Monday, January 30, 2012

January Sum-Up!

With all the daily mundane routines eating away the vast majority of my time, it's nice to take a moment to look back on the month and see what's been accomplished.

In the garden:
·Laid the foundation for a new herb bed
·Planted a mint bed under the orange tree
·Planted seeds for some veggies that hopefully will be coming up soon
·Brought my chickens back to a more nourished, happy state
·Gradually bringing to life in my imagination (first step to reality) a bee yard in the back corner.

In the house:
·Have about half the house under control now on a daily basis. No small feat!
·While not complete just yet, my goal is by the end of the month (woops! tomorrow!) to have all the Christmas decorations put away

My 52 Week Mini-Challenges have REALLY helped me feel like I’ve taken steps towards taking care of myself on a personal level! Some permanent changes I’ve made:
·I’ve cut way back on my coffee (from 4-5 cups a day to 2) which is healthier AND saving me money! I’ve only made 2 runs to Starbucks this month!
·Fast food elimination! I’ve not had fast food ONCE this month!!!
·I’ve upped my water intake from practically zilch to 48 oz a day
·I’m not exercising every day but I’m trying. I’m generally more active on a daily basis than I was. My flexibility is definitely better with my daily stretching.
·My face is much better now do to making sure to wash and moisturize it daily

Along the way I’ve been able to embark on some fun projects such as starting a batch of culinary orange extract, a new batch of vanilla extract, etc. I really wanted to make some orange marmalade from my oranges but… jelly making and babies don’t mix so well. At least not right now. That’s ok… I’d rather have the baby ;-)

There! I feel better and more accomplished just by writing this out. There is still SO MUCH I want to do, it’s easy to feel impatient or frustrated when time or finances hinder the process, so it’s important to see how far I’ve come rather than where I want to go.

I'm not adding a new Mini Challenge this week. I want to use this week to cement the good habits, wrap up projects, and think about what I want to accomplish in February!

Better go hustle!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


NOW it's getting to be a bit ridiculous! I was outside looking for something and suddenly though it might be where the chicken coop used to be (I move it around periodically until I establish a more permanent arrangement). I go out there and see this (doesn't show up too well in this shot):

That's just one but there are volunteer tomatoes everywhere around the old chicken location! Four total! I know what happened, the chickens get veggie scraps and some tom. seeds sprouted up in the rich "leftovers" the chickens so graciously donated. Unlike in the garden where I can narrow down what sort of tomato plants sprouted up there, here I have NO idea. Could have been from a wormy garden tomato, could be from the farmer's market, could be from the store. I have no clue. I'm definitely not pulling them up though, not now at least. I'll just leave them happy where they are (they aren't in the way of anything at the moment) and let nature do it's thing and have fun with it. Just watch... I'll harvest pounds of tomatoes from them and none from the garden.

Now onto my agenda on this blustery “spring” day in January:
·Zest a ton of fresh oranges to make dried orange peel powder
·Start some orange extract
·Start some new vanilla extract
·Maybe start some vanilla sugar
·Finish off the Memorial Herb Bed and start some plantings there (will post pictures soon).
·MAYBE clean up the front stoop and put some fresh pretty potted things there…it’s looking very grim with the plant mummies from last summer sitting there.
·Plant some seeds… not sure what yet.

Ok I might not be able to get all that done today… let’s aim for this as a weekend goal ;-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Good Grief!

It looks like the Lone Tomato has friends!

There is another tomato plant popping up, several little fuzzy heads of carrots, and something else that I'm not sure about. It could be a weed but I'm going to delay in pulling it up for a while yet. There are not other weeds in the area that looks like this so it might be a "real" plant.

I'm simultaneously pleased, baffled, and vaguely annoyed. I'm very excited to see things growing but baffled/annoyed they are doing it now and not when I planted them. Whaaaat's up with that?

I know, I's all good. But it doesn't go far in TEACHING me anything. Other than the fact that gardens grow in their own good time.

One thing I DO know, the garden soil is doing ok...I had thought I needed to give it something magical but apparently not. So planting is officially on the agenda for this week.

I just hope what I plant now won't wait til January of '13 to show up.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's the Lone Tomato!!!

Thus far I have proven to be a pathetic gardener.

I realize part of this is simply the learning process. But seriously.

On my first attempt (spring of ’10) I buried my seeds far too deeply into the soil. I thought I was protecting them from birds but in reality, I was keeping sunshine from them (good analogy to parenting actually… but I digress…).

That fall I was busy planning my wedding.

My next attempt was spring of ’11. I don’t know what happened that time. I planted my beautiful little heirloom seeds and… nothing. The few tomato seedlings I planted did “ok” but never could be called thriving. Most of my toms were wormy before I ever got to them.

That fall I was busy with a newborn. We move quickly around here.

Now I’m facing spring of ’12. Will this be the year? I’m trying to juggle a household, a new baby, a stack of reading material, and a deep DEEP desire for a successful garden. I’ve prepped two new herb beds the last few months, with plans for future beds down the road (right now I’m focusing more on cooking herbs but I very much want to grow medicinal herbs as well, and the sooner the better). I've actually managed to do fairly well with herbs so far. I’ll have to start over with my blackberries as the terrible drought last year did them in at last, despite my best efforts, so those need to be replaced. My grapevines… well… the jury is out on those. My potted dwarf apricot might be dead. Or might just not have leaves.

On the bright side my potted Meyer Lemon and Mexican Lime trees are doing very well. I’m trying to decide whether I want to leave them in pots or plant them this spring. I have other tree plans as well.

Today I went out to water what is alive (or hoped to be alive) and decided to quickly turn up my current little garden bed by hand. I attacked a few weeds and turned soil and suddenly came across something amazing:

A lone little tomato plant from a seed tossed last year? The year before? I have no idea what kind it is. But it’s a gift. And hopefully an omen.

Here’s to the 2012 growing season!!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

52 Week Challenge!

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?

I’m not sure if I have ever made true resolutions… usually more vague promises to be a better person by trying to attain things like patience, fortitude, a cheerful attitude, etc. Whether or not these things were actually attained I couldn’t say.

For several years running I took a word for the year to center my life around and that technique had amazing results in my life. I should say I was GIVEN a word because the word for the year would just pop into my head with headlights and a chorus of angels singing to let me know it had arrived. When things in my life would become difficult or problematic, often that word would come back into my head and somehow honing in on that word would somehow solve whatever issue was facing me. I wish I had kept a journal of those years because now I can’t remember what words I chose in that time of my in life. “Grace” was one year and “Forgiveness” another. One year was actually a phrase: "Be a grown-up"... but beyond that… ??? Some time ago though the words disappeared and that time in my life passed on to new roads to follow. To everything there is a season.

However, I happen to be one of those people who LOVES self-improvement. My problem is I attempt too much improvement at once and end up frustrated and annoyed with myself, and making no improvement at all. So this year I am doing something different. I am challenging myself to a 52 Week Challenge. Every week I will choose a mini-goal that will either 1) help establish a new habit or 2) break an old one. These are not to be a challenge with a temporary result in mind but something of lasting importance. For example, doing one’s taxes, while a worthwhile endeavor is (I hope) temporary in nature… once April 15th rolls around, you are done. This is an effort to change my life for the better. And just think, by the end of the year I will have altered my life for good in 52 ways! My challenges may be physical, mental, or spiritual in nature.

Come join me! :-)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Baby Steps

First time back in the yard since last summer (other than feeding the chickens and watering some plants. Laid the baby on a blanket in some dappled sunlight and bricked out a new herb bed

The potted tree is an dwarf apricot that I hope is still alive, and the growing on the chain link fence is a white Thompson Seedless grape.

Interesting story about those bricks. They come from a demolished building here in this area that was called the Memorial Coliseum. It was here for decades and a lot of our town's "big" events were held there. When it was torn down I collected some bricks specifically for a Memorial Garden Bed... I like the idea of borders created from interesting recycled bits and this one is really special to me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back in the Saddle

I've been gone a long, long time but I think this is as good a reason as any to not be blogging:

Welcome to the world Ava June!!!

More to come :-)