Monday, August 1, 2011

While the Cat's Away...

Jason has been in Arizona for the last 10 days overseeing rehabilitation on a fire. He really enjoys the work and the overtime will be nice for our finances, but, to tell the truth, I have been feeling a little lonely. I have been spending lots of time working on both our house garden and the community garden. The green beans, cucumbers, and spaghetti squash are done and pulled out of the garden. In their place I planted watermelon, zucchini, and more pickling cucumbers. I am starting to get tomatoes-about 10 a week, enough to make salsa and spaghetti sauce for my meals, but not enough to can yet.

I also have done a little bit of canning. I took the last of the pickling cucumbers (they got huge while I was in DC) and made hamburger slice dills. I also decided to harvest some of the rhubarb that Jason planted this spring at the home garden and made rosemary rhubarb jam. It turned out a little runny, but I think that I will enjoy it with meats this winter.

Finally, I have been doing some sewing as well. We have lots of little babies coming into our lives and so I made a few swaddling blankets from Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones.
Swaddling blanket open

Swaddling Blanket Closed-it has a tie to keep it closed

I also decided to make the Teardrop Bag from her Style Stitches book. With both books, I wish that she had a few more diagrams to help make the directions more clear, but I think that the projects turned out cute. I had bought the bird fabric around Christmas time because it was so cute, but I didn't think it would be good as a shirt or skirt or something. It think that it works out well as a purse.

Dora (my dress form) looks good with a purse.

Close up of the bird fabric on the purse

Jason told me yesterday that he won't be home for at least a week. What other projects do you think I should try?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sewing Again!

For Christmas my in-laws got me an Amy Butler book(Style Stitches) and an Amy Butler pattern (Liverpool Tunic). In January I made the Liverpool size medium and it was just a little bit too small so I gave it to a friend. When my mom came to visit in April, we went to Mood Fabric in Los Angeles ("Thank you Mood!") and I found some fun fabric and decided to start a Liverpool size large for myself. Then life started happening and between the garden, the end of the school year, getting laid off, and looking for, interviewing, and getting a new job-I somehow didn't have time for sewing. Well, after watering the garden today, I put the finishing touches on the shirt.

Originally I had a much longer shirt. The print on the cloth though was a little bit too busy for such a long shirt, so in the end I cut off 9 inches from the bottom and I think that it looks much better. I need to work on gathering sleeves. Every sleeve I make seems to poof a bit. I will keep practicing and hopefully get better.

My in-laws also got me a Sew-U book and I think that I will slowly work my way through the book and learn more about sewing that way. I also have lots of friends who are having babies, so I want to make some projects. I got Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones from the library and made a swaddling blanket for one friend. I wanted to try other projects so I also bought that book and hope to make some pajamas and other projects for all the new babies coming into my life. I hope to make sewing a priority, but I won't make any projects-I have a new job starting August 15 a wedding to plan for March 31 and lots to do between now and then.

What crafting projects are you doing? How do you juggle all the priorities in your life?:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What happens when you go out of town for a week

Last week Jason and I went to the wedding of a good friend in Groveland, CA and then went backpacking for a 3 nights in Hetch Hetchy. It was super fun and exactly what I needed to de-stress from the most difficult teaching year I have had in my career. We saw a bear, he was about 50 yards away and didn't seem to notice us (we were down-wind) and he circled around us. We also saw a deer in the middle of a lake in Till Till Valley. Jason and I learned better how to deal with each other when frustrations run high (we spent 4 hours trying to find the trail one day and probably hiked an extra 4 miles and went up and down 400 hundred feet at least 8 times). We had good bonding time and talked about what we want our wedding to be like. It was a great trip.

On the way home we stopped at the Clovis Farmer's Market and got boysenberries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, green beans and pickling cucumbers so that we could start canning and freezing. We got home around midnight on Friday and first thing on Saturday we went to the community garden plot. I was nervous that all the plants would be droopy and sad, I had deeply watered the week before we left, but they had 10 days with no one watering them. Instead I found that everything seemed to have almost doubled in size! I picked every little zucchini the day before we left, yet we still had zuchinnis the size of my thigh in the garden. There are little peppers on most of the pepper plants and green tomatoes on most of the tomato plants. The sunflowers are at least 10 feet tall and just about to bloom. It's amazing to see what happens when you go away for a week. Maybe I just don't notice when I go every other day.

What do you have growing in your garden?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Organic Gardening Workshop

I spent this weekend getting inspired and informed with a great group of gardeners at Camp Stevens in Julian, CA. We had great food, great resources (print and a very knowledgeable trainer), and great beauty. It was a chilly weekend in the mountains. We started Friday night with a lovely dinner and then settled into our lodge. We were a small group so we each got our own room. Our lodge overlooked the orchard and there were tree covered mountains covered in fog and green meadows teeming with life in the distance. We saw deer, turkey, owls, and a myriad of song birds. It was the perfect place to unwind from a stressful normal existence.

On Friday we talked plant positive gardening and some basic assumptions that Ryan (the gardener and trainer) has about plants and ecological gardening. Ned taught us about using sketch-up to design garden plans and linking it to google earth. Joyce gave us kernals of wisdom from her garden guru. It was a fun night.

Saturday morning came early. We "hosted" breakfast so we got to help set the tables and serve the food. Ryan led grace with a quote from Tecumseh about being thankful. Then Ryan gave us lots of information about different kinds of crops in our lodge while we waited for the day to warm up. The we went out into the gardens where we learned about double digging and increasing soil fertility through compost and cover crops. We learned how to prepare a garden for planting and using a karate chop when planing to increase capillary action. Ryan also showed us how to prune tomatoes. I learned that last year I pruned my tomatoes completely wrong. That may be why I had huge plants and few tomatoes. After a yummy lunch we had a break where I got to relax and read and breathe the healing mountain air.
Legumes fix nitrogen in the soil

In the evening we learned how to set gopher traps (useful since the gophers at my new community garden have eaten 2 cauliflowers, 3 potato plants, and some garlic) and got to see the cobb greenhouse (I helped with the cobb more than a year ago) and learn about starting seeds and hardening them off. In the evening we went back to the lodge, drank some wine, and talked about our gardening dreams!

Today we woke up to mists and rain and cool weather. After a filling breakfast of pancakes and veggie sausage, we went out to the farm that Camp Stevens rents to grow the majority of their food. They have chickens!! I am so jealous! I got to learn about their coop and run.
Their nifty-moveable chicken coop

Happy-healthy chickens

We also harvested some salad greens, spinach, and onions for lunch. After learning about irrigation, we made a yummy lunch of beans, garlic scapes, eggs, tortillas, and salad, along with some organic wine. It was tough to leave and go home. Thanks to Camp Stevens for renewing me spiritually and giving me inspiration and knowledge for my garden.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Seed Starting Time

According to Pat Welsh's Southern California Organic Gardening February is the month to start planting warm weather plants indoors to transplant outside later. So today (instead of studying for the CSET-I am so good at procrastination) I started my first set of plants for my summer garden.

Jason built me a nice grow rack and light set up with room for 90 plants. I started my first 45 this week and in another week or so I will start some more. That way there will be some staggering for my crops so hopefully I won't get all of my produce at the same time. For the last 2 years we have started seeds inside with limited success. This year we are hoping that the grow lights will help us get healthy plants so plant outside so that we can have a big garden with lots of different plants.

We get our seeds from Peaceful Valley, Territorial Seeds, Seed Savers, and Johnny's.

Here is what we have planted so far:
  • Pruden's Purple Tomato
  • Gold Medal Heirloom Tomato
  • Bull Nose Bell Peppers
  • Miniature Chocolate Bell Peppers
  • Jelly Bean Tomatoes (our most successful last year-yummy)
  • Orange Banana Tomato
  • Thai Hot Chile Pepper
  • Hot Pepper Blend
  • Purple de Milpa Tomatillo
  • Andy Hot Pepper
  • Black Cherry Tomato
  • Sweet Pea Currant Tomato
  • Black Tomato
  • Cherokee Purple Tomato
  • Santo Coriander
  • Brandywine Tomato
  • California Wonder 300 Bell Pepper
  • Monica Tomato
  • Orange Blossom Tomato
  • Granadero Tomato
  • Celebrity Tomato
  • Traviata Eggplant
  • German Chamomile
We will directly seed beans, cucumbers, squash, watermelon, zucchinis, and beets in the garden in the next few weeks. In the meantime at the garden we are finishing up the winter radishes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, and onions. I am looking forward to this year's garden and the preserving to follow!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Been busy, but not blogging

Ever since I started my new job (not so new now, I've been there 7 months), I have been using my free time for relaxing and crafting, but I always forget to take pictures, so I haven't put anything on the blog. Since I last posted I have made Jason another pair of pajama pants, I have sewn a bunch of Christmas ornaments and bags for gifts, I have made oodles of orange marmalade, and started a new garden.

One of the many Christmas tree ornaments I made from the tutorial here

Fun peeling apples for freezing and dehydrating while we were in Washington. We got a peeler for Christmas.

My new job kind of sucks the life out of me and I need a healthy release. Sometimes I am good at working out, going on hikes in pretty places, gardening, sewing, and canning-and then I can feel good about that part of my life. But sometimes the doldrums suck me in and all that I can manage in a weekend is maybe doing laundry and watching Netflix instant. It's a little late for New Year's resolutions, but I am going to make one anyways. I will do at least one sewing project a month in 2011. I got a bunch of sewing books and fabric for Christmas, maybe I will try to go through a book, doing each project, or maybe I will jump around and do lots of different projects. We'll see. I am also going to try to do healthy things that will make me feel better about myself every week. I don't know why it's so hard to do the things that I know will make me feel better. Does anyone else ever have this problem?