Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Bit Older Now

It's the last day of the year and the day I was born in 1981. I arrived bright and early. We were on our way home by dinner time. The hospital was too busy for us to stick around and mom is one resilient woman and didn't need to stay. I was born two weeks late. It also happened to be one of the worst winter storms Michigan experienced in many years. Or at least that's how it is remembered.

Born with a packet of seeds, a bag of soil and a gardening trowel, I was ready to dig in the dirt. I have loved plants my entire life. I spent my days as an infant, sitting in the greenhouse atop a bench while mom watered the annual bedding plants they raised. To this day, when I enter a greenhouse, I want to curl up and take a nap.

My parents always enjoyed a good vegetable garden and it was only natural that I get my own plot for what I wanted to grow. A cucumber, a marigold, an apple seed, the sky was the limit.

Not much has changed. Only the scale has changed. Bigger is better. More and more, I want every plant I can get my hands on. Iris, fall bulbs, hosta, hellebore, clematis, roses, epimedium, delphinium, foxglove, daylily, herbs, vegetables, trees, shrubs, vines, and on and on. I dream of a farm with lush gardens all around the house. Mostly shade in the front and a bit to the west, provided by large trees. Soothing green ferns, moss, hostas,rhododendron, hellebores and ephemeral, woodland plants soften the beds. To the east and south, sun, lots of it. Cottage gardens stuffed to the gills with pink, blue, purple, white and some soft yellows. Some areas slightly formal, some wild and full. Once I leave the yard I venture into the small fruit orchards and giant vegetable plot where I grow food for my CSA members. The barns and animals reside back there as well. I picture all of this on 20 plus acres. A piece of wonderment.

It will be awhile before this dream is real but in the meantime I can keep dreaming, planning and moving ahead on the path of life.

To 2010! Let it bring us new dreams, hope and promise of better times for all.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We Can Dream of Spring

Here is the list of bulbs that my mother and I planted last fall. The list would be much larger if the funds were limitless! I find myself circling hundreds of bulbs in catalogs each fall, wishing that I could buy each in bulk. Instead, I just buy a few of each to have and enjoy them, and with good luck and culture they will multiply.

7 Aflatuense
7 a. christophii
5 a. ivory queen
5 a. schubertii
15 a. drumsticks
5 a. mount everest
5 a. rosenbachianum
15 a. purple sensation
3 a. round and purple

5 Blue Jacket
5 Carnegie
5 City of Harlem
5 Gypsy Queen
5 Jan Bos
5 Pink Pearl
5 Woodstock

15 Casa Blanca

15 Valerie Finnis
15 Latifolium
5 Cotton Candy

20 siberian squill

5 hollandica Bronze Queen
15 s. histrioides Katharine Hodgkin
5 hollandica Eye of Tiger
5 hollandica Sapphire Beauty
5 hollandica Carmen

5 Dutch Master
5 Holland Sensation
15 Mount Hood
5 Exception
15 Money Maker
15 Daydream
5 Flower Record
15 Ice Follies
5 St Patrick's Day
5 Red Devon
5 Rainbow
5 Cool Flame
5 Misty Glen
10 Precocious
5 Thalia
5 Barrett Browning
5 Orangery
5 Fortissimo
5 Pappy George
5 LaBelle
5 Garanium
5 Pipit
5 Martinette
5 O'Bodkin
5 Pink Paradise
5 Sir Winston Churchil
5 Tahiti
5 White Lion
5 Yellow Cheerfulness
5 Golden Ducat
5 Obdam
5 Flowerdrift
5 Cheerfulness
5 Double Campernelle
4 cool flame
4 daydream
4 gazelle
4 lemon beauty
4 passionale
4 pink parasol
4 precocious
4 professor einstein

5 Peppermint Stick
15 Apricot Beauty
10 Yellow Emperor
10 Pink Emperor
10 White Emperor
15 Pink Impression
5 Ivory Floradale
15 Apricot Impression
15 Jasp Groot
15 Shirley
15 Tennessee
5 Bleu Aimable
15 World Expression
15 Pink Diamond
15 Temple of Beauty
12 clusiana
12 happy generation
12 queen of the night
12 spring green

I am awaiting spring anxiously. These lovelies will join my other bulbs for a wonderful show! I hope that my alliums: gladiator, gigantium and globemaster come back strong in the spring. They are in poor soil and must be moved next year to better showcase their beauty.

Next year I would like to get more of the small bulbs/corms like scilla, pushkinia, chionodoxia, crocus, f. checker lily,etc. The more the merrier!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snow for Christmas

These photos are a few days old now, but the ground is still covered in snow. I think it will stay long enough for Christmas.

Andrew getting busy, shoveling snow for our snowman.

The finished product. The snow didn't pack well enough to just roll up snowballs so we had to pile and then shape the snow, can't even tell.

Happy Holidays to all!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our share of the Winter Bounty

This may be all the snow we get this winter but you never know. We are supposed to get three to five inches this evening. Almost feels like home.

Sweater Bags

After felting this sweater I lay it out flat and inside out. That way I can make marks on it. I use a ruler or yard stick to make straight lines across the chest, just below the arm pit seams. Just examine this photo and you can see where to make your cuts.

Pull the neck and arm pieces away and this is what you are left with.

Now flip the sweater so that the side seems are laying over each other. While the sweater is still inside out, sew across the bottom, close to the bottom edge. This sweater is a little uneven along the bottom edge so I will sew across to make it straight.

I do a little trimming on the neck pieces and use them as pockets. You can position the on the inside of the bag or as outside pockets. Machine or hand stitch are both fine.

Attach cute buttons, brooches, fake flowers, or anything fun on the pockets to add a bit more color and character. I have a lot of buttons to use!

Running a supporting stitch along all the cut edges is a good idea if you plan to tote heavy things with the bag but otherwise it isn't really necessary if the bag is well felted.

I haven't stitched this one up yet but you can see what it should look like.

Save all your scraps and turn them into cute flower pins for your sweater or jacket or make cute little animals or ornaments for the tree. Several have said that instead of bags use the pieces to make a quilt. The possibilities are really endless!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recycling Wool Sweaters

I love to buy 100% wool sweaters from places like Goodwill, Salvation Army and other second hand stores and turn them into things like this! First, I felt the sweaters in the washing machine until the knit is no longer visible. Once they are dry it's time to get cutting.

These hand warmers are made from sections of both sleeves. I use the body of the sweater to make handbags. I remove the sleeves at the shoulders when I am making the handbag (that will be my next post). I then slide my hand into the sleeve and see where I would like to cut it for the hand warmer length. Usually about midway up the arm. I then make a slit for my thumbs next to the seam.

Then I take some scrap from another sweater and cut out the little flowers and sew them on with buttons.

Next up!

These are sure to keep your hands warm this winter. Go see if you can find some old wool sweaters and have fun!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Ornaments for the Tree

My very wonderful and dear friend Janelle gave me an early Christmas present yesterday. I was so happy to find a large collection of adorable ornaments for the tree! Our tree was so sparsely decorated before. Now it feels a bit warmer. A box of 24 glass icicles plus about 20 individual ornaments help fill in the empty little tree.

These are just a few of them.

And the tree now!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Iris Seeds

A friend made these crosses this past summer and was kind enough to share them with me. I need to hurry and get them potted and outside. They need lots of cold weather to germinate.

It was in the 50's today. Not exactly cold. Yesterday was pretty warm too. I just wish the sun would come out now.

I can't wait to see what they will look like when they bloom. Iris seedlings will vary greatly from the parent plants most of the time. Often they don't resemble the parents at all. It would be nice to even just get one great new iris out of this batch but even that is a long shot.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Good Reading

Lately, since I have many hours of free time, I have been reading up a storm. Jumping around from book to book, gathering info, taking notes, learning new techniques, and gaining insight. These are all excellent books so far.

Cheeeeeese! Need I say more.

Vegetable gardening is a great vegetable reference book with detailed info on many crops.

The New Organic Grower is fabulous. Elliot Coleman is a genius! Info on all aspects of vegetables, cultivation, market gardening, etc...

The Heirloom Tomato is a mouth watering reference to some of the best tomatoes out there. My favorite aspects are the photos and the flavor ratings.

I received this book free many years ago with my subscription to Organic Gardening magazine. Nice little booklet with tons of info.

A really nice composting reference.

Great and fun! Learn the likes and dislikes of tons of flowers, herbs, fruits, shrubs, trees, and vegetables. Plus info on poisonous plants, garden plans and more.

Backyard Market Gardening is full of great ideas that are still applicable today even though this book is a bit older.

Excellent in every aspect. So much inspiration and good, useful info to get anyone started.

I love this book. The section on Goats cracked me up. This book makes me want to own each and every animal!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Feeling Like Christmas

The local Library hosted a workshop making natural, hand made, Christmas ornaments. Over 30 people arrived ready to craft. We had a great time making these easy and adorable little ornaments. With hot apple cider on the ready, it made for a perfect evening.

These little wreaths are made my braiding long pine needles with floral wire. Then attaching greens, berries and little cones with a glue gun and wire.

This one is just cranberries, dried apples and oranges, cinnamon sticks and twine. Simple, fragrant, and natural. I will put it outside when the season is over.

This little pine cone man puts a smile on my face. What is supposed to be his nose, looks more like a frown. And those little googly eyes, hilarious.

Our tree is a Frasier Fir. It was grown here, near the mountains. This one was only $28. Not to bad for a six foot tree. It is one of the most perfectly shaped trees I have seen too. The fragrance is superb. I love walking into the room now with this cozy little tree. I wish we had a few more ornaments but these will do. Eventually, I would love to have a tree covered in handmade ornaments.

Now all we need is snow!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Do you CSA?

I am quite certain that a CSA is the route I want to take my future farm. Offering all organic chicken eggs, heirloom vegetables, herbs, fruit, garlic, potatoes, cut flowers, mushrooms and perhaps artisan cheeses. I'm thinking that shares containing mushrooms, flowers and cheese will be a higher share price and/or available separately. I am still probably at least two or three years away from owning a farm but It's never to early to start my research.

I want my farm to be extremely diversified, sustainable, organic and educational. Along with the CSA I have about six other business ideas that can be implemented on the farm.

The mushrooms and cheeses will probably not be available the first year or two since it is a lot to take on at the beginning. I suppose it will depend on $$$ and the amount of friends and family that can help at the beginning.

I also want to offer some work shares to help with weeding and harvest through the season. I love this idea! I found another CSA that uses it in MI and seems to work very well. They have around five work shares each year and have 100 paid shares each season. They also have four donated shares. These are given to families or single mothers that cannot afford fresh food or the time for working on the farm.

So, are any of you involved in a CSA? I would love to hear about your experiences, likes and or dislikes and anything else you have to say about it.

CSA sites: and

Thanks for any and all information you can share!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Love Tree

This tree is set amidst a field dappled with wild daffodils in spring. It bares the proclamations of love, friendship and mere presence upon it's bark. This "love tree" bares the burden of our pocket knives as well.

That last sentence makes me giggle a bit. Though I do not condone carving up trees I certainly don't think it's the worst thing in the world. This tree seems to be happy even though it has become a living totem pole over the course of 25 or so years and it now contains a bit of history.

I do get annoyed when I am camping and half the trees at the site have been cut into. Let's keep it to one tree or none at all people.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Spam. Not the kind in a can.

Lately, I have been receiving comments on my posts that are entirely in characters. I'm not sure if they are Japanese/Chinese or ??? I haven't been allowing them since I have no idea what they say. Suppose I should snoop around a bit more to find out.

Then today I got a message from a user that doesn't like deer hunting apparently. I have no problem with that. To each there own. But, if you are going to make a remark about something you don't like than you should probably not do it from an anonymous or private location. I wanted to go visit this person who doesn't like my post but their profile/blog was set to private.

I won't publish rude comments from those who are hiding.