep everything level and square, but I’m sure it’s not perfect. It holds dirt and that’s all that really matters, right?! :)

Once we had the boxes put together I laid weed fabric in the bottom and stapled it in. We hope that with the combination of chicken wire and weed fabric we won’t have to deal with too many digging pests or weeds. Here’s to hoping!

Raised Garden Bed via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

After a few hours of hard work, this is what we had to show! Pretty awesome if I do say so myself!

Raised Garden Bed via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

We visited our local landscaping supply store and picked up a yard of top soil. We then mixed in two bags of manure, one steer and one chicken.

Raised Garden Bed via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

My brother-in-law introduced me to a concept called Square Foot Gardening. It’s exactly what it sounds like- growing plants within a square foot! This is a pretty simple concept that is user friendly, very efficient, and pretty productive. Depending on the crop, you can plant 1, 2, 3, 4+ plants in each square foot. There are various recommendations on how to section off your box, but we chose the option of using 1″ish slats of wood (Josh cut them from a piece of scrap wood, so their size is approximate) and attached them directly to the box.

Raised Garden Bed via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

We chose to plant a variety of things to see what grows best here. We currently have pole beans, bush beans, corn, cilantro, basil, and lemon thyme in one box and yellow squash, broccoli, carrots, and peas in the other. I started the broccoli, peas, and corn indoors in peat pellets about a week before I planted them in the ground.

Raised Garden Bed via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

Square Foot Garden via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

Square Foot Garden via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

Fast forward about 3 weeks and this is what we have now…

Square Foot Garden via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

Square Foot Garden via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

Square Foot Garden via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.com

Square Foot Garden via www.simplymrsedwards.wordpress.comPretty good, right!? We had bird netting over the boxes until today when we put the stakes in for the beans and peas to climb up (the shorter stakes in the corners of the boxes were to hold up the netting). I’m crossing my fingers that the birds and squirrels don’t get curious now that we’ve taken the netting off…we’ll see!

We still have quite a bit of work to do in the side yard, but its slowly getting there. We want to build some stairs down to the boxes and spread some woodchips around the area to keep the dust down. Hopefully we’ll get to that within the next few weeks. Although it’s still a work in progress and we haven’t actually harvested anything from it yet, our garden brings me so much joy! There is so much to be said about doing hard work with someone you love and literally seeing the fruits of your labor in just a few weeks. I’m thankful that my Grandparents, Parents and Brother have all continued the tradition of home-growing and that I’m getting to enjoy this process, too. I’ll keep you updated on how this garden does over the next few months! :)

Now with a green thumb (whoo!),
Mrs. Edwards


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Mrs. Edwards, How Does Your Garden Grow?

An Afternoon in my Bed 4.1.12 {via Instagram}

How did the flower bed above come from something looking like the one in the next picture?

A ridiculous amount of sheer determination and brute force, that’s how.

This flower bed is one of the only areas around our house that gets enough sun to grow much of anything. Living in the redwood forest has pros and cons…cons include the cave-like sunlight. Sunny flower beds are a rare gem in Mount Hermon and finding one that can grow anything is like finding gold. For the past 10+ years, this flower bed has done a wonderful job of growing ivy. Lots and LOTS of ivy. The kind that has roots to Timbuktu and back again. I’ve been mildly successful with potted flowers on our deck, but I’ve been dying to get this bed cleaned out and ready for planting. A few weeks ago, my mom and I spent a day and a half starting the job and last weekend, Josh and I spent another day finishing up clearing half of it. Yep, that’s right…it took us 2 and a half days to clear out only half of the flower bed! Its about 40 ft. long and 5-6 ft. deep, so clearing half of it was quite the undertaking.

Once we pulled the ivy, sticks, leaves, bottles, rusty metal, and old junk out of the area, we planted some boxwoods and golden euonymus along the newly discovered/uncovered fence. I love the look of the uneven old fence and I think it’ll look even better once the bushes grow up just a bit!

Just in front of the bushes we put in some lily and dahlia bulbs and to the right, some iris and clematis. I can hardly wait to see what they look like in a few weeks!

Because I’m really a bit impatient and wanted a splash of color sooner than the bulbs will provide, Josh took me on a date and spoiled me a bit. Home Depot was having a sale on marigolds- $.99 for a six pack! Hard to beat that- so we got 6 packs :) Josh was feeling generous so we threw in some ranaculas and an azalea bush for another project. This was the first time in history that we left Home Depot with a cart full of stuff for me, and nothing for Josh…crazy, right?! I’m pretty sure that won’t happen ever again.

I planted the marigolds the next day and gave my tired gardening hands a rest.

Our goal is to clear out the rest of the bed and continue the planting party down the street. We’re thinking something pretty hardy that won’t need too much tending- maybe some lavender or something. This corner is seen by tons of cars and pedestrians every single day, so its been really fun to hear from neighbors how much they love it!

If the other half of the planting bed is anything like what we’ve cleared out so far, we’ve definitely got our work cut out for us, that’s for sure!

It’s been fun to get my hands dirty through this project. I think that I may be on to a new hobby! We have another sliver of sunshine on the side of our house that is just begging for a raised vegetable garden. Maybe our next date to Home Depot will include some lumber for a raised garden bed?? :)

The Gardener,
Mrs. Edwards