It is Time…

Thank you…but I must move on.

No, no, no…maybe thank you, but after having my second baby and moving into the commercial side of blogging I realize there is no time left for my fanciful ideas of living wreaths and children’s pottery while playing the flute in the garden?!

 

Yes! ? That about sums it up!

But in all seriousness, thank you. This experience has opened my eyes to writing and writing fast. It has allowed me the opportunity to forgive my mistakes and move on…a valuable lesson if I ever plan on completing a thesis!

If you are serious about edible gardens, please feel free to follow me on my new adventure…

http://edibles.kinja.com/

 

…here I plan on talking a lot less about my personal experiences and more about edible food movements throughout the country.

Until then!

 

 

Crafting with Leaves

crafting with leavesIn the heartland we are in the midst of Fall. The leaves have turned and the petioles have released from the stem sending a blanket of leaves to ground. Yet, somewhere among the beautifully depicted Nebraska Fall, a gust of wind has brought bone-chilling temperatures more reminiscent of Winter.

These last two weeks have felt like a slow demise toward Winter. Our outdoor activity time has been put on hold. Our walks, even the short ones around the block, nonexistent. The only saving grace, you do not have to wait too long for the temperatures to shift 20 degrees or so in either direction. And the last two days have finally proven to be play worthy.

As with most of our outdoor time this season, it is cut short due to cold toddler fingers. Playing with the texture and admiring the color of the damp leaves turns fun to meltdown in a split second. However, instead of dumping the yellow basket of leaves, we brought the activity time indoors and created our first montage.

With a pile of leaves dumped on the table, two paint brushes and Mod Podge, we set out to create…well, we did not know what! maya and the leaves insideAlthough the leaves and brushes held her fascination, it was not until I pulled a Parents magazine from the recycle bin that Maya truly started to help. As I ripped pages, Maya would grab one and say, “Baby!”…so the baby made it in the collage. And of course, cookies were a hot topic as well…

The final result is a crazy mixture of photos, leaves, words, and flower petals. montageOf course the glue has to dry…right now the baby looks like it has had a lot of milk to drink! Although I am contemplating creating Christmas tree ornaments out of the concoction, I have to admit, this was a lot of fun. It was relaxing for me and the whole process held my toddler’s attention for about an hour! Not bad for a Friday mid-morning activity.

Next Week: Birthday Bulbs, a Family Tradition

birthday bulbsNovember brings Thanksgiving, turkey, and …. the start of Christmas contemplation. But, for our family, November also brings the month of birthdays with two brother-in-laws, one sister, my mom and myself included. In our family, November is a mini-Christmas.

Thankfully, I come from a family of garden fanatics. Therefore, I have the pleasure of thinking about what I would want as a gift!

Bulbs!

 

Join me next week as I talk about my favorite bulbs and favorite family gift…the Alliums!

Seed Collecting

seed packetsCollection and storage of seeds can increase your plant inventory tenfold. Plus, it allows you to continually purchase new plants for your garden instead of spending money on the same plant you love year after year.

Seeds can be collected straight from the garden, but with a mixture of rainy days compounded with non-ripened seeds, deadheading and drying is an excellent alternative.

Steps for Collection

  • Create packets to house your seeds. (I modified a packet template from Fine Gardening)
  • Deadhead selected plants from your garden
  • Dry your cuttings
  • Collect seeds when they fall from your cuttings with a simple tap. (I tapped my cuttings in a kitchen strainer for finer seeds such as Basil Red Rubin. This reduced the amount of plant debris to pick through.)
  • Place seeds in packets and label accordingly.
  • Store in a dry, cool environment for optimal results. (My seed packets are housed in an old mason jar.)

Here in our garden, the last few weeks have been devoted to collecting plants for alternative methods of propagation. For me, there is something therapeutic about renewing plant life when the garden is about to go dormant. Earlier in my gardening life, I dreamt of living in a coastal climate where the vegetation was in a perpetual state of green motion.

Collecting seeds creates the continuum I would take for granted if I lived in a warmer zone. I can rest easy knowing the Euphorbia I fell in love with for the first time this year are quietly tucked away in a glass jar of collected treasures. And when I am pouring over seed catalogs mid January, I will be happily looking to add to my already growing collection of plants and seeds.

seed jar

Design Solution for Drying Herbs and Collecting Seeds

As winter and the birth of our second child approaches, I am overcome with an urge to hibernate. Hunkering underneath a pile of blankets, snuggled next to our greyhound sounds like the perfect way to spend these crisp afternoons while Maya, our first child dreams her nap away.

In an attempt to fight these natural instincts (while I still can) and side-step Mother Nature, I decided to deadhead some of my plants a little early and dry them inside the house. Normally, I would wait a little longer until the seeds were ready to be tapped out of their encasings.

basil collected when dried

Basil seeds collected straight from the garden when the seeds are dried enough to be tapped out. In this case, onto a plastic lid.

But the majority of my seeds are not quite ready for harvesting.

I will have to admit, I have seen a lot of cool herb drying racks on the market, but neither did I want to wait for an item to be shipped to our house, nor did I want to spend the money. Instead, I decided to use an old curtain rod that was left here when we bought the house. Although it is not quite my style, I was quite pleased with the look of the rod once the herbs and collected seeds were secured.

A view of the repurposed curtain rod from above.

A view of the repurposed curtain rod from above.

As you can see, it was also time to bring the succulent chicken feeder inside. Last night, areas of Nebraska were predicting patchy frost and although we did not get hit, some of the succulents were starting to look a little peaked.

We also decided to bring the cabinet made by my grandfather in from the garage. There is still one piece of glass missing and although I had a whole design idea behind the repurposing of this unit, right now I am liking the old school charm it brings to our dining room.

Sitting at the dining room table composing my thoughts, I look up to see my greyhound, snuggled under a pile of blankets. For a moment I sigh and think about the last hour I could have been sleeping. But as I take a breath, I am happily overcome with the strong scent of basil, tarragon, and parsley. I am reminded of the rewards my work will produce this winter in savory homemade dishes as well as the bountiful supply of new plants that will emerge from the collected seeds. This reward is better than any sleepy-time dream!

Halloween Puppy Costume for your Toddler: part II

puppy half way completeLast week, the puppy costume was done, minus the collar, tail, and ears. Today’s post is very instructional-based and will walk though three quick tutorials for you to create a puppy dog costume. Be sure to check out Halloween Puppy Costume for your Toddler: part I for last week’s process.

The Collar:

For the collar I used scraps of red fabric left over from the 4th of July, stitch witchery to adhere the fabric, and a dog tag we labeled in a tag machine at our local humane society.collar process

  1. Place trace paper over the t-shirt portion of the costume. Mark out the neck of the shirt and the thickness of the collar.
  2. Cut around your collar pattern and pin to the fabric.
  3. Cut the fabric to match the pattern.
  4. Use stitch witchery to adhere the collar to the t-shirt. You will iron on the collar.
  5. Step 5 shows the red collar attached to the costume.
  6. Sew the dog tag to the collar.

I repeated steps 1 through 5 for the backside of the costume.

The Tail:

For the tail I used a 5 peg loom and the same white yarn that was used to make the body. For directions on how to loom knit, please see Halloween Puppy Costume for your Toddler: part I.tail process

  1. Loom knit the tail. (For loom knitting instructions, please refer to Halloween Puppy Costume for your Toddler: part I)
  2. To complete the tail, tie just a few pieces of yarn to the end as well as a bow from the same fabric as the collar and attach to the back of the costume with the extra yarn used in the beginning of the loom process.
  3. Front view of the attached tail.
  4. Back view of the attached tail.

The Ears:

The ears consisted of grey felt, 2 pipe cleaners, stitch witchery, a headband, leftover brown yarn and red fabric.ears process

  1. Fold the felt in half and cut out the ears. This will allow you to wrap the ear around the headband.
  2. Unfold the felt ears and place the headband on the fold line. Wrap a pipe cleaner around the headband leaving a large loop. The pipe cleaners will allow you to bend the ears later.
  3. Place stitch witchery between the ears and iron in place.
  4. The felt ears on Maya.
  5. Hand stitch extra yarn around the ears, both front and back. Tie bows out of left over collar fabric and hand stitch into place.

Now all we need is Halloween! Well, we still have to carve our pumpkins and buy lots and lots of candy for the neighborhood trick-or-treat stampede…but at least Maya is all decked out! Stay tuned for Halloween photos!

Next Week: Halloween Puppy Costume for your Toddler: part II & A Design Solution for Drying Herbs and Collecting Seeds

Next week, please join me as I finalize Maya’s Halloween puppy costume and explore a cost-effective design solution for drying herbs and collecting seeds.next weekUntil then…have a great weekend.

Halloween Puppy Costume for your Toddler: Part 1

puppy loveIf your little one is anything like mine, an obsession with puppies consumes a good portion of their day. On most mornings, Maya greets us from her crib, not with a “mommy” or “daddy”. Instead, “puppy” is the first word from our still sleepy little one.

I am afraid this is not a fad. Over the last few months, the intensity of puppy love has dramatically increased. When we go for walks around the neighborhood, she stops and stares at the houses with dogs. Thirty seconds….one minute…finally, at two minutes I try to coax her out of her dog coma by stomping my feet in marching fashion saying, “walk, walk, walk?” I am sure it is a sight to see from the inside of my neighbor’s homes!

For Halloween, it just made sense for her to be a puppy. But, as I scoured stores and online for the perfect little Halloween costume, I realized I was in trouble. The costumes were either too pink poodle for our little hippy gardener, or too big bulky boy dog.

spiderLast year, Maya was a spider. It was a last minute find on Craigslist and it was very bulky. Even though she was the cutest spider I had ever seen…I think she secretly hated it, calling a halt to Halloween at 6 PM.

With a mother’s wish for a comfortable, cute, and happy daughter, I set out on a mission to create the perfect Halloween puppy.

Afterthoughts for me….Forethoughts for you

Of course, I did not create the perfect Halloween puppy…

  • Outfit functionality should have also been on my wish list. I did not think about how Maya would get into the costume.
  • I chose to construct the body with a 30 peg loom. Although it fits, I could have chosen a larger loom for more wiggle room.
  • A simple brown yarn would have sufficed.  What I chose was too difficult to work with for this project.

Materials

  • 30 peg loom
  • Knifty Knitter hook
  • Plastic kntting needle
  • Bernat Baby Blanket yarn, white
  • Red Heart Boutique Swerve yarn, browns

The Process

trial body

Maya modeling the knitted puppy body. At this point, the outfit is lifeless.

  1. Using a 30 peg loom, construct the body. (I used the directions from the Knifty Knitter starter kit.)
  2. Tie a slip knot and secure it to the anchor peg.
  3. Cast on (or start knitting) by ewrapping the pegs.
  4. Continue ewrapping until you have two loops on each peg.
  5. Using the Knifty Knitter hook, lift the first row of yarn over the second and off the peg. Repeat this process for each peg until you are left with a single row.
  6. Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 until you reach the desired length for your little one. (I used one of my daughter’s shorter dresses for a frame of reference.)
  7. Bind off the last row by cutting the yarn long enough to circle the loom. Thread the yarn with a plastic knitting needle and slip the yarn through each of the final loops of yarn.
  8. Remove your puppy creation from the loom.
  9. Attach a t-shirt or onesie to the body of the puppy by hand sewing the two pieces together directly under the armpit. (I started with a onesie, as shown in the image to the right, but ended up scrapping it and going with a t-shirt for more room.)

But a Puppy is Fluffy…

To achieve the fluffy, spotted puppy look, attach 4″ to 5″ pieces of white and brown yarn to each knitted loop on the body using the plastic knitting needle.

Next week I will share the steps to complete the puppy look with ears, collar, and tail. Stay Tuned!

Decorating a Fall Wreath for Free

Maya and I go for walks quite often throughout the week. On the majority of our walks, a little piece of nature will inevitably find its way home with us. A seed head or two of bromegrass collected from the fringe of a golf course, acorns scattered in the median underneath oaks, and of course, fallen leaves for Maya’s enjoyment.

But when Maya said “thank you” every time she stopped to pick up an acorn, or affectionately giggled as she renamed the common Bromegrass to “tickles”, she inevitably perked my imagination. Why not take these items and create something together?

Our first stop, the local park. With mature oaks, pines, and sycamore trees, I knew we would hit a gold mine of nature underneath our feet…or, stroller.

In the park, a Bur oak offered a blanket of acorns so thick it was difficult to navigate the stroller, let alone Maya’s 19 month old legs. After collecting a handful, we strolled on to a Scotch pine where cinnamon-grey bark had exfoliated from the tree. The bark resembled puzzle pieces in one of Maya’s jumbo puzzles…hence the fascination! A stand of sycamores was the last stop on our journey. This one was my choice. I cannot get enough of the peeling, tan bark.

With our nature treasure in tow, we headed home.

At Maya’s age, building the wreath fell to my hands while she sat playing with the piles of bark and acorns. Using an old grapevine wreath for the foundation, I began hot gluing bark and acorns in swaths. Halfway through the process, I decided the wreath needed a little color variation from our garden. The fall blooms of Autumn Joy Sedum seemed the most logical choice.

The process was simple, fast, and free. The only shortcoming, seeing hot glue residue. If I were to do this wreath over or rework it, I would add some moss as filler to hide the glue.

But overall, I am enjoying the simple touch of fall the wreath adds to our door and porch. wreath

Next Week: Fall Decorating for Free & How to Make a Halloween Puppy Costume for your Little One.

On Tuesday…..Fall Decorating for Free

I am excited to reveal my no-cost solution for decorating your door for the fall season. Please join me as I walk you through collecting natural elements in a local park. This is a fun activity for your little ones as well.Nature Wreath

On Thursday…How to Make a Halloween Puppy Costume for Your Little Ones

Join me as I take a break from the garden to knit my daughter’s Halloween costume. That is right, I said knit! This simple project was my first re-attempt at knitting. The only other knitting project on my crafty resume was knitting a single row during my grade school days with my mother. (What I am saying is if I can do it…so can you!)Puppy Dog Costume in the MakingUntil then, happy gardening!