Sunday, May 31, 2009

Flowers from My Yard

I am very happy to see that my pink peonies and old fashioned roses have started blooming before I leave for a little visit to family & friends with my daughter. The lilacs have been blooming as well. A couple of lilacs bushes have bloomed last week and now another couple bushes (different varieties) are blooming. The old fashioned rose bush will bloom several other times this summer, but the peonies are just once. I planted these years ago and missed seeing them last year. I picked them out & planted them, the blooms haven't actually opened all the way yet, so you can't see the bright yellow in the middle of the pink petals. 

My daughter was super excited to see that the rose bushes had more flowers on them and when I showed her the peonies she started giggling and squealing with excitement. I am really beginning to believe that she could grow up to be a botanist. When she was a baby we could take her outside to look at the leaves on the trees and it was calming to her and as she grew into a toddler I would take her outside to look at the bushes to stop a tantrum. She is always asking to go outside and she loves to collect leaves, sticks, seeds, flowers, etc. and loves to plant. It's just that these days she will get upset if I tell her we have to go back inside, although the promise of going outside is will brighten her mood.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Travel Plans & Deals

Since I won't have time to post things when we go travel since I will have access to primarily just dialup for a while (gasp!), I thought I would do it ahead of time.

Our travel plans are local (somewhat, well, our home state & friends & family in a neighboring state).

We are starting out our time at the MN Landscape Arboretum. Isabel is so into nature & flowers, so this will be perfect. We are using the BOGO coupon in the Entertainment book and Isabel is under 15 (obviously), so she is free. So, it will only cost $7 for all three of us to go there. They also have a special family event on weekend (linked above) and we will get to make minature May Baskets while we are there and plant them. So, that will be a fun thing to do.

Afterwards, we are going camping at a KOA . I didn't get any deal here, but we plan to make the most of our time there. It's only for one night, but we'll get there a little early probably (called to make sure that was ok) and stay until checkout. We are staying in a Kamping Kabin, so no tent or air mattress to deal with. My in-laws and a BIL are coming with, maybe even a nephew. But anyways, I chose the particular campground I did because they had an indoor heated pool (which I called to verify was up & running). So, we will be going swimming several times.

The rest of our vacation time is spent staying with family & friends, so I don't have lodging costs, just gas costs. Depending upon how our days shape up, we plan to go to the NEW Zoo in Green Bay on Wednesday night, it's free after 4pm. We went last year (using our zoo pass from another zoo, which has now expired) and it was a very nice zoo. We also plan to go to Bay Beach Amusement Park (we went here every summer at least once when I was a kid) and now I have taken Isabel the last 2 summers and this summer will be no different. The great part about this place is that it is VERY affordable, 25 cents a ticket and most of the rides Isabel will go on will be 1 ticket, a few are 2 tickets, but I will probably only need to buy $3 in tickets for both of us.

I am not sure if we'll do it the same day we go to the amusement park or if we'll make a separate trip, but I'd like to take her to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. It's free. I have not taken there before.

As we head down to visit some friends in the town we lived in last year, we will stop in Sheboygan to see my sister & her family, but not before we stop at the Old Wisconsin factory store (probably). They have some really great bargains in there and Isabel loves their sausage.

Then it's to stay with friends. We will be getting in late there, but we will still have 2 full days to hangout. I don't know what we will do exactly. I do have a pass to the YMCA that we once belonged to, which has a nice little waterpark in it. So, we may go there. I do know that we will stop at the Brownberry Outlet before we leave & stock up. The prices there are far better than in the store and I love Brownberry breads. I can print off a 20% off coupon from, so that will be even more helpful on the budget in upcoming months.

Other things we will do will be to visit my favorite area cheese factory, Springside Cheese, and get some curds & string cheese, and hopefully they will have some good specials while I am there. And the other place I need to stop is the Sausage Haus (they don't have a website that I could find) and pick up some fantastic sausages that they make there to grill. They are no bargain by any means, but they are mighty tasty.

I am sure there will be a couple more things we will do, just because I didn't make any concrete entertainment plans with our friends. So, I will have to blog about them later. And I wish I could find something to stop at for an hour or so to do with Isabel halfway across the state (or further), it would help break up the trip and give us ample time to stretch our legs and see something. Anyone know of anything fun to do in Abbotsford or Wausau areas?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Vegetable (Lasagna) Garden

Having a big garden has been long overdue for me. Last one I had was the year Isabel was born. Then the year after that I didn't plant one because we were planning to move and the year after that (last year) we were living in WI. So, now I can have one again. 

I planted it yesterday and hopefully am free of an frost danger now. Over the years I had been working on establishing a lasagna garden. The first year we started it we didn't know that we got a BIG (two pickup truck loads worth) load of bad compost. It wasn't sifted and we didn't really know to make sure it was sifted and it had a lot of weeds & thistles in it. Now we pay the price because we have a thistle garden. We had been mulching layers on the garden and had it covered for over a year, but that didn't get rid of all the thistles. Actually, the wind blew over some of the cover and the thistles just sprouted up. It was really unsightly when we moved back. 

We kept piling on layers, hoping to continue with the lasagna garden and smother out those darn thistles. They aren't too bad yet, but I will have to keep up with picking them. I decided against spreading roundup on the entire thing because 1) I didn't want chemicals on my garden 2) because of the mulching layers the roundup might not really reach deep enough for how deep the roots need are 3) the roundup could spread to other parts of my garden.

I thought about having it tilled up, but then I asked at my organic gardening class and they said tillingwon't work to get rid of them and may just make the problem worse. They said to dig down & get all the roots or I would have to resort to chemicals (you could almost hear the gasp in the room as they suggested that.) I went online and did some research and everything was pretty much confirmed. You don't want to till the thistles because the roots will be chopped and MANY new plants will sprout off those chopped roots amking your problems worse. Whew! Glad I didn't do that!

So, we added more layers and I have to get out there & pull. The good things is with the mulching layers in a lasagna garden the roots of thistles don't have a very strong hold on anything like they would in black dirt, so pulling them out is a cinch. Pulling out the thistles in my herb garden that is not mulched, not so easy.

Yesterday, I bought 480 pounds of peat, sifted compost, & dirt to mix together to create mounds on top of my layers to plant my plants & seeds in. We also bought some straw (looked to be free of seeds, but you can't guarantee a few don't get in, so hopefully that won't be out next issue) to add another layer to the garden. We will continue to add grass layers throughout the summer.

So, what did I plant. In the garden I have some Big Beef Tomatoes (seedlings bought from Menards), sugar baby watermelon & cucumber (seeds we started at home), and the rest are seeds we planted: zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, pumpkin, cantloupe (Isabel was insistant we plant this), green beans, yellow beans, lettuce (that free seed thing that came on the back of the summer kraft food & family), peas & turnips. 

In the herb garden we have chives, sage, tarragon, & oregano that come back year after year. We also put down some parley & dill seeds and some sunflower seeds (saw that 2 of those came up).  We plant the sunflowers for the birds. We planted some raspberry bushes this year too, two of them.

In my hanging pots I have cilantro (bought fom a local nursery), and then planted seeds of: spinach, basil, & nasturtiums. In other pots on my deck & cement patio we have roma tomatoes, banana peppers (both from seeldings I bought), some red pine seedlings (free from McD's last month), more nasturtiums (you can eat the flowers on those), basil, mixed greens, & lavendar, and several pots of flowers. And then I have these 2 hangings bag things with seedlings I bought that have cherry tomatoes & strawberries in them.

And since the baby isn't due until the end of October I should have time to do a bunch of canning . Maybe canning & freezing will be my nesting this time instead of cleaning.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Homemade Coasters

So, these are the coasters I mentioned yesterday that I made. They are made from tiles, spray adhesive, spray laquer (I went the spray route for both because you can get thinner coats and it dries faster - but it would have been cheaper if I didn't), and stick-on felt pads, oh and napkins. I bought the napkins at Longwood Gardens while visiting Kendra and this was the craft idea I had for a thank-you gift for her. Actually, the napkins were the single most expensive item.

I still plan to make a set for ourselves, but I have to get back to Lowe's to buy more tiles. So, she is getting one set and my friend Jessi is getting the other set to go with the rest of her bridal shower gift. 

I had also sent Kendra a package before arriving of Caribou coffee (she can't get  that in PA and loved it when she lived in MN, although I suppose she could order it online) and 3 different jams & jellies I made (grape, strawberry & basil). I had to send the package because I knew it would probably get tossed (the jellies at least, since they are "gels") from my carry-on at the airport and I wasn't checking anything.
This is the complete 2 sets. Click on the pictures to see them up close.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My New Clothesline

Last weekend I had Andy install my clothesline. Actually, he had to dig the hole 2 feet deep (which wasn't easy because we have VERY ROCKY soil) and then set the holder in stones & cement. The actual line itself collapses down and can be removed from the holder for easy storage & to keep it from being a constant eyesore in the backyard or from getting in the way of the mower. So, today I used it for the first time. Right now you can see I have 2 loads of laundry on there. The first load was almost dry, as we have a nice gentle breeze today. I have one more load to go on there yet and a fourth load of jeans/pants that will go in the dryer (those just get too stiff and I know Andy would complain if he pants were stiff.) So, I am happy. I hope this helps us do more of our part to help the environment and save us some money on electricity too.

I've actually had a pretty productive day today. We visited with a friend this morning and gave her a belated wedding present (hey! we have a year and she was only married 2.5 montsh ago). Then we went to storytime and picked out some new books & a couple of videos (I am having a hardtime stomaching many of these shows we tivo for Isabel. I have gotten sick too many times while I heard their theme songs and it made a negative psychological imprint.)

Then we went grocery shopping and to KFC for lunch. We came home and put groceries away and started laundry. While the first load of laundry was being washed we laid landscaping fabric in a small area, planted 2 raspberry bushes there and put down one bag of cedar mulch (I need to go buy another, the area was a little bigger than I thought.) Then we planted 2 rose bushes in the front of the house, and a couple tomato plants in pots and 6 strawberry plants in a hanging bag (never done this before, so we'll see). 

Then it was time to switch the laundry & hang the first load. Then I started working on a coaster project. I made 2 sets of tile coasters (which I will post about after they are dry & I take a picture).  I bought part of the supplies while I was on vacation in Philly when the idea came to me as a thank-you gift to send Kendra. And today while I was thinking about what I was going to get my friend Jessi for a bridal shower gift, I thought I would make her a set too (originally I bought 2 sets of tiles because I was going to make a set for us but that can wait, gifts for others come first.) Each set is a little different, but I think I know which set I like better.

Then, switch the laundry again, get the mail, play some in the yard with the kid. The inside for storytime & a snack. She's resting now while I type this (I should rest too!) and the last load is in the washer.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Trip to Pennslyvania

Last week Thursday through Sunday I traveled to Pennslyvania to visit with my dear friend Kendra. She picked me up from the airport and we went back to her cottage to rest for a bit until we met Tim for dinner at Buckely's Tavern in Centreville, DE. The next day we spent the morning walking around West Chester, PA. And that afternoon we want around (in mist & sprinkles) touring Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. That evening, Don came over and she made us some vegetarian tacos. She made me lots of wonderful vegetarian meals my entire visit. It was such a wonderful treat to have someone else cook for me (& do the dishes!) And that evening we watched the movie Twilight. I am not sure how much they 'really' wanted to watch that movie, but they knew I just finished the books and wanted to see the movie. 

On Saturday, we started out our morning by going to a park (in Brandywin, PA, I think) to walk around. Then we went to Philly and did some shopping there (I bought a new maternity dress, something to wear this summer). We did a lot of walking. We figure about 3 miles walking around Philadelphia. Then we went to Don's apartment (& went to see the house he is purchasing) and he made the three of us dinner. He was very sweet & made scallops since I mentioned I was hungry for them. Afterward, we went for another walk around the city and went to Capogiro for some dessert.

The pictures here of Kendra's cottage are just taken with my camera phone. I only took pictures of the main level & sent all these to Andy, but upstairs there is also 2 bedrooms & a bathroom. She rents this cottage out in the country on a horse farm.

I had a really nice time and was glad to have spent some time with her. Unfortunately, I never did take any picture with either one of us in them.