Tuesday, March 30, 2010

By My Hands

We have been back from our trip a grand total of three days.  I've gotten very little done that I wanted to get done.  Sunday, I mostly just sat around thinking about being tired (and I was) and then we ran errands.  Monday I returned to work and I returned home tired.  Today I came home after running errands and headed to the patio to do some much needed transplanting of seedlings.  I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by my charges.

Clearly next year I'll have to move operations to the basement with full shop lights which we already have.  I'm using full spectrum lights on these guys and they are loving it.  Not everyone was happy with my absence and a few plants went to plant heaven.  The Brandy-wine tomatoes never germinated.  The Cherokee tomatoes only have two representatives remaining out of nine planted.  The loses though are minimal and honestly, I think we'll live.  The Basil party is booming and I think I'll have quite a few plants to give away.  I planted extra in hopes that I can give plants away.  The eggplant seedlings are a beautiful and strong sight as is the pepper pairs.

What's Growing:
Garlic - getting bigger
Strawberries - planted last year
Basil
Sweet Chocolate Pepper
Red Wetersfield Onions
Listada de Gandia Eggplant
Chioggia Beet
Rocky Top Mix Lettuce
Verde da Tragilo
Plato II Lettuce Mix
Cracoviensis Lettuce
Five Color Silverbeet (chard)
Mustard Greens
Black Cherry Tomato - sprouts spotted today
Garden Candy Cherry Tomato - sprouted today
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach

Cherokee Purple Tomato
Melrose Pepper
Little Marvel Garden Pea

What's to come - later planting:
Tonga di Parigi Carrots
Blue Jade Corn
Black Valentine Bean
Cilantro
Lyaluk Cucumber
Yukon Gold potatoes - purchased seed potatoes today at the farmer's market/grocery
Red Pontiac potatoes- purchased seed potatoes today at the farmer's market/grocery

La Ratte Fingerling Potatoes: on order to be delivered in April

RIP:
Brandywine Tomato

I just realized that most of my planting is "done" - at least the first stages.  Most of the seeds have been started.  So I have accomplished something.

Yarn Work

I've been busy crocheting.  I have 11 squares left for my granny square shawl that I've been working on.  Right now I'm working on an additional project with yarn that I picked up in Scottsdale Arizona.  I'm taking a break from the squares for a bit.  Soon I'll finish the squares and get back at it.  I have been working on it however - this is the first piece that I'm blocking.  You lay out the piece pin it to a surface then steam it or wet it down.  In the case of the squares, I spritzed them with water and let them dry.  After I have most of the finished squares blocked I'm going to experiment with putting them together.  Right now I have a few ideas floating around in my head.  I want to make sure that one of them looks the way it does in my head.

Yarn Site I'm obsessed with

Blocking the squares

Scottsdale yarn - beautiful color change.  This will be my "Desert Memories Shawl"

We had a wonderful very enriching vacation.  I'm still trying to process the experience.  It will defiantly be a blog post soon.  The other day I was thinking while I was crocheting and I realized just how connected crocheting makes me feel to my mom.  This was further highlighted when my aunt said to my cousin, "...just like Auntie Bette used to do." 



Monday, March 29, 2010

Coming soon....

Still trying to settle back in from vacation mode.  I will do an update soon on vacation, seedlings (my oh my) and yarn.  Lots to report and pictures to come!

Here is a sneak peek:



Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm on Vacation...

Mister and I are in the middle of our Arizona (Going Home) Vacation.  We are seeing, picturing, crocheting, reading and visiting family.  I'm having a great time, but I'm starting to miss my seedlings.  Oh yeah, and I guess I miss the dogs too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Changing Over - Homemade Microwave Popcorn, iced tea and more

In keeping with trying to do more ourselves, save money and eliminate unknowns from our diet.  I've been wanting to make our own microwave popcorn.  Saturday was Farmers' Market day and we picked up some organic local popcorn. Beautiful!


So how to make your own microwave popcorn?



Brown paper lunch bag
1/4 cup of corn
drizzle of olive oil
dash of salt

Fold bag top over a few times and stick in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.  Listen and take out when 5 seconds between kernels.  Pour in bowl - add more oil if desired or cheese, etc.

Last bit of advice - do not leave unattended with family or significant other. 

I did some calculations.  Our bag from the market was $3.75 and has about nine servings (1/4 cup of un-popped corn).  That is about $0.42 a snack!  Cheaper than the store and no chemicals in the bag.  We can also recycle our brown bags after! 

We have made other changes around her as well.  I stopped buying pre-made ice tea and started to make it at home.  It is so very difficult.  Boil water add to pitcher over 4 tea bags.  Let sit for 3-5 minutes.  Take tea bags out, put in bowl for worm bin later.  Chill the tea and refrigerate.  We have a ridiculous amount of tea on hand anyway and now we do not have an additional plastic jug to recycle.

Next task: home made instant oatmeal.  Just as soon as we use up the prepackage stuff we have on hand.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Emergence

The temperature for the last week has been a tatlizing 50s for a few days, 60, 70, then 46.  We all seem to have spring fever!  Everyone is emerging from winter's zone and flip flops are even appearing again.  The crops are still sprouting and growing strong.

Today I cleared off another shelf and added two more rows of lights.  My sprouts were getting croweded on one shelf.  I moved the cherry tomato duo to sit under the lights with the rest of the crops.  Here they are taking their first faithful stretch.


First large tomato to sprout:  Cherokee Purple.  This one made me sigh with delight.  I just love watching this miracle happen again and again. 


One Person's Trash

Is Another Person's Recycling.

This is a picture of about one month's worth of recycling created when we were a family of three.


Because our subdivision did away with the recycling bins years ago when changing trash providers, we now load our car sometimes cars up and haul it to a a municipal center in another town (about 20 minutes away).  This was taken months ago and I find it interesting how much of this is paper.  This is still true for us today as a two person family.  We've eliminated most of our plastic bags by using cloth totes.  At first we forgot we had them, now we are pretty faithful in using them.  Plastic has reduced with eliminating soda from my intake.  I would typically get one fountain soda a day from the gas station.  Sometimes I would remember to take a cup to reuse.

I took this picture to send to our association to try to get recycling back into our neighborhood.  Even if we could get a paper bin.  To think that people are throwing away perfectly recyclable items just is amazing.  We produce less actual trash now and soon that should be reduced even more when the worm bin can start keeping up with our kitchen trash.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Garden Updates - what is, what's growing and what's to be planted.

Garden Updates:

La Ratte Fingerling Potatoes: on order to be delivered in April
Garlic - planted in the fall growing growing growing
Strawberries - planted last year

Sprouted and growing:
Basil
Sweet Chocolate Pepper
Red Wetersfield Onions
Listada de Gandia Eggplant
Chioggia Beet
Rocky Top Mix Lettuce
Verde da Tragilo
Plato II Lettuce Mix
Cracoviensis Lettuce
Five Color Silverbeet (chard)
Mustard Greens
Black Cherry Tomato - sprouts spotted today
Garden Candy Cherry Tomato - sprouted today



Planted no sign yet:
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach - a late add in.  I stopped by the garden center for bamboo stakes for the peas and couldn't resist one more heirloom seed from Baker Creek.
Cherokee Purple Tomato
Brandywine Tomato
Melrose Pepper
Little Marvel Garden Pea (trying for an early crop)

Still to plant later:
Tonga di Parigi Carrots
Blue Jade Corn
Black Valentine Bean
Cilantro
Lyaluk Cucumber

Still need to map out and label containers for what I'm putting where.  I probably should do this sooner rather than later.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Weekend Progress - seeds, yarn bag and forming new connections

This weekend was particularly busy and productive.  Spaced in between commitments of our faith community, I planted more seeds!  Yes, earlier than the garden calendar suggestion, but just by a bit.  I couldn't wait anymore.  It was a beautiful weekend here and I  took the garden calendar's suggestion by trying to eek out an early crop of peas.  So - announcing officially - the peas are planted.  We stopped at the hardware store today for more fencing.  The big brown varmint dog, broke down the temporary garden fence and was happily stomping on my garlic crop and digging. 

There is news from the garden - Chocolate peppers are finally appearing!  Can you see them? Top left cell and bottom middle cell.
 The other sprouts are getting big - Beets, onions, basil, and eggplant:
 

In other news I've started gathering containers to get an idea of what I have.  My plan is to start labeling containers with the intended resident plant.  I read in my container garden book about using trash cans for potatoes.  We have a large trash can on the patio now that we aren't using.  I'll wash it out and disinfect and then we'll have our potato pot.

 

Finally I wrapped up Sunday with my new yarn bag.  I wanted something bright and cheery for the season.  I found this sweet chicken fabric online and had to have it.  If I can't have hens yet, I can at least have a fun yarn bag.  This time I made it wider, taller and improved on things that I wished I had done before.  Of course I forgot to take pictures while it was in progress.  Here is the end product.

 

We had quite an intense weekend.  Mister and I had committed to starting a social justice project with our new faith community.  The conversation was very intense, hard but very good.  I feel like I grew so much from having that experience.  On Sunday we met with the minister to talk about joining the congregation.  I never, ever would have thought that I would join a "church" - never.  But this place is different and welcomes diversity in belief, and people.  It is a good fit for Mister and I.  We have felt so welcome and it doesn't wig me out the way a lot of other organized religious bodies have in the past.  We've found some community and people we are beginning to connect with.  This is a good thing.  Perhaps in the future we will not have to go through things alone.  I signed up to provide care and concern for other members in need.  I do not want anyone to have to worry about feeding themselves while grieving like Mister and I did.  Why don't people send casseroles anymore?  We should could have had some when my father passed.  So I will do unto others and feed them in times of need.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Finished Eating

It took me a few days to get into the single grove with Mister away on business.  When I finally got my grove on - I got it on.

 
Hat for my niece started and complete WMWA (While Mister Was Away)

 
French toast - for dinner!  I had a few slices of homemade apple pie bread a few eggs from the farmers' market left....hmmm.  It was so yummy - I made two small slices for dinner with honey and one for breakfast in the morning.  I didn't think french toast was filling, but it was!  One of the best things we ever purchased was the breadmaker.  It is so easy and the house smells so good. 

 
Claypot chicken curry stew - carrots, peas, rice, chicken, cauliflower, potatoes and onions.
If you have never cooked anything in a claypot I urge you to go out NOW and get one.  This is the only way that I do stews, roast chicken, pot roasts, etc.  The meat comes out so moist and tender.  The claypot just needs to be soaked in water for 15-20 minutes.  Then throw everything in and put into a cold oven at high heat.  This stew was cooked at 450 degrees and took about an hour. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

From Seed

This weekend I started some seeds indoors - beets, basil, onion, eggplant and chocolate pepper.  Today I looked and found the beets and basil had popped up. 

Am I the only one that is still amazed that this happens?  Despite taking various science course and growing things in the past, I'm still in awe that you can plan a speck of something and watch it grow.  

Mister and I purchased a portable mini greenhouse for the patio.  I started some lettuce and greens this weekend and today.  So far it is nice and toasty inside.  The temperature has been ranging between 30-40ish degrees lately and the sun has everyone out basking.  Hopefully conditions are right and we'll have fresh salad soon.  I picked storage bins for container gardening and drilled holes.  Unfortunately I couldn't find this size in a lighter color.  But I figure I'll move them out of the sun so the container doesn't get too hot later in the season.  




Monday, March 1, 2010

A scarf completed

I finished Mister's scarf today! 

yarn: Muench Family
yarn color: 5707 (green) 
H hook -with a modified double crochet stitch

This yarn was a pleasure to work with.  It is so soft and supple.  Mister picked the color and it looks very nice on him.  He hasn't seen the completed piece yet as he is away on business.  So this scarf will have to wait for his return.  Next up - playing with different motifs for a wrap also thinking about pulling my mom's hand written pattern for a cloche hat and trying it out.