Friday, January 25, 2013

See How my Kansas Greenhouse Grows. .

It's still the dead of winter. .without promises of spring for a couple months yet. .
But it is looking like the best season we have had in the greenhouse since we got it 3 years ago.
This year we are trying a trellis. .seen in the background. It is in an out of the way spot. .situated north and south, as to not shade anything out.
The cucumber leaves are a little ratty looking. .
but the cucumbers have been producing well. .
We used Johnny's seed catalog and purchased Diva. .
a cucumber that is well suited to greenhouse gardening.
We have been picking them at about 5-6 inches long. .
and they have a non-bitter thin skin that you don't have to peel.
You can see two of the little fruits. .
I'll bet we have picked 10-15 so far. .
with another 6-8 on there now. I think I will plant a few more seeds in my pots to increase our yields a little.
The taste has been  phenomenal!
Diva is also suited to outside growth. .
so maybe it will keep us eating cukes until the summer vines start producing.
Here's a view from the greenhouse doors, looking to the west. .
The tomato plants and squash are on the left. .
And the citrus plants, peppers, and miscellaneous plants are on the right.
We had such good luck with Sweet Baby Girl in the greenhouse last year. .
that I have 4 plants in there now. .
They are all fully loaded and ripening by the handful. They are deliciously sweet; and seem to love the conditions! It has definitely been a great producer! Last year, I took the one fruiting plant to my mom to grow on her patio. .and it continued supplying her with lots of tomatoes for much of the summer!
This is a larger tomato. Knowing that you are all familiar with my fairly poor means of keeping my garden straight. .
I know you will not be surprised to hear that I can not remember which varieties I started from seed. .
so it will totally be a surprise when these ripen. I suspect it may be Brandywine. .
and I'll be honest. .
my mind has been trying to plot a fried green tomato meal!
I took these photos over the weekend;
and these small tomatoes are ripening. .
They seem to be the chocolate cherry variety. I'm excited about that. .
because in the last two years of growing them in the excessive heat and drought. .
I've eaten nary a one!!
Should be a score by next week!!
This pepper is another Johnny's seed. Called Carmen; it's a sweet pepper designed for greenhouse growing. They too, are just now starting to turn pink. It will mature to a red and then be ready for picking!
Here is a bell pepper variety. .
It came out of a mixture, I'm almost sure, judging by the color.
I'm excited about the peppers too. .
I've not had good luck with them until now. Even with the regular bells like this one. This year I used deeper, bigger pots. I wonder if that is making the difference; or if it's the sunshine? I didn't grow many this year, because of the poor luck I had in the past. There are two white peppers, that are already larger than any peppers I have harvested previously. .and about 6 of the Carmen peppers. They take up very little space. .so if they work well, I may have to add numbers next year.
The grasshoppers nearly decimated this Meyer lemon tree two summers in a row. .
It grew 3 lemons the second year I had it. .
and it hasn't fruited again until now.
This is the second round of blooming; and you can see, to the left of the small cluster of buds. .
 is a little green lemon. There are two on the tree. .
and hopefully some more will take with this next batch of blooming. I have noticed some tiny ants on the blooms lately, and wonder if that is helping the fruit set.
Here, at the bottom of my little lemon tree. .
is a red leaf lettuce that self seeded from last winter.
Yellow squash is another thing that is new in the greenhouse this winter. I've enjoyed not having squash bugs! We haven't eaten any fruit yet. It seemed that when they got about this size, the end would blossom rot. .and then I'd pick them and toss. I wondered if we were getting them too moist. So now we are down to watering them only about 1-2 times per week. Two of the fruits are bigger than any of the others have been before getting yucky. .
so my fingers are crossed on these. It would sure be a fun change on the dinner plate.
I need to divide this purple fountain grass soon. I would like several pots to plant in the spring. I love the colors and especially the purples seed heads! I've been slowly going through a couple of my favorite garden catalogs. I ordered some self watering containers a few weeks ago that I saw advertised in a garden magazine. After struggling with the drought, heat, and Johnson grass in my garden. .
I am only planning on doing the potted veggies this year. I do have some garlic out in the garden; which is very slow to emerge this time. And we may plant a row of beets and carrots in the garden with a soaker hose. If the boxes work as well as I think they should. .
it will be easier to tend them and the yield will be better. .
plus, I could move them to a location with a little afternoon shade to help in the heat. .
and since our high slated for the first of next week is to be SEVENTY FIVE degrees. .
I'm already a little nervous about the summer!
I've also seen online plans for a person to make their own pots. .
but for nearly the same money as what these cost me. .
without whining to my guy for help!
My friend Becky has already solicited a greenhouse-hopping spring plant buying escapade for us. .
and I know it will be here in two blinks of an eye!! I think I'll be ready!
Enjoy the rest of your week. .
and thanks for stopping by this humble little blog in the heartland!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ANOTHER Project!

So. .the new news here. .
is that we will be adding on a sunroom/study/library off of our bedroom soon.
I am super excited about that. .
it means a quiet place to get away from the hustle and bustle of our life. .
it means a place to unload all of our books so we can see them and get to them. .
it means a place where I can cuddle up and watch nature in a wind protected garden. .
it means a place where I can lay out my bibles and workbooks to study God's word. .
it means a quiet place to stomp around and exercise at 6 am (Kelsey assures me that we can super-insulate). .
What it has also  meant. .
was that I had to get a plan finalized in my mind . .
and in doing this. .
I have found myself a regular OCD type visitor to pinterest over the last 2 weeks. .
Unfortunately, I get little else done. .so I can't wait until my plans are good because Pinterest is NOT a good place for me to spend all day ;-)
FORTUNATELY, I HAVE found many ideas that will be reproducible in making the room of my dreams!
In the meantime, I found a REALLY cool idea over the weekend. .
and took some steps to re-create the idea in my house!
Before I even discovered THIS particular idea; I called my friend Marlene last week.
You see, when we moved my mom last fall, I re-inherited my wedding dress out of her attic where I had stored it. Several years ago, when they sold my maternal grandparents house. .I inherited my grandmother's wedding dress, her veil, grandpa's suspenders, their wedding photo, and a letter my grandma sent to my grandpa in 1942. .the year of their wedding. I had Marlene make a shadow box with the items and it is hanging on my bedroom wall. I had the brainstorm last week to have her frame my wedding memorabilia into a similar box. .to use in my room after the makeover. She agreed and will work on it this spring! 
So when the idea of taking photos of my DAUGHTER in MY wedding dress NOW came up on Pinterest. .
I couldn't even wait a week!
Cami was more than happy to oblige, at least for a little while. .
The excitement in her eyes as she saw her 1st glance of the dress was almost more than I could stand!
We took the photos in her room. .primarily because it has a nice dark hardwood floor. .
With the overhead light on, the colors weren't as pretty. .
But. .if I want to blow these up to apply to canvas. .
another pinterest idea. .
I think they will be grainy because the lighting was so dim. .
and only sidelight from her north facing window.
She quickly grew bored with the itchy dress. .
The hat that kept falling off. .
And her mom's insistence that she be still. .
I want Grant to photograph her too. .
in the hopes that he might get a good fair entry!
She promised me that she would do it ONE more time. .
If I give her Hershey kisses and chocolate covered cherries. .
her two poisons of choice!!
I'm more than thrilled with the poses we got. .
despite the lighting issues, which we can hopefully correct next time. .
I also want to play with the black and white settings and color swap on my camera!
So wish us luck. .
Even if we don't do another picture. .
I will still love giving her a photo from yesterday as a wedding gift someday!!
Come back later this week to see what is growing in the greenhouse!
Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Last Word. .

And. .
Not to be outdone. .
Devin did a little sign painting of his own. . 
Originally it said. .
but the spacing was a little off. .
and his brother's teased him unmercifully about a "damon cave". .
So. .
He changed it!
It points directly to the room he and Tristan share. .
and we have been cleaning, painting, and adding a bit of furniture to make it seem less of a cave!
Although. .
If they'd just keep it CLEAN. .
It would feel like a ROOM and not a CAVE!
The weekend is ALMOST here!!
Enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's a Project!!

Hey everyone. .
A million things have happened here over the course of the week. .
But I'll spare you the details. .
and instead, switch gears a bit.
My brain has been in crafting mode for a little over a month. .
and a trip with some girlfriends to antique last weekend made it worse!
I'm dreaming up a few more little artsy projects to work on in the dead of winter here. .
But for now. .
I thought that you might enjoy a little look into the project of December!
Late last summer/early autumn. .
whilst hanging out on Pinterest one afternoon. .
I found a photo of some old boards glued together with a scripture verse on it.
As I was involved at the time with my sister and two sister in laws in a bible study. .
I decided that it would be cool to fix one for each of them with their mentioned favorite verses we had been studying. .
To give them in time for the end of our study. .
which was the week before our Christmas get together.
Devin hammers in tiny upholstery tacks to look like "fly spots". .or something like that concept!
I emailed my friend Sara. .
who knows all about stuff like this. .
to decide how the best way was to get the verses onto the boards. 
She sent me back a link to get me started. .
and after googling and checking out similar techniques. .
I went to work.
I'm too old to sit like that for as long as I did. .but you can see how the papers are laid out on the boards just as they will look when the letters are painted on.
The first verse took me FOREVER to do on my computer. .
mostly trying to figure out the fonts, the sizes. .
and more than anything. .
figuring out how to "flip" the words into a mirror image. .
so when I got to transferring them to the boards they were legible.
After googling how to do this on the Word program I have. .
and a few practice runs at it. .
The subsequent verses were quick and easy to do!
I used a wide flat brush to dampen the paper. .only doing about 3 letters at a time before rubbing the ink off onto the board.
Tristan took some 8 foot lengths of 2 X 4's to wood class. .
where he ripped each board into two 1 X 4's and then cut them into 22 inch lengths. .
they could be any size. .but that is what we decided on and it worked well.
You can see the wide back end of the brush I used. .you could also use the back of a sharpie marker. Just rub it over the damp paper. .being careful to keep from moving the paper. .and sometimes the paper was wet enough that ripping it was a little bit easy! You can see in the photo my scratch imprints on the paper.
Devin was happy to take them out and paint them with some neutral paints that I got from Lowes for 50 cents apiece. .
they were discarded sample colors. .
just enough for what I wanted.
Then he and I beat the painted up boards with chains to rough them up. .
and then Devin pounded in little upholstery nails.
They were great little soft nails I found at Hobby Lobby. The heads are irregularly shaped and they just made a fun accent. You can see them in the corners of the finished boards below.
This one went to my sister in law Stephanie
You can see from above pictures how I put the print onto the boards.
I cut out each word. .and sometimes each letter. .
and placed them print side down on the board and arranged them as I wanted.
Taking a paint brush, I used enough water to paint over the back of the paper. .
to dampen it, but not to soak it.
Then taking the back end of the same paint brush, I scratched over the entire surface of the paper, to help rub off the ink. .
My personal favorite verse was a favorite of my sister Kristi. .and this board was hers.
It seriously worked better than I would have ever expected it too! A few areas were pretty faint, so using a tiny brush and some black paint, I tried to touch it up. .
so it was easier to read. .but not enough to look like paint. .
some areas worked really well. .
and some areas were complete failures!
Tina couldn't pick one favorite. .and since she didn't know what I had in mind; I didn't press her for one. .Instead, choosing one of my favorites that I thought she would like. .This was her verse.
Anyway. .
after a coat of polyurethane so the ink didn't run off if hung in a humid location. .
they were done. .
Jeremy used small screws to the back of the sign and wired them together. .
and placed a wire horizontally across a back board to hang them. .
and VOILA. .
3 happy sisters!!
Tristan cut me some more board last week. .
so I am trying to decide on which verse I want to work up for ME!!
I was surprised at how quickly they came together!
Hoping today finds everyone healthy. .
with lots of blessings!!
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Over the River and Through the Woods. .

To Grandmother's house we go!!!
Kadon and Ryder (AKA the curly headed monster!)
One of my favorite childhood memories is of holidays at my paternal grandparents house!
Dylan, Haley, Taryn, and Cami. .Best Friends!
My grandparents had 6 kids. .
who in turn had 14 grandkids. .
The oldest 7 of us were much like these guys in age. .
And equally as rowdy. .if not a little worse!
We could all fit in the same room to open gifts in Grandma's new house!
When we all got together. .
it was loud!!
 I mean. .
So loud. .
that to be heard. .
 the adults yelled their conversations to each other. .
Devin and Trey (the real monster. .don't turn your back. .he's SUPER fast!)
And that was even after all the kids had been exiled to the basement to rough house and play "broken-toy" dodge ball or pool!!
I thought that was normal!! So normal, that I remember being very shocked after eating with Jeremy's family for the first time. .they were very orderly and quiet. .None of the chaos that I was used to!
Can't wait to see what Tristan masters with this book!
I'll admit, I'm a little partial to the noise that renders you unable to make a clear thought in your head. .
so I have enjoyed all the busy-ness and commotion that goes on at our family gatherings with all of my siblings and their families!
Grant LOVED his new new hot rod metal sign for his room!
As usual, the kids started asking early that week. .
WHEN are we going to open presents at Grandmas. .
a reply of "this weekend" wasn't nearly detailed enough!!
Look out wild beasts. .Uncle Chris + hunting store gift card = bad news 4 U!!
Our habit has been to start with the youngest; letting them open their gifts and then moving along the line. .That now makes me next to the LAST!! I think I'll call for a new methodology in 2013!!
Because there are so many of us. .
we draw names to extend the fun!!
My two brothers drew each other. .
but the laugh was on them. .
as their wives corroborated and bought them each a cookbook from one of their favorite shows. .
America's Test Kitchen!
Two thumbs up for these boys!
I glanced through one. .
The authors apparently spend a lot of time and effort coming up with a recipe to make THE PERFECT. .
The perfect hamburger, the perfect pie crust, the perfect cornbread etc!
They were thrilled. .
and hopefully they will try out some recipes on us at the next family function!
Since I was next to the last. .
it was really no wonder that my OLD eyes thought Tina had gotten Kristi a fancy sign that said "FART!"
I stood corrected though, as she turned the sign just in time for me to catch a picture. .
and read that it actually said "FAITH!
Actually, Jeremy had the camera. .and took many of our showcased shots today!
I was the lucky girl to get TWO new watches!!
I have a serious watch fetish. .
And Kristi contributed to my habit nicely!!
We were pretty excited to get grandma. .
a new Nook color for Christmas!!
Apparently the state of Kansas library system is offering digital book loans. .
so she needed to learn how to use it!!
I think she loves it!!
As always, our traditional appetizer based supper. .
contained WAY more cream cheese than one collection of arteries should be allowed in a 4 hour grazing session!
But. . .
In my childhood days, the adults used to gather for a pitch-playing tournament after the meal. .
We continued that tradition in our early family gatherings. .before there were so many kids. .
then we started playing board games. .
The past few years has been just more conversation than anything else. .
Whoop, Whoop!!
But, I'm afraid a new tradition is starting. .
After dinner DANCING!!
Grandma got a Wii before Thanksgiving. .
and Kristi has brought her "Just Dance" series to the last two get-togethers. .
She, seriously, isn't half bad!! We think she may practice when everyone else is sleeping! She'll never tell!
Which, has ultimately led to several old women. .
thinking they were TOO sexy!!
But a great way to burn off some cream cheese and pie!
Colton, Dev, and Braedon. .too cool for dancing!
Not everybody feels inclined to join us though!
And. .
more than once we were advised. .
"Wow. .you are reaaalllly bad!" (mostly by cool teenage kids)
So. .
Look out cool teenage kids who need prom dates. .
Mama's gonna be ready. .

Enjoy your week!