Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Insert Cliche About Grapevines Here

This is the budding of my grapevine. (The one I've kept languishing in a tiny pot from Lowes for 3 years before finally planting it last summer.) It means I'd better prune it soon.

This is the long, tangled mess it became in a year because I have no idea how to prune one.

This is the website I turned to for help.

This is my vine after I cut off the other canes, leaving one that was positioned well by the arbor. It will grow into a trunk. I have it tied to arbor at 30 '' height for the lower set of arms to bud out from on either side. Then again at 60'' for the upper set.

I really don't think this arbor is sturdy enough to support a maturing vine. I think it's going to crumble. Most things I read recommend wire. I don't even know if I have enough space for grapes right here. Oh well, that's all I got.

It did sneak up on me.

Summer is Calling

Yeah, I'm Listening. (365 Day 86 Photo)

We are just about there, peoples.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Want to Feel That Picture

(365 Day 85 Photo)

I love the surface of this concrete on the breezeway. It's all mottled looking and cool on bare feet.

I love it when I take a picture that you can feel without a lot of digital tampering. The doormat, the ground, the shade, the dog...

Basket Lantern

I finally got around to making this patio lamp that I saw here.

All it took were two hanging wire planters, some wire (heavy and fine gauge), wire clippers, white paint, a lantern cord kit from this place, and a bulb.

I painted the baskets and segments of wire I was going to use (yes, I know I sprayed the grass, but it was very cold that day and I was lazy.)

Then I wrapped the finer wire around the edge of two baskets in several places to hold them together.
Thanks to my husband for helping me wrap the center of the thicker wire around the bulb socket, then wrapping the ends around opposite sides of the top opening so the light couldn't wiggle out.

It really is pretty in the evening.
My only expense was the lantern cord kit for a bit over ten dollars. The wire baskets were a gift from my sister and the rest of this stuff was leftovers from jewelry making and school projects.

I feel like we're one step closer to barefoot-in-the-grass weather.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

DIY Terrarium

(medium spicy moss, 365 Day 82 Photo)

Today was chock full of good stuff. The kids got to hang out with friends this morning, we spent the afternoon with Grandmommy and Papaw, recording some of their memories (a project I have meant to do since I was a teenager,) we ate tuna fish and pimento cheese sandwiches (not mixed together), my sister came over for supper, and we made these neato little terrariums I'd been meaning to try ever since I saw it on one of my favorite blogs.

I borrowed the moss from my grandparents back patio- Thank you, G and P!

Once I'd sealed it up, I regretted not adding a beach shell and my son regretted that his plastic dinosaur wasn't in his. So, I guess we'll be making more.
I'm curious to see if they'll survive in our house. We don't get the best light, but maybe that's okay with moss.

I see so many beautiful terrariums on Terrain, but I'm sort of cheap and I have a jillion empty jars.

What I'd really like is a shallow little shelf of these in my bathroom around the tub. It's such a cave in there. And the Magic Conch says, "Maybe someday."

Blog Pizza

What to do with half a jar of homemade spaghetti sauce? My last jar from last summer, so it has to be something special.

I decided to make stuffed crust pizza for my children, who salivate over the pizza in commercials like it's the greatest of forbidden fruit, with this Cold Antler recipe. The only catch was it had to be half whole wheat flour.

I spread my dough out on a sprayed pan dusted with cornmeal and covered the edges with mozzarella, folding them as if for a tart. (Nothing too neat or perfect here because it was after a late taekwondo class and I was famished.)

Next came the sauce with all sorts of things children love in it: mushrooms, onions, etc.

...More mozzarella and then we cook at 400 'til crust turns a pretty gold.

Viola! This is a personal size I did in in the cast iron skillet, as shown by Jenna.
The kids cleaned their plates and said, "Thank you" with no prompting.

We'll be having it again tonight.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Childhood Rituals

Everyone has those little rituals they've performed since childhood that they do without even thinking. Like these onion flowers. When I see them, I pick them. I have to-that's just what you do.

On my way home from school, I'd pass a field (which today is a lot with a big brick house on it) and there were thousands of these little wildflowers. I'd pick until I couldn't carry any more in my hand, then I'd rush through the screen door to hand them to my mother, proudly. She always got out her prettiest vase (the one that made me think of the "I Dream of Jeannie" bottle) for them.
When we saw these the other day, my daughter squealed, "White Flowers!" and immediately began picking. She had to. She's fifteen.

(365 Day 80 Photo)

We have other rituals: Saturday morning pop tarts and SpongeBob, listening to this cheesy techno Christmas album while we decorate our Christmas tree, how I regularly hide in the house until someone or some dog finds me, the type of snack we eat at different grandparents' houses, and nighttime Bible reading and prayers (during which, I notice the kids pray for their family members in order from Oldest to youngest, including the pets, just like my brother and I did.)

I think my brother, sister, and I had an unusual amount of rituals. We seemed to take delight in very simple, silly pleasures, and when we liked something, we kept it going. It was one more thing to tie our memories of childhood together and bond us, I guess.

I realized yesterday that I hadn't picked white flowers in a couple of years. It was weird. Maybe I just hadn't taken the time to notice them. Having had younger children for 14 years, there was just always someone to notice them. But they're getting older and busier and if we're not careful we'll be driving everywhere, rushing around from building to building, letting things outside of our task of the moment become a nondescript blur.
Can't let that happen. I will keep picking them as long as I can walk, even if I have to be the one to squeal, "White flowers!" to slow my adult children down long enough to walk on some grass and bunch the stems.

Do you have childhood rituals you still haven't given up?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sick Days

I have to confess...I like it when my kids are sick.
Not the shaking with fever, throwing up kind of sick; but the mild temp, possibly contagious, have to stay home and rest kind of sick. They feel almost perfect, just sleepy, and actually want lots of motherly attention.

(365 Day 78 Photo)

Reading together and watching a show snuggled on the couch are like vitamins, for me as well as them. This is when they catch me up on all the little things they've been thinking but haven't taken the time to express. I could hear anything from a very real fear to who knows how to play Bakugan the best at school. And I think I laughed more yesterday (when Little Man was home) than I have in ages.

(365 Day 79 Photo)

I wouldn't go so far as to say I wish illness upon them, but I will say that chicken pox was the BEST!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

It's not really my b-day, but you would think so if you saw me open up my new dslr camera yesterday. You would also have thought I was four.

(365 day 77 photo)

Look at the depth of field. That was so hard to achieve with my old camera. It was either all or nothing.

But look at these unedited, uncomposed, off-the-cuff shots I took of the animals (who are ever-present) as I flipped through the instructions. Indoors!

They are sooo much clearer, without a tripod, even. It was so difficult to get a clear image in low light before. I'd take tons of shots and have to blow them up on the computer before I could tell if it was or wasn't in focus.

I have real manual controls here and manual focus too!! This isn't even a top of the line Canon, just Rebel xsi, and I lurve it!!

Hee hee!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Garden View

I didn't grow up on a farm where seasons and the moon determined your lifestyle. I spent the eighties in a little suburb where seasons were either new episodes of Moonlighting or summer vacation. But even as children, we all get excited with that first snap of cold in October and the first few mild weekends of Spring. Even our old dog was scampering about the yard yesterday.

Having a little garden makes it more central to my life: deciding if I'll spend my time digging in the dirt today or not.

(365 Day 72 Photo)

I have this whole bird's eye perspective on our days, now. I'm aware that when I'm planting, my uncles are too. That lots of us were watering and paying close attention to the weather this weekend with it's possibility of frost.

Then, there's always the cheesy symbolic aspect: the end of decay and the beginning of new life. (And I really do feel fresher as I clear out the dead growth in the yard.)
And the more practical: like, the pleasure of the sun on my back, or how homeless people must be finally finding some relief.

What about Spring Cleaning ? Do you do it? I actually do. Usually the house and the garage get a good once over and we put quite a bit of junk in the Goodwill or trash pile. Then the windows are open and the stale, cooped-up air of winter gets washed away. I don't pay those refineries any mind.

This is cliantro bolting to seed. Isn't it pretty. This, begonias, and pansies are our only blooms right now.

But I have high hopes for these sweet peas that were so thin and wispy when they sprouted, I almost pulled them thinking they were weeds. Somehow over the winter, they strengthened and are now on both sides of our grape arbor, ready to climb.
I'd never seen them before, but my Grandmommy used to talk about how pretty this old fashioned flower was, so I bought the seeds to see them, myself.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Goin' Cross the Country

(365 Day 63 Photo)

I didn't dare get my hopes up a few months ago when we first discussed it. But, now that it seems like we maybe, just might, be able to really do it, I find a smile creeping over my face a little more often. I hear Canned Heat in my head beckoning me to "pack my leaving trunk, you know we got to leave today."

Yes, my Brady fantasy just may come true. We're heading thru West Texas to visit Great Grandma, thru Marfa where my grandparents married during the war and where the Judd Boxes want me to photograph them, then it's Roswell, some ghost towns, and White Sands Monument, New Mexico. Our main destination is, of course, The Grand Canyon, taking in The Petrified Forest and The Painted Desert.

Our way home will be thru Utah's Zion Narrows and Bryce Canyon, stopping to climb at Hueco Tanks. Whew!!!
We'll be driving slower, I think, than my husband plans, so we may cut out a few stops, but oh my, I'm so excited.

"I'm going to some place where I've never been before."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Updo and Update

(365 day 71 photo)

Ok, it's been about 15 days since I went shampoo-free. I'm using boar's bristle brushes to comb out my hair in sections each day and massaging the scalp with a horn comb before I wash. I only seem to need to wash with the baking soda solution about every 3rd or 4th day, which is better than the every other day I used to wash it. I did change the apple cider vinegar solution to white vinegar like some on this site suggested to combat oiliness and added about 6 drops of rosemary essential oil to it. It is a little yucky when it's in my hair, but afterward I just smell a hint of rosemary.

My report: less greasiness, less washing in general, less time in the shower, slightly smoother looking (even my natural frizz on top), safer products, okay smell or no smell, and it works better than stuff like crystal deoderant

BUT it doesn't smell as great as drugstore conditioner and my family is disturbed by the cold water rinse induced screaming. That takes guts.
Since I'm only 2 weeks in, my hair is by no means perfect. I still wear it in a ponytail half of the time.

I'm the Woman With the Master Plan

(354 Day 65 photo)

A few weeks ago I went through all of my seeds to see what I had that I could plant now after this unusually long winter for Southeast Texas. Above is the leftover stash of heirlooms I ordered last year from These, combined with those I harvested, keep my costs low. Also, using my own compost that I've been adding to all year, kept me from having to buy a load of dirt. And the best part is that I didn't have to lose control of an insane tiller or get my husband to borrow a truck to bring loads of dirt home. Yay!

So, keeping in mind what I learned from my last foray into the world of gardening, I made a master plan. (Remember the song?) I was hearing "Who's the man with the master plan?" in my head the whole time.) Anyway, it's a few veggies, surrounded by herb and carrot beds, planned so that I can rotate my "crop" from year to year easily.
This was just plain fun! I dumped the compost then planted my seeds following the map.

It's a real small potatoes kind of garden. When things grow well there's just enough to supplement our grocery trips, and when they don't I have less work to do. But, there is a chance we'll be getting a water well this summer after all, so I'm now toying with the idea of buying a load of dirt for the lot next to our house to set up another more practical 20 x 20 garden. Won't my husband be happy to get to see me dragged behind the tiller until he rescues me again?

I kind of love this little garden.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Spring Colours Week

My contribution to Spring Colorours Week 2010.

I joined the group late, but enjoyed rummaging through the photos on my computer for half of the color themes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

temporary ignore


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More Green Stuff

I finally used the last, little, microscopic shred of my castile soap on my face a couple of nights ago, and knew it was time to make more. Procrastination, again. This time I made one loaf of regular pure castile and one with French green clay added.

These top two are the plain castile with a tiny swirl of unused clay castile blended in. An interesting, albeit expensive way to add pigment.

Above is the green clay castile. It's made the same as usual, only the powdered clay is added at trace and blended in with my hand blender to disperse it evenly. (You can see a little clump of unblended clay in it here.) This is as close to Savon De Marseialle as it gets, and is much more affordable.

It's reputed to have lots of acne fighting qualities, like, drawing out impurities and tightening pores (hopefully.) And since summer is coming with all of it's sweaty, sunscreen overload, I thought it would be handy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Once I Was Green

365 day 61 photo (Otherwise known as the Twinkle Hoodie from this book)

The color theory on green: It is a symbol of nature- growing, renewing, fresh, alive, promoting harmony. In this way it can either indicate a lack of experience, as in new growth; or permanence and stability, as in the Earth itself beneath us. It's supposed to soothe the mind of the viewer and improve vision. It has healing powers, no less! All this in one monstrously green sweater.
I'm practically saving the planet by wearing it!
Knowing it's finished after it sat in a sack on the floor of my closet for a couple of years is having a sort of healing affect on me, for sure. And there may be enough room for my husband's shoes down there now- what a peace maker.

The hold up on this sweater was the buttons. I refused to pay $5 per button. The yarn cost enough, so I was not about to drop $30 for buttons! I found this place online with great wooden buttons under $2 each. So, I saved a whole $17 by waiting until it's almost out of style to finish it... hmm. Maybe I'm just a chronic procrastinator. Can the hoodie heal me of this?

It isn't quite the shrunken fit it was supposed to be, but honestly I hate pulling sweaters down when they inch up above the waist of my pants, so it's probably for the best. I knitted the small size, but I could've knit tighter.

Theory aside, I really like it. It's my favoritest color, it's crazy bright, and maybe it's working it's green hoodoo on me because it does make me happy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Primavera, not Prima Donna

Made another easy meal last week from my new favorite. These veggies taste like they have more oil on them or have marinated together longer than they have. It's too easy to taste this good. Where is the sweaty effort? Where are the hard to find ingredients?

(365 day 58 photo)

Just open canned tomatoes and artichoke hearts and cut up the zuchini, mushrooms, carrots, and onions.

Put pasta in the pot, covered with some water and juice off of drained canned tomatoes mixd with onion, garlic and seasoning.

Add chicken then rest of the veggies in layers with dashes of oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Finish with the tomatoes and knit while it bakes, then...

Voila! Chicken primavera.