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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Autumn

I love Autumn...
 
The cool crisp air
Hay rides
Hot caramel apple cider
The rich vibrant colors of the leaves
Fairs and festivals
The decorations
Pumpkins
Scarecrows
The taste and aroma of baked apples and cinnamon
Leaf pile jumping
Acorn and pinecone gathering
And the excited screams and laughter of children Trick-or-Treating
 
Oh how I love Autumn

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Thank You!!!

I want to thank everyone for coming to my fall open house. It was really nice to see your smiling, friendly faces again, and I was glad to be able to hug a neck or two or fifty! I really appreciated all the wonderful comments and that you took the time to write them down. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you, all!

I also want to tell everyone that the November 14th and 15th Holiday Open House promises to be even bigger and better! With lots of new handmade items to showcase in the studio, and a special "Reclaimed" Christmas Tree Lot with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the "Joy to Life" breast cancer foundation, we're sure to have a great time!

I'll post an update or two between now and November to share with your friends and family. And, if you don't want to wait until November, come on by and see what I'm up to, I'd love to see you!

For those of you that just couldn't make it, you were missed! Take a peek at the photos to see some of what you missed and get yourself over here! I'm usually working in the studio, give me a call and come see the rest!




















Thanks Again Everyone!!!!



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

FINAL: Straw Bale Garden Update - Mystery, Adventure and More!

Okay... This is the last post about the Straw Bale Garden, at least for this season. What you'll get in this post is mystery, adventure, tips for people considering trying this, a recipe for "24 Hour Pickles" and photos of my garden as it was winding down for the season.

It was surprising to watch how fast everything grew! We'd spot a new baby melon or cucumber or green bean, and be so excited! The next day, when we went out to water the whatever-it-was, it seamed to have doubled in size, overnight. REALLY!! Then as everything grew, it became an adventure to find the fruits of our labors amongst all of the leafy vegetation. One day we spotted a large acorn squash that we hadn't seen before, and didn't pick it because it wasn't quite as big as I thought it might get. We watched it for a couple more days, and then decided that the next day we would have it for dinner. We liked to do our harvesting together, Andy and I, so that we could share in the accomplishment of having produced our own food.

Well, we went to get the squash and... here comes the mystery. It was gone! GONE! We searched everywhere. We had to carefully and gently step into the mass of vines, lifting the leaves in search of it. We checked downhill, uphill, in-between the bales, it was just gone. We looked at our fence system to see if and how something could have gotten in, but nothing appeared to be disturbed. Huh...

Well, a couple of days later the same thing happened to a ready-to-be-picked bell pepper. Just gone! We went to harvest for the day and it just wasn't there. Again we searched the fence and the netting, but there was nothing visible. Ready for a bad ending? There was no sign of them when we cleaned out the garden either.  We never did find out where they went.

Here are some tips that I think will help you. We intend to make these changes next season based on what we learned from this one.

First, we went totally organic. No pesticides or foreign soils of any kind.
NEXT TIME - We will definitely use some sort of pest control! I had a terrible time with slugs. They ate ALL my strawberries!! AND they hollowed out my potatoes! That's right, they left the potato skin and ate everything else. Also, where the slugs weren't, the fire ants were.

Second, even though the book says it's straw you can't over water... you can. What happens is, that if you over water, the bales break down faster, which shortens your growing season. The water also, if left going for oh say 5 or more hours because you forgot to shut it off, carries needed nutrients away with the flood...
NEXT TIME - We will limit our watering to two (2), 20 minute sessions, morning and evening. Also, We won't do soaker-hoses that are buried under the dirt and plants where you can't check them without disturbing the roots. We'll either do a sprinkler or a garden hose with an adjustable spray nozzle.

Third, is DON'T OVER DO IT! The book says you can, and even shows pictures of single bales crammed full of different plants. It shows how you can even plant on the sides of the bale. Not only did I overcrowd, I didn't realize just how much space some of these plants need in order to thrive.
NEXT TIME - I won't put everything right up against each other. I will allow LOTS of space for the "viney" plants so they don't choke each other out! And I'll remember that things in the straw bale garden get big!

Remembering to fertilize once a month is also very important.
Also, some plants may or may not do well for you in straw, but you'll remember for the NEXT TIME which ones they were and you'll plant those like you normally would, in the ground.

Okay, anyone that knows me, knows that I don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and that is putting it mildly. Well I had so many cucumbers that I was trying to send some home with two of my students Judy and Sheila. They, mostly Sheila, tried to convince me to make pickles, but I was not gonna have crocks of pickles and vinegar sitting around my house for months on end waiting for the golden hour where the work could begin and the actual canning could start! At least that's what the "pickle canning" memories of my childhood conjured up. So, I finally convinced them that it wasn't gonna happen, and that they should just take them. And so they did.

On our very next Tuesday class, Judy brought a jar of the pickles she had made with the cucumbers, to add to the lunch menu. OMG!!! I can't tell you how good they were! I said that these couldn't be my cucumbers, but she assured me that they were; and that she had made "24-Hour" pickles with them. She was very convincing, and so were those pickles. OMG! So... now this is like going against nature for me, LOL, but I got her to give me the instructions; and my sister Amy and I and got to work. I'm not going into a thing about the behind-the-scenes details of me and my younger sister in a kitchen together after so many years, but we were laughing a lot, and in the end, the pickles were great. They taste close to what "Bread and Butter" pickles taste like.

Here's the recipe, enjoy!

What you'll need:
  • 7 cups sliced cucumbers (about 5 medium cucumbers)
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1 cups white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • bottle of pepper sauce (add this last and do it to taste!!)
What to do:
  • In a large bowl, mix everything accept the pepper sauce. Once mixed add the pepper sauce a little at a time. Mix it in and taste, mix in some more and taste, and so on until you get the "heat" just where you want it.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.  
The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for about three months.

Here are the last pictures of this years garden.















Well what do you think?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Desk Accessories

When Hometalk asked me to curate another clipboard for their social media platforms, this time about desk accessories, I thought oh what fun, this will be easy. I spent several hours searching through posts to create the collection for this board. It was not easy! I was surprised at how few posts there really were actually about desk accessories. However, through the process of getting the collection together, I have come to the conclusion that, it doesn't matter how you use your desk, whether it is for paying bills, doing homework, painting, sewing, crafting or if your desk is the household catch-all. Or what you call your desk accessory/organizer/holder. We are all looking for inexpensive, pretty or cute, but functional ways to store and organize our stuff. I personally have a few desks/tables that I sit at, and I like for them to be neat and organized.

Take a look.

This is my bill paying/blogging/shopping desk.
I have covered it in cork and put a piece of glass over the cork.

I love to use silver plated finds to organize my stuff. Here a relish dish holds rubber bands, paper clips, a flash drive and most importantly my white out! 

 Here you can see my cream pitcher is my pen holder. A piece of galvanized metal holds my desk calendar, and a napkin holder holds the bills.

This is my painting desk/table. It is covered in paint...  LOL

 You can see my cream and sugar bowls hold some paint brushes and I have a home made wooden paint brush holder painted up to look like... anything more than a block of wood.

I'm sure you remember my post about the vintage door frame. Well this is my sewing desk.

   A silver plated bowl for loose buttons or whatever happens to end up in there. An ceramic acorn shaped dish holds notions, and in the back you can barely see it, but a milk glass compote dish holds my most-used, need-it-fast thread. Off to the side I found the drawers of an old sewing machine cabinet and they hold all kinds of stuff.

This is a work counter in my studio. 

 As you can see you can use anything to become your desk accessories/organizers/holders/thingies.
 Just pick something you like or make something you like and go with it!

I hope I have given you some ideas and inspired you to think creatively.

Here is the link to my Hometalk clipboard.



Thanks for stopping by
Debbie

Thursday, April 30, 2015

2nd Straw Bale Garden Update

An entire day of planting: Red, Yellow, White and Green onions, Okra, Cabbage, Pumpkins, Watermelons, Tomatoes, Green Beans, Cucumbers, Carrots, Red, Gold and Russet Potatoes, Yellow Summer Squash, Acorn Squash, Radishes, Garlic and all kinds of different Peppers! Whew! Then the plastic covers (tents) went on, and then the bird netting went up over and around the whole garden. Whew again!!

I have to tell you that for two weeks now, I have felt like a yo yo with all the rain and storms we've had, it's been like this... Close the tenting, an hour later open the tenting, another hour and close
the tenting, then open the tenting, open, close, open, close. Yada yada...  But everything has sprouted and the plastic tenting is working it's magic. The first to come up was the onions, (all of them, red, yellow, white and green), then came the radishes, the lettuce and now everything! This is my favorite part. It's exciting to watch!

The only starter plants I used where the tomatoes and the strawberries. Everything else was direct planted seed. I even planted some of the strawberries in the sides of some of the bales. You're supposed to sow several crops over the growing season. As these mature and are harvested, you plant new ones until your weather won't let you anymore.

Okay. I'm gonna tell on myself. I have a little roll-along garden cart with a seat on top and I was sitting on it while I was planting, moving right along from bale to bale. Well... because I'm planting on an incline, and I wasn't exactly in the middle of the thing when I lifted my foot to move over, I popped a wheelie and dumped myself right off the back of it! LOL!! So my advice is when working on a hill, be careful with anything on wheels.

And then as if that weren't enough... I planted a separate little garden bed of Mint and Sunflowers!

Here are some pictures of the progress.

 The end of the day after everything was planted!

The next morning, before the rains came.

Day 4 the radishes rise from the potting mix! Yahoo!!

And the lettuce. 

And the onions. How do you like my crow garden stakes? 

The strawberries planted on top and on the sides. 

 My little solar rooster light.

On the rainy days you can see top the netting pretty good.

Another rain day. 

Well... what do you think?