Sunday, May 25, 2014

Building a garden trellis

Sundays are usually the days when I putter around with my plants. Today was the first Sunday that was actually clear and warm enough to consider digging up the garden plot and creating the trellis I need to support my pea vines.

So I started out by outlining the patch of ground I wanted dug up by my freakishly tall teen (no, I'm not insulting him - he likes it when I call him that).

You can barely see the outline, but it's there.

I didn't want the boy kid working too hard, so I decided on a modestly small 4x10 plot. He got to work with gusto and very quickly had it done. In the meantime, I started working on two 5x4 trellises for the peas.

Finally, after hours of work, I was able to put the trellis in place and begin transplanting my eager little sweet pea seedlings.

Of course, I had barely gotten all twelve of the seedlings in place when Jacob accidentally knocked the wheelbarrow full of dirt over the top of the tiny plants. Most were salvageable, but we lost one plant.

The forecast calls for rain tonight and over the next three days....I think those seedlings are going to be very happy with the damp and shade, and with a nice new trellis to climb up on!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gryphon Lard-Butt gets a name change

May 5th started out like any normal Monday. Kids rushing around, me attempting to rein herd (and only being partially successful). Trouble laying his head on everyone's knees, hoping for a handout, and cats trying to pretend they aren't interested in the milk in the cereal bowls (and not fooling anyone). The worst is Gryphon Lard-Butt, who is a very large cat in his own right, but is also overweight. He tends to sneak any food he can get his grubby little paws on.

I was in the bedroom putting away laundry when I heard a loud crash from the kitchen. Gryphon Lard-Butt came racing out of the kitchen, eyes wide and fur sticking out in every direction, moving faster than I have seen in years.

Turns out our resident tubby kitty had hopped up on the table, hoping for a couple drops of milk, and instead, his weight had caused the table leg to collapse!

This was actually the second leg on this table to collapse. The leg behind it had broken a year ago, and was held in place with layers of duct tape. That damage, along with the second broken leg, was too much, and the table was irreparable.

This left us in a bit of a pickle, but not as much as we would have been in normally. Sean had just gotten paid a few days before, and he'd pulled an extra shift and a half during that pay period. So we did have a little extra money on hand. We had been planning on putting the extra money towards our back-due rent...but clearly we would have to use at least a part of it on a new table.

So we looked around, and almost right away we found a lovely table at the thrift store. Solid wood construction, dark stain, and it came with four matching chairs (which we really didn't need, but it was sold in a set).

 Best of all? The price. It was only $50.

Getting it into our tiny Kia was a bit of a hassle, but Sean got it done in his normal miraculous fashion. We had barely gotten it home and set up when Gryphon Lard-Butt decided to check it out.

"Hmm....I wonder how many drops of milk I would have to sneak in order to collapse this table?"
On the way home with the table, Sean had cracked a joke that we should change Gryphon's name to commemorate his momentous achievement.

So congratulations, Gryphon Lard-Butt - you are hearby dubbed Sir Gryphon the Table Slayer. If you kill my new table, I'm gonna force you to eat diet kibble until you get down to 12 pounds.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mother's Day

I have been growing seedlings in my living room for the last six weeks. My seeds are old - I haven't been able to afford to buy new ones in years - so the germination percentage is very low. For that reason, I've been re-planting seeds every two weeks, once it became obvious that some of the seeds were not viable.


In addition to the seeds I've planted, my husband was amazing and decided to buy me seedlings for Mother's Day (we celebrated early for personal reasons). The first garden center had a great sale (buy 5 get 1 free!). I chose chives, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, peppermint, and spearmint (though I'm kicking myself for not getting sage). There was also a sale on celery - four seedlings for under $2, so I snatched them up.


A second store had a good deal on a blueberry bush, and a pack of 55 gladiola bulbs for ten dollars. I also grabbed a few low-priced pots and two more bags of soil, and that was it for my shopping spree.

Rosemary to the left, oregano on the right - empty pot as a placeholder for future sage.

Or so I thought.

The next day, my husband called me from the grocery store and said "They have fruit trees here for ten bucks. You can have one if you want." He ended up buying me two - a Granny Smith apple tree and a Stayman Winesap apple tree.

James and the Granny Smith on the left,
Jacob and the Winesap on the right.

I did some research and discovered that both trees do really well when paired with Golden Delicious as a co-pollinator, so I'm on the prowl for a third apple tree.

I'm truly excited - my little homestead is gaining ground!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Maple and brown sugar oatmeal

I've discovered that oatmeal made in the rice cooker is simple and incredibly flavorful, with a wonderful old-fashioned texture. I keep losing the recipes I've jotted down on index cards, so I'm putting them here so I can find them easily. The first one is maple and brown sugar oatmeal.

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats 
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
Mix ingredients together in rice cooker and turn it on. It's that simple!

(note: we like our oatmeal very thick around here. If you like yours thinner, you can either add milk to the finished product, or add more water at the beginning. Also, I tend to serve this with sliced bananas on top, and a glass of milk at the side.)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Trouble's big day

Trouble posing with his new collar and rabies tag.
Trouble had to go get his shots this morning. He was a perfect little gentleman, polite to humans, dogs, and cats alike. He stood still to have his blood drawn, and didn't flinch, whine, or bite when he got his injections. The only thing he wasn't happy with was the nose spray - it made him snort and shake his head. But he got a treat after, so he was content.

We also wanted to have a microchip implanted, for identification purposes, but they didn't have all the supplies they needed. So we will be going back soon for that procedure.

On Trouble's old collar, he didn't have any tags - so I had written his name and our phone number on the collar itself with permanent marker. But now that we have a new phone number, not to mention tags with his rabies shot? He clearly needed a new collar. So I sat down this morning and made him one.

He seems pleased with it. And I think that the khaki color makes him look more mature than the old bright red collar.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Introducing Sew Alluring

I first taught myself how to sew by hand years ago, when I was still a child. My mother was not a seamstress, but she was able to tell me the basics, and I was able to figure it out. But I didn't develop much skill beyond a basic seam repair for decades.

But a couple years ago, I realized how valuable those skills could be in a survival/low income situation. I began to google tutorials on basic sewing techniques, and experimented with scrap fabrics. I began patching the worn knees on my son's jeans. The more I practiced, the better I grew.

I began to experiment with making things from scratch. I made some bread bags to hold my homemade bread, a kindle cover for myself, a skirt, and many other things. My results began to look professional.

Then I got a sewing machine, and things changed again. Once I figured out how to work it (watching multiple tutorials online), I began to have fun. I made many things that were incredibly useful.

And now I've hit the point where some people actually want to pay me for my creations. So, with some pride (and a little bit of disbelief), I am pleased to announce the opening of my etsy shop Sew Allure.

So far there is only one item on there - a kindle cover. But keep an eye on it. I will be putting more things up there, and would like to know from my readers what kind of items you would like to see in my shop. Bread bags? Kindle covers? Cloth diapers? Reusable flannel sanitary napkins? Just let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Writing Prompt due 2nd of February 2013

One day, while reading your favorite book on the beach, you notice a boat slowly drifting to shore. It eventually lands near your spot. A person, draped in pirate clothes, yells to you from the boat, “I have a treasure map and I need help. Are you in?”

Friday, January 10, 2014

It's just a little bit overwhelming....

 I have a lot of projects to get done. Some were supposed to be done before Christmas, but a combination of time constraints, finances, illness, and broken sewing machine needles all conspired to make things very late. Not to mention the cold snaps that came in that made me have to stop my other projects and work on the quilted window panels to seal out the cold!

It's easy to forget what projects I am working on. Right now I am going to outline the sewing projects in this blog post, more as a list for myself so I don't loose track of my projects than anything else.

First major project is the stuffed alphabet that I am making for my niece and nephew. I just picked up some new fabric today for this project - I'm very behind on it and I'm glad to get more fun fabrics for those kiddos. These fabrics are more feminine, since I already have plenty of male patterned fabrics in this household.

The next project is a kindle cover for my mother-in-law. She came and visited last month and I showed her what fabric I have on hand, and she chose the pattern in the picture. I plan on pairing it with the light blue for the inner part of the cover, and the floral pattern for the outer shell. The scraps left over from this project will go in the basket of scraps being used for the alphabet project.

The next project is another quilted window covering - of sorts. The thrift store we went to didn't have any quilts in patterns I felt I could work with, so I grabbed a cheap comforter that I thought would work. It's a soft cream background, slightly marbled, with squares of blue and blue-gray, with pale gold patterns and outlines. It's pretty, in a mild, non-offensive way, and since my husband likes blue and gray, I figured he wouldn't complain about it much at all.

Other sewing projects I have to get done mainly consist of mending - lots and lots of mending. My boys seem to consider it their holy purpose in life to make mending jobs for me. The sheer number of holes in the knees of jeans is enough to make a woman drop to her knees. Add in my husband's inability to put on a belt without ripping the belt loops off his jeans, and my mending pile is nearly up to my waist.

I also have a large collection of old ratty towels that need to be hemmed in some fashion to make rags. I have no idea yet how to do this.

I need to eventually make a kindle cover for my own self.

The dog needs a coat to wear on those bitter cold days. I have a coat that was gifted to me that is far too small, and it's black, so I need to modify it for the dog's frame. He has practically no fur on his underside, and has been known to tremble with the cold after more than a minute. I'm not going to buy a coat for the dog when I can make one with what I have on hand.

I also want to figure out how to make collars for the cats out of leftover fabric.

Lots to do. I think I need to log off the computer and get started!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Family Secret

 (as mentioned in an earlier post, I occasionally give the children writing assignments. To make it fair, as well as to showcase what kind of writing I expect out of them, I assign the same writing to myself. Today's writing was simple - if you could turn into any animal, be it a real animal or a fictional, mythical animal, what would you turn into?)

"Why did you throw it up there?"

James hung his head and shuffled his feet. "I thought I could throw it hard enough that it would go over the roof and roll down the other side."

"Then I would catch it!" Jacob grinned, bouncing a bit on his feet. "And I would throw it back over!"

Sigh. Parenting could be so frustrating sometimes. The last thing I wanted to do was borrow a ladder from the neighbor so I could get the damn frisbee off the roof.

Then I remembered. I had a way to get up there without a ladder. I motioned for the boys to follow me into the house. "Can you keep a secret? A really big secret, that you can't tell anyone no matter how badly you want to?"

The boys looked at each other, and nodded. I shut the front door behind them and walked towards my room.

"I have a surprise to show you. It's going to really startle you, but trust me, you won't be in any danger. Our family has a big secret. I haven't told you before because I didn't think you were old enough to understand or to keep it secret from your friends. But you boys are getting old enough now, and I think you will understand, when you see this, why you can't tell anyone. Our family can transform into an animal being. Everyone in the family has a different form. My mother, for example, turns into a fox. My sister turns into a hawk. I turn into something rather large...I don't want to rip my clothes when I change, so I'm going into my room to transform. I need you boys to let me out after because I can't turn the doorknob in my animal form. Do you understand?"

Two pairs of blue eyes stared up at me. "What do you turn into?" Jacob asked.

"I think it will be better if I show you. James, I want you to be the one who opens the door, okay? I'll bump the door with my head when I'm ready."

I shut the door on their excited expressions. Setting my clothing neatly on the bed, I took a deep breath and felt the bones in my body soften, re-molding. Muscles stretched, tendons strained, and my tailbone lengthened as fur began to sprout from my skin.

"What do you think she turns into?"

James rolled his eyes. "Duh, she's just playing with us. She doesn't turn into anything. I bet she's going to bump the door, and when I open it, she's gonna jump out and try to tickles us."

Jacob slumped. "Oh."

. The sound of something large bumping up against the other side of the door echoed strangely down the hallway.

 "Get ready to run - unless, of course, you want to be tickled." James whispered, and opened the door as Jacob took a couple of steps back.

The door opened and I watched, amused, as James took one look at me and backpedaled, falling onto his ass with a startled yelp. For some reason, Jacob was already halfway down the hall, but he stopped when he saw me and stared.

I just stood there. I knew the first sight of my animal form would be a surprise, so I gave them some time to get used to it.

Jacob was the first one to get over the shock. "Awesome!" he crowed, and bounded over James to stand in front of me. "Cool! Do you have claws and everything? Fangs?"

I held out a paw and extended my claws, then raised the paw to my mouth and pulled back my lips. I watched as he examined my teeth, and as James shakily rose to his feet and approached. He hesitantly raised his hand and petted my head. I rewarded his bravery with a loud, rumbling purr, and he chuckled, still a bit unsteady, and asked "What are you?"

Pushing past him, I headed for the back door, pawed at the knob, and looked back at the boys. "You want me to open the door?" James asked. I nodded, and he turned the knob. I bounded into the back yard, enjoying the sun on my back as I strode to the garden. Finding a bare patch of dirt, I smoothed it out and then wrote with a single claw, carefully forming the words.

Black Jaguar

"Cool." the boys breathed in tandem. I flicked my tail and then jumped over them, raced to the garden shed, and in one bound leaped to the roof. From there it was an easy six-foot leap to the roof of the carport. I pranced up the curve of the roof, and eventually found the damn frisbee that had started this whole mess. I hung my head off the edge of the roof and dropped it.

Stupid toy.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcoming 2014

2013 ended - for me, at least - with a horrible head and chest cold combo. I barely got anything done other than curled up under a blanket, silently cussing at my immune system to shape up. I remember thinking it was an omen of sorts for the coming year.

But when I woke up this morning, I was feeling better. Not 100%, but certainly on the mend. Life was improving. If that's the omen for this year - improvement - then I am content. I could use improvement.

I have many areas of my life I'd like to improve. So here are my goals for this upcoming year!

Goal #1: Adapting to a working routine. I do much better when I am on a schedule, and I have been working the last two weeks on a schedule that allows me to fit everything into each day a little more smoothly.

Goal #2: Regularly updating this blog. I want to have more of a presence here. (I did try updating the look of the blog earlier today and while I'm liking many of the changes I've made, I have a sneaky suspicion that I messed up on the layout, so if you see anything funky please let me know in the comments!)

Goal #3: Be healthy. I struggle with food addiction - and it doesn't help that I am a really good cook and enjoy eating my own food! Right now my current goal is to lose 35 pounds by the 25th of April, and I intend to do that with healthier eating and picking back up with Zumba.

Goal #4: Expand the garden.

I have a few predictions for this upcoming year as well. I think it will be fun to look back and see how close my predictions come to reality.

Prediction #1: Weird weather patterns will continue, with several more "super storms" devastating large regions (be them snow storms, rain storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, what have you).

Prediction #2: The trend towards punishing the poor for being poor in politics will continue. The gap between the poor and the rich will continue to widen.

Prediction #3: Violence in American society was very high last year, and some of that violence hit home pretty hard. I predict that such violence will continue to grow.

Huh. This makes it seem like I don't have a very positive outlook on life. Weird thing is, I feel very positive about my own life - it's society in general I don't feel positive about.

Here is hoping you had a wonderful New Year and that your upcoming months are full of happiness and fulfillment.