Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

If all else fails….

May 16, 2013

You have to be more than just a little crazy to garden in Oklahoma; the only thing you can predict here is that the weather will be unpredictable. But since my glass is usually half full, I’m loving our rain, and mild temperatures and I feel so sure that I’m going to have lots of fruit & veggies, and this time, my mailbox flowerbed will last more than one season.

I went to check on the mailbox flowerbed – I just wanted to see if there were puddles after the showers because I don’t want my new plants to drown. Look what I found….

TiekaaMail

International Mail!! Don’t you just love when you find something in the mailbox, and you know right away it isn’t junk mail or a bill? I turn the envelope over and over – checking out the foreign stamp, and wondering how many places and hands it passed through on its way to me. Finally, I get to the kitchen table, fix a quick mug of tea (not quite enough patience to brew a pot) and sit down to open my surprise.

TiekaaCress

Yeay! Cress seeds!! All the way from Sweden. Now I can grow something on my windowsill and if the weather turns against me outside, I’ll still have a lush green patch indoors…. and I shall have the finest egg salad sandwiches ever :o)

Fruits of Our Labour

May 15, 2013

I got a good workout carrying a watering can full of a solution with feed & bug protection to each of the nut & fruit trees at the bottom of our yard. This stuff is expensive, but I used it on the peaches last year and they did much better despite the drought. I’m late with the treatment but no choice since I’ve been recovering from a shoulder surgery. In fact, I think this is the first time this year I’ve walked all the way out here and inspected our little orchard.

All three apple trees have teensy fruit on them:

Apple in May

But there’s only a few treasures on one of the two peach trees:

Peach in May

The largest pecans have tassel-like flowers – are they flowers? I don’t know. I’m hoping that these will give us some nuts at last. We planted the pecans as 12″ twigs about 12 years ago, and babied them as best we could; I’d like to see some fruit from our labour……

Pecan in May

I Must Have Been Gone a Long Time….

May 14, 2013

because my garden is sooo overgrown and kind of broken. Well, after getting very busy, an ice storm or two, and the drought, and the heat and the drought and the heat. I must be crazy to try to garden again, and even crazier to try to make enough time to keep track of things here. Enough waffle, here’s what I did at the weekend:

Cleared out an area around the mailbox. Its roughly 250′ from the house so its a challenge to water, but I want a cheerful welcome when I come home and go get the mail. Besides, the mail box is kind of fugly so maybe a few flowers will distract attention from it.  Here’s my bare dirt and the first plants:

Mailbox Bed 052013

I have Indian Feather (pink), Lantana (pink/yellow), Mexican Marigold (yellow), Achillea (yellow), and Russian Sage (purple).  I added three bags of purchased dirt plus a wheelbarrow full of my own compost and now I’m laying out a soaker hose. (Wish me luck!)

 

Third Resolution

November 23, 2010

SunsetNov2010

Now where was I?  First resolution is to get TKGA Masters Handknitting level I in the mail by year end, then continue to prioritize my knitting projects (you know, rather than starting projects and never finishing any?)  Second resolution is to take more care with my health, in particular my mental well-being.  My third resolution is to put my money house in order. 

I’m pretty sure that a dose of financial planning plus sustainable changes in my spending habits will not only help me achieve my long-term goals, but will contribute to my well-being in the short-term thereby contributing towards resolution #2 (double-dipping the benefits doubles my motivation!)

So what are my long-term goals?  I’d like to have enough resources to live in the home of my choosing and to not worry unduly about basics like eating and healthcare (I’m sure I have plenty of company).  Simple enough, except that if the track record for my family is anything to go by, my retirement fund will have to last me a loooong time – I anticipate checking out at 96 years old.  So I will try to continue generating an income after I retire from my corporate career:  I want to spend more time on my love of knitting, design and travel, and I want my supplemental retirement income to be generated from self-employed income.  The tricky part with this is, I may need funds upfront to invest in my business.  I guess my savings plan will need to consist of a source of income for my daily basics plus a fund to establish my business. 

For short-term financial sensibleness I did the usual listing of income and expenses, checked my insurance policies, and looked glumly over my 401K & Roth IRA and examined my credit card statements.  This has been an expensive year with multiple deductibles to pay for (hail storm in the Spring); a substantial contribution towards repairing the road we share with neighbours; son’s college tuition; and lowered income (tenant couldn’t pay the rent, husband’s reduced hours).  We do not have a fixed income, and we certainly do not have fixed outgoings!  I created a budget of sorts, but just to check that we don’t actually have to spend more than we earn, just to cover the essentials.  I decided to stop buying anything I do not need until credit card balance is zero and there’s enough in the bank to cover the amount I’m likely to put on the credit card by the time I get the next statement.

Well, the good news is that in just six weeks of being on a spending diet, I got the credit card paid off.  Now I want to get our emergency cushion up, but I decided that from this point forward, I get a spending allowance for something I do not need right now to survive.  This month, I gave  myself $150.  I blew half that on yarn (thanks to Slackford Studios for having a sale on one of my favourite treats) and the other half went towards reorganizing the kitchen.

I’ll be back with the results of the kitchen reorg and knitting progress soon, in the meantime, can’t close out without any pics at all, took this yesterday; perfect radishes and tasty arugula from my Fall garden:

Radishes

Second Resolution (& Progress on TKGA Masters)

November 7, 2010

So my first resolution is to get my TKGA Masters level one submission completed by year end, and to prioritize finishing up some other projects. I’ve already made a little progress!

For starters, the first swatches look simple enough, a couple of inches of rib with evenly-spaced increases in the last row before moving on to garter stitch for swatch 1, and stocking (stockingette) stitch for swatch 2. However, it is quite some time since I last knit plain garter stitch, and all of a sudden, decisions as to which side of the cast on looks best with the rib, how to place my increases, and which increases are the least obtrusive anyway are almost paralysing.  I decided to just knit the first swatch, note the methods used, and knit it again using different decisions for increases etc. so I may compare. I pulled out my needles & yarn, and set to work while reading up on basic techniques in TKGA’s website, YouTube, and a couple of books……I swear I didn’t blink before I’d already knitted three inches of rib whereas the instructions stated that I should only knit two. (Sigh!) I’m not used to knitting such small rows – clearly I’m going to need to concentrate on this a little more carefully.

With my poor concentration ability in mind, I used an aid to help me make sure I spaced my decreases evenly, that each decrease would land on same stitch (i.e. all purl or all knit), and I wouldn’t knit straight past the next decrease:

TKGA Masters I Swatch II I had not repositioned the last stitch marker when I took this picture, and its easy to see that its in the wrong place. I may use this technique for larger projects because sometimes I just do not trust my own math.

I had hoped the difference between a bar increase and a lifted increase would be enough to help me decide which swatch to block, but I think I’m going to have to block both and then decide – what do you think?

TKGA Masters I Swatch 1

Uh huh, going to have to block these before I decide which to keep, aaaand will have to find a way to label them throughout so that I’ll know which is which!

My second resolution is to take more care with my health, including my mental well-being. For me, this means starting the New Year with a cleaner, more orderly house and having established a routine for spending some time in the yard. I can’t wait for Spring cleaning, sometimes I look around me and wonder how you know when you’ve crossed the line and become one of those hoarders you see on TV.

I’m starting with the kitchen. I have food stored in cupboards that are set over our central heat vents, baking trays in the dining room, and I’m pretty sure I have some canned veggies that are as old as the house (8 years is too old no matter how carefully I processed those jars). I’ve drawn up a plan and numbered the cupboards and drawers then designated what will move to each. Oh woe is me!! Now that I know I have 31 to deal with, I’m not sure I’ll get past the kitchen before Xmas Eve!

I’m happy with the results of some time spent in the yard though, lookie:

Mailbox Flowerbed

My man recycled some bricks to build a sturdy mail box holder.  Unfortunately, its not real pretty because the excess mortar won’t wash off. I’ve planted a Carolina Jasmine at the base which should cover most of the brick by this time next year.  Also, I dug up grass and added edging (with help from Son) so that we won’t have so many nooks and crannies to try to mow.  Oh, and see the pretty red coloured grasses? I believe they are Little Bluestem. I moved those from the back of my yard where wild grasses still grow – I love their colours and the way they sway in the wind and hope that they do not mind me digging them up (fortunately there’s lots more where they came from)……I’ll be back soon with blocked swatches and resolution # 3.

Beaded Hot August Nights & Other Projects

October 7, 2010

Care to join me for a cup of tea? I couldn’t resist donning these gloves for my afternoon ritual. Turns out that adding beads isn’t too difficult, and so so pretty!

BlueTeaParty

Next time I knit up this design, I think I’m going to make them elbow length. I made this pair for Fingerless Gloves Fanatics Summer Swap on Ravelry. I’m thrilled that they look to be a good fit for the recipient.

I participated in another swap: OT FGF Insanity Housewares Medium Flat Rate Box Swap – that’s a long name for a swap! I tried knitting dishcloths and a market bag – I have a new respect for these items and will have to make some more for me:

Housewares Swap

Here’s a really versatile yarn, raffia!

Raffia Market Bag

Made a pretty market bag, and see what I did with the leftovers:

VeggiePatchFall2010

Its pretty late in the year, but I don’t think you can ever count on the weather in Oklahoma, so I may as well throw caution to the wind, and a few seeds on the yard. I’m sticking with a small patch as an experiment – most of these seeds are for late Fall/early Winter crops, some I may try to cover and hope that they don’t die come the first frost.

Living Pantry

July 31, 2010

Growing food is turning out to be very satisfying to me.  Its one of the few activities that my man and I both enjoy and can share (for two people that have been crazy in love for 22 years, we are remarkably incompatible).  I decided that watering by hand would allow me time to see what is ripe n ready for harvest (as in I held the hose rather than hooking up a sprinkler; I’m not lugging a watering can across acres of yard!)   I also got to see how picturesque produce can be up close:

Our first pear…..Pear

Toms We have lots of tomatoes (OK, potential tomatoes)

Summer squash flowers are beautifulSquash

Okra Okra plants would fit in any flower bed

Spider

Eeewie!  I’m ‘fraidy-cat when it comes to nature’s little helpers! 

This one is way too big for my liking, but son thinks she’s handsome.

Irresistable….

July 11, 2010

We’re pretty new to gardening, and this year I didn’t expect much as we were late starting any seeds, and we’ve had searing heat too early, followed by hail then torrential rains. I was thrilled yesterday when my man asked me to get a large bowl and follow him (being gently led by the hand was a treat in itself). Proudly, he pointed to the best Summer Squash we’ve produced to date, aaaaand he pointed out that it may be worth picking some peaches too! I set my harvest on the kitchen counter just as the sun was going down; I couldn’t resist taking this picture:

Beautifyl Produce

The peaches are pretty small – but they are pretty! I’ve taken about a quarter of them, mostly from the lowest branches as there’s critters in my yard making off with some already. Hopefully, we’ll get the chance to sample some really ripe ones in the next week or so.