Thursday, May 21, 2009

Entirely Edible

Week of May 10 through 16

Our bell pepper plant is budding with a recognizable baby pepper shape. This tiny wrinkled pepper appeared over the course of just three days.

I was finally able to facilitate some squash sex! Sadly, "Let's Get It On" was not playing, and I didn't have time to light any candles. I'm sure the squash mating was still a sight to see as I straddled the newly opened male and female blooms wearing a black dress and stiletto heels, with a towel wrapped around my wet hair while I transferred pollen between the flowers with a Q-tip. That's hot. The squash plants that once had their sexuality in question are now growing three healthy babies.

Our tomatoes keep getting bigger and bigger, and recently a new crop of flowers has popped out near the top of our plants. With any luck, those flowers will produce massive tomatoes like the ones we already have.

The herbs are also doing well. They need to be transplanted into a larger container so that they can continue to grow, but with The Husband out of the country, they will have to wait another week.

Every day I am amazed by the growth in our garden. I will never tire of the little miracles I see in our plants.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Forgotten Foliage

Week of May 10 through 16

We have been so excited with the recent development of our tomatoes and beans, that some of the other fruits and flowers in our landscape have gone unmentioned for weeks. I begging foliage-forgiveness here as I post about our left out leafage.

My Dad planted blackberry bushes for us back in April. At first, they looked like dead sticks poking up from the ground. Recently, the canes have sprouted leaves, and now they look more like fruit-bearing shrubs, and less like something out of The Blair Witch Project.

The flower bed in our front yard has burst forth with color. We built and planted this bed more than eight weeks ago, and I have been remiss in not posting about how absolutely beautiful is has become.

Also beautiful is the small bed by the sidewalk to our front door that The Husband planted, in the rain, by himself, the same weekend we built our garden. The ornamental peppers in that bed have grown into gorgeous textural treats for my eyes, and I smile every time I pull into our driveway and see them and our bright red geraniums.

8 weeks ago


Monday, May 18, 2009

A Surfeit of Sewing

Week of May 10 through 16

While The Husband has been gone, I have indulged myself by spending hours in my craft room. Sewing is my favorite pass-time and I love to have projects to occupy myself with. The Husband has noted on many occasions how cheerful and contented I seem after I have spent my leisure time sewing. Sewing seems to squelch The Crazy, and since my time hasn't been otherwise occupied by wifely duties, I have had plenty of time this week for textile therapy.

May means graduation, so I spent some time embroidering towels for friends who are walking the stage. I think embroidered towels are the perfect high school graduation gift. Your new roommate in the dorm can't accidentally confuse your towel for theirs when they need to clean up the beer they spill.

I also embroidered a diaper cover for a sorority sister who recently had a baby boy. On second thought, personalized underwear might make a good dorm gift for future college students, too.

This weekend was the annual Alumni Brunch for my sorority and, since my mom was hostessing, I made a new tablecloth and napkins for her for the occasion. I used my ruffler foot to create a 2-inch pleated ruffle around the edge of the tablecloth, and my serger to make a fabric ribbon accent that coordinated with the napkins. I serged the edges of the napkins, then added a kite applique with my embroidery machine.

Around Our House Next Week: More sewing!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pickin' Beans

Week of May 3 through 9

Note that these pictures were taken with the same antique digital camera as those from the previous post, and thus have a distinct smurf-like hue.

This week was another week of astounding growth in our garden. Our bell pepper plants each grew a foot taller and produced tons of little white blossoms. Our tomato plants shot up another foot and are now threatening to poke out of the top of their cages. They have also produced quite a few more yellow flowers, and the fruit on the vine continues to grow larger and more plump.

The tiny beans of the previous week matured so quickly that the weight of the pods started to pull the plants toward the ground. In one week the beans grew from about an inch long to almost six inches long. Totally amazing.

I decided that it was time to pick the larger beans. The Parents told me that if I waited too long to harvest the pods, that they would become tough and stringy. I had hoped that I would be able to wait until The Husband returned from his business trip so that we could cut our first crop together, but I didn't want to risk our beans' deliciousness!

I carefully picked about half of our crop, and left the smaller beans on the bushes to mature for another week. This first harvest yielded 1 pound 6 ounces of yummy, fresh green beans.

After I trimmed the ends from the pods, I blanched the beans in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then immediately transferred them to the freezer. I can't wait for The Husband to come home so that we can enjoy our fresh picked green beans together!

That Fresh Paint Smell

Week of May 3 through 9

Before I get to the whole paint thing, I have to apologize for the very poor quality of the pictures this week. I accidentally left the charger for my SLR at The Parent's house leaving me no way to recharge when poor Roxie's battery died. I was forced, against my will, to take pictures with a digital camera from 1998. A camera with such low resolution that my 1GB card will hold 1200 "high quality" pictures. This crisis could have been averted had The Husband been home. We could have used his point and shoot. Unfortunately, he is in the desert, taking 8 megapixel pictures of camels. My pictures look like camels, but that is just because they are fuzzy, grainy, poorly lit and unfocused. They very well could be of The Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot doing the conga while UFOs fly overhead, and no one would know the difference.

Since The Husband is on a business trip in Oman, I decided that this week would be the perfect time to paint our bedroom. Mostly because The Husband hates to paint. I, on the other hand, love the smell of paint fumes in the morning. I find painting to be very satisfying. One minute the wall is one color, then shwoop-shwoop-shwoop and it is another. I like the careful preparation of taping and filling holes, and I love the efficient smoosh of the roller. I think The Crazy contributes to my enjoyment. What some would find tedious and dull, I find to be perfectly pleasant and relaxing. I like neat and orderly, and painting is nothing if not precise.

I started by patching three holes in the drywall. One hole was the size of a light switch and was left when we removed the old alarm system keypad. The other two holes were larger, each about the size of a sheet of paper, and were left by the plumber who fixed our bathtub before we moved in. Apparently, one gaping hole in the wall just wasn't enough for him. Instead of repairing the cuts he made, he covered the hole with a pop-in plastic cover. It was remarkably unattractive and an oh-so-lazy solution, much like the plumber himself.

First, I used screws to attach paint stir sticks to the inside of the drywall around the holes. Then, I cut patches of drywall to size, and used the stir sticks as braces to hold the drywall patches in place and to prevent them from falling into the wall cavity. Next, I filled the cracks with drywall plaster. I should have also used drywall tape. Sadly, the plumber's laziness seeped into my consciousness while I was working, and I felt little to no desire to make a trip to the store.

While the plaster dried, I taped the baseboards and crown moulding with painter's tape. Four hours later, when the plaster was finally dry, I sanded the whole area smooth with our random orbit sander. If you do not own an random orbit sander, I recommend that you immediately get in your car, drive to your nearest home improvement center, and purchase the first one that makes you weak in the knees. I have used ours to polish brass. Need I say more?

I chose the paint color to coordinate with the medium taupe tone in our duvet. The color is Sherwin Williams 6080 Utterly Beige. (The fourth color from the top). I debated for a few days between 6080 and the color one shade lighter on the paint chip card. I ultimately decided on Utterly Beige because it seemed a little more cozy, and because the word "utterly" cracks me up.
It certainly is not the most exciting or dramatic paint job in our house. In fact, it is hardly a change in color. We want our bedroom to be calm and relaxing, to contrast with the more energizing colors we have in our bathroom. I think this fresh paint achieves that, and leaves us plenty of leeway for bold accessories.



Our bedroom is slowly but surely being transformed into the master retreat we've been wanting. The quilt that The Husband gave me for our anniversary is a beautiful addition to our room. In the next few weeks I will be making draperies to replace our horrible mini-blinds and a few coordinating bedding accents for our room, as well. I also have some artwork that I need to have framed so that our walls aren't so bare. It is a work in progress, but it is coming together, and the new paint brings us one step closer.

Around Our House Next Week: Sew crafty

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fruits and Flowers

Week of April 26 through May 2

Our yard and our garden are bursting with life and color. Our plants have been spoiled by the rain and the 80 degree weather of the last week. I don't know how I'm going to explain to them that last week was a fluke. Generally, it is dryer and hotter. Much hotter.

Our garden continues to amaze me. It is such a joy to witness the new developments. In the last week our tomato plants have shot up and entire foot, the tiny purple blooms on our bean plants have produced tiny green beans, and our bell pepper plant set fruit from one of its little white flowers.

The fruit on our tomato plants has continued to grow larger, as has our one lone squash. We've had a bit of trouble getting the squash blossoms fertilized. I think our squash may be gay. We've had two male flowers open, then whither, just one day before two female blossoms opened. So far, we haven't had the right combination of male and female blossoms open at the same time. As soon as we can get the boys and girls mingling though, we'll be out in the yard lighting mood candles and blasting Barry White music.

Quite a few nights this week, The Husband and I have sat out on the patio after work, sipping wine and enjoying the beauty of our yard. The colorful blooms on our celosia, gardenia, geraniums and hydrangeas are intoxicating. This is the payoff for the hours of work we've put into our yard, and we couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Creepy Crawlies

Week of April 26 through May 2

In one day, 11 inches of rain fell in our area. Things were very gushy. Now, after the puddles have dried and the plants have soaked up all the moisture from the ground, our yard and our garden are bursting forth with life. And not just plants. In the last week I have seen more creatures in our yard than I ever have before.

The day after the Big Rain, I was inspecting our yard and garden for any storm damage when I noticed that Gidget was particularly enthralled with something on our patio. Gidget is a very prudent pouncer, prefering not to waste her precious energies on anything as pedestrian as a grasshopper or house fly, so to see her so mesmerized by something meant it had to be good. When I reached the concrete pad, I saw her gently pat-pat-patting a frog. She would reach out her paw and gingerly touch the frog's bottom, then immediately withdraw her paw and watch the frog take one quick jump forward. Then ever-so-gently she would reach out and pat the frog again. The unlikely playmates circled the patio at least twice, pat-hop-pat-hop, and Gidget never got rough with the frog and the frog never took more than one small jump forward. If I could speak Cat, I know Gidget would have told me that this, this, was the best toy she'd ever had.

Where Gidget is positively bored, Gizmo finds all things that flutter, flap or twitch to be facinating. She is constantly streaking across the yard to attack the wind. Every movement in the grass and every rustle in the trees deserves her full and uninterrupted attention. It is exhasuting to watch her in action. She was recently captivated by a dragonfly when she noticed that I was interested in taking its picture, but got a little disoriented when it flew from our garden to the boxwood shrubs along the fence.

The Husband noticed that something had been chewing on the bell pepper plants and on our lemon tree. We assumed it was slugs, but he couldn't find any to prove our theory. Finally, after much investigation, and many overturned leaves, he found a centipede. Apparently, centipedes are very rare in our neck of the woods, at least according to the expert at our local garden center.

In case you were wondering, that centipede is sitting on a leaf on my kitchen table. Mere millimeters away from insect-ifying the place where we eat. The Husband staged and took this horrifying photo (without my knowledge), and will be hearing from my lawyers when he returns from his latest trip to the Middle East. Bugs placed purposefully on the table. Barf.

Aside from trying to induce insect related vomiting in his wife, The Husband did manage to solve the centipede issue by sprinkling powdery insecticide in the garden. I refused to go anywhere near the backyard while he was sprinkling for centipedes because, according to The Husband, "there were millions of them crawling out from in-between the rocks." Now imagine that phrase uttered with as much excitement as if hundred dollar bills were raining from the sky. Boys. According to the garden expert, this sprinkling had to be done at night, and while he was outside in the dark The Husband found two more garden-munching culprits.

Snails are cute and slugs look like snot. I don't know why I differentiate between tiny, slimy, antennaed, night-crawlers, but I find one adorable and one disgusting.

All creatures great and small, the Good Lord made them all.

Around Our House Next Week: Painting and Sewing while The Husband is away on business (again!)