Sunday, March 31, 2013

Can't Wait to Get Outside




 That was a fast snow! We had about 8-10 inches of snow for Palm Sunday, and here it is Easter Sunday and it has nearly all melted. Because we have had so much melt water from all the recent snow, the ditch on the west side of the place is backing up and threatening to flood the garden. As usual.

The  problem with that area is the land is too flat and the neighbor's culvert is a bit crushed. The two problems don't let water flow through the culvert very well, hence it backs up in my yard. Jen got the wild hare that we should muck it out. 

Lala found Dad's old hip waders in the garage. She  pulled them on and I handed her a shovel. As soon as Jen showed her the water, she was a bit cowed. What do I do now? It didn't take our Pisces long to figure it out. She started movingthe dirt out of the culvert as far in as her shovel could go. Jen, being a Virgo, chose the dry side, but she mucked her culvert as well. I'm a Virgo, too, but I got my feet a bit wet channeling the water below Jen's spot. 

We did get the water flowing a bit faster. I don't think it makes a big lot of difference, but it was a good excuse to be outside. Lala didn't even mind that the water was cold and the waders leaked.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Our First Quilt

 Lala's 14th birthday is March 16. Jen found a pattern for a quilt that she knew Lala would love, but the question was how could we make it without Lala knowing it would be hers? (Never mind that none of us had ever made quilt before. We can read, can't we?) Jen acquired a mysterious buyer for a quilt on her Etsy Store. This buyer had a teen-aged daughter who would get the quilt, so, of course, Lala was our expert on what a teen would like.

Jen had her help select the fabric. When it was cut, Lala (who has a great eye for color) was the one to place the strips before I pieced them for the top. She was also intimately involved in every stage of the quilt making, from cutting of the fabric to putting the final quilt together. All along, she thought she was helping Mom prepare the quilt for a sale.

 My serger was a Godsend for this project. I was the seamstress while Jen engineered the pattern and the cutting. I sat up in my living room and serged like crazy!

This became quite a project.  Even though Jen and Lala live across town with her boyfriend, they spent several overnights here while we had marathon quilting days. We roped the boyfriend into figuring out how to put together the quilting frame that my folks had stashed in the garage loft. None of us had any clue how the thing should look when finished. There were no pictures or boxes, just a bunch of boards with no screws. Neither Jen nor I could help Steve because we were doing our parts of quilt making. He surfed the Internet for photos of quilt frames, scratched his head a lot, and stood the the challenge. I salute you, Steve Barnes! You did a great job reconstructing the quilting frame.

The last week was planned to be leisurely. Put the border around the top, add the applique and tie the quilt as a comforter. Yeah. Right. You know how that goes. Life is what happens after you make other plans. I wasn't available much of the week at all. My car died and was cooling it's wheels in a parking lot in Burlington. I was scrambling to either fix it or replace it. Jen and Lala were on their own with the quilt and Jen had never run my serger.

It came down to Lala's birthday. The quilt was together, but not tied. Lala's friends came at noon for a birthday party. Jen gathered the girls in a back room and told them our secret and our problem. Abby, Sabrina and Angela were troopers! The girls put a DVD in the player, turned the TV toward the quilting frame and had at it. By the time the movie was over, the comforter was tied!

The official birthday supper was at HuHot in Topeka. Sabrina and Angela were able to go with us. You can't believe Lala's face when Jen handed her the quilt! "No, this isn't mine. It's for that chick on Etsy..." was the first thing she said.

Her mother had to assure her it was hers and made with love by family and friends. Lala just grabbed it and hugged it.


Plant Potatoes by St. Patrick's Day

Dad always said you should have your potatoes in the ground by St. Patrick's Day. Mine aren't quite "in the ground", but I did put them out today.  I planted three cages of Yukon Gold potatoes. The ground under the cages was dug to one-shovel deep, raked to remove clods, then the cage was set down and the soil leveled a bit. (The cages sit on the break of a slope.)  I probably planted more potatoes per cage than I should have, but I've had trouble getting potatoes to grow. It will be lovely if I have to thin them! 

The potatoes are spaced in a ring around the outside of the cage, then straw was placed on top of them. When they grow up through the straw, I'll layer more dirt on top and another round of straw. If this goes like the places I've been reading on Pinterest, I'll be able to reach under the straw and pick potatoes the way I pick tomatoes. 

Wow! I'm, excited. I hope it works! (And I have enough tomato cages left for at least some of the  plants that are growing under the grow light.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It Takes So Little To Make Mom Happy

When March got here, I was stuffing seeds into potting mix. I have three kinds of tomatoes, watermelon, luffa gourds, birdhouse gourds, mugwort, motherwort, lavender, catnip, Thunbergia vine (in the dishpan), summer savory, broccoli, basil, parsley, and more in the little seeding trays. I am keeping a running list of what I plant on the "blackboard" that I painted on the doors of an old metal cupboard.

The red tub on the floor is our "reclaimed" lettuce. Jen bought three "living lettuce" that still had the roots attached. After we cut off the leaves for eating, I stuck the roots in dirt. The first one planted is already putting out tiny new leaves. The next two will be added as they are eaten.

I had been getting by with two small 2-foot grow lights, but they didn't really reach all the plants. Today my son came by and rigged the four-foot light you can see in the top of the photo. It lights the top shelves beautifully. The 2-foot units have been suspended via twine from the center shelves of the little book cases. They are lighting the bottom shelves. I plugged everything into a surge protector. One switch at night, and all the plants go to bed.

And yes, the bare insulation showing tells the tale that my remodeling project is still in (slow) progress. I want to finish the sheet rock in this room after the grow lights come down.

It doesn't matter. I'm having fun with my plants. The house will get done when the house gets done.