Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Post

There are good things in my postbox this week... and here is one of the very best things. A while back I left a comment over on a Garden Rant! book review -- and I won the book. How to Keep a Naturalist's Notebook by Susan Leigh Tomlinson.
It came from the publisher with a nice little note. I'm so excited. I've been flipping through and looking at all the lovely inspiring chapters that make it sound so very easy to learn how to sketch.I envy the rapid sketching -- I've always wanted to be able to do that. Make a few quick lines on a piece of paper and people can actually recognize what it's supposed to be. As soon as I reach a level of mildly recognizable sketching I'll bore you with my attempts.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Garden Chores

Hi there, Miss me?
Time that used to be spent online has become time spent in the garden.
Spring is starting to get ahead of me.

There's still half that pile of compost I had delivered waiting to be spread... the rock walk in the tea garden needs to be finished now that I've gotten more flat (paver) stones...the strawberry plants arrived this week and need to go in the ground... along with the three Bird's Nest Spruce and that flat of orange pansies (they smell so good!) which I couldn't resist buying at the nursery -- like I had any business being at a nursery when I've got a folding table full of seeds starting in my living room already...

I have built and filled the raised beds, removed the ugly cactus (bye-bye Spike!), pruned the roses and removed the old stems from perennials, spread the Sluggo, put out the Milky Spore on the lawn, raked away most of the winter debris and dead leaves (pine needles mostly), built the new compost bin..... but I haven't sorted out the overwintered plants in pots, or mulched the front bed, or planted the peas.... hmmm, one wonders why I'm sitting here still.

If you want me just look in the garden. :D
I'll be back when I've finished my chores.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green and Orange

Today, they say, everyone is Irish. Happy Saint Patrick's Day. Most Americans will be wearing green today in celebration of the feast day of this Roman Catholic saint from Old Ireland.

I won't be.

In the traditions of Ireland, it is the Catholics who wear green. Protestants wear ORANGE. In fact, in the more turbulent recent past Saint Paddy's Day saw Scotch-Irish Presbyterians marching in demonstrations known as the Orangeman Parades. So to those in green I have to ask: Are we all Catholic today too?

Me? I'll be the one in brown, or gray, or purple....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Forcing Bulbs

A few weeks ago...

indoor bulbs.

A few days ago...

indoor buds.

I watched them all day slowly opening...

but it takes more than a day.

It takes the magic of Overnight...

to make a flower bloom.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

DIY Raised Beds

Have you seen the prices for raised beds? I love gardening in raised beds, but I do not love how expensive those raised bed kits can be. So I went to Lowes and poked around a bit to see what I could come up with.

To start with I found some 8 foot boards that were 10" x 2" ...

This is a great thickness. They're meant for construction and so are not as pretty (or as expensive) as the 1 inch thick boards but the ten-by-twos should stand up in the garden much better.

And I love that the guys at Lowes were willing to cut the boards for me. I had each eight foot board cut into a three foot length and a five foot length. So each raised bed will be 3'x5' and requires only two boards. (Cost, so far, per bed about $16.)
But how does it go together -- did I find any "corner connectors" like the raised bed kits have? Well, sort of. Not click and snap connectors, but nail in place L-bracket corner braces work just as well.
The galvanized steel should hold up to the weather for many years to come and even though I decided to go with 2 per corner for the strength, they're still cheap at 51 cents. (Bringing the total cost in at about $21 per raised bed.)
I attached two L-brackets to each end of my 3' boards, using the nails I found under the garden shed when I moved in. I think they might have been roofing nails -- but who cares? They were free and I have pounds of them.
The three foot boards stood on end nicely to be nailed down to the five foot boards. Two inches thick really was a good choice, a one incher would have fallen flat.

I didn't get a picture of the next step because that involved balancing the other five foot board on top of the two end boards as they stuck up in the air, and then nailing down that second five foot board, flipping the frame over and securing the L-brackets on that side. Taking a picture too would have made it even more complicated. :D Because I didn't bother with buying nails the right size, and because my free nails are longer than two inches, they came through the outside of the boards. Not a problem. I just pounded them over and hammered them flat. Now they're even more secure and less likely to pull out. (I think that's an example of "all things work to the good..." don't you?)
And there it is. A raised bed ready and waiting.... the compost to fill it (them -- I made 3) will be delivered this weekend and I've got lettuce and snap peas in a hurry to be planted as soon as there's soil in the bed frame. Hooray Spring!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Flannel Princess Gown

She will be three next month. Her big sister is already in possession of a similar blue flannel gown "Big enough to fit next year too. With ribbons and lace." as specified.

It had to be flannel. They all want flannel.

...with puffed sleeves...
"It would probably be better if you just made it and gave it to me. I don't think I should help." had said the six, now seven year old, while the little one snuggled into my shoulder and said "yeht." Birthday presents done.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Polkadot Platypus

Sometimes you don't get it right the first time. This is not a duck.
It was supposed to be a duck -- but it went wrong somewhere.
My sister had a conversation with it and evidently it is a platypus.
So there we are. Polkadot Platypus prototype done, and pattern almost finished. I'll have a pdf available soon for anyone who wants a platypus of their own.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Stone of Scone Buns

The historical Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny, originally rested in the Scone Abbey in Perth Scotland. A block of Old Red Sandstone, it was used in coronation ceremonies for the kings of Scotland until it was removed to Brittan to be used in the coronation ceremonies of the English monarchy.

These are less historical and more for eating. Stone of Scone Buns: a cross between the traditional Scottish Scone recipe my grandmother gave me and the fruit filled English Rock Buns I've read about. I'm pleased at how well they turned out.

Stone of Scone Buns

2 cups unbleached white flour
4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
fresh grated nutmeg --about a teaspoon
ginger -- about two teaspoons
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
combine thoroughly in bowl then add fruits
1/3 cup sultanas (that's golden raisins)
3 Tablespoons candied orange peel
1 Tablespoon diced citron
1/4 cup (or so) pecans
mix to coat fruit then add the rest of the ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter (diced up)
1 cup milk
combine until dough is formed
shape buns -- 8 round balls -- and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper
Bake at 410 degrees for 15-20 minutes


Monday, March 1, 2010

Many Hats

I have been knitting and crocheting hats for my nieces and nephews.
Take a peak.
Crochet Cloche of a hand-dyed mereno.

Self-striping yarn and a self-pom-poming crochet hat.

Rib-knit, then daisy-knit, then stocking-knit in alpaca.