I had so much creative ADD this weekend, I just kept flitting from one project to another. There were hexi-puffs and leather bracelets and a trip to the thrift store where $9 worth of treasures were bought. I sawed down some boards to make a background for food photos, and made some fabric napkins out of a blouse from the aforementioned thrifted treasures. And then there was all the laundry, cooking, cleaning, and errand-running that I also squeezed in. I'm getting tired again just thinking about it all! I need some longer weekends to do everything I want to do. Anyway, there will be more on all those things as I finish them (except not the laundry or cleaning, that was all very boring, and it's never done, anyway).
I did manage to finish a very little porch project, however. After my succulent in a teacup, which still looks as good as the day I planted it, I had a hankering for more succulents to dress up the dining table out there. I found this perfect little tin planter at my favorite nursery, and picked out some pink, green, and white succulents to fill it up. I probably could have squeezed in another plant or two, but I can live with a little space between plants for now. I'd write up a tutorial, except it would be very short: get a container, get some cactus mix, and get some plants, arrange the plants pleasingly in the container, adding cactus mix as necessary.
One of the best places to spend a summer evening is on our porch. This is just a corner, but it's coming along nicely. I have a few projects planned for the coming months, like sanding and repainting that chair :) Our house is little, so I want to use more of the porch, it's really like having an extra room or two. Yesterday I took a lunch hour trip to the nursery and picked up just a few little plants. The largest pot was already planted with mint, sage, and a lemon scented geranium.
We have lots of bits of wood around the yard from our oak trees that all died and had to be cut down. One log in particular caught my eye the other day. It was completely hollow in the middle. A squirrel had used it as a hiding place recently, driving the dogs crazy, since they couldn't reach inside to get it out. I put it outside the fence to allow the little bugger a chance to escape with his life, and wouldn't you know it, he was still there the next day. We have a few grey squirrels and some of their homlier brown cousins living in various trees in the yard. They're cute, but they torment and tease the dogs, and eat my tulips, so I am not a huge fan. I didn't feel too bad about turning one of their little hideouts into a planter for my porch.
Most of the bark was already off, to I just pulled off the remaining bits and gave it a quick sanding to smooth away some of the roughness. Then I just popped a little pot of lemon thyme in it. I love it!
I've also been cleaning out our shed, and found that little green basketweave California pottery piece. I like the contrast with the golden oregano.
The other pot has a rue plant that I hope will fill out and blossom soon. I also added a little straw flower for some color, and a succulent in a broken teacup to my bright yellow table.
I like the mismatched look of all the different pots and plants. My next woodshop project will involve a planter for more succulents to sit atop the table on the other side of the porch. I hope it works out so I can show you that soon!
I've enjoyed the cold winter weather these past few months. Handknits and boots and sweaters are nice. But spring is my favorite time of year. I can't get enough of spring flowers, and I love the green hillsides, the buds on the lilacs and Easter and my birthday. The longer days boost my energy, and I want to soak up as much fresh air and sunshine as possible, despite spending eight of those sunny hours indoors at work five days a week.
I'm still loving the daffodils in our yard, and picked an enormous bunch today. With each new type that blooms, I declare a new favorite. Today I love the little apricot ones (center left).
Of course I can't forget the tiny grape hyacinth and snow drops with their green-dotted bells.
While in Spokane, I got to spend a fun day browsing antique shops and malls with my sister-in-law (her excellent finds are here). I showed you the elephant pitcher I couldn't resist as we were checking out of our last stop, but that's hardly all I brought home.
I also couldn't resist this tiny pink dress, not with it's $5 price tag (actually, the shop owner quoted me $6 and then lowered it as I got ready to pay).
I've been wanting to start designing some knitwear patterns, and one of my first ideas is a sweet little baby cardigan. The details on this dress are providing all sorts of inspiration, and I am thinking I will document the design process here as I figure it all out. I hope you don't mind.
I love this round, smocked yoke:
I'm also enjoying playing around with the video camera on my phone, and I so loved the lodgepole pines surrounding my brother's house in Spokane. I'm still figuring out all the editing, but I rather like this brief glimpse of the wind bending the trees.
Did you catch that brief glimpse of my nephew and his chip bag kite? I will have to tell you more about that, but in the meantime, here he is with his "smile for the camera" smile, curved lips just like a smiley face. He is the funnest 7-year-old I know, and I miss him already.
What are you planning to do this Autumn? Here's what I want to accomplish by the end of the year:
I can't wait to eat this cake again!
While last Saturday may have made me feel like a failure as a farmer, things are not all bad around here. Despite the fact that the chickens continue to think my vegetable garden is their own personal dust bath spa, a few things are growing quite nicely. I harvested my first radish this week.
This is a salad rose radish, they are, obviously, a long variety. This one was about six inches. I left it for Mr. HeyLucy to eat, because radishes are one of his favorites. He pronounced it delicious and very spicy. The chickens did a bit of damage to my radish section, so there are only three others there. They grow so quickly, I'm thinking of filling in a few squares with more radish seeds, so we can enjoy a few more harvests. I'll also be adding some chicken wire covers to the garden, and hopefully that will keep those rascals at bay.
I also discovered that what was burning my plants was actually a freakishly late frost (we had frost until June 22!), so I lost my beans, a couple cucumbers, and the cinnamon basil. I thought that three of my four tomatoes were goners, but only one actually died, and the other three are looking good. My red grape tomato is huge, and there are even a few tomatoes ripening. The other two tomato plants have a ways to go, but I'm hoping we'll still get a few by the end of Summer.
Here's the whole garden, it looks pretty nice:
The sorrel is doing really well, I've trimmed it a couple times to share with friends, and I'm going to try and make some sorrel soup this week. I'm not sure if my peas are going to do much more than they're doing now. They're the four right front boxes. As you can see, they have no interest in climbing the poles I've rigged for them, but there are quite a few pods. It may be getting too hot for them, so once the pods are ripe, I think I'll harvest and pull them out and replace them with something else.
Here's what I'm discovering: when it comes to gardening, you can read and study and plan all you want, but the only way to really learn how to garden is to...garden. I know, that's so deep, but if you want to plant a garden, and you have even a little bit of space, I say go for it! You'll never be more ready than you are now, and some things will not work, and some things will be amazing. I think it helps to be out there in the dirt, as much as possible, too, and even just pulling a weed here and there is progress. It's so easy for me to look at my big garden area, where I want to plant berries and fruit trees and make about 8 more boxes and get overwhelmed, but I just keep reminding myself to be patient and just do a little at a time, and eventually I'll have my little Eden out there.
Enough about the garden, remember how I started making a sleeve for my laptop? I finished it and used it while traveling last week. It worked out just great.
My laptop is my primary computer, so it's a big 17" one. I don't travel much with it, sand I have a case, but it's heavy and ugly, and it wasn't very practical. So I got myself a little rolling carry on bag, and filled it with a bunch of stuff, leaving room for the computer on the top. So much easier!
And it's cute!
One last thing, back to the garden. I decided to have some pretty yogurt for breakfast this morning. I picked a sprig of lavender and a sprig of mint, and added them to my Greek yogurt and raspberries. There's also a sprinkle of raw sugar for sweetness. It's quite tasty (I'm eating it right now!) and it smells so good.
I don't even want to write this post, but I just have to do it anyway. It's going to start out bad, I'm just warning you. I'll try to end on a happier note, though, so I hope you stick with me.
Saturday I came home from visiting my family in Idaho. It was lovely, but earlier in the week Mr. HeyLucy called and said that something was wrong with Sally, she wasn't eating and was mostly just sitting on the nest she made to lay her eggs earlier this Spring. He was bringing her water and setting her in her little pool regularly, and she would drink, but wouldn't even eat apple slices-her very favorite food. This continued the rest of the time I was away. When Mr. HeyLucy met me at the airport he said she was in her pool when he left, and had even gotten in all on her own, so we were hoping that she was improving. Sadly, by the time we got home she was gone, we found her body still in her pool. I was glad that she was at least in one of her favorite spots, but so sad that I wasn't there for her at the end.
Good-bye little Miss Sally, we're going to miss you!
We're not sure what was wrong, but it could have been one of several things: 1) I was gone, and she was really bonded to me, so she felt abandoned. She followed me all over when I was outside, and she didn't particularly like being held, but would let me pick her up any time I wanted. I really hope this wasn't why she stopped eating. 2) She and Bear had a rather rocky relationship. She would often pull on his tail, and he knew he wasn't supposed to hurt her, but sometimes he just couldn't take it and would pin her down between his front paws and really growl at her. He might have unintentionally hurt her internally. Or 3) She nibbled on something poisonous. I can't think of anything that she might have found, we don't keep any plant food or weed killer around, but who knows what could be out there, she wandered all over the whole yard.
As if this wasn't enough to spoil my homecoming, I went and checked my garden and found two little hens having the time of their lives out there. Apparently a four-foot fence is not enough to keep a couple determined chickens out of the garden. I suspected chickens were the mysterious diggers, but I hadn't ever seen them out there. I guess I should be glad that mystery is solved.
Of course, while I was there I had to check on the bees. I noticed that they had pushed another rubber band out the front door, but not all the way, so I thought I'd help them out, and pulled it out the rest of the way. Unfortunately, there were a few bees hanging on to the other end and they were not happy about being yanked out of the hive. A couple of them were mad enough to sting me, one on my calf, just below my knee, and the other, through my pants on the front of my thigh on the other leg. I got the stingers out right away, and went straight to the house where I took a Benedryl and crushed up some aspirin, making a paste with a little water to put on the sting sites. I read about these treatments on one of my beekeeping lists, and I have to say, they worked brilliantly! Of course the Benedryl put me to sleep, but the aspirin got rid of the pain within minutes, and I didn't have any swelling at all. Now there are just small red blotches and they itch about as much as a mosquito bite, but that's it!
How about some better news? Remember these little creations? I got to see them modeled on this pretty little girl. My brother had a portrait session with the new family, and I got to be the lighting assistant. I have more photos to share from my trip, but it was really nice, and a lot of fun, and I'm still recovering at the moment, so the pictures will have to wait a few more days.
Pincushion, take two. Progress, but still not quite right. I'll keep trying.
Two things I don't want to forget to tell you about:
Well, I played chicken with Mother Nature, and she won, of course. The last frost date in our little town is Memorial Day weekend. I had no patience, and went ahead and planted lots of things a couple weeks early, as you know. Memorial Day weekend approached, and the weather stayed lovely and warm. And then Sunday night, Memorial Day eve, it was as frosty as can be. I thought maybe most of my tomatoes and peppers would make it, but then, for the second night in a row we had frost. That was the end of them. Next year I'm going to try planting at the same time, but covering the tomatoes until the end of May. Last Saturday I went to a beekeeping class at City Farmer Nursery, and afterward picked out some new tomatoes and peppers. They're larger than the original plants, so I'm not really behind.
Lots of seeds are also coming up, and I have to say, there's something so fulfilling about growing from seeds. Beans and cucumbers are all sprouting, and three out of four squares of peas are coming up too. Basil and cilantro are very slowly growing, but only one radish out of sixteen sprouted, so I'm trying again and I replanted more seeds yesterday. The potatoes are doing well, and I added another layer of soil to their cans. They've already sprouted through, and I'm going to have to add more again soon.
I also built a trellis, I just followed instructions in the Square Foot Gardening book, it was pretty easy. I used electrical conduit pipes and some tomato netting. We'll see how sturdy it is, one of the bean plants is just about ready to start climbing.
All my beans sprouted, so I had to pull a couple out:
The lavender is starting to bloom, and I found some feverfew that had reseeded itself from a plant I planted several years ago. I think they are so sweet. Roses are blooming too.
I visited with the little chickens in their rusty pen for a bit today too:
They have that nice little house to sleep in, and what do they do? The curl up on top of each other in the farthest corner in the pen, out in the open. Silly little pea-brains.
Coming soon: cooking news and beekeeping news!
I think I'm going to have to get over my box building frustration sooner rather than later. I seem to have filled my first box right up! I'm feeling a little greedy, and want to grow everything! I planted some seeds, but also went on a little shopping spree at my favorite nursery. They had so many varieties of tomatoes. I had space for four, but the selection was so overwhelming that I ended up with a yellow (Lemon Boy), a purple (Cherokee Purple), and two red cherry tomatoes (Sweet Million and Red Currant), but I think I really ought to have a couple more reds, oughtn't I? And maybe a green. I want to be able to can some for the Winter.
Peppers are posing the same problem, I got a jalapeno, a bell pepper, and a cherry red, but there are so many fun varieties, and those three seem rather ordinary. I'm very excited about the French Sorrel, which was a complete impulse buy, but I tasted a leaf and love the citrus-y tart taste. It's a perennial, so hopefully it will spread a little, maybe into two square feet, from the one it's now it. It can be divided, as well, so if it does like the conditions here, I'll definitely spread it around.
Here's the view from our back fence. As you can see, I have plenty of room for a lot more boxes. I'd like to grow some berries against the fence to the right, and maybe put in a few fruit trees.
Nothing has happened yet in my potato cans, no signs of green, although most of the potatoes definitely had sprouts in their eyes, so I'm expecting to see something soon. I also planted a green globe artichoke next to the potatoes. I love artichokes! For prettiness, I planted one square of my box with candy cane zinnia seeds, and another with a tiny dianthus from the sale table. I planted some basil seeds, but also brought home a flowering basil because they were filled with bees at the nursery. I can't seem to find the tag for it, but I think it's cinnamon basil. There's also a Japanese eggplant and a couple zucchini plants. Other seeds I planted include peas, two kinds of beans, two kinds of cucumber, radishes and cilantro. And yet I need more. I think it's already too hot for any sort of lettuces or greens, but I have seeds for all sorts of kales and chards and lettuces that I might start toward the end of Summer for Fall planting.
Who else is working on a vegetable garden? Share what you're growing, I want to know!
I got myself good and worn out doing all that planting on Saturday, not to mention dirty and sweaty after weeding along one side of the box. I plan to lay down weed cloth and mulch and possibly some stepping stones this week. I think I need a chair or two out there, to sit and enjoy the plants in the evening. If only this one wasn't sold out everywhere.
After all that activity I did a lot of resting today, and did a little hand sewing while watching Last Chance Harvey this evening (it was sweet, but I love Emma Thompson, so I like everything she's in). I am trying to come up with some more pincushions, and I think I'm on the right track, but it needs just a little something more. I used the same fabric I used for my headscarf, but maybe I need to stick to smaller prints? I'm going to have to think about it, but I really want to get some things in my shop, it's looking so sad and barren at the moment.
I also decided to start un-picking and re-stitching the latest quilt top from my mother-in-law. She said that her mother started it when she found out she was pregnant with her, but she wasn't much of a sewer or quilter. I love these fabrics so much, and the yellow solid is so nice, and unusual. As I was getting started and looked at the back I realized that she must have used paper to piece it, there are all these little bits.
As I'm unpicking I can feel the frustration and impatience the seamstress must have had. There are places where the sewing machine was obviously acting up, and she seems to have just plowed on through. None of the points are anywhere near meeting, and the seam allowances are 1/8" in some places and well over 1/4" in others. So she may not have had much skill for needlework, but she did at least have an eye for color, I hope she won't mind my re-doing and finishing her quilt.
I think I've figured out this comments situation. I won't bore you with the details, but as of today I'm back to responding regularly. If you ask a question and I think others might like to see the response as well, I'll reply in the comments, but I'll also reply directly, so you should get an e-mail just like in the past.
Now for some (hopefully) more interesting stuff. I started working on a vegetable garden this past weekend. I've only been wanting to do this for the past five years. The promise of excellent pollination by the bees helped motivate me to finally just start. Thanks to the recommendation of my sister, I've decided to try square foot gardening. I'm starting with a 4x8 foot box, and I hope to add a couple more before the year is out. The book talks about how easy it is, and that may well be the case, but building the box was a little trickier than I expected. There was way too much cursing on my part, and I may have damned my drill to hell once or twice. Poor little drill, I didn't really mean it. With the help of Mr. HeyLucy, however, we worked it out and the next time should be a little easier. It turns out that redwood is really, really hard (doh! That's why it's suggested for use in outdoor projects), and my starter holes were not long enough or wide enough, and the screws just would. not. go. in. I kept stripping them. It's a good thing I have no plans to disassemble it any time soon.
I also planted some potatoes in trash cans. I don't remember where I first read about growing them that way, but the day after I planted them I got a link to this handy little video in my inbox. I had four kinds of seed potatoes, so I put two in each trash can. There are French fingerlings (a small, long, skinny red potato), Burbank russets, All Blue (also small like the fingerlings, but they have the prettiest purple flesh), and Yukon Golds.
This is not too impressive, but I'm swallowing my pride and showing you a picture of my weed-filled yard. Just remember that this is a before picture. I hope that an after picture by the end of Summer will show vast improvements. I labeled the important stuff. You might have to view it larger to read everything.
I'm excited to get planting this weekend.