Monday, June 21, 2010

Bachelorette Night

Darling daughter has been at the age where she can safely cook. We are starting 'Bachelorette Night' where she cooks a home-cooked meal for under $10 for the family. This life skill is important for developing budgeting and healthy living skills. She will be constrained by her budget and challenged to find recipes that she enjoys that is also healthy. Hopefully when it is time to 'fledge the nest' she will be armed with the knowledge of healthy living on a budget.

She learned to properly chop vegetables that are round and how to hold the knife. She is using one of the surprise onions from my garden and one of my garlic heads.

These were good enough to make the regular round of our personal favorites. Now that we know darling daughter can make this herself, we just have to put it on the chore list:)

The first of many recipe cards to come for her own personal recipe box. Maybe she can make her own recipe box this summer, keep her busy;)

Harvesting Funflowers

I grew wildflowers this year with sunflowers being in the mix. I never knew where the sunflower seeds were in sunflowers. I have seen sunflowers, I never saw any seeds. They apparently are in the head just past the pollen. You need to scrape off the pollen to see them, a little gardening secret apparently. If I had grown up in an area slightly more rural than Los Angeles perhaps I would have known that.

After scraping off the sunflowers (be sure to have a can ready to deflect the caterpillars you will cross roads with), soak in 1:3 salt/water solution for several hours and bake in oven at 200 for 2 hours or until they are dry. They will crack if you pinch them with your fingers instead of giving in. These flowers can have as many as 2000 seeds in each head. I am DEFINITELY doing this again next year. Darling daughter and I had a lot of fun with this one.
NOTE: The sunflowers are ready to harvest when they bow their heads and the back of the flower head turns yellow:)

36 Garlic heads, and 4 onions apparently

Last year I planted about 10 onion seeds before I heard about how impossible they are to grow from seed. They sent up spindly shoots then died back. Oh well, lesson learned, I can't grow onions like I was told. Well, lets put garlic in that bed. Garlic grew great! I had a few garlic that seemed to grow above ground.... oh no! That can't be good. Sunlight will ruin garlic after a while. I guess I will have to toss it. I harvested the garlic and set them to dry.

You can see that renegade garlic on the far right. Too bad it grew above ground, look how BIG it is! I snipped off the tops and the roots on the bottom after drying them for four weeks. A little sniff test to see how this bad garlic smelled. REALLY!?? This is an ONION. Now that it's trim, sure it looks like an onion but in with the other garlics, it really looked like a garlic. I was raised in Los Angeles not Kansas.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Secret Project

I have secretly been working on a project with a couple of friends that has been fun and exciting. One of my partners, Julie blogged about it here.

If you are local, come visit us at the Farmers Market in San Marcos!

Monday, June 7, 2010


My two friends and I explored the Renegade Craft Fair a few weeks ago and had a great time!! I was very happy to find out they were coming to our neck of the woods and requested that weekend off almost two months earlier. Renegade grew up along with first cousin Etsy and have fed each other since their inception. As excerpted (cut and pasted) from their website:

The Renegade Craft Fair is a large-scale DIY event featuring hundreds of independent artists and their unique handmade items. RCF is held in cities across the US every year - including Brooklyn, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles & Austin. The fair is known for being one of the first events of its kind, and for having the top-notch indie-craft artists and designers who travel from all over the map to participate.
Renegade got its start in Chicago’s Wicker Park in the fall of 2003, and has spread like wildfire ever since. In 2005, the fair traveled out east to Brooklyn, NY where vendors set-up shop in McCarren Park and the infamous McCarren Park Pool. By 2009, the fair had expanded out west to San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA. And to kick-off the 2010 season, Renegade is moseying down south to Austin, TX for its very first event there.
The Renegade Craft Fair is coordinated by Sue Daly & Danny Orendorff. Sue is the co-founder and proprietor of Renegade, and makes jewelry + housewares under the name Timber! Her husband, Mat Daly, designs all of the beautiful silkscreened owl posters for each of the fairs. Madelon Juliano is our administrative assistant and trusty sidekick at the fairs.
The inspiration for RCF came when two friends wanted to take their hobbies to the next level, and start participating in arts + crafts shows. After looking into some local events, it quickly became apparent that there were no shows representing the DIY community, which already had a huge presence online. Everything was either geared towards fine arts + crafts – or country crafts. So, the idea to host an indie craft fair was sparked – and the rest is history!

Darling Daughter agonized over which messenger bag she wanted from Rainbow Swirlz. The norwhal won her heart. She paid for it with birthday money so she had to choose carefully.

The lovely ladies of Austin Craft Mafia were well represented. Jennifer Perkins of Naughty Secretary Club had a delicious booth of jewelry and and all things sublime. Her book Naughty Secretary Club The Working Girls Guide To Handmade Jewelry has been the mother of a teenager daughter's best friend every summer. Darling Daughter pours over the book and our craft supplies and makes her own jewelry. She spends countless hours creating during long summer months and really enjoys it. When trying to find ways to keep teenagers busy stalls out, plop this book and some new kitschy doo dads in front of her and I might see her a few days later pop her head out of the craft room. I purchased this lovely jar

of kitschy goodness at Jennifer's booth and true to form, it gets poured out and drooled over frequently. She has made a ring so far, I will keep you posted as the summer snails along.

Jenny Hart from Sublime Stitching was present as well. I love her unique, modern, easy designs that can get anyone stitching in minutes. I suffer from CADD, Crafting Attention Deficit Disorder. I explore many crafts, am master of none and Jenny feeds my disorder with her truly one-of-a-kind patterns, she's an ENABLER!
My summer months are filled with endless embroidery while waiting for various teen activities to end. Will anybody stop her?! I hope not:)

Here's the latest Sublime pattern I finished. I STILL can't figure out how to turn vertical pics into horizontal pics. Anyone? Don't be shy! I will make a tote bag out of this or small purse. As usual, I already have all the supplies to make that happen. As part of having CADD, I also suffer from CSAD, Crafting Supplies Acquisition Disorder. Pardon the acronyms, I'm ex-military, everything comes with an acronym. "Dash-10", "METL", "DPR" have special meaning to the select few.

And my latest acquistion, Vital Organs! I love it:) I picture tote bags, shirts and aprons. Any ideas?

Craft on my friends, craft on.....

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Garden Update

It's been a while since I updated you all on my gardening misadventures. It's interesting that many of my coworkers and husband think I have this phenomenal green thumb. Either I don't talk about my failures enough or they are just not listening. It could be that human nature causes us to remember the good more than the bad, possibly as a means to survive. Why dwell on the bad when that could depress you and keep you from scavenging food, finding a cave and hiding from dragons.

Here's my ONE pear. I actually consider this a SUCCESS since I just planted this tree and didn't expect any. There were eleven pear-lets that mysteriously disappeared, possibly victims of aforementioned dragon.

This is my first blackberry! I got so excited, I took a picture of it on my Blackberry (cell phone) and am using it as a screen saver. Blackberry on a Blackberry, get it? I'm so funny:) Actually, I picked this too early because I didn't know better and when I handed it over to my husband in a ceremonious "here, I have brought you the first of the season", a strange twisted, contorted facial motion consumed his face. It was bitter. Apparently, water, feed, wait til they turn dull and fall off easy when you touch it method of harvesting is better. Who knew?

And my first peas. They are-were delicious, then some mysterious
pest devoured the leaves, made the peas bitter and left me without anymore snacks while gardening. A FAILURE co-workers and hubby.

This beauty is the flower from one of my garlic stalks. I expected garlic scapes and was ready to harvest them when they 'turned around' but this never 'turned around'. It just kept growing up and when it bloomed, well i JUST had to leave it, it was beautiful. None of the other garlic plants produced a flower and continued to develop bulbs. I was about to harvest them when I came across a farmer at the Austin Farmers Market and he said wait until June. I harvest them 3 days before June because they fell over and I was worried. They probably could have gone a few more days but I didn't want to risk it. I had a lot of garlic to lose. This flower is full of bublets but they aren't worth harvesting for me right now since if I started with bublets instead of bulbs, it would take me 2-3 years before I could harvest garlic and I just have a small city plot. It would take up valuable space for too long. But maybe.... when I get a few acres....

And now on to the herb garden. I highly recommend an herb garden for EVERYBODY, especially beginners. They are WEEDS!! You can't mess them up! In Texas, almost all of them come back every year and the ones that don't, let them bolt and save the seed:) See, easy*** A SUCCESS! This is Lemon Balm, I like this. I have been adding this to my green tea that I make by the gallon so that I can kick my diet coke habit. Diet Coke is bad, so is real coke. You get a choice between a toxin (Aspartame), and High Fructose Corn Syrup (A major player in 'Diabesity', 'Syndrome X' or 'Metabolic Syndrome').
This is Red Veined Sorrel. I'm not sure what this is other than a culinary herb but I do have an
herb resource.

Why would I grow an herb I don't know about? Because I came across several at one garden shop that I didn't know about and knowing how hard it is to find herbs other than the big 5, I grabbed all of them. The big five are Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Mint. You can find those easily, even at the local supermarket. Sorrel, Curry, Thai Basil, St. Johns Wort, Lemon Balm, Comfrey? Grab them if you see them. They are harder to find.

This is Curry Herb. It smells just like curry, I believe it repels dragons. You will come across this if you like to cook Thai food. I'm glad I have one now, we cook Thai regularly. For those of you who know Dave, you know why....

One of many sunflowers thanks to the big Burpee bag of wildflower mix. It lured many interesting bees to my yard. Some of which watched me carefully as I worked around them and tried to buzz me back. 'Watch it mister!' I would tell them. "Don't bite the hand that feeds you!" Some of them understood, I swear.

My garlic:) Apparently I need to dry them for four weeks out of direct sunlight before cutting the roots and tops. Then, store in ceramic for 6-8 months. Yea! A SUCCESS!

This is funny. Anyone who sees my 6 rows of tomatoes will think instantly, "SUCCESS". This 'success' started with huge failures, plural. I started the seeds indoors with regular fluorescent light bulbs because I had read that you could. I thought I was going to be a huge success, I had almost 70 tomato starts. I was on to something, then......dampening ended my tomato I thought. It was still early in the season so I purchased 2 growing lights from a local light bulb shop, they are expensive, and started over. At first I was really good at labeling my plants,
but after the first disaster I was in survival mode. I planted as many as I could as fast as I could. What I ended up with were 3 heirloom plants and about 30 cherry tomato plants!! Oh boy, fortunately they are all indeterminant so I won't have to harvest 1000 cherry tomatoes all at once. But, alas, no canning this year:(

A failure or success? The jury is out, canning takes up valuable time.

The Herb Garden.

A chive flower, so pretty.....

I think, a Monarch Caterpillar. I had nine of these chomping on my dill plant. I 'fed' them and let them live. I got an email from The Natural Gardener that the Monarch butterfly suffered devastating losses in Mexico because of the rains and if you see them, spare them, share your crop. So I did. As for the two beetles in the first picture, what are they? If you know let me know. Apparently they were using my Golden Dorsett apple tree as a romantic rendezvous. I spared them too, as most bugs I come across until I can determine if they will be a nuisance. A balance of bugs is ideal for any garden, they keep losses and disease at bay. Big bugs eat small bugs, that's the way it goes. If you kill one segment of this web, it falls apart and you lose everything.