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Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Three of our potato plants wilted and died today.  So I decided to pull them out.  I admit, I was half hoping I would find one little potato.  Instead, I found...

Aren't they beautiful?  These are Yukon Gold potatoes.  I am now more motivated to take care of the other, sad, ugly potato plants.  Here's hoping they are cooking up more, gorgeous tatties!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Tonight, some pirates and I are providing a fresh Father's Day dinner of BBQ chicken and homemade cornbread.

With a salad of greens, carrots and onions directly from our garden.


Happy Father's Day, babes!

Friday, June 17, 2011

We May Have Enough

Today I taught myself to braid garlic! 

Isn't it pretty?
There are two types of garlic, as you know: hardneck and softneck.  You can't braid the hardneck variety.  (Guess why!)

But you can make bunches.

Once the garlic is braided and/or bunched, you hang it until you need it.

Here's hoping I did this right!

Oh, and I think we are going to have enough garlic to last quite a while.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Project 20 - Sea Turtle

I decided to make my own pattern for a sea turtle and I am so proud!  And I am counting it as a weekly project since I had to do math to figure out the pattern.  Math is hard!

Do you like it?  Do you want to see more pictures?  Do you want one?  (Cue shameless self-promotion...)  This one is up for sale on my etsy site!  More to follow!

Harvest and Plague

I forgot!  We harvested our garlic on Sunday.  A marginal harvest; most of the garlic grew larger, but only a few made full bulbs.  I am chalking it up to the iffy soil we still have, but that is a work in progress.

It should be enough to last.  For a little while.

Tragedy, though, was just discovered in the garden.  We have a major infestation!  OK, that may be a bit dramatic! 

Something is eating my potato plants!  But the confusing thing is that the beetles seem to be mostly dead (or comatose from gorging on my taters!).  I was able to flick them off, and they didn't get back up.

Anyone recognize these?  Better yet, anyone know how to prevent and destroy them?  This is war - I want my taters!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Does This Make Me A Farmer?

This morning the ground was so hard-baked that we had trouble weeding.  So tonight, after we had a colossal thunderstorm, a storm so heavy that it knocked over my corn,

what did I do?

Why I ran outside and staked all my tomatoes, of course.  What can I say?  The ground was soft.

And now I cannot find my boots. 

In other news, some of our garden is loving the heat wave.

A few of the tomato plants have started to fruit!

The pumpkins are in bliss.

The green beans are thriving (forgive the odd camera angle).

And the corn was happy until the heavy rain. 

I am hopeful that they will right themselves when they dry out.  Who ever heard of staking corn?

I think I am in love with my garden.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Project 19 - Turtles!

Finally, a new project!  I have been majorly distracted by the new job, and the broken well, and packing for the beach, and a huge review book I received (more on that when the confidentiality agreement lets me talk about it.).  But I finally found time to make another project.  I am a little behind, but I have plans to help me catch up.

This week's project was a snap decision when I found a tutorial on a blog I follow.  Funny how a turtle, notoriously slow creature that it is, can be a fast project!

And it was so fun and simple that I just had to make two.

Everyone needs a buddy, right?

This is the perfect project to use up scraps.  And if you cut all the pieces at once, like I did, you can make a bunch of them in a short amount of time.  They would make great baby gifts.  In fact, I may make a few more to have on hand for quick presents.

I gave these two to my sons, of course.  They think the coolness of turtles outweighs all the pink.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Today's Harvest

Tonight I wandered in the garden just for fun, but came back with these!

Our peas are starting to ripen!

I love them fresh off the vine.  So does the 7-year-old.  (Next year I am planting many, many more rows of peas!  I am not sure how much the plants I have are going to produce.)

And here, for your viewing pleasure, is a pretty and unusual moth we saw outside our window.

This year's garden has already produced more than last fall's ever did.  Win!

Wisdom From Unlikely Sources

We watched Craig Ferguson’s new special.  There is just something special about a Scotsman who is comfortable saying “fuck.”  It is sexy and confident.  Hmmm.
Anyway, he is funny as hell; well, funnier, really.  Hell wouldn’t be that funny and I, for one, am glad that the Rapture didn’t happen.  Whew.  But you should totally watch Ferguson’s special.  We were laughing out loud.
But Craig (we are on a first name basis, dontchaknow) said that there are three things you should ask yourself before you post anything on the internet, and I just had to share.  Sometimes comedians are actually pretty wise.

Three things you must ask yourself:
  1. Does this need to be said?
  2. Does this need to be said by me?
  3. Does this need to be said by me, right now?
I know, brilliant, right?!?  I ask myself those questions all the time.  Heck, I am asking myself that now.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stray Dogs, Ticks, and Drinking Bleach

Living in the country is a curious thing.  For the suburban born and raised, it is an eye opening experience.  I'll give you three examples.

In the country, especially on our road, stray dogs are a fact of life. The dog catcher doesn't even exist out here.  If you are able, and a softie, you adopt the ones you can.  If not, you call the sheriff and the dog will be taken to the shelter where the life expectancy is very short.  The humane animal organization only accepts puppies, and those are shipped to the Northeast, where there is a market.  It is a tough choice.  We are softies, so we now have three dogs.  Sadie is learning some manners, and we learned a country lesson.

Pest control out here only goes so far.  I knew, intellectually, that there would be more bugs that in the 'burbs, and I generally have a Live and Let Live attitude where bugs are concerned.  Well, as long as they are outside.  In my house, though all bets are off.  The kids often alert me when, "there is a bug in your house, mom!"  But it isn't working so well.  There are flies everywhere!  I remember that from my grandmother's farm, but hadn't really thought about it for my home.  I hate flies.

More than flies, though, I hate ticks!  I have a thing about creatures that suck blood.  I don't like them.  And ticks are small, perfidious, and look like moles.  I have moles; so ticks look like normal parts of me and it freaks me out!  The ticks are like secret, blood-sucking, disease-carrying ninjas.  I hate them.  (I scream like a little girl when I find a tick and then flail around and it gets lost in the house.  Which guarantees another episode within the hour.  So embarrassing.)

The third example unfortunately is going on right now.  We are on a well.  I like well water.  I like knowing where are water comes from, and where it is going.  I like that connection with our environment, and the life lesson it gives the kids towards water conservation.  What I don't like is when part of our well pump suddenly cracks in half and the entire pump is left dangling from the electrical wires.  Even more, I don't like when this happens 30 minutes before old friends arrive for lunch.

That happened on Saturday.  Luckily, the husband and our dear friend were about to secure the well parts, and replace the broken piece.  Unluckily, it isn't a permanent fix.  And perhaps worst, we know that some ground water got into the well.  Couple that with the fact that whenever there is work done on a well you need to sterilize the water, and we have been left boiling our drinking water for 5 days.

We haven't been able to get in touch with the local well service company, so we are taking matters into our own hands.  Since the husband has the well functioning again, we have done our research and found that the way to sterilize a well is, like most things, with bleach.  Yup, we have to pour a lot of bleach into our well and then let it sit for about 12 hours.

So, for the next 12-24 hours we will be washing our hands with bottled water, drinking boiled water, and making certain not to water any plants.  Fun times.

I love it here.  Most of the time.

Book Review - Here Home Hope

Kelly Johnson is married to a wonderful man and has two amazing teenage sons.  Yet she feels unfulfilled.  After a breast cancer scare and the emotional uncertainty that entails, Kelly decides to change her life.  Written on Post-It notes and stuck where ever she might need the inspiration, Kelly starts her list of "Things 2 Change," and thereby begins a personal journey that takes her from depression to life affirmation, deepens her friendships, enriches her marriage, and enables Kelly to find her passion and turn it into a viable business.  Fans of Nicholas Sparks will enjoy this positive, pro-women novel about turning a mid-life crisis into a life-affirming celebration.

Fans of Nicholas Sparks and his writing/storytelling style should probably stop reading now.

Did that clear the room?  Perhaps I wasn't being fair to Nicholas Sparks.

When I agreed to provide an honest review for Here Home Hope, I did not anticipate that I would feel such guilt over it!  I wanted to like this book, I really did.  I even contemplated sugar-coating my review to save feelings.  But I cannot do that.  This is my blog, and honesty is important to me.

When I was in college, one of our writing professors gave this sage advice: to effectively share a story, you must show the action, not tell it.  Kaira Rouda does not do that.  In fact she tells the story to the point that all of the action takes place off-scene.  The protagonist just tells you about it later.

This book is emotionally distancing, which is a surprise, given plot lines that could have come straight from Desperate Houswives!  Breast cancer fears, anorexia, extra-marital affairs, catty-neighbors, mid-life crises, depression; it is all there.  And all strangely boring.

The main character, Kelly Johnson, realizes her life has to change.  Up until the start of the book, her life has focused solely on her perfect, lawyer husband, her million-dollar home, and her two, idealized, teenage sons.  But Kelly is unfulfilled. So she starts to take a good, hard look at her life, and then goes to see a psychologist.  Who immediately puts her on antidepressants.

Apparently she also put the book on antidepressants because from that point forward, Kelly rarely emotes.  In fact a few little pills and she just floats through the rest of her personal conflicts until the book closes.  Further, whenever Kelly has a personal need, like when she starts her business, or when she has to quickly care for her friend's anorexic teen, she already has an expert on speed dial.  It is too convenient.  It may be that life is actually like that for the oh-so-very rich and connected; I remain unconvinced.  In real life your formerly anorexic BFF who you dumped in her time of need would not take your call, let alone drop everything and provide constant, perfect, free therapy to the aforementioned anorexic teen.  All while nursing a baby.  She might even tell you to stuff it; possibly with a referral to a licensed professional.

But the real problem with this book is its lack of focus.  Is this a book about mid-life crisis?  Is it a grown-up version of those teen issues novels?  Is this a book about how hateful or supportive women can be towards each other?  Or is it a book on what steps women should take to start their own businesses?

I wish it could be all of the above, but I think it is the latter.  Why?  Because that is when the book seems easiest to read; boring, but easy.  And that is when the book provides advice you could follow.  Not surprisingly, this is where Kaira Rouda shows her expertise.  As the author of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, Rouda clearly has a passion for female businesses.  (I think she even sites her own book as a source that the fictional Kelly uses on her path to entrepreneurship.  Classy!)  And while that is wonderful for a non-fiction, self-help book, it doesn't fly for fiction.

Here Home Hope has a massive publicity machine behind it, with a blog tour (of which this review was supposed to be part), a Facebook page, and even a reader's guide in the back.  I will not be surprised to hear buzz about the book.  But for me, I could never discuss this book in a book club.  It lacks depth and cohesion, climax, and even good dialog.  It is a soft-touch.  Here Home Hope tells, it doesn't show.