Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More greens and golds


Several varieties of pears growing on a grafted tree

The pumpkins are finally taking off
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Garden Greens and Golds

I love the yellow/green hue of this time in the growing season. There have been plenty of "mistakes to learn from" during our first full year of gardening in zone 14. The deer, slugs (who seem to love everything deer-resistant), gophers (one of whom has lately been slowly tugging an eggplant seedling underground) and quail (who mined every single little seed I put in the ground in March) have already taught us plenty of lessons. By May, I'd given up on direct sowing and planted six tomato plant seedlings, hoping that the local wildlife would leave a few fruits for us to enjoy. These roma-like tomatoes were labeled at a local plant sale as Italian Gold. We're not sure if they will be yellow or red, but there are plenty on the plant promising a decent harvest. Also prolific are our Cherokee Purples. I've always wanted to grow this heirloom variety and can't wait for the first one to ripen!

These are our merlot grapes, planted by the previous home owner.

Here are the first yellow squash from a packet of seeds we bought for 10 cents at the local Dollar Tree.

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Backpack from "Simple Sewing" by Lotta Jansdotter

A Christmas gift from my mom, this book was what inspired me to rev up my new sewing machine and try out some projects, even if I could only muster an hour or two here and there during Noodle's nap time. Finished this project this afternoon. I'm a little embarrassed that I used the exact same embroidery on the pocket as the project that's pictured in the book, but I really love Jansdotter's style and knew that I'd be most satisfied with the end result if I could mimic that little running-stitched swirl!

I found that there was a small error and one omission in the instructions. One was related to the measurement for separating pockets (easy to figure out). The omission was a little trickier. The directions did not specify when and how to finish off the edges of the casing for the straps. A more experienced sewer would have figured out where and when to do this, but I ended up having to hand sew. I am a terrible hand-sewer, so this made me a little grumpy. Otherwise, I was very pleased with the project--especially because the fabric was a 97 cent remnant.

Other reviews of this book mention that it's a bit short on details. Nevertheless, it's very rich in inspiration. The place mats and the polka dot tote bag in the slide show above are both projects from this book as well.

Monday, July 14, 2008

No-bake strawberry pie and my favorite new kitchen tool

Here is a link to the no-bake strawberry pie that I've been raving about. It's pretty easy as-is, but I skimped even further and used store-bought graham cracker crust. I also eliminated the whipped cream topping. Mike had one piece and I ate the rest for breakfast, dinner, and dessert! (Hmm... No wonder that "baby weight" is still hanging around!) I'm also featuring a photograph of my favorite new kitchen tool, the tomato huller. It cost a ridiculous $12.00 at Sur La Table, but I've used it all spring to quickly remove the tops of strawberries. I also know that we'll get a lot of use out of it in the next couple months, as tomato season is upon us! I like my huller's sturdy look and attractive wooden handle, but I just looked on Amazon and you can get a less fancy one for $3.27. I'm sure it will work just as well.

The showiest things growing in our garden right now are these perfect petite sunflowers. I like them so much that this morning Noodlebug and I planted some more seeds for a fall harvest.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Noodlebug's library bag

Followed two great tutorials on Sew, Mama, Sew! Learned how to do a simple appliqué, French seams, and had a chance to use this great light-weight canvas from local thrift store. Most of all, it's a project that will truly be useful--It's going to be a book bag for visits to the library with Noodlebug. Very gratifying project and lots of fun for someone pretty new to sewing!