Mini Madness

As I mentioned, I joined the local quilt guild the other night. In May the program is called May Mini Madness. Guild members make mini quilts to donate and then there is a silent auction where everyone bids on them to raise money (not sure if for the guild or for charity). I came home from the meeting wondering if I had enough time (2 weeks) to pull together a mini for the auction. I also had most of the remains of a charm pack that were wanting to be used. I started looking for a pattern to use up the charm pack, not thinking about a mini and then stumbled onto a tiny paper pieced cake stand pattern. I adapted it into a basket and used cherry fabric to make little baskets of cherries. And by little I mean 3 inches.

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I made four of these and am trying to figure out a good layout. I am considering a 9 patch type layout, which could require another basket, or not. I am feeling indecisive on it. I would like to take it over to the quilt shop and ask for opinions but that could cause me to spend money which is not the goal. I need to think on it some more. And I sent it out to the committee (my Mom, my Aunt and my cousin) to see what they think about it all. Of course no one has responded yet either.

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Aren’t they cute? The charm pack is Recipe for Friendship from Moda. They are Mary Engelbreit fabrics, or at least the matching panel is ME so I assume they are all ME fabrics. The cream with dots was something I got in a scrap bag from the local quilt shop. They have some scrap bags, about $3 each. I found two the other day that had all neutrals in them. I have been using them in my Geese in the Forest blocks and in these little baskets and here and there when I need a little bit or piece. Most of the pieces I got in the bags were around 6 inches wide. It has been very useful. I hope they have more!

Totally unrelated but I was looking over on Kate Kwiltz today and saw her post about shopping at IQF in Chicago. She posted the beginnings of an orange and turquoise four patch quilt. I love the orange and turquoise together and had not even thought of it. I may spend some time this afternoon looking in my stash for orange and turquoise and appealing to the committee to send me their scraps. 🙂

We have tiny cucumbers and tomatoes in the garden and all sorts of good things going on there. Almost everything is planted for now. I am going to put in a few more green bean seeds since those will can or freeze well if we have an over abundance. I think will stick the remaining onion sets in amongst other things too. I don’t know if they will do much as they have been sitting the greenhouse for awhile, but, we’ll see. Oh, and we’re going camping this weekend for the first trip of the season. Lots to do to get ready for that one. I need to get easy hand sewing together and find a campground. We’re going to go up to Gainseville and hopefully go to a U Pick strawberry farm.Woo! Strawberry jam here we come!

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Just call us the Busy Bees

There is just so much going on sometimes. Daisy dog got spayed on Monday. She slept most of yesterday but today she is ready to go. I think we will have to take a walk later to burn off some energy.

I was pretty bummed during the last week of March to find out I wouldn’t be writing for Green Daily anymore. It looks like they cut the staff down to only 2 bloggers. Ouch. As usual, the bad news was pretty easy to turn into a new opportunity though. I am working with a company called Grow and Make and writing some green living guides and articles which is really fun. And, the articles are longer so I can dig into topics more which I am enjoying. The other nice thing is that there is a set schedule. I need to write x number of posts per week/month and I get paid a flat fee. I like that. Sometimes too much freedom makes me lazy since I figure I can do it later, etc. So, I am writing for them. I am also working on some articles for the BootsnAll travel site. I met a bunch of people that write and edit for them at South By Southwest. Speaking of which, I need to get back to work on my article. I definitely need to get better at time management for myself. It is difficult to work on the internet so much since there are some many things that can be distracting so quickly.

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On Saturday night I broke the clothesline. Argh! The clothes were not quite dry so I left then out, thinking I would bring them in before I went to bed (pretty common practice here). Before I went to bed it started raining. Now, this has happened before and we’ve just left the clothes out on the line so they would have a chance to dry in the morning. It hasn’t been a big deal. Of course, we hadn’t done it when there were heavy thunderstorms before. The clothes got wetter and wetter and heavier and heavier until finally the arm bent. I guess the upside is I can use at least one side of it until we either fix it or get a new one so that is good. I wasn’t looking forward to jumping up the electric bill this month by using the dryer a lot.

On Sunday we decided to stay home from the family brunch. We just really needed some time together at home. Robert continues to be crazy busy at work and doing fire department stuff and we needed time to be together, work together and just reconnect. Some weeks two or three nights involve him coming home from work, eating dinner, changing into his fire department uniform and leaving again. Other nights he comes home, eats dinner, watches something on TV and can barely stay awake. On the weekends it is really great to have time working together at home and talking. It helps him to relax and unwind and it really helps me to feel reconnected to him.

I recently made a list of things that needed to be done at home that I needed help with. On Sunday we picked one and got to work on it. Not surprisingly the first thing my husband chose to do was to update and organize the disaster kit. He has a master’s degree in emergency preparedness so of course we are prepared at home. Our time on Sunday was mainly spent going through everything and pulling out expired things, brainstorming about what needed to be added for myself and Daisy and then a trip to Walmart to pick up replacements for expired things and other things we decided to add. Robert made the original kit and list several years ago so he needed to update some of the things he needed or didn’t need as well.

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Other time was spent on the garden and the yard. Robert smoked a beef brisket on Sunday afternoon so we were outside most of the afternoon so he could keep a general eye on it. The photo is one of the rows of peas in the garden. The peas are doing wonderfully. The rest of the garden just seems to be waiting for it to get warm. It’s still a bit cool overall. Usually spring in Texas seems like it lasts for a week and then it’s hot and in the 80s and even 90s by the time May hits. Obviously it’s not May yet but we do seem to be having more spring than usual.

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The Indian Hawthorn bushes in the front of the house have finally bloomed. We have been waiting for them for a few weeks now. They always look pretty when they bloom.

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These are the annuals I planted last spring. They never really went away all winter and now that spring is here they have gotten much bigger. I can’t remember what they are, but they sure do look good so I’m not complaining! My Aunt tells me this is not an uncommon thing for the annuals to just keep going for a few years. Nice! We are working on finding good perennials for most of the spaces in  the landscaping beds that need something. Drought tolerant perennials too so they will look good even if we don’t water the heck out of them. We definitely like the idea of low maintenance landscaping!

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The other thing growing really well so far is the lettuces. I have a little lettuce garden in the front, planted in two livestock troughs. The lettuce seems to  be really happy there and I think in a week or two we will be eating a LOT of salad. The big plant to the left is some spinach that survived the winter that we have been picking off lately. It’s flowered and everything now though so  think I will cut it  completely back and see what it does.

I have been cooking a lot, sewing some (not as much as I want to), trying to get the house cleaned up and decluttered and working, working, working. I stumbled across a blog the other day that quoted a Bible verse and I wanted to look it up in Message Bible and see what that version said. I stumbled across something else I had underlined nearby and I liked it so much I printed it up in a large font so I could put it on the wall in my office.

“Pursue a righteous life – a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith.”1 Timothy 6:11-12

Isn’t that great? A life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness and courtesy… That sounds about perfect to me!

I’m tired and I’m hungry

So, I didn’t realize the cleaning lady was coming today. I was awakened by the doorbell when she arrived. Oops. And before you think I’m spoiled, it’s something my husband wants and she only comes every other week for stuff like mopping and cleaning the bathrooms. Anyway, it got me going earlier than normal this morning but also off to a bit of a disjointed start.

I think I forgot to eat breakfast. I had some coffee and started working on posts for Green Daily and Download Squad. I actually got a lot of work done today. I was working and taking breaks to stand up and walk around and declutter small areas, like my nightstand, or the coffee table. It went pretty well. I got a few areas cleaned up nicely.

I forgot to eat lunch until my tummy rumbled at me around 2:30. I had a small lunch sine Robert and I had talked about going out to dinner tonight.

After lunch I went outside to take some photos.

This is the view across the street from my house

This is the view across the street from my house

People are frequently jealous of my view when they come to visit. Though I live on the fringes of suburbia, I have a horse pasture across the street. It’s nice. We enjoy sitting out on the front porch on nice evenings and watching the horses or listening to the crickets.

The chard I planted last weekend has sprouted!

The chard I planted last weekend has sprouted!

In my tour around the yard I saw that all the seed varieties I planted last weekend have sprouted already. Must be the very warm and moist conditions. I hope the 4-6 inches of rain predicted for this weekend doesn’t drown the little ones.

I worked more after my break on both decluttering and blogging. I found a few items to post on eBay and/or Etsy.

A beautiful vintage bedspread

A beautiful vintage bedspread

I’ve had this bedspread since I lived in Iowa in early 2000, 2001. It’s really pretty and in excellent shape. Really excellent shape. I looked at it. I thought about putting it into the guest room. But, I have already started that room in Americana/Texas decorating. I thought about saving it should I ever have a little girl. But, then I thought about all the stuff we have and saw how much things like this were going for. Cash that could go towards paying off my ankle surgery, building up our emergency fund, etc. So, I put it up for sale. We’ll see how it goes.

And now, my husband tells me it’s time to go get some dinner. Phew! I’m starved! And we’re having wings! Yahoo!

Another busy day

I feel like I haven’t accomplished much yet today, even though I’ve been going at it all day. I started the morning trying to catch up on reading in my feed reader. I use it to find post ideas for some of my paid blogging gigs, so if I get too far behind, I miss too much. I always end up clicking to read one story, and clicking a link within that and on and on, I’m down in a rabbit hole. Throughout all that today, I ended up find the Money Saving Mom website. It has a lot of coupon deals and such like that. Normally, I don’t get too much into that because we don’t get the Sunday paper and most of meals are cooked from scratch or close to it and you just don’t find coupons for things like flour and carrots and pot roast and such.
There were a few things that peaked my interest though and I ended up printing out some coupons from Kashi and heading over to Target to spend some money. Or rather save some money.

My free waffles

My free waffles

When you first register with the Kashi website you have the opportunity to print two coupons worth $2 off 1 item. I registered two email addresses and got four coupons. Target has two specials going this week. 15% off Kashi products and receive a $5 Target gift card if you purchase four Kashi items. Now, I love waffles, blueberry waffles especially. And waffles for breakfast are something I just am not going to do from scratch each day mainly because I never have much success with waffles and, I am just not a morning person.

So, I took my coupons to Target. The waffles were $1.58 per box. I had $2 off coupons, so each box was free. And since I got four items I got a $5 Target card too. Rather nifty I thought. And I avoided buying anything else in the store, so that was equally good.

Just in time for Hurricane Ike

Just in time for Hurricane Ike

So, the other excitment today was our new rain barrels. Yay! They are only 60 gallons each, but it is a start. I know once they start having a positive impact on the water bill and such we will get more. They are from Catch the Rain, located not too far from us, so we lucked out and got free delivery a few hours after I called! We’ll get them all set up tomorrow. We should get some residual rain from Hurricane Ike this weekend so they will probably be full by Monday. I’m pretty excited about it actually.

We’ve been getting just a little rain each day for the past few and temps in the 80s and low 90s so it should be really good for my seeds to start sprouting. I really hope we get a good garden going. I think the key is going to be starting earlier in the spring so we harvest some things before it gets so dreadfully hot in July and early August and then starting another set of stuff in August and September. I also read something about someone using shade cloths for their garden in central Texas so maybe that is something we need to do as well.

I also think with our container gardening that we started with Our soil did not retain the moisture that it needed to as the summer got warmer. Of course, me having ankle surgery for the 4th of July didn’t help either as I didn’t go outside much at all for about two weeks after that. So right as the hottest weather started, the plants got rather ignored.

We’ll do better next year. It’s a learning process that’s for sure. And my parents had a garden when I was very little (just ask my Mom about me crying in the onions sometime…) but I don’t remember the ins and outs of that. Plus midwestern gardening and Texas gardening are very different. Ah well. We have been enjoying the herbs! And the few tomatoes we got. And the hot peppers. And it looks like we might get some cucumbers and maybe a melon or two and some squash. All is not lost! I think we might just have a late harvest. I’m hopeful for a bumper crop of green beans. 🙂

I have a tote bag and a tshirt, both from the Life is Good line of clothing. And all I can really say lately, is, Life is really really good for me right now. I feel so blessed. I have always known I wanted to be a wife and mother. And thought I am not a mother yet, I am so happy being a wife. I love to work on making our house a home in everything from cooking delicious meals, to putting up curtains or saving some money at the grocery store. I always knew I would be good at this if I found the right guy. And wow, did I ever! I feel like a little bird feathering her nest. And my husband tells me thank and how much he appreciates what I do. And he’ll even come and look at curtains or whatever. I am truly blessed in so many ways.

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...when I found the one my heart loves I held him and would not let him go... Song of Songs 3:4

My very busy weekend

One of the last blooms on the crepe myrtle in the front yard.

One of the last blooms on the crepe myrtle in the front yard.

I can’t believe I haven’t written anything since Tuesday. I’ve been pretty busy. I’ll stick to the past few days since those are the easiest to remember.

On Friday my Uncle Dave came over to build some garden boxes for me. They are a 4 foot by 4 foot square and about 18 inches tall. He was going to bring me a load of free compost from the city he lives in (residents can get one truckload per month for free) but the compost wasn’t ready yet. So, all we could do was build the boxes. Once those were done and he went home, I used a gift card we had received for the wedding to buy a LOT of dirt. I guess we could’ve waited a few weeks and tried again for free compost but, now is the time to plant the second round of things like green beans and such. So, I felt the need to strike while the iron was hot so to speak. My husband would probably tell you this happens to me a lot. I get an idea and I go about 90 miles per hour into it without a lot of planning. But, this is a good idea. More fresh, home grown produce awaits us at the end of this idea. And, even if we don’t get great yields we can replant the boxes in the spring. Or, if we decide we hate gardening we can turn them into sand boxes once we have kids or something. So, by Friday evening one box was filled with dirt and we had figured out how much more we needed to buy.

After the sun went down I came in to make up a batch of “plump pea dumplings” from 101 Cookbooks. Basically you put fresh or frozen cooked peas, ricotta, Parmesan and lemon zest into a food processor. Once it’s pretty pureed you wrap teaspoons of it into wonton skins and make little dumplings. I made about 50 and then I was out of wonton wrappers. (Robert brought home more today so I can finish them). They fry up into yummy little bits of goodness and, once you wrap the filling in the wonton, you can freeze them individually and it makes a great quick bite later on. We really like them a lot and I was in the mood to make up a big batch. I will probably finish up the filling on Monday.

Saturday morning I got up early (by my standards at least) because I had a crafting day ahead. I made lunches for myself and my Aunt Patti and headed towards her town for the “crop til you drop” event my friend Darla had planned. She is hoping to do this the first Saturday of every month. I have ALL of my wedding photos and some amazing and wonderful fairytale paper to work with so I was quite happy to work on my wedding album for the whole day.

Saturday evening I was supposed to go to my friend, Julie’s bachelorette party. Due to some craziness and then some phone tag, I didn’t end up meeting up with her at all. I feel badly that I didn’t make it. I’m sure she had a blast without me though. It was quite a party that was planned in her honor.

My husband spent Saturday doing a multitude of things around the house. He got the rest of the dirt we needed, washed and hung several loads of laundry on the clothesline, ran the dishwasher and just generally made my life easier. He’s good like that… 🙂 I feel very blessed to have him. I used to be very frustrated at still being single in my late 20s and when I hit 30, but, now I understand. He was SO worth the wait (and not because he does laundry).

Anyway, when it became apparent I wasn’t going anywhere, we put the rest of the dirt into the garden boxes, planted/transplanted a few things and put in some seeds. We are growing three kinds of chard, four kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, basil, spinach, cilantro and green onions for our second round of gardening.

A cucumber from our first round of planting, finally growing!

A cucumber from our first round of planting, finally growing!

So, anyway… Today was a really packed day. I got up and started cleaning the kitchen while I made a pot of coffee. After I relaxed with a cup of coffee I got started on our dinner since it was supposed to cook in the crock pot all day. I made stuffed peppers with coconut rice and mangoes. It was SO good!

While I was working on putting dinner together, Robert came in and started working on lunch. We had delicious reuben sandwiches and a spinach salad. I love reubens and they are so easy to make at home. Now if I can just get Mom and Dad’s sauerkraut making tools down here to Texas and Robert can find a good rye recipe, and we can grow some monster cabbages, we’ll be all set!

In the afternoon I continued the laundry parade we have every weekend and got things out on the line and actually put away when they came into the house. I also cleaned the kitchen yet again (it’s neverending when we get into cooking). Robert had to go to the fire station for the monthly equipment check. It’s my least favorite fire department time… Sundays when he has equipment check AND he stays over. It takes away a big chunk of our weekend time together. But, it is important to him and I am proud of him for being a firefighter so, it’s bearable. 😛

Anyway, while he was gone I pulled out some cookbooks to find a loaf of bread I could make to go with our supper. I found a spinach Parmesan “bloomer” in the bread machine book that I could finish in time for dinner. So, I got to work on that. It mixed and did it’s first rising in the bread machine so that makes the process a little less work (and mess) intensive. While that was working I dug into the archives of the Down to Earth blog which I am finding VERY interesting.

I also moved some things out of the dining room so we can finally put the table back where it belongs. I made my first batch of mint suntea. I’ve been making mint tea for a few weeks for a nice, refreshing iced tea drink on the stovetop. I thought it would be great to work on making it like I used to make sun tea when I was a kid. It worked pretty well, though it wasn’t as minty as my stovetop batches were. I am wondering if I make a mint simple syrup in a big batch to add to the sun tea as I make each batch if that would help. I will keep experiementing and once I have the “perfect” batch I’ll post up some instructions. So, plant your mint now so you will be ready!

My mint pot overfloweth!

My mint pot overfloweth!

Robert came home eventually and was tired out so he took a brief nap while I was finishing up dinner. I left the bread outside on the back of the truck to do it’s final rise. I figured it would be a nice warm place… the loaf got quite large. Unfortunately when I slashed it as the recipe called for, it fell quite a bit. I guess the knife wasn’t sharp enough or I did it wrong or something. Anyway, right before I got ready to preheat the oven I thought, if I was going to run it anyway I should probably fill it up. So, I pulled out the cookbook again and whipped up some blackberry muffins with some frozen blackberries. The batter made 12 regular size muffins and 9 mini muffins. All of that went into the oven and I cleaned up the kitchen one more time and sat down to relax a bit.

I woke Robert up once it was all finished and we had a really good supper of the stuffed peppers and spinach bread. And, he didn’t even mind that it was a meatless supper. We’ve been doing that about once a week now.

After supper we had a few minutes to relax together before Robert had to go back to the fire station for the night. He filled up the dishwasher for me while I got all the leftovers put away. We kept half of the spinach loaf out for eating this week and put the other half in the freezer for later.

After Robert left I worked on bringing in laundry and watering the various pots, troughs, and now boxes we have for our garden. I put the soaker hose through the new boxes and found a way to keep the water flowing between the two boxes with one soaker hose.

My rigged up soaker hose solution

My rigged up soaker hose solution

Finally, when I really wanted to sit down and just veg out in front of the tv, I pushed myself a bit longer to go into the hobby room and clean off my sewing table. I got that done and sat down with two mending projects. I could find my good scissors OR my rotary cutter so after I reattached the handle to my LaPorte County Library tote bag and fixed the sleeve seam in Robert’s tshirt I was done sewing. Bummer since I was really looking forward to doing some sewing.

Since I couldn’t sew, I dug into some boxes and found my knitting book and the one dishcloth I started ages ago. I looked at the stitches and my hands almost immediately remembered what to do. So, I turned on the tv and knitted a good portion of the dishcloth while watching tv. I made it much too wide when I first started it so it may be more like a placemat or small towel, but, that’s ok. I can work with that too.

This will be the first dish cloth I have knitted.

This will be the first dish cloth I have knitted.

Now, finally, I am getting ready for bed. I really wanted to post before the weekend was over. I didn’t make it officially since it is after midnight but, at least I got my activities down. I’ll have to recap some of my thoughts and ideas tomorrow.