right now

right now

Apr 15, 2011

Planting Day!

I couldn't stand it any more, the tomatoes were turning the house into a jungle.  The temps have been in the upper 60's during the daytime with mid to upper 50's at night so I planted almost all of them out in the beds today.

Below are the worst offenders, the Amish Paste.  They've been supported with chopsticks the past 2 weeks.

Below is the Pink Brandywine bed.  I have no clue what I did with these stakes LOL, all I know is that cages suck, the Florida Weave wasn't what it was cracked up to be, not sure what I'll do this year but I have to keep the dogs out of the beds until the plants get bigger.  Does anyone else find that along with the need to continually try different tomato varieties comes the need to find the "perfect" tomato support?  There isn't one, of course, it's a sickness :)
6 Pink Brandywine and 2 Heirloom Long Keepers

The small bed below has 3 Red Zebra tomatoes

I won't be able to save seed this year as the tomatoes are absolutely crammed in tight to make room for all of them.  I definitely needed to grow more this year since hubby is not deployed this year so it's another mouth to feed, and a big one at that :)

This is also the first year I have planted in-ground tomatoes.  We amended the soil a bit to break up the sand/clay that we have, but this area is also immediately next to the compost area and our peppers that were in unamended ground last year did pretty well.  The below area holds 6 Hillbilly tomatoes.  Once again, I know these cages won't do much but for now it keeps the dogs from trampling them.

Below, the peas are really healthy but S.L.O.W...... or maybe I am just really impatient.

Dadgum raspberries coming up all over my beds....

Below, the Brussels Sprouts bolted!  Now I don't have to feel bad about yanking them to make room for the Amish Paste tomatoes, 8 of those went into this bed after I pulled this out.  Pretty, though!

Spotted today... a 1962 (I think) Ford Falcon Squire Woody Wagon!

I don't care how few miles per gallon it gets, if I had this car I would drive it all the time, I'd probably sleep in it.  I'd probably have to moonlight as a table dancer to get the gas money for it but hey, think of the cool road trips we'd take in it!  :)

I followed it as long as I could :)

As you might have guessed, my back is feeling about 100% again, and I can breathe "a little", the pharmaceutical winner this year appears to be Astelin Nasal Spray :)

Apr 14, 2011

The first hummingbird is here!

This photo is terrible, shot on my cell phone, but look just above where I wrote "bird!" - that's the first hummingbird sighted this year!

If you are already in the know, this is a big deal as we are welcoming back old friends.  If you are new to hummingbirds, here's the scoop:  they return to the same yards/area year after year and fly thousands of miles just to be here in my yard so it always makes me smile when they arrive.  What is interesting is that they always return to their same spot, they don't always use the same route to get there.  We have no hummingbird feeders, just lots of plants that they love.  On any given morning, I have 7-10 hummingbirds outside the back deck.  Visit Hummingbirds.net to find out all kinds of cool stuff and what to plant so you never need a feeder, as well as migration dates and varieties.

Tomorrow will be the day for tomato planting - these are way too big to be in here anymore, and the sacrificial Brandywine out in the garden is doing great.

Yesterday I finally tackled "the stack" - I feel so much better now and the pile is gone!

Another sign - the azaleas are almost there.... I just checked my garden calendar from last year and the azaleas opened up on April 18th last year.

Apr 13, 2011

Strange news and strange food...

Tick, tock, tick, tock... I'm all ready to get going in the garden, but the nighttime temps need to cooperate a bit more before the seedlings start going in.  So what else has been going on?

Thought you might enjoy a few snippets of our local news - these things have all happened in just the past week, sometimes I feel like I'm living in the Twilight Zone...

- Bear in a Tree - this might not be strange in other places, but this was near an elementary school just off Atlantic Ave, at the oceanfront!  Yep, a few sightings of a black bear down on the resort strip I think were written off to people that were just a little off their rocker maybe, but the next evening it was spotted by 2 police officers, and it was a pretty large specimen.  Poor bear was up in a tree surrounded by news crews and someone from PETA dressed in a bear suit and they shot him up with tranquilizers and put a trampoline under him.  Problem was, he didn't fall out of the tree.  They proceeded to cut branches down until they got him and he was later released into the wild, probably the Blue Ridge mts or the Dismal Swamp.  No clue how he arrived here, I guess he wanted to go on holiday like all the other tourists.

- Overturned semi carrying..... blood & plasma?!!  Ummm, ew!  That was yesterday morning's news during rush hour.  Of all things to be called out to, can you imagine the hazmat crew getting that call?  What are the chances?!

- School Superintendent apologizes to parents:  This one's a doozy - A 2nd grade teacher was teaching a lesson in civil rights the other day and decided that it was a good idea to separate the students into groups, African American and caucasian... then proceeded to "have an auction".... WHAT???!!  

Just a few things that cause me to shake my head in disbelief on a daily basis!

On to the strange food... some of you may know I've been trying to cook more one-pot meals, in part because I can get them going in the morning in the crock pot, freeing up my afternoon time when it's warm out and I want to be in the garden, but also because I am trying to always have leftovers to freeze for quick healthy dinners or lunches for hubby to take to work.  At the same time I have been trying out new recipes, adding new veggies, and trying to use more whole grains and less meat.  (don't get me wrong though, I will never become a vegetarian!)  I really want to learn how to cook lots of different dishes using these ingredients because they are so easily stored, inexpensive, and very nutritious.  Jane of 'Hard Work Homestead' and Mama Pea of 'A Homegrown Journal' have been pretty influential in my newly rediscovered love of cooking and trying to get more wholesome grains and such into it and Thomas of 'A Growing Tradition' has inspired me to keep trying on my bread until I get it right!

It's been a daily struggle with the kids peppered with the occasional bright spot... take a look!

This dish was called "Peasant Stew", it is basically  chicken pieces cooked in a slow cooker seasoned cumin and pepper, stewed with our canned tomatoes, chiles, beans and cilantro.  We topped it with  sour cream and more cilantro and it was fabulous!  Mine and hubby's opinions, of course.  The kids started out whining, but they actually ate this one after bribing them, and said they ended up liking it.  But why, oh why do they always have to whine first?!

Finn finally liking it below...

Another night was a meatless dish to serve up on tortillas like burritos.  Also, turned out very tasty except I overcooked the barley in the slow cooker.  This one doesn't need to be started until about 3-4 hours before dinner, not all day - oops!  It has pearled barley, black beans, corn, canned diced tomatoes, green chiles, cilantro, cumin and a few types of peppers.

I pretty much got "Worst Mom of the Year" award for this one!  
Hubby and I liked it, of course:)

Listen in on their hate and discontent, love how hubby literally pitches it onto their plate in his frustration with their whining LOL...

whole grains and beans, hmmmmph!  

"The beatings will continue until morale improves!"

Apr 12, 2011


... if you're going to hang laundry on the line, do it before you wash it!

Ah, the fresh spring air...

This is one day's worth of pollen!

Probably time to refill the wiper fluid

Ah, the fresh spring air... make sure you close your vents!

This might make you cringe... but these are all allergy meds!  Hubby's on the left, the kids' on the right, we've done raw honey for 5 years but it just wasn't doing much of anything by itself sadly, we even switched the type of honey (meaning the type of plants the bees were on), and so far I've only allowed myself the eye drops in the front, but I'm going to have to admit defeat.  Considering that we don't really take meds for anything in our family, this is pretty shocking, I know.  I will say however, these are not all taken at the same time, lots of them are trial and error with little notes scribbled on the side LOL, and it will be over with in a short 3-4 weeks for me, 6-8 weeks for the kids, but hubby will have it most of the summer as well since he also has grass sensitivities.  I personally think our state may be a biological  weapon (as in pollen) testing ground... it's all a conspiracy theory!

When I can see through my yellow pollen stained eyes, I see this, and I keep telling myself it's all worth it - right?!!

Carolina Jessamine 

these surprise me every year, they pop up so fast

Yes, I'm sort of taking the day off today.  No gardening, no lifting, but I did finish my first article of clothing for myself, a "simple wrap skirt" - not so simple!  I really have a lot to learn about pattern sizing.  This was too small, I was able to sort of fix it by tying it in the back instead of the side, and adding a button halfway down the leg to compensate for the lack of extra fabric in the wrap, but next time I will know those sizes are serious!  Which means I'm a size 14.  What the heck is with the discrepancies between commercially made/dept store clothing and patternmakers?  I'm a consistent 8/10 in the conglomerate world yet I have to make clothes almost twice that size when I make them myself?  This weekend I'm going to actually take my real measurements and write them down and actually use them next time instead of guessing.  

Well, here it is anyways:

Of course I'm sporting my typical Marsha Brady style fabric.  Although I guess I'm more of a Jan Brady, Marsha was way more put together than I am :)  Now I can finally say I made something to wear!

Here's me waving bye-bye...

This was taken when I returned from running errands this morning and is from opening the storm door!  Needless to say, I'm having to use the indoor dryer for laundry today.

Why do gardeners and outdoor people have to suffer through this allergy stuff?  I think the indoor video gamer types should be stuck with it all instead.

Apr 11, 2011

working through the pain

Haven't posted in a few days, to say I'm sick would be an understatement!  Apparently I injured my back last Thursday lifting 50 lb bales of soil conditioner because I woke up Friday barely able to get up or turn to either side.  This is a tough one for me since I'm one of those cynics that doesn't "believe" in unexplained back pain, allergies (we'll get to that in a minute), or any of the other mystery pains many people complain about LOL.  Serves me right I guess, huh?  Funny thing is that I lift heavy stuff all the time, always lift properly, and don't recall any sudden injury or pain that day but it showed up 12 hours later just the same.  Saturday was so-so and yesterday I managed to get a teeny-tiny bit of work done, mostly supervising hubby :) but by the time I finished making dinner I was completely done and could barely stand up.  Then last night the allergies hit me, complete with fever and chills, and when that broke I was left with the classic symptoms of a foggy head, eyes, etc, and a good 5 days or so before my allergy meds kick in and start working.  I don't believe in those either, but every year since I have lived in one of the top states for pollen allergies it has been getting progressively worse.  I have never been bothered by them until I was about 35, guess I was lucky.  It was 75Âșin the house last night but I was on the couch under 2 down blankets and a heating pad on my back, pretty pathetic.  Hubby said heat waves were emanating from me but I would have sworn it was 32 in the house!

Today, back was a little better this morning, but after sewing this afternoon, I'm back to wanting the heating pad on it tonight.  This is the first time I have ever had any lower back pain and I don't like it, matter of fact I don't even believe in it!  I guess I'm getting old :)

Even though I was hobbling around pretty badly, I managed to carry a camera and get some shots of spring chores being done and did a little bit myself:

Here's hubby mixing in some super secret stuff into my beds, Finn and his neighbor friend are  working mixing it in, too!

Call it carnage or whatever, but these pretty brussels sprouts are going to get ripped out right before they "sprout brussels" LOL - I don't even like them but like the way the plants look when nothing else is growing - they are taking up very valuable real estate since I need this bed for tomatoes by the end of the week.

For the first time, we are planting tomatoes straight into the ground this year.  We need more to have a proper amount canned for winter, and the space is here, it just needed to be amended with some of our compost and other secret stuff, you know, army men and other things you find when digging :)

Poor hubby with all this digging and turning, I couldn't have picked a worse weekend for a back injury... or maybe a better one?  :)

Below, the 2011 Sacrificial Tomato... this year the honor goes to a Pink Brandywine!  She was planted Sunday afternoon, did well last night which was no spectacular event since it only got down to 60, but did very well with a high in the 80's today with full sun.  Tonight and tomorrow night will be lows in the upper 40's possibly, so depending on how she does, all the tomatoes will be planted by late this week.  Not soon enough for me, as they are all about 12 inches high!  This one was planted with 1/2 the plant in the soil.  No eggshells or magic stuff here, since she's the sacrificial plant :)

Apple Blossoms!

Harvest this weekend:  on the left are scallions and on the right, leeks.  Yes, poor small leeks... but they HAD to come out of the bed... I needed it!

I used them right up... still using up our stash from freezer garden veggies but it was nice to have the addition of fresh green onions and sliced leeks in the stir fry.

After this dinner, I pretty much collapsed into a worthless heap with nothing worth writing about except how many times hubby ran around for drinks, snacks, blankets, etc for me!

Allergies and back injuries are for the weak... 
(stay tuned for a recipe involving me eating those words!)

I'll leave you with a clip of Finn and his friend doing what boys are supposed to do... digging in the dirt!

I think I may have to actually take a day off tomorrow and work on the stack of magazines!