Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Thought to the Future

I am so excited, I have come quickly to share with you.

My son is "graduating" from preschool this month. :) The idea of a 4 year old graduating from anything is a little silly, yes. But I appreciate that the teachers put thought and energy into making a sense of accomplishment and recognizing milestones in the kids' little lives. They really have learned a lot, not just about the ABCs and 123s, but about life and working together.

Today I bought him this book. It's one of my favorite Dr. Suess books, and almost always makes me cry! I know it's a little cliché to get this book as graduation gift. Everybody does that, right?

But the neat thing, the funnest thing... the most secret surprise and "Christmas-y" thing about this gift is that we're not giving it to him this year.

We're hoping to give it to him in 13 years at his high school graduation, after we've had all his teachers inscribe something to him on the inside. ^_^

I must confess, I got the idea from this guy.
Boy, did his story tug at my sentimental little heartstrings.
What is the best graduation gift or memory you have?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

From Mother's Day


It's a #happymothersday when i can enjoy a little extra time #inthegarden
#nofilter #purpletomatillo #blossom #lookingup

Monday, May 13, 2013

Art Card Giveaway by Tracy Elliot Designs

I'd like to introduce you to my aunt-in-love, Tracy Elliot. She lives in Santa Rosa, CA where she draws, paints, does altered art, makes jewelry, and enjoys scrapbooking. "I have always loved various forms of art. I love to draw, and started when I was very young, I have taken every art class available at our local community collage. I started scrapbooking about 30 years ago and still love it." She has recently opened her own Etsy shop and has dedicated it to showcasing her lovely talents as an artist. She is currently working on a series of Art Trading Cards, which are small pieces of art that can be displayed almost anywhere. Each piece is one of a kind.

Tracy works in a spare bedroom-turned-office. "I am semi-organized most of the time. I have many framed original cartoons drawn for me by famous cartoonists that I love and they inspire me. I also have in my craft room vintage cameras, and toys on shelves that I like to look at to start the creative juices flowing." Her inspirations include Tim Holtz, grunge, altered art, Steampunk, and anything distressed.

She works around her physical ailments, but enjoys the process: "I have Fibromyalgia, so I basically craft when I feel well enough to do so. Sometimes it's a little bit each day... It is first and foremost something I love to do, and if I make a little money doing it, that's a really nice bonus."

What is some advice Tracy offers to other crafters?
"Did you know that you can use Michaels and JoAnne's 40% coupons right off of your phone, and that you can use them more than once? You probably did, but I just learned that. Also, my favorite store Beverly's takes their competitors coupons which is really cool."

Keep up with her new art pieces by following her here:
Like her on Etsy
Follow her Blog
Like her on Facebook

To celebrate her opening and to get people familiar with her work, she has agreed to give away one of her pieces! One lucky winner will have YOUR CHOICE of any Art Card in her shop! :)

I will pick a winner on Tuesday May 21st, email them and announce it here. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or an alternate winner will be picked. Good luck!

5/21/13 UPDATE~ the winner is MARY H!! Mary I am on my way to email you, please respond within 48 hours! Thanks! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 6, 2013

My First Robot

Since we've been working so much in the yard, we haven't gotten very much done inside the house lately, but here is one of the few updates we did do recently:

From April 17th:
We now have AI in the house. I do not take this lightly.
I was hoping my first household robot would be the kind that vacuums. ;)
But who knows, maybe this one will save us enough money to buy the other one.
This is the Nest "smart" thermostat, put out by some of the geeks over at Apple. The coolest AND creepiest thing about this guy is that he *learns our habits* and starts to program himself around our schedules. Also, he has a motion sensor and if he detects you are Away, he lets the temp get lower/higher than usual to conserve energy, then automatically resets himself when he *sees* that we are home. Also, he is connected to wifi, so I can change the settings from my phone no matter where I am, he's able to see weather forecasts, and potentially receive software updates automatically. He shows what the temperature in my home will be in 10 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, etc., based on the current settings and the weather outside.
Big brother is totally watching. No really. This is his eyeball.
But I guess it was inevitable, right?
P.S. I just creeped myself out by calling it a "he" for this entire post.
Anyway... next time we get a robot, I want a Rosey Jetson or at the very least a Roomba. ;)
Video here ,if you're interested.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Springtime update

Dear friends,

So much to catch you up on! I remember reading recently, "when you feel like you have 'too much' remember to be thankful you have SO much." Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all there is to do or be or plan or cook or clean... but, while I am trying to learn to prioritize and let go of the lesser things, I am simultaneously thanking God that I have SO MUCH in my life.

Caleb is wrapping up his year in preschool. Part of me wants to plan fun, creative, educational things for the summer. And a second part of me laughs at the first part and says Give it a rest, woman, and enjoy the break! They only get like 2 months off for summer nowadays anyway. I think I will just appreciate those two months for what they are, and look forward to not having to drive him twice a week, or lug the carseat in and out and in and out, or finding Shares or doing homework or packing snack. I think this summer, more than any, both mommy and Caleb are ready for a break.

Little baby Ben is 6 months old now and quite a handful. I won't even attempt to fill you in on him right now. But you'll be seeing him here more often, for sure. :)

Right now, I am very excited about the garden! I have lots and lots of things to share so I plan to post quite a bit the next few days just trying to catch up with myself. HaHA! Be prepared! ;)

So, about two months ago, I took this photo of my seed babies in the sun and thought about sharing it with you.
But before I had a chance to do that, a week later I took this photo of my pea plants shooting up and thought I might post it also:
A couple weeks later, I still hadn't blogged yet and didn't have time to because my peas were begging to be transplanted and I needed to have a trellis built to support them. Keep in mind, I have to do all these projects in about 15 minute increments, since that's about how long the baby will afford me at a time. He *really* prefers to be held all day. :P
And so it went on and on. There are so many photos I was gonna share of our progress, but now here we are at pretty much the end of the winter garden and I'm just getting here... oh well!!
Maybe you remember when I began this garden a couple of months ago, I had a very scientific mindset. I was going to take meticulous notes for my future reference. I was going to practice crop rotation and moon gardening and learn how to start my seeds indoors and do fun experiments to see which plants grew better and...and...and... how often things do not go as planned!

At this point, I've lost track of when I transplanted this or that. I have carrots in three different places, including intermingled with my lettuces (a mistake, I know!), I started some seeds much too early and I'm thinking some of them are going to be very late,  the irrigation system I was hoping would be set in place for less than $40 ended up costing about twice that and took me nearly two weeks to complete in itself (post on that in the future, I'm sure!). I'm starting to think my neighbors view on gardening might be much more healthy. She says Why can't we just throw seeds on the ground and see what grows? She has been an inspiration to me not to STRESS too much about it, not to over analyze, like a can do sometimes. But work with the earth and just see what happens.

So at this point, I think I will just give you a little tour of the garden as it is now. Maybe with a few older pics mixed in just for fun. Hang in there! ;)

This is the same bed you just saw, but a few days later, with some more seed babies transplanted into it: lettuces, broccoli and onions. Also, carrots, onions and garlic were directly sowed.

This is actually a photo of the brush pile we made when we cut a couple trees down. But to the side there, you can see the thrifty way I covered my babies to help protect them from bugs. Not a 100% seal, of course, but it seemed to be effective against most things that fly. I kept it on for a good month or so - only taking it off when the plants started outgrowing it. It let in sunlight and the irrigation was underneath it, so it worked out well.
Do you know what I used? It's wedding tulle! It was like $2 a yard on sale, so it was much cheaper than agribon and seemed to work fine for my purposes.
 Happy broccoli under tulle:
Same bed two weeks later!  
And this is that same bed just this morning! 
Notice the pea plants in the background, climbing the trellis.
The Big Thing in front is my broccoli. Right now it is all leaves and no fruit, so I think I must've accidentally bought some kind of "flamboyant" species.

 This is the other side of the same bed today - Carrots, onions, spinach (which is going to seed) and one kale plant to the left there that I received as a gift. :-) More on that later.
Here is a picture I took of my son's "Giant Pumpkin" he got at the seed swap.
I took this about a week ago - it's already twice this size.
We decided to put strawberries in the tops of the cinder block bed walls. We'll see how it goes. They were neglected for a little while and I lost a couple of them, but I'm trying to nurse them back to health.  

And here is my SECOND veggie bed! We just started planting in this one so I'm very excited (again)
Left to right: zucchini, market cucumbers, and "green fingers" (small cucumbers) These were all just planted last week, so I'm surprised to see how big they are.
This is my lone garbanzo bush (another gift) and I am stoked about that little white flower bud you might be able to see in there.

We have planted three types of beans. This is a purple pole bean.

Somehow I ended up with FIFTEEN tomato plants and almost all of them are of a different variety! It will be so neat to see their various fruits (assuming they live that long. haha)
Here are five of them, along with some marigold buddies. The mari's aren't too happy, I might need to get replacements. :(

and these are some of the other tomatoes, begging me to get them in the ground.

My neighbor had some surplus, so she brought these over for me today:
two watermelon plants and two LUFFA plants!
"Like the kind of luffa you use in the shower?!" you ask. Apparently! She got the seeds here.


This is my boogin...
This is my pink plant:  
I didn't plant these but they are pretty nonetheless, aren't they? :) 

And I will end this LOOOOOOOONG post on a hopeful note. This is my first sort-of-decent harvest that I just brought in this morning from those pea plants you saw.
There are sugar snap (which were SO good with lunch) and a few regular peas. :)
Believe it or not, there is much more to share! Back soon!

{Almost} Wordless Weekend

Finished this on March 7th for my older. He started the whole thing by becoming infatuated with a very soft light blue minky at the fabric store. So of course we had to make a whole blanket to go with the minky. :)

He helped me picked out all the fabric. Which would be why it is a *very busy-looking* modge-podge of his favorite characters.

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