Monday, February 26, 2007

I'm back!

The past week has been crazy! Last week our beautiful weather went poof! I woke up Thursday morning to 2 inches of snow and it continued to fall until yesterday. The good news is that the ground was still warm so none of it stuck around and it was all gone by this morning. I went shopping on Saturday and found a great deal on a metal gazebo, something we have been wanting. I'll post a picture once we get it up!

My broccoli and cauliflower seedlings are doing great. A few of the broccoli got a bit leggy though I had it positioned correctly from the grow light. None of the other seedlings on that row did, so I am going to guess these were just some over exuberant plants. My grow system is a bit odd. Since I have 2 kids, 2 cats, and a dog, my seedling trays have to be out of reach. Windows are pretty much off limits as the cats will climb curtains to get at the baby plants. Also, I do not have $500 to spend on the ultimate growing systems featured in every seed catalogue. So what I did many years ago was purchase some $10 grow lights from Wal-mart. Come seed starting time I clear off the top two shelves of my bookshelf. These are the type of lighting fixtures where you put in a couple of screws and the fixture can slide on or off the screws, so I can put the lights away when not using them. I place boxes under my seed tray to lift them to the proper distance from the grow light (empty cereal boxes work great), and remove boxes as the seedlings grow. I never invested in a fancy seed growing heat mat, but I have been known to place a heating pad under the trays to help the seeds germinate. (This can be a fire hazard, do not leave them on when you leave the house or go to bed). The set up only cost me the lights since I already had the bookcase. I promise to take a picture of this setup eventually and post it as well!

I have to go catch up now on all you guy's wonderful blogs, have a great day!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Finally some sun!

The sun was finally shining and I couldn't bring myself to sit inside at the computer! I finally got the beds set up!

I dug them out and loosened the soil about 6 inches down. The soil here is very rocky as we are more or less on the downslope to the river valley (Spokane River is less than a mile from my house). I didn't want to mix these rocks into my actual garden soil if I could avoid it, it will be enough of a pain getting the ones that work themselves to the top out. On top of my 6" of turned natural soil I laid down a mix of purchased garden dirt and compost to about 12" in the big bed and 8" in the smaller beds. I am going to be laying down a wood chip mulch on the pathways around the beds (last thing I want to do is add more rocks or gravel!). If the sun keeps up I will probably find more things to do outside instead of keeping up with my indoor responsibilities but who could blame me? The only thing I did indoors today was get my broccoli and cauliflower started!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Thwarted plans

My to-do list for today:

Finish assembling the raised beds
Make the trellis' for the pea's
Find some good piece's of wood to contain our out of control compost heap

This WAS my to-do list until I woke up to this....
Yes, the white stuff is snow. There was more of it this morning, but the rain is washing it away thank goodness. We didn't drop below freezing either, which is a good thing in my book!

I'll probably Still do the pea trellis' as I can do most of it indoors and avoid the chill. 34 degree's F and raining, being outside? I don't think so! I'm also going to make tee-pee's for the tomato's. How does everyone else stake their Tomato plants? I admit I am still searching for a method I like.

I looked through the wood pile and found some perfect pieces to make the pea supports. I think I will make two tripods and make a net of twine for them to crawl up. I also found some perfect pieces to make tee-pee's for the tomato's. I used cages one year and I hated them, impossible to get to the tomato's inside! I am also not organized enough to stake them, I forget to tie them and they end up sprawling all over the garden as I learned last year.

Even though the weather is overcast, misty, and still hovering around 39 degree's, it is alleviating my spring fever a bit to be working outside most days. I lived in New Mexico for the last 5 years and I was looking forward to moving someplace with snow and cold. I missed my real winters. Now here I am looking forward to warm weather and sunshine!

Happy Valentine's!

A valentine from me to all of you!

I made these for Brandon's Valentine's Day party at school. They are "Conecakes". Using your favourite chocolate cake recipe, pour into individual cake ice cream cones and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. I frosted them with pink frosting, put a cherry chocolate chip on top, and sprinkled them with chocolate jimmy's. The colour's washed out a bit in the photo. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A long day

First, Thank all of you for your support and kind comments! After reading your blogs I feel as though I know you all.

My shoulders and thighs ache from digging up new beds today. Our house has a horrible back yard. We moved in last summer and it was too late in the season and we were too broke after the move to put in a proper garden, but we did manage to throw together a small patch for tomato's and zuke's. We had to purchase plants at a garden center as opposed to starting them but they produced wonderfully. I still have two jars of the spaghetti sauce I canned and 2 bags of frozen zuke! Not bad for a small plot in a weedy yard. Here's a pic of the remainder of our mini plot:

We have big plans for the yard. We have a lovely elderly man as our neighbor on one side. His front yard is wonderful, with flowers, a pond and a waterfall. His backyard is a dump though! We plan to put in ivy as a living wall to block out the old furniture and trash. We also are stuck with an ugly shed. We are not quite ready to tear it down yet so we are planning to obscure it with more climbing vines. Our yard has never been landscaped since the house was built in 1943. We are truly starting from scratch. Here are some pictures of it I took today before I dug out the garden.

Here is the dilapidated shed/garage thingy. You can see where I began digging today in the corner. The zigzag on the wall is twine we put up to give the vines something to climb once we plant them this spring.
A pile of scrap wood I am using for the raised beds. The wood came with the house :) Under it is a weird rectangle of cement that I am planning on putting my containers for growing carrots as our soil is too rocky to do them in the ground. Also visible is an example of my neighbors yard complete with couch.
The back of our house. Across the street from us is a giant field that used to be a train yard and station many years ago. This summer they are putting in homes (I don't want them too, thats where I walk the dog). I called the developer and got permission to scavenge. We got a ton of red brick that used to be the walls of the station and some slate that was laying around. We plan on using it to make a patio area and to make pathways in the garden. On the right you can see more of my neighbors mess- a broken tabletop and chairs.
Our side gate with a pic of the back of our lawnmower. The rose bush that dominates this picture bloomed beautifully last year. It does need pruned and my beloved promises to do it soon.

The yard is huge at least, but I see a lot of work ahead of us to make it livable. I hope to post a ton of after pic's in the coming couple of months as I want it done by the time family visits!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The plan...

I am working on a cook book right now. It is still in its infancy. I am playing with names, one of my favourite's being the same as the title of this blog. I am including some of my best bento tips, some of my favourite canning recipe's, frugal recipe's, inexpensive menu plans, gardening tips for in the plot or in a pot, and maybe a few crafts and other odds and ends. Aye, it will be a bit more than the average "meat, vegetable, poultry, fish " cookbooks out there! It should be done by autumn and then I will be stuck with the decision to hunt down a publisher or self publish. Until then I will share little snippets, tips, recipe's and spoilers for the upcoming book. I hope you all enjoy it and I look forward to your comments, suggestions and even your criticism!


I discovered bento some time ago. I love making them for my two boys. Even at 20 months, Monkey appreciates his little lunch. He opens it slowly and stares at it for a few moments. Then he turns those big brown eyes on me and gives me a grin that stretches from here to Mississippi. B loves his as well. If I have a lazy day and pack him a sandwich, he meets me in front of school downcast. He then spends the ride home waxing poetic about the joys of hot dog sushi.

I never understood how people are too busy to do things such as this. I work, I keep my house reasonably clean, I cook every meal we eat. No convenience food, rarely eating out, everything from scratch the hard way. I have my garden though right now it is still winter and most of my gardening time is staring longingly at seed catalogues. We visit parks, mountains, farms, cities, towns, oceans, lakes and anywhere else one can imagine as often as we can. Yet I still usually have more hours in the day than things to do. Not always, harvest time is back to school time and visit the upick farm time as well. Winter is mellow, even the Christmas season, which I think is because we don't overdue Christmas and the majority of our gifts are purchased or made several months in advance. Spring is a bit busier. School plays and activities are taking up an evening a week, planting time, cleaning up everything from winter, but still I have 30 minutes to devote to a special lunch and an hour to devote to myself. Summer is fun, except for the 5 days in July when we hang out at the kid's free park in the mall all day because we don't have AC and it is HOT in that house. We would plan a vacation for that week, but the garden wouldn't survive. With no school B helps out alot and we have plenty of time to enjoy the long days and short nights.

I am very lucky to lead the life I do and I am thankful for it most times, but sometimes I wish for a bit more, and others I wish for a bit less. Thank all the faeries and pixies, deities and sprites, that I have the will and ability to choose my own life 99% of the time.