Friday, April 30, 2010

All Sorts of Progress


Spinach. Ooh, and a weed!

Sage and Pineapple Sage- which smells yummy!

Leaf Lettuce. (Not yet thinned.)

Garden #3.


More flowers.

And, Peas. I think pea plants are the prettiest of all! Don't you?
And finally, some progress on my latest project. Sneak peak for now!

It's sunny, beautiful and, believe it or not, hot here in Lansing, Enjoy your Friday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vinegar Love

Another beautiful day here! The sun is shining and the sky is cloud-free. It is still a little cool but it is that refreshing coolness. You'll be happy to know that we didn't have any frost issues over night. The garden looks fine and all of the seedlings are reaching for the sunshine. The chickens are all accounted for. The egg-layers are just growing and changing so fast. They are quite beautiful with lots of color beginning to show in their feathers.

I've been giving the kitchen a once over. With vinegar! That's right- vinegar! Perhaps I am the last person to discover the wonders of vinegar but I don't care. I went to a website yesterday,, and discovered many lengthy lists of the uses for vinegar. WOW!!! So, today I filled a spray bottle with undiluted distilled white vinegar and cleaned my heart out. It did a great job! I don't care for the smell of vinegar (who does?) but I found, when cleaning with it, the smell faded as the vinegar dried. In the end my kitchen just smelled clean. It was great! So, check out the website. They had some great tips for lots of things, not just cleaning. Like, if your dog itches its ear a lot, wipe the inside of their ear with a soft cloth with white vinegar on it regularly. We did that for Katie- her ears were ruling her world- and it seems to have worked. I'm going to keep at it once a week and see if it helps her out. I'll keep you posted.

So there is my plug for vinegar. I wish I had known all of this stuff before! When I think of all of the money I could have saved on cleaning products...Oy! And, it's non-toxic, so it's safe around kids and pets. I'm loving the vinegar!

Alright, enough of that. I'm going to do some stitching now while the little ones sleep. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday News

It is a beautiful day here in Lansing, Michigan. The sun is shining, the sky is perfectly blue, green is EVERYWHERE. And it's cold. :( Only mid-fifties today. Not the end of the world, though, because it is still so pretty. I'm going to stay in today and sew. It's kind of nice to have this decision made for me!

What am I sewing? I'm working on a cross stitch design featuring geraniums. Not enough is done to show you, so you'll have to wait.

The chicks are doing good. We found one in the food container this morning. After thinking that it had escaped its pen altogether. Dave fished her out and returned her to the fold. Crazy birds!

I bought some hanging flower baskets yesterday. Geraniums and Bleeding Hearts. I also bought a flat of Begonias. I got some more mulch to spread around the garden beds. It's looking really nice out there. (Sorry, no pictures yet.) I felt like I want to make this vegetable garden of mine part of the landscape- pretty and purposeful. It is very in-your-face out there in the side yard and it is drawing a lot of attention. Our neighbor hood has started a community garden, too. It's cool watching everyone get so involved in our bit of Earth. I'm no environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination but I've developed a desire, if you will, to be a better steward of what God has given me. I also want my boys to learn how to take care of themselves- from the ground up!

I've started thinning out the seedlings and will continue to do more on Thursday when it will be warmer out. I have also moved the tomato seedlings out side to be 'hardened ' before being transplanted. All this in time for frost warnings for tonight. So, I'll be out and about this evening bundling up my little darlings.

Dave and I have also started sketching out our plans for the chicken coop. We have lots of old doors and cabinets and woodwork from all of the remodeling we've been doing on our house. I think we should use as much of this 'waste' as possible. It'll be cheaper, for one thing, and it'll give a lot of character to the coop. I am again approaching this as an extension of our landscaping- a work of art. I'll keep you updated once we get started on this.

Well, I think that's enough 'stream of consciousness' for now. Back to stitching! Enjoy your day!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Another Finish

"Grandma's Geraniums" is finished and for sale on Etsy (and at my webshop when I finish here). It turned out really nice. I don't think I'll be making a pattern of this but I enjoyed working with the geranium motif so I'll be exploring that more.

It's kinda blah here today- the weather is blah, not me.:) I'm anxious to work on my garden. Not that there is much to do beyond thinning some of the seedlings and pulling the odd weed. I just want to be out there with my plants.

*I think we are dealing with an invasion-of-the-green-thumbed-farm-girl-body-snatchers going on here. I promise you I am not outdoorsy. Or am I?

Meanwhile, the dryer is humming, the chicks are peeping, the 2-year old is sleeping, the 7-year old is battling/pirating, God is in heaven and all is right with the world! I hope all is right in your world, too. Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Additions

We have chickens!

That's right! My dream of raising chickens has become a reality. Last Sunday, we drove quite a distance to the western side of the state to purchase some wee, little chicks from my cousin's son. He also took us shopping for chick necessities and gave us a crash course on raising chickens. Currently, they are residing in our basement until we can clear out a large enough area in our garage for them. Then we will begin constructing a chicken run and, eventually, a coup.

They are quite sweet but, in only three days, no longer "wee". They grow quite quickly, which we were told to expect that, but it is quite amazing to watch. It reminds me of when a seedling first breaks through the soil. Every time you pass by it, it has grown. Our chicks are doing well and we have not lost any. Now for the introductions....

Aren't they sweet!!!! Every time I go down to visit them, they all run to the far corner and peck away at the wood. Like they are trying to run away. From me. I try not to take it personally. Then I pick one up and hold it and try to reassure it that she's okay and I'm okay. (Unfortunately, it's usually one of the meat chicks that I end up catching so my words of assurance ring a little hollow.)

I have already decide on their names. I don't know who is who yet but as they get bigger I'll figure that out. The egg layers are: Jane, Lizzie, Mary, Kitty, Lydia, Emma, Catherine and Cutie. (Nathanael wanted to name one of the chicks so he chose "Cutie". He has a great imagination accept for when it comes to naming things. Once, I got him a teddy bear and when I asked what he was going to name it he said, "Other Bear". I believe I made a pitch for Fred but no, Other Bear was all set.) As you can see, I'm a big fan of Jane Austen.

Now meet the, uh, yum- I mean um... we'll call them short-term guests: Lady Catherine, Caroline, Louisa, Isabelle and Mrs. Elton- a.k.a. the Tetrazzini Sisters. I have to approach this aspect of chicken keeping with a sense of humor or, come "harvest" time, I'm going to have a bit of a problem. I also know that naming them might not be wise but I can't just call them "Hey, You" and I figured if I named them after Jane Austen's villains... You get where I'm going, right?

So, there you go. The new additions to our family. I'll keep you all update on our progress. Enjoy your day!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Just so you know...

I just finished watering my garden beds and I thought you'd like to know that I wasn't totally off the mark yesterday. We have radishes and spinach making their premier appearance. Yes, I'm sure this time. First, they look nothing like the weeds I am also growing. Second, I remember from last year how quickly both the radishes and spinach began to grow. I'm excited but remain understated in said excitement. I exhibited none of the fateful displays of yesterday.

My feelings for squirrels are unchanged. My Nathanael is under orders to continue disliking the rodents with the intensity he has previously displayed. In the past, I tried to curb this. I was wrong.

Meanwhile, it's a chilly day here in Michigan. Yard work is being set aside in favor of laundry. I plan on doing some sewing today and weeding through my fabric stash.

Enjoy your day!

Friday, April 16, 2010


So, this morning, I saw green in my garden where I have planted seeds. I was so excited! I had Asher in my arms, we danced around and kissed. (Probably looked like I had just returned home from the war.) I told my friend, Sue, my husband, called my parents. I was so proud! (Remember now, I planted these seeds less than a week ago.)

I go to Target, still basking in the glory of my emerging vegetables. Then I return home...

Wait! I titled this post "Patience" because I began the day praying for patience.

Anyway, I drive home, come round the corner in my green mini van and see a squirrel sitting on the edge of my first garden bed. I yell out my regrettably, open window, "Hey!". I honk the horn and tear into the driveway in a vain attempt to intimidate the thieving &@$!@%*. I then get out of the car and start talking smack to the rodent. And then, I see my neighbor and another man looking at me. Nice! There's no real way to recover from a display like that so I opted to soldier on. I told that squirrel that his butt was mine and then I told my little boy that mommy was going to buy a shot gun. In for a penny, in for a pound. Right?

So, time passes. Children are fed and napping. Mommy was fed and caught up on "stuff". I decided to work on my geranium piece. Everything was going well until I reached my quota of finger pokes. See, I only allow myself to poke myself with my pins and needles so many times. I make myself move on once it appears that I have more of a crime scene on my hands instead of a work of art. I grabbed my camera and decided to take pictures of my wee, little seedlings to show you my progress. It was then that I began to notice that all of my seedlings looked alike and that they were showing up everywhere, not just where I planted seeds. They're weeds, aren't they? Don't worry, I haven't pulled any out yet. I'll be patient (yeah, right) and wait to see what develops.

Moral of the story? Continue praying for patience but up the dosage, add a touch of humility and self-control to the mix, plot downfall of squirrel population but limit fire power.

Meanwhile, enjoy this picture of my geranium progress- no weeds!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vegetable Garden Update

Much has been accomplished in the past few weeks.

Indoors the sprouts are sprouting. They're so sweet! I talk to them more than a sane person probably should- sometimes I sound a bit frantic and I bet my dear sprouts are a bit tired of my shoving my eager face in their personal space. They are doing their thing, though. I'm so proud! We have 3 different kinds of tomatoes (grape, roma and regular), peppers and broccoli. I had to do a second planting of broccoli because, out of the first six, I only got two sprouts. I did another six and so far 3 plants have joined us. Right now they are all sitting out in this wonderful sunshine we have today. Come on, broccoli!

Outdoors we have our raised beds. Two weekends ago, my husband and my father built four 4 ft. by 5 ft. by 12" deep beds and filled them with some lovely dirt and compost. The next weekend I roped off the 12" squares and planted some seeds. So far we have peas, carrots, leaf lettuce, beets, radishes, spinach and kale. I have some seed potatoes in a paper bag in a dark, cool spot of our basement growing eyes as we speak. They are next. In a couple of weeks I'll be able to really get planting.

My husband is doing a lot of research on raising chickens and, as it turns out, my cousin Rose's son raises chickens. This weekend we will be paying him a visit. I'm so excited about this, as is Nathanael. I think this will be a lot of fun for us and we will, obviously, learn lots.

I think I'm going to give Nathanael a little plot in the area that we used to plant our veggies in for his own garden. Sadly, the boy doesn't have much of an appreciation for vegetables but we're working on him. Maybe this will help.

So, there's the update. I'll take more pics of our garden as things develop. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Grandma, Geraniums and Rose

Grandma. I've spent a lot of time this past week and a half thinking about my Grandma. Remembering her and noticing how much I associate with her. It has been sad and sweet, humbling and inspiring. I like inspiration and recognize it when it strikes. I know how important it is to not take inspiration for granted. Sometimes I'm not quite sure how to use it. This time I do.

Images that pop into my mind when I think of Grandma are her flowers, her garden, her cats, her love of God and country. There is much more but these inspire me, too. As a result I have decided to create a series based on my memories of Grandma and how she inspires me.

Geraniums. At the cemetery the other day, my cousin, Rose, talked about Grandma's love of African violets and geraniums. Grandma had quite a green thumb and anything she grew grew beautifully. Rose mentioned how little luck she herself had with both of those plants but that, once in a while, she'd buy some and give them another try. I, too, remember those flowers, especially geraniums. My mother always had window boxes full of them on our front porch. I don't have much luck with geraniums either, but every year, I buy some and hope for the best!

Rose. My cousin Rose is one of my most favorite people in the universe. I do not exaggerate. I have always felt a near-devotion to her. An almost-hero worship. She is about 15 years older than I, which adds to the larger-than-life quality about her, I'm sure. I always thought she was so beautiful. I can remember showing my young friends her senior picture. She looked like a movie star! I just thought she was so cool, too (still do). Rose is also one of my go-to people. Like, if my world fell apart in some way, I know I could go to her and she'd be there for me- in whatever way I would need.

While thinking about Grandma's flowers and how I could share this with others, I thought about Rose and the geraniums she talked about. And everything fell into place! At first I was going to do red geraniums and keep everything pretty muted, color-wise. But then I found this wonderful, colorful plaid and a bright, beautiful magenta wool. I wanted to use those but they didn't quite 'gel' with Grandma. But you know what? Rose! Wonderful, colorful, bright and beautiful Rose!

Here is a sneak peak....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Memories of Grandma

I've been a bit neglectful of my little blog, I know. I apologize but, as you know, life gets in the way.

Last Thursday, April 1st, my Grandmother passed away. It wasn't sudden but it was still a bit of a shock. Funny how that happens, isn't it? You prepare yourself for the inevitable, you can clearly see where things are heading, but when it happens....

It's sad, too. (Of course it is, you say!) It's sad in so many ways that you don't quite prepare for. In this instance, my mother lost her mother. It breaks my heart to think about (or write about, for that matter). I think my feelings for my mom is what overwhelmed me the most, to begin with. It's sad that I will never get to see or talk to or laugh with my grandmother again. It's sad that the last of my grandparents is gone.

There is a flip side, too. A sweeter side to all of this sadness. Grandma isn't in any physical pain anymore. As a Christian, and knowing that she was saved, I know that she is truly in a better place. All of the "baggage" and burdens that she had been carrying around with her have been lifted from her. And, as Nathanael put it, "Why are you sad? You're going to see her again. In Heaven." (The "duh!" was implied.)

Grandma's passing has inspired me, too. Lit a fire under me. It was so wonderful to see so much of my family at her funeral. It shouldn't take a funeral for me to get in touch with people I'm actually related to, though. I'm going to do better about that! My Grandmother was blessed enough to get to know, not only great-grandchildren, but also great-great-grandchildren! How cool is that! I'd be foolish to let these relationships fade away.

Now for the memories part...

I remember Grandma's flowers. All kinds and so beautiful. Indoors and out.

I remember Grandma's vegetable garden surrounded by a border of bright marigold's. And the rabbits that would visit. And the tongue lashing those rabbits would get:)

I remember the summer my brother and I spent a week at her house. We were told to "bring our food to our mouth, not our mouth to our food". I read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" there. I remember the little creek my brother and I would run down to. And the cemetery beyond. Very enchanting at Grandma's house.

I remember all of Grandma's cats. Once there was even a dog.

I remember Grandma's visits to our house. We always had to have the heat turned up. Way up.

I remember lots of great stories that led to lots of laughter.

I remember how much Grandma loved my mother. That meant a lot to me, knowing how he loved her.

So, here's to Grandma. I'll miss her very much.

Grandma holding me.

Grandma visiting our house. (Go Phillies!)

Grandma, my mom, my nephew and me.

Grandma, a new Asher, Nathanael and me.
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