Mar 092013
 

My project choices the past few days have really helped with my momentum.  Honestly, the the public accountability hasn’t  hurt either.  The first day involved making a list of all your projects and what needed to be done to complete those projects.  Day 2 of 30 Days, 21 Projects found us doing a quick project, something we already had everything to do and knew we could get done in one day.  For me this was checking our credit scores.  Thankfully there was not a lot of wrong information, though there were disputes about a few small things.  Day 3 was a bit harder, at least for me as it required going an purchasing something I didn’t have yet.  This also turned out to be a bit harder than I thought since they didn’t have what I was wanting.  Day 4 held a very large project.  I felt as if I had been working up to this one.  This project took much longer than the rest and was more physical than the first 3 days. Day 5 found me going back to an easy project.  The house needed a bit more attention.  I also talked about this during Day 3 – looking ahead.  The discussion was about grouping your projects so that not all the larger projects are being done at the end.  Not only is this so your list doesn’t “feel” unbalanced, or heavier at one end than the other, but also because many of us have other obligations to attend to.

Yesterday’s project was to buy, and install, a bird bath.  On Day 3 I had gone to buy a trash can, but was unable to find what I was looking for.  What I did find out though was the store would let you order items from the store and use a coupon.  After looking online I found a birdbath from there that I liked.  Since I had a few spare minutes in Big Town, I stopped by the same store yesterday.  The bird bath is ordered with a coupon and using a gift card.  The coupon saved me $6 and the gift card made it possible to pay nothing out of pocket. Yes, it is purchased.  No, it isn’t installed as it will take 3-5 business days to get to my house.  I am going to mark is a “work in progress” so I at least know I am still working on that one.

Today, Day 6, I’m ready to tackle another larger project.  Since the weather outside, and hence our wall inside, is still cold that disqualifies painting or yard work.  Instead I am going to work on organizing my pantry.  Everyone’s pantry is different and provides different challenges.  The last house we lived in had a great pantry.  Double folding doors, easy access, at the end of our galley kitchen and against an inside wall.  I would say it was near perfect for me.  Then we moved.

Our current pantry. I actually had to take a few steps down the basement stairs to get far enough away to take this picture.  You can see most of the shelve in the pantry area.
 

I love our house.  I really do.  However, our pantry has a lot left to be desired.  I am pretty sure it was an after thought.  Let’s start with the location – at the top of the basement stairs, right inside a narrow door from the kitchen and bordered on the other side by a narrow door to the outside.  Until this winter that particular outer door had major gaps around it and was by no means a deterant for the cold/hot weather outside. Yes, it did lock, but you if you stepped into the pantry area and closed the door to the kitchen behind you, while leaving the lights to the basement off, you could clearly see the sun shine all the way around the door.  Previous attempts by me to fill these gaps had helped but did not quite do the job.  Finally this winter I had a great idea – use the same thing you put on the bottom of doors to stop drafts.  Off to he hardware store I went.  Not only did I find what I was looking for, but it was in the color I wanted (white) and it did a great job.  The particular items I found did not need to be screwed on, but instead had a sticky backing.  These worked so well that the temperature in the pantry area is finally decent.  I don’t think it has been below freezing all winter.  Yeah for our food stored there and for our heating bill in the rest of the house.

This is the normal calming, uncluttered view of the  pantry floor.  This is the first thing you see when you open the door to the pantry or to go down to the basement.  This is also the way, from inside, out to our deck.  We don’t go that way much.  Can you guess why?
 

Okay, enough about the location.  Let’s talk about layout.  There are shelves.  They vary in height.  They also vary in how deep they are.  On the far side they will hold one can with just a bit of room leftover.  On the other side you can get 4 or 5 cans deep.  Some of the shelves sage a bit in the middle.  This means that you may be able to put a quart jar on the right side, but by the middle or the left side the space is too short.

Over time I this space has become a hot spot for items heading to the basement.  One thing in there I know for sure of are pictures from VBS … from the beginning of Summer 2012.  Oh, and an alarm clock.  And a fire extinguisher  while the one attached to the wall is out of date.  Yet there are no cans of peas or apricot jam or tomato paste because “there isn’t room”.  This means I have to walk down steep steps into the basement for these items while other useless, pointless items take up valuable space. 

The bottom two shelves currently hold a lot of non-food items: crock pots, salad spinner, emergency candles, different vinegar, adult snack stash (hide it in plain sight and they don’t know where it is – hint: it is the box with the blue lid, the front package that everyone can see never changes)

Here is a closer, though darker, picture of the middle shelves.  There really is a general order to things, though my husband can’t figure it out.  Guess that means there really isn’t much of an order to things.  The very top shelf does hold jams and jelly, then canned goods with tomato products being on the far left.  As we go from there the organization starts to break down very quickly.  It soon become more of a “if there is space, but it there” kind of organization.

So what is it about the pantry I want to change and what do I want to leave?

I don’t want to change the flooring or the wall paper.  Yes, both are old, but are in decent shape.  Also, I would rather spend my money in other spaces of the house right now.

What I would like to see are a lot of the non-food items go to the basement, especially the things we only use every so often.  I would like to see label.  I would like to see the groceries for this week in the pantry so I don’t have to walk to the basement multiple times for a meal, or for a meal at all.  I would rather go down at the beginning of the week and restock the upstairs pantry and use from it as the week goes on.  I want my family to be able to open the door and know exactly where to look for something.  I want to be able to, at a glance, know what we need more of.

Lists of my 21 Projects:

  1. Spackle stairway walls
  2. Prime spots to be painted (from previous replacement of door and window frames)
  3. Paint spots around door and window frames
  4. Repaint Horse post by street
  5. Strip vent covers in bathroom and kitchen
  6. Repaint bathroom and kitchen vent covers
  7. Seal pots and paint with chalkboard paint (to be used with herb plants on the deck)
  8. Add outlet cover for washer/dryer
  9. Add outlet cover for outlet on front porch
  10. Check credit report
  11. Replace light fixture in stairway
  12. Remove weeping cherry (to create a place for blackberry bushes)
  13. Put out a bird bath – work in progress
  14. Buy new kitchen trash can – work in progress
  15. Organize and label kitchen pantry
  16. Move clothing totes to back of crawl space (instead of right in front), add shoe rack and rod to hang winter coats
  17. Divide out future clothing sized into clear totes, label
  18. Put camping stuff in tote(s), label
  19. Clean bathroom grout
  20. Seal bathroom grout
  21. Make and freeze 4 different soups, 3 months worth each

And in case you couldn’t guess it, showing all of you the messiest parts of my house and the projects in progress is not my most favorite of things to do.  I would rather be showing you the wonderful tulips that are starting to come up.  Or the red bird that hesitantly goes to our bird feeder in the mornings.  Or the wonderful snow falling outside.  Those are all pretty things.  Things that look orderly and everyone can ooh and aah over.  But, I am trying to keep it honest and real during these projects.  And that means showing you my pantry that has slowly slid into disorganization or the bathroom upstairs that had wall partly de-wallpapered.  (Which by the way I forget what they looked like now that they are wonderfully painted.)  I hope you are able to understand the non-perfect state of my house as I work to get it back in order and projects finished that were put on hold for a bit.

What I am pretty sure that all of you can understand is my desire to have these all done before gardening season starts.  It can’t be too far off.  Like I said, tulips are starting to show.  So, I am going to end today’s post with some pretty pictures from last year:

Feb 272013
 

I have often posted ebooks that can be read on your computer or on a Kindle.  It hasn’t been intentional that I have left out those of you with NOOKs.  I just haven’t found any for free.  Today I realized that you may still be interested in books that are available for you NOOK.

All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space

All New Square Foot Gardening

The Square Foot Gardening Answer Book: New Information from the Creator of Square Foot Gardening - the Revolutionary Method Used by 2 Million Thrilled Followers

The Square Foot Gardening Answer Book

Grow Your Own Flowers

Grow Your Own Flowers

Stand Up and Garden: The no-digging, no-tilling, no-stooping approach to growing vegetables and herbs

Stand Up and Garden: The no-digging, no-tilling, no-stooping approach to growing vegetables and herbs

 

If you are thinking of buying a NOOK here are a few deals currently available:

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Feb 182013
 

Happy President’s Day!!  We are visiting with family today so the menu post will be delayed till this evening.

Here are some ebooks that are currently $0.00 on Amazon.  Click on the links below each picture to be taken to the page where you can download a digital version of the book.  Before purchasing the books, please double check the price to make sure it has not changed.

If you do not own a Kindle it is still possible to read these on your computer.  Go here to download the free application that will allow you to do the same.

 

 

Growing the Greatest Flowers Around

How to Make Money Running Your Own Aeration Business

how to draw beetles, turtles, animals and other characters in the garden (that kids love) (how to draw comics and cartoon characters)

how to draw sheep, cow and other farm cartoon characters (that kids love) step by step (how to draw comics and cartoon characters)

how to draw fish, shark, whale sea horses and lots of other sea animals and stuff (that kids love) step by step (how to draw comics and cartoon characters)

Permaculture Chicken: Incubation Handbook

 

Make Your Own Instant Oatmeal Mix (Wait, What?? I Can Do That?)

I have not read the book below, but the title caught my attention:

Quit Gardening in 4 Easy Steps

 

Dec 012012
 

Among all the boring bills and junk mail I found this wonderful surprise yesterday.  Just a reminder that if you haven’t ordered your catalogs, and want to, now is the time.  Some are expected now, while others will not come till Janurary.

To request the above pictured catalog, click here.  Their website says, “A source for over 600 heirloom and open-pollinated varieties, including many new introductions from our Preservation Collection. Catalogs are sent via bulk mail and take 2-3 weeks to arrive. We mail once a week on Thursdays.”  This is the company I have ordered from for the past 5 years or so.  I have been happy with their selections and service.

Burpee is another company from whom I buy seeds, though usually I get theirs from the local store.  You can request a free catalog from there by filling out the form here.  They begin mailing their catalogs in late December.  If you plan on ordering form them you might also want to go ahead and sign up for their email list to recieve a $5 off $30 coupon code.

Something to keep in mind when ordering from a nursery, for some plants it is best to order from a nursery in your Zone.  This really goes for plants, though can apply to certain seeds too.  If a plant is used to growing in a colder climate, for example, moving it to a hot Zone may shock it.  To find a nursery near you, for cases like this, I would suggest searching online, calling your local Master Gardener group, or talking to someone who grows plants locally.  Even a local vegeatable farmer will know of others who grow ornatmenal grasses or fruit trees.

About.com has a great article written by Stacy Fisher, “48 Free Seed Catalogs and Plant Catalogs.” Though this was written for 2012 I’m pretty sure most of them are still relavent. If you aren’t sure who to order from, or are looking for a different company to try, you will want to check out her article.  The list includes catalogs in a wide variety of areas, from the traditional garden plants to tropical plants to water gardens

Here are links to a few from her list (updated as needed):

Catalog

The above picture is of their 2012 catalog.  Their website has a form to fill out to recieve their 2013 catalog and says, “Please look for the new 2013 Spring catalog in your mailbox late December. ” This is free if you live in the U.S., but there is a fee if you don’t.

Bluestone Perennials – this is what I meant by finding a new catalog you can use.  Bluestone Perennials sells ornamental grasses, perennials, shrubs, and mums.  As I’m redoing my front flower bed and looking for new perennials to place there, this is exactly what I was looking for.

Here is another one I am looking forward to looking through. Brent and Becky’s bulbs have an online and a print version of their catalog.  The current print version is for Summer/Fall 2012.  There is also a deal currently going on.  “50% OFF ALL REMAINING GARDEN BULBS AND COZY COMPANIONS UNTIL MONDAY DEC. 3RD AT 6PM EST.”  If you are looking to order some bulbs and are a bit behind doing so {clears throat} this may be the perfect opportunity to do so.

(picture from Morguefile.com)

Burnt Ridge Nursery & Orchard is another source for a non-vegetable catalog you can request.  Looking for fruit or nut trees, berry bushes, ornatmentals or native for the northwest, then this will be what you want.  Just remember, for some of these it is best to order from a nursery in your Zone.  It is still fun to look, though, and you never know what you may find that will work for where you are.

(picture from Morguefile.com)

Another company I have heard good things about, but from whom I have never ordered, is Southern Exposure.  They are another company who sells heirloom variety plants.  In addition to seeds, their catalog has “seasonal garden tips, disease and insect control, seed saving, and detailed variety descriptions.”  According to their website, shipping of their catalog starts in December and should take 2 – 4 weeks to arrive.  This catalog is free if you live in the U.S.

Here are more links, not found on the above mentioned list.  (Please let me know if they are there and I just missed them):

Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Co. – “Receive a FREE copy of the Gurney’s Seed & Nursery catalog PLUS a coupon for $25 OFF by simply filling out the information below.”  The coupon is for $25 off a $50 purchase.

Park Seed – click on button in upper left hand corner to request a free catalog

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Henry Field’s Seed & Nursery Co.

Seeds of Change

Sep 302012
 

Are you looking for some Sunday afternoon reading material?  Or perhaps, like me, are thinking ahead to slower days (winter) when you will have more time to read again?  Or maybe you are already looking ahead to next year and want to get some ideas?  Whatever the reason, here are several books I can across that will currently cost you nothing to “purchase”. That’s right, $0.00.  I’m not sure how long these will last, so go ahead and get them.  Unlike paper books, they will not sit on a shelf and collect dust.

Click on the links below each picture to be taken to the page where you can download a digital version of the book.  Before purchasing the books, please double check the price to make sure it has not changed.

I do not own a Kindle, but am able to read these on my computer.  Go here to download the free application that will allow you to do the same.

Just in time for the cooler weather: 

Fall and Winter Gardening: 25 Organic Vegetables to Plant and Grow for Late Season Food

 

The Forever Urban Garden: Nine Ways To Extend The Growing Season

Planning for next year:

Home Vegetable Gardening -a Complete and Practical Guide to the Planting and Care of All Vegetables, Fruits and Berries Worth Growing for Home Use

 

Container Gardening Designs & Woodworking Plans- Ideas for Organic Gardening & Urban Gardening

 

Container Gardening Ideas Plus Vertical Gardening-How to Produce More Organic Vegetables in Less Space

 

Worm Composting & Composting Ideas – for use in Organic Gardening & Growing of Vegetables & Herbs

 No Work Vegetable Gardening

Flower related: 

How To Grow Roses

 

Michael Taggart Photography: The Flowers

Children’s Books:

Things that Fly Big Book (4 Discover Series Picture Books for Children in 1)

 

The Burgess Bird Book for Children

Fun Reading: 

A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains

May 032012
 

The previous owners of our house planted some wonderful flowers and plants around the yard.  It is unfortunate, then, that they did not leave us information as to what they planted where and how they took care of it. This meant that we “discovered” many suprises when Spring came that first year.

One of the wonderful surprises we had was in a small flower bed beside the shed.  At first I thought it was a weed, but not one found in the rest of the yard, so I left it alone.  Soon thereafter the bed was filled with orange poppies.  I had never actually seen these in a garden before, only in pictures.  Well, they lived up to those pictures.  They were gorgeous.  The second year, there were a fewer.  Every year there after there were fewer and fewer.  I had no idea why.  They also started to appear in the grass just outside the flower bed.  My guess was that I had disturbed them withing the bed, so they were no longer growing there but had spread via roots or bulbs into the grass.  Oh how wrong I was.

I came across this post on the Mr. Brown Thumb blog.  My hope has been renewed in these flowers.  If it is as easy as this Mr. Brown Thumb states, then I hope to have a full bed of poppies next year.  Even perhaps spreading them to a larger bed in my front yard.  I love easy flowers.

When the flowers ripen at the appropriate time this year, I will be saving as many seeds as possible.  Too bad I did not know this before, or else I would be sowing the seeds now.  It seems that one of the easiest ways to propigate these is to spread the seeds on top of the snow.  When the snow melts, they will come in contact with the soil as soon as possible.  This would allow them to reach that soil without weeds and bird interfering.

Update: I wrote this post some time back, planning to publish it at that time.  However, for some unremembered reason, I didn’t.  When I saw my flowers blooming this week, I remembered what I had planned to do and came to find this post.  I hope others will find it useful as well.

Apr 162012
 

I’m not actually sure what flower this is, but it is pretty and a prolific spreader (think, low maintenance).  I think others would call that a weed.  It doesn’t stay where it is supposed to; often taking over the parts of the yard outside the flower bed.  It is the one flower that I have given permission for the neighbor kid to pick as many as he wants.

Any ideas as to what it is?

To see last week’s view, click here.