30 March 2012

Just for Absolute Fun

Somehow I have a completely open day.
My mom was "going that way" and so
took the boys to school. 
My daughter is bringing them home.
I've only ventured out for coffee--less than a mile away.
(I know:  "What is this life and where do I find one???")
We had some great storms last night
(with some not-so great hail but the garden is fine)
so the only attention the garden needs is a few
casual walk-throughs.

(sorry, no creative background or editing on this pic--it's Lazy Day here!)

I really didn't have any plans, other than some knitting,
so when I came across these draw-string bags on
Peppermint Mocha Mama's blog this morning
 I was reminded that I've been wanting
to try those exact bags.  Goodness knows, I have
scraps so, above, is what I made.

Now just how often to you wander into your creative
space and come out with something completely
random, completely "just for the heck of it"?
Me?  Almost never.  That felt great.

Now, also just for the heck of it, I'm going to make
 these, minus the frosting.
An after-school suprise for the kiddos.

29 March 2012

Rolled Out Another One

Despite numerous phone calls, errands and
a couple of somewhat un-announced,
 (as in a few minutes' notice),
but welcome, visitors, I was able to
to complete another knitting tote.

It makes me want to get back to my knitting!

Isn't this owl fabric the cutest?
Their little eyes, the colors...! 

Whoooooo wants to knit? 

28 March 2012

New Arrivals

These little ladies showed up today.

So far, all are healthy and happy.

Five of these:

And five of these:
(source: Wikipedia)

I'm afraid our current chicken's days are numbered...

27 March 2012

Two More Projects Completed

I completed two projects by lunch-time so
I thought I'd let myself out of the sewing room. 
Don't you hate the feeling that an un-finished project gives?

Don't you love the feeling that a finished project gives??

Any big finishes for today out there?

26 March 2012

A Well-Deserved Day in the Sewing Room

Let's start out with a quick summary of last week:

Spring Break
Kids all home
Introducing a new cat to the family cat
Lots of yard/garden work
Lost power
Days and days of rain
Modem died
Spring cleaning
Impromptu garage sale
(went very well, btw)
Small birthday party
Treated the girls to pedicures
(this is a first--I'm usually pretty practical)
Prepping for baby chicks
(which were supposed to arrive today but somehow no one knows anything about them!?)
Worked on chicken run
Painted some shutters

Ok...that's not all of it but I'll stop there.  You get the idea.
Yesterday, with everyone back to school,
 I spent more time gardening, hauling heavy compost,
a little tilling and planting herbs, flowers,
strawberries and a few tomatoes.
And I'm just kinda worn out from all of it. 
(somebody got out of shape over the winter!)

(New kitty, first minutes home--very happy but hiding under my daughter's bed!)

Today rain is predicted.  But you know what?
Rain or no rain, I'm grabbing a venti latte and taking
part of some much-needed sewing therapy. 
 'Nuff said.

And I'm not emerging till I've finished some things!

What's everyone doing today?

21 March 2012

Spring Cleaning

Anyone else having a not-so-fun Spring Break?
This is just how our Spring Breaks always are, though.
We clean.  But it feels great to get the kitchen
cabinets and pantry cleaned and organized.

Garage Sales in the County do not require a permit.

The house is de-cluttered.
And now we've decided to throw a one-day
garage sale.  (in the rain??)  Why not? 
Just thought I'd pop in to say
Happy Spring Break!
With all the rain/some lightning, our modem is now
fried and it seems I can't upload any pictures with
our MiFi to my blog OR to my Etsy.   ???
Sorry for the boring post! 
Imagine pretty spring flowers...

19 March 2012

Market Monday: Finally

It's a beautiful rainy spring morning here.
(I know, it's not officially spring yet.  But it feels like it.  I'm excited about
the rain on my garden.  I even planted an early row of beans just in time
for all of this rain that is predicted for the next several days.)
My coffee and I are heading into the sewing room.
But first, I want to share what I accomplished after
putting in every spare minute I had in there last week

The results:

I made five knitting totes.  Five!

I fell in love with this travel-themed fabric.

Postage stamps from far-away places.

Passport stamps.

Small panels of Shanghai & the Eiffel Tower--
perfect for the inside pockets.

This one sold already before I got it listed. 
 And, so much more fabric to play with yet!

I also completed 2 more crayon aprons.

I love this fabric.  So spring-y!

A couple more of these to make yet, too.
I also took a little time out to make a plastic grocery
bag holder at the request of a family member.
I didn't grab a pic but imagine greens and blues with
peaches all over.  Very kitchen-y.

I keep wondering if I'll see my knitting needles soon.
Will I even remember how to do the projects that
I just learned?  Still unfinished are those fingerless
gloves, socks & a scarf.  I miss them.
(it's farther along than that pic up there shows--don't have a current pic)
My fingers miss the needles and yarn.
And I miss relaxing while flipping through blogs.
And piecing a quilt, watching it come together.
The soothing rhythm of free-motion quilting.
I just like to do too many things!
There are certainly worse things in life, though, right?

St. Francis de Sales pointed out that Satan
doesn't always tempt us with bad things.
Too many good things can also be a temptation.
Like becoming overly-involved in multiple charities
and ignoring our own obligations.
I remember that really caught my attention when I read it.
All this sewing, knitting, gardening--all good and
productive activities for a stay-at-home mom.
Just too much?  Hmm....
We'll have to keep an eye on that...
Plans for the week
  Additional 2 aprons & 3 totes. 
More focus on knitting and the garden.
And spring cleaning to do!
 I have more items to try out in the sewing room. 
And quilts to finish...and to start!
The days are just too short, you know!?

16 March 2012

Saturday In The Garden


As I've mentioned, I really like to just use whatever
God sends us for my garden.  When we recently
replaced our wooden front porch railing & posts
with all vinyl pieces, we kept the old 6X6 posts to

   Hey, how about a retaining wall for my strawberry bed?
(I'm not sure I like that it's white but it probably won't be
for long--plus, the plants will vine down a little over them.)
Once I had the posts in, I added a little extra soil
and peat.  Next, a thin layer of horse manure;
I plan on topping even that off with compost soon.  
The last two years were really hard on my strawberry
bed but I think all of these steps, along with the addition
of some new plants, should bring it back around nicely
The extra height should also look great as it is
along a back wall to the whole garden. 
I know--it doesn't look so hot now...
just give me another month or so!

I also helped the dh out with the fence repair by mitering
the tops of the boards that we repurposed for the pickets.
(yeah, that's me back there using power tools--hear me roar.)

My younger son was a big help.
(my other son was sick--and really bummed because
they both love to work out there with their dad!)

And here is my "new" fence--all broken parts
repaired and the fence extended, now complete
 on this entire side.  We're thinking of moving the
chicken coop (no small endeavor, I promise you!) and adding
a much-needed run--which would be right along
the next side of the fence...so that has us at a
stand-still for now till we decide how to go about it all.

Growing Update
Onions and all varieties of lettuces, spinach
and radishes are all up.  Watching for the potatoes
and peas to poke through any time.
(Where are the carrots?)
Fruit trees are all blooming.  (Please don't freeze now!)

1) Find more tree mulch--pathways need it asap
2) Plant more strawberries
3) Plan chicken run
4) Move chicken coop
5) Prep for new chickens--due on the 26th!

11 March 2012

Market Monday: More Crayon Aprons & Gifts

These special-order crayon aprons were made
and shipped out last week.

Three more crayon aprons were made,
hoping to be a part of some special Easter baskets.

Two matching cell phone &
business card holder sets--both gifts.

Plans For The Week
Border all star blocks & sash
Layer/quilt WIP on my Winter Stitching List (this would be huge!)
Get a few "weekend" meals in the freezer
Coffee with a friend
Get back to my knitting
Maybe some antique shopping?
Start Summer Day quilt
Make a plastic bag holder for a family member

09 March 2012

Saturdays in The Garden: Compost 101

If you're an avid gardener, this is probably old news for you. 
If you're fairly new or don't even plan to garden, I hope you'll find
some good info in the following quick course.

The answer to your garden question is "Compost."
Yes, I realize you haven't asked one yet but,
that's still the answer. 
I actually say this when people start talking
"garden" with me.  I've seen too many new
gardeners try to skip composting...and then,
at the end of the season, wonder why things didn't
go so well.  Yes, it really is that important.
(Furthermore, establishing great soil takes more than one season.)
I like to approach gardening like I approach health.
Preventive medicine is always best.
So start a compost pile if you haven't already!

You don't have to be a gardener to use compost.
Healthy compost can replace harmful chemical fertilizers for:
1)  Around trees and shrubs
2) Lawn
3)  Flower beds
4) House plants
Start a pile in a small corner of your yard.  Hide it with shrubs if you
prefer; I have never noticed a smell from our compost pile, btw,
so this should not be an issue.  It's free and healthy/organic.  I personally
think it's crazy that more people don't do this!  We are all called
to be responsible stewards of the land. 
(I'm so feeling like a hippie right now...)

(2009:  Brussel sprout plant.  Soil looking good there!)
Compost should be fully decomposed before
applying to garden.*
Keep in mind that waste that is not fully decomposed
will raise your soil temperature.  Heat is given off
during the decomposition process--definitely an issue
during the summer months when temps are rising
The decomposition process also uses the nutrients
in your soil, taking them away from your plants. 
*Here I will admit there have been plenty of times that I have added dry leaves,
etc. to my garden in the early spring for convenience sake--heat wasn't an issue
and the soil seemed healthy enough to share.  Sometimes it's just easier when
doing the yard's spring clean-up to take the waste directly to the garden.  
(2009--The 2 smaller sections of my garden)
Compost balances and replenishes the soil.
My garden is a huge testament to this.  Once
upon a time, it was hard, full of clay and full of weeds.
Ten years later, I'm proud of what it's become.
Balanced soil also helps keep weeds and pests
away, plants are healthier and are less
susceptible to disease.  
Always put back what you take out.  I use every
single spot of my garden, sometimes for 2 or
even 3 crops per year (rotating).  Take the amount of
plants you grow every year.  That's how much you are
taking out of your garden every year, too.  Replenish this!

(2011:  Herbs, picked fresh for dinner)

What Goes In My Compost Pile
All yard waste
Except anything that has a history of disease
(like our eunonymous shrubs); I also never put tomato plants in
the compost--they are so susceptible to disease and require constant
crop rotation.  In my opinion, it's just not a good idea to "feed"
the old ones to the new ones.  A well-run compost pile probably
kills this off but...why risk it? 
Shredded Paper
Shred all of your paperwaste.  You'll be amazed at how much
this cuts back on what you're sending to the landfill!  Avoid glossy
papers--ie, ads, magazines.  I've read these inks contain chemicals that
you don't want in your garden. 
All kitchen scraps
All vegetables, most fruits, coffee grounds, tea, etc.
Just remember:  *no meats/fats or citrus fruits*. 
If you are worried about attracting "critters," just bury this
waste a little and they should leave it alone.
Ashes From Fireplace
Keep this to a minimum though--you can get too much.
Saw Dust, Wood Shavings, Chipped Tree Mulch
If you know a carpenter, your set. 
We bought a chipper-shredder several years ago. 
All of our small limbs (and bigger yard waste) go through here first.
I haven't seen anything create great soil as much as wood can.
Again, how much we can keep from the landfills!
Old Potting Soil
In the fall, I dump all of my outdoor pots into the pile.
Cow, Horse or Chicken Manure
Be careful that all animal waste "cures" a good 6 months
in your compost pile--you do NOT want this directly on
your lettuce, for example.  One word: salmonella.
All that aside, this stuff is gold.
Ask friends and family
If someone is bagging their leaves or grass clippings, ask for them!
This is gold, too--think of it as free dirt.  If you've ever priced out
a truck-load of topsoil, you'll know where I'm coming from.
Good quality soil
If you end up with dirt from a project (ie, planting a tree), always
put it in the compost.  This soil contains the ingredients your compost
pile needs to break everything down.  It's really helpful to mix
this in on a regular basis, especially if you don't turn your pile often.
And so much more!

 Happy gardening!

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

sew many ways

07 March 2012

Noble Knits posted this one this morning. 
I had to share.
Speaking of hope, I have
lettuce and onions popping up!

(No, I cheated--this is from 2009 again!  The current lettuce
would hardly show up in a pic.  I'll wait till it's bigger.)

Other signs of a great day:

  • the Starbucks barista lets you get an "illegal" PSL because they still have the syrup!
  • Not only that, it was free because you had 15 stars and got one of those little post cards in the mail. 
  • Shipping out an Etsy special-order that was just placed yesterday and it's already done.   
  • I found a farmer that will sell me straw for my garden at the beautiful price of $3.50/bale.

Now would be the perfect time to get a new project
going, esp some new Market items that I desperately
need to make or maybe that next quilt that's
on the que...or maybe give my scrappy stars
some sashing. 
But, tomorrow is bookclub...and I've
barely even started the book.  It's going to feel weird
(aka, LAZY!) sitting down in the morning
to read a book but here I go.

How has your day been going so far?

06 March 2012

An Underground Operation

This post will be the first of many on our little mini-farm.  Though I grew
up on a fairly large one, the city has crept out and very little remains.  
No more tractors, combines, cows or barns...but life goes on.
We don't mind the houses and activity around us so much--in fact, we love
being so close to all the city offers.  How lucky to have the best of both worlds! 
Please check in regularly--latte in hand--and join me as I share how
we've kept just a touch of the farm on the edge of a city.

 It may not look like it but, underground,
there is a lot of activity going on.

Gardens aren't very pretty this time of year but I
 want to kind of "journal" my garden for you
throughout the season so I have to start at the
ugly beginning. 

    So far, I have planted:
  • 150 white onion (bulbs)
  • green onion (seeds)
  • 50 red onions (bulbs)
  • carrots
  • all kinds of lettuces
  • Swiss chard
  • radishes (red, white)
  • spinach (flat & curled)
  • 75 red potatoes
I would still like to get some broccoli in but we have
a rabbit issue so I'm holding off a little longer there.

There is also my strawberry patch, and my
asparagus crop that has really been coming
along nicely.  Last year, it gave us more than
we could eat--and I love fresh, grilled aspargus,
less than 30 minutes after it's been picked!

The grapes and blackberries are my husband's crops.
Both of these were from his grandparents' home.
Also his area--the fence in the back there. 
We have used old fence boards to give it a
cute, rustic look to the garden but only lasts a few
years.  More on that this weekend--the goal is to
not only repair it but to complete it as we
now have enough to get the job done.
The currants have been on my family's farm
longer than I can remember, though we moved
them in '88 when the newer house was built. 
(My husband & I bought the house w/3 acres from my mom about 5 years ago)
Above is just one of the two sections that provide
wind protection to the south of my garden.  When
they are in bloom, the breeze carries the most
wonderful smell to the garden where I am working!
I have just trimmed them way back but they are
beginning to leaf out and will soon be full. 
They grow like weeds.
I've always approached my garden as a gift from God.
The grapes and blackberries, the fence, and mulch
have all found their way into my garden as gifts.
(This is the first year I've run out of mulch for my 
pathways.  We'll see what God turns up with...)
Last fall, I was given a huge box of hundreds,
(like 500 or 600!) of garden seeds.  What a haul!
They should last at least another season or two!
I also give back to the garden; I like to call it 
my own little eco-system out there.  Any scraps
from our food that the garden gives us, go either
into the compost pile or to the chickens. 
Then it finds its way back to the garden as mulch
 and/or fertilizer.  Even when we trim the grape vines,
we put them through the chipper-shredder and
straight back into the garden. 
Like a quilter with her scraps, nothing
from the garden is wasted.
I'm no Master Gardener, but I do have a lot of
practical tips--tried & true!--that I've learned in my
years of gardening.  I plan on sharing these
with the gardeners out there.  I'd also
love to hear your own ideas so please join in!

Linked to:

Farm Girl Friday
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