Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Meet Guinness

The rain is supposed to be moving in, so J & I have been doing outdoor chores before it begins. J did some mowing, and moved some earth around at the pond, to facilitate water flow into it. I filled birdfeeders and pruned our kiwis; also pruned a little on the blueberries, though I didn't want to do much, with the branches already full of blossoms. I'll have to do better next year about pruning them earlier.

We're delighted with our puppy, whom we've decided to name Guinness. A friend suggested it, as he's a "stout" little pup. And it seemed appropriate, being he came into our home the day after St. Patrick's Day. It was tough to catch him standing still for these pictures.

Yesterday was my Mom's birthday. She and Frank visited us, took a walk to see the new pond, and helped collect eggs. Happy Birthday, Mom! Everyday, I take a stroll to see what new plants have come up. Many of the hostas have come up this week, and this morning I saw the peony had come to life. I'd been a little worried about the dwarf pomegranate we planted last year, but it is beginning to leaf out. I so look forward to the day we're picking our own pomegranates. And kiwis, for that matter. OK, we're ready now, so bring on the rain.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Morning, Noon and Night

This post was inspired here. I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A New Addition

There's a new addition on the homestead. A baby of sorts. We're all settling in and getting to know each other. He's fond of helping me do laundry. J and I both sent our taxes off yesterday. Hallelujah! Over the weekend, we had a couple of potatoes, and a whole lot of eggs that needed using. I found a recipe for a frittata, and tweaked it a bit. I'll definitely be making it again.

Potato and Cheese Frittata

2 tbs olive oil
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, preboiled and sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 yellow onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)

2. Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. When skillet is hot, add the potatoes and fry until crispy and golden, about 15 mins. Reduce heat to medium and add onions. Cook, stirring until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Pour eggs over potatoes and onions.

3. Place skillet in the oven about 10 minutes., or until eggs are firm. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle cheese over top. Return to oven about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Yields 4 servings.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Utmost Weekend

It's been a whirlwind of a weekend, here on the homestead. I'll be back to share soon. I hope you had time to relax, do some things you love, and enjoyed yours to the utmost.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green Cleaning with Baking Soda

I've mentioned before how challenging our water is here, with it's extreme hardness. Added to that, we drink tea regularly, as well as some coffee, which quickly adds up to some very ugly cups. A couple of weeks ago, I read about a tip I've probably read before, but this time I tried it. I was fairly well amazed at the results. All you do is make a paste of baking soda and water, use a damp, not wet, sponge on a dry cup and wipe the stains away. Am I the only one who hasn't done this?
The cup on top looks as though it had a light scrubbing at some point, but was fresh out of the dishwasher when the picture was taken. I'm embarrassed twofold, first at the state of my cup prior to this most wonderful tip, and second because I've forgotten where I found the tip, so can't give them credit. In any case, try this if you haven't. Your cups will thank you.
Wishing you the happiest of St. Patrick's Days!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Love and Light

Love, light and prayers to Japan

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Crafty Crochet Cloth

This is my first crochet project. The yarn I was given in class wasn't enough for a dishcloth, so I bought another cotton yarn. I've torn it out several times, and will be working on tension for a while, I'm sure. It's a satisfying sort of craft, and a dishcloth is fairly mindless, which is good sometimes. I'm not sure what's next, once I get the dishcloth finished. I did buy a soft, bamboo blend yarn with thoughts of making an ear warmer. And I've begun thinking about making a small rug for the bathroom, out of cloth scraps. I've got lots to learn first, and would love any suggestions on books, yarn sources, etc.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Pond

Our new pond is being dug this week. J & I are like two kids, we're so excited. That's our neighbor, Joe, arriving to begin work.

J & I got the overflow drain in place

After our first rain... almost two feet deep.

Oh, the plans!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Our Evolving Cold Frame

I thought I'd share our cold frame with you today. With warmer days, rain and a bit of fertilizer, it's coming along nicely. I'm always surprised how something so simple can provide food most of the winter. We tried something new this year. Instead of hay bales for the walls, which had to be bought every year, we used cinder blocks we had left over from home construction. It worked just as well. We cover it with heavy plastic weighed down with rocks or bricks, and that's it. On warm days, and nights a few degrees above freezing, we keep the cover off. Spinach is on the end shown above.

Then broccoli

Mixed winter greens- a variety of kales, mustards, rape, then swiss chard and dill

A mix of lettuces, with a basket at the ready for picking.

The trees help keep the plastic from squashing the plants when it rains or snows, but it still sags with a heavy rain. We just lift it up and drain the water-- two people make this job easier, but I've done it by myself. I encourage you to be creative, use what you've got on hand, and give it a try this fall. Even something much smaller can provide you with some good greens over the winter. It's a wonderful thing to pick your dinner!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Tale of Lye Gone Wrong or the Two Pot Event

This started out as a relaxing Sunday. Birds at the feeder, the patter of rain on the roof, our bellies full of baked pancakes and Larry's Bean Martin roast. Then the rain picked up, and the furious dripping began. Apparently, in cleaning out the stovepipe early this morning, J dislodged part of the roof along with the creosote. My understanding is that as the creosote dripped off the rain cap, it ate away the paint and eventually a piece of the metal roof. Though he's an affable guy, you might understand I wouldn't want to ask a lot of questions at this point :o) J has done a temporary repair, and says he'll put some metal down and get a piece of rubber roofing to span from under the rain cap all the way to the eave. I've known, from my studies of soapmaking, that one can make your own lye from wood ash. I've not had any real desire to try that, but I guess I've just gotten a taste of how corrosive wood ash can actually be.

I wanted to share these stems of ornamental plum with you. When I pruned earlier this week, I brought the stems in and put them in a couple of vases. I've not had luck with this before, in "forcing" blooms. I must have gotten the timing right this year, and was rewarded by lots of blossoms. Thankfully, this is the only sign of spring in the house at the moment! The two lovely jars are creations of local potters. The white one is Anne's, and the green is Mark and Meredith's. Check out their shops for some pottery goodness.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Of Green Growing Things

The Wintersowing is pretty exciting. Even with one setback. The Cosmos Sensations seedlings grew fast, reached the top of their "greenhouse" and many rotted. I've opened the containers up for the remaining ones. But, there are other seeds up, including some Bells of Ireland, which I've wanted to grow for years.
Yesterday, I noticed my first indoor seedlings up. Broccoli Calabrese were the first up. This morning, some Catskill brussels sprouts have joined them. Yay!
I had told you about the calla lily J gave me for Valentines Day. The pansy picture tells more of the story. Can you see the sticks in the left foreground? It's one of six roses J gave me, planted into a rose garden! Is this man a keeper, or what?!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Seed Starting Fun

Seed starting has begun in earnest. J has planted carrots, kohlrabi, beets, spinach and rose orach in the garden. The orach is similar to spinach, though more heat resistant. It is the first time we've grown it, and in reviewing directions, he may have planted it a bit early, as it should be planted 2-3 weeks before the last frost. That is rather optimistic, but you never know! I started seeds in pots.
The varieties planted were:

Tiny Tim

Mexican Husk

Pingtung Long

Brussels Sprouts:
Catskill (Long Island Improved)

Early Jersey Wakefield

Pinetree Mix

I also planted Viola Yesterday Today and Tomorrow and Lavender Hidcote Blue. The Wintersown plants are still looking promising. The photos were taken last week, and more have come up since. Daffodils, forsythia, scotch broom and one of the hellebores are blooming. I need to get all my pruning finished up, as many buds are fattening up around the homestead.

I should clarify yesterday's reference to our new "toy". J had been dealing with an abominably slow laptop, whose screen darkened to black whenever it took a notion. This spiffy new model is fast, and enables him to do drawings, which he's already used for fab shop jobs. Very cool. *Sorry about the post layout in the beginning. I played with it, but never figured out how to fix it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011