Monday, June 30, 2008


That's SIX jars of tomatoes, from my very own garden!

I just can't express how fascinated I am with the whole gardening and canning process this year. I mean, this spring it was just dirt and logs in that spot. We cut the logs to hold the soil; prepared the soil and planted stuff; keep it watered and keep the bugs and caterpillars picked off; then gather food and can it, and we have food for later! That's just cool.

Even though I grew up around gardening and keeping livestock, I live in a generation that is far removed from the source of its food, in general. This is the first year I've done well with a garden of my own, and it's a novel thought that tomatoes come from dirt and not from the store.

If you are interested in gardening on a small scale, I would highly recommend the books Square Foot Gardening and Rodale's Vegetable Garden Problem Solver.

P.S. - if you live in Alabama and are growing tomatoes, you might want to go and take a close look at your plants! I just went out to the garden and found a whole new batch of hornworm eggs and one worm. The eggs look like tiny yellow-green pearls, and usually I find them on the underside or edges of the upper, tender leaves of the plant. Today, though, I found them on the tops of the leaves, lower leaves, stems, the strings holding up the vines, and even a couple on the tomatoes themselves. Relocate them, squash them, do whatever it is you do, but DON'T leave them on your defenseless tomato plants! They will eat through your plants like a weedeater, eat holes all the way through the fruit, and will not stop until it's time to turn into a moth so they can go lay more eggs. That would be a shame, especially considering how hard it is to find tomatoes right now.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Comfy little pillows

My friend Jenny is a seamstress and crafter, and one of the kindest and most generous people I know. Recently one of her friends was going through chemotherapy, and was having a problem with the seat belt in her car irritating her port. So Jenny designed and made a little pillow to attach to her seat belt to pad the sensitive area.

Since then, Jenny and a group of volunteers have made many more of these little pillows, and have given them free of charge to anyone who needs one. She just started a blog as a point of contact on the Web to try and get these out to more people. Please take a minute to visit, especially if you or someone you know could use a pillow.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A nice day...

...a day to catch up. Sometimes you think you are so very behind on everything, but when you start sorting through it, it's not quite as bad as you thought.

I haven't been out to the garden during the intense sewing the past few days. So after breakfast, we went out to check on it. This is what we found waiting for us:

I was afraid the hornworms had taken over while I was away, but I didn't find any. Found a few caterpillar eggs, and a few aphids and flea beetles, but nothing major.

I've washed a few dishes (still by hand - the dishwasher still isn't working right) and clothes. Chad came home to do some work here this afternoon, so we went to the little Mexican place nearby for lunch.

Yesterday Lydia told me that her doll needed a pink hat and shoes, so I started that on the ride to the restaurant.Now I'm going to make a cup of coffee. Nice day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vintage cuteness x 4

*sigh of relief* They're done.

When I worked in alterations and sewing all those years, I could sew all day. One place I worked, I even took work home and sewed at night too.

But that was then. I don't know if I'm out of practice, or forgot how long things take, or what, but I'm tired. I put off all the housework I could and worked every spare minute on these things since Sunday afternoon, until this morning. I was in a rush to get them into the shop, because they are red, white and blue, and July 4 is coming up. I even had a dream last night that all these little tops and dresses suddenly had huge mouths with sharp, gnashing teeth ready to eat me. Time to let up a little, eh? But they're done now, and I'd really like them to sell. And I'd also like clean dishes and laundry. All that said, though, it's good to be back to more sewing again, though I still love to knit and crochet.

Anyway, meet my new friend Samantha! Here's her website, where you can see her blog and the patterns and books she has to sell. Crochet into entredeux - genius!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Vintage cuteness

A year or two ago, a friend of my mom's found these funny fabric panels at a thrift store. (Please forgive my photography - it's a white background with red, blue and black print.) Judging from the print, I think they are from the 60's or 70's. I knew right away that I wanted to make something for Lydia from them, and I'm just now getting around to it.

So, I made a top, with the panels and lots of other fabrics in red and blue. The panels say "Sugar and Spice and Everything..." and that's all, so I embroidered "nice" on a scrap of white fabric and stitched it on, and frayed the edges. Then I made some blue knit capri pants to go with it.

Some outfits sort of like this will hopefully show up in my Etsy shop in a few days, if you know anyone who would be interested. Might be cute for the 4th of July.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mickey Mouse operation

One of Lydia's favorite shows at the moment is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. For those of you without preschoolers, this is not the one we grew up with - it's animated. One thing they do at the beginning of every show is that the characters get their "Mousketools". It's usually basic things like a shovel, a glue stick, a ladder, etc, with the occasional baby elephant or pogo stick thrown in. Then during the course of the show, the characters encounter problems, and have to figure out which tool they need and how to use it.

The thought came to me the other day, "How bewildered would we be if, when we wake every morning, we were given all the tools we would need that day?" And on the days that our list of tools is something like: a fire extinguisher, latex gloves, three rolls of duct tape, and a can of peaches.... could we just go back to bed?

Just go on without me - there's no hope. I've seen too much. (Too much Disney Channel, that is.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The canning bug

Here's what Lizi and I did yesterday. I had never tried making jelly or canning anything. But we had more wild plums than we could eat before they spoiled, so we figured out right quick how to do it. The color is so lovely, it almost moves me to tears. And it tastes really good, too! Here's the recipe, if you happen to have some plums lying around.

We had such a good time doing it, I'm looking around thinking "Hmmmm... what else can I can?" I want a real canner now, with the rack and all.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today is a very special day. On this day, a LOOOOONG time ago, ;-) my best friend, sweetheart, and love of my life was born. And I'm glad he was.

Pop over to Chad's blog if you like, and maybe tell him happy birthday.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hot off the needles

Look what I did! So new, there's only one of them! I wrote this pattern, and I'm rather pleased how it turned out. I was using up some yarn I had, and after making a hat, I didn't have quite enough for my usual booties. So I figured out a way to add another color - little fake mary janes with socks!

They will be in the shop, as soon as the other one is done, as I think most people would be wanting a pair. They will be with a hat, also original, in a feather and fan pattern. It's nice also.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thoughts on WWII

A few days ago, I found this poster my grandfather once told me about from when he was in the army in WWII. It was meant to remind soldiers not to talk about troop movements or activities to anyone, not even family. Messages could be intercepted and used by the enemy.

While I was on the website, I looked around at some of the other posters. Since then I have been inspired and challenged by the ones directed to women. We're all familiar with Rosie the Riveter:

Think about it: With no dishwashers, disposable diapers or anything we would recognize as a washing machine, they went to work to fill the jobs men had left to join the fight. Women were not allowed in combat, but filled what jobs they could in the military. They planted "victory gardens", to supplement rations and so more food could be sent to the troops. It blows my mind to think about what I have now, and what they did without.

It also makes me think about what they had that we have to do without. Things like unity, a good work ethic, and the knowledge of what it means to sacrifice for the common good.

If you'd like to see more of the posters, click here.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The little garden

Here's a project I've not yet shown here. This photo was taken three weeks ago, but you get the idea. Where we lived before, we were not allowed to have a garden (not that anything would have grown there anyway). So when we moved here, I really wanted to grow some food to help with the grocery bill. There is such a slope to the property, it had to be terraced. We used logs from the trees cleared to build the house. Yes, I know they will rot eventually, but they are free. Daddy helped me dig out the squares, then cut and place the logs. Then we filled them in with soil. Mama got poison oak from helping with that part - sorry!! :-(

Here's what's planted: corn, pole beans, jalapeno peppers, mini pumpkins, broccoli, a few herbs, carrots, marigolds, bell pepper, yellow squash, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, sunflowers and Indian corn. Some things are doing better than others, but overall I'm pleased.

I've gotten quite an education in garden pests this spring. I've dealt with:
Aphids (annoying)
Imported cabbage worms (Kind of pretty, pale green and velvety, but SO not cool to be munching on my broccoli)
Tomato hornworms (Sick and wrong for a worm to have a spike sticking out one end)
Some unidentified caterpillars on my corn (so far, not a big deal)
Squash vine borers (Really gross and annoying)

I want to keep the garden (and yard too, for that matter) as organic as possible, so I've been handpicking the pests and relying on beneficial insects to take care of the rest. No chemical fertilizers, either.

Having a garden has taken much more time than I knew it would. And sometimes I find myself worrying about the next pest problem. But right now, it appears to be doing well, and it is satisfying to see that. So far so good!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Okay, maybe...

Perhaps third time is the charm - I tried the dishwasher once more, and this time it completed the cycle! Yay!

Never mind.

Remember when I said the dishwasher was fixed? It's gone through two false starts, and both times it stops mid-cycle, lights blinking. Maybe they sent us the brain of Abby Normal to replace the old one (remember Young Frankenstein?)

Hear that??

Right now, I'm listening to one of the sweetest sounds I've heard in a while. After spending time being a very large, expensive dish drainer, my dishwasher is running!

About a month ago, the poor thing just STOPPED in the middle of a cycle. A repairman came out to look at it, and said the computer had gone bad. It is such a new model, he did not have a replacement part with him, so it had to be ordered. And today, another repairman came out and installed it. I loaded it up, and it appears to be working just fine.

During the time I was handwashing dishes, I pondered lots of dish-related stuff. Like "Why do I always put cups and glasses away in the cabinet upside down?" I know it's because my mother does, and she probably does it because her mother did, and so forth and so on. Somewhere down the line it was probably to keep bugs and other nastiness out of the clean dishes. But aside from the occasional ant, I don't have such problems. It just makes me wonder what other things I do, without realizing it, that I have no logical reason for doing. Oh well, someday I might have a reason to be glad the cups were upside down.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

for Mother's Day

Here's a cute thing I made to go with our moms' gifts for Mother's Day. It's kinda corny, but I saw the idea years ago and wanted to try it. Chad's mom got the blue with her gift, and Mama got the pink to match the Cook for the Cure things we gave her.

I made 2 dishcloths for each of them by the standard Bernat dishcloth pattern. Then I assembled them as shown here, and included this poem:

Now don't get excited,
And don't be misled.
These pants aren't for you,
But your kitchen instead.

So when you are finished
With thanks and good wishes,
Just untie the ribbons
And go do your dishes.

Monday, June 2, 2008


That's what Lydia, our 2-year old, said when she saw THIS coming out of the box. We had to buy a new pool this year, after the old one had an unfortunate encounter with the lawnmower. Maybe we will be able to get a bigger one when it's safe for Lydia, but for now, this one does the job. And that's Lizi in the pool too, being a good big sister and helping Lydia have fun.

All the pool toys are a few years old, but still serviceable. For every one I would scrub, blow up and bring to the pool, Lydia would say, "Yook, Mommy, yook! It's brand NEW!" New to her, anyway.

Alas, Lydia pulled the poor cat into the water, and in his scramble to get out, I think he poked a hole in the top ring as it tends to deflate now. Eventually maybe we'll find the little pinhole and repair it.