Hustle and Bustle

It’s been pretty quiet – on the blog front at least.  I haven’t updated you in a couple of weeks, but trust me when I say it’s not because there hasn’t been anything going on.  It seems like I’ve been running hither, thither, and yon (as my mother says) for the past month.  I have a wonderful pinterest project to share with you, and a couple of recipes that you simply must hear about, as well as some other odds and ends to share, but in the meantime I’ll tease you with some photos of my various goings-on of the past few weeks.

 

There was some more of this:

Lots of this:

And all kinds of this:

 

In a nutshell: motorcycles, dogs chasing things, and lots of plants popping up all over my yard.  More later!

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My Fruitful Yard

Remember when I asked you all for advice on what this plant was?  I thought (hoped!) it was blueberries, and many of you concurred.  Well guess what?  We were right!

I checked up on them today, and I found these little guys popping up all over them.  I have 8 good sized bushes, and they’re all putting on what looks like a bountiful crop of fruit… I see a summer full of crisps, pies, and cobblers on the horizon, and I for one can’t wait.   I also have several of these guys peeking out:

And I’m letting my cilantro run wild in the hopes of collecting some coriander seeds – although I may give in to my inner OCD person and cut it down if it gets much bigger.  It’s almost as tall as I am, which is a little wild looking.

I know many people are enjoying the fruits and such that are slowly making their way into the grocery stores and farmer’s markets – what are you guys’ favorite springtime treats?  Me, I love strawberries more than almost anything – they’re my favorite fruit, right behind peaches.  I know I’m going to be overrun with berries before too long, so do you all have any suggestions for what I can do with them?

Cotton Mill Farmer’s Market

 

Hooray for Farmer’s Markets!  Last year my parents joined the Cotton Mill Farmer’s Market in Carrollton, Ga as a way to get their products out to more people, and I must say that I love going out to say hello so I can browse all the lovely (local!) produce.  It’s not a huge Market, but all the major food groups are represented: meats, dairy, fruits and veggies, and greens.  There are some great people involved who really love their crafts, and it makes for a fun shopping experience when the farmer is clearly dying to tell you all about their products and methods.  Buying local isn’t something that’s for everyone – sometimes it’s just not practical.  The prices are higher than most conventional grocery stores; most Markets are open only one or two days a week, limiting your ability to get groceries at the drop of a hat; selection is limited to what’s in season, and there aren’t many exotic items (tahini in Georgia? I think not). But there are many advantages, chief of which is that the quality of the products is generally much higher.  Because the produce isn’t being hauled from the other side of the continent, it’s usually perfectly ripe and ready to eat – and usually naturally grown or organic.  Also, buying from local farmers and artisans is a great way to put money back into your community.  I’ll be honest here – I buy the majority of my groceries from Publix, but during the spring and summer I try to get as much of my produce as I can from the local producers.  I like knowing that my food was grown less than an hour from where I live, and I like that it’s been grown by folks who have a love for farming.  Because more people are becoming concerned about the quality of the food we eat, more and more Farmer’s Markets are popping up in cities and towns all across the country, and if you’ve never been to one, I encourage you to check one out.  If nothing else, you’ll probably find a friendly farmer ready to talk your ear off about something.

Spring has Sprung!

I’ve been so busy running back and forth from my greenhouse to watch this happening:

That I totally missed this on the other side of my yard:

We’ve had 5 consecutive days of 70º weather, I’ve had my windows open since Thursday of last week, birds are singing, seeds are sprouting, and I bought a pair of sandals today…I think it’s safe to say that Spring has finally decided to grace us with it’s presence.  So far I’ve got radishes and brussels sprouts peeking out, and also some arugula that came from my first ever seed swap.  We’ll be tied up this weekend, and the next as well, but my garden should be officially in the ground by April 20.  I was a little worried that was going to be too late, but a coworker who is a Georgia Master Gardener told me that traditionally in Georgia gardens are started on tax day, so I’m not too far off.

Happy Spring Everybody!

 

 

Seedlings

 

And that, my friends, is how you start seeds.  I’m super duper excited about this since this is my first time starting my own plants.  It was very easy, and seems to be working well – I planted these on Wednesday and I already have sprouts.  The boxes I’m using are by Jiffy – I got them at Home Depot for a very good price, and I would definitely recommend them.  After planting my seeds I left them overnight with the lids on, per the instructions, and when I went back the next day to check on them, they were nice and steamy under the lid.  I know they’re staying warm at night, and not drying out, although I expect I’ll have to add water in a day or two.  I got two sizes – several with the smaller pellets like you see above, and then two that had larger pellets for my tomatoes.   It took mine 30-45 minutes to absorb all the water and fluff up completely, so be prepared for a little wait if you use these, but I quite like them and will probably buy the pellet refills and continue using them.

I’m having Easter house guests this weekend, so I’ll be cooking something wonderful (I hope!) and visiting with my family.  I hope all of you have a wonderful Easter, as well, and a beautiful weekend!

Home Improvements

 

Check it out, dear readers: we got a (little) tractor!  The closer we’ve been getting to gardening (and grass growing) season, the more we’ve been trying to figure out the best way to go about our new yard obligations.  Our home is on 3 acres that is mostly yard, minus the quarter-acre garden plot that brings it’s own challenge…I don’t know about you but I’m not keen on trying to hoe a quarter-acre garden by hand.  We started looking at zero turn lawn mowers, and tillers, then pull-behind tillers for a riding mower, and then we thought we might need something we could pull a broadcaster behind for seeding the lawn, and a sprayer for weed control…and you see where this is going right?   We ended up looking at  a compact tractor that was small enough to not tear up our lawn while we were mowing it, but strong enough to handle some future landscaping projects and our heavier garden chores.  We found this one at our local SunSouth dealer, in Carrollton, and it was such a great deal that we snapped it right up and hauled it home.  After much shopping around we realized that what was going to cost us the most was the implements we wanted: a tiller, mowing deck, and loader to start.   The tractors themselves were very reasonably priced, but adding implements quickly got expensive.  We chose this one because it was so lightly used that it was basically new, and came as a package deal with the three implements we needed the most.   We’ve already put it to good use removing an unwanted pine tree, cutting the grass, and some light landscaping. 

That’s our 80’s model John Deere riding mower – it was given to us by my Daddy.  It wasn’t running so he gave it to Jacob to repair…it’s not very quick or agile, and the mowing deck needs to be replaced so we use it for hauling mostly.   It’s been very useful when we’ve needed to haul dirt, or rock, or mulch, but sometimes we have less practical uses for it, such as when we need to haul the Bassett Hound across the yard, or something 🙂

Despite our murky, windy, rainy weather we were able to get quite a few things done this weekend.  The previous tenants were very enthusiastic gardeners, but it doesn’t seem like they were overly concerned with aesthetics.  You can see my little greenhouse above, and Jacob has a shop building off to the left of that photo with the aspalt pad in between.  They seemed to be concerned with functionality more than looks, because the buildings were just placed there on the edge of the yard with no landscaping or anything to make them attractive.  I appreciate the functionality, but I really want it to all look pretty as well…I’m thinking a low wall made of paving stones from the shop to the greenhouse (in front of that sweet gum tree) with a little flower bed in it, and then another paving stone “planter” built along the length of the greenhouse to hide the legs of that cabinet and make it look a little neater. 

We’ve already done a lot to clean it up just by clearing away a lot of brush and junk from around the shop area, and I know the rest will come together in time.  Hopefully spring will be upon us full force in another couple of weeks and we can get down to business in the garden. 

Did I mention how much fun the tractor is?  It’s pretty cool actually.  I might actually volunteer to help with the lawn mowing…

I hope you all are having very happy and productive springtimes, wherever you are, and that all of your projects are going just the way you want them to. Happy Spring!

 

Decor from the…yard?

Project365.30-1

Can you believe I got those bud vases at Wal-Mart?  I’ve been wanting to use more greenery in my decorating, so when I saw these little vases, I thought it would be a great way for me to dip my toe in the water, so to speak.  I’ve mentioned this blog to you before, but Pure Style Home is a really great site that I find very inspirational, and Lauren has mentioned using greenery – even just the plain little things you have growing around your yard that wouldn’t necessarily work for an arrangement – in vases, glasses, bowls, or any other vessel you find attractive, as a cheap way to add color and that little something extra to a room.  You always see flowers and greenery in magazine showcase homes, and store windows, but it’s something anyone can do in their own home with very little effort, and for free.  I love having flowers around, and especially if you’re expecting guests, it can really dress your home up and give it a fresh, chic look – especially if, like me, you don’t have a lot of other decor yet.  Since we moved into a larger house I’ve found that the things I was using as decor in our previous home just aren’t enough to fill in our new space, so I’m always looking for ways to add to our sparsely decorated living area.

I had a small dinner party last Friday night – just some family over for a meal and a visit – and I really wanted to put my little vases into use, so off I went out into our (rainy) yard.  Thanks to the previous owners, who were very enthusiastic gardeners, we have lots of plants around our home, so  I walked out onto our front porch with no real plan in mind except to see what captured my fancy.   As I stood there looking around, I felt like I was seeing my yard for the very first time; since we’ve only been here for the winter season so far, I’ve only been seeing my plants for the potential they have to be pretty when they’re blooming.   It’s been pretty gloomy in our yard, actually, especially since we’ve had almost a week straight of gray, rainy days, so it was like a whole new world of pretty things opened up in front of me.  Most of my plants are actually fairly attractive, even without their blooms, and I’ve been overlooking them this whole time.  I saw that my azaleas had these really pretty glossy red leaves, and my little eucalyptus tree is perfect for adding a sculptural element; my rosemary is blooming with these tiny purple flowers (I used that in another vase in my kitchen), and I have lots of Leyland Cyprus trees just waiting to donate a snipped twig or two to my decorating efforts.  So if you’re feeling a little gloomy amid all the winter weather, or rainy days, I encourage you to step outside and take a fresh look at your yard.  You never know what will appeal to you, and you can bring a little of the outdoors in to give your home a little facelift.

I love to hear your thoughts!  What do you guys do to add that special touch to your home?

Optimistic Foliage

Well readers, I finally have my garden down on paper.  I’ve got a neat little diagram with all my notes about sowing dates, planting dates, last frosts, first frosts, proper spacing, light requirements, etc. scribbled in the margins.  Actually it’s not “neat” at all, it’s quite messy, but I feel OK about that seeing as how it’s a garden and they’re supposed to be inherently messy anyway, aren’t they?  My only problem now is that it’s still to early to do anything…too early to plant, and too early to channel my burst of enthusiasm into tangible results.  I took the dog out for his romp around the yard, and as my productivity-induced high disappated in the face of a winter brown landscape, I saw this:

Lovely Eucalyptus

Lovely Eucalyptus

Lovely isn’t it?   From that view you’d never know it wasn’t spring or summer time.  Amazing how something so simple as brightly-hued foliage can lift my spirits.   Enjoy!

Link Love

Remember how I told you all about my gardening plans the other day?  And my new sewing machine a few days later?  Well, I’ve been kind of wrapped up in those things – I don’t have a huge amount of experience with either of them, so I’ve been surfing the web, reading books, trying to learn as much as I can so I can put all my big plans into action.  I thought I’d share some of the websites and blogs that I’ve found useful.  Enjoy!  And by all means, please share any helpful links you may have found as well.

Sewing in a Straight Line – This book looks amazing!  I must have it.  Also, her website is great too.

Tilly and the Buttons – some great info for beginners here.

Keeper of the Home – lots of great home-making ideas here, but I found the Gardening 101 articles to be particularly helpful.

Six Sisters Stuff – a great site for crafts and sewing.  I had this recommended to me by a friend, and I think it’ll be my first sewing project.

Threads Magazine – I just found this one and haven’t had much time to peruse it yet, but it looks like there are some good things here.

Walter Reeves – known as the Georgia Gardener, I have gotten both his flower and vegetable gardening books.  I know this won’t help much if you don’t live in Georgia, but if you do, his site is invaluable.

Pinterest – I can’t stay away from here.  But it is a huge source of inspiration…lots of cool ideas and sites I may not have found on my own.

MountainHike-1

Hope you all have a great Monday (oxymoronic?), and maybe find some of your own inspiration here…and don’t forget to share!

 

 

A Sneaking Suspicion

Project 365.4-2

Some of you know that we recently moved into a new home.  We upgraded from a half acre lot in a subdivision to 3 acres in a more rural area.  I love love love my new home, but the one thing I do miss from subdivision living is the oppurtunity for walking the dog.  The road we now live on is fairly well traveled, and there are no sidewalks, so there’s really no where for us to take our daily walk.  So instead I’ve gotten in the habit of taking Tucker out and letting him run around the yard while I meander after him with either a cup of coffee or my camera.  Most of our 3 acres is in our backyard, behind which is a 50 or so acre pasture with cows and assorted livestock which endlessly fascinate my Bassett Hound, and we both enjoy our ramblings around the property.  Even though we’ve been moved in for almost 2 months now I still seem to find something new each time I go outside, and today my discovery was this (these actually; there are maybe 10 of these right behind my grapevines).  They are small shrubs, or bushes, and I have noticed them before but have never really looked very closely.  Because they’re laid out very precisely in two rows, I’m fairly sure they’re another edible something or other, and I strongly suspect that they’re blueberries, but I’m not 100% sure.

Project 365.4-1

I know it’s a little hard to tell, what with the foliage all hiding away for the winter, but anyone have any ideas as to what they might be??