Monday, February 28, 2011

It's a Wrap

Stalks of asparagus are pushing skyward. All is well with the world :o) Warm, gusty winds are threatening to send my laundry hither and yon. I suppose this last day of February is getting a jump on March's "coming in like a lion".

These are my lovely nieces and sister. They came out on Saturday, and got a crash course in soap wrapping. Thanks so much ladies! It was a fun time. My nephew helped J plant onions. Well done, all!

I signed up to take a beginner's crochet class tonight at Circa Gallery. Not that I really need another project to add to my growing list. We'll be making a face cloth, which I'm thinking can't take terribly long. I'm not sure how much I'll learn in a two-hour class, but I am sure it will be a fun time.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Green Business

The fab shop got spiffed up by J, with a coat of green paint on all the trim. It's coming right along. I planted green peas this week- a mix of Little Marvel, Pioneer and Early Alaska. This morning is warm and rainy, so I'm hoping the peas and all the cold frame greens will be encouraged to grow. We haven't gotten much from our cold frame this winter, except for some lettuce, a couple picks of spinach, and parsley for soup, sauces and potato salad. The kale, swiss chard, mixed winter greens and broccoli are doing very well the past few weeks. I have high hopes a winter salad is in our near future. We had a couple early in the winter, made with mostly volunteer garlic mustard, but it just wasn't the same. Bring on the greens!

I've been soap wrapping up a storm, and have recruited help for the weekend. Though I haven't managed it daily, I have had some one-hour paperwork sessions. It's amazing what can be accomplished in a focused hour. Hooray for organization.

Several things are up in my Wintersown containers. So far, I've seen Cosmos, Bachelor Buttons and Poppies. High hopes, I tell ya! Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blooming Wednesday

The flowers are returning. Hooray!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Clean Slate

I'm filled with high hopes this morning. The end of last week, I did a thorough house cleaning. Not a full spring cleaning, but a good cleaning, complete with mopping. Which is a thorough cleaning in this house. Having peaceful, orderly surroundings has inspired me to tackle my paperwork. Paperwork and email are the two most challenging things for me to keep up with. So, I've decided to dedicate an hour a day to getting my paperwork in order. I'm going to take the lead of others, and set a timer. When it goes off, I'll move on to the other things I want to accomplish this week-- lots of soap wrapping, seed starting, and stitchery of both the machine-stitched and handwork variety. Maybe it will even inspire me to tackle my email inboxes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WinterSowing and A Touch of Spring

I hope you've all been having a good week. A touch of spring is in the air here. It's got me thinking of all the things I need to do!

-Vegetable seeds to start. I did give wintersowing another try with at least a dozen different flowers, and am hoping for the best. This year, I have the pots where the chickens can't reach them, so I'm hoping for beautiful things. I'm going to try doing the vegi seeds differently this year, being I'm at home most days. I'll put them outdoors during the day, instead of spending all their time under grow lights. I'm hoping for nice strong plants!

-Plant peas. I think I'm pushing the limits with this one.

-Pruning. So far, I've only managed to get my butterfly bushes and 4 apple trees pruned. I've got a long ways to go. Also have flower beds I've not yet cleaned up.

-Spring cleaning. I've been noticing lots of cobwebs lately. There's no hiding them when you heat with wood!

Yesterday, I canned mushrooms for the first time. I hadn't really used canned mushrooms until recently. Since I've quit nursing, I'm at the grocery store less and less. I like to have some on hand for pizzas, sauces, etc., and had been keeping the thought to possibly can my own. When I saw some at a good price yesterday, I bought 3 lbs, and canned them last night. It's the second time I've used the reusable Tattler lids, and today was dismayed to find 6 out of 13 jars did not seal properly. I expect it's user error. I often have a learning curve with new things. I gave it another try tonight, and will check tomorrow. I figured out I spent 34 cents for a 4 oz jar. Not bad, when Walgreens charges 1.19 for theirs.

When I went to write this post, I noticed it was my 250th! So, to celebrate in a small way, here's a link I found this week : Air Tap! This young man reminds me of a Summer's night I was up close at an outdoor concert in L.A., enjoying Michael Hedges. Both are pretty amazing guitar players to listen to. The picture is one of the gifts my sweet man gave me for St. Valentines Day. More to come!

*Update*- All jars sealed perfectly this time. Yay!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Is All There Is

On this day of love, remember to love yourself most of all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Local Wildlife

The wildlife are showing up around the homestead lately. Last week, there was a pileated woodpecker in the backyard. These majestic birds always fill me with awe. I hear them from time to time, but it's not often I see them. Early this morning, I heard a barred owl. I hear these fairly often, when I'm awake during the night. This morning, Joseph and Rick saw the fox come across the garden and orchard. We had sightings last spring. It got one of our chickens and one narrowly escaped. Needless to say, we won't be letting "the girls" out for their usual afternoon free ranging. We'll give it a few days, and hope the fox will move on, finding nothing to stick around for. They are beautiful, but so are my chickee ladies, and I'd just as soon they stick around for a while. Sage and Callie kitties have been hanging out on the roof these recent warm days.

I've never been much of a granola lover. I know... I've got the vegetarian, patchouli-lovin', organic, herbmama thing down, but granola... not so much. That is, until I made my own. This is granola I enjoyed until every last bit was gone, and must make more. I generally used the recipe from SouleMama, but changed it to suit what I liked and had on hand.

Nut & Seed Granola

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup almonds, chopped

(Recipe also calls for 1/2 cup each sunflower & pumpkin seeds)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch sea salt

1/3 cup cold-pressed vegetable oil (I used coconut)

1/3 cup maple syrup or brown rice syrup

1/4 cup apple or orange juice (can try other juices)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, seeds, almonds, flour, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine oil, syrup, juice and extracts. Slowly pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients, using a spatula to fold and evenly coat the dry mixture with the wet. Spread on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan and bake. Turn granola every 15 or 20 minutes so that it toasts evenly. Bake until granola is dry and golden (45-60 mins). Store in an airtight jar (fills a half-gallon jar). Double recipe if desired.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Chick in Town

My new thrifted jar has a fresh batch of laundry detergent in it. Looking back, I realized the first batch I made lasted over 10 months. I'm sorry to say I lost track of the price of the pH Up, otherwise I could tell you the cost. I'll see if I can get a current price for it (this week, I used up what I bought last year), and report back. The recipe is here. The borax is plain old Mule Team borax, found on most grocery shelves. The washing soda can be tough to find these days, so I used a pool product called pH Up, which is Sodium Carbonate, the exact same thing.

I had so much fun yesterday, painting this chicken and doing a few final touches on a new pig. When J got in last night, he spray painted the grill part of the chicken tail gold, which looks great. I think we're a good team.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fun With Paper

While I was visiting with Meredith last week, she showed me all sorts of paper craftiness she's been making, and shared a template with me. I got out seed catalogs, and some other catalogs, and made these little pocket envelopes, and a few little cards for notes. It was fun to wrap a handmade gift I delivered yesterday, with a little note and envelope. Fun, and a great way to recycle. What could be better? I've been working on a little Valentines-inspired project I'll share soon.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A New Soap Shelf

There's a new shelf for my soap, thanks to M & J. The large drying rack J made has worked great, but I really needed a space to put finished, wrapped bars. I had to get creative in imagining a spot in my little house, and realized there was enough space for a shelf in my little laundry room, between washer and dryer, and cabinets. I attached some lace to the shelf edge with a glue gun...first time using one, and I can already see it will be a handy thing. I had thought to paint it, but J says that soap, paint and humidity are not a good mix. He did say I could paint it, then put down plexiglass, and I think I may do that, depending on cost. I did end up putting laundry soap in my thrifted jar. It's running low, and on my to-do list to make some more. I'd also love to get a sweet little wooden scoop for it, and will keep a lookout for one that's just right. Off to make a batch of For the Love of Rose soap. Wishing you a rosey weekend!