Friday, April 16, 2010

GARDEN PROJECTS!!

A. and I did some major garden redesign in our backyard this week!  It looks really different! Here is a mini-tour:

We cut down the hedge/brush on one day and then rented a trailer the next day to haul it away to the yard debris place.  Yes, our Mazda has a hitch because it is AWESOME! (well, 'cause A. put it there and he is awesome!) And yes, we had free coupons for the yard debris place. After dropping that off, we went to pick up some new TREES to plant!  And brought them home.  After we did that, we went to Home Depot to get WOOD to make raised beds!  I know, we were crazy ambitious, I don't know what got into us except for a whole lot of AWESOME!! And we'd been plotting these shenanigans for a while.  So all that trailering was in one day!!

One of the trees we got was a Japanese maple -- I have wanted one for a long time, but had no good place to put it!  Now I do. And I LOVE it.

The above picture illustrates why! Sure beats looking at an opaque wall of green hedge. Also it's (already) super nice to sit on the patio and watch the leaves flutter and relaaaaaaax. Super bonus, the stems will stay red in the winter for seasonal interest!

The second tree is a 4-way cherry!  What does that mean? Well, 4 different types of cherry have been grafted onto one tree.  We got one with Black Tartarian, Stella, Lapins, and Montmorency.  The latter is a sour cherry, but A. has certain expertise in making to-die-for pies with those, so we're good to go.  Apparently Lapins is a newish type develped in BC that is possibly better than Bing!  We shall see. It will pollinate itself due to all the different branches. Score!

(The original plan was 2 semidwarf cherry trees, but we saw this at Yard N Garden Land and HAD TO TRY IT OMG!!!) The other thing we had to try, fully abandoning the 2 cherry plan, was this:

This is more in the side yard. (You can see, it snuck into the first maple photo all the way down the end when it was still in its pot.) Our 6-way apple is similar to the cherry, in that it has SIX apple types on one tree!  Gravenstein, Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, Macintosh, and Jonagold!  Thank you again, Yard N Garden Land!!  And get this: it came all pre-espailered!  Espalier is a technique of training fruit trees (and other shrubby stuff) in a horizontal plane or against a wall to make a sort of living fence, and/or keep your fruit crop more manageable if you don't have space for a big ol' tree (or, if you just feel like it, of course!).  A. masterminded the framework for the espalier; it was pretty easy!  In this picture I haven't tied the tree to the frame yet, but I did that this morning (and didn't photograph it, oh well).

Oops, it's MY FIRST TYPO in the above caption!  Guess what? I am way too lazy to go back and fix it, so there it stands.  Anyway.  As if all those trees weren't enough, off we go and build a raised bed.  Moxie LOVED sitting in there! I think we may have to make her an outdoor doghouse to be all cozy in.  Can I just mention that I have the cutest dog?  Your dog may be cute, but mine is cuter.  Just sayin'. :)

I subsequently painted the bed white (for longevity since it's just Doug fir) and we moved it off near the espalier.  More photos probably next week when we've made the second one and done who knows what else to the yard!? Oh, one last example of our insanity:

And now for something completely different:

Couple more yard-y things:

Also from this week:
* Baked 2 loaves of bread, one of which was a favorite recipe modified for the "bucket method" we've been using, and it came out YUMMY!
* Thought up a refreshing drink: water, lemon juice, and stevia powder, all to taste, over ice.  No-cal lemonade!! Why didn't I do this before??? Also would be good with iced tea.
* Finalized some garden flags for the MG conference, which are going to be SO COOL, and verified I'm getting my table to sell stuff, so I am PSYCHED.
* Also, in true Dorothy fashion, as soon as I have a goal to do one thing (prepare art for conference), my brain latches on to another thing -- I started semi-drawing/continued thinking out my graphic novel of WIN! So hopefully I'll be able to simultaneously keep both projects going, because I need to.  The art for possible income, the book because it is TIME. My creativity is really mad that I've been putting it off, so now I'm making a concerted effort!!
* Been watching more old Doctor Who (and falling asleep -- but I still love it, go figure!), playing Just Dance on the Wii (A. beat me!!), and we set up the new Netflix for the Wii thingie and it is wicked cool.  We watched Star Trek: First Contact for the hell of it when we first tried it out.  Oh Data, I do love you so.
* Is it just me or is this post especially long? OK, I'm going to go start my weekend now.  Possibly by planting a LOT of zinnias. Bye!

Friday, April 9, 2010

April showers

Howdy! This week was a bit rough thanks to a persistent cough, some inexplicable depression-like symptoms, and this crappy rain/sunshine/rain cycle of insanity!!  At least I'm glad that there is sunshine in there at all!

When the sun was out, I did manage to do a bunch of gardening: weeding, planting 142 carrot seeds, 27 (additional) super sprint snap peas, 40 (additional) sugar ann snap peas, some perennials, and shifting the remains of my big compost pile elsewhere to make a new bed.

I forgot to take photos, but I made a big batch of my dad's bran muffins, too!  Always good to have those in the freezer. :)

AND, things continue to be underway with my master gardener merchandise (hats, flags, lapel pins! more more more!) for the fall conference, and the BEST is that they might (will?) give me some table space at the conference to sell my own art!  It will be the RevolvingDor shop in person!  YAY!! I'm using this opportunity as a catalyst/focal point to get to my artistic goals this year.  Blah blah blah, it's big news! I hope everyone realizes by now that I need these outside events/deadlines to make myself actually get stuff done, and this is the perfect thing!

I think we actually made 2 pizzas this week, but I don't even really recall!  Lazy lazy me.  It appears that, much like the Indian food month, the month of pizza-making has helped to incorporate pizza into the regular dinner repertoire.  Nice!

Whenever I am chopping up beef to grind it, I always get the intense urge to just EAT IT!! I know, I know, you're not supposed to eat raw beef, but man oh man, everything about it is absolutely delicious. I'm convinced it's some inherent human/caveperson thing.  I don't understand how some people opt out of eating meat; I really don't.  They are missing out on the human experience I tell you!!  Plus, how is scraping together peanuts and soy for protein remotely as satisfying as chomping on muscle mass?  It's not. Anyway, I did sneak a few bits of raw stuff from the bowl, hee hee!  So good.

Oh, I wanted to add that grinding your own meat is a good thing to do!  Besides getting in touch with your inner caveperson (grunt grunt!), it is way cheaper than buying hamburger, PLUS you can control what's in there (I try to get really super lean cuts like bottom round roast; above is chuck but I cut out most of the fat).  I guess the only thing better would be buying the "all natural organic grass fed blah blah" stuff, but, ummm, you just let me know when THAT costs $1.99/lb., okay? It's sad because I WANT to buy the natural stuff, I totally WOULD, but it is too pricey for the quantities I require. (And shoot, I eat WAY less beef than I used to, too.  I'm attempting to be healthy!) I really do wish I could be a do-gooder in this area (and yeah, I even understand why it's expensive), but apparently I am more cheapskate than do-gooder! Thank god for Winco.

(Although I will add that if I were magically rolling in dough, I would TOTALLY buy one of those half-cow deals from a local farmer and wrap up all the cuts and keep it in the deep-freeze!)

I had been thinking of having a lot of "containers" in the form of cheerily-painted plastic pots -- and I may still do this to some extent.  However, I cleaned up the area and found that the dirt is really nice, and does get some rainfall from the edge of the patio, and besides, our future drip irrigation reaches over there anyhow. Soooo, now I want to plant things, like maybe hebes, lavender, have some vines going up the fence somehow.  Nothing too tall (would hit the patio roof!) or that would overtake/overpuff on the patio area . . . but the fence really is boring!  That is short, orange crocosmia on the left, which is great (discovered when we chopped the hedge!), but it's not always there.  I need all-season interest, people!  Any other ideas or suggestions???  This is the view when you step directly out our back patio door.

And that is that! A. and I may do more hedge-chopping this weekend if it's nice out, to make way for cherries and apples . . . whee!

Friday, April 2, 2010

iiit's April!

I was a bit sick this week (after getting caught in the rain while jogging -- somehow my system did not like this! Thanks a heap, jogging!), A. and I played more Wii, watched lots of old Doctor Who (Peter Davison with Tegan and Turlough), kept getting packages from Amazon.com, and I posted my NEW and IMPROVED and BIG version of Toasty and Snowy on my RevolvingDor shop! Wow.

The pesto was from Costco, purchased after eating . . . not pesto . . . OK, basil leaves being touted as "pesto" (um, there is more to pesto than that, people) . . . and craving REAL pesto!  This summer I'll be making my own! Real pesto is one of those addictive, too-good-to-be-true foods, like corned beef brisket!



The other part of the scrapbooking project (by the way, it's the cruddiest, most simplistic scrapbook you ever did see -- this was a case of "get these things in a book and caption them before we forget what they are" rather than a creativity explosion as seen in "scrapbooking supplies" at Craft Warehouse and the like) ANYWAY, the other part was to keep the fire in the fireplace going and burn through a lot of our excess hedge-lumber before we cut down more of our hedge and have more lumber on our hands with no place for it to go! Yes, we're going to chop more of the hedge soon to make way for fabulousness.

Oh, and this had nothing to do with photographs -- photo album making is another area that I excel at ignoring. I hope to improve that situation soon, too!

Or am I crazy?
See all those black plastic pots? Some day they will be painted fun colors, magically transformed into "containers", full of plants, with vines all growing up and around in back and making that bamboo fencing way more interesting!  Also little shrubbies like hebe and some bulbs and ground cover.  Just sharing my vision.


We have now set up the tumbler, but I didn't feel like going out in the rain at the time to photograph it. It was great; when I shifted our giant pile, there were buggies and wormies galore!! But also lots of the pile that was dry and not-composted.  So hopefully now that I have a proper device (one that I will actually turn with ease, this is key, because I refuse to go through the trouble of pitch-forking my open slow pile), I'll have quicker compost.  I only filled this thing with about 1/5th of the pile . . . which we still have to do something with to cut down the hedge . . . oh, I don't know. Something. Mostly I was getting really sick of looking at the huge mound of trash in the corner.  Yucksville.

By the way, do you, reader, like having this expanded commentary on the photos, or do you just like to look at pictures? Just wondering. Anyway, this evening A. and I might go on a date to Powell's to use a gift card! whee! Have a lovely weekend. (I actually had a CRAPTASTIC day of strife, but it's all better now.) Later!