Bluebirds & Lilacs


I saw a bluebird going into the house I put up! ..bluebird of happiness…  I embroidered one right in the middle of the quilt I made for the little baby coming our way. Speaking of which, I was hoping  lilacs would be nice to cut for the baby shower next week. It’s been in the 80’s here and dry so I’m not too sure that’s going to work out.
Viburnums and spurge are looking beautiful and the apple blossoms are opening. Giant bumblebees are everywhere. I am glad I decided not to get beehives this year. I have a good local population and I didn’t want to meddle with it.
I’ve been planting out cabbages, bok choi and some herbs. I still have a  a lot more planting to do.  I should have started the kale sooner. I’m glad I did extra tomatoes though. I broke 12 plants by dropping a light on a tray and last night my husband tripped in the dark onto another tray on the back porch.
My daughter will be home from her first year of college this weekend, just in time for Mother’s Day.
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Bleeding Hearts & Tadpoles


Today I’m off on a little road trip with my friend Pat. About an hour away is a giant garden center. People visit from miles around. These days, I’m hesitant to buy anything because I don’t want to bring flowers into my yard that may have been sprayed with something that could kill the bees. I never would have even thought of that 10 years ago. I think that is sad.
On a happy note, we’re getting a much needed drizzle today. I planted 25 more strawberry plants and dug a new bed for my homeless potatoes yesterday so they’ll get a soak. A new bed isn’t ideal for potatoes but as I’m going to build the soil up anyway as the grow, I think it will be fine.
The bleeding hearts are looking gorgeous and my little pond is filled with tiny black tadpoles! I wonder what kind of frogs they are. They develop into tiny black frogs, only about 3 mm. long.
I finished the bag I started a while back. All ready for Spring!
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April Showers


The rhubarb is unfurling and things are coming alive. The fritillaries I planted are looking good but seem to have had no effect on deterring moles. My front yard is a giant mole hotel. All the roses except the rugosas are ruined, the roots eaten to nubs.
It’s raining so I’ll be spending the day in the kitchen.   I have more seedlings to transplant, (they are taking over the house!),  and I want to catch up on some cooking. There’s chicken broth on the stove. We buy local, free range chickens and not a bit is wasted. Even the bones are used.. burnt in the fireplace and composted.
If I have time, I might work on some needlework later and make some berry crumble with the last of the blackberries and raspberries, in the freezer from last year’s crop.

Happy, productive days!

Cabbage Patch, Calendula & Diamataceous Earth

I may have been a little over enthusiastic in sowing the seeds for my cabbage patch.  I have over 60 little plants.  Cabbage is great for saurkraut, of course,  and if you make your own you can add all sort of good things to it…carrots, kale, onions..even oranges.  Delicious!  I like to stir fry cabbage in coconut oil. It is  sweet, a little crunchy and doesn’t smell like sulfur when cooked this way.  Onions, fresh garlic and sea salt taste great with it.   Pea pods make a great addition too.

I have a lot of calendula started too.  Fresh calendula petals added to stir fries, salads..even fruit salads make things look pretty and add extra nutrition.  Dried petals retain their shape and color when added to glycerine soaps, vinegars and oils.  In the garden, they  are workhorses and make terrific companion plants.

I notice the fruit flies beginning to hover and multiply over my seedlings.  A little food grade Diamataceous earth sprinkled on the potting bench will take care of that problem in no time.  It’s non toxic and safe for pets.  Once it gets wet it is no longer effective. In the past, I’ve had issues with ants and japanese beetles in my old house.  Last year I sprinkled Diamataceous earth in all the windowsills, along the perimeters of the cellar and on top of the beams.  It really worked .

Speaking of Cabbage Patches and little sprouts…my daughter is having a baby!  The first grandchild!  I added the last stitch to this happy little quilt last night.

Snowed In

We were snowed in again yesterday.  At this point, it really doesn’t matter.  I think I ‘ve gotten used to it.  I spread my projects out on the dining room table and spent the day meandering through them all.  It’s too early to plant up the seeds but a few pots here and there give me something to look forward to.  It’s exciting to see the little sprouts coming through and to check them each morning.  March 1 st came in like a lion so you know what that means!

Snow, Bees & Yo-yos

My daughter is back at school and snow is in the forecast again.  I’ve been working on color filled projects and reading about bees. I’ve tentatively decided to go with the top bar beehive..it seems easier, a little more natural and organic.   This is a big expensive.  I figure, including the bees it will be $500!   A hive  starts with around 10,000 bees.  I watched some videos on You Tube of new bee keepers  getting  bees into their hives.  I have to admit, it is a little intimidating.   I’m not ready to commit, lol.

I’ve been resourcing heirloom seed companies and I came across a company that sells heirloom fruit trees..some dating back to the 1600’s.   It’s called Orange Pippin Trees.   A lot of  the trees are sold out.  Hopefully that is a good thing, maybe a lot of people are trying to keep these old varieties going.  I’m  trying to fit a few small apple trees into my garden plan.

This is a good time to paint woodwork, mend quilts and freshen up the house.  These little yoyo’s will soon become  pillows.   My goal is to have everything inside fresh, clean, cheerful and organized  by the time gardening season starts…yayy

 

Kuri, Cabbages, Tomato Soup and Winter

The forecast of snow and freezing rain prompted me to pull in the last of the cabbage. Blustery winds and an icy chill, the kind that goes right to the fingertips, drove me into the kitchen. The tomatoes had all ripened in the windowsills and I found an interesting looking Kuri squash on sale at our organic market.  The squash was such a rich and pretty color, I decided to use it to make our Thanksgiving soup. Googling it, I read that Kuri squash has a delicate flavor reminiscent of chestnuts. I interpreted that as being bland so I seeded, quartered and roasted it on a cookie sheet with other vegetables that I had on hand; garlic, onions, carrots and tomatoes. After about 30 minutes, I scooped the flesh out of the squash and puréed it with the other roasted vegetables. It tasted delicious. Into the freezer it went. I will add broth to thin it out and finish it with a little cream on Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, I stewed the last of my summer tomatoes and put them through the mill. Instead of freezing the lot, I made a quick batch of tomato soup. I sautéed an onion and a little garlic with lots of fresh oregano in butter until the onions were soft. I puréed that with the tomatoes and let it simmer for awhile.  A touch of cream  cut the acidity and brought some richness and warmth  to the mix.

I made up a batch of sauerkraut with my cabbages and added carrots and kale. I get such a thrill over my sauerkraut.  It’s so gratifying to think how I started with tiny seeds in April and end up with beautiful jars  of healthy, probiotic goodness that will last me all winter!  A lot of people give testimony about the healings that take place when they introduce fermented foods into their diets.  The only thing I noticed was  a weight loss , around 10-15 pounds.  I’m not complaining.

 So, Winter is here, unofficially.  I have embraced it.  There’s usually something good bubbling on the stove and roasting in the oven.  Extra quilts are pulled out of the chests and piled on the beds.   Sewing  baskets, hooks, yarns and my paintbox keep me happy and busy after dinner,  by the fireplace.  Life is good.

 

 

Hello November

Hello November! Today was windy, raining and cold.  Gloomy  Aconitum, not one of my favorites,  is still holding on to its flowers.  Also called Monkshood and Wolfsbane, every part of this plant is poisonous.  It’s often featured as the culprit  causing gruesome deaths  in murder mysteries.   It was one of the few plants here when I moved to this house 14 years ago.

This little Black Eyed Susan vine, on the other hand, is so cheerful and  still blooming.   I started the seeds inside in early April and  then set the baby plants into a pot,  trellis in place,  6 weeks later.  By mid June the vines had scrambled to the top of the trellis and were covered with flowers.  I save these seeds.   After the flowers bloom, I pull the pods and set them in a bowl on the window sill.  One night in September, I heard  lots of little popping noises. All  the pods were opening and shooting little black seeds out of the bowl.  This is a fun and exuberant plant from start to finish.

Today I made some pizzas.  Trying to come up with a  thin crust that is  both crispy and a little chewy, I  substitutied 1/3 of the white flour for semolina flour and it worked pretty well.  I topped them with mozzarella, cheddar and asiago cheeses and tomato sauce.   Really good! Thinking of something else I wanted to get done, I headed out to the vegetable garden for some cabbage. Halfway there, soaking wet and freezing, I turned around and decided not to make sauerkraut. Better to spend the afternoon with a pot of tea in my favorite chair, making Christmas presents.  Happy November!

Vintage <3

Easy  vintage iron transfers

Easy vintage iron transfers

I love vintage patterns! I feel like I found a treasure when I come across a great, clean tablecloth or fabric at a flea market. When I was a kid, I used to go to Woolworths with my Grandmother. They had drawers full of iron on patterns. We would pick out the one we wanted and then choose the colors we needed for our design. I had a little blue embroidery hoop and my own sewing basket. Such great memories! Lots of fabric stores still sell the iron on patterns. There are a lot of really cute vintage designs. They are so inexpensive, and the embroidery floss and the hoops are too. I add my own vintage touches to my pillowcases, hand towels and flour sac towels.  Just iron on the design, stitch in the embroidery and it’s done!  Very quick and easy to do!  This was shared at Share Your Cup Thursday!