2015 Garden Tour

Good morning everyone! It has been a rainy few days here in PA. Although I loved not watering my garden, the weeds are a bit out of control now.

As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been blogging just not here. I have not lost my interest in gardening at all. Being in the garden is peaceful and I often wonder why I waited so long to even start gardening. I didn’t start until 2012. It *may* have had to do with the fact that I was a teacher. I had no time and I was exhausted.

I was texting a friend last night about report card comments and I don’t miss that at all. In fact, there are very few things I miss about teaching. I only need to spend a short time talking to my teaching friends to remember why I quit.

It’s 7am here and I’ve already went to the gym, went to breakfast with Tony (it’s his last day of school today with kids), took pictures of the garden, and cleaned the kitchen. That’s what happens when you’re not exhausted all the time. You get up early and get stuff done. 🙂

And so, it’s time to blog here for the first time in a while. I’m going to start with a garden tour. Here’s my 2015 garden.

 

 

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In the raised bed above, I have stringless bush beans and Zinnias. In the bed below, I have peppers, tomatoes, sweet olive tomatoes, and cucumbers.

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Then I have potatoes and sunflowers! I planted the potatoes in containers last year, which worked, but it just seemed like more work.

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The bed below doesn’t look like much but a bunch of weeds, but that’s where I started my asparagus this year. Part of the bed is also giant zinnias, which I’ll use to create fresh bouquets in the house.

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Look! Here’s a close up!

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The garden paths:

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Zinnias, apple mint, sunflowers, and wildflowers. I also have a strawberry bed, but didn’t take a picture of that or my potting area.

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Below is a sign I made using an old kitchen cabinet door. I spray painted it white and sanded through the top. I then added the vinyl words (I made using my Cricut machine) and sprayed it with a UV protective clear coat.

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Today is Tony’s last day of school with students, which I’m excited for! He will still go two days next week, but after that we have big plans for the garden. I’ll be fun having him home! I always love the summers spent with him.

For the last few months, have been collecting reclaimed wood and old windows. We are expanding the garden & building a greenhouse out of old windows. I’ll blog about that progress too, but the garden should double in size! And I think the greenhouse is going to be amazing!

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And we can’t forget about the salvaged bricks we found for free to build a path. Cheesecake is trying to eat my flowers here and not interested in the bricks at all.

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~Sondra

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Garden Update: June 12, 2014

It’s raining. So, what does a gardener do when it rains? She updates her gardening blog. A lot has been happening in the garden, but I haven’t had much energy to update this blog when I’ve been actually gardening. But it’s growing!!

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Potatoes, bush beans, tomatoes:

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More potatoes and mint:

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Potatoes growing in a crate:

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Cutting Gardening in progress-sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos: This picture is a bit blue, but you get the point. 

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I’m using watering system this year. If it works this year, I’m going to hide the hoses, but right now I really wanted to just see how it would do. Tony is in charge of watering my garden this week, so I wanted to quick install everything so he had less work.

 

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I got them at Walmart at the end of the season. They were originally $20 a pack, but I got them for 75% off and two from my brother-in-law for my birthday. I used 5 packs in the entire garden. I got them to stay by using a tent stake I bent to fit the hose. Each stake was $0.79 at Ace Hardware.

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A few reclaimed accents:

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Another use for an old chicken crate:

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I drilled holes in a wash tub and now it’s a planter for sunflowers and cosmos. My apple mint is a bit out of control here, you can’t even see the rusty mower in the back.

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My little guy. He HATES coming into the garden because he usually ends up getting sprayed by the hose at some point.

 

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And last, but not least the flowers are finally blooming:

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Hot Potato! Hot Potato!

There is just something about potatoes pulled right from the ground. They really don’t taste like store-bought ones at all. Last year, I mixed store-bought red potatoes with the homegrown (because I didn’t have enough from the garden) and Tony wanted to know “what the heck” was wrong with the ‘other’ potatoes. I told him they were from the store. He then chose to only eat the potatoes from the garden and he’s not a picky eater at all.

Why do I grow my own potatoes? One word: PESTICIDES. I’ve seen one too many Dr. Oz shows on why organic potatoes are the way to go. Growing my own, I KNOW they are organic instead of just some unregulated label they stick on the bag.

But with the cutting garden going in, there is really no room for potatoes in the raised beds. So, just like I did with my strawberries, I’m getting creative here too.

We’ve all seen on Pinterest how you can grow potatoes in a tower, a wire cylinder lined with straw, or even in a laundry basket, right? Seriously though, did you ever try searching “growing potatoes” on Pinterest? Potatoes are easy to grow so I can see why you can grow them just about anywhere.

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The problem I have with plastic containers is the chemicals. What is the point of growing them with organic pest control, in organic soil if you’re going to grow them in plastic bins that will bake in the sun? Wouldn’t that lace the soil and then the veggies with chemicals? Not that I’m crazy about this, but it IS one way I can control what I allow into my food.

So, because potatoes will grow just about anywhere I’m going to try to get a bit creative here just like I did with my strawberries. I got bushel baskets from my MIL (for free). She had gotten them from an auction years ago and never used them. She probably has about 20-30 baskets hiding out in her shed.

So here’s what I did. I planted 2 varieties of potatoes.. Red organic potatoes (early season) and regular potato seed.

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You do have to get actual seed potatoes and the time to buy them is in mid-March to right around now. Eventually stores will not sell them into the summer months because the potatoes will actually bake in the ground if the soil is too hot.

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You then have to cut the potato to separate the sprout. The sprouts will turn into your potato plants. I usually make sure they are about golfball size.

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Here are my potato pieces that will eventually be plants.

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They say you need to treat them with an anti-fungus powder, but I never do and they are always fine. I hope I don’t jinx myself this year though. Here is a started potato bushel basket:

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And the red potatoes are already starting to come up:

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This is the first spring I’m not teaching, so it’s so rewarding that I got a head start on my garden.  I already have lettuce, strawberries, and potatoes growing and it’s only the start of May! I’m pretty excited about this.

 

Keeping a 4-year old busy

When I babysit, I have one rule. The TV must not be turned on. I know it may sound a little crazy (this may be the teacher in me) but I think if I’m babysitting them, we should be making memories, not viewing shows that really don’t matter.

So that’s just what we did yesterday- No TV and crafts only! She was a bit excited when I showed up with my craft bag! It was filled with stuff to make slime, thumbprint turkeys, and handprint turkeys. We also decorated Christmas ornaments, but that’s a bit too early to post on the blog. Let’s just enjoy Thanksgiving first. 🙂

Slime: Three ingredients- food coloring, glue, liquid starch. I used to do this with my 5th graders at least once a year and they loved it.

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She of course loved it too!

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Directions: 

1. Put glue- as much as you want- into a glass bowl. I used glass so it didn’t stain the plastic when we added the food coloring. I used 3/4 of the glue bottle you see in the picture.
2. Mix in food coloring to get the desired color.
3. Add liquid starch a little at a time while stirring. Keep adding little by little until the goo doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl and you have a clump.
4. Coat your hands in liquid starch so it doesn’t stick to you and mix it up with your hands. If it’s too sticky just add a little more liquid starch.

It’s that easy! And it occupies them for quite awhile!

The next crafts I found on Pinterest. The first one was from Close to Home where there are a quite a few crafts for kids. Ours did not turn out quite like the example, but here are our attempts at a thumbprint turkey:

Our turkeys-
I have to admit it was fun sticking our thumbs in paint and being so artistic! 🙂

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We also made another “Thankful Turkey.” I also got this from Pinterest, from Sortrature.

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Our finished product:

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I love that candy is first on her list!

Projects! Projects! Projects!

So, as you know I’ve been on a bit of a break. Actually it’s only really been a break from blogging. I’ve still been busy taking old objects and giving them new life. I’ve ventured out of just gardening and I am extending into home decor. There are just some things that are too beautiful to let sit outside. So, here’s what I’ve been working on. The “How-to’s” will come soon, but unfortunately I haven’t been taking ‘in progress pictures’ so that’ll have to wait.

Here is my first coat rack or jewelry holder:

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Another coat rack made of door knobs and a cabinet (I love the red paint underneath):

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A towel rack. Maybe? I didn’t really like the paint on this one but I was just experimenting:

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I’ve also been working on plate flowers for my garden. The one below is my favorite. I just have to add a spoon to the back and buy copper pipe. I also want to make a copper leaf somehow… I still have to think about how I’ll make that happen. But here it is so far:

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Here are a few things I picked up at the auction on Saturday, but you’ll have to stay tuned… I’m starting them this week for my mother-in-law! They don’t look like much now, but you just wait! 🙂

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I also picked up some old frames on Saturday. They are pretty rough and an older couple there wanted to know what I could possibly do with them. Oh, I’ll find something! Chalkboards? Signs? Garden glove holder with sign? Who knows? But I’m sure I’ll find something!

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I’m also working on projects for the garden to make with glass insulators. I’ve been collecting them for a few weeks now.

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I’m also pretty excited I found handmade nails! I picked them up at the auction Saturday. They were in a box of stuff that most people would think is junk. I can’t wait to work those into a few projects too!

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So, that was just SOME of what I’ve been working on lately. I also been taking quite few more pictures. My husband got a new macro lens for my camera, so here’s a picture with it! 🙂 I’m sure I could have captured more detail with the lens but this was my first picture with it. I just love the colors!

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Coming soon: More projects and “how to” directions 🙂

Lessons Learned at a Real Estate Auction

I’ve been attending many flea markets, antique shops, and yard sales to find new project materials. Aside from mud sales, today was the first time I’ve ever attended and participated in a real estate auction.

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I did learn quite a few lessons today.. Here are a few tips.

  1. Arrive Early
    The auction started at 10:00 and we arrived at 9:15. This was plenty of time to get a number,  to look at all of the things being auctioned, and do some research, which brings me to my next point.
  2. Use your smart phone to look up prices.
    Esty and Ebay are just a click away. This will help you avoid paying too much for objects like many of the people at the auction. Of course I looked like I wasn’t paying attention (on my phone the whole time) but at least I didn’t over pay.
  3. Bring a chair
    It would have been nice to have a chair. Some people didn’t, but we did end up standing for a few hours.
  4. On October days, wear thick socks, bring gloves, and wear a hat.
    I didn’t dress warm enough. It didn’t really feel that cold, but when you are standing outside for hours it gets a bit chilly.
  5. Choose a spot wisely
    All of the auctioneer helpers were in our way. It was difficult to get a good look at the items being sold.
  6. It’s okay to ask questions, even while the auction is happening. 
    Many people were doing this and I was confused. Auctions are so fast-paced, but surprisingly they did stop for questions.
  7. Have thick skin 
    I talk to everyone, but I was a little surprised when people ignored me.  Don’t be surprised if no one wants to talk to you until AFTER the auction. Many people kept their poker faces on the entire time. Then the auction ended and it was like we were all friends. This caught me off guard. Auctions are VERY important to some people. I just didn’t know.
  8. Even if things aren’t being auctioned, if you see something you’d pay for, ask!
    We ended up getting an entire truckload of old wood for $5.00. Oh, the possibilities!
  9. If real estate is being auctioned, know everything you can about the house.
    Why? Because you just never know. You should know taxes, property lines, and house features. It’s important to talk to the attorney and the homeowner if you can. I’m glad we didn’t skip this step because… well read the next tip.
  10. Don’t bring your husband when there is a house for sale and you have money in the bank. 
    I almost went to an auction to spend a few bucks on craft materials and walked away with a $100,00 house. Thank goodness for a recess!

Let me explain #10 a little more. We are not looking for a house, but when an old farm house is about to go for $65,000 and there is only one other bidder… you have to bid. Well, I didn’t bid, my husband did. I was shocked, but he kept bidding. My husband and I always talked about owning an old farm house with a barn. I just love the character, so although shocked, I wasn’t mad. Finally, we had it at $100,000 and instead of saying “SOLD!” they said “Recess!” They had to talk to the seller because that price didn’t meet the reserve. We waited about 30-40 minutes. In the meantime two other interested bidders showed up and bid the house up to $186,000.

The auctioneer apologized (yeah right.. what’s commission on another $86,000?) We did not buy a house today, but certainly I will think twice before making my husband go to a real estate auction with me!

Those are just a few things that I learned today. I wish someone would have shared those tips with me. 🙂 If you have any other tips, feel free to share!