Friday, September 11, 2015

garden wrap up (almost)

It was a very good first year for my plot in the organic community garden, considering this parcel had been abandoned by it's previous owner and left to go to weeds.  This part of New England suffered from early blight.  I was unprepared for this, and have learned how to (hopefully) prevent a repeat disaster next year.  And the squash bugs and cucumber beetles were out of control.  This is an unfortunate side effect of community gardens if others do not take care of their plots, plants, and pest control.

Considering all that, I continually walked out of there with bags of delicious, wholesome, nutritious organic produce!  I would harvest swiss chard, green beans, beets, and squash in amounts that would have cost at least fifteen dollars a trip at the farmers market.  Overall, I at least doubled my total investment (plot, seeds, etc).

My garden "neighbors" are wonderful folks.  We share stories and ideas as well as veggies.  There's always someone who can water for me if I'm away, and I do likewise for them.

This was taken mid-summer.  The chard keeps on going!  The beets are all pulled and cooked (note to grow more next year).  The onions are drying now.  I've given away so much food to neighbors, co-workers, and family!

I experimented with VT Cranberry Beans.  One small pack yielded over two pounds of beans for this winter.  I may or may not grow drying beans again next year, due to the space needed, but it was interesting.

I've already started thinking about next year's garden.  A different layout, more flowers to encourage beneficial insects.  And the beginning of "lasagna gardening".  I have access to LOTS of pine needles, which I can use for mulch in the pathways, and possibly some sheep manure.

My small plot isn't much but my fridge and freezer are full   :)

And the squash keep coming!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Garden porn

I'm having the most wonderful summer, all smiles and play and dirt-under-my-fingernails  :)

I start each day checking my garden plot, watering if there's no rain on the horizon.  And sometimes after work I stop back to inspect, gather, and weed....and chat with my garden-neighbors.

It's been a long road to get to this space in time....I haven't been gardening 7 years (unless you count my container garden on my deck a few years back)  Now I've spent the spring and early summer turning the neglected soil, planting, weeding, weeding, weeding ;)   and now checking for little garden pests, but I'm so gosh darn pleased with it all!  I've had my fill of snap peas and there are six servings in the freezer along with ones that I've given away.  I have salad almost every day.  There's a year's worth of cilantro in the freezer and more coming, plus I'm stocking up on basil and parsley.
I'm drying lemon balm (that plant is amazingly prolific!), stevia, and sage.

Here are some proud mama photos:

12 ft x 37 ft plot

lemon balm, stevia

beets, chard, onions, kale

Italian green beans (yum!)


yes, there are small yellow squash hiding under those leaves

There are winter squash coming, pickling and burpless cukes, cranberry beans, dill, carrots, tomatoes, eggplant (hopefully!)

I was so fortunate to find this community garden.  The folks are great, and we have fun sharing stories (and veggies).  From this scruffy little patch of dirt I've gained a new batch of friends and I'm enjoying wonderful meals.

Wishing you a terrific week!


Sunday, May 17, 2015

so swiftly did Spring fly past

I can't believe it's already the middle of May and my bike is still in the basement!  Just a few short weeks ago we New Englanders were complaining commenting on the cold, snowy weather that stretched into April.  Now we live in the mid- to high-80s.  Yesterday's rain brought out an amazing crop of weeds in my garden plot so I spent a few hours there (with sunscreen and a bottle of water.)

Earlier today I had also "weeded" through my clothes closets and filled three trash bags with winter sweaters, skirts, blazers, and coats for the thrift shop.  Everything was in very good condition, and most was hardly ever worn.  I've "settled" for clothing that I wasn't happy with.  Big (costly) mistake.  The solution to not having that happen again is simple; sew more so I can have the styles I like.

I think the best most recent year I've had (as far as clothing goes) is the year I enjoyed refashioning items using my older patterns.  I still wear this simple top from 2010!  So I'll be visiting the nearby thrift shops to find some clothing with usable fabric.

Please stop by Kerry's blog to see my pattern stash on May 18th!  Recently, she asked about my penchant for the 60s/70s and I told her a little about my past  ;)
She has a wonderful blog and is hosting the 2015 Vintage Pattern Pledge for some very interesting sewing folk!

Heading into the kitchen now to make some tortillas.  They come in mighty handy on these hot days!  Just fill and pack up for lunch at work  :)

I hope you have a wonderful week!


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tonight's project

Simplicity 5133 is actually from 1981 but version 3 is close enough to some of the tops I wore in the 70s, and pleased to find this mid-weight knit that would do up nicely in this style  :)  

 I've pledged to make 4 pieces of clothing from my era for the Vintage Sewing Pledge and this one may squeak in under the bell as one of those...not sure yet!

It's going to be a busy, busy day!  Working in the garden, LOTS of laundry, and maybe a trip to the second hand store to find some SHORTS now that the weather has broken  :)   I've committed to dusting off my sewing machine for this pattern tonight so catch up with me tomorrow!

Wishing you a wonderful Spring day!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

New growth!

Ah, the joy of little green sprouts!

(snow peas)

I've been working at my new garden plot a little at a time (boy, am I out of shape!).  The ground is very heavy New England loam with rocks!  Even worse, the previous plot owner had used wood chips as a means to keep down weeds (and weeding).  They were somewhat mixed in when I started and my hand-tilling mixed them further.
I've added some peat moss to the raised beds, and plan on topping everything with a good layer of leaves this fall that will be turned in next spring.

But I'm getting too far ahead of myself!  Getting back to the present, I've been doing some research on planting by the cycles of the moon.  Since it's still early, this is a good opportunity for the experiment.  In my region, I can plant vegetables that bear their crops above ground until Sunday.  Then it changes to planting things like onions and carrots during the moon's waning period.  There's a wealth of info on the internet about this, including here and here.  I'll post about my little plot as the season progresses.

Of course, I bought too many seed packets.  Everything looked so good :)  

I'm enjoying my peaceful mornings of watering before going to work, listening to the birds greet the day.  I'm hoping you also have many wonderful mornings!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

a little bit boho

My son and daughter-in-law up North are very appreciative of lovingly-made-by-hand items. Their sweet baby daughter is the lucky recipient of many quilts and clothing crafted by grand- and great-grandmothers.

But I took this one step sideways and made the granny square poncho for my DIL.  I recently posted the "almost finished" photo:

I've just added the fringe:

And it's ready to go to it's new owner!  It has that sweet 1970s look to it, kinda crunchy and earth-momma.  I think someone who likes to go on hikes, work in the garden, and take the dog for loonnnng walks would appreciate this on a cool evening.

It came together very quickly (in about a week of evenings) and I'm thinking about making one for myself.  Maybe in shades of deep green for fall.....  But let's not think that far ahead!  It's time to enjoy Spring!  Wishing you the best for the upcoming weekend :)


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

3 plus 1 plus 1

Ahhhh, this is so much better!

I received a message last Thursday that the community garden plots would be available, and to stop by on Saturday to find out which one was mine.  Luckily, the plot next to mine was not allocated so I asked for both.

They are roughly 450 square feet, which seems to be a good, workable size.  I've been there after work to get my hands dirty and even planted one packet of snap peas.

The soil is very heavy and stays wet.  It will need some peat moss and/or compost.  But for now I'm just trying to get it to dry out.  I've made 3 slightly raised beds (in the background of the photo) and turned the soil for the 4th.  That's the very dark section in the photo.  In a few days I'll turn that into another raised bed.

So that's the 3 plus 1.  The final "1" is the first well-earned blister that I've had in years  :)

I've met a few of my "neighbors", and they're great.  Gardeners are awesome when winter finally gives up and sets them out in the fresh spring air.

Wishing you a bountiful summer, whether you garden or enjoy the farmers' markets.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Time to come clean.......and get a little dirty

(Warning, there may be TMI in this post.  Feel free to skip down to the photos)

The past two years were…. challenging for me here.  I didn’t write about it.  In fact, I didn’t write much at all.  My posts slowed down to a trickle and then came few and far between.  When things get really tough I call back the troops, circle the wagons, and reinforce my defenses.  That, and I frequent the fast food drive through and hand over my kitchen to Ben & Jerry.  Well, now it is time to open windows, take deep breaths, and shed bad habits.  But first let me clean the slate.

Three years ago my sister passed on.  She had health issues for many years and was, at that time, in the hospital.  She was about to transfer to a facility for health rehab when something went terribly wrong, which her heart couldn’t handle.  Her funeral was on a beautiful Spring day.  I sat next to our 90+ year old mother to be her support.  I have only seen my mother cry twice in my entire life.  But that day, she was broken.  It took something out of her that has never come back, so since then my commitment to her has increased.

Then, last summer Mom was ill and spent almost six weeks being shuffled from hospital to nursing home for rehab, then back again.  She suffered greatly and we almost lost her but her body was determined to bounce back, though not entirely.  She still lives independently in a very small senior apartment.  And she’s slightly weaker than before.

It was a blessing that during all this time, work had reached a smooth flow since I was driving 7 towns away every weekend and some evenings.  We had good staffing and productivity.  Then we lost a key member last fall and went into a tailspin during a very heavy period.  It took until very recently to turn things around.  It was a very tiring winter.  I’m hoping that we catch up before summer.

During some of the very worst of this, another very close, very dear relative was hospitalized in early February and has gone through several operations.  We are still praying that the infection is controlled before any more damage is done.

With all of that and the “normal” bumps in the road, something had to give.  The “something” was taking care of my health.  Meals were generally obtained outside the house and more often than not would only require rolling down the car window and placing an order in a speaker.  Although my apple every day habit stayed with me.  I stopped going to the gym and settled in at home each evening, in my cocoon.  The day I did venture back to the gym I wrenched my back something fierce.  For a week I had trouble getting out of a chair or rolling out of bed.  The doctor said that there was no herniated disc and gave me instructions for some stretching exercises and a muscle relaxing medicine.

Then came an email this past Thursday saying that the garden plot I signed up for was available and I could stop by on Saturday to check it out.  Oh, happy day!  Fortunately, I was able to also get an adjacent plot so the two together total almost 450 square feet.  Go big or go home :)  I’ve pulled my tools up from the basement and I’m calling in a seed order to High Mowing Seeds this evening.  Seven years without a garden was too long.  I can't wait to to my hands in the good dirt.

But I think the first event that started bringing me back to reality was an email from my daughter-in-law asking about crocheted baby sandals.  They were cute so I made a pair in time for Easter.  They fit my granddaughter right now, so I’ve just made another pair in a larger size for the late Spring, early Summer.  The pattern is from Whistle & Ivy.

I also found a few bloggers posting about this poncho (here and here).  I thought my daughter-in-law might like it.  It crocheted up quickly.  I’ll post about it separately sometime this week.  (The pattern is from the November 2014 issue of Simply Crochet magazine.)

I also went thrift shopping.  I found a few books, a basket with knitting needles and crochet hooks, and a good amount of new white fold over elastic.  And a very old wool skirt (metal zipper) with wonderful detailing on the front pocket.  The skirt hem is cut off as if someone was going to shorten it, and there is a rip in the middle of the back, so it is not usable as clothing, but I am going to salvage the zipper and take the skirt apart to create a pattern for that pocket detail :)

Well, my tea is waiting.  I’ll be back very soon.  There's lots more to show you :)    Have a wonderful rest of the day.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Fun stuff on Friday Night (FNSI)

First, I'd like to thank Wendy of Sugarlane Quilts and Jenny of Elephantz for the sweet embroidery kit!  It arrived safe and sound here in New England after the January Friday Night Sew In.  I'm thinking of a few projects and this could spin off :)

Tonight's project was purely for FUN!  I tweaked a crochet pattern for Kermit the Frog to make my youngest grandson's favorite muppet: Elmo  :)

I need to get some orange yarn to make his nose, but I think that he will be presentable to a 21-month old.  He's small enough to be held and hugged by little hands.  I'll be visiting with him on Sunday so please wish Elmo luck!

.....and Happy First Day of Spring!!! to everyone in the northern hemisphere.  Mother Nature is playing a little trick on us in New's been SNOWING!!!  We've got about 4 inches of new snow this evening.  Perhaps it's really April Fools Day?

Have a wonderful weekend :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

what's in the supplement you've been taking?

I actually wasn't surprised when I heard this on the radio this morning.  My only surprise was that it was so widespread.  In case you didn't hear about it, the New York State Attorney General's office tested herbal supplements from four large retailers; Walmart, Walgreens, Target, and GNC.  In a nutshell, most of the items tested contained little to none of the ingredient on the label.  More distressing is that they found substances NOT listed on the label, including ingredients that could be dangerous to people with allergies (legumes, gluten, etc.)

For 9 years I worked in Quality Assurance in the pharmaceutical industry.  We answered to the FDA, and kept records of every batch produced (which could be examined by FDA inspectors at a moments notice.)  Upon receipt, every raw ingredient was sampled and tested to prove that it was the correct product and the right potency.  Nothing was put into our product that was not intended.  I strongly believe that the herbal supplement industry should be made to answer to the same rules as the pharmaceutical industry.  For the safety of the public, anything that is taken or administered topically or internally should be exactly what is indicated on the label.

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I am highly supportive of using herbs to maintain health.  I go to a Registered Herbalist who works clinically and teaches as a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild.  I trust my practitioner, and know that the clinic sources much of their herbs from local suppliers (a prominent herb farm.)  And much of what I have received from them is mixed to my specific needs.

We need to be educated consumers.  As you would trust your medical doctor and know that the medicines he prescribes for you are well-researched, please also research any supplements that you are inclined to take.  Use the information in the news, and keep watching and learning.  You're important  :)


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Senior Prom 1972

When one of my co-workers proudly showed us photos of the dress her daughter wore to last year's senior prom, I couldn't believe how much fashion had changed from our gowns in the early 70s.  Or maybe it was just the area where I was raised, but we evaluated our best features differently from the practice of today ;)

So this morning I dug through my old photos and found a snapshot from my senior prom, complete with shimmering makeup and lightly teased hair.

I had made my dress from Simplicity 9356 (View 2), adjusting the length.  It's difficult to tell from the snapshot, but the sleeves did have the double layer seen on the pattern envelope.  The lightweight fabric was known as "whipped cream" and the layers fluttered with movement.

Just a few years ago, I found a copy of this pattern online.  I may never make it again but it's nice to have it.  Who knows?!  By the time one of my granddaughters graduate, it might be back in style....or maybe not (* grin *)

Actually, I'm liking the look of V 2 in that mustard-y yellow with red rick rack on the sleeves.....

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!  We're looking at another round of overnight snow and freezing rain, just in time to go to work tomorrow :)


Saturday, January 24, 2015

FNSI - progress on presents

Looking out my window this morning, I just might settle back onto the couch and continue where I left off on my quilting last night.  The huge snowflakes are coming down quickly, and has been predicted to change to rain/freezing rain today.  I prepared for this and don't have to go out.  So I'm going to try to make more progress on the quilt for my son and his wife, which is the first of many handmade presents I'm making for Christmas 2015.

(masking tape used for stitching guide)

I estimate that the hand quilting is one quarter complete (not all of this was done last night), and hope to have it done and ready to have the binding applied by next month's FNSI.

I returned to Friday Night Sew In after a very long absence and I am so glad that Wendy of Sugarlane Quilts is carrying on the tradition started by Heidi and Bobbi.  I'll be popping over to her blog to visit all the crafters who have signed up to see the beautiful things they've created!

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend, no matter what the weather!

Thursday, January 22, 2015


We tend to think of ourselves as "younger" than we really are, or at least I do.  Without looking in a mirror, I picture a version of myself that I remember from years ago.  Inside, it's the age I feel....well, until I stand up and realize my body has a little more mileage on it. (*wink*)

So I was quite impressed when I clicked a link that led me to this site.  These  folks are amazing.  It's one thing to brag about going to the gym before work.  But ice skating competitions at age 86?  Wow.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

dusting off

From Google: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.......happy coincidence
Sometimes it takes several events to create that happy coincidence.

I held on to my original sewing patterns until I was in my thirties or so, rationalizing that the fashion industry would never again embrace the feelings and concepts of the sixties and seventies.  My Aha! moment occurred about ten years ago when I realized that it was not the fashion industry, but myself, who would embrace those feelings/concepts again.  Either I've reached that stage in life where "anything goes" or I've matured enough to confidently be who I am.

So, for the past 5 years or so I've been trying to collect the patterns I sewed back when I was a teenager/young adult.  I have been fortunate, finding the most important of them even if they may not be the correct size.  I even found the pattern I used for my wedding dress.  And I just bought one of my favorites on Etsy, a slacks and skirt pattern that I had almost given up on.  Others have been purchased for mere pennies in thrift shops.  As of today there are only a few that still elude me.  I may or may not reproduce the clothing from some of these patterns, but just holding them brings back memories the way aromas (perfume, salt-sea breeze, spices) create familiar visions in our minds.

So serendipity stepped in this week when I found the 2015 Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge hosted by Kelly of Kestrel Makes and Marie of A Stitching Odessy.  I've pledged to make at least 4 articles of clothing from my "private" collection.  (I have almost 200 vintage patterns from several eras, but those will most likely not be used for this challenge.)  Knit or crochet items may also be created from vintage instructions to accessorize my wardrobe, as I see others have done this in last year's challenge.

I've chosen a few that definitely made the cut and will be posting soon.  In the meantime, here are a few "refashions" I made using vintage patterns in the Self-Stitched September 2010 hosted by So Zo:
Plaid vest from skirt
Weekend top from men's athletic shirt
Top for biking

I'll be sharing some of my "private" collection with some special photos in my next post.  Hope to see you then!