Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Fun...


  

Happy Belated Easter! We had such a beautiful day yesterday.  The morning began with two, little boys waking and trying really hard not to be too loud.  It was quite cute!  My husband and I asked that they not wake us up until it was light outside so, they were quietly talking in their room.  When I woke and came out with my camera to capture their wonder, I heard my eldest shush his brother because he heard the squeak of my door.  Excited much?

 

This is the first pic I took of Michael's surprise coming out of his room. As you can see he was moving fast.  It is our tradition to hide chocolate foiled eggs, or rather the Easter bunny does. So it's always a dazzling site to see all those brightly colored foiled eggs "hidden" about. 


This year I painted some hollow, wooden eggs to fill our baskets.  So the eve before I had the boys hide 8 wooden eggs around the house.  We left a note for the Easter bunny inviting him to have an Easter egg hunt of his own and find the wooden eggs.  We hoped he might fill them up, but we didn't ask of course, that would be impolite.  I kept 2 of the wooden eggs and filled them with a special MamaWestWind bunny, from their Mama with love.

The first thing they spotted at their places at the breakfast table were some child-sized Bolga baskets from Cedar Ring Circle.  Inside was their special bunny doll filled egg.




This year the Easter Bunny found some pretty awesome Mama makers to trade with and buy from.
The boys were especially excited about their adorable knit toadstool necklaces.  The little cap can be raised to find a tube of Burt's Bees chap-stick. Plus we found that the Easter Bunny did fill those wooden eggs with candy & bubble gum and hid them with their Easter baskets.  He did enjoy his hunt and left a drawn picture of himself on our note!


After a spot of breakfast & later a second breakfast of sweet rolls the boys spent all morning playing with their Mama made bunnies at their tree house. 

 


I was so surprised that the bunny dolls seemed the hit of the day, besides the chocolate of course.  I figured since they had seen me making them for my shop, they would be old news. But no, they really seem to treasure them.  Warms this Mama's heart! 


The rest of the day was filled with good food and family.  I hope you had a lovey Easter too! 

Until next time...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vanishing of the Bees

 

This season I'm looking especially to our beloved pollinators, bees & butterflies.  I recently watched, Vanishing of the Bees, a fascinating documentary of the plight of the honey bee in this country.  Let me just say, I had no idea.   Did you know that giant farms are creating farming monoculture, making it hard for bees to survive?  That bees are trucked all over the country to pollinate crops because of monoculture? Or that queen bees are artificially inseminated & later killed by pulling off their heads so that a new queen can be introduced to the hive?  Did you know that bees are being killed by all the pesticides & herbicides that we use at home and on farms?  Yikes!  

From what I've learned it is especially important to know what kind of seeds and plants you are planting.  Many companies are now selling genetically modified seeds & plants.  This means, among other things, that they coat the seed in pesticides or other chemicals. This can potentially kill bees and butterflies, all the good bugs as well as the bad.  Then if you eat the plant those pesticides are now in you!  Again yikes!  I knew some of this before watching, Vanishing of the Bees, but this film really brought it home.  (By the way it's available on Hulu.)

So at any rate, this year we're planting a butterfly blend of flowers, Echinacea, Borage & lots of other herbs in hopes to attract loads of bees and butterflies. 
 

You've heard of the bird's eye view, well this is the bean's eye view!  I planted these beans weeks ago but it was still a little too cold, so they waited and took their time. 

 

The greens and beets we planted here are coming up & seem happy.  I'm interested in experimenting with this bed.  I recently watched a video that explained how to create a perennial "food forest" garden.  This is a garden that is basically untouched.  The veggies are planted and then allowed to go to seed. Mulch, add a little compost, keep moist and leave it alone and when the seeds are ready to sprout they will.  This leaves it all to Mother nature.  The earth is never turned.  The dead plants will keep it composted long term.  I wonder if this can work in the desert? I think it will require covering for our Spring winds. 

And those Spring winds are most definitely here! I hear the wind howling as I type.  I think some row cover will be next on my list of supplies. 


The onions, carrots, greens & leeks in this bed are coming up too.


Here's my current project.  In my last gardening post I mentioned I had dug out a new bed that was really shady.  So far the plants seem happy there, everything is coming up slowly.  The rest of this side yard was old dry weeds from last year.  I carefully burned them and dug them up & then thought why not plant all along this wall?  So I'm currently digging out, sifting the sandy soil & sheet mulching.  It's quite a job but I'd rather see flowers and veggies here than weed grass reappear. & I have some interesting squash on their way from Cedar Ring Circle's, Heirloom Seed order!  I can't wait to see if they might like this area.

I wish I could turn my sandy, desert yard into beautiful right away! But alas, Mother Nature is teaching me patience.  She seems to be saying, a little at a time will do it. 

So everyone, watch Vanishing of the Bees.  It's so important to have pollinators.  It effects not only gardeners & farmers but anybody that wants to eat!   Everyone can do their small part to help. 


Until next time...


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fairy Garden Accessories...



We've been in miniature mood lately.  The boys and I began by making some sweet little bowls and cups out of acorn caps.  They are surprisingly easy to make with just a file.  Then we had to set the tiny table and of course Mommy decided a couple of place mats were in order. To be honest I'm not sure the boys really cared about the place mats.  That's ok, Moms can play too.

We also played with some of the other miniatures in our craft stash.  We made wreaths to decorate the fairy garden and our gnome tree house.  We also made a little bird nest with wax eggs.

Then I happened to see this post & video, at Anne of Green Gardens.  It's a whole fairy village!  The video tells all about her process of putting it together and what plants she used.  Anyway, in the video there is a cute little hanging basket behind them while they talk.  Since I had a few of those baskets lying around I decided to make one!  Owen and I went and bought little rosemary & lemon thyme "trees" & tiny peppermint ground cover along with some teeny tiny gravel.  Where the pine cone is I want a little house.  Perhaps I'll make one.  I can't wait to see it once the plants have filled out a little.  I can see the basket from my place at the breakfast table and I kind of love it!

We also bought some herbs for the boys' fairy garden or as they like to call it the "gnome garden". So far they have put it together all by themselves. When we're finished with it, I'll post some pictures. 

Until next time...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Baby Lettuce Lesson...


So recently we found these little guys, Gourmet Baby Lettuce growing in the oddest of places, between two railroad tie steps.  Is life not amazing?!  It's survives and strives & pushes through! I tend to baby my garden.  I fret and fuss about the soil and how much water is enough or too much.  This little lettuce had a lesson to teach me and Mother nature seemed to be saying, "look here's where baby lettuce wants to grow".  The steps here get very little direct light. So, this set us on a new course.

My goal is to someday have enough vegetables to feed us, year round.  I would love to can tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, salsa, pickles, all of it! To do that we'll need a bit more garden space I think. So I'm observing our yard anew to see where we can grow and how we can grow using what we already  have.

This led us to dig out a new, in ground garden bed.


I'm so excited about this bed.  It's on our side yard very near a large pine tree in our front yard.  It's easy access from the kitchen, yay!  Because it's so near the pine tree the soil seems to be perfect.  It was easy to dig out.  Michael and I finished it all including placing the rocks in under an hour. The soil is so rich and wonderful feeling, we didn't need to add a thing to it.  We already had the rocks that we've been pulling out of the back yard in order to make more room for flowers and veggies. This area of the yard gets mostly indirect light so I researched plants that might like that (besides our baby lettuce) and today we planted Everbearing Strawberries, Purple Bush Beans, Contender Bush Beans, Lemon Thyme, Chamomile, Greek Oregano, Onions, Italian Parsley, two Spinach varieties, Kale, some of that rougue Gourmet Baby Lettuce and red cabbage. 

In the Southwest the biggest garden hazards, that I've noticed at least, are the sun and Spring winds.  I'm learning that the rules of Sun/ Shade & where veggies like to be planted are very different here than in other parts of the country.  Now when I pick up a plant that says "plant in full sun" I chuckle a little bit.  Unless it's a cactus almost all plants like a little shade here.  I'm hoping these veggies will be happy.  Eventually I would love to see the strawberries take over. 


New in the garden this year are potatoes! I've never grown them before so I am super excited to see what happens.  We started them in the mostly shady side yard in a big pot and coffee sack. 



Last year, despite excellent soil, the plants in this bed did not do so well.  After observing it for awhile we notices that the sunlight is spotty.  Last year I tried planting nasturtiums, Sunflowers, cucumbers, zucchini and watermelon here, all sun loving plants.  This year I'm trying some of the colder weather root crops like onions, Carnival Blend Carrots and leeks.  We've planted spinach and lettuce here as well. 

One of our square foot garden beds is also planted with Spring veggies, beets, spinach, Red Sail lettuce, Kale & Red Cabbage. This bed is in full sun so it will be interesting to see how it does. 


Our tepee is planted with Peas at the moment.  Purple Triumph Pole Beans will be planted around the poles.  We're hoping for a play tepee by midsummer!


This bed at our front door is all about Spring flowers at the moment.  The boys were so thrilled to plant flower bulbs.  We're going to scatter seed here soon for Summer flowers and see what comes up. 

We've been working so hard at getting our garden beds ready and I'm tired but it hardly seems like work to me, I love it so much.  Are you beginning your garden planning? Any planting yet?

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Guest Blogger & Wool Flower Tutorial

I am honored to have Lori Campbell here today as my guest blogger!  You all may know Lori from her awesome shop and blog, Beneath the Rowan Tree.  Time to get out those wool yarn scraps, Lori has a lovely project in mind for them.
***

Beneath the Rowan Tree has been making hand dyed and handmade children's toys since 2007. Artisan Lori Campbell has recently quit her 20 year career to focus on BTRT full time (along with parenting and homeschooling).  To bring this dream to full life BTRT has launched a Kickstarter campaign to create a line of hand dyed wool yarns and a studio.  Please visit the Kickstarter at 
http://tinyurl.com/Kickin-itBTRT -- and consider becoming part of the project as a backer, receiving some wonderful hand dyed rewards and sharing the link with others. They have until March 5th to meet their funding goal.  This tutorial comes from the Beneath the Rowan Tree blog.

This is a perfect project for using up pretty bits of yarn.

I love to make them with handspun and/or single ply, but they would work well with plied wool yarn as well.
Attach a bobby pin or hair elastic for a one of a kind hair decoration.  Or add a brooch pin, even stitch them right to your finished garment for a sweet embellishment.  Stitch a piece of wool felt to the back for stability and you have a pretty button!
Materials:
  • Various scraps of WOOL yarn in desired colours
  • Scissors
  • Felting needle (any size, I prefer 38 stars)
  • Hair elastics, bobby pins, brooch pins or button shafts as you choose
  • embroidery floss or thread for finishing
  • green roving and felting mat if you intend to make leaves OR green commercial felt
Instructions :
1) Choose a length of yarn (length will depend on size of blossom in mind).
18" will make a quarter sized blossom.
Start a spiral, keeping the yarn flat as you wind.
2) Using your felting needle, slide it carefully into the side of your spiral.
Take care not to bend your needle, as it may snap.
Also, mind your fingers!  This craft is sure to give you at least a couple of good pokes!
Sliding it carefully in and out at various points around your spiral, you should hear and feel the "shh" sound of fibers locking as you withdraw your needle.  At this point you simple need to tack the spiral together well enough to enable you to continue to wind it while maintaining a flat plane. (pardon my dye stained fingers!)
3) Continue to wind and tack until your spiral reaches the desired size.
4) When you have your blossom at the size you need, use your needle in the same manner as above, this time going carefully and intentionally around the whole spiral with firm stabs that reach to the center to stabilize the piece.
Avoid stabbing the needle right through and out the other side, as this will leave 'tufts' of fiber on your finished piece.
The tail is best slipped behind the piece and carefully felted down against the back (stabbing at a perpendicular angle to the piece in this case, careful not to go through the front).
Use your needle to tidy up the shape and any errant tufts.
When you are finished you should have a spiral that holds together like one solid piece.

5) Finishing: 
  • for hair pretties, stitch the spiral securely to the hair elastic
  • for a bobby pin, use a strong adhesive and place a dab on the back of the spiral, 'smoosh' this in to the fibers and let dry.  You will use this 'pad' you have created to adhere the spiral to the bobby pin plate so that you are attaching adhesive to adhesive.
  • for a brooch, stitch the spiral to a locking bar pin or other
  • for a pendant, either stitch or adhere to a bail (use adhesion suggestion as above)
  • for a button, stitch a piece of commercial felt to the back t ensure the spiral functions as one solid piece for buttoning.  Stitch to garment or button shank.
  • make leaves with roving and needlefelting, felt to the back, OR cutout leaves from commercial felt and stitch to back.
Have fun!
This tutorial is provided freely, but it does represent hard work on the part of the designer and author. No part of it may be reproduced without the author's permission.
It may not be reprinted or reproduced for commercial purposes or for profit.
If you use items created from this tutorial for commercial purposes, credit to the designer would be appreciated! 
Copyright, Lori Campbell/ Beneath the Rowan Tree, 2010 ©

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!





Hi all, hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day! I was so inspired by all of your comments about what you were doing with your littles for Valentine's Day.  Ulitmately we celebrated very simply.  We made eachother handmade Valentines and chocolaty brownie treats.  My dear husband suprised me with chocolates and a hilarious card that my boys and I read over & over laughing about. I called my Gram who I hadn't talked to for far too long.

My husband took us all out to dinner and there was the sweetest Dad there with three Valentines.  He was treating his three small daughters to a nice dinner. What a loving Dad!  It made me think those little girls are going to know exactly how their future mate should treat them because Daddy already showed them how to love. 

So how did you show your love this Valentine's Day? 

Until next time...