Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting Going on Gardening

In my neck of the woods (SE Idaho) there are days when it is spring, and days when it is winter. Yesterday was Spring, the day before was Winter, today is dreary and the forecast calls for more dreary for the next five days. The stores have their gardening supplies out, and have since Valentine's Day, so the gardening bug is digging in deep. However, there is one HUGE problem...Our average last frost falls around May 25th. Yeah, that's a long ways away. And just to be safe, we don't plant our garden until the first week in June, because the weather Memorial Day weekend (which would be a great time to plant) is ALWAYS crudy. Cold, wet, rainy, gross. So we wait. However, it's almost time to start seedlings indoors. And that's exciting!

What Mr. S and I have done the past two years is make newspaper pots to start seeds in. These actually break down in the soil (as opposed to those biodegradable peat pots) over the course of the season (heck, some of them start breaking down, and roots start escaping before we even get them into the ground) over the course of the growing season. I've enjoyed using these, and that means less newspaper to haul to the recycling place, and the newspaper also helps improve the soil (an in case you were worried about the ink, newspapers used soy based inks in their normal printing. Use caution with glossy ads though, which might contain some metallic inks). Win-win. Last year Mr. S and I did an informal scientific comparison. We planted his seeds in plastic cups and I did the newspaper pots. With the newspaper pots, I plant the entire thing in the soil, and maybe break down the sides and bottoms a little bit if they haven't started breaking down on their own. Mr. S takes his plants out of the cups and transplants the plants only in the soil. I hypothesized that my newspaper plants would do better. He hypothesized that his would. As I said, this was pretty informal, and I accidently broke one of his peppers (it really was an accident), but I think overall his plants did better. So this year I think we are going to save ourselves the trouble of folding all those newspaper pots and just use plastic cups with holes punched in the bottom and sides.

Another thing we do with our plant starts is that we buy those black planting trays and only use the solid ones (as opposed to the ones with holes in the bottom for drainage) and we put all our pots in those. Then when it's time to water, we pour the water in the bottom of the tray and the water goes up into the cups through some scientific term (I'm thinking osmosis or diffusion, but I think there is something else, that involves the water moving upwards against gravity...checking google...hmmm, maybe transpiration or capillary action) and the water goes all the way to the soil surface. This way we know that the plant has been thoroughly watered and we minimize the risk of plant problems the occur with watering from the top down.

And for light, we have some of those wire shelves and we bought some lights (with just a regular florescent bulb) that we put on chains so we can adjust the height of the lights as the plants get taller. We keep the rack covered in plastic (just painter's plastic) and put the lights on a timer. The plastic helps hold in the heat from the lights, so we don't have to use too much supplementary heat to keep the plants warm, even in our basement.

It's been so fun to do this the past four years or so, and it gets exciting when the plants start poking through the surface. Then it's always great to watch them grow bigger and bigger and bigger, until it's time to harden them off and plant them in the garden!

This year we are doing a salsa garden, and lots of cucumbers (to try our hand at making pickles). We'll also do some pumpkins. We have a decent sized garden here at our house that we'll do a lot of tomatoes in, and maybe some carrots and green beans too. We are also planning to get a plot of land out at a farm our church owns where we will do the cukes and pumpkins and some more tomatoes and peppers and the onions. I saw some huge onions growing out there last year, so hopefully the soil is just made for onions. We are looking forward to it. And that's pretty much our garden plans for this year. What about you, do you have any plans for a garden? If so, what are they?

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Hey you guys!!!!!!

I just wanted to share a quick thing. Support National Nutrition Month and become a fan of Yoplait on Facebook today to explore delicious and easy ways to infuse more nutrition into your lifestyle. I did, and I'm going to infuse more nutrition into our family by eating healthier. We used to eat a lot of red meat around here, but I've been cutting back quite a bit lately. I've also tried to make more meals that are meat-free too. Miss A and I really enjoy "candy tomatoes" (homemade sun-dried cherry tomatoes) in our pasta. Miss A used to get upset whenever I told her we were having "noodles" for dinner, but just this past week she requested elbow and cheese square (ravioli) noodles for dinner with sauce and candy tomatoes. HOORAY!!!! But we also like yogurt too, and I can usually find some good coupons for Yoplait in our newspaper. I think my two favorite flavors are the orange cream and Key Lime Pie ones. Ooohhhhhhhh, yummmmmmmmm.

Disclaimer: Yoplait asked me to spot this, via MyBlogSpark, and I could win a Yoplait prize package.

Friday, March 4, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Decorations

In addition to my leprechauns that I made many, many years ago out of brown paper grocery bags, I created a shamrock garland for the front window, and some "Lucky" blocks, since it's too cold and snowy for my "Spring" blocks to come out, and the "Winter" ones have been out for too long.

The leprechauns were a bit time intensive, but pretty simple to do. I free-handed the different body parts on the paper bags, then painted them with Cermacoat paint and used scrapbooking supplies to embellish them. My mom had a paper crimper that I used to make the hair have texture, and that thing was AWESOME! And I used brads to attach the various body parts together. I think they took about two hours to make, but I can't remember for sure.

The blocks are easy too. I will give a step-by-step process.
1. Gather 2x4s (we always have tons of scrap pieces laying around that I use)
2. Cut 2x4s to random heights. I don't even measure. I just eyeball some bigger, some smaller and don't worry about perfection.
3. Sand 2x4s as needed.
4. Gather scrapbooking paper. The pieces need to be 3" wide, by whatever height you need.
5. Coat wood with Mod Podge and attach papers.
6. Cover papers with another coat of Mod Podge and attach letters.
7. Cover letters with another coat of Mod Podge and let dry.
8. When Mod Podge is dry add desired embellishments.

For my rainbow I used colored tape that I got from Oriental Trading Company years ago. You could just use a rainbow sticker or something though.

And for my garland, I keep the grapevine up all year long, and then change out the decorations. For this I had a shamrock die cut that I traced on coordinating pieces of scrapbook paper, and then cut out. I ran a ribbon through the grapevine, and tied the ribbon in several places to the curtain rod. To attach the shamrocks, I used gold brads that I put through the paper and the ribbon. And I attached some butterflies that I bought at Michael's to the grapevine. The butterflies came on wire, so I just wrapped the wire around the grapevine. Pretty simple, but I like it!


Thursday, March 3, 2011


No pictures today, but I just wanted to tell you a little secret about curtains, just in time for Daylight Savings.

My kids are pretty good sleepers, well, Mr. B still struggles some nights, and he's two and a half, so it's kind of a pain. But they wake up most mornings right around 7:00 like clockwork. However, this morning (and maybe another morning this week, but I can't be sure, because they all blend together) they both woke up at about 6:20. I was not ready for 6:20. I went to sleep between 10:30 and 11:00, but woke up at 2:00 when I heard a little boy trying to get out of his room. I tried to ignore it, hoping he would find his way back to his bed, but it wasn't really working, besides, DH was breathing pretty loud (not snoring, just heavy breathing), so going back to sleep easily wasn't going to happen. So I got up to check on my little man, and found him covered in puke. So, 20 minutes later I headed back to bed, after changing his bedding in the dark (the children share a room) and whatnot. So, by about 3:00 I think I was back asleep. Anyway, I'm not sure if the children are starting to wake up early because of the light (it's still pretty dark here until 7:00, being so far north and all), but with Daylight Savings coming up, I knew it was time for blackout curtains.

For those of you who know me, you know I'm pretty cheap, so I wasn't about to go out and buy new curtains. Besides, I made the curtains when Miss A (or was it Mr. B?) was a baby, so they have some sentimental value to me. So all I did was sew some black-out fabric to the back of them. The curtains were made somewhat like a pillow, where you sew at least three sides, wrong sides together, then turn right-side-out and finish sewing. The fabric on the back of the curtains was longer than the front, so I was able to fold that fabric over the top and turn it into a pocket for the curtain rod to slide through. Needless to say, I did not want to rip the seams out, all across the top, so I just did a simple straight stitch to attach the black-out fabric on the back. Yeah, I couldn't find the dark blue thread, and yeah, the two seams don't line up, but it's way up high, you can't really see the original seam (because the thread is basically the same color as the fabric), and it's a children's bedroom, plus, I'm not trying to win any decorating awards today. So, if you find your children waking up too early in the morning, you might want to try sewing some black-out fabric to the back of their curtains. Oh, did I mention that black-out fabric doesn't fray, so you don't need to hem it? I think that's the second best part, besides the children sleeping (hopefully). Have a great day!