Practical Makes

Practical projects and crafts

Time Flies

And it’s already the middle of August… July went somewhere? Well, July went by so fast it feels like it was only a couple days long, probably because there was a lot going on (as is often the case). But it was largely good and fun things. A lot of it was even things we haven’t done in a long time or things I’ve really wanted to do for a long time.

We went to the regional park and everyone got a ride on the carousel, we went to the Takoma Farmer’s Market for the first time in years, we even went to places that are ‘farther’ away be current definitions (which at the moment means the Ikea and the Lowes 30 minutes north of here…). None of them sound very big, but given how long it’s been since anything like that has been possible, those are a pretty big deal.

And there were fun things, the little guys got to see geese and a heron at the lake near one of the best parks, we went to the toy store west of here just for having a fun drive. We all got up early and walked to the ‘new’ (it’s been there for at least a year, but it’s new to us!) coffee shop. There have been a lot of good summer things.

There have also been projects, we had two weekends with over 40 lb of tomatoes each weekend that got turned into sauce and probably over 100 lb overall. We’ve gotten lots of squash, beans, hot peppers and bell peppers this year and fun tomatoes. We got lots of nice garlic, onions and potatoes too and even a measurable number of cucumbers from the garden. Oh, and the blackberries and raspberries have finally gotten going and they taste really good.

I’ve got a whole bunch of fun Christmas sewing done (everyone has homemade Christmas stockings this year!). Maybe I can do a few more things soon, like Halloween costumes and a few more Christmas decorations or gifts. I have pumpkin and astronaut costumes to make!

Knitting also has a lot of things that got done, the little guys have new hats, the smaller Patrick has a new sweater and soon there will be one for Will. After that, maybe Christmas gifts? I’ll have to come up with something fun.

And the majority of my Christmas shopping is done too. I like to do it early since then I can get them from a wide variety of places. I think the holidays will be fun this year!

And there have been a bunch of random house projects, we put up a new kitchen cabinet and shelves, moved things around in the living room, did more work on the landscaping, the grown up Patrick built the little guys a set of shelves/box for their stuffed animals, we finally got the exterior faucets fixed…just a whole bunch of random things. Hopefully before the weather gets properly cold this fall we can get some of the random electrical stuff done (maybe even an exterior outlet, I want to try holiday decorations…) and winterize some things and maybe paint the front door (I’m voting for a nice bright yellow).

I will also have a whole bunch of tulips and daffodil bulbs to plant for next spring and more fall veggies to plant too. And the updating on the playground at the park should be done soon (it’s going to be way bigger and really nice!) and the library/rec center combo building will reopen soon too. So there should be plenty to keep us busy for awhile…

Summer Sun

Flowers from the garden!

It’s almost officially summer! So it’s time to start thinking about projects and plans. I want to do some sewing, knitting, gardening and food preservation.

I want to do some more Christmas sewing. I have 2 stockings to go (mine and the cats) and I have a fabric panel with birds and a wreath I might want to make into a wall hanging. I also want to see what I can do for Halloween this year… I have done some sewing recently. I did stockings for Will and the older Patrick. And I replaced our bedroom curtains (4 new ones) and added two to the dining room (now there are two on the back window and a new matching curtain for the back door).

I’d like to sew a dress, but…I think that’s asking too much at the moment, and I do have a nice collection of dresses. So I think that will wait until later or next summer.

I’d also like to do a summer wall hanging for the living room and new pillowcases for the living room.

This one’s easy, I’m currently knitting a sweater for the tiny Patrick. It’s green and brown (Plymouth Yarns Fern and Fox) and it has a chevron pattern around the yoke that looks like tree branches to me. Next up will be a sweater for Will. I’m thinking probably one with color work.

I’d also like to knit myself a hat since the last one never fit right. And maybe make Matthew a new one for Christmas. And at current speeds, that should cover knitting through the end of the year…

I need to plant a couple more cucumbers, and do something to replace the arugula which is bolting. Beans are a good option, or I could wait and do some sort of fall plants like beats or broccoli. I do have space for fall plants where the potatoes are though and where the determinant tomatoes are too… So probably it will be beans.

Harvesting should pick up soon too since it’s almost time for tomatoes, peppers and beans!

There probably won’t be too much more planting until late July/early August when the fall things will go in. And then in late fall, probably after Halloween I’ll do the spring bulbs. I’m going to plant a bunch this year, and hopefully I’ll actually be planting them myself!

Food Preservation
The next round of stuff from the garden will mean it’s time for food preservation. The early stuff either doesn’t preserve well (radishes and lettuce) or gets eaten fresh (strawberries and blueberries).

  • Canning – I’m doing crushed tomatoes with the determinant paste tomatoes (I’m growing Mariana paste tomatoes). I’m also planning to do pickled jalapenos and dill pickles.
  • Dehydrating – I’m going to do cherry tomatoes, maybe some slicing tomatoes and probably summer squash and eggplant. I like dehydrating them before freezing since they freeze better and thaw faster. And I might dehydrate some herbs and chamomile too, we’ll see. And next year there should be lavender!
  • Freezing – If there are extra blackberries and raspberries I’m going to freeze them. I’m also planning to freeze beans and peppers (hopefully both hot peppers and bell peppers this year!).
  • General – I will also hopefully have potatoes, garlic, onions and shallots to store too.

There are always plenty of house projects. We did the big stuff at the start of the year with replacing the bathroom vanity and the roof. And this month we got the outdoor faucets fixed.

I’d really like to get some small electrical stuff done before this winter (utility size outlet for the freezers in the basement, outside outlets for yard work and Christmas lights, outlets by my desk in the sewing room and by the TV in the den). So that’s on the project list. And I’d like to get a screen door for the back door. The one that was there when we moved in was damaged so we took that off, but it would be nice to have one to protect the main door and also be able to leave the main door open when the weather’s nice and have a breeze.

I also really want to paint the kitchen. There’s not a lot of surface area in there, but it’s concrete gray (the previous owners really liked gray). And I’d like a light teal to match the dark teal tiles and set off the white cabinets. I also think it would feel more cheerful.

The other thing I want to do before winter is replace the couch and chair in the living room. Ideally, I think a new loveseat and the glider from the small Patrick’s bedroom would be nice. It would free up space and we could put a cabinet thing (like a china cabinet with cabinets on the bottom and shelves with glass doors on top) along the wall between the living room and dining rooms. Then we’d have nice storage space too. Of course that means actually dealing with the decorative half wall thing that’s there… but it would be nice when it was done I think.

General Life
I want to take the little guys to the pool (we got our pool membership this year!) and to the library. I’d also like to take walks with the little guys and the older Patrick now that that is feasible again.

Maybe I’ll even get my bike tuned up and see if I can ride it…

I’d also like to take the little guys to the zoo or a museum. Will still prefers a morning nap but sometimes he’s willing to wait until the afternoon so that might be an option now. Of course summer weather is here now too, so figuring out when would be a good time is a little tricky.

Driving up to the pick-your-own place, even if we’re not picking fruit, and just going to the farm stand and enjoying a drive could be fun too.

And it’s almost 4th of July, Patrick might be big enough to enjoy the fireworks this year, but Will is probably still too small, so we’ll have to see what might work for that.

So there should be a lot of fun things to do this summer.

New Month, New Projects

And it’s August already…time goes quickly when you have lots to do!  I’ve started the next round of the garden.  I cleared out the cucumbers (the last plants were giving in to the beetles) and the New Zealand spinach (it was too much of a succulent for me, I wasn’t a fan) and started putting in the fall vegetables.  So far I’ve got carrots, scallions and beets planted.  I’m planning to add some turnips too and probably some fall radishes and lettuce.  I think the yellow beans are winding down, so I’m probably going to plant some more over there too.  The purple beans are almost ready though, so we’ll have those soon.

I’ve got more beans to freeze too and lots of peppers.  I might be canning tomatoes this weekend too!  I figure it’s about 7 tomatoes per quart (more or less) so we’ll see…  It’s tomatoes, so canning them is extra useful, but they’re definitely more work than pickles and hot peppers.  Hopefully this time my jars don’t break (I guess I’m going to be sticking with boiling the heck out of them before filling them after all).  I’m hoping we get enough tomatoes for me to can a bunch (ideally 10 to 15, but we’ll see).  At least I’m definitely getting plenty of cherry tomatoes to dehydrate!  I’ve done two batches already.  I suppose I should also remember that they just started producing and with any luck will be going right up to Halloween, which is 3 more months of production, so I shouldn’t be too impatient…

My other projects are going well, I’m almost done with the first sleeve on the tiny Patrick’s green Bowline sweater and I’m very happy with how it looks so far.  I think maybe I’ll be able to start his Campfire sweater this weekend.

I also want to finish sewing his Christmas stocking and also plan out some sewing for me and the tiny Patrick.  Maybe the grown up Patrick too… I have the fall issues for Ottobre and I’d like to pick some projects from those.

I’d like to do some knit shirts and pants for the tiny Patrick and do a cardigan and a knit dress for me from the most recent Ottobre issue.  I have fabric for shirts for the grown up Patrick too.  And I’d like to make the tiny Patrick a Halloween costume (better to  start planning now so I finish it in time!).  I think it’s time to get a coverstitch machine too.  They fill a similar role for knit fabrics that sergers do for wovens (more or less) and I think there’s a lot of knit fabrics in my future…

So I’m going to try and plan those projects out and then see if maybe I can start one.  So goals for this weekend:

  • Freeze lots of peppers!
  • Freeze lots of beans!
  • Dehydrate (and then freeze!) lots of cherry tomatoes
  • Can larger tomatoes as crushed tomatoes?
  • Bake bread
  • Knit baby sweaters!
  • Finish Christmas stocking
  • Make sewing plans

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!

Summer Weather Means Projects

Well, it’s been a week or two, so there’s been a lot of projects going on. The biggest ones are the garden projects but there’s been some knitting and sewing too.

For the garden there are the usual summer challenges related to living here (squash vine borers, cucumber beetles, etc.). If it eats vegetable plants it lives here. So the zucchini met its demise once again and the cucumbers have had a tough time, but it’s something to learn from for next year. Next time I’m going to plant the zucchini and then just pull the plant before the vine borers get going (end of June) which should be enough time to get some zucchini at least. And I’m going to plant County Fair cucumbers next year which will hopefully stand up to the beetles better (this year I tried ones the beetles aren’t supposed to like, turns out our beetles think they’re great).

Despite the challenges we’re getting lots of beans and peppers. I canned 18 pints of hot peppers. I would have also gotten 3 more quarts of pickles but my jars broke. I’m not sure if the cucumbers cooled them down too much or if they were old. It was definitely disappointing though. Still, 18 pints of hot peppers is pretty good!

We’ve also gotten a bunch of eggplants and it looks like we’re going to be getting some squash with any luck (I also planted mini-butternut squash and crookneck squash since the vine borers have a tough time with those). And maybe even some mini-pumpkins for the tiny Patrick…

It’s also time for switching over another section of the garden. I’m going to clear out the New Zealand spinach and switch it over to fall plants (scallions and beets to start, then more carrots, lettuce, radishes and mizuna). I wasn’t a fan of the New Zealand spinach, it looks like a weed to me and the fact that it’s a succulent is just weird. So the plan for next year is bush beans instead.

There should also be more cherry tomatoes and beans to pick this weekend, which should be fun.

I’m hoping to make a Christmas stocking for the tiny Patrick this weekend and maybe make some progress on his play mat.  I’ve got it assembled, I just need to make some binding tape.  I didn’t get any extra fabric for that so I’m going to look through the fabric I’ve got and see if I find anything I like.

And there’s knitting too.  I’m up to the sleeves on the tiny Patrick’s sweater so I’d like to see if I can finish it so I can start his next sweater.  I have my yarn for his Campfire sweater and for the Waffle blanket.  I think I might save the blanket for when the weather cools off a little though…

I think I’m also going to have to knit a new hat, or maybe pull out the yarn and re-knit it?  I was comparing pictures of my replacement hat to pictures of the original and while the original was shaped mostly like a square the replacement is more like a triangle, which is probably why it doesn’t stay on…  Of course if I rip it out and redo it I may be without a hat if I’m not prompt about knitting a replacement… I’ll have to think about it.

Oh and I want to make bread this weekend.  Home made bread is always the best kind.


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!

Summer Days

So it’s now very much summer, warm humid air, weeds and the garden growing like crazy, lots of projects to do, food preservation questions to consider…  Yep, definitely summer.  I have gotten a bunch of things done though!  First, I finished the soft book from the fabric panel, which ended up turning out very nicely.  It’s cute and using the fluffy batting made it really nice and cuddly.  The tiny Patrick approves.

I also finished my 4th of July dress and it turned out great.  The pockets fit in nicely and the fit is perfect (extra yay!).  And I have officially decided that the answer is to sew the facing down under the collar (you can’t see the line of stitching that way).  I was really careful to do everything right with the facing, even grading the seam allowances and using a pinking shears (which was tricky and annoying!) and it still wouldn’t lay flat.  I think it’s just the result of the shape of my back/shoulders.  So!  It got sewn down and that’s what I’ll do in the future.  It looks fine that way.

I also started the advent calendar.  That’s been a fun project, just enough detail to be interesting without being fiddly.  I would be working on that now, but there’s a fluffy white cat sleeping on it.  Also, it looks like the dense cotton batting was the right choice for that one.  It gives it more of a tapestry type weight that I think will help it hang nicely.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to use a dowel or rings to hang it….Probably the dowel since I think that will make it straighter, the only downside is then I’ll have to store said dowel, but if I roll the advent calendar around it, that shouldn’t be too bad.

I also did my lavender packets!   I picked some lavender flowers (a nice little mini bouquet) which was enough for 3 layers in the dehydrator without crowding them.  I set it to 95 degrees for about 2 hours and they came out nice and dry.  It also made the house smell pretty nice!  Then I cut up some of the smaller bits of fabric from my grandma and made 4 little ‘pillows’ each about the size of my hand.  I thought about adding stuffing too, but I decided flat packets would do a better job at letting the scent into the surrounding area and not take up as much space in the closet/drawer/etc.  I also only used the flowers and not the stems.  The stems also have scent but a lot less and the flowers were enough to give each packet plenty of lavender.  They’re also crazy strong.  They’re sitting on our kitchen table now and you can smell them from the next room over.  So maybe that will be enough to defeat the closet that’s permeated with 50+ years of shampoo and fabric softener…

I also finished knitting the tiny Patrick’s new fall/winter hat.  I did “Bumble” by Tin Can Knits.  It’s very cute but I think the stitch work is a little open for being a nice heavy duty winter hat.  Then again a toddler probably isn’t going to be outside outside much in really cold weather so maybe this is the best way to do it?  The best part is the pompom.  I remember making one at some point (I don’t know when, like childhood sometime) and it turning out sad and not fluffy so I got a proper pompom maker (they’re like $5) and put a ton of yarn (as much as I could fit!) into it and it turned out great!  It’s super soft and fluffy.  So I’m really happy about that.  Also I did extra repeats so it covers his ears properly!

I’m still working on re-knitting the top of my Apple Pie hat.  I think I did an extra repeat the first time but didn’t write it down, so when I made my replacement I just did the recommended length.  It spent all winter sliding off my head, which was massively annoying.  So!  I cut the yarn at the top and ripped back to wear the decreases started (since there’s only 1 spot in the pattern with purl stitches and the first decrease is purl-two-together this was easier than expected…).  So I dug out the tiny ball of extra yarn and am now knitting an extra repeat before doing the decreases.  Hopefully it will stay on this time around!

The garden has also been busy.  We’ve picked lots and lots of beans so far (and I have lots more to pick today!).  These are yellow beans (my favorite) and Romano beans (Patrick’s favorite).  I think I might also plant some purple beans so we have some regular green beans around too.  Pole beans was definitely the way to go with the Romano beans, they produce so much better than the bush bean version.

We’ve also got our first round of peppers.  I don’t think the bell peppers liked their proximity to the cucumbers or the weather but we’re still getting some.  The jalapenos are doing great.  I’m hoping to freeze a bunch of those and then start pickling them.

We’ve also gotten cucumbers!  Yay!  I’ve made two jars of fridge pickles and I’ll still have plenty for cucumber sandwiches this week!  Hopefully they’ll keep going and I’ll be able to can pickles too.

We’ve gotten the first couple tomatoes (the cherry ones) too and there are lots that are almost ready.  I’m planning to dehydrate the cherry ones (I got an egg slicer to hopefully make that more manageable).  I’m also hoping if the full sized ones come through for me this year I can can small batches of crushed tomatoes.  We’ll see…

We might even get a few blackberries to try this year if I manage to beat the birds to them…   (fruit + birds is a challenge I have yet to fully resolve, bird netting has some serious downsides after all)

I also want to make jam, but I’m going to need to get the fruit to do that I think.  Our strawberries are producing enough for snacks (even with squirrel theft) but not jam and we won’t get more than a couple from the rest of the fruit for a year or three.  So jam requires a Costco or farmer’s market visit.  So we’ll see…

Oh and I cleared out the bolting lettuce (and 4 wheelbarrows of weeds from around the yard…) and planted pumpkins and yellow squash.  Hopefully those work out, that would make me happy.

Still though, plenty to do.  Next goals:

  • Finish Apple Pie hat
  • Finish Advent calendar
  • Start USA play mat
  • Start blue dress (Hawthorn again?  Something new?)
  • Start baby clothes (probably from Ottobre)
  • Start grown up Patrick shirts
  • Freeze/Can/Dry peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans
  • Plant purple beans?
  • Clear out garden bed by the shed
  • Finish attaching tomato cage tops
  • Hang reflective anti-bird tape
  • Continue cleaning/organizing the house (my room, the closet of doom, the basement, etc…)
  • Stick to goal of one slow cooker meal a week

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.


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.

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