A Day in the Mud

Yesterday my husband and I attended a Mud Sale. For those of you that have never attended a Mud Sale, it is a sale to benefit the local fire companies in our area. The Mud Sales are in Amish Country and I love the experience and deals! There are many mini auctions going on at the same time and it is an all day event (8am-3pm).

imageedit_17_8952295001

You can get things for great prices. Certainly, as with any auction you have the ‘deep-pocket-bidders’. I always question these bidders. Questioning why in the world did that one person bid a blueberry bush up to $40 when you can buy it for $20 at Lowe’s with a 1-year guarantee?

imageedit_19_4423251483

Not all people are crazy though. I did make friends with the lady and her entire family sitting beside me. It just so happens she was a retired teacher from New York and vacationing in Lancaster County is a treat for them (along with the Mud Sales of course!) I love to talk to random people (yes… I am one of those people). Everyone has a story if you are willing to listen. 🙂

Here is a little bit about the auctions:

Antiques- Some stuff is completely overpriced, while other items are a steal. They had everything from old shutters and stained glass windows to small collections and even old Cabbage Patch Dolls. I saw an old butter churn that I wanted, but it went for $235 (WAY too much money to fill with dirt and use as a unique garden planter).

IMG_0300

Craft Tent- In previous years, I would spend the entire day here. I did not find a need this year because I have plenty of Amish built benches, shelves, and birdhouses. Aside from walking past, I didn’t even stay at the tent this year (per husband’s request to avoid more stuff).

Flowers- This is where I spent most of the day. They had two auctions going on under the same tent (a little confusing because they both had speakers). One of the auctions was just for perennial/shrubs and the other for annuals. At the perennials tent, they would explain each plant before bidding started, which was awesome! They would say the sun required, height/width, and types of flowers, and when it would bloom. The explanation was perfect for a novice gardener!

imageedit_15_6924754053

There were also auctions for tools, guns, lawn furniture/decorations, quilts, horses, and food/house goods.

imageedit_13_8841672778

We are expanding our garden next year, so we were in search of plants for the new garden area. Our haul consisted of:

3 blueberry bushes ($10 each)

2 sour cherry trees ($12 each)

2 peach trees ($10 each)

In addition, 1 dog crate for when we take our dogs to the mountains ($2), 6 beautiful (new) glass tiki torches ($10 each), a hanging swing ($62), decorative garden stakes ($5 each), 4 hanging planters ($2 each), 8 basket planters ($2 each), and a whole truck load of annuals and perennials for both sun and shade (not sure about the price here, Tony was bidding on $0.50 plants nonstop). I think he just liked pretending he was on Storage Wars and saying “YUUUPP!”

IMG_0308

After we left the sale around 3:30PM, we began the two-hour task of planting our purchases. We ended up with more than we can plant at the moment, so we gave the rest away. We dropped a bunch of plants off at my mother-in-law’s and headed to my mom’s to drop off the rest and enjoyed some fireworks.

imageedit_9_6654573574

It was a great day! If you’ve never been to a Mud Sale, perhaps you might want to consider going. 🙂

Advertisements

June Garden Update

The vegetables are really growing around here!  I am excited to share with you the progress of my garden. Right now I have four raised beds and two smaller beds you can’t see in the picture below.  I may be expanding the garden next year because there is just not enough space. I didn’t attempt to grow potatoes or carrots this year because I didn’t have the room. 😦

lunapic_137211222599665_1

In my  garden I have various types of tomatoes. I have Big Beef Tomatoes for sandwiches, Roma for sauce, and of course Cherry Tomatoes for salads and cooking.In order to have great tomatoes it does take extra care. I’ve been pruning them by removing the suckers. You can find basic tomato care on a post from last year. Needless to say, my tomato plants are growing well and beginning to produce tomatoes. 🙂 If only they would just turn red!

lunapic_137211222599665_4

I also have a few peppers growing too. I planted them facing the sun so the huge tomato plants would not overshadow them. I have 2-3 banana pepper plants, along with green, yellow, and red peppers. No hot peppers here. I cannot do heat. I grew hot peppers last year and I didn’t use them. So this year I just didn’t grow them. I can always visit my mom’s garden to get a few if I need them.

lunapic_137211222599665_15

My raspberries are growing as well! I love having them in my garden. The trick is figuring out how to keep the birds away. If you have a creative idea, I would love to know.

lunapic_137211222599665_7

This month I have been weeding, watering, and controlling pests. All of this hard work will payoff soon.  It was so nice to have help on Sunday. My niece loved taking the suckers off the tomatoes and even helped water the plants. It is so neat to hear all of her questions. It is such a learning process for her. 🙂 Since teaching is in my blood; I love it!

lunapic_137211222599665_13

My dog, Bailey was not as helpful. He spent the entire time trying to find food. Trust me, we do feed him.  He just loves tomatoes! He will even try to pick them right from the tomato plants when they’re ripe.

lunapic_137211222599665_10

It is going to be really hot this week, so I will not forget a day of watering.  I water all my plants at night. There are all kinds of theories about when to water and how much, but my plants are still alive, so I must be doing something right.

Pillowcase Dresses

Thursday I spent the day with my nieces for no reason in particular. I gave my sister the day off. Her house is clean and mine was an absolute wreck. We had so much fun making the mess though. We spent time making pillowcase dresses.  They were such great helpers.  I used something similar to this website: Cut Out and Keep. I didn’t use an actual pillowcase though. However, I might just have to start visiting the local second-hand stores. It would have been so much easier! Not nearly as much hemming.

IMG_1657

Here is a quick run-down of how I made them. Sorry I didn’t take pictures along the way. I wasn’t going to blog about it, but then I had so many questions. 🙂

1.I basically just cut 2 rectangles (making my own pillowcase). Measuring the girls from the top of their neck, to just below their knees (for the length). I made the rectangles wide enough to just wrap around them just a bit, not the whole way. (Allowing room for all the hemming that had to happen).

2. I cut out the arms as showed in the blog mentioned above and then hemmed the arms.

3.I sewed the two dress pieces together (inside out so you cannot see the sewing).

4. Then I just hemmed the top of the dress.I already hemmed the arm areas, so it makes for a nice hem when you sew the top. I made the back of the dress slightly higher than the front. Make sure you don’t sew the hem shut, that is where the ribbon needs to slide through.

5. Then I hemmed the bottom of the dress to the correct length.

6. I fit a ribbon through both hems and I simply tied them together.

IMG_1688

Here is what I learned-

  • You only need 1 yard of fabric per child (I had extra left over).
  • I used 3 yards of ribbon for both dresses and the cute belt.
  • It helps to have a shirt or tank top in their size to cut the arm holes. Otherwise you have to keep holding it up to them and they get a bit annoyed. 🙂
  • These dresses are extremely forgiving. If you use too much fabric.. too little… you can’t really tell.
  • Your arm holes really don’t matter either if they are too large or too small because the ribbon at the top will adjust all of that. You can just tie the ribbon tighter or give a little more to make them bigger.
  • Sometimes a girl will want accessories and think the dress is not quite ‘fashionable’ enough. So I did make a matching belt and a headband for the purple dress. There was enough fabric for that too.
  • Finally, I would recommend using an actual pillowcase to save time.

IMG_1644

Total cost of both dresses was $6.00 because I already had the thread and I got the fabric on clearance. Great deal! 🙂

Cherry Picking June 2013

I decided to cross one thing off my summer bucket list this morning. Our local orchard opened for cherry picking on Monday. I picked up my niece and off we went!  There is always an abundance of cherries year after year and I didn’t think we’d have a problem finding edible cherries. I actually used to work at that orchard during college, so I am well aware of how rain impacts the cherry picking season. When cherries are ripe and it rains (a lot of rain), all the cherries split and they mold very quickly. With all of the recent rains, that was the case today. My niece was a trooper though and didn’t let those cherries discourage her picking! 🙂

lunapic_137166720827410_4

We did find some great cherries though! One tree didn’t seem impacted like the rest. We were so excited! We thought we hit the ‘cherry jackpot.’

lunapic_137166720827410_13

My niece absolutely LOVED picking cherries! She didn’t want to stop picking them. My intention was to only fill 3 buckets (which was already ambitious), but it turns out they had extra bags on hand. We had to fill two more bags.

lunapic_137166720827410_17

She couldn’t get enough! She even accidently picked a stink bug and that didn’t stop her either. I HATE stink bugs! It’s a good thing I didn’t find it or we might have stopped sooner. I know, I know, I should not be scared of bugs because I work in the garden so much, but for some reason I cannot stand stink bugs. I despise everything about them and see no purpose for them.

lunapic_137166720827410_21

We ended up picking 28 lbs of cherries and we gave most of them to family and neighbors. It was a good lesson on giving to others without expecting anything in return too! Before we could give them away though, we had to do something about the potential mold.  We washed them in vinegar/water solution.

lunapic_137166720827410_19

Vinegar Solution:  About 1/8-1/4 cup of vinegar in a gallon of water.  It WILL smell like vinegar at first (my niece claimed she couldn’t eat the cherries anymore because they smelled bad). But don’t worry, once the cherries dry the smell goes away or you can just rinse them if you’d like. My niece had no problem eating them once they dried. The vinegar stops the spread of mold spores that may be on the fruit. In this case, the cherries would have become moldy rather quickly with the surrounding rotten cherries on the trees.  The wash will work with any berry. I often use it for raspberries because they mold really quickly.

lunapic_137166720827410_15

We had a great day! Now I have to figure out what to do with the cherries I still have. I’m thinking about freezing them and hopefully I can make some smoothies. Any other ideas?  🙂 It was a wonderful day!

Gardening Summer Bucket List

Since it rained just about all day, I didn’t work outside today. Instead, I have created a “Gardening Summer Bucket List” in hopes that I actually accomplish more projects around the garden. Last year, I didn’t do as much as I wanted to do because I simply did not make a list. So, here goes…

  • Build blueberry boxes around my blueberry bushes so they have more soil
  • Make a ladybug house out of sticks and hope spiders don’t find it! Ladybugs are good for the garden- spiders, not so much.
  • Mulch around flower beds (hoping to cross this off this week)
  • Cover raspberries (with a cage)- out of old materials of course!
  • Build a tire retaining wall- This is really Tony’s project. Since Tony works on cars too, we have a lot of old tires sitting around. Hoping to recycle some of these instead of sending them to a landfill.
  • Keep up with the garden (that’s the picture from 2012, it looks a bit different now, but it’s still the same goal).

IMG_2956

 

 

  • Trim trees above shed for more sunlight
  • Put lights up/ wire electric, so I can spend more time in the garden
  • Stain fence – clear coat to protect it
  • Post about glass plate flowers (yes, I’ve already made these, but haven’t posted)
  • Attend Mud Sale!  Lancaster county is the best place for Amish Mud Sales. One is coming up in two weeks. It’s the best auction for plants, crafts, and antiques.
  • Work on making more decorative planters- There are some really great ideas here, but of course I will post mine at some point. (The picture below is from 2012 also, I have different plans for the year)

IMG_3077

  • Visit a yard sale just to find planters
  • Organize my garden shed- It.is.a.mess. I found some great ideas- Better Homes and Gardens offers some GREAT tips!
  • Create door knob hooks outside
  • Make sweet tea- from apple mint plants. I know there are tons of benefits to apple mint too!
  • Repaint garden shutter boxes- the paint is beginning to chip
  • Trellis made out of old ladder for cantaloupe and watermelon
  • Visit habitat for humanity store and find a project to make
  • Create garden markers using circuit- I really like the idea of using wooden spoons. I wonder if I can find those at a yard sale.
  • Garden with my nieces and nephews- They always love it!
  • Visit mom’s garden and do a blog post- My mom has a pretty large garden and they are expanding each year.
  • Pick cherries at a local orchard- I always pick cherries at Cherry Hill Orchard. Cherry picking season is now! There is about a 2 week window, then sour cherries come in at the end of the month.
  • Make jam
  • Can peaches! I love the idea of fresh peaches all year! And I know what I’m putting in them! I found useful canning tips on Simple Bites. 
  • Canning with my aunt- we will probably make salsa, but she cans so much! I have a lot to learn from her.

My personal (non gardening) Bucket List:

Along with my “Summer Bucket List” board on Pinterest, here are a few more:

  • Cruise to the Bahamas! I am so excited for this!
  • Florida visit with Grandmother
  • Make a pillow case dress for my niece
  • Spend time on the deck making s’mores (please ignore the broom..lol)

IMG_0099

  • Shaving cream water slide (I know one of my nieces or nephews would love this)
  • A milkshake from Son’s– They have a TON of milkshake flavors, but my favorite is Oreo! Yummy!
  • We also just bought a camper at a permanent place, so I am hoping to reupholster all the cushions, make the curtains, and paint the inside (it’s a little dated)

Needless to say, I have a lot on my list! I am a little ambitious.  I am super excited to blog about it too. Do you have a summer bucket list? If so, do you have anything I should add?

Favorite Gardening Apps

In an attempt to learn more about gardening in general, I have recently explored a few apps on my iPhone.  I have 6 gardening apps right now, but I only really use two. I am sure I will find more in future searches.

The first app I really like (especially because I am still learning) is Garden Compass by TeamSOA Inc.

IMG_0103

Pros: It is FREE! It doesn’t get better than that! But that’s not my favorite part- there is a “Plant Identifier Section.”  You can take a picture of any plant and they will tell you what it is! No more searching for hours on the internet.  I already emailed them about a vine I couldn’t identify and they responded in a few hours. There is also a “Problem Identifier” section.  I just emailed them a picture today of a strawberry plant. One plant is having a problem and I really hope it doesn’t spread.   I know they will respond in a few hours (the app stated that it could take up to 24 hours due to volume). It is so easy to use! All you do is click on the section, open camera roll or take picture, add a description if you would like, and then send! That’s it! It took about 1 minute to complete the process. 🙂

Cons: Results are not immediate, so if you are in a rush, you’re going to have to look it up yourself. Remember, someone else is doing the work. Also, the app is free, which is awesome, but that means they have to make money somewhere. The  “Essentials” section is mostly where you can “find the closest retailer.”  I don’t really use that section at all.

Overall, I am kind of amazed that this is even a free app. I would certainly pay money for someone tell me a pest problem or to identify a plant. It is a useful, time-saving app.

 

Another app I love is Vegetable Tree- Gardening Guide, by Mohammad Azam. Have you ever been curious about plant growing conditions? Companion planting? Or even when to plant? This app takes out hours of researching and guessing.

IMG_0104

Pros: You can research any vegetable and find out everything about it. It tells you space required, soil conditions, seed depth, when to start your seeds, when to plant them outside, and potential problems. Basically everything you need to know about that plant in one place! How cool is that? There is also a section that you can add any plants you have to the “My Garden” section to reference them easily. It is a simple app to use with a lot of information provided.

Cons: The app is $3.99, but in my opinion it is worth the cost in the time it saves. It is very basic, so it doesn’t include zone planting or garden planning. (Remember I use GrowVeg.com for my planning and zone help).

 

If you haven’t tried these apps, they are worth downloading.  I love learning and collecting resources, so if there is an app that you are using I would love to hear about it. 🙂

 

 

 

First Week of Freedom!

So, it’s official! I have ‘retired’ from my teaching career. After 7 years of teaching in a wonderful school district with amazing colleagues, I left teaching. It finally started to feel real last week when I packed my entire classroom. Those boxes are now in my craft room. Maybe I will have time to actually read some of those books.

DSCN0303

Yes, many people think I’m crazy, but I know that it is the right decision. At some point I will blog more about this decision (it was a few years in the making). I will update you on the sacrifices my husband and I have made and other reasons for my decision. It made sense. However I’m not quite ready to blog about that decision-making process. 🙂

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 6.13.58 PM

I loved the comment I got from a family friend, “But you have summers off and you still want to quit?” Ummmm, YES!  That is not true, as a teacher I never had summers off. I worked until the last week in June teaching summer camps and was back in setting up my classroom by the beginning of August. But what about July?  That’s the time for creating! Creating everything new and evaluating things that just didn’t work! It is also a time for revisiting lesson plans, filing all the stray papers into the correct binders, and organizing my computer files that I was too busy to do anything with during the school year… Let’s be real here, if I didn’t have “summers off” I would have made the choice sooner.   Everyone has such strong opinions on this topic, but unless you are a teacher, you never fully understand the time commitment. Yes. It was a wonderful, fulfilling job. Yes. It does take so much out of you.

So, with my first free summer, I have actually been enjoying so much time with my family! It is a nice change in my life right now.  Friday was my niece’s graduation. I’m so proud of her! She is such a bright young woman!

935924_10151681704023679_1524422631_n

Sunday was a day spent at Hershey Park with my sister and her family.  We had a blast! Although, I have to tell you, being at an amusement park with kids is just so much more fun!

DSCN0329

It was a little warm, but it was so nice to spend the day with them.

DSCN0387

We eventually split up and they went to The Boardwalk (water park) and Tony and I went on some roller coasters. When I rode the Skyrush, I screamed the entire time because I felt like I was going to fall out! In fact, I didn’t see the ride because I didn’t open my eyes once! I’m not sure when I became so terrified!

I also did my first summer craft today! Super hero costumes! My sister signed her girls up for a Super Hero Fun Run this Saturday. I somehow talked her into creating costumes for them. Overall it was a big success! It took us just under 3 hours and the total cost was about $25 for both costumes. The blog that I used for directions was A Beautiful Ruckus. It is a really neat blog I found through Pinterest! Might be worth checking out! 🙂 I only used about 5 yards for each girl! They loved their costumes! 

IMG_0023

It has been such a great start to the summer! Next week I will have help in the garden! Excited to start working! Hopefully it doesn’t keep storming like crazy!