Saturday, May 29, 2010

Garden 2010: Week 2

Here's my belated garden post this week...
2010 Garden Week 2
In an effort to keep up on the weeding (one of my goals for this year), I had to do a quick run through of the veggie garden before taking these pictures. Those weeds popped up fast this year! Now I can see how weeding once a week is a lot more fun than a long 2 hour session once a month (ahem, yes we are lazy weeders!)

We lost one turnip green already and I accidentally weeded a pepper plant, so we've had two casualties so far.

The direct sow seeds are popping up already and their little blooms are so cute! I'm so excited for the radishes to grow. Home grown radishes are so much tastier (and spicier) than store bought radishes.

Last weekend Jon and I went flower shopping together (big mistake as we are both enablers!)
Part Sun Container Garden
We did two part sun pots for our front porch,

Shade Container Garden
two full shade pots for our back patio, and some more herb pots.

potted herbs
After reading a bit more about edible herbs and fun drinks that you can make with them in Grow Great Grub, I got some more herbs to plant in my neglected strawberry pot (Apple Mint, Orange Thyme, Peppermint, Spearmint, and Lemon Verbena).

potted herbs
I also got a few more varieties of basil (Thai, Spicy Globe, Purple), and a dark purple shiso plant (shown with a dill, oregano, and parsley pot, too).

Korean Fir Horstman's Silberlocke
Our big purchase of the day was this specimen, Korean Fir Horstman's Silberlocke. We're trying to add more evergreens to the front of our house so that the landscaping looks nice year round. This tree is about 3 feet tall right now and is a slower growing fir with a crazy shape. Once we move some of the perennials in the front garden around to make more space, I'll take a picture of the whole tree. This is a slower growing evergreen and it looks more like a giant bonsai tree than a landscaping tree, so Jon and I were both excited to add this to our garden!

I'll leave you with shots of some perennials that are in bloom in the garden right now.
Peony (and ants!)
peony

Bachelor Button
bachelor button

Friday, May 28, 2010

potholder swap

Malka at a Stich in Dye hosted a potholder swap last month and she paired Susan at iamchickenfoot and I together.

Here's what I made for Susan:
Potholder Swap

Potholder Swap

Potholder Swap
Susan requested red and aqua potholders, so I dug through my stash to find fabrics that fit the bill. I quilted the log cabin and batting together and then sewed the front to the back pillowcase style.
Susan made me this cute hexagon trivet. It matches our kitchen and dishes perfectly.

Potholder Swap
Potholder Swap
Now I just need some fresh flowers to throw into that pitcher.
Potholder Swap
She even sent an adorable little log cabin pin cushion. Isn't it darling?

You can check out the rest of the projects for the swap in the flickr group here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Spring Blogger's Quilt Festival


Amy at Amy's Creative Side is hosting the Spring Blogger's Quilt Festival again and here's my entry this spring...

I couldn't pick one favorite, so here are my two favorites right now.
Kandinsky Quilt
Kandinsky QuiltKandinsky Quilt
Kandinsky quilt (original post here)

doll quilt swap quiltdoll quilt swap - back

Doll Quilt Swap #7 Quilt (original post here)
I am starting to get overwhelmed with all of the great fabric options appearing on the market, so these quilts are my throwback to the basics of quilting. Solids never go out of style, right? (But, of course, I'm always in the market for new and interesting prints).

I didn't use a pattern for either of these quilts and sort of improvised on my design, technique and color choices. I find myself enjoying working with solid fabrics the most and I love rainbows of color, so these quilts were really fun to make. These two quilts together also demonstrate my inclinations toward order and organization, with a bit of controlled chaos thrown in for good measure with the wonky circles and freehand stippling.

(I see a theme here too with my love for solids and past favorites that were entries for the quilt festival. Check out my Triangles in a Square Quilt here and my Plain Spoken Quilt here).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Garden 2010: Week 1

Garden 2010: Day 1
Sunday was planting day for our garden. I'm going to try to post progress reports each week with photos to track the progress and to make notes to myself for things to try next year.


New things for this year:
1. 8 Basil Plants planted in the garden. We LOVE pesto and after reading Jacquie's tip about freezing pesto in a sandwich sized plastic bag (flattened), I've been freezing it in the summertime. For the past three years we've grown one plant in a container (the container was too small and the basil never flourished). We usually supplement with basil from the farmers' market, but this year we are trying to grow more of our own.
Squash Trellis
2. Jon built this amazing squash trellis based on these plans from Organic Gardening. The materials cost $38 and it's super sturdy. We are growing 7 plants of 4 different squash varieties (butternut, spaghetti, zucchini, summer yellow) on this trellis and hopefully everything will flourish and cover the trellis to make room for other plants in the garden. Melissa let me know last summer that you can store butternut squash in a cool dry spot for use over the winter. She also let me know that you can freeze shredded zucchini for use later on (my mom suggests freezing it in bags that are the correct amount for whichever recipe you plan to use - zucchini bread, anyone?)

3. We went from 4 rows to 2 rows and two wider beds for things like root vegetables and greens. I think the new layout will fit more plants than before. (here is the four row layout from 2009)

4. Our indoor seedlings grew well this year (well all but the pepper plants)! I supplemented our plantings with some plants at the farmers market to fill out the garden and we only had to spend $20 on new plants (40 veggies and herbs).

5. We didn't grow any tomatoes this year. Neither of us like them that much (heresy, I know) and they take up too much room. Now we have more space for other veggies to try.

6. We didn't grow any broccoli either. The plants are huge and we always accidentally let them go to seed. It's much more convenient to buy it at the farmers market.

7. For the walking paths between rows, we got rid of the black weed barrier cloth/woodchips and put down newspapers covered with grass clippings (tip taken from Animal Vegetable Miracle).

8. I removed all of the flowers from the last row of the vegetable garden. I moved the perennials to other areas in the yard and plan to plant my beloved zinnias next to our garage for summer bouquets around the house. Because we eat more veggies than ever, every bit of space counts!

This year our garden has:
Herbs (in the garden):
Chives
Thyme
Lots and lots of Basil
Sage
Oregano
Rosemary

Herbs (in containers):
Flat Leaf Parsley
Parsley
Mint
Dill
Oregano
Shiso


In rectangular bed #1 (5' x 10') - all direct sow seeds
Spring Onions
Leeks
Onions
Parsnips
Turnips
Carrots (2 rows)
Radishes (2 rows)

In Rectangular bed #2 (5' x 10')
3 Varieties of Lettuce - direct sow seeds
Spinach - from seeds started indoors
Mesclun - direct sow seeds
Bok Choy - direct sow seeds
Herbs

On the squash trellis (4' x 4')
Butternut Squash (1) - from seed started indoors
Spaghetti Squash (1) - from seed started indoors
Yellow Squash (3) - from the farmers market
Zucchini Squash (2) - from seeds started indoors

Under the squash trellis (4' x 4')
Mustard Greens (4) - from the farmers market
Turnip Greens (4) - from the farmers market

In Row #2 (2' x 16')
Okra (4) - from the farmers market
Swiss Chard (5) - direct sow seeds
Kale (4) - from the farmers market
Bok Choy (5) - from seeds started indoors
Bush Beans (6) - from seeds started indoors
Pole Beans (8) - direct sow seeds

In Row #1 (2' x 16')
Cucumbers (2) - from seeds started indoors
Green, Red and Yellow Peppers (11) - from the farmers market
Sweet Banana Peppers (2) - from the farmers market

For comparison, here was our garden
in 2007
2007 garden


in 2008
2008 garden

in 2009
2009 garden

Goals for 2010:
- keep the weeds under control
- prune plants as needed for bigger vegetables
- grow seeds in rotation for a constant harvest (I've never tried this before)
- take better notes to learn from past mistakes
- explore organic fertilizers/pest control

Friday, May 14, 2010

cute overload

Jon called me into the living room on Sunday so that I could see this...
killing me with cuteness

killing me with cuteness

killing me with cuteness
eek...those kitties are too cute! He couldn't get him to leave his lap for some extra space for his computer for the life of him!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

NYTimes: felted rugs

I came across this article in the NY Times (via Ravelry) about artist, Dana Barnes, and the giant rugs she crochets and felts out of wool roving...
13rugloft_CA0-articleLarge

I am drooling over this loft and those cheery rugs. But, oh...the dust they must accumulate!
See more photos here.

reFresh: California Salad

Refresh
Jon and I stumbled across this cookbook, reFresh, while we were in Toronto in March. We bought it as a souvenir of our trip and headed to the Fresh restaurant chain featured in the book for dinner.

The restaurant food was delicious and it looks like most of the dishes on the menu are included in the book, too. You can check out the menu here to get a peak of the types of dishes in the book. The book has lots of great sauce and dressing recipes too.

The cookbook has the most interesting set of salad recipes I have seen so far and this recipe, by far, is my favorite.
delish salad
California Salad

Ingredients:
Spring Mix
Sliced Hearts of Palm
Sliced Avocado
Toasted Pecans
White Beans & Spinach Pesto
Marinated Tofu
Tofu Marinade
3 1/2 cups Tofu
1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup Tamari
1/4 cup Water
1 1/2 TBS. Sunflower Oil
Mix and marinate a block of cubed tofu for at least 1 hour

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

bee blocks

Here are my belated bee blocks for last month:
Block for Audrie

Block for Audrie
Audrie's blocks for BEE beautiful
Audrie set us up with lots of pre-cut pieces to make a block from the Material Obsession 2 book (her directions are here). I was worried about getting this block to work out after hearing lots of complaints from the other group members. I took things slowly and I only had to rip out one seam, so there are no complaints from me for these blocks. :)

Wendy's Block
Wendy's block for Common Threads
She wanted us to make a lady block that represented us. The block layout and overall quilt pattern is from the Material Obsession book.  So I made a tall person wearing a sweater (that's a swatch of superwash sock yarn that I used for the boxy sweater).
Amanda's Block
Amanda's block for Common Threads
Amanda sent us this gorgeous teal fabric and told us to make a large block with pluses and minuses. You can see some of the other blocks she's made here. I had a hard time remembering how quilt blocks were constructed so there are some extra seams in the block. Once I got into the groove, I was able to make everything fit together, though.

Stamps from Wendy
PS. Aren't the stamps Wendy used on my envelope the coolest?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

reading time

to read list for May
I started a long to-read list while I was doing my library practicum last semester and as soon as I was finished with school I placed a bunch of books on hold. Now, I've been playing a game with myself by trying to read these books before they're due.
my reading buddy
I've also been more diligent in keeping my goodreads page up to date. You can friend me and see what I've been reading by clicking on the goodreads link in the sidebar of my website.

Evening ritual
It's fun to sit on the couch with Jon and the kitties at night and lounge and read instead of researching or writing papers on my computer.

PS. My Kandinsky quilt was featured on the blog, quiltporn, on Sunday. Wendy has been featuring gorgeous quilts on her blog. Check it out!




Monday, May 10, 2010

graduation!

Stage
I walked in my graduation ceremony last Friday. It was a little on the long side, but it was filled with some fun and emotional moments for me so I'm glad I participated.

Grad1

I have to thank Jon for being so supportive to me throughout these past two years. He has been such a champ putting up with me being gone for school or studying all the time and he always had time for a "you can do this" pep talk when I was feeling down.

Grad2
Here is one of my dad's signature poses. A "look off into the distance so this doesn't look posed" shot. (We've been teasing him for the last 20 years about his photography).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

baby shower

I've had requests left and right from family and friends to update this blog, so here goes.

I spent this past week recovering from school and crafty commitments and now I'm wondering how in the world I got everything done that I got done while I was in school. It feels really nice to come home and read a book on the couch instead of working on a project. Now I'm wondering if I'll be able to finish my list of projects to finish by the end of May. It's starting to look doubtful.

I spent most of last week throwing a baby shower for my friend, Chikage. She's expecting a baby girl in the next few weeks, so I...
bibs and burp rags
...made some bibs and burp rags. The bibs are backed with white flannel and the burp rags are quilting cotton backed with chenille and are 12"x18".

nursing cover
...sewed a nursing cover (tutorial here)

baby hat
and knitted a Berry Baby hat (ravelry link here).

For the shower, my mom decorated the cutest cake ever...
baby cake
And, she also decorated these sugar cutout cookies for shower gifts. (Jon and I helped, but my mom did all of the detail work on these).

baby cookies
The shower turned out so well and we were able to get everything finished within 2 hours because Chikage kept everyone on track with her super fast/turbo speed gift opening.

Chikage's shower
Now we just have to wait a few more weeks to see the new baby. I can't wait!