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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Free Printable Embroidery Pattern

It's been a long week of working and taking classes for my volunteer position at the PAWS animal shelter. But I did take some time to make a quick pattern based off of a vintage illustration.

Click on the image and "save as" to keep your free copy. If you turn it into an embroidered piece, leave a link to your image in the comments below so I can see it! I can't wait to see what other people turn it into!



Happy Spring!


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Garden Musings: Planting Potatoes

Last year when we prepped our garden beds, we found some small potato starts buried deep in the dirt. The beds had previously held tall floral plants that were added by our landlords. On one end of the largest bed, they had a few strawberry plants and some potatoes. We didn't see any signs of the veggies until we started digging down to reach the irrigation system.
 


The first part of the garden prep was to link the underground irrigation to above ground drip lines. That was a large project that turned more expensive than planned, as we found certain sections of pipe were broken or not properly routed. Luckily, Greg was able to figure it all out, so this year we can cut out the two weeks of time that sucked up trying to get it fixed!

When we discovered the potato plants, they were in the section where we had planned to plant our tomatoes. So we took the four small root sections and moved them to the opposite end of the bed. Because they had already been planted, we decided to leave them as-is and build up dirt mounds over the top.

After researching the best ways to grow potatoes, we decided we'd try planting our own in burlap sacks. This method was supposed to allow for easy dirt piling, since it is contained in a sack. It also allowed for easier watering, because you could water through the burlap. The downside being that the burlap material will break down and rot through the bottom, so be careful where you plant it! 


We planted different varieties of potatoes in 4 sacks grouped together. They grew very well, and as the leaves sprouted further upward, we unrolled the sack and added more soil/compost. Potatoes themselves are easy to plant. You just use some leftovers from your pantry, make sure it has a few "eyes", cut them in half and plant them with the "eyes" facing up.

By the end of the season, we had picked over 15 pounds of potatoes at different growth stages (baby reds were my favorite!). However, due to the amount of soil you have to use to keep filling these sacks, and the success of the pre-planted leftovers from the landlord, we've determined the in-ground mound planting is the better way to go. 

Greg still has plans to try the wood slat box version of a potato planter, but I think 4 rows of dirt mounds would give us plenty of french fries for the season!


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Grumpy Cat DIY

I recently purchased my very first DIY Kidrobot vinyl toy. I bought the Trikky toy, which is a cat in a blank white slate. I made the mistake of using washable markers the first time I tried to decorate it. Luckily, they truly were washable and just came right off with water.


My second mistake was using Sharpie pen for his nose and mouth and then later deciding to make it bigger.


So I tried again with basic craft store acrylic paint and cheap brushes. I did several thin layers to build up the colors and finished it off with hard coat Mod Podge to seal it.

I think it turned out pretty great for my first try. Although, I'm not happy you can sorta see the Sharpie under some of the paint. But I've already bought my second Trikky to try another custom paint job!


Have you tried one of these DIY toys? They have them in smaller sizes for under $5 bucks if you want to practice a lot first ;)

P.s. I gave my Grumpy Cat toy to my friend/co-worker and she loves it!


Friday, March 7, 2014

Flashback Friday: Little Critters

I thought it would be fun to share some old photos that show where my love of little critters came from. Instead of dolls, I played with stuffed animals and My Little Ponies. So I've been an animal lover pretty much since day one!

Here is me, strangling a cat. (not really)
Here's me, strangling a dog. (Was this my only pose?!)
Here I am, riding bareback on a small horse. So gangsta!

That poor cat!
Cuddling a kitten with my Dorothy Hamill hair.
 
Looking disheveled with the family dog.
Posing with my big sis as our dog smells her butt., and our kitty runs away into the neighbor's pasture.
Here I am, in Canada, contracting rabies from a black squirrel.
Me, in yellow, posing with the family pig, Oinka.

Wrestling with bait fish - I look like I also played in the dirt!
The family (me in my purple jacket) posing with a circus bear. Naturally.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On the Water

I was browsing through older photos on my camera and thinking about my time spent next to some form of water. It's not the same when it's simply falling from the sky. I want to be standing alongside a flowing river, looking out over an expansive ocean, feeling a thundering waterfall, or listening to lazy, lapping waves hitting the shore.

I think a day trip is in my near future.






Sunday, March 2, 2014

Rainy Day Reading

Since winter seems so damned determined to stick around a bit longer, the outdoor garden is on hold. We did plant some veggie seeds in the greenhouse, but we still haven't been able to prep the garden beds.

The rain outside is allowing me to be lazy. But I'm still plotting and planning! I'm reading the notes I made last year in this very handy book "Food Grown Right, In Your Backyard".


We picked this up last year to help us figure out the best way to start our organic garden. It actually turned out to be quite informative! And because it was written by local PNW gardeners, it was also a great resource for figuring out which crops would actually work with our weather.

As we continued to work on our garden, we made notes on the pages for specific veggies. We noted what worked for us and what didn't, what we wanted to try this season and what we felt wasn't worth wasting our time on. I'm glad we made the notes, because for the life of me, I can't remember all of the tips we discovered last season.

Some important notes we made had to do with our timing in planting and whether it was worth starting from seed. Although we are currently renting our home, we are lucky that it came with an incredibly large greenhouse. The homeowner grew several varieties of "herb", so we figured it the greenhouse worked well for that, it could certainly grow some veggies!

A lot of what we will end up planting can be done directly in the ground. But because the winter frost is sticking around longer than planned, we have planted some seeds for some good starts that we will transplant once the soil has warmed up.

We've cleaned up the greenhouse, made our list, planted some seeds, bought the compost, and now we're ready to go! In another week we'll have some sprouts, and a week later, we'll plant more seeds. If I only give one tip, it would be to listen to the professionals when they say "Stagger and thin"! We didn't do either last season and ended up with bushes of veggies and extended growth time due to overcrowding. That is a mistake we will not be making this year, I guarantee it!


Our end goal is to come out of this season with a good idea of the following:
  • How much time each type of plant will take.
  • Which plants grow best in our climate?
  • Which organic pest controls work best for each plant type?
  • Are certain plants best from seed or starts?
  • Are certain plants best direct-seeded or started in the greenhouse?
  • How much space will we need for our desired crops?
  • How big does our greenhouse really need to be?
One day, we will find our dream house on our dream lot and have lots of room for garden beds. In that future house, we also hope to start raising chickens for eggs. We've also been discussing ducks (also for eggs) and goats for milk (and fresh goat cheese!). So once we have the veggies down, we'll dig more into the possibility of farm animals.

But for now, we're staying small. We both work a lot of hours and don't have too much extra time to spend on the garden. The animals are a plan for the way-out future where we work less and are maybe closer to retirement.(I plan to retire young!) We'll need something to keep us busy, right?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Free Printable Garden Graphic

The snow put a stop to our plans of prepping the garden beds this weekend. So instead of freezing my butt off trying to turn soil, I stayed indoors and played on the computer.

I'm trying to practice more in Adobe Illustrator 6 and let me tell you, it's QUITE the learning curve! I'm pretty sure I'll never get the hang of it. But it's still fun to mess around and try to create simple illustrations.

I was playing with ideas of poster prints for our kitchen. This also ties into our veggie garden. Feel free to save it and print it for your own kitchen!



I hope to have some garden updates for you next week. Fingers crossed there is no more snow!
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