Thursday, July 31, 2008

Maybe this thrifty lifestyle has gone too far?

Tonight I served sandwiches for supper.

I served sandwiches for supper to someone who doesn't even like sandwiches.

I served rice sandwiches for supper to someone who doesn't even like sandwiches.

I served leftover-rice sandwiches on day-old discount bread for supper to someone who doesn't even like sandwiches.

I served leftover-rice sandwiches on day-old discount bread for supper to someone who doesn't even like sandwiches and I made them like it.

Well *blush* lemme 'splain.... the rice started out as our favorite spinach pie filling, yanno? And I reheated it in some butter in the cast iron skillet; it smelled so good!

It reheated nicely but the spinach and purslane shrank away until it looked like it was two-thirds rice and only one third spinach instead of the other way round... so I pulled it out and then I buttered some English muffin bread and heated it in the skillet too, long enough to melt the butter and soften the bread. And I didn't REALLY serve it as sandwiches, but they were on the same plate and the spinachy rice did accidentally get on the bread and then somehow before I knew it I was PILING the spinachy rice onto that warm melty piece of bread and... and... well, I scarfed it down so fast!!

And then I told Gryph that it was a privilege to have such a supper, because I'm pretty sure it's unique in all this world... and all the while I'm thinking, "yepper, yessirree, I am the ONLY one in the world who would serve leftover-rice sandwiches and call it A Good Thing.... oh yes indeedy..."

And then I scarfed down my last one, and mourned that I had run out of leftover spinachy rice to make into sandwiches. *sheepish laugh*

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Oops, forgot to say, had to commit more blossomcide! Oh those flowers are so pretty, such a shame to pick them, but the plants do better.

Dawn, you made me laugh with your celery dreams! Try planting it now, hon, and see what you get--after all, if your frost-free fall lasts until October, you will have *some* celery even if it's skinny and short... and if your gamble pays off well, you'll have the celery of your dreams! Otherwise, you can wait until very early spring and start it under some form of row cover, either the fabric kind or else the fancy pants recycler's bell jar substitute--yep! Ye old plastic milk jug (with the bottom cut out!) buried around the plant, lol... You take the lid off when it's bright and sunny and close it back up at night, then remove it entirely when the weather is frost free. High tech, nuthin' but the best for this recycle girl! *wink and a grin*

Cindy, purslane is really pretty good; it tastes like a lemony spinach, which is why it's so good in my spinach pies. The stems are a little crunchy like celery (not quite as crunchy, just reminiscent) and also they have a milder flavor than the leaves. I took off the flower buds, then chopped the leaves and stems and cooked them with the spinach in olive oil and lemon juice--they were doggoned good before I put them in the pies!

Pam and Ursy, I am SO with you on the heat. It was pretty hard to take the last couple weeks, but nowhere near as bad as I'm used to. I have to say, I did mourn when the last of the snow melted and I knew there wouldn't be any more for months.

Although if we got snow here like you get there, Pam, I think I might change my mind! *big eyes*

Welcome to my blog, The Queen of Fifty Cents! Tis lovely to have you here and I REALLY enjoyed your blog also!

comes running in, alll excited!

Wooohooooooo!!! Okay, so I could NOT wait to show y'all---an eggplant!! So exciting!! I don't know if a baby eggplant means pollination happened or not; guess we'll know in a couple days if the fruit falls off the plant... but OH tis so exciting!

This made me laugh; tis the butternut vine, seeking new soil... won't find it here on the concrete though...

Told ya I had pepper blossoms.

I think my row of greenness is wonderful. There was nothing here but concrete before, and now--there is life, burgeoning!

Irrepressible life, burgeoning, lol... I have NO IDEA how this lil plant got itself growing in a concrete block wall (they aren't clay bricks, they're concrete), but I salute it!! To life!!

Ain't she sweet, see her walkin' down the street

Self Installing Dog Application, Single Module with Optional Camera-flash Eye Enhancement, posing ever-so-solemnly on Compatible Installation Platform....

Laughing doglet, after Gryph snapped the first pic and told her how wonderful she is. *can't help but grin* How can you not laugh when you see this pup's infectious laugh? All's right with her world and she's delighted!

We had quite the day yesterday; my lil Ladybug got her nails and fur trimmed on a friend's front porch while it rained all around us. Lady behaved amazingly well! I had so MUCH trouble socializing her in Phoenix but here, even though it took her a while to accept people, she is doing amazingly well. It's a good thing, too, cuz she is WAY too cute and way too full of sweet personality for people to ignore her. She really is a cute-magnet!

Here is the garden a couple days ago, before the drizzly daylong rains started.

It really has grown a lot, despite the wilting!

Butternut blossoms. These are still all male flowers, and they evaporate out as much water as the leaves do, so I confess... I have been practicing blossomcide. I have pulled all the male blossoms (and dumped them on the roots as mulch!) in the hopes that the plants will concentrate on growth, because the female blossoms aren't even showing yet; they come at the ends of the vines and the vines aren't long enough yet. But maybe, after three days of loverly drizzle, some will grow. *crossin' my fingers!*

Aren't eggplant blossoms pretty? This is my third one; so far nothing has set. The pepper plant is covered with blossoms and buds but again, nothing has set... and I was so bummed with it that I didn't take its pic, so there.

You never know what you might find, hidden back in the shelter of an overhang... aren;t they sweet? This is about three times lifesize though, lol....

Here's another hidden treasure. The butternut leaves almost completely conceal these now--which means I occasionally forget to water them and have to run back with a glass of water--but they seem to be doing much better in the shelter of those big leaves. The weed no longer intrigues me as it did, and when the supposedly dead one resurrected itself in the butternut pot (where I had tossed it for mulch), I threw it away. I may do the same with this one, and see if the basil grows any faster. I'm happy to say the mint is reviving; tis in the pot behind the weed.
I paid for this purslane....

.......and here it is, oh lovely-joy-joy, growing wild in the sidewalk.


Hrumph. *tries not to pout*

I cannot harvest this purslane though, because it is right next to a busy street and the leaves will have absorbed enormous amounts of car exhaust. Not a good thing to be eating....

My bought-n-paid-for purslane IS good eating, though; I harvested some and threw it into the pot when I last cooked a chicken, and the other night I harvested more--a really big handful of long stems--and chopped it into spinach for spinach pies. Just to be on the safe side (since this is a new food for us), I cooked it pretty thoroughly before I put it into the pies. Best to let our bodies get used to it gradually. The next batch won't need such thorough cooking and eventually we'll be able to eat it raw.

I love discovering new foods, and I REALLY loved adding a free handful of food to supplement the spinach--it meant I only needed one bag of spinach instead of two, and on a tight budget, that means another batch of spinach pies another day! My goal is to get us used to it so that I can do half spinach and half purslane together, and stre-e-e-etch that budget just a little farther... yanno... far enough to occasionally indulge in, oh say... malted milk balls.... or say, black raspberry ice cream.... *cheeky grin*

So far nothing is happening bloom-wise with the green beans and summer squashes, but I have hopes, oh I have hopes! It just amazes me how fast we go through vegetables. I know it's because I really cut back on meat. Tis healthier but surprising, lol....

Here's another surprise.

I saw the bulb foliage in the spring before the ivy filled in, and wondered what it was... but it died away before anything happened and I forgot about it. Now I know--Naked Ladies!!

See? No foliage at all! So of course I had to tease Gryph about our building's heretofore undiscovered "nudist colony" lol! Hey, tis fun living with a non-gardener. *wink*

I probably won't post about the garden again until August. *poker face*

Oh, what's that you say? Two days? Well, I'm sure we can all wait two days, lol!

Oh! Another rescue to tell you about, although I don't have a pic yet--a lil round drop-leaf dining table.... BUTCHER BLOCK, no less!!!!! And I found it by the trash with a sign on it that said "Free." What's wrong with it? One broken leg which can be ever-so-easily fixed! It probably needs refinished too, but yanno, mineral oil would do the trick.

Why am I so excited when I already have a round table? Two reasons. The one I have is particle board, and I've decided that as long as I don't have to pay for my furniture, I want solid wood--and those drop leaves will make it take up less space in this crowded room!

Oh! Three reasons! It has pedestal legs, and so the chairs with arms will fit under it!

So yanno, when the rain stops, my old table (which I rescued from the trash here, and documented in an early post) will go outside with a lil sign on it that says "Free." Maybe someone else can use it, eh? And if no one here wants it, they might across the street where we used to live.

Recycle Rescue Thrift Girl, yep, that's me! *grin*

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tis as hot as you thought...

I was walking my lil cute-magnet Ladybug through the neighborhood yesterday when two lil girls wanted to pet her; in the course of conversation, one of them told me her parents' car thermomenter had gotten to 103 degrees the day before.

Now I know for sure that Wichita is like Phoenix; the airport temperature is nothing like the temp on the ground where I actually have to live.... that heat radiating off the asphalt is what I am trying to breathe in! Tis what my air conditioner is so valiantly trying to cool down to breathable, I mean... I stay in when the worst of the heat hits.

But then, after that, I had the oddest thought... "summer is ephemeral: the heat is only here for a little while and then it will go away..."

This is such a startling concept for someone who is used to summer nine months of the year, and absolute hell for six months of that!!

This heat is going to go away............and I am going to wish it would come back.

Can you IMAGINE?!

I think healing is happening for me on so many levels--even on a climate level, lol! Me, the one who has wilted in April every year for decades, who has suffered horribly through all those hellish months of unremitting glare and blast-oven-like heat, *I* am going to wish in six months or so that summer would come back! I, of ALL people, am going to wish for heat....

I never in my wildest dreams would have that possible. It boggles my mind.

Summer is ephemeral.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

The thrifting lifestyle

What can one find for six dollars at the thrift store? Why, a folding baker's rack that fits perfectly into even the slenderest galley kitchen!

I love the ivy leaf design, especially since the kitchen wallpaper also has a leafy vine. I love the deep green color. I do not love the tag that says "made in China" lol, but I wanted to get the pic right away so I didn't take the time to peel it off. *wink* And I love the ivy also because it reminds of me of my favorite Corelle pattern, the ivy leaf dishes--which I am patiently waiting to find at the thrift store. *grin*

The bowls on the top shelf and the pan on the second shelf are thrift store finds as well. The bowls are part of a set, two round and three rectangular. The little grater between them is Tupperware, also from the thrift store.

The big pan on the second shelf is Revereware and I have a three quart saucepan to go with it, both with lids. I found them at a thrift store downtown last year, before I discovered this store across the street.

The huge stockpot on the bottom is from Gryph's soapmaking days and may someday see that use again. In the meantime, the zipper bag on top of it holds my bar of laundry soap and the grater I use when I turn bar soap into liquid soap.

The empty jugs are my fancy-schmancy Fertilizer-and-Watering-System Garden Accessories... yes indeed, I am WAY too cheap to pay $7.50 for an ugly green plastic watering can when the milk and Sunny D cartons were right there, ready for the recycling bin... a lil re-purposing never hurt anyone. *cheeky grin*

The cutting board behind the baker's rack is huge and beautiful, but it came from a yard sale where the bowls I bought developed persistent mold as soon as I used them; I didn't feel I could take that chance on food like veggies, bread, and cheese that we cut up and eat without cooking. Rather than throw the board away, I chose to not use it for food and instead I use it as a crafts surface. I would never have bought a big cutting board for that--but I'm glad to have it now!

I really do love finding things at yard sales and thrift stores. The only bigger charge I get is rescuing furniture from the trash, yanno? The whole idea of keeping things out of the waste-stream and putting them to good use again makes me feel a lovely satisfaction. Quite honestly, I think that even if I had scads of money and never had to worry about what I spent on ANYTHING, I would still choose to shop the way I do. The earth is in enough trouble without my demanding only brand new things while perfectly usable and charming things are thrown away.

I think that even aside from the ecology factor, there's the "maker" factor. I value what is made, what is designed, what people have put thought and effort into. The kind of furniture I'm finding is made by people, not robot machines. That matters to me. The design that goes into the objects I buy (or find) matters to me, also. I know the plastic bowls and the cooking pans (like my big $5 covered roaster with a rack that I found last week) might have been made by robot machines, but the quality is good and someone took a LOT of care with the designs.

Quality, I guess, is my third satisfaction in this thrifting lifestyle. I can afford to get really good quality items; I don't have to buy particle board furniture, since at the thrift store I can afford solid wood; I don't have to buy brand X plastic since at the thrift store I can afford real Tupperware; I don't have to buy cheap aluminum skillets since at the thrift store I can afford heavy-duty cast iron. I don't need the latest styles and colors of anything. Truth to tell, I find a certain amount of comfort in older designs. It makes me feel connected not only to the past in general, but to my own past, since what I find is quite often similar to items I used to own myself and loved when I had them. And amazingly enough, it's still satisfying to find items at the thrift store that I once wanted but couldn't afford at the time... getting them now, even second-hand, is still sweet.

There are a lot of things I would do with more money, yanno? But I have to admit, chief among them would be more trips to the thrift store. *grin*


Here we have the Self-Installing Doglet Application, Single Module. *grin* The punkin pie doglet has installed herself quite comfortably on the punkin-pie chair, which happens to be the only non-sun-through-miniblinds-striped surface that is big enough for my purposes today. Do not let her coloring fool you; I shaved her down to deal with the heat. Normally she has more fur than Lassie, and all of it the deep luscious color of punkin pie.

She took her toy to bed with her, btw, tis a stuffed rabbit that Gryph gave her. *awwww! heart melts*

Here we have the Self-Installing Doglet Application, Single Module, unceremoniously uninstalled, then reinstalled on a similar surface. *Yes, I posed her, lol* Funny how her punkin pie coloring shows up better on the red blanket, eh?

The punkin pie chair, btw, was my $20 thrift store find, and I just love it!

I tried to take a good doily pic on the sewing machine (Our Beauty) but unfortunately the sun and the miniblinds combined to make one VERRRY strange pic. Where else could I find a 22" x 17" surface?

Ah, punkin pie chair, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways... DOILY SURFACE!

K, that's good enough for me. *cheeky grin*

Tis kind of hard to see in this pic how uneven the coloring of the thread is. I deliberately only pressed it enough to get a pic of it, because I'm going to have to dye it (probably with coffee, what the heck, lol) to even out the colors. Then, since it is sooo stretchy, I think that rather than merely pressing it (even with starch), I will probably have to block it. It will easily stretch a couple more inches in every direction, and as you can see, the points aren't cooperating without being truly blocked. Where I will find a surface big enough--cat-free long enough!-- I'm not sure, which is why I am not in any hurry to dye the thing. *wry smile* But I am SO proud of myself for sticking with it and actually finishing it, lol! I really did lose heart a couple times in the beginning and that tells me that until I get this flare-up under control again, my wrists are not going to be happy with much crocheting.

It makes this doily all the more precious to me, yanno?


According to my garden books, celery needs rich soil, regular water, and liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks. It likes long periods of warmth but not high heat... that means if your summers get above 95 degrees F, you would probaly do better to grow celery as a spring or fall crop. It's slow to get started, so most people probably buy seedlings; the garden books recommended that.

Celery, being a heavy plant, tends to fall over, so most people hill it up (heap soil around the base) as it grows. This also gives you white bases. If you wish the stalks to be white farther up, you can wrap them with a bottomless milk carton or something similar, but be sure the leaves still get sunlight, and allow for the plant to expand as it grows.

If you are an organic gardener and don't wish to use chemical fertilizers, you can use fish or seaweed emulsion or compost tea as the liquid fertilizer. You can also dig in a regular fertilizer if you would rather not bother with liquid.

Let me know what kind of climate you're in, Dawn, and I'll look for more specific info.

Aaack! Sorry...

Ooops, didn't mean to disappear on y'all like that! Doggoned hands just get so tired; this is the first carpal tunnel flare-up in a while that hasn't gotten better quickly, and I'm thinking it's because I can't find my wrist braces.

So, it's Kansas in July and it is HOT. I don't mind this too much, since where I come from--Phoenix--it was this hot in April already and has progressed on to the Mouth of Hell Itself by this point. I will take this Kansas relatively mild heat with gratitude!! And um, I will also sing the praises of whomever invented air conditioning. *eyebrow waggle*

Anyhow, summer is supposed to be hot, when it happens in July. BUT what this means for my teensy lil flower-pot garden is daily wilting and some plants dying. The purple flower (a friend identified it as verbena, thanks!) is suffering, the butternut community is down by half, even the jack o'lanterns and bell peppers are starting to wilt more and more. So I give you the above pic, my herb harvest before this latest heat wave hit. Wasn't it lovely?! It became the flavoring in my chicken stock! I didn't even strip the leaves from the stems; I just dumped the stems in whole and let them boil. The stock (and chicken!) tasted great!


Did you know *dismayed look* did you know that fresh herbs have a... um... well... a certain effect on chicken stock?

It turned GREEN!

*blinkety blinkety blink blinkblink*

And now you know I have always just used herbs from my spice cupboard, lol...

Anyhow, the greenness faded some when I strained the herbs out of the broth (thanks be!!) and the chicken was not green at all (BIG thanks be!!) (eeep!), so all is well. The chicken lasted us for several meals and I still have several cups of broth left for making rice... and amazingly enough, the leftover herbs are still fresh in the fridge, waiting for me to dry them.

The mint plant is fading away in this heat, but all the other herbs are still going strong. One of the weeds died... just wilted up and DIED... so its pot of soil went to cover the butternut roots (which regular watering had washed clean, eep). The other weed is happy, lol...

To think I worried about there being enough sunlight for vegetables in that location... the sun moved to a new position (as it does through the year) and all of a sudden the shade is gone for most of the day. It would be okay except for the huge expanse of concrete which glares the heat and light right up into my plants, even long after the sun has moved on and my plants themselves are back in shade.

I haven't decided yet whether to give up on the butternuts--which opened FIVE big glorious blossoms this morning, valiant plants that they are!--and fill the pots with green beans or not. I did rip up a couple sheets of newspaper that were wrapped around a thrift store purchase and use them to mulch the pot; it may be too little, too late, or it may be just enough to make a difference, who knows?

This morning's gallon of water was the fertilizer mix. I'm using Miracle Grow's tomato food since that was all I could find at the hardware store (they had nothing organic) and quite honestly, if anything has a chance of saving these plants, that would be it. When potted plants get two to four gallons of water a day pouring through their soil (it works out to about half a gallon per plant per DAY), they need those nutrients replaced pretty often. I fertilize once or twice a week right now, depending on how sad they look.

I dreamed last night that someone handed me an umbrella and yanno, if I had an extra one, I would CERTAINLY stick it in the butternut pot! lol!

Oh, Dawn, your comment/question about celery? I think it is a springtime plant in most of the country; it does like water, it doesn't like heat. In desert gardens, it is a fall plant. I'll look it up for you in a little bit.

Back later with another post,

Monday, July 21, 2008

This book, part two...

Thank you all for your comments!

Selena, do you have watercolor pencils? They might be good in your new journal; you can control the amount of water by using a barely damp Q-Tip, and that helps a lot with keeping the wrinkles to a minimum. But yanno, I've found in experimenting with them that they have that watercolor delicacy (as opposed to the heavier wax-based colored pencils) even without water.

Cindy, I'm not so good at journaling anymore either; I guess blogging took its place. But I think vacation journals would be marvelous!

Dawn, what a sweet compliment! But um, well... I don't wish to journal so much as I wish to *make books* lol... books are so magical, and to think that *I* could make them! It's a big artistic challenge, yanno?

But I do confess.... Gryph found an old watercolor set last night and I am eyeing it... well, okay... I STOLE it, lol!! It may be a kids' set but I don't care; tis just for noodling around...

I'll be back later with a garden post and (if I can find a surface I like) with a pic of my doily, too.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This book.... on my wish list! OHHHHH talk about inspirational! It's filled with directions for making your own journals----bookbinding for ordinary crafters! And the book styles are wonderful! LOL, I loved the travel journal made from--no kidding--a manila file folder and five business size envelopes. I also loved the books that were made the old fashioned way, with sewn signatures, ribbon bindings, and cloth-over-board covers. The sheer variety is amazing and to top it off, her illustrations and journaling examples are wonderful! This is a book about the whole experience of journaling, from start to finish, whether you are embellishing a blank book or making a book yourself, and it includes all sorts of ideas for what to journal about and how to capture the moments of your life. It's the kind of book that I return to again and again, and I'll be glad to someday have it in my permanent library!

The author is a college art teacher and it shows in her professionalism, her mastery of the subject, and her easy writing manner. Reading the book is like sitting across the table from her, watching and listening as she shows you what to do--and you just KNOW that if you do it the same way, your own book will be gorgeous!

I'm SO glad I found this book!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Hello and welcome to Cindy, Selena, and Kathy! Thank you for reading and commenting! I have a couple new topics to bring up, but blogger is having trouble with photos today; they won't load for new posts and I cannot even see them all when I read existing posts, so I think I will let those new topics wait a while.

It looks like today is going to be hot and sunny again; tis predicted to be in the 90s and I bet it gets there! My poor squash, lol... well, my whole poor garden. Yesterday EVERYTHING suffered... even the WEEDS wilted! I watered it all but I'm sure it needs it again this morning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Viney, viney

Imagine my shock, dear reader, after my rainy blog post when I went out and discovered every plant sitting in scads of water----EXCEPT for my butternut sqash, wilting away in a DRY pot. I thought sure I would lose it then, yanno? I soaked it, but I thought sure I would lose it.

Guess what?

The garden yesterday, July 14th. That squash wilts every day from the intense sunlight, and comes back every evening... and to think I wondered fretfully if it would get any sun at all!! No more doubts about that, sheesh!

I fertilized again yesterday, along with the daily water. Everything seems to be pretty happy.

Especially this...

Sorry for the blurry pics, btw, twas windy enough that I'm lucky I got any pics. Anyhow, this is a pic of the weeds in perspective, zooming out of their four inch pot next to a tall 12 inch pot. I guess it's time to screw up all my courage and my taste buds too, and find out what amaranth tastes like. Or maybe I'll let it bloom and set seed--I already know I like the seeds, since I've bought them at a health food store in the past.

I'm thinking that might be the smart way to go, since I am not certain sure this really IS amaranth. Where the heck would it have come from? I haven't seen it anywhere around here, and that was brand new potting soil in that pot... was it in my herb seed packet? The herbs certainly didn't bother to sprout in that pot... but amaranth in bloom is unmistakable, so when it blooms I will know for certain what it is.

Alas, alas, this is what's left of the mulberry at the back fence after the city scalped it. Tis only knee high now and is sure to bush out even more now, ripe for future scalping. I bought some pruning shears and will have to gradually prune it back into a tree--taller this time, so no one is tempted to reduce it again.

Of course, I don't have much room to talk.....

.......scalpmint....... it is now sitting under a butternut leaf. A new pot is planned for this one over the weekend... but um, seems hardly necessary, eh? *wry smile* Hard to believe that plant was a good ten inches high and ever so lush when I bought it...

Lil punkin and the big bully! In this pic you can see the purslane is filling the pot nicely, the basil is taking hold and expanding a lil at the right hand side of the pot, and the punkin seedlings are reeeeeeeeaching for the sunlight--but will the butternut share? Or is it a big, big bully? Stay tuned, for the saga will surely be documented in breathlessly annoying detail; I'm worse than a grandmother with new grandbabies! *snaps open wallet and scads of pics unfold* lol! Okay, not really, but I feel that way! *grin*

Viney exuberance... ahhhh, life is good! *wink* We'll see if the eggplant can out-compete the butternuts, lol...

I really DO need more pots. Tis time for the next batch of green beans, and those snake gourd seeds are whispering my name... they LIKED the books I've been reading.... *eyebrow waggle* Plus yanno, the mint will need more water than it can get in a four inch pot if I want it to thrive.

On the art/crafting front, I'm still reading library books, but last night I spent a little time working on that crocheted Starwheel motif. I'm through the worst of it and back into the fast and interesting part, so I'm hoping to have a pic of it by the weekend. I still cannot spend much time on it because of the fineness of the thread; it taxes my eyes and my hands alike now, but I am determined to persevere!

I also spent some time working on Gryph's amulet bag. I closed up the bottom of it and am putting on the first of the fringe. It still has thread ends dangling everywhere and I'm not certain they're long enough to hold much in the way of fringe beads, but it's okay because I'm pretty wild with my fringe anyhow--here! I can show you an example of my fringes, and you might see why it takes me so long to finish one bag. *wink*

I made this bag several years ago for a friend and it's pretty typical of the way I work. The fringe on Gryph's bag might not be quite so full, but it will have the same kind of exuberant look to it.

That bag always has been one of my favorites; I designed it from scratch.

Happy summering, and here's hoping you find great joy and beauty in little things today, like the vine on a squash or the fringe on a bag--or even in your memories of things you've done.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Just in time

I woke up before five this morning, not much sleep but hurting enough (and hungry enough, lol) to need to get up. I took the doglet out right away and am I EVER glad that I did! Cuz yanno, it's been raining for the past two hours... and just in time, too! Today was "water that squash before it wilts again!" day. *grin* Now I don't have to.

I spent an amazing amount of money on one plant the other day, $4 on a spearmint plant. I wanted to make tabouli, a Lebanese salad that is mainly parsley, mint, and wheat, and I couldn't buy enough mint in the produce section for less than $6. But there was this lonesome mint plant, bright green and lush, just huge in the pot. I meant to take a before pic but well... um... I got carried away and scalped it. *blush* The tabouli was good! *blushes again* Anyhow, when it stops raining, I'll take the poor scalped thing out with the rest of my lil garden. *sheepish look* I need to get it a bigger pot but I think that has to wait a while, at least until next payday.

In the meantime, I am ALLLLLL inspired by a new library book. Paper + Pixels is a scrapbooking book that comes with a CD of papers, tags, and frames, but the reason I loved it? It has GREAT tips for using both Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop Elements!!! These are what amounts to tutorials for using both programs to work with pictures, backgrounds, and text, and I learned a LOT from them. I had no idea that you could do so much with photos in Word!

I have an older version of Photoshop (not Elements, but the whole Photoshop program) and it so far hasn't loaded on this puter... but I am truly inspired to try it again. I loved what they did with photos and since I've always been interested in desktop publishing, plus now I have the blog, well, I've always wanted to be able to do what they've done!

So, this morning's rainy agenda? Load that program on the puter. *eyebrow waggling grin* here's hoping it takes!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wouldja look at that!

Better than I expected, better than I dared to dream! Look at that butternut squash!

Of course, watering it like I did brought the rain two days early this week *blink, blink* and I'm seriously beginning to wonder just what is going on here... lol! Hey, this time I didn't even fertilize!

Something else really likes the rain....

Say hello to amaranth. You can see that it took a huge gulp of water and just, well, expanded! I wish I could get basil to grow like that! And no, I'm not going to pull the weeds; they're very nearly as nutritious as purslane and I've been wishing for years that I could have a chance to try them and see what they taste like. Now I have a chance!

True leaf time! First off, the punkins at the back of the purslane pot--and those droplets you see are rain; I snuck out between showers to get these pics.

The seedlings in the eggplant pot seem to be catching up with the seedlings in the pepper pot now. Maybe the difference is sunlight? The shade comes in gradually from south to north, and gets to the eggplant first.

Then we have this exciting lil development--a pepper blossom! Wooohooo!

Last but not least at ALL--check this out--new growth on the butternuts. Can you imagine? On the 7th, nearly dead, on the 8th, burgeoning new growth?! Like I said, beyond all my expectations!

I'll get back to art postings soon; I've been reading a lot lately while I wait for my wrists to settle back down. The Friends of the Library store had three issues of a magazine called Belle Armoire that I am enjoying right now; inspiration on every page.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Catching Up in the Garden, June 29 and July 7

It was my goal to post about the garden once a week or so, but I got overwhelmed by life and missed last week's post. I did remember to take pictures, though, so today's post is a catch-up.
This is the garden on June 29. You can see the butternut squash was pretty happy at that point!
It's a little difficult to see, but in the top middle of the pic, there are butternut flower buds in the joints between stem and leaves. The plants set male flowers first, so I know these buds won't give fruit... but they're exciting anyway. *grin* You can also see that the lettuce was already unhappy... fragile lil plants! Sheesh.

This is the purple mystery flower in with the golden marjoram and the parsley. Looking at this pic, I realize once again what a valuable tool that lil camera is--the growth difference between June 29 and today really startles me--not because they grew, but because I didn't realize how much!

Purslane, and basil seedlings. I went through and deadheaded the purslane a couple days after this photo. It was setting seed, and I want green growth. Looking at this pic, I have to say the deadheading paid off!

Pea seedlings at the back of the butternut pot. They're a darker green than the lettuce seedlings, and a much sturdier plant, as well. I poked the seeds in pretty deeply to give the plants a better chance at surviving the heat.

Herb seedlings. At this point I didn't know what the one in front was. There was a fly on one leaf; the fly was metallic gold, of all colors!
It's hard to see in this photo, but there are seedlings in with the pepper.
There ya go! Straightneck summer squash seedlings! (ha, say that four times fast...)

You can barely see a squash seedling in with the eggplant. What you can see clearly, though, is the bad thing the soil is doing... doggoned cheap potting soil! It has caked together and pulled away from the sides of the pot. What this means now is that any water which gets near the sides will flow down and out through the hole in the bottom of the pot without ever getting near the plant roots. I used a fork and broke the soil up to get it to go to the edges of the pot again... but yanno, it keeps on pulling away like this. Mulch might make a difference, if I can find some.
That brings us to today, July 7.

I love my purple mystery flower! The parsley and marjoram are doing well also--but I had thought the purple flowers were mostly gone, and the plant surprised me no end with more!

May I just say that I admire the temerity of this... um... weed? The basil seedlings are slow-growing to say the least, but the weed has just taken off! Not only that, it brought its little sister; you can see her at the back of the right hand back pot. *sigh* If only my herbs n veggies were that happy!
Well, okay... I have to say the purslane IS pretty happy! It's put on a growth spurt and is filling out really well. The basil seedlings at the front of the pot are also doing okay. At the back (or top) of the pot, looking like really large purslane leaves right behind the flower, are the punkin seedlings. I have my fingers crossed for a Halloween jack o'lantern *grin* even a small one would be amazing and wonderful!

This is the pepper pot today; look, true leaves on the squash and green beans! And, although tis hard to see, tight lil bitty flower buds on the pepper itself, right at the top! Wooohoooo!!

Peppers, like tomatoes, are normally perennials if you can protect them from frost--but here in Wichita the "frost" quite often seems to be a foot of snow topped with ice. I think this pepper, like all my veggies and herbs, will be an annual. I thought about trying to winter some of the plants over, but I would have the same problem that led me to set the garden up outdoors in the first place--four cats who love to dig. Tis easier to let it go and start again next spring.

We'll see if I still think it's easier come November! *wry laugh*

One of the mysteries of life... the seedlings in the eggplant pot, planted the same day in the same way and receiving the same water and fertilizer, are three days behind the seedlings in the pepper pot. Go figure, eh? The eggplant, I'm happy to say, seems to be much happier than it was last week.

Not so the butternut squash....

This is a HUGE improvement over the sad state of affairs this morning. I honestly thought it was wilted past recovery, and am amazed at the resilience of life in a squash plant. What this serious kind of wilting means for future squash I don't know, although I suspect it might delay it at the least and will probably limit production as well. But there is hope...
...check it out, the flower buds are still alive!

If I didn't already know these are male flowers, the stems would be a give-away. Female flowers would have teeensy baby squashes instead of straight stems.

So there you have it, the garden from the end of June into the first week of July. Oh, and I put a pot saucer under the seedling herbs... it rained the next day. Now I've watered thoroughly and all of a sudden we have clouds overhead even though the weather report said it would be sunny until Wednesday.... should I fertilize? Will that bring the rain right away? lol!

I leave you with a picture from the back of our building, facing the same direction (and the same yard) as the daylily picture last month. This is a mimosa tree with masses of feathery pink flowers. It hangs over the daylily fence from the yard beyond, and has been giving me pleasure for a couple weeks now.

Happy gardening!