Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Holidays

The carrots and hay are on the porch, ready to feed those hard working reindeer and the dollhouse is finished!

I am happy to say we were able to slide it in beside the tree- finished.  No letters from Santa indicating how busy the elves had been this year and how they just didn't have time to get it all done.  The paint was even dry! I have to say this was a very satisfying project.  It might have been a bit less stressful if I had allowed some more time for completion.  I had trouble getting the roof angles right and that proved frustrating but in the end, I learned a thing or two.  1)It would do me good to have the right tools and save a lot of time.  2) Paint and caulk are indispensable for um creating that "finished" look.  The dolls and furniture came from Target and fit nicely with the scale.  I would definitely do it again and would recommend the project to anyone.  I am comfortable using tools but am definitely not a finish carpenter. I still felt like the project still turned out nice.  I am going to enjoy watching my daughter play with it possibly more than she will enjoy the play. Total lumber cost was about $50.00.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa's Work

A dollhouse seemed to be the perfect gift for a four year old this holiday.  Could of been that she cut 12 different ones out of the newspaper to let us know.... she is not so subtle.  After pricing a few we decided we could do better to build one and found the Anna White Dream Dollhouse.  She has free plans and the project looked within our collective skill range.

From the pics you can see how far I have gotten.  Definitely not far enough.  We are getting a bit nervous! Only six days left!  Above you can see one of the wall sets.

Here are some of the stairs.  Yikes-not even painted.

Here we are gluing and clamping the second wall set.  My husband and I have been working furiously sanding, gluing, nailing, cutting and hiding!  Its difficult to do anything in secret with a four year old in the house!  Wish us luck as we burn the midnight oil to see the sparkle in one little girls eyes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baking Frenzy

Busy Busy Busy with holiday baking!  Here is the cookie lineup for this year:

Rolled Sugar Cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Lime Coconut Cookies


Peppermint Sugar Cookies

All of them are new recipes that I found through Pinterest or by Googling.  I'm beginning to wonder if there is any utility in keeping a cookbook these days since you can find everything for your cooking/baking needs online.  What is your baking looking like this year?  Old standbys or something new?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The BEST Sugar Cookies

I am not really a sugar cookie fan.  I think they are dull.  After baking these today, I may change my mind because they are oh so good dunked in some tea.  The only reason I baked them is that I have a four year old in the house.  Nothing screams holiday baking more than festive cookie cutters.  I had about five of my own that proved to be worthless so my daughter got out her play dough cookie cutters and viola! Success! I hooked on this recipe at All Recipes.  They truly are TASTY!  I had to bake slightly longer than the recipe indicated (10min), but the rest went off without a hitch.  And now, I may have eaten too many.  Sigh.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Poached Eggs Anyone?

While in Nebraska for the holiday we were able to stop in Fremont for a wonderful little breakfast with my Aunt.  She served a fabulous breakfast of poached eggs, sausage, fruit and friendship bread.  Very TASTY! I never poach eggs for guests because my poacher only holds 4 cups.  What is a person to do if you have more than 2 people eating?  Well my dear Aunt had the answer.  She put several little custard dishes into her largest  skillet and filled the bottom with about a quarter to half inch of water.  Once the little bowls were tinkling together on a low boil, she added the eggs and put the lid on.  Voila!  Breakfast for four!  How could something so simple have passed me by?  I found that putting a little dab of butter in the bottom of the bowls makes the eggs slid out easily. Breakfast anyone?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Birthday Dress

My baby is one year older and much to my delight she requested a birthday dress!  I have to say I was rather delighted to oblige her since she cut me out of Halloween!  Yes, you heard it right.  A near four year old took command of her Halloween costume.  She came up with something already in her dress up stash and could not be swayed.  I have to say I was seriously disappointed. As  a a result, I was giddy with excitement when she announced a birthday dress was in order.  If you are a Pinterest fan, you may have seen something very similar circulating recently.  I used two different patterns to get the look I wanted. Most of the time even new patterns are just a remix of the same basic parts.  I would be willing to bet that if you have even a dozen patterns in your stash you will have what you need to make just about anything by mixing and matching.  I must say I am rather pleased with this one wishing only that I had made it just one size larger so she could wear it longer.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Saw a Rainbow.......

A few weeks ago when all the snow was flying around and  tree limbs were crashing down I saw it.  Something I have never seen before.  A rainbow around the sun.  It was the most surprising thing I have ever seen.  I wasn't even aware that it could happen.  From the research I have done, it would appear to be called a solar halo not to be confused with a sun dog.  I could however, be wrong about that.  The thing that I know for sure is that it made me stop the car, and gaze in admiration at the extraordinary things that nature can do with an ordinary day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Last Harvest

This is the last thing I harvested before the chaos of our first winter storm.  This broccoli seemed to keep giving and giving for  the entire season.  Each harvest included nice full heads not just the little off shoots you get after the main harvest.  It was truly amazing.  I would have to say the broccoli was the garden star this summer.  I have never done so well in this category.  We had 10 plants.  That seemed to be plenty for fresh eating and preserving.  I believe this was Calabrese from Lake Valley seed.  I will have to plant it again to find out if it was the seed or just the weather that made for such a wonderful harvest.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Slow Progress

As you can see, the deck is well on its way.  It goes frustratingly slow.  I think its because I dedicate 40 hours a week to something besides deck building.  I am learning a lot and might be able to help someone else someday... but for now, I am a long way from a garden party and I am certain we will not be celebrating a harvest festival on this deck by the end of the year.  Did you make some lofty goals this year that might need to carry over into the next?  Let me know.  I need to feel like I am not the only one!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spring Snow

We have officially had our first spring snow.  It was tragic.  The entire tree canopy of Greeley looks like a tornado swept through it.  Branches are on cars.  The streets are piled with branches.  Trees are in living rooms and we have lost some of our oldest and record holding trees.  

Fall has been very warm and pleasant.  A warm weather lovers haven.  Unfortunately the trees were enjoying it too and not dropping their leaves.  18 inches of heavy, wet snow landed on our town last week.  It clung to the tree leaves and branches dragging them to the ground.  Even the healthy and trimmed were no match for the weight on the snow.

I am sad to say that my favorite "bird" tree is no more.  The top is broken from my plum and many branches were drug to the curb.  The city will be coming by to scoop them up and haul them away for grinding into mulch.  It really is a sad state of affairs but one that could not entirely be helped.

Your only recourse in these situations is to physically shake and knock the snow from the trees hoping that you have done enough to prevent the damage.  The damage from this storm will probably not be fully realized until spring and summer of next year.  If you have lost trees, you still have some time to get something new in the ground yet this fall or you can spend the winter thinking about what you want to plant in the spring.  Do you your research, make wise choices, and don't let this discourage you too much.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

All Tucked In

I know it seems a little ridiculous but I have been tucking those tomato plants in at night.  Using nothing but my finest vintage sheets to keep them warm and snugly while trying to postpone the inevitable.  I am not ready to say goodbye.  Not ready for cold nights.  Not ready for the sun to make shorter and shorter visits. And I am definitely not ready to give up that fresh from the garden taste.  The changing colors bring moisture to my eye and the smell of fall has made me weep uncontrollably more than once.  The hope of a new spring seems painfully far away.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Take one food dehydrator that has been sitting unused for........  Slice tomatoes thickly and drizzle with olive oil and your favorite dried herbs.  I also added some kosher salt.  It took about 6 hours to dry to a slightly rubbery texture.  I chose to keep mine in the freezer for a longer shelf life of 6-8 months.  Let me tell you, this made short work of a lot of tomatoes!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


This is a nearly 3/4 full paper box of concord grapes!  Can you say jelly?  I am always overwhelmed this time of year with the bounty that is coming out of the garden.  If my only job where to tend the home, I might me able to handle it all.  The truth is, the home is usually last on the list of things to do in a day.  As a result, I am going to do with these beauties what I did with them last year.  I will clean them all from their vines and freeze them in zippered bags until I actually have the time and inclination to make them into jelly.  There is really no need to stress about it now when the tomatoes need me most!  This box full gave me about 18lbs of grapes.  I have three vines that are about four years old.  I am thinking that a) I probably only need one vine and b) I will soon be begging friends to help share in the bounty!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Before the First Snow Flies.....

Every year we choose one large project to throw our money at.  This year, it is the deck.  FINALLY.  We took it down over four years ago when we realized there was a serious possibility someone might fall through it.  Someone actually did fall off of poor husband leaned against the rail and CRACK! one back flip later he found himself on the ground. Throw in one year of we don't have the money to spare, two years of saving to buy a furnace etc. and we find ourselves four years later. As you can see we are doing the work ourselves but not without the help of a VERY knowledgeable friend.  So for now, I am doing nothing but racing against the weather clock with the hope that we will have it built and sealed before the first know flies!  Wish me is October 3rd you know!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

And for next summer....


I did it.  I finished that summer blouse.  You know- the project where I was finally going to make something for myself.....  It seems to have taken nearly all summer and now the cool days of fall are setting in.  Sigh.  The one thing I never seem to have enough of is time.  Mostly the kind of time that allows me to do the things I want to do.  I could go on forever sewing, crafting, doing small construction projects, gardening and bicycling.  Of course I would probably have to be an independently wealthy hermit too because we all know it doesn't work that way.  We have house chores, places to be, jobs to work and families to contribute to. How does that saying go?  Whenever you have time you don't have money and when you have money you don't have time. Maybe I will try putting TIME on my Holiday wish list.  I let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Trouble in the Henhouse

 Do you see it? There...with the long neck feathers...and curling tail feathers..........
A ROOSTER!  Unmistakable when you hear the crowing.  Well I suppose that means we have four hens instead of five.  You will be happy to know he has gone to the farm and I do not mean the proverbial "farm" in the sky.  He has gone somewhere to crow his mornings away and impress the ladies all day.   Something that is definitely not acceptable on the urban farm as we have to be kind to our neighbors!  He really was a fine specimen just not for my coop.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finding Ideas

Do you Pinterest?  If you don't you should.  Its much like an online sketchbook of images and ideas.  I have been looking at lots of ideas for repurposing pallets.  I was ready to go to work when I realized that I have been holding onto something for nearly 7 years waiting for a good idea to happen.  When we moved into our palace it had a multitude of falling down fence types.  One was this beautiful louvered fence:
 Far too beautiful for me to imagine throwing it all away.  Well 7 years later I was on the verge of hauling it away because the perfect idea had not yet happened.  In the nick of time I realized this would make a fabulous head board!  I had to start by cutting in down to size.  This required my trusty sawzall.  You must be careful with this bad girl!  I am always amazed that I have not lost a limb each time I use it.  Don't let that strike fear in you though be cause it is a very handy demolition tool.  You just need to show it the respect it is due.
I think I ended up with a beautiful and unique headboard.  Someone spent a lot of time building this fence.  It would appear many nails were driven with a trusty hammer.  I am glad that I got to preserve a piece of it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tomato Harvest

There has been a lot of harvesting going on around here.  I am happy to say I am not doing all the work!  Little Miss can clean and eat an entire tomato plant in less than ten minutes.  She is fully aware of where everything eatable is in the garden.

I was admiring what a wonderful job my friend  Morgan did of illustrating her tomatoes and decided I should give it a try myself.  I used Picnic and was really pleased with how easy it was.  Sometimes you just need to put yourself out there and see what you can do! Please take a look at the varieties I chose this year!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hunt Season

Its once again hunting season and that means for a solid ten days I have to command the ship by myself.  Not much time for blogging and causing trouble...I just wanted to assure you things are fine, I am just lost in the everyday like everyone else! Happy hunting!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Slow Gardening

I invite you to have a good gardening read with Felder Rushing today.  He put it all very well so just following the link:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer Storms

I hope that you too are headed out to check the rain gauge this am.  With any luck, a decent amount fell last night.  I know the east coast has had more than they know what to do with...I on the other hand would be thankful for some much needed moisture. I hope you all had a fabulous weekend.  I actually did a little projecting.  It seems like it has been run run run lately.  Hanging around the house was exactly the thing this family needed this weekend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The harvest is coming in! This is the first time I have had enough broccoli to save. It may not be much but it is more than I care to eat in one sitting!

First step is to cut the heads up and remove all the leaves. Rinse well. I think a water rinse is fine. If it doesn't come off during the rinse it will definitely come off when you boil it.

Next step is to blanch for three minutes. Blanch translates to boil or cook slightly. Make sure you stick to the three minutes.

Lastly, transfer to your freezer bags and label with the date and contents!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Active Composting

In general I am a pretty lazy composter. I throw it in the bin, water it and maybe turn twice a year. When I get overwhelmed with more material than the compost bin can handle, I turn to the chickens for a more rapid result. You would be surprised how much these little ladies and go through! I just dump the weeds in and they do the rest! Scratching, eating, shredding...they love it. The extra bugs and nutrients they get are fabulous for them especially if you don't have the luxury of being able to let them roam. So, I say let someone else do the work! You have more important things to do right? We'll call it the hen house enrichment program.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Let's Not Talk About It

I have heard multiple times this week "Fall is just around the corner" or "Fall will be here soon". I must say I am really not interested in hearing any of it. Summer got started late and I am not that fond of cold. Near as I can tell, summer season does not officially end until September 22. That is a long time from now and we could have an Indian Summer to stretch things out a bit. So I propose that we just don't talk about it. Let's let that sleeping dog lie and enjoy where we are right now!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Taking a Break

Finally, a much needed rain shower! It has been a while to say the least. It has been hot and dry here. I love a good summer shower for its ability to give me a break from watering. How do you know if you can really take that watering break? It is imperative that you have a rain gauge. Nothing fancy is needed. I think mine is a freebie from a bank that is now defunct. You just want one that is easy to read. The next step is to place it in a good spot. Make sure it is in an open location where something like an over hanging tree will not block the rain as it comes down. A popular spot is the top of a tall fence. Sometimes a quick summer shower will seem like a down pour but will really not drop that much rain. One or two tenths is not that much in the heat of the summer. I would suggest you need at least a half an inch to give yourself a day off. Rain gauges are typically read in tenths of an inch. Each line equals one tenth. The proper way to read is at the bottom of the meniscus. As you look at the water in the gauge, it will have a slight curve, that curve is the meniscus and you want to take your reading at the bottom. My gauge says five tenths or half an inch so, I will be on the porch enjoying the smell of rain!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Can You Keep Up?

I water my entire half acre yard with a hose. Nothing automated here. When we have several consecutive days near 100 I cannot keep up and things begin to look a bit stressed around here. I worked at a nursery for a lady who told me that once the plants wilted damage had already been done. Well, I am not sure that I believe that. I cannot tell you how many times I have watered things back from the brink and they seem no worse for the wear. This however does not go for the vegetable garden. Limited or irregular water can effect your harvest. Each time you water, be sure to water deeply. You want to make sure the roots are going down into the earth and not looking for water in the top two inches. That is the part that dries out the most rapidly. The best way to make sure you are watering long enough is to get out the shovel and check your soil moisture for several consecutive days after you water. A hand spade is really all you need to make sure you are getting a good 8-10 inches or more of soil penetration. Its good check you lawn in the same manner if you have doubts.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Are You Sharing in the Bounty?

I hope you are sharing the bounty of your crops! A client of mine did while I was in her yard last week. She even made it sound like I was doing her a favor by taking some cherries from her tree. Indeed I most likely did as I know the feeling of seeing that hard work rot on the tree. So remember, when you have eaten all the zucchini you can stand, or frozen and pitted all the cherries you care to eat, invite your friends over! There really is no reason for it to go to waste and what may currently be a burden to you is most likely a delight to the lucky recipient of your gift!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Workout Equipment

My husband somehow conned my BIL into a long term loan on this little machine. I don't know how he did it and I am actually pretty surprised that he did! You see, I am constantly being accused of always doing things the hard way. Hanging laundry out, planting buffalo grass, riding my bike, using old school get my drift. So, I was a little shocked to see him out there pushing this fine piece of equipment through the lawn. Its quiet. You don't need to run the kids or the dog inside to use it. You can listen to your favorite podcast and burn some extra calories in the process. My husband actually called the process "pleasant" and declared that it did not take any more time than the loud little gas hog. If your thinking about it, come on by and I'll let you take it for a whirl....Tom Sawyer style. I think you'll love it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Please, come have a seat!

I love my front porch. It looks out over the street beckoning to passersby. For some reason it has gotten a lot of compliments lately. I think it really has to do with the fact that the landscape is beginning to look mature. This has to be the case because I haven't done anything different than I have for the past two years. Same pillows, baskets, furniture arrangement etc. Nothing new. We have poured a lot of heart and soul into this house and garden. I cannot tell you how good it makes me feel when a perfect stranger stops me to say "Hey your yard looks really good, this house has come a long way." It's a painfully slow process and I am always certain there are not enough hours in the day but, I do enjoy the rewards. So come on by. We'll sit on the porch, have some tea, and raise our glasses to the people as they pass by!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Knee High by the Fourth of July

My father used to always say the the corn needed to be "Knee high by the the fourth of July". Who's knee do you think he was taking about? Things are definitely coming along out there in the garden. Several things didn't germinate this year. I think it had a lot to do with the cold weather. The ground just didn't seem to warm up quick enough! I missed all of the great early crops like radish, lettuce and spinach. I intend to try again this fall but I must say the salad bowl is very sadly empty!