Sunday, February 17, 2013

Seedlings, Part One

As of an hour ago, I'm finally gardening.  Finally!  I feel like I've been all talk and no action for a long time, spending lots of money on this hobby.  Yesterday, I spent $100 on tomato cages, fish emulsion, bone meal, and a bird feeder and seed.  Yeah, that's happening.

But after running errands this morning, I just got the urge to do it.  The Farmer's Almanac (yeah, I read that now)(online, of course) said I was running behind in planting my peppers and tomatoes, so even though I still have a few more varieties on their way, I thought I'd better get going.

I sorted through all my million packets of seeds according to what needs to be sown inside and what can be directly sown into the ground.  While I'm growing everything in containers, I still won't start everything in the greenhouse; radishes, carrots, things like that will be planted into large pots once it gets a bit warmer.

I'm trying to do this all organically, but thankfully Home Depot sells a lot of organic gardening products.  The seed starting soil is organic, as is the bone meal for bulbs and the fish emulsion fertilizer.  I also decided on little hexagonal trays instead of peat pots.  I don't know why.  It just seemed like the thing to do.

I had three tomato varieties and one pepper variety to plant today: Cherokee Purple tomatoes, Italian Ice tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers.  I've been asked to plant extra for my mom, because she and my dad will be moving here in the summer.  I'm more than happy to oblige!

As you can see, the seeds didn't take the entire tray!  But once the other seeds get here, I'll add them to the tray and will get those in the greenhouse too.

No matter how many times I went to Target or Home Depot, I couldn't remember labels or popsicle sticks to mark what I had planted.  Then I remembered I had some Sharpie paint pens.  While this pretty much renders this tray useless for next year, it's better than running to Target again, for the third time this week.

Thanks to the cats, I bought a greenhouse to start the seeds.  I also bought a thermometer in there; while it's 40 degrees or so outside, I didn't know how warm the greenhouse would get.  Turns out, it was around 80 degrees in it this afternoon!

The greenhouse was crazy easy to assemble and it's really light--both a pro and a con.  We came home from Publix to find it laying on its side from the wind, so soil and a hose are weighing it down.  I don't want the seedlings to be thrown around!

As I mentioned, we also bought a bird feeder!  Our cats love watching the birds who have a nest out front, but they aren't there all day.  This is right in view of the dining room windows, so they can sit and watch them all day.  It's a pretty popular place.

I'm really excited to see how these seedlings do.  Gardening has been a dream of mine for a couple years, and I've plunked a decent amount of time and interest into it so far.  Just as a note, I've been reading You Grow Girl--the book and the blog-- and Grow Cook Eat, which is an awesome resource for vegetable gardening.  I've used a few different resources for my seeds: Urban Farmer, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Baker Creek Seeds, and Bulbs Direct.  I've had zero complaints about all these vendors, but I also am always on the lookout for new places and new seeds.

How was your weekend?  Do you have any gardening tips for me?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Circle Skirts and New Fabric: A Post in Nine Minutes

Due to technical difficulties, my posting time has been cut to nine minutes tonight.  Can I do it?  Let's see.

I've been hard at work on Vogue 8766 for a while.  My usual timeline for a project is one weekend: if I can't finish it in 48 hours, is it really worth it?  I was being tested this time because everything went wrong.  I didn't have a zipper.  I didn't have enough lining.  My hem wasn't going to hang right because of the fabric weight.  I didn't order enough horsehair for the hem and had to adjust the order before she sent it out.  Oy.  All in all, I think this took a week and a half.  That still isn't bad in the grand scheme of things, but to someone who loves a quickie project, that was forever.

Anyway, spoiler alert, it's done now.  I actually finished it a couple days ago, and if you follow me on Instagram, you'd know that.  (If you follow me, I apologize, a lot of these pictures are from my feed.)  So here she is, in all her horsehair glory!

I took these pictures for my mom.  Because she gave me the wool, I figured she wanted to know what I was doing with it!  It's a gorgeous fabric and I know it wasn't cheap.  However, the lining is; it's from Denver Fabrics.  I only lined the bodice.  There just wasn't enough for a skirt in the lining.  Whoops.

My Bernina is still inserting invisible zippers wonderfully, thank you for asking!

That cat?  He wants to know why I'm posing like a weirdo.  He also ate right through my leftover horsehair braid, so that's cool.

Circle skirt!  Not only is this a true circle skirt but I sewed 3" horsehair braid into the hem.  It's wonderful!  I bought the braid at Moxie Milliner and used Gertie's tutorial to insert it.  Oh my god, I want horsehair in every dress I own.  I wore it to work and felt so fancy and vintagey!  

I keep my Little Mermaid movie posters in the bathroom.  Don't you?
Here's a better look at how I wore the dress: with a green cardigan and belt, both from Target.  The Mary Janes in the above photos are also from Target--the Isaac Mizrahi line, circa fall 2006.  RIP, that was an awesome line and I wish they'd never killed it.

I got a ton of compliments on my dress!  This is definitely a cake project: I can use frosting to dress it different ways.  The wool is a really natural color with little hints of blue, black, and green, and god knows I have enough cardigans to wear with it!

A note on the dress itself: it was so easy.  I combined the bodice of view D and the skirt of view F.  I find that I rarely make the views as they're described, taking a little off or adding a little to it.  That's the best thing about sewing, right?  Much like science, things are whatever we want them to be.  I did find the shoulders to be a bit big, and if I make this again, I'll take those in.

Hmm, what else is going on?

I wore my peplum top today!  With these awesome pink pants, and a black cardigan, not shown.  The pants stole the show but I love my peplum.  I think another one is in order.

I ordered this Liberty from Purl Soho.  This is the Wiltshire Berry print, and I'm such an idiot; I was looking for this everywhere.  No one had it in the right colors, or if they did, they didn't have the right yardage.  Duh, Purl Soho carries Liberty, Emily.  I used some of my tax return--what didn't replenish my savings account after the move--to buy it.  It's so buttery and soft!  I don't know what I'll make with it yet--a shirt dress?  I have two yards. I also purchased Colette's Cinnamon slipdress to make a slip to go under it, maybe in green or light pink, whatever I end up making.

I don't have a picture, but I'm also drowning in gardening things over here.  I have so many seeds I've lost track (more are on the way), and now I've expanded to bulbs: ranunculus, peony, lily of the valley, begonias, and anemones.  Gardening friends, is this normal?  I've been reading everything on the subject and no one says you spend like a lunatic, but no one says you don't, either.  Also, if anyone wants to share some advice, I'm interested!

What are you up to?  I promise to stop by more often; things have been so busy lately!  Happy Valentine's Day!  I'm off to eat homemade chocolate ice cream!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Spring Plans

Is it cold where you are? Currently I'm under a quilt and the heat is on, and it's like 40 degrees outside. I don't know what I'd do if I lived somewhere actually cold, even if I was in D.C. again. Naturally, in desperate times like this, I start thinking of better days: spring.

For a few years, I've dreamt of a garden. Maybe this is because I grew up with a green-thumbed mother. Maybe this is because Nicholas and I love food and love cooking, so growing our own food to use when we cook just seems like the next step. Or maybe this is because I don't have enough hobbies and one more never hurt anyone. But it didn't matter because we lived in a tiny apartment on the first floor, no window boxes, no sunlight, so plants were but a dream.

Now, thanks to the magic of low housing costs, we live in a house with a yard. Since we moved I've been gathering information on how to make our dreams come true. I've decided we need a small greenhouse, which my mom had in Florida and which worked wonderfully during the winter. This will come in handy for seedlings, because we have some kitties who love to dig, and soil doesn't work well with carpet. I'm also going to start composting, thanks to my lovely aunt who has advised me on the subject. It tugs at my hippie dippie heart strings when I throw away coffee grounds, tea bags, strawberry tops, and banana peels--those can be recycled! A tumbler composter will be installed as soon as I can get it.

I also bought some seeds today! I bought all our seeds from Urban Farmer online, but I do plan on visiting Whole Foods and the nurseries near us for a few other varieties. I chose Italian basil, cilantro, Parisian carrots, cosmic purple carrots, Easter egg radishes, French breakfast radishes, Cherokee purple tomatoes, and Nick's favorite, San Marzano tomatoes. A little much? I've never grown anything in my life, but I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

I also bought an ice cream machine today, the Cuisinart ICE-21TQ in turquoise, to match my KitchenAid mixer, of course. I've been coveting it for a year or so, but I didn't have the money or counter space in Maryland to support such dreams. Now I do, and while I don't eat a ton of ice cream, Nick does. I love cooking and baking so making ice cream for Nick (or friends) to enjoy makes me happy. I bought the cookbook Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home, trusting the brand and the unique flavors. I'm so excited to try these recipes and Nick has already started thinking of some ideas for our own recipes.

Spring is going to be an exciting time around here: food, new bikes, flowers. You should all stop by because you'll probably go home with ice cream and radishes, a surprisingly amazing combination.
Images by Freepik