Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer's end approaching

What a blessed week we have had. After temps in the 100* range, we are now getting a break from the heat and lots of rain. My garden is very appreciative. After a slow start with the garden, I now have my fall garden being planted so we will have a harvest in October & November. My beans are sprouting and the zucchini are in bloom. My winter squash seedlings are nearly ready for transplanting.

I have been canning tomatoes. I simply dice them and add a bit of salt & water to the jars before processing. I then use them through out the winter in my homemade soups & such. The tomatoes are nearly done, so I will be able to start working on something else soon.

Beloved and I are finishing up clearing out things we no longer find a need to have. This has been a long process. We found a local charity that will take everything we don't need. Each week, he will be taking boxes of items to them. We are starting to see the end of this task and are looking forward to it being done.

It is hard to believe that we are beginning the process of preparing for winter already. I am working on making quilt blocks to assemble once the weather is cool enough to not get overheated while having the quilt in my lap. I don't have a hoop or frame, so I am planning to quilt as I go and then assemble the quilt on the treadle once all blocks are finished. This method allows me to use the sashing to assemble the blocks.

I have started cutting out some training pants for Micah. I am going to be making 2 styles. Once being pull on and the other having snaps on the side. I am considering using the snap style instead of diapers. I am going to try a couple of pair of them to see how it works out before making him a large batch of them. Funny to think that I am already working on these for him. He is walking really good finally. He still is working on gaining the confidence to let go, but we can see he is nearly ready to do so.

I have been working on my monthly menus to allow for a cooler weather menu. This means lots of soups and stews. I am going to start canning them soon to stock the pantry. Beloved enjoys taking jars of it to work for his lunch and so I try to keep them available.

My next project is working on more holiday items. Decorations and gifts are needing to be made or finished. I am hoping to be stocking the tote soon with finished projects.

Lots to do and I am happiest when busy, so it works out very well. I find that I don't like to be idle for very long. That is one of the aspects of our lifestyle that I enjoy most! There is always something to be done.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


As some of you may already know, I am preschooling Abbie at home. She has been very interested in the garden plants so I helped her make a little book about the growing cycle of a pea plant. I had some extra garden seeds and she chose the acorn squash. We placed a damp paper napkin in a baggie with 3 seeds placed on the towel. The baggie was taped to the kitchen window.

Over the next week, Abbie excitedly watched and kept checking the seeds to look for changes. On Tuesday this week, the seeds had sprouted and grown so much that they were ready for planting. We carefully planted each seedling in a small container to allow it to continue growing before it is placed in the garden. By Thanksgiving, we will have fresh acorn squash to add to the meal.

I find it amazing to watch her excitement as she explores the world around her. There is so much that we have available for her to learn from. Helping care for her kittens, the garden, and playing with her little brother all are so educational for her - as well as fun. I try to make each situation as fun as possible for her. Granted, there will come a time when she won't find them to be fun, but for now we are enjoying doing things together.

We have begun a ministry making charity quilts that we will distribute this fall. I am doing the sewing, then once the quilts are assembled, we will work as a family to tie the quilts & finish them. This will provide another opportunity for Abbie. At 3 yrs old, she is old enough to teach how to tie the yarn into a knot. We can use the needle & thread the yarn through the quilt, then let Abbie help tie it off. It is important to us to allow her (and later Micah) to take part in the project.

I am already planning to have a small garden area set aside for Abbie next spring. A raised bed that she can easily reach and care for. It will have the kinds of veggies that she enjoys snacking on, such as cherry tomatoes. I find that the more I have her with me as I go about my tasks, the more she wants to help and take part. In teaching good work ethics to children, this is a critical time. The more I allow her to help now, the better her work ethics will be later on. Of course there are times when her efforts make the task take longer, but the rewards are priceless.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thinking Ahead

Greetings! During all these very warm - 108*F. yesterday - days of summer, my thoughts are already on the cooler days of winter. I have been giving thought to the holiday season. Before you think I am silly for thinking of the holidays so early, let me explain.

Nearly any gift given is handmade. This requires that I think ahead and plan early. Many of the gifts involve sewing. This year it seems that quilts are the ones desired most. There are also other smaller gifts that I am sewing or crocheting.

Another reason for planning ahead is to prepare decorations. I am wanting to make seasonal table linens - placemats, cloth napkins, and potholders. Another decoration that I am working on is coming up with a handmade ornament for each of us. I am wanting to have the tradition for the children of having a new ornament each year to commemorate the year.

Making the gifts can seem a daunting task if left late in the season. By planning ahead, you can take more time to enjoy the process. I love making the gifts. As I work on each item, I am thinking of that person. It is a very personal thing. Handmade gifts can be as simple or as detailed as you choose. Everything from making bath items to artwork. You are only limited by your talent and time. When making gifts instead of buying them, you have the additional blessing of a less frazzled holiday season.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nearly Free Garden Fence

Greetings! In a previous post, I spoke of my husband using wooden shipping crates as raised garden beds. Well, here is an idea that we are implementing.

We get the shipping crates free from a business in town that receives their manufacturing supplies in them. Normally, the business would burn the crates so they are happy to have us take them off their hands. Another free item that we get are old wooden pallets. We are setting up the border of the garden with alternating pallets & crates. The crates help to stabilize the pallets to make a very strong fence to keep wildlife and errant livestock from eating the garden's vegetable plants.

The pallets serve both as fence material and can be used as a trellis to support climbing plants or those such as tomatoes that need the support. The crates serve as raised garden beds as well as compost bins. Once we have the entire perimeter of the garden fenced with the pallets and crates, we will be adding rows of crates inside the garden for next year's planting.

The wood is weather treated so it will last a long time before needing replaced. The crates are tall enough (waist high) that we can easily tend the garden without getting sore. The height is great also for keeping many of the smaller animals such as rabbits away from the plants. If we run out of crates, we can easily make some using 4 pallets held together with metal strapping & screws.

Is this a rustic method, certainly. It is a wonderful way to recycle the materials though as well as provide excellent protection to the garden at very low cost. Our fencing & crates are costing us only the price of the screws used to attach the pallets to the crates and the time & fuel used to bring the materials home.

We are filling the crates about 2/3 full of old hay as a filler before adding the soil. In future years we will only need to ammend the soil by adding compost or other materials to fortify the soil. In all, it is a very easy method that will serve us well for many years to come.