Saturday, February 27, 2010

Farmers' Market Day

Today bloomed clear and bright.  The day started off a chilly 33 and is now in the 40s.  I discovered before my morning shower that I have dropped five pounds thanks to my eating changes.  YAY!

Mister and I headed out early to the market.  A local restaurant is a HUGE supporter of farmers and the local food movement.  They host a weekly market in the spring and summer.  In winter they have a market one Saturday a month.  Farmers head into town to sell winter fare which surprisingly is many: honey, beef, pork, poultry, lamb, mushrooms (!),  cold frame or greenhouse greens, preserves, bread, pasta, etc.  We walked away with quite a haul.  Here are some of the highlights.

 
Eggs from Buff Orpington and Wyandotte

 
Yellow oyster mushrooms grown by Ozark Forest Mushrooms
I wish you could smell these beautiful gems - earthy rich possibilities!


Locally raised Cornish hens - mmmm!  These littles will be going into the claypot soon.
 
Scallions!
Right now I'm making whole wheat buns for dinner tomorrow and researching when to start my seeds!  That is a daunting task first time out.  Ack!  When do I do some of these?  I'm back to hitting the books for research.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Dinner Was Served

Simple dinner tonight.  Mister was out practicing and I didn't expect him for a few hours.  His timing is spooky, just as I was plating the food he walked in.  What timing.

Prosciutto Perline Pasta with sauteed mushrooms, garlic and onions.  Tossed with a tablespoon of pesto and mixed roasted tomatoes from the summer garden (frozen).


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Random

Feeling a little crabby tonight.  Just various issues popping up - nothing major, just feeling touchy.  Mister has a trip next week, printer isn't working/suddenly offline, blogger formatting issues and too much drawing my attention away from tasks that I want to do.

In effort to refocus myself I'm enjoying this picture that I took this past summer and headed for a shower.



A Multi-Colored Star

Big accomplishment for yesterday - I taught myself how to crochet this lovely star.  I took the photo before I tucked the tails in so ignore that part.  My plan is to use a similar design to make a lightweight wrap.  I'm not sure this multicolored yarn works for this particular project.  Hmm a monochromatic variegated yarn instead?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Friend and Barnyard Fix

Introducing Penta, my new Pentax Camera, Penta because this is the fifth digital camera that I have owned.  To take her for a spin I took her down to the local park/farm demo area and communed with the sheep and chickens.  There was one hen that I adored and one lamb that could fit in the backseat for sure.  Darn those subdivision exclusions!

 

 


Meh

First crochet class was last night.  Granted, I have not been feeling great since Saturday but I went anyway.  I was hopeful to learn new stitches, find community, and get out of the house for a few hours.  I did learn to make granny squares and half double stitch.  But I didn't find community.  There were only four students in class - three of them came together.  The teacher wasn't very helpful or knowledgeable.  I was hoping for discussion, yarn talk, yarn shop talk, etc.  She came in with her bargain big box shop yarn.  While I myself have some bargain yarn, I try to shop the yarn stores as much as possible.  The quality is better and I'm supporting local business.

 

Here are my granny squares.  The blue was made in class and I did skip two double crochet stitches on my first round (you can see it on the left hand inside middle).  I didn't have time in the practice part of the class to rip out and go back.  When I got home I pulled out scrap sock yarn to try it smaller scale.  I've mixed feelings about granny squares.  They seem dated and slightly tacky.  Hmm, perhaps I should look for contemporary uses for them.  I just think afghan that smells like old lady decor and slightly musty.



Monday, February 22, 2010

Do Without

As a long time confirmed caffeine addict - specifically Diet Dr. Pepper, I  can now report that I've weaned myself away.  I have not had nor have wanted a Diet Dr. Pepper for almost a month.  I've had drinks of sodas here and there since, but I've not finished them or enjoyed them.  I'm done!  No more high fructose corn syrup for me.



Productive Crafts

Crafts have been going well.  I finished my crochet market bag.  So far I've used it to go Sunday service - tossing in my water bottle and clutch purse.  It is super stretchy which is nice, but it does get misshapened as a result.  Still it is functional and I did it!

I also started and finished my yarn bag.  I plan to keep my projects inside for protection.  I opted to make it a small so if I have a large project I'll have to use a tote bag.  So far all my projects would fit inside.

I found these two fabrics which were quirky together.  I loved the spiral pattern especially.  My camera and I have been fighting lately.  Perhaps it is operator error or perhaps camera malfunction.  Most the pictures I shot while in production came out blurry. 

Assembling the bag.

I usually don't work from patterns.  I get an idea, sketch it out in my head, maybe sketch it out on paper and just start cutting.  Yes, sometimes there are words to be had, sometimes I stop speaking to myself and there is a lot of hmming going on.  But working patternless is a little freeing.  It also gives me a chance to problem solve on the fly.

This bag is roughly 14" by 10."  The bottom is cut and pieced so that it will sit on a table supported by whatever is inside.

Swirl Fabric:
outside main panels
handles
inside notion pocket
magnetic catch link

Polka Dots:
bottom gusset
top trim
liner
The inside pocket is divided it up into one larger compartment for scissors needles, etc and then four long narrow pockets for crochet hooks or pens.

Can I just say that I'm very pleased to have my old friend back with me? 
 
I haven't done any real sewing since before grad school - 2005!  Before that I sewed all the time.  Mister didn't know that I could do this (in his own words).  Well, look out Mister! 



Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Few Good Plants

 Went to one of my favorite garden supply centers today to pick up seed starting supplies and low and behold they had Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  Not as many as offered on the website, but they had three that I wanted to get and forgot!  So to finally round out the garden we'll add in these beauties. 

 
Five Color Silverbeet
A beautiful chard, its colors are brilliant (pink, yellow, orange, red and white). This chard originated in Australia. Very mild, ornamental, and tasty. Great for market growers and specialty markets. Pretty enough to plant in the flower garden, so delicious, one of our favorite greens! (Sold in stores as "Bright Lights")
 
Photo credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Description: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company



Lettuce Rocky Top Mix
Our Improved formula blend is now better than ever! With more brightly colored and unique lettuces, it makes a flavorful and brilliant salad. A top selling item for us - our customers just love it! Perfect for better markets or your home table. People love the rich, old-fashioned taste. Includes some unlisted rare varieties.

Photo credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Description: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company




Carrot - Tonga di Parigi

The round, 19th-century Parisian heirloom carrots are harvested at 1"-2"; uniform and deep orange. The flavor is excellent and very sweet. These tender carrots are very popular for marketing. Plant thick for bunching.

Photo credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Description: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Am I Bipolar?

Last night I was buzzing around the house trying to do assorted tasks and projects.  I couldn't settle in and do just one - oh no I had to do them all.  Mister was watching me going to and fro and shaking his head at me.  Finally I sat down on the bed for five minutes and began crocheting.  My mind was still racing - garden plans, the growing need for a bag to hold my yarn and projects, healthy eating, getting my book on tape ready for the car for the morning, all my to dos, what time should I get up in the morning, etc.  I began to feel manic with my positive energy.  Oh god - what I'm bipolar.  I've had the high highs and the low lows, but that could just be a combo of grief and illness.  I asked Mister if he thought I was bipolar.  Him being the comforting sort laughed at me and agreed I seemed quite manic.  Lovely.  Helpful. Supportive. Husband. 

I don't really think I'm bipolar.  I think that for the first time in months I'm excited about my life and looking forward to the offerings.  I do think that I'm rather obsessed.  Last night my left wrist was hurting me so badly that I smeared on Bio-freeze and then put my carpel tunnel brace on and continued to crochet.  My chiropractor expressed joking reservations about my crochet.  She suggested that I take up finger painting with my feet in order to give my poor wrists, arms, shoulders and neck a break.  Apparently the fine motor task of hand work isn't so good for my aches.  And I'm only 33.

My weekend is already being planned jammed packed with home projects.  Since Mister moved his office out of the basement we have a nice large part open and ready for something.  I've missed having a craft room since moving out of a house nine years ago.  My poor sewing machine has seldom seen the light of day since then.  It is just not convenient to working at the dining table.  So I have plans to claim the space for a craft dungeon.  Guess the worms and I will be shaking up soon.  I can't wait to have a sewing space, cutting table and bead desk again.  Finally finally finally.  Since I did have a manic moment yesterday I decided to give my brain a rest and write down all my projects that I currently have up in the air.

Projects:
Assemble sewing/craft dungeon
Fill in gaps in the beginnings of the garden plan book
keep working on crochet bag - finished the front panel today!
Assemble yarn bag
Work on photo archiving
Make siblings family history & picture cds
Archive family documents
Continue working on genealogy

Yoga class starts tomorrow!  After a 3-4 year hiatus, I am finally getting back to part of my life that helped me loose weight, feel great and maintain focus.  Yay!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Garden Plan Book and TADA my scarf

So I started to make a garden journal, but since I'm a teacher through and through I've called it a plan book.  Inside I put the pictures and descriptions that I put here and given my self a full page for notes.  I put in a small amount of pre-printed text to provide the basic information.  Organization and garden year notation here I come!


Planting dates:
Weather information such as frost dates and rainfall:
Date and type of fertilizer used, if applicable.
Garden plan – plant location:
Cost and supplier information:
Plant information such as date emerging in spring, appearance of blooms, and harvest:

And as promised, my scarf.



New Crop of Vegetables Ordered

The final small space inclusion winners are......


La Ratte Fingerling Potato
Long prized by French chefs as a top quality fingerling. We cannot recommend this variety highly enough, an absolute delight to cook with. Long uniform tubers, yellow flesh with firm, waxy texture and a nice nutty flavor, holds together very well. Especially good for potato salad or as a boiled potato. Commands a high price both in the restaurant and fresh market trade. 

Photo credit: Seed Savers
Description: Seed Savers



Red Wethersfield Onion

First listed in 1834 by Hovey & Co. Developed by growers in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Large flattened globe, deep purplish-red skin, fairly firm pink-tinged white flesh with red concentric circles, fine flavor. 

Photo credit: Seed Savers
Description: Seed Savers




Blue Jade Corn


Miniature plants bear 3-6 ears of sweet, steel-blue cobs that turn jade-blue when boiled. Plants grow 2-3' tall, one of the only sweet corns that can be grown in containers.

Photo credit: Seed Savers
Description: Seed Savers


 Are you biting your fingers to contain yourself from the beauty to the left? 


Chioggia Beet


First introduced to American gardeners in the lat 1840s from Italy. Uniquely beautiful flesh has alternating red and white concentric rings that resemble a bull's-eye. Very tender, nice for eating and pickling. Retains markings if baked whole and sliced just before serving. A spectacular variety. 
 
Photo credit: Seed Savers
Description: Seed Savers


Can I display them as art as well as eat them?

I have a new book on container gardening.  The authors are very wise it seems and I'm getting lots of ideas of what to do with my small space.  So much confidence that I placed the order for these beautiful veggies today.  I'm going to have a lot of seeds extra - hopefully I can find someone to share them with. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Finished My First Crochet Project!

I'm done!  I did it!  I'm awesome!  Pictures tomorrow.

Immediately after finishing my scarf I began my next project and ended in a pissy spitting match with the yarn, hook and my stupid fingers.  I switched hooks and I switched yarn.  I reread the directions.  I couldn't do it!  My results were so tight and unworkable that I could get the hook in to make the stitches.  I felt stupid and humble.  Perhaps I'm not meant to crochet.  Maybe I need to chance the class I'm starting next week.

I read my new favorite blog and found that the author was struggling with knitting.  Oh timely post.  I'm struggling with crocheting AND with knitting (because I haven't learned how to do that yet either).

So then I thought about it.  I did a more complicated double crochet stitch on my scarf.  It wasn't easy at first.  I started over a thousand times.  Once when I had about four inches of fabric I realized that I had made yet another mistake.  So I began pulling it all out.  Mister who was sitting next to me became alarmed - "WHAT are you doing?"  Still I got my German out and began again.  I watched You Tube how to videos, I tried, tried and tried.  And now I have a scarf. 

So why couldn't I managed to do a single crochet stitch?  After reading the before mentioned blog I decided to hit You Tube again.  I watched in amazement as a woman demonstrated this stitch which I could not do.  And you know something MY FREAKING DIRECTIONS SKIPPED A WHOLE STUPID FREAKING STEP!!!  I wasn't stupid, I wasn't not destined for crocheting greatness.  My simple beginner's purse is still in sight for this beginner.  I have the knowledge of the forbidden to write about and publish in the stupid beginner's book missing step.  Crochet bastards. 

2010 Garden Plan

This year I ordered seeds from two small Missouri businesses which specialize in heirloom seeds.  Here is my order and then fleshed out garden plans.

The Container Crew 
The following were listed as good container possibilities or I'm taking a chance in hopes.


Vegetables



Black Valentine Bean
This heirloom snap bean has been grown for over 150 years. It does well both in early and main season plantings, and is quite productive. If left to dry, it also makes a great dried bean.

Photo credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company
Description: A Few Good Plants








Melrose Pepper
Sweet pepper.  The plant of this variety is rather short (24 to 30 inches), but its productivity is enormous. Melrose has a wonderful sweet taste, and the shape of an Italian or Anaheim pepper. Good for fresh eating, freezing, and drying. Does well in a container


Photo credit: unknown sorry
Description: A Few Good Plants



Heirloom Cherry Tomato - variety unknown - seeds saved from last year.  This variety was amazing.  The vine was very vigorous and produced fruit all the way into September when it was finally put to bed.  Amazing quantity of beautiful round red goodness.  Here is a typical yield from a day or two picking in the garden.


Photo credit: Me
Description: Me





Lettuce & Greens Trial:

Plato II
 This tasty variety of Romaine lettuce, Plato II,  is very heat tolerant and can grow through the summer months if well watered. Replant every few weeks to keep lettuce at the best tasting size. Does well in a container.
 
Photo credit: unknown
Description: A Few Good Plants



 Cracoviensis
A beautiful tender and sweet leaf lettuce with bright green leaves that are tipped in purple. This pre-1885 variety was referred to by Vilmorin as "Red Celtuce" as it is sometimes used for the bolting stem which is tender and light pink.


Photo credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed
Description: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company








Verde da Traglio 
 Verde da Taglio has much smaller leaves than other chards, and has a sweet spinach-like taste.  Unlike spinach, though, Verde da Taglio is fairly heat tolerant and can be grown into summer if well-watered. It is also good as a late-summer fall crop. Does well in a container.


Photo credit: unknonwn
Description: A Few Good Plants




Herbs

A word about herbs:

I am only planning to grow one herb this year - tada basil.  I cannot be my mother's daughter and NOT have basil.  This herb I think was coded somewhere in my DNA.  I plan to use my basil far more this year than last.  This year I'm thinking.....pesto.  Mmmm.  Trying a new variety this year.  Last year I grew Genovese basil, cilantro (which bolted in seconds of planting), sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, chamomile, and lavender.  I have chosen to limit herbs due to space and practicality.  Last year I did not use my herbs and that is plain wasteful.  I have large qualities of tried herbs that I purchase inexpensively from the farmer's market.

Now that I think about it though I have lavender that I transplanted to the garden bed so there it will remain.  I've already ordered seeds, but now I'm growing wistful for rosemary.  Hmm, I'll pick up a plant at the garden center.  Oh, who am I kidding - I'll probably get a few varieties of herbs and maybe of basils too.

Sweet Basil. This variety is similar to the Genovese Basil that we've offered in the past, but it's sweeter with less of an edge to its flavor. Everyone in our family of pesto lovers said that the Sweet Basil made a better pesto, and this variety also is superior if you wish to dry its leaves.

Photo credit: unknown
Description: A Few Good Plants

In the Ground

Already in the ground:
Strawberries planted last year


Garlic - cloves planted last year from farmer's market
 
In the Ground or in Container?
Still researching and deciding.  My garden is very very very small.  I need to be conscious of rotating crops and not over taxing things.  I'll figure something out.

Little Marvel Garden Pea
Vigorous bush plants, heavy yields and fine-flavored peas. A great home garden variety. An heirloom from 1908.

Photo credit: unknown
Description: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company






Brandywine Tomato
Seeds saved last year.  This plant produced beautiful nice slicing tomatoes last year.  We roasted them for pizza, sauces, and sliced for sandwiches.

Photo credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company
Description: Me
 Black Cherry Tomato
Beautiful black cherries, look like large, dusky purple grapes; they have that rich flavor that makes black tomatoes famous. Market growers report that this variety is an incredible seller, large vines yield very well. Very unique and delicious.

Photo credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Description: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company
I could not resist the picture and the description.  I already have a cherry to plant, but look at that color!  Tomato Porn!


Cherokee Purple
An old Cherokee Indian heirloom, pre-1890 variety; beautiful deep dusky purple-pink color, superb sweet flavor, and very large sized fruit. Try this one for real old-time tomato flavor. My favorite dark tomato!

Photo credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Description: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company
Again, I already have a tomato, but I've been lusting after them since Barbara Kingsolver wrote about them in her book, Animal Vegetable Miracle.


Sweet Chocolate Pepper
I love the flavor of this rich, chocolate-brown pepper. The flesh is cola-red color; very sweet and delicious. The medium-sized, semi-bell shaped fruit ripen very early, making this variety perfect for the north (or anyone who likes peppers). Great in salads.

Photo credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company

Description: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company 
Again this one chosen for its alluring pornographic lusty beauty.  I'm so excited about food!

Listada de Gandia Eggplant
One of the most popular heirloom types, this variety has 7" long fruit that are white with lovely bright-purple stripes. Very beautiful & with fabulous flavor in the sweet, tender flesh. This great variety hails from Italy, a country that is renown for fine food.

Photo credit: Seed Savers

Description: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company
Look how beautiful they are!!!!


A word about eggplants:
Last year I grew a Japanese eggplant in a container.  I had exactly two from it.  Now it wasn't disease or growing condition problems.  It was pest problems.  A very large, four legged, brown pest of a dog who has a taste for veggies.  She and her sidekick a small furry little bitch ate gleefully from the garden despite my attempts to keep them out.  The brown dog also ate the peas and bean plants to extinction.  They began to get a taste for tomatoes but we had lots to spare.

Still Thinking About Researching

  • Potatoes - specifically fingerling potatoes.Do I try them in a container or just buy them at the farmer's market?
  • Onions - space is such a pain
  • Garlic - I have three cloves planted, I know I'll end up buying my supply at the market.
  • Pumpkin - I saved seeds from a pumpkin from the market.   I know they take a lot of space, but do I dare try it?
Wishing I had Space for:

Broccoli
Cauliflower
Brussels Sprouts
Leeks
Kale
Corn
Squash


CHICKENS

Yes, I'm dreaming of backyard/garden hens.  I already have a list of birds for potential egg laying goodness.  There are a few hatcheries that sell to people not ordering 25 chicks.  I've also heard some murmurers from the Slow Food folks that want to join up with local people raising birds to provide small numbers to us urban farmers.  Which chicken is right for you? Chicken Selector

Barred Plymouth Rock

 

Photo credit: My Pet Chicken






Buff Orpington


Photo credit: My Pet Chicken

 

 

  

Wyandotte

This one is a silver laced, but they come in other colors.  I'm not picky.  I just want a good healthy laying bird.

Photo credit: My Pet Chicken






Chickens are still a dream as our condo complex doesn't allow poultry.  We don't have the space out back either for a proper coop which would allow for garden ranging and safety.  When we have a house and backyard though - look out!  Mister and I have also talked about raising meat birds at some point.  I won't go into chicken death here right now, but wouldn't you rather eat something that was healthy and had a good life?







Saturday, February 13, 2010

Worms!

We finally finished our worm bin.  The red wiggler worms arrived yesterday and were added to the worm bin.  They are now feasting on tea bags, coffee grounds, banana peels and so much more.  This year I wanted to start composting on the small scale to benefit houseplants and the garden.  
 Speaking of gardens....I have a bunch of reading that is fueling my garden dreams.  I'm so much looking forward to spring.  I signed up for a few classes through the community college continuing education class.  My garden classes are growing spring crops, container gardens, and vegetable gardens.  Hopefully I'll get some great ideas and knowledge to tackle this new garden.  I so enjoyed my experiment last year.  We still have frozen tomatoes in the freezer.  Hmm, maybe I should make a really really good spaghetti sauce.

I signed up for two other classes to help my personal growth - crochet and yoga.  I'm trying to consciously reclaim things that I've loved in the past but let go.




Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Intentional 2010

A blog I used to follow had this challenge up for the new year.  Basically you pick a theme or something you want to work on for the new year.

"It's called the "Year Of ______ 2010" (obviously the year changes every year). You choose only one word to describe your year for 2010. Maybe something you know will happen, maybe something you want to work on. Some people pick literal things (Year Of Fitness) and others more metaphysical (Year of Courage)."

My start to 2010 has undoubtedly put me behind in such thinking.  I've been too busy trying to live and walking with death to really think about other matters.  However I liked setting an intention for the year.  My husband and I did talk about it however and this is what we came up with.

2010 will be the Year of Adventure (travel)
To that end we have already made several trips:
Ste. Genevive
Cape Girardeau
San Francisco

We are planning trips to Arizona (reconnect with family) and to Europe this summer.

Personally, I have been working/meditating on detachment.  Today the word compassion came as well so I'll add that to my daily thoughts.  How can I grow to be more compassionate with myself - because all things must begin at home.  How can I cultivate more compassionate with and for others.  A big offering for this year.

To support ourselves in growth both separate and together, my husband and I believe we may have found a faith community to settle down in.  It is open enough to work for me and structured enough to work for him.  We had some truely wonderful conversation in a small group, felt very welcomed, and relaxed into the peace of silence, song, personal stories and thought/growth provoking words.  There are many forms of prayer and they know this here.