Friday, November 30, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
If you've been following my current conundrum, you know that I'm in the process of expanding the front yard flower beds to prepare for some beautiful things to happen there next planting season. Well, no sooner had I expanded the beds and "lasagna'd" them when I ran across this awesome book Front Yard Gardens. You see where I'm going with this - screw the expansion - I want to plant my entire front yard!
Well the problem is that the yard is a perfect rectangle and that's pretty darn boring. Plus, the yard is not that deep but I think if I plant the entire thing without breaking it up somehow, I'll really have a hard time planting and weeding. Now normally I'd do this the exact opposite of how it should be done and plant first and think of paths later while cussing myself for my bad design and lack of forthought, but since it's winter I have some time on my hands.
So, I'm taking Nancy up on the offer to explain to you that I'm having trouble deciding where the path should go. The picture below is my front yard. I should say that I'm planning to have all those shrubs removed before I start planning so dont let them disrupt your creative juices.
The only idea I've had is to place a narrow walkway along the current curved beds then plant on the other side, too but that seems like it might look like my yard has stripes.
garden center guy - "can i help you with something"
me - "yes, how much is this planter?"
garden center guy - "well here's the price" *pointing at the yellow clearance sticker*
me - "but that says 20 dollars, right?"
garden center guy - "yes, that's what it says" *tipping the pot over to look at the printed sticker on the other side that says 149.99 and shaking his head like a crime has been committed*
me - "is there something wrong with it???? that is awfully cheap!"
garden center guy - "nope, I guess we just got tired of looking at it"
me "WELL I'LL TAKE IT! You will not believe this but I came here looking for a purple pot today - I never thought in a million years I'd find one this size for 20 bucks"
garden center guy - "that is a great deal. let me help you load this in your car"
The pot is 26 inches tall and square at the top with a 22"x22" opening. I still can't get over this!
I'm pretty sure Mr. W hates me.
Mr. W - "OMG!" "WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST TAKE MY TRUCK IF YOU WERE GETTING SOMETHING SO BIG?" *staring in amazement and trying to determine how to get this out of the car before the game starts in 5 minutes*
me - "I didn't know I was getting one so big but it was only 20 bucks!!! How could I NOT buy it?"
Mr. W - "how the hell did they get this in your back seat?"
old neighbor guy - "let me help you with that.....what is this a refrigerator?"
me - "no it's a flower pot" *whoever heard of a purple fridge? is he blind?*
old neighbor guy - "JEEZUS THAT IS ONE BIG FLOWER POT!!!"
Mr. W - "TELL ME ABOUT IT!"
Saturday, November 24, 2007
It took about an hour to get the topsoil spread on top of the wet newspaper + mulched leaves where the new beds will be next year. Mr. W came home while right in the middle of this escapade and took pity on me. With his help I was able to finish in 1/2 the time!
Friday, November 23, 2007
I went to buy dirt today and was amazed that Menards had already gotten rid of their topsoil. No more till spring. Home Depot had it but it was frozen solid! I got discouraged and went home. I'll just suck it up and have it delivered.
I still have bulbs to plant! I'm thinking big patio pots at this point.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
"Although the details are sketchy at best, red velvet cake is not as Southern as many like to think. The story, which began circulating some time in the 1940s, claimed that Manhattan's elegant Waldorf-Astoria granted a diner's request for the recipe, then a short time later sent her a bill in the amount of $100. The angry woman, apparently with revenge in mind, then began circulating the recipe along with the story. Another "baked" legend with the same storyline is the $250 Chocolate Chip Cookie, also known as the Neiman-Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.
Home cooks do seem to love cakes with an unusual story or a "secret ingredient." Wacky cake, tomato soup cake and mayonnaise cake are just a few of the unusual cakes we all have in our recipe files, so it's no wonder Southern cooks embraced the delicious and colorful red velvet cake. "
Last night while making my own Red Velvet Cake all I could think about was my very dear friend E. She loves RVC and I promised to make her one before she moved away - a promise I did not keep. E is now living in North Carolina where I bet there is not nearly the shortage of homemade RVC that there is in Chicago, but still, a promise is a promise. I FEEL BAD ABOUT IT, E!! REALLY, I DO!!
Since I didn't deliver on my promise I thought the least I could do is post the recipe in case E wants to try it herself. She's quite the cook and since they recently bought their first house I bet she'll be hosting some party sometime soon.
Glenna's Red Velvet Cake
2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 cup Oil
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 cup Buttermilk
1 oz Red Food Color
2 tablespoons Cocoa
All ingredients should be at room temperature before starting.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix oil and sugar. Add Red Food Color and mix. Add Cocoa and Mix. Add Vanilla and mix. In separate bowl, mix Flour, Salt, Baking Soda. Alternate sifting dry mixture into the oil/sugar mixture then Buttermilk a little at a time mixing well between each addition.
Grease and lightly flour 3 round cake pans. Pour equal parts of cake mix into each pan and bake for 30 minutes or until knife inserted into cake comes out clean. This is very dependant on the oven and since moisture is critical with this cake, I normally set the timer to 25 minutes then start watching it closely every 5 minutes. The sides will begin to separate from the edges when the cake is done.
Remove from oven and cool COMPLETELY before frosting.
Butter Cream Frosting
1 package of Cream Cheese
1 box Powdered Sugar
1 stick Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla
All ingredients should be at room temp before starting.
Cream butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar and mix until fluffy. Add vanilla.
Who's going shopping tomorrow? I don't think I'll brave the crowds but I may sneak out and buy some dirt. Nobody gets dirt for xmas so I should be okay.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I saw this (see picture above) and got very excited. "Maybe there are seeds in there!" So, I cut off abunch of these and brought them in the house to take a look. Indeed, just inside the pod there is a nice little roundish black seed. Perfect! This is the easiest kind for me. I hate having to sift though all the trash to try to identify what is a seed and what is isnt, like with the Rudbeckia whose seeds look only slightly different from the garbage.
These Lavender plants were the ones I ordered online and when I received them I was so mad at myself for paying 15 bucks for 3 microscopic plants. Not only that, but they did absolutely nothing in the area of growing for a couple of months. Then, one day, they took off and started blooming. I can't wait to try to grow this from seed and I'll definately be sharing these seedlings (hopefully I can make them grow) with GB who lost a ton of Lavender plants this year. Big shout-out to my good friend B who reads my blog from time to time. Want some Lavender, B?
I was also mesmerized by the strong scent of lavender that surrounded me while I was collecting seeds but by the end of this, I had a headache from being emersed in the smell of lavender for so long. It's gotten me thinking about what I can make with this dried lavender. So, please pass on your suggestions or tell me what you do with your dried lavender and I'll get to work!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Another thing about shrubs - I've never been a big fan. When I think shrubs I think poodle shrubs like I have in the front of the house. In fact, had you seasoned gardeners who take the time to give me advice (you know who you are) not told me over and over that I need shrubs against the fence, house and garage, I never would have bought them. But, what I've noticed is that, since I've planted a few shrubs, I suddenly feel way more confident in my ability to place my plants! It's like magic! Before I'd buy these plants, read the tag about how tall they are suppose to get, then stand there agonizing over where they should go. Not only that but I was usually wrong. Almost everything I planted ended up hidden behind Zinnias. So, thank you for goading me into shrubs! I feel like next year I'll be able to handle plant placement way better than this year.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Big Pot - they should be on sale now, right?
Dirt - I suppose I need to cover the new beds in the front that now just have leaves and newspaper.
Start a patio fund - I'd like to get a patio done at the earliest possible time next spring so maybe I should start saving now?
On the subject of neighbors:
I noticed that, this time when my neighbors on either side raked their leaves, they piled them at the side of their property line closest to mine. I think they are doing this so I can use them for my garden since they saw me out there vacuuming them up last weekend. Isn't that nice!! So, I'm off to take advantage of them. Is 8:45 too early for the loud leaf blower?
On the subject of seeds:
I'm participating in the Garden Bloggers Seed Trade that Colleen organized (see link on my blog) and I'm making my 3rd trade this week! I'm pretty excited about this! I really can't wait till next spring. I think I'm going to turn my basement into a greenhouse (or whatever it's called) so that I can start some seeds indoors. Coupled with the Winter Sowing I plan to try, I should be off to a great start on plants next spring, huh?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
When tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you, then post the rules before your list, and list eight random things about yourself. At the end of the post, you must tag and link to eight other people.
- I'm afraid of flying to the point that I need xanax for a 1 hour flight to Omaha. I'd really like to go to Hawaii but I'm scared to :(
- I'm a closet Barry Manilow fan. I'm so embarrassed about it that only 3 people know this: my boyfriend, my best friend and another friend/coworker who let it slip that she loves him too.
- I'm a big time basketball fan. I am a season ticket holder for the Chicago Bulls - I never miss a game.
- I haven't eaten meat in about 8 years but every Thanksgiving we make a turkey for the family and I always tell myself that I'm going to eat some because it smells so great. It never works - once I pull the guts out of the raw turkey's butt, I always change my mind.
- Spaghetti is my favorite food. For me, meals are mostly spaghetti versus non-spaghetti.
- I have an album. When I was in junior high school, I was one of the 20 sopranos selected out of 200 for the west Tennessee chorus. There were about 100 of us total. I wore a big ugly formal yellow dress to the performance.
- My fingernails hold me back. Having short ones creeps me out. I mean short like boy fingernail short. When I was in the 4th grade I took violin lessons but my teacher fired me because I refused to cut my nails. Same with guitar - I can't play because I wont cut my nails. This is a huge disappointment to my father who plays the guitar.
- I have a strange psychological thing about people touching my ears. Think ear guy from Something About Mary. Anytime anybody tries to whisper something in my ear it freaks me out - my reflex is to hit the person. When my Mr. W is aggravated with me he threatens me with this "IF YOU DON'T STOP THAT I'LL TOUCH YOUR EARS!"
Carolyn at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago, MBT at Mr Brown Thumb, Rosemarie at Rosemarie's Garden, Alyssa at My Examined Life, Rusty at DragonFly Garden, Soilman at Soilman's Allotment, David at Leave Me Alone, I'm Digging, Wrenna at Old House, New Garden - you are it!
Monday, November 12, 2007
Am I going to hell for this? What is proper etiquette for plant sales? This whole hiding plants on a cart reminds me of when you find a shirt you love and they only have one left in your size so you hide it in some other whole section like men's jeans hoping nobody will buy it till you come back.
What about you guys? Are you sneaky shoppers? What would you have done in my situation?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Here's one temporary bin that I started filling. I threw all my old tomato, pepper and broccoli plants in first, then the dead Zinnias. It was much higher than in this picture but I could tell that it wasn't packed enough and it just didn't seem right. Since the sod transplant didn't really work I decided to pull it up from the kitchen garden and throw it upside down in the bin. This worked great because it smashed the stuff down and also covered the tomatoes and broccoli which I was concerned might attract animals. Now I've got a place for all the leaves in the front yard, too. I'll be outside at dawn, hopefully before my neighbors wake, to steal their leaves for my new temporary compost bins.Here's the site of my first kitchen garden after it's been cleaned. Before May 21st it had grass just like the area around it. The black weed barrier I used killed all the grass as expected. Now it's just dirt. I bought grass seed to plant in this spot but I guess I've waited too late. Now I just need to keep this spot clear until spring until I can try to grow some grass.
Dead Zinnias that were the subject of the bastard garden center piece
Annuals I still haven't dug up yet
Trash can full of wood chips
Leaves Leaves Leaves
I got the compost tumbler for my birthday and I do love it but I'm mostly using it for kitchen scraps since it's a closed system. I need more space! Not only that but it's getting colder and colder and the long I wait to clean this stuff up the less the chance that it will actually get cleaned up. I am in that OMG, OMG, OMG I'm so far behind mode.
So today I'm finally catching up on my garden blog reading and I stumble on this AWESOME idea of making temporary compost bins RIGHT IN MY NEW RAISED BEDS! Marc is a genius! I was planning to layer greens and browns in here anyway but only 12 inches worth and I'm sure that would shrink to nothing by spring. So I'll use the marc method which will give me WAY more space to collect. I am so excited! I have work to do!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Not really, but I just need to set the stage here. I should say I've never seen any ACTUAL gardeners dressed like that but you are familiar with the slutty neighbor on TV shows. I don't think I'd ever dress like that in public but I want the option! It may seem crazy but gardening has really taken me out of my workout game. And being out of my workout routine has made me just say to hell with eating right. I'm in bad shape!
Prior to May when I started gardening, I exercised regularly. I worked out 6 days per week! Yeah yeah yeah, I know what you're going to say "gardening is great exercise!" Well sure it is, if you are removing sod like I did the first month. While I completely agree that it is much better to be active and gardening sure does keep you active, it is hardly ever a cardio workout for me. So, I've got to take some action.
For me this is all about being prepared. I know how to eat right. I know how to workout and how often I should workout. I know all about glycemic index and refined sugars and I know that building muscle speeds up your metabolism. I know about eating several small meals per day....more protein....no white rice, pasta, potatoes. But unless I devote a fair amount of time to this I suck at it. Like gardening, I need to be obsessed about eating right and working out and I can't figure out how to have more than one obsession at a time. And I'm not over gardening yet! Plus, when I'm stressed I just go on auto pilot. Auto pilot for me is eating quick, usually unhealthy meals. Remember, I was raised in the south. We fry everything! Any healthy habits I have picked up have been on my own, as an adult. My unhealthy ways are deeply embedded. I BLAME MY PARENTS! Now I don't mean to say I'm not capable or that it's hopeless - I just need to take it very seriously. All my food choices need to be very deliberate and heavily planned.
So here's the plan. Eat healthy and workout regularly and come springtime all my neighbors will be saying "have you seen that skanky looking girl gardening???" Join me if you wish.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
One of the very first things I did was to try to find a gardening club in my area. I thought well hey, these people can teach me a lot and they all live in my area. NOT! They don't want me! I have contacted them at least 5 different times in an effort to join their stupid club and the only time anybody ever called me back was when they mistakenly thought I wanted to work on the garden walk next year because I signed a sheet that they told me was for people interested in joining the club. The conversation really made me develop a screw-you-and-your-gardening-club attitude.
me: "hello, this is gina" (they called me at work)
them: "HI! THIS IS WHATCHAMACALLIT WITH THE SNOBBY GARDEN CLUB!" *in a very bubbly voice*
me: "OH HI! HOW ARE YOU?" *I'm bubbly too now cuz they finally called me back*
them: "I'M GREAT! YOU HAD SIGNED A CARD AT THE GARDEN WALK LAST WEEK SAYING YOU WANTED TO VOLUNTEER TO WORK ON THE WALK NEXT YEAR??" *still bubbly*
me: "well I actually signed something saying i was interested in joining the very snobby garden club. maybe I'll work on the garden walk next year but I really want to join the club."
them: "oh. *the tone is now like i walked in wearing white shoes after labor day back in the time when that was taboo* so you don't want to work on the garden walk????*
me: "again, i would love to help out but I'd really like to join the snobby garden club and I'm having trouble getting any information about it."
them: "I'll have somebody call you back. *in a don't call us we'll call you voice*
Of course they never called. I started to wonder if there are different kinds of gardeners. At first I thought they were all the same - you garden, you love it, you want to surround yourself with people who do the same and are willing to go to whatever lengths to do that. But, it seems that these ladies at the snobby garden club think their shit don't stink! Maybe it's just bad business and they have nobody focused on boosting membership (I could really help with that, they just don't know!) or maybe they heard my southern accent and like many people, decided that I'm dumb therefore I don't qualify. Yes, that does happen!
I have not suffered much from being rejected by the snobby garden club. Thankfully, gardening bloggers are much friendlier. But, it's got me wondering - are you a member of a proper garden club? Is it like a cult? What do you do there? Did they welcome you with open arms or did you have to sacrifice a goat or run naked through their garden in order to join? Is it worth it? Am I missing out on anything fabulous that is only accessible to snobby garden club members?
Friday, November 2, 2007
Garden Buddy and I were talking about this at work the other day and it seems that we've both been boycotting house plants for a while but now we've been inspired to try them out. She's just been on house plant sabbatical. I, on the other hand, have killed multitudes of house plants over the years. I can't tell you how many times in my life I've seen a TV show where somebody had great plants that made their room look great or been to a friends house that had beautiful plants, rushed out and bought random plants only to watch them die. It's not like I work really hard at it and I just can't make them live, I just don't take care of them. I water them about 3 times then decide it's too much work then run around telling everybody I just can't grow plants. The only thing I've not killed was a Wandering Jew. I actually moved off and left the damn thing rooted in the backyard.