Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fall Travel Capsule

     Summer always throws me off my routines.  No schedules, the heat, my mom and sister out of school and available to play....blogging just didn't happen.  We're well into our fall routines now and feeling settled, so I thought I'd share a little about what's on my mind.  Being the somewhat shallow person that I fear I am, that would be...clothes.

     I did another closet purge a bit ago, and I'm finding that I really am happier with a smaller wardrobe.  Intentional choices.  Well planned and as well fitting as I can manage.  It makes me do laundry more regularly than is my habit, but it makes my mornings just a bit calmer.  It also makes planning for a trip easier.  We plan to take a short trip out of state later this fall and you KNOW I'm already planning what to wear! I'd love to only take carry-on luggage for the three of us since we'll only be gone 4 nights.  Traveling, for me, is like a personal challenge.  How little can I pack and still be well dressed and prepared for my destination?  Here's what I'm thinking:

     I like to layer when I travel.  You never know if your plane will be an oven or a freezer.  A cardigan over a tee (rather than a tank or cami) gives me public-appropriate options either way.  Traveling with a three year old means being prepared for...well, anything.  Scarves hide a multitude of mishaps.  Normally I'd wear easy-on flats to make security speedy, but if I'm carrying my bags on, the boots need to be worn rather than packed.  Our destination will be chilly and damp, so I think I'll enjoy having my boots with me. And my trusty (and practically vintage at this point) Vera Bradley weekender will hopefully handle my packing needs.  Also, once I've put this much thought into an outfit, I want to get my money's worth, so this is what I'll wear en route both ways.  If we happen to cross paths in the airport twice, keep my secret.

     I'm a mix and match girl at heart, so another pair of pants and a couple of tops in a general color scheme are all I need to be happy.  A few jewelry options to spice things up, a pair of flats that are a little more dressy than my boots, and I feel like I'm pretty well set for about anything I might need to do, and any photos that might happen along the way.  I can wear the cardigan over the black top or the striped top, if need be.  (Of course, all of these photos are merely representative of the things I own, not the actual items themselves. You can find links for these photos by checking me out on Polyvore--look for littlenestbigcity.)  Here are a few of the outfits I can make with these options:

     Not a bad selection for such a short trip, eh?  It feels like I can cover the spectrum of dressiness, depending on the shoes and jewelry I choose.  And of course I'll pack one really comfy yoga pants-type outfit for evenings after Peanut goes to bed--fuzzy socks required!  I'll also have an actual coat with me for really chilly or wet weather.  I assume you are imaginative enough to fill in those gaps without a picture.  ;)    

     What do you think?  Am I forgetting anything?  Do you travel with a color scheme, or are you a "grab whatever's clean and put it in a bag" packer?  Do you need lots of clothing options, or are you a minimalist traveler?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A River Runs Through It

   We've had some crazy weather the past few weeks.  Crazy like a foot of rain in the past week.  And a few tornadoes.  Tornadoes close enough that the houses on the other side of the "crick" from my garden don't have roofs (rooves?) anymore.  Like I said, crazy.  I wasn't sure what to expect when it finally dried up enough that I could get out in the garden.  Here's what I found:

   Not as bad as I figured!  The ridiculous rain has made several little rivers through the garden, but the majority of it (including the fence, somehow) is still standing!  We did lose a big branch off the cherry tree that was full of cherries, and an entire peach tree was uprooted.  Grandpa decided to leave the peach tree where it is because it still has one big root in the ground, so maybe it will hang on?  Nothing to lose by trying!  On that note, does anyone know if you can pick cherries prematurely and ripen them off the tree?  They're pink, but not bright red yet and that branch is loaded!

Broken cherry tree

Broken peach tree
   By and large, the rest of the garden seems to be intact.  My potatoes and onions are going crazy!  A few of the onions are looking a little wilty, and some of them had to be reburied because the earth washed out around them, but nothing major.  The saddest looking things are some of my tomato plants.  I don't know if they're waterlogged or what, but I have 3-4 that look pretty pathetic.

Go potatoes and onions!

We got a little more dirt on these sad onions.

Sad tomato plant

   My grandma thought that the tomatoes could use some fertilizer, so I got on the magic internet and looked for non-chemical fertilizers I could make.  I've been saving egg shells because I read that tomatoes need extra calcium in the dirt.  So I powdered those and mixed with with epsom salts and crushed up aspirins (supposedly a root motivator?) and we fed the plants this evening.  

Gram supervising us newbies

   After everything was fed, we started our first veggie harvest!  Not a ton today, but I got a bag full of arugula and an armload of green onions!  Gram says that when the onions start to flower they get tough, so we pulled all the onions with blooms on them, plus a few because I have a toddler.

Showing off her first onion!

I felt like Miss America with my "bouquet"
   We weren't out there long today, but it was nice to check on everything and get a little dirt on my hands again.  (I have been out there since my last post, but I didn't figure you'd want to watch my plants grow millimeter by millimeter so I didn't post.)  Anyone have any miracle tomato-life-savers?  Know how to ripen cherries off the tree?  Know how to hold off the rain so we can dry out a little?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Potatoes!

   Top o' the mornin' to ya!  Too much?  Okay...Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I personally don't do much celebrating for St. Pat's, other than wearing a green shirt to avoid being pinched by rude people.  I am fairly certain that being a generic white mutt, I probably have some Irish in me somewhere, but it's never been a *thing* in my family to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  There is, however, one thing that my great-grandfather, and therefore my grandparents, insisted on.  You must plant your potatoes on St. Patrick's Day.  Lesson #2 learned.

Me and my Daddy-o

   So this morning, we headed out to the farm to get some potatoes in the ground before it starts raining tonight.  It's Spring Break here, so my mom and sis are out of school this week and my dad took vacation to hang out with us.  Somehow I talked them into coming with me to plant potatoes.  (C'mon guys, it'll be fun...)

   The seed potatoes had been cut and drying for a day or two, so they were ready to go in the ground. Dad did the hard part of raking up the soil into a little mound for me.  That way you don't have to dig so far to get your potatoes when they're ready.  

  My sister and I went behind him making holes and popping spuds in the earth.  After that, we covered them up and smoothed over the top of the mounds, and gave them a little drink.

   The potatoes were much quicker to plant than the onions.  Partially because there were much fewer of them, and partially because I had help.  We ended up with two rows of potatoes, and Grandpa says each plant will likely yield 8 or so small potatoes.  Not bad!

Two finished rows of potatoes!

My Seester and I

   It was fun to get in the dirt with my dad and sister.  Even though I finally live close, I never get to see them as much as I want.  Grandpa didn't get too involved today.  He showed me what to do, but then he went to fix a fence with a couple of youngin's.  I think they were looking to make a buck, and he needed some help, so he put them to work!  The farm was hoppin' today!  Abby Kate played in the house with my mom and grandma again today.  We had planned for her to stay down in the garden with us, but it ended up being much colder and windier than I thought.  She was perfectly happy to have tea parties and read books inside!

Arugula babies!

   I did get surprised by this bit of green on this St. Patrick's Day.  My arugula seeds have sprouted already!  Not even a whole week in the dirt and they're already popping up!  When they're a tiny bit bigger I'll transfer them to some big feed tubs out in the garden.  They're pretty cold-hardy, so they'll do fine.  Very exciting!

   I'm not sure what comes next in the garden.  I think I'm in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment, waiting until the frost danger is over, and waiting for my little seeds to grow.  I'm looking forward to getting them in the ground and seeing what grows!  What's growing in your garden?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring Has Sprung!

   I am officially declaring the end of winter!  (Hear me, Mother Nature?  No funny business.)  The past week has been gorgeous, even the rainy day seemed to promise changes and new life.  Sigh.  I love it.  I love the end of the bleak grey cold.  I love the end of darkness.  I love the end of a stuffy stale house.  I love the end of trying to come up with ways to entertain my toddler indoors...(only partially kidding about that last one).

   My new undertaking this season is a garden.  Not just a few bedding plants in the front yard--I'm talking grow your own food, mud up to your knees, need a tractor to till it up garden.  No, we did not move to the country, although that is my heart's desire.  My grandparents, however, already live out of town a ways, and have had a massive (half an acre?) garden that has fed the family, neighbors, church members, and anyone else who needed produce for the past fifteen years.  After last year, Grandpa declared that he was done gardening, said it was too hard on his knees and he just wasn't feeling up to it anymore--well, maybe a couple of tomato plants because, you know, the ones you get at the store aren't fit to eat.... He kindly offered his well-tended garden to me, said he'd plow it up if I wanted to plant anything.

Our blank canvas!  Love that red dirt!
   I have a not-so-secret desire to be Ma Ingalls and a dream of having a little land with a clothesline and chickens and a garden, so I jumped at the chance to learn from the master and see if I kill outdoor plants as quickly as I kill indoor ones. So Grandpa got out the tractor and tilled up the earth, and I bought some seeds.  He informed me that the first thing to go in the ground was onions, but we'd be planting sets and sprouts, not seeds.  Lesson #1 learned.  When it quit snowing and the ground dried out last week, we set to work.

Grandpa gettin' work done
   Grandpa had said he'd pick up the onions to plant when he was at the store next.  It never occurred to me that he never asked how many I wanted to plant.  When I got to the greenhouse where they were being stored, I saw this:

Baby onions!
   That, my friends, combined with the sets he had for me, is THOUSANDS of onions.  Did I mention that green onions are grandpa's favorite thing out of the garden?  Apparently they are.  So we got to work, poking holes and planting tiny little wisps of onions.  It wasn't too hard, and I enjoyed spending the time in the red dirt that I missed so much when we lived out of state.  The weather couldn't have been better, and it was a rare chance to spend some one-on-one time with Grandpa.

Putting in the elbow grease!
   I was tired at the end of the day, but it was so satisfying to look back at the work we had accomplished.  I'm sure I'm romanticizing things, but I kept thinking about all of the generations of pioneers who had come before me, who had worked this red dirt and survived by the sweat of their own brows and the strength of their own hands.  It felt right to be learning something so ingrained in the state I grew up in, sort of reverent for everyone who made it what it is.  But like I said, ask me in September how I feel about gardening and I may have changed my tune...

Look closely--can you see my babies out there?

  I also started some seeds for some other things I'd like to try growing this year.  I'm considering this my experimental garden year, learning how things grow and what does and doesn't like the weather and soil here.  I started carrots, spinach and arugula, green beans, zucchini, and corn.  I have seeds for a few other things, but it's a bit early for them, and I plan to buy young plants for tomatoes and strawberries when the frost danger passes.

Seed babies growing in the greenhouse!
   I snapped a few pictures while I was there because everything felt so alive.  Spring was whispering everywhere, from the bluebird that visited the garden to the blooms on the fruit trees.  Every time I took a picture I thanked God for making all things new!

Our colorful visitor

   Before we left, Abby Kate, who had been napping and playing with my grandma, convinced Grandpa that she needed a ride in the Mule.  It's one of her favorite things to do at their house, and there isn't much that she can't convince Grandpa of, so they loaded up and went for a ride.  I love that they get to know each other, and that she loves them the way I do.  I hope she keeps these sweet memories forever!

Waving at Mama!

   I'll attempt to keep things updated as to what my kill count is--I'm not sure these poor plants know what they're getting into!  In the meantime, I have several flowerbeds full of weeds that are mocking me... Time to get a little more dirt under my nails!