Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Food


You know what THAT is, kids?

THAT is a freakin' blueberry!!

It is, it is!

You know you "can't" grow blueberries in Texas right?

Fill up a big old garbage can with mostly peat and a little dirt and apparently you can!

It's the size of a tick, but is IS a blueberry.

A blueberry tick.

My god, the joy of a plant fruiting is just indescribable. 

You feel like the supposed Big Man himself - And then I created ... blueberry!

Can't wait to see if they get bigger.

My tomatoes are starting to fruit again too.



First time ever for this to happen.

We had a mild summer here (HAHAHAH) with many days only in the 90s, coupled with some rain, and yippppeeeee - more tomatoes!

That's all the food I have for you.

I've been bad.

Lazy.

Uninterested.

Nothing to do but quit whining and get back to it though, right?

I signed up for The Whole Foods Kitchen online program with my friend Carolyn.

Nothing like forking over some cash to get my ass in gear.

No, really, I've been dying to do this program and am really, really exited about it.  Carolyn did the 30-day Vegan online program with her, Heather, and said it was outstanding.

I'm trying to find new words to use instead of AWESOME.



I went to get some damn apricot colored paint to paint that back door.

Stood in Home Depot for 20 minutes staring at the apricots and peaches.

Left.

Came back.

Tried again and finally came home with what I thought was the perfect apricot color.




Yellow.

Totally yellow.

The card is apricoty.

The color is  yellow.

Dammit.

Not awesome at all.

I need to look at Martha colors.

If Martha says the color is Apricot, that damn color is APRICOT.

Love Martha.

Have I ever told you that I've met The Martha a few times when I lived in Hollywood and worked for that rich guy?

Seriously.

In real life.

She's lovely and very, very pretty in real life.

And that gravelly, deep voice is marvelous.

My knees were knocking.

I thought about trying to slip some piece of my crafty shit in her purse that she might discover later which would lead her to track me down to tell me that I was a genius and that I should come work for her RIGHT NOW.

(This was back in the day before Etsy and Ebay.  All us closet crafters and closet homemakers were all just floating around in the world - alone and oblivious to each other.

But I didn't.

Chicken.

Time to feed them, as a matter of fact.

Have an enthralling weekend, y'all!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chicken Proof Raised Beds

All-righty...I know you've all been on the edge of your proverbial seats waiting to see the new situation here.

Lemme start by saying, and I think I've already told you this, I really, really, really, really wanna get waaaay more into the whole urban farm thing.

The challenge with this is ... well, it's a lot of hard work.

Like giant balls of hard work.

I don't really like hard work, to be honest.

I guess that's not totally true.

I like some hard work, but I don't want it to last long.

The truth is that I am downright scared to rip out all my ornamental plants and put in food production because what if I get sick of doing it?

What if these horrific Texas summers just kick my ass and I cave in and give up?

I mean, no harm / no foul, BUT - BIG BUT (like mine) - I just cannot see then going back to putting the ornamental plants back in.

I have spent 4.5 years and countless dollars getting my yard done.

Now, to rip it out?

EEEEEEEK.

One thing that makes my plan a tad easier is that we have  such shit soil here,  most of us city gardeners just used raised beds.  

This really is so much easier than straight ground planting, BUT (another one) it can cost money, and one of the big reasons to grow more food  is to save money.

Kinda.

It's mostly just to grow my own because I love to grow things and eat healthfully, but it's also to help my son learn where real food comes from and how to do it.

Even the amazing farmers' markets here in Austin can't compare to actually growing our own because Finn can't SEE them growing the food.  I want him to know the whole process.  The planning, the soil, the seeds, the successes and failures.

I'm not really a believer in the whole zombie Apocalypse thing (although I do find it HILARE), but I DO feel that there may very well come a time on this Earth when we might all be forced to know how to grow food.  

The whole oil thing, you know.

Fuck that oil thing.  

(Except when I wanna take a big vacation across the west in a giant truck with a pop-up, that is.)

HAHAHAHA.

OMG, I'm such a hypocrite.

OK, anyway, I really, really, really want to grow a LOT more food and get bees.  (Bees are for sure happening...just getting all my ducks in a row.  My bees in a row, I guess. Too hot for bees to start here now.)

I already do chickens.

I spent my whole vacation reading urban farming books and I'll share that list with you soon.  I really wanted to try and get my Amazon book link thingee working again before I recommend a lot of books to you, but, eh, I'm lazy.

Wow, that was a tome.

Maybe I should shut my trap and show you the beds.

This is what my raised beds look like now:

Super fugly, right?

The whole reason that I have to protect the beds is because my chickens are free-range in my yard 24/7.

Lemme tell ya...chickens can EFF UP YOUR YARD, man.

It's not so much that they eat the plants (although they do do that), but it's mostly because they scratch at the base of every single plant in the entire yard.  Guess that's where the bugs hang.

This is not a big deal around established plants, but for seedlings or vegetables this is hell.

So, I have to protect all the beds from the fowl.

So, (why do I say SO so much?) the system I have now is to wrap some shitty, scavenged pieces of chicken wire  around some wooden posts and staple all that crap together.

It works, but omg soooo ugly AND then it's really hard to get at the food.  I have to leeeean over the top so that the wire then catches and tears my clothes or rips my skin, or I have to unroll one end so I can get in there, and that really suuuuucks because chicken wire is unwieldy and irritating, blah, blah, blah.

I needed another way.  

Fired up the Oracle and found this!:


See that second photograph?

BINGO.

Now, Mr. Douglas is an obvious badass with all his hard work over there, and I certainly do thank him for sharing his great idea of removable bed covers to me.

The only thing is that I did not want to move mine around because, well, I don't know why, but I just kinda didn't, so Jackdaddy came up with the brilliant idea to have the covers FLIP off.

Like this ...




See?

So it lays flat on the beds, but then when I need to get in there I just flip it over.

Duuuuuude.

I got kinda fancy though.

Fancy, or maybe extremely anal because I just cannot live with giant white pipes all over my yard.

Spray paint.

Brown.

Yum.

Bitch of a job though.

I hate spray paint.  I feel like I'm killing every pollinator in my yard with that crap.

But, oh well, I have the right to a little pretty, don't I?  I just hold a piece of cardboard up the whole time and most of the paint goes on the pipes and then on to the cardboard.

I do what I can, y'all. 

No netting up yet cuz that part is hard and I need Jackdaddy to help me.

He already helped me with the thinking and the cutting so I have to give him a few days before hounding him for more help.

I am definitely using some cheap deer netting instead of metal chicken wire like Mr. Douglas as that shit is just a pain in the arse.

My chickens get the idea with just the netting, so I don't need to go to all that trouble or cost.  Although, I do think it would look nicer and more official, but wtf, right?

So, yea, the world's longest story about how to chicken proof your raised beds.

But, I'm really thrilled to finally have a semi-attractive solution to an age-old problem.

Now if I could just tackle that oil issue.

Hooo hawwwww.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Funny as S**T

OK, this is the funniest effing thing EVER.


I found the link over at Beauty That Moves this morning.

As I cannot seem to get my shit together to write a nice, long, informative, humorous post about

chicken-proofed raised beds, I offer you humor from someone else:




Monday, August 27, 2012

Weekending

One of the greatest ideas of all time got implemented this weekend.

I was trying to figure out how to rework a soaker hose that had a bunch of high octane leaks in it.  

FinnigantheCurious has been asking for some sprinkler action like they had at Deep Springs.  (This was a super fancy watering system that watered some big expanses of area.  The kids loooooved them.)

Clearly I couldn't reproduce that, so I was hemming and hawing over the soaker hose.

He decided to jump on the trampoline while waiting.

Oh!  

OH!

Trampoline + Soaker Hose ....




 See where this is going?





Please do let your kids do the poking.

Finn loooooved getting to stab the hose over and over.




 A little tutorial from Jackdaddy-o.




OMG, this was sooooooo fun and soooooo easy.

We attached it with tie wraps, and let her rip.

I've got about 14 hours of video that I won't bore you with, but lemme just tell ya, this WORKED.




 I got a little garden time in too ...

 Mmmmmmm.



Awwwwwww.

I just love kid writing.

I also love these garden markers soooooo much.

I didn't take a picture of the bag, but I'll do that today and show ye.

I plant the same sugar snap peas and lettuce (and herbs) year after year so I can reuse these, which is grand.

Tomorrow I wanna show you our BRILLIANT idea for chicken-proof raised bed covers.  (Google that mouthful, y'all.)

Well, actually, we stole the idea from someone, but then refined it, so now it's OUR idea.

Hawwwwww.

It really is brilliant and I am sooooo freakin relieved to have a tidy and attractive solution to the freee-range chicken vs vegetable bed issue!

Huge for me.  HUGE.

The litttle boy's room is still not done, dammit.

Too much outsideing this weekend cuz it was only in the 90s.

When it's in the 90s in mid-August, we central Texans are practically putting on sweaters.

HAHAHAHAHA.  

Well, we are planting fall crops in 90 degree weather, for real.


Now for a total non sequitur ...

Need a kitty fix?


Lordy, this is the BEST kitten.

Exactly the kind of cat I most love:  independent, but lovey.  Brave, curious, confident and QUIET.

Did I mention that she sleep through the night?

Did I mention that she figured out the dog/cat door on day TWO and that she nows poops and pees outside?

From DAY TWO?

Good kitten.

Honestly, she is such a good, good kitten.  We all adore her.

Artemis Fartimis.  

Although, she does really fart.  Not that we've noticed anyway.

How was your weekend?  Huh? Huh?

Whadja do?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekending


I'm such a slacker.

I was sooooo tired from a weekend of moving (a friend) and major yard cleaning with Jackdaddy that I absolutely collapsed into bed last night without even thinking about writing.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The nights have been a teensy bit rough again because ....




New kitten!!!

(First chiggers, now kitten.)

Meet Artemis.

Isn't she kayooooottt with her little pink nose and ginormous ears?

A delightful kitten in every way.

Some friends have been tending her for several days, but they are very allergic and she was having to be outside 24/7.  They felt concerned because she reeeeaaallly wanted to come inside, making it seem as though she might have been a house kitty at one point.   

Enter the suckers:  Me and Finn.

She has definitely been someone's kit, so I think we'll try a little harder to find out if anyone is missing her, but, for now, we've fallen in love with her and hope she can stay.

She's little bitty and has that tiny baby squeeeeak meow.

I'm a sucker, indeed.


OH,

I also made some NO SEW curtains.

Hooo Hawww!!!  I am all about the NO SEW as I do not sew.

There are about 345,988 tutorials on the Oracle for how to make these, but I am so proud of them I'm just going to pretend like I invented them.

First, you buy yourself some drop cloth from Home Depot (I always choose Home Depot when I can because they support gay rights.).

Take them home and wash them twice.  (I have no idea why, but that's what all the other ladies did so I did it too.)




Borrow an iron and ironing board from your neighbor and iron those puppies for hours and hours and hours.

I had forgotten how Zen ironing is!  I might just buy a set-up for myself.

Or not.

One of the great things about drop cloth is that they're already hemmed on all sides, but, at 9 ft., they were too long for me windows so ...

you use some of this stuff...

It's like tape.

You put some tape all along the bottom of the material and then all along the top of where you want it to be "hemmed" up to, then you fold them together, and then you iron them together.

I know that's not a very good description, but you'll figure it out.  It's extremely obvious.

If you can't,  just Google "DIY Dropcloth curtains" and you'll see how easy it really is.

Then the fun part:  grommets!



I have always loooooved the look of grommets in curtains, but had NO idea that they were NO SEW.

Dude.

I loved this part and plan to put grommets in everything from now on.

You just lay your fabric down and place the grommets where you want them.

Do a good job on this or  you'll be sorry later.

Needless to say, I did not do a good job as I am such a sloppy crafter.

It's why I can sew or knit or anything good like that.

IT TAKES TOO LONG TO GET EVERYTHING JUST RIGHT.

Makes me crazy.

So I just kinda eyeball shit and hope for the best.

Next time I would try a little harder on the grommet placement as my curtains hang kinda fugly because I didn't space them out properly.

Oh well ... the boy is 8 and could care less.

 All-right, back to tutorial...

Doesn't that look pretty just sitting there with nothing at all done to it?

Pretty grommet.

Now you use this handy little template that comes with the grommets.  (Do NOT throw the grommet package away after opening because the template is almost invisible and hidden in there.)



Hello cute template that worked so well.

Just figure out where you want the grommets and place this handy little thing down and draw a circle on the fabric with a pencil.

Then you do a little cut in the middle of the circle.



Like so.

Well, not like so because you need to cut the whole circle out.  

Stay within the template lines, OK?

And, um, apparently that's all the pictures I took.

But, basically, the grommet comes in two parts - the front and the back.

You pop the grommets apart and put the front of the grommet on top of this  hole that you just cut, and you put the back of the grommet on the back of the hole you just cut, and press down really hard and the two just click together.

It's MAGIC.

Then you have this ...




Drop cloth drapes!

Anyone could make these - promise.

I am the queen of  not being able to do stuff like this and I did it with no problemo at all!

My second curtain looked a bit better because I had the grommet thing down better and I feel like the next grommet project will be even easier.

I'm going to make a grommet curtain for that kitchen door we talked about that is freaking me out.

I'll do that "right after" I go to the fabric store, find some fabric, re-borrow the ironing stuff, and, oh yea,  paint it.  

Sigh.

I'm getting too old for this crap.  Hawwwwww.

I'm still waiting for some pillow cases (that I ordered from Etsy) to get here so that I can show you the boy's room.

Omg, the pillow cases are to die for!

And, uh, also waiting to hang a lamp, and finish painting, and hang some art, and patch some holes, and, and, and ...

That's a lot of work for a slacker, don't ya think?

What'd you do this weekend?

Meow.






























Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tick Tock

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Oh god, I've been so absent due to lack of sleep and constant tending of the little boy. 

This has rendered me unable to do much else.

My boys, big and little, went to Mississippi over the weekend to visit some of Jackdaddy's family.

All was well and good until the plane ride home when the big boy discovered just how covered in ticks and chiggers the little boy was.

They did all the right things:   wore long pants, socks, boots, long sleeves, did the post-wood tick check, etc..

What they obviously forgot was the looooong and intense shower/bath that must happen after being in the woods all day. 

Seems they were so tired that they decided to shower in the morning.

Big mistake.

My little one is so unbelievably covered in bites ... it's like a horror movie.

And you do know where chiggers most like to bite don't you?

Yea, down there.

SO, we've been up all night every night with Calamine Lotion and Benadryl and Epsom salt baths and every other remedy known to man, but with very little relief.

Chigger bites just have to run their course.  (Although the Epsom salts were the best remedy of the lot.)

Today should be a much better day.

I hope.

Poor, poor little boy.  Tres miserables!

I had a bunch of stuff from the weekend to show you, but it all seems rather lame now. 

(Nothing like a really hurt child to put things into perspective, huh?)

I'll see if I can dig something up ...

Finally cleaned up the patio.

Hopefully, we'll get that tree chipper next weekend and get rid of the fallen tree.




Repainted my G-A-R-D-E-N letters.

Not sure why I didn't do that sooner.

Did not even attempt to get into the jungle that is my garden.

Too effing hot here ... still.



Please note:  This is in the shade.

In the shade, for real y'all.

There is no "wasting of electricity" when it's 103 in the shade.



All my boy wanted to eat was bread so we made some.

A lot of bread.

And drank tea.

Hot tea, of course.

You know you've got some Irish genes running through your veins when it's 103 in the shade and you're craving tea and toast.

Slaite!  (That's "Cheers" in Irish.)

I'll style you up with some Friday Food tomorrow ... never fear.

Maybe some cute little boy's room will make it debut next week too.  (It looks soooooo adorable!)

OH, and we saw the sweetest, most bittersweet, adorable, precious, cheesy movie yesterday and I highly recommend it to ye:  The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

The critics are panning it big time and I will admit that the cheese factor is high, but, oh my goodness, we just loved it.  I sooobbbbbed throughout the entire film so bring your hankies!  

I will say that it is probably really a movie for adults that is about children, rather than a movie for children.  Not that there's anything bad or even remotely inappropriate, it's just a Mama Tearjerker more than a kids' film.  Having said that, Finn liked it a whole, whole lot.

Cross your fingers that I get a nap today.

I'll do the same for you.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Food

APPLESAUCE!!!

My god, if had only known HOW good homemade applesauce is and how easy it is to make, I would have never, ever bought one single jar of that mealy crap that I thought was applesauce.

I wish I had some pictures of the cute apple man at the Farmers' Market; I was not thinking ahead for sure.

He was so nice and friendly and helpful that I wish I'd chatted him up more.

After tasting his delectable, delicious, delightful, and amazing apples, I want to know him better.

Bat Creek Farm in Bertram, TX is where they hail from.

I swear I thought we had to drriiiiive out to BF, Egypt to get apples here in TX, but Bertram is just right around the proverbial corner.

These were Gala apples and I'm being honest when I tell you that I let them sit on the counter waaaay too long.

And I piled them up together which is supposedly a no-no.

I hate it when I do that...

buy something wonderful and then get bogged down with crap and let the stuff just sit there haunting me and mocking me.



The apples were definitely haunting me.

Getting smaller and browner by the day.

Until I finally cooked those puppies up and OH MAH GAWD!!!


I am not kidding you when I say that the whole house smelled like apples and sugar and a Beatrix Potter story!

If that is what they taste like after 10 days (ahem) I can only image the taste when freshy fresh fresh.

I'm going to the Saturday market to get more.

A LOT more.

Homemade Applesauce
(You're not going to believe how easy this is.)

Peel and core a bunch of apples.

Put them in a sturdy pot with a little bit of water or apple juice.

Cook them on low until they're all soft and squishy.

Put them in a Cuisinart or blender and spin until they're a consistency that you like.

That's it, hos.

You could add sugar or cinnamon, but we did not and you definitely do not have to.



We ate it warm out of the pot.

Holy crap, it was soooo good.

I mean really, really good.

Try it!  I swear it is the easiest thing ever!

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

La, La, La, y'all.



Thursday, August 9, 2012

I'm Gonna Gross You Out

video
EEEWWWWW.

Maggots in the compost, dude.

Undulating, writhing, freakish machines of compost.

My friend, neighbor, and fellow urban farmer Lorri and I are digging into the vermicompost world.

She - intentionally.  Me - maggots in my compost.

I am half repulsed and half absolutely fascinated by them.

They remind me of the little green magical worms that James spills under the peach tree.  

(FinnigantheCurious and I spent close to an hour talking about how much we wished they were.  Sigh. Literary longing is the best/worst.)

Have you ever put an avocado rind in your compost?

Goes nowhere ever, right?

GONE with the maggots.

GONE overnight.

I shit you not!  (That's a compost pun, y'all.)

Plus the chikkins LOVE them.

I scoop out a big bowl full, plop it on the ground, and you should see them come running.

Chikkins do run, you know, and it is one hilarious site to see.

It's the no arms thing, I think, that is so funny.

Next time you're out running (HA HA HA) put your arms down by your side and don't move them.

Funny.

This maggot article is really funny too:  


Grab a big bowl of oatmeal and do some maggot reading.

HA HA HA.

On a happier note, I want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who chimed in on the door color!!! 

That was really immensely helpful to have other brains at work with mine.  Really, really.

I am now officially torn between apricot/peach and, thanks to Ms. Mudd, painting it in stripes of ALL the mentioned colors!!!

Holy shit, that was SO not the plan.

The plan was to calm the area down.  Soothe it.  Not magnify it!

But just think ... stripes of red, eggplant, lavender, peach, butter yellow, more green!

Wouldn't that be the bomb? 

I might just do it!!

I'm scared.

Maybe I could do it in muted color stripes and that would be less busy?

HA HA HA.

Well, I am going to find the fabric first.  I did see the sanity in that.

Course, if I paint it stripes I don't really see how I can put a piece of fabric there too because then my head really would look like that bin of maggots.

Maybe a clean roll-up blind if I do the stripes?

I think I'll tackle it this weekend and just see.

I can always paint over it.  Again.

Friday Food tomorrow!   Think apples. 

Apples with no worms, of course.