Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ready!

I'm having company this weekend! My mom, dad, big. brother, and SIL are all coming for Easter.  I'm very excited because we haven't had anyone come visit for a year, and I love it when my family visits.

Our house isn't exactly equipped for six people at once, though, so I've been cleaning the usual hiding places. You know, the parts of the house that usually have the junk stashed away when people come over so the rest of the house looks pristine? Well, I had to organize for real this time, because those places will have people sleeping in them this weekend!

It's good to have things sorted and organized, especially upstairs in the storage area.  Yesterday I got all the canning jars, holiday decorations, wrapping paper, out of season clothes, etc all sorted and stored away where they belong!

So, I'm ready for my company to come, and excited to spend the weekend with them all!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Postponed!

Argh! I can't believe I forgot to post "P" yesterday.  I mentioned to Ben at dinner that I had to do that, and he joked that I could just do it today and call it "postponed".  Well, I completely forgot about posting soon after that when tornado warnings sent us to spend the evening in the closet, so I'm stealing his idea.

Luckily, no tornados came through and I don't see much damage from the big storms and hail we did get. Hope all you are staying safe in these spring storms!

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Orchard Update

I've been mulching my baby fruit trees this morning.  They all survived the winter just fine, though one did get chewed down a little. (Damn Bunny!)  I'll have to make sure I actually get around to caging them in this fall to avoid any more damage.

The cherry tree that came in the orchard pack we ordered last spring from Burgess never did grow at all, though I was very happy with all the rest of what we ordered.  Plus, they have a guarantee, so my new cherry tree to replace it is on the way sometime this week or next.

Back here in the Orchard/Berry section we've planted, dwarf versions all, three apple trees (red delicious, yellow delicious, and fuji), sand cherries, necterine, peach, pear, plum, black tartan cherry, blackberries, raspberries, and elderberries. 

I'm hoping to add some more of the sand cherries.  I don't know if they'll taste very good, but they're really pretty, and if it turns out we don't like eating them, I'm the chickens would want them, or the wild birds would be attracted to them.  I'm really hoping they're as good to eat as the catalog claimed.

We're going to be planting almonds, butternuts, and pawpaw trees this spring as well.  Those will be going at the other side of the yard, since they'd grow so much taller than the dwarf fruit trees, and we don't want to shade those out.

I'm glad to be getting these mulched! It looks so nice, but it also keeps the trees healthier, holding more moisture against the roots, and keeping down the grass and weeds that would compete with the growing trees.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Never Say Never

I like to keep everything in my yard and garden organic. I don't dust Sevin powder, I dust with cayenne powder. I use boiling water or white vinegar on the cracks in the walkways. I fertilize with coffee and manure and compost.  I find Monsanto creepy and distasteful and their RoundUp ads campaigning against dandelions pretty much make me see red.

It was my organic fertilizer urges that got me into a big predicament with a terribly non-organic.  We had a big load of manure brought in two summers ago, and we'd been told it was well rotted and composted.

With it came monster terrible weeds. These grow quickly and luxiously whereever I spread the manure. They spread underground, have the most fagile roots that break at the drop of a hat, grow up from the smallest piece of said root and also have tap roots as thick as my wrist.

I tried my best to keep them weeded from the garden all last summer, but pulling them usually left behind the root, from which two would grow, and digging them seemed to help them spread, since it was impossible for me not to end up breaking the roots apart.

So, when I saw how thickly they were covering a third of my garden this spring, and that they've already grown to two feet tall, I knew, no matter how much I hate to do it, that this once I'd have to bring in chemical reinforcements.

I may be justifying my actions here, and not being completely honest with myself, but the way I see it, very strong measures are sometimes justified in extreme situations. So, if I use poison this once to eradicate a very noxious weed that's ruining my garden, then wait for it to break down before planting, I'm saving myself a lot of frustration and concern, not to mention saving the garden plot from being taken over.

I do wish I had one of the flame thrower weeders instead though! Ben won't let me get one.  Some nonsense or other about starting devastating wildfires.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Missing!

I almost missed "M"! And I suppose this is sort of cheating on the challenge. ;)

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Here's that promised picture of my lettuce!

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lettuce

I wanted a picture for this post, but time really got away from me and it was dark before I knew it!

I planted a patch of buttercrunch lettuce two weeks ago, and it's come up really well.

I'll have to take a pic of it to post tomorrow when it's light again.  I just wanted to make sure I post an "L" for today, in order to fulfill my ABC challenge posts.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Knitting Projects

This is my current "concentrate and follow charts, knit two handed, color knitting" project.  It's the cullo pattern from Knitpicks.  I love these colors! I'm really enjoying working with the pallette yarn, it's got such saturated colors. Very vivid.

My "don't need to think about it or even look while I knit" project right now is a log cabin throw that I'm knitting all in white from Cabana yarn from my stash.  I think I'll end up backing the throw with some flannel.  This will add warmth, keep the knitting in shape well, and hide the wrong side of my picked up stitches where they're a bit messy.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jams and Jellies

This year, one of the best things about spring coming is that berries and fruits for restocking the homemade jam supply. We ran out of Strawberry Rhubarb long ago, and I didn't do any Apple last fall because the orchard ran out of apples (!).

I'm hoping we'll have enough raspberries from our own bushes this year for a batch of jam.  We're planning to go strawberry picking as soon as the berries are ready.

What are your favorite jam and jelly recipes?

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Imagination

Imagination is a big thing around our house. That might seem weird for a household of two adults, but I think it has to do with the fact that Ben and I have the same sense of humor and can see each other's imaginations.

We have three cats.  But sometimes it's as though we have six. The real cats, and the cats as they live in our imaginations, with the funny personalities we've built for them.

Smudge, in our imaginations, loves drama and costumes and ceremony, music and pomp and spectacle.  He's reinvented himself through his musical career a number of times, from broadway star, to rapper Smudgie Bear Ya'll, to country singer Cletus T. Smudge.  He comes from a long line of noble bear-cats, though his tribe was wiped out in the line of duty herding bears when it was discovered that they are, in fact, juicy.

He was overjoyed when my little brother visited last year with his finace, Miss Becky.  He arranged a small reception for her in which Pickles wore a white dress and presented a posy of flowers, while he gave a welcoming speech.

I drew a scene of this on our chalkboard for Adam and Becky, so they too could see our imaginations.  Since then, this little drawing of Smudgie has been dressed up as a vampire and a Pilgrim, among others.  Smudge is overjoyed with his newest costume and can't wait to try hippity hopping.

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Hauling

We've borrowed the neighbor's truck, and this weekend we're making the most of it, hauling mulch, soild and garden supplies home by the trip load.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Grow Light

I splurged this year and got this really nice grow light for seed starting.  It's got plenty of room for two of the 72 spot greenhouse beds that we like to use.

I got the tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers seeded last night. Once again, I'm late getting started, but I am a week and a half earlier than I was last year, so I'm certainly improving.

We ordered the light on Amazon and it came all complete, with the stand and bulb and fixture.  It's a lot bigger than I realized it'd be, but if I can find a good place for it, I think it'll be great for us and we'll be able to grow into it in the coming years as well.

The light is really easy to raise and lower, so it'll be able to get really close to the starts and keep them from getting spindly.  I can't wait to see if it improves my seedlings this year.

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Felt

I really enjoy working with felt. I like to design crafts for wool embroidery and applique.  It's fun and easy to work with, since you don't have to turn under edges, etc.

This a pattern I bought recently, and I'm hoping to have it finished for Easter. I'm sure I can.  Though I don't know whether it'll be Easter 2012, lol.

I am just exhausted of gardening today, so I took the afternoon to do something quiet and calm and not involving dirt!

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Emergency Prep

I've been meaning to have some emergency supplies in place for us for a couple of years now, but it seems as though it's been one of those things I just never get around to doing.  Last week, I found a really great blog, Food Storage Made Easy, that inspired me to take some action.

I used their very convenient printable lists and step by step ideas to start putting together some home/evacuation 72 hour kits for myself and Ben.  The car kit will come after I finish these completely and will duplicate some of these items, but duplication in different locations seems to me to be better in an emergency than not having something where you need it to be.  The car 72 hour kit will also need to include some different kinds of foods that won't melt and can be frozen and are more shelf stable.


 The food kits were packed into gallon jugs, and can be taped up when they're complete.  I haven't completely packed mine because I have to find small folding stoves, and solid fuel to add to these.  I used the lists found on the site for this, with just a couple of changes.  I'm going to add a small camping cup for the heating, since cooking right in food cans is really bad for you (there's plastic coating in them that will melt into the food), and I wrapped the gum up really well with a couple layers of tinfoil to keep the mint and fruit smells out of the rest of the food.

We put together two supply kits (the food kits go inside here as well), that have pretty much the same things in each.  I wrapped the moist wipes and soap in tin foil to keep the one moist longer and keep the smell of the other out of everything else.

There are still a number of things that have to be added to these kits, such as all the emergency contact info, copies of all the important papers, battery cell phone chargers for our phones, emergency whistles, ponchos, prescription meds, small first aid kits, spare glasses, etc.  But it's a start, and now I have a specific place to gather all these things.

We bought the bags at the Salvation Army, a really good back pack and a messenger style bag, for about $5.  And while I was packing the things into them, I found an old gameboy game in one of the pockets.  Ben was smart enough to suggest trading it in at the used game store, and we got $5 trade in for it!  I thought that was pretty funny.

These kits are stored in the walk in closet (our storm sheltering place) along with 7 gallons of water (one gallon per person per day, plus one for the cats), along with the spare bag of cat food.  I figure it's a good place in case of high winds damaging the house enough to trap us in place during a storm, we'll have them with us, and they're close at hand to two exits (the bedroom back door and the garage door) as well, in that closet.

After I've completed these kits, we'll put one together for the cats, along with a plan for carrying them during evacuation.  Any ideas about that?  It's very frustrating to think of evacuating with pets, since I'd never leave them and the FEMA site says not to leave them, but be aware that shelters won't let them in.  So where can they go?  Anyway, that's the next step, Kitty 72 hr kits, then the car kit, and working on water storage in case of extended power outages.

I actually have a plan for water storage I think might be sort of clever.  I was thinking about all the canning jars, which take up as much room in the house whether they're filled or empty.  My thought is that after emptying a jar, it could be filled with water and then put it back into storage.  I don't know whether I'd have to actually water bath and seal these, or if just capping them with sterile lids would work well enough, but I'm going to do some research on it and see if I can find out.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Importance of a Good Dirt Pokin' Stick

This is my stick. I use it for planting in the raised beds only, because it's not actually strong enough to stand up to the heavy clay of the big garden plot. Here in the raised beds though, it's invaluable.
I poke the holes for seeding, and I draw the furrows when we decide to plant in rows.  I dig out weeds, etc.  I think that a good dirt pokin' stick is a very valuable tool for square foot gardening.

I've been setting up a couple more raised beds, since I've filled the ones we already own with onions and garlic.  I have an onions and garlic addiction.  So, I set up a couple more and got one part of them planted with cabbage and broccoli starts, with beets in the center square foot.

I just came in for lunch, and now I'm headed back out to the dirt to finish filling the new beds and get them planted with carrots, parsnips, turnips, radishes, buttercrunch lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, kale, and kolrabi.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Committee

I'm a 2nd vice president in the county extension club. This is the officer who is in charge of welcoming and processing new members. Every year, we have a county wide event welcoming all new members, called The Victory Tea.

Today, we're having a planning meeting, and since the event will be a tea, this planning meeting will be a sort of tea tasting to decide on the menu.

This sort of thing is a bit fussier than my usual preferences, but it can be a fun to get a little fancy now and then, so I went right to the most uppity tea sandwich I know of: cucumber sandwiches.

These are made on my cute shaped bread slices, spread with cream cheese whipped up with a little yogurt to thin it a tad and lots of minced fresh chives from the garden.  Thinly sliced cucumbers (an excuse to break out the mandolin, yay) are the only fiilling.

Now to practice keeping that pinky up!

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Bread

For my birthday last week, I treated myself to these fancy new bread pans that bake canape sandwich bread.  I got to try them out yesterday, and I like them so much!

I was concerned that the bread might be hard to get out, but I just sprayed them with cooking spray inside and the bread fell right out when it was done.  Only the star one got a little stuck because. It had leaked out the ends a little while it baked because I'd had it too full.

There's no star shaped loaf in the photo because we ate it all yesteday making pb&j's for dinner.

Now I can make fancy little canape sandwiches for all the ladies in the homemakers club without having to waste crusts! :)

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Friday, April 01, 2011

A is for Alphabet


I've signed up for a blogging challenge lasting the month of April, in which every day (except Sundays) the participants make a post inspired by each letter of the alphabet.

I personally love the alphabet.  I know that's an odd statement, but there's just something about letters and text graphically that really appeal to me.  I love to write.  I really enjoy organizing things alphabetically.  Weird, but once I started thinking about it, an alphabet challenge seemed like a great one for me to try.

And let's face it.  The blog needs some livening up.  So a new challenge with daily posting it is.  Who's looking forward to daily posting?  I know I am!  Sometimes (often) I really need some limits and strictures to really open up my creativity.

If you'd like to visit some of the other bloggers participating in the challenge, there is a widget in the right sidebar under my regular blog roll that'll allow you to visit their blogs as well.

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