Saturday, April 12, 2008

and I'm off!

It's kind of fuzzy, but I promise that's me... Four years ago on my first trip to the Grand Canyon.

I'll be back in a few weeks. As my mama would say, "Lord willin' and the creek don't rise." Seriously, if the creek rises and washes out the road, our trip could be unexpectedly extended...

Hopefully I've have some fun adventures in canyon-camp cooking to report when I get back.

Bye now!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

this is all I'm good for

Have I mentioned I'm headed to the Grand Canyon for three weeks?  Yep, bring on the kegs and steal the silverware - I'm leavin' town.  (I have a house sitter so I feel marginally comfortable sharing that with whole, wide world of internet.)

I finally turned in that pesky graduate school portfolio.  My advisor seemed to care nothing about my tardiness - I had a hunch that was the case which is why it was not more timely.

I finished a draft website for my boss that he's been hankering for...

Plus, I just finished that freelance website I agreed to back in December.

Why am I not crying, "Whopee!" you ask?  Well, it's because I feel like this.

Which, in Daisy-terms, is absolutely exhausted.  I just finished packing, and there's more to be done work-wise.  

As soon as I get a little bit more of this...

...I'll post about the fabulous upside-down tomato posts that are resting, temporarily, on my raised beds... just waiting for me to get off the river and back in the garden.  And that handyman has made great headway on some spankin' new raised beds in his backyard.  Photos will come.

(Thanks to Kerry for the pics, I suppose.  Don't know if they're flattering, but I can attest to the fact that I was absolutely unconscious when they were taken.  That greenhouse just gets so warm and babies are so cozy...)

Monday, April 7, 2008

four blogs for cooking inspiration...

There are TONS of blogs for cooking, and I've been scanning a few of them lately. Judging by the last however-many posts, my world has been mostly about gardening these days. Since I haven't had time to be creative, I've been drooling over these blogs... waiting for my break so I can get back into the food swing-of-things.

The Noble Pig is kind of a hodge-podge of cooking and wine
 stuff. She's actually working on developing a vineyard in Oregon - how cool is that?

I haven't made anything off the Smitten Kitchen blog yet, but I go there just for the pictures.... Food's never looked so good! Some of the recipes off this blog are at the top of my list once I try again to be creative with meal-time.

This is one of my favorites - and I think one of yours, too. At least every third or fourth blog I browse has a link to the Pioneer Woman's site. I've eaten several of her recipes now, and at this point, I'd pretty much endorse anything on there. She's funny, she's crazy, she's got remodel projects and horses and cows and photo tips and a unique perspective of life on the range. Definitely one of my blogging heroes.

This last gal is some one I found a while ago, and I think she's amazing. Beyond cooking, AfricanKelli's got all kinds of fun projects, political commentary, and interesting photos. She has what looks like great community meals each week, and I've thought on more than one occasion, "I wish I lived in Arizona!" Since I'm here in Montana, I'll just cruise by her blog every now and then for dinner inspiration!

Quick add: Angela at the Painted House just posted today about going vegan (as part of Erin's Mama Monday food theme).  I just started looking through her recipes tonight, but they look really tasty... I plan on more exploring over at her food blog, Dinner's Ready.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

different starts

Things are still exciting round here because there's almost always something new popping up each time I head to the greenhouse. I still fawn over my dahlia's and petunias and lobelias, but there are lots of new things coming in. Also, there are only a few aphids - one here... one there... Definitely not in my hair, so that urge to scratch my scalp has thankfully subsided.

I'm pretty excited about this little guy. He's the first of our luffas. Yep. That's a "loo-fah." Or it's going to be a luffa. I was hesitant to tack these guys on the list of seeds to order, but I'm glad I got talked into it. It'll be fun to see what they do, and if it works out, I think home-grown luffa sponges will make a great gift... Now, if only I could get lavendar to grow - I could make a great bathtime basket as a present!

Now, I have yet to be talked into being excited about the guy in the following picture. I'm a huge fan of yellow summer squash (which we've got a few of), but this little guy is going to grow into a spaghetti squash. I've forgotten what kind because neither of the pictures in the catalogue looked especially tasty to me. I seriously doubt the handyman is going to want to eat them, but he said he had to grow some... and here they come! (we've probably got three or four coming up. Maybe I can trade the extras for more zukes... or maybe I should hold my horses and at least try the spaghetti squash before I pass such harsh judgement.)

This next picture reminds me of some kind of organic heart. It was the sweetest of the sweet peas - we've got eckford's and senators. I can't remember which one is which color, but I didn't take any last year and spent all summer being jealous of the handyman's sweet peas. His didn't flower much, but when they did, they were gorgeous - pink ones and white ones and candystriped ones. Hopefully we'll get some more blooms this year - any suggestions on how to do that, anyone?

These last guys are my starts du jour. Last year I started mostly larger seeds that got tucked safely in soil - zukes, pumpkins, sunflowers. This year I've had a lot of little seeds that get tossed right on top and I haven't had a lot of faith (doesn't come in the package). When I followed the instructions and simply "pressed" the hollyhocks seeds on top of the soil, I thought for sure this was ridiculous. I waited days and days and still thought, "they're never going to make it." Then there was one... and another... and now there are twelve hollyhocks all thriving! These are perennials, and I've prepared myself for a year without flowers, but I know next year they are going to be beautiful. Faith restored...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

sign-up day at community gardens

Has it really been this long since I've posted? I'm a bad, bad blogger. If I'm feeling especially guilty, I'll get around to posting pics of the new starts later tonight, but before I get ahead of myself, I should share today's exciting adventure: sign-up for community garden plots!

The whole day was overcast and cold. Most folks showed up, signed up, and saddled up pretty quickly - we were two of the few who stayed to work. I admit, when it started snowing, I had plenty of thoughts of leaving but stuck it out till we met our goal of lining one plot and turning another.

Here's Stacy, community garden coordinator-extraordinaire.

And the Handyman tackles edging his plot. Before spending too much time thinking about it, I asked why they use grass when it's constantly creeping into the plots. Turns out, it makes a whole lot of sense - dirt would get muddy and gravel/rocks would still need weeding. I suppose it would be kind of expensive to put in pavers, so grass it is. The Handyman dug back the grass, put in a liner, and used the straw to buffer the liner inside the plot and on top of the edge outside the plot.

We're pretty excited because we're going to have good company out there this summer. Jenny, Jordan, Heather, and Martha all got plots. This is Martha with her sign-up sheet and "I-really-like-the-plot-I-just-picked-out" smile.

And here's a before/after for my plot in the corner. All those boards lying on the left of the before picture were piled up in various spots in the plot. I cleared out the dead stuff, broke down the broken-down raised bed, and, with the handyman's help, turned the soil once so we can get in there with the rototiller tomorrow. (By the way, anyone know of a deal on rototillers anywhere? Still looking... tomorrow's tiller is borrowed.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

aphid attack

It's still unclear who has the higher number of attacks. My zinnias keep dropping, but I think that's from prior girdling - those teensy weensy little bugs like to hang out under the leaves and snack on the stems. There have been fewer of them since we started spraying with soap, but there was a bit of a plateau until... someone checked under the benches.

I'm already itching just thinking about it. Yes, I know the bugs only like leafy matter, and no matter how much I fancy myself a tasty treat, they're not going to move in and set up shop on my scalp... or my shoulders... or on my back... or in my ears... but I just. can't. stop. itching.

Anyway, we were under the benches, weren't we? Well, so were they. Thousands of them. Millions, maybe. Lurking. Waiting. Breeding in the bindweed. Climbing up the tables and into the cosmos and tomatos and dahlias and my precious zinnias.

We had to take the soap spray up a notch.

And, then.. well... it's just to hard to say what happened. The handyman disappeared into the greenhouse last night with a face mask and a big black jug. I waited patiently outside. I know many of you will be disappointed, but something had to be done quickly as these are research greenhouses. The bindweed had to go.

On a brighter note, there are tons and tons of cosmos. The cabbage got beat to heck, but they look like they're going to make it. My hollyhocks are taking off. And, I used the extra space made by my dying zinnias to transplant some of the lobelia that were really close (note to self - when spreading teeny tiny seeds from the packet, no more shakin' it like a salt shaker). I just yanked up a tweezer full and plopped 'em down in the zinnia trays. This morning they looked fresh and green and happy. Maybe they'll cheer those zinnias on if those aphids make another attack...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

green tip #2 - craigslist

Green tips are ideas, usually not my own, that are helpful for making your life easier AS WELL AS being kind to the environment. But, first and foremost, they're about doing the things that you like to do. Please feel free to comment with ideas of your own or we can link to one another if there's something on your blog you'd like to share. Thanks!

Sundays are for sleeping in - I'm a firm believer in that credo. While I can be motivated to be an earlybird, that usually hapens when I've planned my day out the night before and I jump from bed with a list of things I want to get done. Last Sunday was not one of those planned-out days... it was a day for sleeping in.

The handyman, however, rose bright and early to check Craigslist. See, the only person who can sniff out a deal faster than I can is the handyman. He's still looking for the elusive cheap-but-in-super-good-shape rototiller, and each day he scours Craigslist for a repeat of the cheap-but-in-super-good-shape rototiller that he missed out on a few weeks ago (got sold before we could get there).

Instead of a rototiller, an ad for treated deck lumber winked at him from the classified section. Despite knowing the ins-and-outs of ebay and craigslist like the way to the bathroom in the dark, the handyman was not aware until recently that there is a materials section in craigslist that has all kinds of building material listed. On said Sunday morning, in the materials section, the add said that the treated deck lumber was in an alley ready for pick up and, most importantly, it was free.

So, despite the fact that coffee had yet to clear the sleep cobwebs from my head, when I heard the cry, "Free lumber. Get your shoes," I knew it was time to scramble.

The boards are mostly 5' lengths, and even though most people need 8' boards to build something, the 5' ones will be perfect for the design for new raised beds. Apparently, the person placing the add was going to put in a patio, and even though the support/structure boards were moisture damaged, all of the upper boards were still in really good shape.

Were you waiting for the green tip? Picking up perfectly good deck lumber saved about $170 AND kept good lumber from unnecessarily going into a dump.

I can't in good faith write this post without mentioning a local organization that does something really similar, maybe even better. Home Resource collects and sells re-usuable building materials. Even though I don't have a lick of building sense myself, it's fun to walk through their place - there's a corner for doors, a corner for windows, one for lumber, one for bathtubs and toilets, one for sinks, lighting fixtures, tile, and the list goes on. Not only does it reduce waste, it helps the local economy, etc. Doesn't that sound fantastic?

So, even though the shed isn't finished, it's already serving it's purpose by holding the salvaged craigslist lumber.

And, my reward for making three trips to move 700 sq ft of lumber with the trailer? My favorite sugary treat from Bernice's. How's that for cheap labor!