Friday, July 27, 2012

This Week

Purple royalty beans and yellow beans- ready to be frozen or pickled.

The Summer Squash are super producing this year- so lovely and abundant.

Calendula Blossoms ready to get dried and used in body lotions and salves.

Fava Beans after their first shelling, ready to get boiled and shelled again. Yesterday was one of the first days we could actually spend most of the day outside, it was only 24 out and perfect.

Peas ready to be shelled- this is our second harvesting of the peas, and we're really enjoying them- though they are a lot of work to shell, N has got the hang of it though- her shelling just goes right into her mouth- but I'm not going to discourage it.

My 'Baby' in the stroller- she hasn't actually used the stroller for a while- but she's fascinated by it- and was pretending to be alternately a baby, and a puppy while sitting in it. She's gotten quite a bit bigger in the last little while, and has stopped answering to the term baby- insisting that she's a kid now. I'm really happy about that actually- I think it'll make it easier once the new baby comes.  Hope your week was great my Friends.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sewing: Camera Case

Last fall I bought myself a new camera- a Fugi- Finepix S- it's a bit bigger style- and has a neck strap- which I find to be a supreme annoyance, but I thought a wrist strap wouldn't quite do the trick as it's quite a big camera. I pondered over it for a while and then discovered that if I slung it over myself messenger bag style- diagonally that is- it stopped that stupid flopping that happened every time I leaned over- beaning my kid on the head more than once and generally making it awkward and hazardous to be around me, and, it also looked a bit cooler. 

So great- problem solved- but the strap was a bit short- making it sit somewhere closer to armpit height than the true waist hiegt I would like, and I remembered that most of my past cameras have been ruined by the lens getting grains of dirt and stuff in it, and seeing as how I usually take photos in dirty settings like a freshly rototilled garden, maybe it would be good to have some sort of cover for it. I thought and thought and finally decided to make a case that would strap onto the camera, and then hook onto the strap, so that I could let it hang from the strap while I took my pictures, and put it back in the lightly padded case while not in use.

I added a section to the shoulder of the strap, and drafted a case around the camera, it's a bit tough to get a picture of in use, but basically the top flap opens with a button, and the camera is sitting in a fitted pocket. The case is essentially attached to the camera at all times by a loop on the strap so I don't have to take it out and put it back every time I take a picture, and it hangs out of the way while I'm using the camera. I've been loving it so far- and it's reversable, and it's been holding up pretty well. It is by no means a completely safe camera case- I do have one of those, but it's not as convienient for around the house uses- but it does act a second layer of protection while the camera is in use- and it's not so bulky that I couldn't put the whole thing into my other camera bag.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sewing: Diapers

Pocket style diaper

that diaper in front says "little monster" all over it- so cute-
though the white background may prove to be a mistake...

the inside flannel lining of a pocket diaper

a diaper cover with fold over elastic trim, and gussets at the leg openings.
So folks- this baby is getting bigger and closer to coming out all the time- and I've sort of kicked myself in the butt and got a bit closer to finishing some sewing for the little tike. Though really it's sort of silly how little I've done when I compare what I made for N before she was born. But the fact is I still have all that stuff, and I don't really want to make more of the same, if I don't need it- though I do think that every baby should have something made just for them.

It's possibly a bit of a let down to know that most of the things I'm making especially for this kid will be pooped in- but well- let's just say that having a kid has made me a lot more aware of poop, and pee, and bodily functions in general. Really why doesn't anyone tell you that before you have kids? As far as I can tell it's the one universal thing about kids- you will be cleaning up their poop and pee for at least three years- probably more, and if you're not cleaning up the poop- you're talking about it- celebrating it when it's good, laughing when it's loud, trying to discourage public discussion of poop with others who are clearly uncomfortable discussing bodily functions.  But no... instead of people saying "just be prepared- your world views on poop and pee will drastically shift as soon as you have kids" people say "hug them a lot" and "enjoy them while they're young" and all that sort of thing, which is all true- but is less of a surprise than the way that you will feel totally comfortable peeing and pooping while talking with your child.

Anyways I digress... mostly I've made some cloth diapers for this babe, some brand new fresh ones that will be for it's bum alone. I made two diaper covers with waterproof PUL and gussets and Velcro, those will go over the flannel diapers I have- they're just the waterproof pants that go over the non waterproof diapers. I also made some pocket style diapers, which were actually easier to make- and I think easier to use as well- they have a waterproof layer, and an inside layer- with an opening in the back through which you place a soaker pad. I bought about 40 dollars worth of materials and ended up with 7 pocket diapers and 2 diaper covers- which is significantly cheaper than buying them- and they are seriously easy to make.

I made these in a size small- because I found that that size lasted the longest with N. I also found that the pocket diapers I used with N, were made with a fleece lining- because fleece is hydrophobic, it pulls the moisture away from the skin and into the soaker pad- but it was too harsh for my little girl- she ended up with a diaper rash when I didn't put a flannel liner in those diapers- so I made the inside of these pocket diapers with flannel- the first three I used really nice soft new flannel- and then I remembered the real purpose of these things, and used old flannel bedsheets for the others, which are great to have one had for diapers. I also made one with a terry cloth inside (read: old bath towel), so we'll see how that one stacks up. I just have to see if I have enough soaker pads for these guys, and If not make those up too- but really that's super easy- just sewing a few layers of absorbent material together and serging the edges.

For anyone who is thinking of cloth diapering but not sure if they should- I say you should try it- I really loved it- people undoubtedly think back to the old style diaper- with pins and folding etc. but today cloth diapers are like the Cadillac of diapering, with cute patterns and coloured Velcro. I found it so convenient not to have to worry about running about diapers- and not really that much more washing either. I did have some one say that they thought that it was actually harder on the environment by the time you factor in all the excess washing- but that argument doesn't really hold up. It's like saying it would be better to use disposable dishes because you wouldn't have to waste water washing them. If you're concerned about the extra energy consumption you should line dry your diapers- it'll also help clear up any stains. We certainly were not militant about using cloth- we used disposables in public, and overnight, but we figured that we were reducing the cost (financial and environmental), of diapering our kid, and that it was generally better for her, as well.

Also if you breastfeed- the poop is not a big deal- doesn't stain, doesn't smell, no problem. I always think back to when we told a new dad that we were planning on using cloth, and he said - no way once you see the poop you'll change your mind- the way the poop sprays up their backs- ugh. I always thought it was bit silly of him because really- disposable diapers don't make any less poop for you to deal with- and you get the extra bonus of smelling it in the garbage can when you take the garbage out (nothing smells worse than the disposable diaper you forgot was in the bottom of the garbage can for a week- nothing). Anyways, I will say that because cloth diapers are so much quicker to absorb the mess, there is usually very little 'poop up the back' syndrome with them- in my experience anyhow. And also if the hubby is a little wary of cloth diapers- get him to install a diaper sprayer on the toilet- it's a little gizmo that helps you to rinse the mess off the diaper into the toilet before you put it in the diaper pail. Nothing like a gadget to help a dad get into diapers.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lark Sparrows

the patch of Swiss chard that they have made into their home- from the top
it's quite well camouflaged

These Lark Sparrows have made a home out in our Swiss chard- a few weeks ago we were startled by the mama flying out as we went close to it, and looked in to see three tiny eggs! we were very surprised and N was totally delighted. We left them to their own devices and sure enough a few weeks after we first spotted them we were surprised to see the dad and the mom both fly out from the nest pretending to be injured- a sure sign of hatchlings.  They stayed close by while we checked out the babes, and we were happy to see two little ones, looking for food. They are pretty well hidden, and N wanted to do something for them so we put out a little bird bath in a patch of flowers nearby, and have so far convinced her to leave them alone. They are growing really well- and quickly. we're looking forward to seeing these grow. Even though it may put off our Swiss chard harvest!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Oh how I love the drama of a back lit photo- I know it's a bit overdone, maybe, and not the best for details- but atmosphere, oh my! I think that it works for gardens the best honestly and something heavily veined like a beet leaf or Swiss chard, looks like something so special- when in regular lighting it looks like nothing much.  And I love sunspots- cliche though they may be, in some photos they just look right.

Monday, July 16, 2012

In bloom

Fava Beans

Purple Royalty Beans

Sweet pink Bachelor's Buttons


I found this Bee sleeping in this Blossom one night- do bees sleep?
I've seen several more resting in flowers since then

Bright Lights Swiss Chard

 Things are moving along really well in the garden, in spite of the dry weather we've been having, it seems to be raining enough to keep stuff going, though it does dry out super fast. Here are some of the pictures I've been taking out there, I say some because I have photos for about 4 blog posts backed up in files- and I just never seem to get them onto the blog itself. I don't quite know where the time is going.

I've been doing a fair bit of sewing, and I keep meaning to take photos of those projects, but I don't seem to get to it. Ah well- life is life, Lately I've become obsessed with the fact that it's too hot to cook anything- and so I want to bake things very badly, in the way that when you tell a child not to do something it becomes nearly impossible to resist. Also I have a big list of food I'd like to have in my freezer for after the baby comes, I tend to hoard homemade food while I'm pregnant I guess? so anyways- I'm trying to whittle away at that list, and get my baby sewing done, and I also made myself a couple of huge cotton dresses so that I can be comfortable in the heat without wearing a toga made of bedsheets.

I promise to spew out some more photos this week, and to set up some more posts- hope you're all doing well in the heat of summer.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Garlic Harvest

I can't remember if I posted this photo of scapes- looking at my record of posting latley I think not
here's what the scapes looked like when we cut them and ate them in pasta a few weeks ago
they were super delicious, and really cool looking.

the brown lower leaves and tips of the plants.

the larger white papered bulb is a hardneck variety- and the other smaller reddish bulbs are from
the store bought eating garlic- which proved to be a softneck variety (no scapes).

The other day I noticed the garlic looked a bit rough- like it was drying out- so I got to google and checked out when to harvest garlic and it turns out that when the bottom leaves dry out it's ready to harvest. We were skeptical- I thought it would take longer to grow, so we dug up one plant and sure enough it was ready.

We planted it in the fall some bought as garlic for seed Hardneck varieties that would produce nice scapes- and some just leftover garlic we had bought too much of (most of the garlic in the stores is soft necked varieties- which keep longer than hardneck) - both grew pretty nice sized bulbs, nothing huge, but it is a very dry year I imagine they could have grown bigger-or maybe for a longer time- if we'd been more diligent about watering.

At any rate I suppose they did have a good two month growing season as they were up early this spring in April. I can't wait to try them and see if they've got any strength to them. The next step is drying them, they need a three to four week cure period before they gain flavour and store for any length of time- they need to be kept dry and somewhat cool with good ventilation and low humidity- which will be interesting to try to achieve in this weather.  I'll keep you posted about how they taste when they're done curing, but for now it's nice to have some sort of harvesting done early, very rewarding.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Yes, there is my fair haired daughter out without a hat on- she's stubborn about that-
so we try to indulge her hatlessness at times of day when the sun is least hot-
 early morning and late evening.

This year it seems that watering is one of our main jobs, though after we watered the summer squash it did rain about an inch- the soil is still pretty dry considering- we were able to weed the evening after it rained. Though I have to say things are looking really good out there- everything does well with enough heat I guess, and if we can manage to keep the garden watered then we'll have a really great year I think.  Watering is also one of N's favorite jobs, especially when she's allowed to get mucky and then clean up at the sprinkler (then go inside and have a real clean up in the tub).

We invested in a 50 gallon water tank this spring that fits on the back of the 'gator and then gravity feeds out a hose. It's a slow process, first filling it and then letting it down low enough to gravity feed, and because there's no pressure it takes a little while to empty- and you have to move the hose to each plant, and move the 'gator up the row as you go. But it's better than nothing- we also have a good sprinkler head- but it's obviously not as selective as the hose, so you end up putting water on the pathways as well as the plants, and it's a bit of a waste of water in certain spots, though fine in others, like the winter squash and strawberry patch.

What I'd really love out there is a complicated irrigation system with sprinklers and soaker hoses, depending on the crop, but that's a little bit much right now. One day maybe. We already do what we can as far as not watering, the garden is located in the lowest spot in our yard, so it retains the most moisture- and this is the first year that we've really had to consider watering- mostly there's enough residual water there to make it through any dry patches we have. We also mulch the things that don't create their own cover (onions, peppers, eggplants, strawberries, garlic etc.)- and plant others close enough together so that they do provide their own shade, (things like beans and greens are planted in a block rather than a single row) so that they grow up and out compete weeds, and shade the ground helping to keep moisture in. We plant things in as deep as we can as well things- to let it get at the water under the soil.