Practical Makes

Practical projects and crafts

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Summer Rain Means Plans

So the last couple of days included a lot of rain, as in at least 4 inches of it (most of it in a couple hours). In order to deal with all that rain a lot of stuff had to happen really fast (largely because the previous owner’s drainage solution did not successfully drain since it had gotten blocked at some point).  Luckily the grown up Patrick is awesome and dug it up really fast, fixed it, re arranged it on the path he built as an alternative drain and bailed out the basement window well area.  So cleaning up involved a few towels not buckets.  Which is a massive relief, flooded basements are awful.

So everyone needed some recovery time after that.

So planning was something relaxing to do.  So there was some garden planning and food preservation planning and sewing planning…  I have the layout worked out for how I want to do the garden beds next year.  I think it’ll fix the things that didn’t work as well this year (like fights between green peppers and cucumbers…) so I’m looking forward to trying that out next year.  Also, it turns out that half of the flower bed on the property line is ours (it’s all orange day lilies on both sides).  Looking at it I knew it was ours officially, but it was all the same flowers on both sides so I thought maybe the neighbors just looked at it all as their flower bed.  Since I’m not really an orange day lily sort of person I’m glad half is ours.

I’m going to plant Cheyenne Spirit coneflowers instead.  There’s a lot to like.  They’re about the same height as the day lilies, they will fill the bed in summer, they bloom all summer without needing deadheading, they’re safe for kids, they feed the birds and while the plants live about 3-5 years, they reseed themselves in the bed.  They’re also a nice mix of colors.  So I think they’ll be great.  And that part of the yard is sunny and on a slope so I think it’ll drain pretty well.  Also, since they bloom in summer I can have tulips and daffodils mixed in too.

Also on the topic of gardens, I think I’m going to freeze and dehydrate this week’s garden produce.  Since I’ve got 18 pints of jalapenos I think freezing the next batch is a good plan, and we can freeze some beans and eggplant and dehydrate the cherry tomatoes.  The big ones are starting to ripen now so maybe next week I can can some tomatoes.  I’m going to try crushed tomatoes this year.

I also finished the tiny Patrick’s play mat with the map of the US.  I realized that I don’t have to put a binding on it (and I think it turned out nicely without one) and he enjoys it.  He likes to point at all the different shapes.  It’s also fun to tell him stories about all the different places.

Next up is Christmas stockings.  I’ve got the tiny Patrick’s all cut out and I started sewing it together.  So far so good!

Heatwave

And it’s hot, today it’s just in the 90s, but tomorrow it’ll be up near 100 (and feel like more than that courtesy of the humidity).

Of course this means it’s time to think about Christmas projects and knit sweaters. 🙂 (what can I say the AC is *cold*, especially at work!) I have two sweaters picked out for the tiny Patrick, Bowline and Campfire by TinCanKnits. I’m going to do Bowline in green and Campfire in brown I think. I’m also planning to do a new blanket. I think I’m going to use TinCanKnits Waffles pattern but expand it 2.5 times in either direction which will be about the equivalent of ~6.25 stroller blankets. It looks warm and comfy. I’m going to use Berocco Vintage Chunky in Mistletoe which I think will be a happy color.

This weekend I’m also going to see about maybe doing some canning. I’ve got 10 cucumbers waiting for me, so maybe the time for pickles is here at last… Well, I already have fridge pickles, but I really want to try canning them too. Tomatoes are coming, but aren’t ready yet, so for this weekend it’s canning pickles (hopefully!) and freezing peppers and beans. Or maybe canning peppers? There are a lot of peppers and they’re really good pickled…

Maybe I’ll make bread or waffles too. There were cookies last week after all, so I’ll have to see if I can keep up the baking!

First (Official!) Summer Weekend

So…now that I have long term plans figured out (at least a little bit) there’s the chance to think about what I want to do this weekend.

First I want to bake bread.  We’re on the last loaf of Costco bread and I like mine better so it’s time to bake more.  Maybe I’ll also fulfill my months long goal of making cookies.  It’s always possible. 🙂  And while we’re on the subject of wishlist baking, I’d also like to make waffles because it’s been awhile and they’re great.

For cooking I’d like to do something in the slow cooker.  I think there’s a pork shoulder lurking in the freezer and pulled pork sounds like a good lunch option…  And there’s another project too, pre-chopping veggies and meat and things for easier dinner preparation…  That’ll happen when there’s time and we next go to the Costco probably.

The garden also needs some attention this weekend.  There’s weeding to do and the peppers need stakes to stay upright.  There will also be beans to pick (and soon peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes with any luck!).

And I want to finish my dress, it just needs buttons and button holes so I’m almost done.  If I can finish that it would also be nice to do one of the small fabric panel projects like maybe the soft book for the tiny Patrick.  Of course it depends on time. 🙂

In terms of general projects, hopefully I’ll finally get the brakes fixed on my bike (either by following the guidance of the Internet or bribing the grown up Patrick, we’ll see…).  I’d also like to sort the kitchen, but that depends on general motivation and how energetic/tired everyone is.

And I’d like to go to the big park with the Patricks, it’s got a carousel and a train and a butterfly garden and is huge.  I think that would be relaxing and fun (it’s really close so it’d be easy to get to).  And maybe I could go to the farmer’s market, that could be fun.  If I got my bike brakes fixed or if the Patricks want to go too… Or maybe go to the thrift stores?  Those are fun.

So, there’s plenty to do, and it should be fun. 🙂

 

Goals, Thoughts and Plans

So… now that projects are at least a bit more reasonable… time to plan projects!

I’ve got my usual favorite categories: sewing, knitting, gardening and food preservation.  And I guess I can add “house projects” to that.

So first up sewing.

Green 4th of July Dress

This one’s easy since it’s almost done!  (Just needs buttons…)  It’s a sleeveless Hawthorn with the green cotton+steel fabric I got last year and some neat off white buttons from the thrift store (doing 12 instead of 13 button holes for that reason).  I worked really hard to do the facings nicely so hopefully they’ll lay flat for once.  I also did a very narrow rolled hem at the arm holes instead of bias tape so we’ll see how that goes. (bias tape is annoying and bulky)

Blue Tropical Dress

This is also fabric from last year, that I think will make a fun summer dress.  It’ll be another sleeveless Hawthorn because I like them, they fit and shirt dress are nice at the moment.

Patrick Shirts

These will be shirts for all three Patrick’s.  I have some nice summer weight cotton and also some (hopefully) nice knit fabric for t-shirts.  For the grown up Patricks this will be the usual Butterick pattern.  For the tiny Patrick I think one of the Ottobre patterns.

Ocean Soft Book

I have a fabric panel that can be used to make a soft book that matches the baby Patrick’s curtains.  I thought it would be something he could enjoy that would be a nice keepsake from his room.  I have the pages and batting cut out so I just need to sew them together.  I think this one will be after I finish the dress since it should be a fun quick project.

Advent Calendar

This is another fun project.  I’ve always wanted to try some of the fabric panel kits and I’ve always wanted to make an advent calendar so this seemed like a good project.  Another major plus is that since it’s a quilted advent calendar I can just roll it up to store it, and it’s not breakable!  Which seems like a very useful feature.  I also want to make Christmas stockings to match.  I think I’ll have enough fabric left over from the backing to do that.  I’d also like to make a Christmas tree skirt.  I have my Grandma’s which is nice but I’d like to make one of my own.

And in addition to sewing there’s my other craft projects, knitting.

Hat for the Tiny Patrick

This is going to be the “Bumble” pattern by Tin Can Knits.  It’s cute and fun to knit.  I think it will make a comfortable toddler hat.  I’m going to use green yarn (Spanish Moss by Dragonfly Fibers) for this one.  It feels nice and I think it’ll make a warm hat.

Sweater for Tiny Patrick

I think this will be the Hearthstone pattern (though I’m still thinking about it) and I haven’t picked the yarn yet.  Luckily tiny person things are fun to knit and go quickly.

Blanket

The last blanket I knit was really comfortable and awesome so I’d like to do another one.  I’m thinking maybe the “Marley” blanket by Tin Can Knits since that one looks comfortable and will probably knit quickly.  Afterwards I’d also like to try “Bounce” pattern, but we’re going to start with the easy one!

In addition to crafts I’ve got my garden and my food preservation plans.  They’re pretty closely linked this year since I’m hopefully going to be sticking to what the garden produces (except for jam, that’s a special case and the fruit trees need a few years after all…).

For the mid-summer part of the garden I get to do the following:

Harvest: Beans, Cucumbers, Hot Peppers, Bell Peppers, Eggplants, Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Strawberries, Herbs and maybe some New Zealand Spinach, Lettuce and Zucchini and maybe some Blueberries

Plant: Beans in July, Lettuce and Brassicas in August

And there will be a bunch of different things to preserve:

Can: Strawberry Jam, Raspberry Jam, Peach Jam, Pickles, Crushed Tomatoes, Pickled Hot Peppers, Relish

Freeze: Beans, Hot Peppers, Bell Peppers, Eggplant, Strawberries, Spinach, Zucchini

Dehydrate: Cherry tomatoes, Thyme, Lavender

For the late-summer/early-fall part of the garden I get to do the following:

Harvest: Beans, Cucumbers, Hot Peppers, Bell Peppers, Eggplants, Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Strawberries, and maybe some New Zealand Spinach, Lettuce, Winter Squash and Zucchini, and maybe some Raspberries

Plant: Lettuce and Radishes

And there will be a bunch of different things to preserve:

Can: Plum Jam, Apple Butter, Crushed Tomatoes, Pickles, and I may make a couple jars of apple pie filling for fun (since instant pie appeals)

Freeze: Beans, Hot Peppers, Bell Peppers, Eggplant, Strawberries, Spinach, Zucchini

Dehydrate: Cherry Tomatoes, maybe Catnip?

Then in late fall I get to plant garlic, tulips and daffodils.  Next year there will also be a lot more herbs to freeze and dehydrate.  I’m also hoping to have more established fruit which will give me more options there.  And maybe I can expand my canning plans a bit.  I have definitely learned from past years (canning a reasonable number of jars of jam with multiple types is best, pickles need some work, as does salsa, tomatoes are useful, but crushed tomatoes are probably more useful, pickled hot peppers are great but could use pickle crisp…).

Next year I also plan to expand the garden a bit and add asparagus and potatoes and try onions and peas.

Then last there’s the house projects.

I want to organize my room and the kitchen (since those haven’t been reorganized too much since we moved in).  I also want to fix the table situation and the seating the den.  It would also be nice to get some chairs for the patio, but we’ve got the garden wall, so that helps.

So, plenty to do!

Summer Returns

And it’s summer again. It’s been awhile, but hey, sometimes life has that effect.  But hey all three of us are doing well, and we have a home of our own now, so those are happy things.

Despite all the big things, there have also been projects.  We’ve got a garden going, there will likely be canning and freezing for fruit and veggies this year and there’s been sewing too.  And even a little bit of knitting.

So first, the garden.  After we bought our house we put in 4 raised beds, which has been amazingly helpful.  Around here the dirt has so much clay in it it’s an impressive bright orange (you could make pots out of the topsoil around here) and is also full of large (sometimes melon sized) hunks of sparkly pink quartz.  So being able to garden in actual light fluffy dirt has been a huge difference.  I may even get cucumbers this year (fingers crossed)!

In addition to the raised beds we made some changes to the landscaping in the backyard.  The previous residents had a lot of hydrangeas, knock out roses and other perennials.  For the most part they were pretty but there were a bunch of issues since they took up a bunch of the yard and a lot of them were incredibly spiky and shedding spiky thorns everywhere (one bunch looked like they were ready to defend a magical fairy tale castle they were so big and spiky).  So with a lot of work (largely Patrick being impressive with a saw, heavy gloves and lawn trimming bags…) we swapped those for a mix of tomatoes, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb, herbs of various kinds, strawberries and currants.  So now they’re manageable, much less spiky (blackberries are still a little spiky), and will produce tasty food.

The other big news is I finally got to plant my trees!  We now have two apple trees and a plum tree which will hopefully grow into awesome fruit trees (of a reasonable size…).  Overall things are going really well despite doing a lot of work in a short time.  I think several years of gardening practice is paying off.  It’ll be a couple years before we get much fruit (just strawberries this year I think) but hopefully it will be successful.

There’s still more projects left to do (of course).  Next year for example we want to try onions too and I want to put asparagus around the back of the shed (it’s sunny back there) and add shallots and bunching onions to the multiplier onions for scallion production.  Oh and since other previously challenging veggies are doing pretty well, I want to try peas next year too.

So far we’ve gotten lots of lettuce and radishes and we just got the first batch of beans, so I’d say all those are successful.  And it looks like we might get hot peppers and cucumbers soon too so that is awesome.

For sewing I have made a lot of curtains.  A. Lot. of. Curtains.  But hey, that’s part of moving.  The people we bought the house from left curtains (included curtains?) as part of the house.  But…they were roman shades, with cords, or polyester Target curtains.  And some were really dark navy and they had dogs, and they were kind of funky…  So, lots of new curtains were needed.

So I made curtains for 8 windows, which ended up being at least 14 curtains, with a bunch of them being lined curtains too.  On the upside, I definitely learned from my last make-all-the-curtains experience and these are much nicer.  I had originally planned to but grommets in them, but I ended up doing rod pockets instead.  I decided they’d give better coverage that way and the grommets that were available were kind of sad looking plastic and it is really annoying to do nice custom sewing on beautiful fabric and have to finish it with ugly plastic hardware (that usually ends up falling apart).  But on the upside we now have nice looking (and baby safe) curtains and sheers for all the rooms (haven’t hung up all the sheers yet since first we need to hang double curtain rods…but that’s another project…and hey the curtains are all up!).

So that was a lot of sewing, yeah it was all straight lines but I still had to cut them all out (precisely) and match them with the backing (precisely) and sew very straight seems (precisely) so it was a major project.  I’m very happy with how they turned out though.

So now that that’s done I can start other sewing projects.  My body is more or less a consistent size/shape again (and I hit my goal on that too, yay!) so I can make my 4th of July dress this year.  And yeah, it’s totally one of the dresses I mentioned in the previous post, not much clothing sewing ended up happening last year.  Size changes were too rapid and life was too intense.  But hey, it means I have awesome fabric waiting for me to make something fun with it.  I’m starting with the green dress (since I had that one cut out).  I re-cut it to my current size/shape using my old traced patterns.  I should remeasure and adjust my patterns but…life is busy…and the fit is close enough it works based on my clothes I made before.  I have most of the bodice sewn up, so I just need to add the pockets, sew and attach the skirt, hem and do the buttons (sigh, buttons…).   I think I can do that by the 4th of July.

I also got some fabric panels for fun projects. I’ve always wanted to do those.  I have a cloth book for the tiny sir which matches the curtains I made him, I have a panel with a cute US map for a play mat and I have an advent calendar.  I think a quilted/sewn advent calendar sounds like a great plan since not only does it look fun to make but it will be easy to set up and store (yay unbreakable, roll-able fabric!).

I’m also planning to sew some shirts for the various Patricks.  I have nice fabric waiting for that too, and tiny person clothes, because those sound fun.

I also have done some knitting, mostly baby socks since it was really hard/impossible to find socks that were comfortable for the tiny son’s feet.  I’m also making slow progress on a pair for me and re-knitting the top of my yellow hat so hopefully it stops sliding off the top of my head (I think I need at least one more repeat before doing the decreases…we’ll see).

So yeah, there are definitely still projects and this is an excellent thing.

Summer Thunderstorms

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Our storms finally arrived and things have cooled off a bit, or as much as they’re gong to with the humidity…. Luckily my fabric arrived yesterday so I can start working on some new tiny person compatible sun dresses.  The fabric is from Cotton + Steel and it has awesome pretty selvages.  Usually the selvage is boring so these are pretty neat.  They’re even three completely different colors which for me is an accomplishment.  I’m usually tempted to default to just dark blues since those always work.  Of course I forgot I’ll need thread so maybe I’ll visit the JoAnn’s briefly today.

That’ll be an extra adventure since I will have to match coral and green which are tough.  Matching blues is usually reasonable, but corals and greens are really tough…  We’ll see how that goes.  Maybe I can get some lining fabric while I’m there.  That would be good.  I’d like to sort through my button collection too so I can decide if I need to get some.  At the moment though my experiment with vacuum storage bags is sort of taking over my sewing room…

Waiting for the weather to break

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Still no luck with rain for us. They said the heat wave would end early if we got a good storm, but no such luck. Still, there should be a change in the weather pattern today which will finally give us our thunderstorm. And after that it will be cooler.  I hope so, I’m looking forward to taking little Patrick for walks again (it’s been too hot for him during the heatwave, and going for a walk at 2 AM would be a bit too weird).  I also hope to walk down to the farmer’s market Saturday morning.  It’d be nice to have a short break and if I get cucumbers I can make fridge pickles.  We can only have those in summer (when there are good cucumbers) and they’re amazing so I’d really like to make some.  That and cucumber sandwiches since those are also really good.

My dress fabric should also arrive tomorrow so I’ll get to start those.  I have my pattern pieces already to go, so hopefully the fabric arrives on time!  I’m looking forward to those.  I still need to pick out buttons, but that’ll be easiest to do when the fabric gets here.  I have a bunch in my collection (yay thrift store button hordes!) so I want to see if I have any promising ones in there.  Otherwise there’s always JoAnn’s or G-Street.

My other sewing project is drafting a new A-line skirt pattern.  I found the tutorials I used last time so I just need to do some math and take some measurements.  I need front and back pieces with darts (darts are the hard part for drafting…) and a waistband (which is weirdly hard to get to look right).  Maybe I’ll try doing that today.  Once I’ve got a pattern again I’m going to do a trial version, probably with the surplus trouser fabric I have.  I hate sewing trousers and it’s a good color for work clothes.  It’d make a good skirt for wearing on Fridays.  I’ll just have to make Patrick a new shirt to make up for borrowing some of his trouser fabric.  On the upside I’m much better at making shirts than trousers!  I also need to go get some lining fabric.  The JoAnn’s has Bemberg Rayon lining which is probably what I’ll use.  This will be my other independent trip out of the house.  Little Patrick isn’t quite ready for the mall yet, but I don’t have to go far so this should be a good way to get out of the house for a little while.

In terms of knitting I’m still making slow progress on my hat.  But hey, the little bits of progress accumulate over time.

Regarding my other mini-projects, the exercise bike is set up now (yay for Patrick assembling large objects from the Internet!).  So I’m making progress on getting good at biking again.  The exercise bike is a recumbent bike, which makes getting started again a lot easier!  (and I can read and bike much more easily!)

Summer Crafting

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My list of planned crafts is probably going to be shorter than last year.  After all, I’m starting half way through the year!  So this makes sense.  Also, given that we’re probably going to be moving at some point in the next year the smart choice for craft projects is going to be to use up what I have already in terms of materials.  I may make a few exceptions to that, certain changes to my physique mean I have no sun dresses that fit right now so enough fabric to make two dresses might need to be purchased unless I find some in the bins somewhere, but for the most part I’m going to do my best to stick to what I’ve got since I’d rather move completed projects than move lots of stashed supplies.

Almost all of my supplies are stored in plastic bins from Costco (so they all match, hurray!) with most of it being fabric, but there’s also yarn too.  For the most part my craft plans fall into two categories, knitting and sewing.  Knitting is easy, I have a couple of bins of yarn right now (I think 2.5 bins?) and the highest volume yarn is the yarn I got for sweaters.  So the best thing to do is probably going to be to work on knitting sweaters.

Knitting

Beatnik Sweater

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The first project I want to make is the Beatnik sweater.  I got the same yarn used in the pattern (same as the above picture) and I actually started knitting this several years ago.  Unfortunately it was my first time knitting a sweater in a really long time and my first time ever trying to knit something with a chart.  Needless to say this was a bad idea.  So I’ve ripped out my first attempt, and now is probably a good time to try again.  Also it’s a mostly cotton yarn so that will be nicer to work with during summer.  And since I’ve already got the pattern and yarn, it’s a no cost project, yay!

Rook Sweater

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The second project I want to do is the Rook sweater.  This is another one I’ve tried knitting before.  I want to use some Wool of the Andes Tweed I have in a really dark grey with light grey and white flecks.  Last time I tried I could not get gauge no matter what I did.  It always seems to me that I can only get gauge to match vertically or horizontally, but not both.  If I can’t get it to work this time I think I’ll try to calculate any changes to the pattern I might need and try to use my yarn anyway.  Luckily despite the challenges, I already have the yarn and pattern, so this one won’t cost anything either.

Mystery Light Blue Cardigan

 

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The purpose of this one is to use up the light blue Wool of the Andes yarn I have.  I’ve considered several possible patterns for this one, but its hard to figure out what would be best.  I really like sweaters, but a cardigan is probably more useful at the moment.  There’s also the dilemma of using a pattern I already own vs finding the perfect one.  A sweater/cardigan takes a long time to make so finding a perfect pattern is a good idea, but at the same time I have a bunch of patterns (free, from my magazine subscription, from books, etc.) and actually using the ones I’ve got makes me happy.  Currently I’m leaning towards Prairie Fire, but doing another Peabody sweater, a MacGowan  or a Jean sweater or a Two Trees cardigan also sound like decent ideas.  A Prairie Fire or Peabody sweater would probably work best with the color though.

Socks and Hats

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These are projects I’ve already started, one pair of socks for me, one pair as a Christmas present for Grandpa Patrick and a replacement yellow hat (replacing the one that was lost sometime in January).  They’re smaller projects so I figure I’ll probably work on these when I’m on the train.

Sewing

Then there’s sewing, which is harder…  Some stuff is obvious, since the goal is to use up some of my fabric stockpile before we move.  I have 1 pair of pants cut out for Patrick and fabric for at least 3 more.  If only sewing pants wasn’t annoying (welt pockets are pretty much the worst, even if I get them right the darn things start to fray right away).  I also need to alter my summer dresses, which won’t use up much fabric, just some small pieces to make gussets, but it will mean having dresses I can wear this summer (and boy am I ever glad I like shirt dresses, since they’re the only ones that are ‘functional’ at the moment).

The other stuff I have a lot of is small pieces of patterned cotton fabric and shirting.  The shirting is easy, more shirts for me and Patrick (yay shirts!).  Luckily unlike pants, sewing shirts is awesome.  The patterned fabric is best suited for household crafts and things for little Patrick.  Luckily making things for little Patrick should be fun (and useful!) and household crafts (ie potholders, pillow covers, etc) are usually fun and relaxing.  I have patterns for rompers, onsies, overalls, shirts and pants for little Patrick, so I’ll probably try out some of those.  I think I’ll probably be making some adjustments to the patterns.  For example, why in the world would you put the snaps in the back for a romper?  When you lay the baby down to change them they’re laying on the snaps!  So yeah, some changes will be needed.

Oh, and I’ll be making myself some work clothes too.  Definitely skirts since I think I’m probably going to need to adjust my sizing there, at least for a little while longer (luckily this is a simple self drafted A-line skirt pattern, so that’s easy enough to adjust).  I have some very nice wool I received as a gift so I’ll make some for that fabric.  And I have some other bottom weight fabric of various kinds that I can pick out one or two types to make the first versions of the updated pattern (never test a new/adjusted pattern on beautiful wool fabric!).

I might make some shirts for work too, it depends on how well those do or don’t fit in a couple months.  Depending on what fabric I have I’d also like to make both me and Patrick some casual shirts too.  We’ll see.  For Patrick (little and regular sized) I’m going to use up some of my knit fabric to make T-shirts and things.  Those go quickly and are useful.  I really wish there was more good quality knit fabric though.  Maybe I’ll try some from Nancy’s Notions.  So far JoAnn’s has been pretty terrible for knit fabric and Fabric.com has been a mix.

There’s lots of other stuff I’d like to try:

  • Luggage!
  • A new bag/purse (my poor green one is developing holes despite years of being awesome)
  • Dresses for me
  • Curtains (can’t do this until we move though)
  • Cute household things (fun but not practical and will take time and not use much fabric)
  • etc.

But those have to wait until later.

Miscellaneous Other Projects

There are of course many other things I’d like to do.  I want to improve in terms of physical fitness and bike more.  I want to finish fixing up the knitting machine and get better at using it.  I want to write again and make my own knitting patterns. I want to go to museums and places downtown with Patrick and take little Patrick on walks to the park.  I want to get farther with relearning to play the piano…  There are lots of things to do that should be fun.

Pickle Season!

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We now have our first batch of pickles!  These are fridge pickles using my Grandma’s recipe.  They’re some of the best, and they usually last about 3 months in the fridge (if we don’t eat them all before then).  This time I made them with one pickle from our garden and some others from the farmer’s market.  I had one really early cucumber, so I needed to supplement from the farmer’s market….

They’ll be ready to eat tomorrow!

 

Cicadas and Summer

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I heard cicadas this week, so it must be officially summer. It’s also July so that makes a certain amount of sense!

There are other signs of summer, the corn has tassels forming, the potatoes are dying back and we just pulled up a huge amount of garlic. There were even nice big heads on most of them (a few got shaded out by other important plants like catnip…). I’ve even been able to pick a couple of tiny tomatoes.

We still have some semi-bolted lettuce, and it seems like the beans might be slowing down so I may need to plant a new round of those soon… I did get two gallons of them (measured in gallon freezer bags) plus some meals, so overall I think my little section of the garden did well. Especially since cut worms got all the pole beans again…

I’m also drying some herbs (catnip, oregano, sage and mint), so hopefully that will work out this year too. Last year was just too wet and nothing would dry.

This weekend I’m going to cover the tomatoes to keep the mocking birds out. I’ve read that they only go for tomatoes if there’s no water around, but we’ve had tons of rain, and I have a full bird bath, and they still got one. So it’s time to get out the netting. I think being able to drape it over the cages will make it easier this year. And it will have a side benefit of not getting in my hair. Getting netting in your hair after you’ve been removing horn worms from tomatoes is hard to handle with dignity…

I’ve got flowers now too, which is awesome. The impatiens despite all the hassle of getting them going are beautiful and fill in the space at the base of the porch. They have expanded nicely, and I’ve got a few Morning Glories climbing above them too. The zinnias and cosmos are also getting going which is nice. And the pansies have held on surprisingly well given that I fell behind on dead-heading them a long time ago… And we have some Black Eyed Susan’s/rudbeckias too. And given the number of those I’ve seen around the neighborhood it looks like most of my neighbors also planted the little seed packets they got in the mail. I wonder if the realtor who sent them ever drove around to see all the flowers their ad resulted in? Either way, it’s pretty neat.

The white marigolds are sort of a mix, they look awesome when they’re blooming, but less so after they’re done when they get a bit messy. I think they’re actually part carnation, because they smell like carnations not marigolds. Maybe I’ll go back to the regular red and orange ones next year…

I’ve made some progress on summer crafts too. Patrick has new seersucker shirts and I have this year’s 4th of July dress. Maybe this weekend I’ll use my extra day to finish my sleeveless button down shirts (I’m taking advantage of leftover fabric from the earlier seersucker projects). That will leave only a couple of projects left on the list of planned projects for this year: a holiday dress, work shirts for me and a proper apron…

I also have some projects for Patrick too, but those come up as he requests them. At the moment, that’s mostly going to be work shirts (luckily I have the fabric already so that makes it easier). There may also be work pants in the future, but those are less fun to sew than the shirts, so I’m going to do the fun projects first!

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