What to do when Winter Comes…in May

Folk wisdom in our parts holds that you should be safe to plant annuals, vegetables, and what-not after May 15th. So of course there was a frost warning on for last night. And of course, my husband had actually managed to get all of our vegetables in the ground early this year, getting everything settled last week:

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Wonderful, right? We were determined not to lose anything. But our sheet collection was already claimed by some tender Japanese Maples and baby trees we wanted to cover, so what to do? I hit upon the idea of buying some extra paper yard waste bags and popping them over the tomato cages for the tomato plants. We’ll use the bags soon enough in our battle against the weeds, and I figured they’d be quick to put in place and would provide ample protection against any frost. Take a look:

Easy as pie!

On the recommendation of a customer from my job, we also tried using a large empty plastic cat-litter bin over one larger tomato plant that we hadn’t caged yet, and an empty plastic coffee bin over a pepper plant. But we didn’t have enough empty stuff in our recycling bin to cover everything in our veggie patch, and I’m a bit leery of using plastic stuff for¬†this purpose. Plants can get damaged if they’re touching the plastic and it freezes. So for the rest of our pepper and okra plants, we used paper sandwich bags.

Much like with the yard waste bags, we opened them first. Then we ripped about an inch up along each of the corner folds so we could make little flaps. We placed the bags over our little uncaged veggies and put dirt on the flaps to hold things in place as it was a bit windy. Here’s how everything looked covered up:

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I am pleased to report that, although we did experience some frost, bagging our veggies did the trick. Everything looked wonderful once it was safe to uncover things. Will absolutely remember this option in the future!

Holiday Spirit

005I don’t know about you, but I’m finally feeling the holiday spirit. I’ve been a bit slow to get there this year! Cards have been mailed, a bunch of presents have been wrapped, and I’m looking forward to seeing family. For various reasons, we didn’t end up decorating our house in a big way this year. One decoration I made sure to get? A live wreath hanging from the china cupboard in the dining room. (I added the bow and the straw ornament myself.)

Alas, live Christmas trees don’t really appeal to me…the amount of effort to keep one looking nice combined with the constant risk it would be under from our 5 small dogs are factors that just don’t win me over to the real tree side. Plus, I don’t know. Killing a whole tree just so I can gawk at it for a few weeks in my house? Ehh.

But a real wreath? It smells divine, adds some holiday pep, is easy to customize, and I can at least hope that an entire tree didn’t die to make it all happen. (Right?)

Anywho, wishing all a peaceful, happy, and healthy holiday season! ūüôā

Midsummer Supermoon

Last Saturday, my husband and I thought we’d try to view the Supermoon from the water. We loaded up our kayaks and drove out to Hoover Reservoir. It was still fairly light when we first put in:005Light, and fairly cloudy…would we see the moon, or would it be hidden behind the clouds? Then, peeking up over the treeline:

009Supermoon! Of course, we’d both forgotten our cameras so these phone snaps aren’t quite up to the challenge of showcasing how lovely the moon was. Huge and bright!

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Since we were on the water at night, we used¬†the cool DIY kayak lanterns my husband made: a few feet of¬†electrical conduit pipe¬†topped by a¬†simple solar LED¬†garden light.¬†You just¬†pop the light, stake and all,¬†into the¬†pipe, then put the pipe into one of the rodholder holes. (We have kayaks designed for anglers, hence the rodholders.) The idea wasn’t to light our way, just to make ourselves visible to other boats. Easy as pie, cheap, and safe. 011It was a very peaceful night.¬†Things were¬†still and calm. I really enjoyed the opportunity to slow down, watch the fireflies, listen to the gentle lapping of the water against the shore, and bask in the moonglow. I could have stayed out all night.076Happy belated Supermoon 2013!

Homemade Basil-Infused Lemonade

005Summer is on the way! My husband was inspired to make some fresh lemonade today. He used this recipe as his taking-off point: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_lemonade/. He followed the suggestion to use the lower amount of sugar listed in the recipe and he added one lime. Then he muddled about 8 leaves of holy basil, a variety of basil from India (Ocimum tenuiflorum, also known as tulsi or tulasi) from our garden and added that to the lemon/lime juice. After chilling the completed mix in the fridge for a little bit, it was ready to drink.

Having a profound sweet tooth, I was a little sceptical about how lemonade would taste when made with less sugar, even though I liked the idea of cutting it. My verdict? Didn’t miss it at all. I would actually like to try cutting the amount of sugar down even more next time. Adding the basil¬†really helped, I think. It was subtle,¬†but it cut the tartness of the lemon in a nice way– it smoothed things out¬†just a little.

003My husband used this nifty little vintage Juice-O-Mat of ours to juice the citrus. We picked it up somewhere along the way several years ago, either at an auction or perhaps at a garage sale. Frankly, we got it¬†primarily for its good looks¬†–and¬†because it was a deal. It sat on a shelf for quite some– until today. I’m happy to say that beauty¬†runs bone-deep for our little Juice-O-Mat. Not only is it¬†good-looking, it is also well-designed. It was so easy to use! (Although this was my husband’s project, I did¬†assist with harvesting the lemon juice.) No strain at all and it was very efficient at squeezing every last drop out of the lemons and limes. Now that we’ve given it a try, I suspect that we’ll be using it quite a lot from here forward. Nothing tastes as good as fresh does. Plus, I really¬†value being able to control how much sugar¬†is in¬†my drink.004Next time we’re thinking it would be fun to muddle some fresh mint in place of the holy basil. Can’t wait to try it. Until then? Cheers!

Star Wars Snowflakes

It’s all snowy and stormy here today, so this seems like the perfect time to share these Star Wars snowflakes.¬† When my husband sent me the link to the amazing Star Wars snowflakes patterns featured at http://anthonyherreradesigns.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=56:star-wars-snowflakes I couldn’t resist giving them a go.¬† Behold:

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I simplified things a little, there were a few cuts on both my Yoda and my Boba Fett flakes that I left out.  Some tips if you try your hand at these:

  • Take it slow –fold carefully and precisely, and take your time making the cuts.
  • Use a fresh blade in your x-acto knife, it really makes a difference.
  • Have a good cutting surface.¬† I didn’t have a mat, so I used a double layer of thick cardboard, worked fine.
  • Use¬† bull-dog or binder clips to hold the folded paper in place to keep everything lined up properly.¬† This really helps with the finer cuts, especially when you’re trying to cut through the 3rd and 4th layers of folded paper.
  • Don’t unfold until you’re done.¬† So hard to do, but so worth it!!!

Admiral Sackbar

I don’t consider myself to be the most crafting-est of people, so it’s been nearly a year since I did a crafty/DIY type post.¬† But I did have to share this one:

Admiral Sackbar!¬† (and a Fortune Wookiee)¬† It’s a hand puppet made out of 2 lunch bags and some other odd bits of paper, a DIY homage to Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars.¬† I found the recipe in the fantastic book “The Star Wars Craft Book” by Bonnie Burton. And a Fortune Wookiee, based off¬† the one in the book “The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee” by Tom Angleberger.

I changed up the book’s instructions for the admiral a little bit:¬† in the book, you’re supposed to use felt to make his white uniform and arms.¬† I went with all paper and I’m pleased with how it turned out.¬† Oh, and I used a rubber band to make his little chin tentacles.¬†(Bonus future DIY:¬† if I can track down some yellow bags, maybe some small yellow gift bags? I think it would be quite simple to use the same general idea to make a sack Homer Simpson hand puppet.)