When I was young I used to stay up into the wee hours of the the night drawing really complicated pictures. I remember it being so fun because right around 10ish my brain would wake up and begin to think of fun things to draw. So I would draw with just a pencil and paper with all the world asleep around me. My mom even kept a trunk at the end of the hall where I would put all my art work.
Eventually school and assignments got the better of my creative side. I wanted to draw and paint and create things with my hands everyday and so I took art classes, but for some reason I always felt stifled. Like I wasn’t a good enough artist. I think it was the process of being in an art class where you were given an assignment and told what you should do to be creative. What colors to use, what objects to paint or draw. After months and years of being told what to create suddenly they would open up and say do whatever you want, but it better be really good so you can pass this class and you have to do it in three weeks. I felt by the end of art school I had completely forgotten how to be creative. I was released into the world and had absolutely no idea how to go forward. No one was telling me the magic formula for an A+. The A+ meant a paying job or a show with my art in it. I graduated at a terrible time too, right at the beginning of the housing market crash when no one wanted anything to do with a college educated artist.
So I dropped art for art’s sake for a very long time. Not to say I haven’t made things, I learned to sew and knit, embroider, and even spin yarn. But then in January I found myself in New Mexico having forgotten my knitting basket, no sewing machine in sight, and a whole lot of time on my hands thanks to being at my mom’s house. I decided it was time to draw again. I bought a sketchbook and lots of pens, something I’ve never drawn with before. I’m trying to unschool my artistic side. I’m attempting to let go of all the inhibitions and expectations I placed on myself all those years ago. I’m excited to see where it leads because I don’t know, and this time I don’t care if I mess things up. It’s just a sketchbook and there are no grades or degrees depending on it.
All those years instructors kept telling us to think outside of the box… but inside of the syllabus. Well, now I am going to let myself paint wherever and mess up, to try mixing materials and see where it leads. I think I am finally ready to think outside of the box again.
Yesterday my best friend sent me a text message with a picture of the ten foot long icicles of doom hanging from the roof of her two story house near Boston. Holy Moly! This winter just won’t cut you all a break will it? Well I feel like it’s now my duty to show you spring in full swing to give you some color in all that white.
Happy note first, D is all better and back to work. Our dog still not fully better but they said giver her time….
Back to the garden. With the daytime high being in the high 70’s I’ve moved the seedlings outside. They are really loving the warm air and sun. I’ve even begun to transplant some of the tomatoes into larger containers. In the next three weeks I’ll be planting up a storm.
The calendula has gone crazy blooming and growing upwards. I love how plants surprise you. There are so many peas on the vines, I’m eating them one ready pod at a time. I can barely wait for the pods to fill in before I snap them off and eat them right in the garden.
The orchard is what I am really excited about this week. All of the trees I planted have bloomed or leafed out. The Anna Apple is especially beautiful with all its pink blooms. I’ve made a little brick pathway using bricks we already had but didn’t need anywhere else, then bought two bags or pea gravel and filled in the spaces. I think it looks lovely. This project is not complete: I’d like to add another pathway on the other side of the four trees. However we’ve decided to open up the garden and remove the fence to make it fit around the trees and add a gate where the pathway is. Our dear dog found out that the soil at the base of those trees is awesome for digging so I had to fence it off with 14 gauge wire fencing. Luckily she is good about fences as a barrier and so the orchard will be okay until I can get out there and move the picket fence. I’m actually excited about the thought of expanding the garden already.
Last thing, which to me is garden or urban homestead related is chickens. We’ve finally made up our minds on how to build our chicken coop. D designed it with all the correct measurements and proper ventilation for a desert flock. Now we just need to buy materials and get started. I do wish we actually had materials we could use already here at the house instead of buying them all. But there is something to be said for making a good sturdy home for your animals. So in the months to come there will be lots of chicken coop updates too.
Happy Thursday and keep warm! Throw a snowball for me, I’ll try to catch it and turn it into a snow cone because we could use one in the late afternoons here!
This space has been pretty quiet lately because I’ve found myself so busy with life. D was very sick for a while, putting me as the sole caretaker of kids day and night for weeks. Our dog is also having digestive issues and we have yet to find a food she can eat after two months. I’ll spare you the yucky details of that.
On a brighter note though the garden is taking up lots my time along with homeschool. I’ve also promised myself I would do less browsing the internet about things I could be doing and actually do things I already love to do. I’ve been reading books and sewing, getting my hands dirty everyday gardening, I’m teaching myself to play a small keyboard so I can help V learn to play it.
I’ve decided to start up my printmaking hobby again. I mostly use the speedy carve blocks right now as they are so much easier to carve with. For the full making of the stamp check my instagram stream!
The mini orchard is blooming! So many pretty flowers. I expected leaves but I’ll certainly take flowers. More to come about the sunny garden later in the week.
Lastly we did not get a cat, but had to baby sit one for a morning. I found myself within minutes becoming the kind of person who takes pictures of cats doing silly things and posting them on the internet. This silly cat even tried to climb the mirror on my wall!
Wishing you all a Happy Tuesday!
Here I go again, as ya’ll are buried in snow or drowned by rain, I am out in my garden watching the leaves of my new mini orchard bud out and unfold. Planting seeds, fussing over seedlings, introducing worms to the garden soil and so on. I already got over the first sunburn of the season.
For the last 5 years I have been half heartedly trying to start my garden from seed. The seeds I start outside usually have no problems but the seeds start inside I usually manage to kill after month. This year I am determined to learn from my past laziness and mistakes; I’m giving the seedlings lots of light, a little bit of fish emulsion once a week and not too much water. I watch over them like a worried mother checking on them five or six times a day. If the girls can’t find me they know to go to the room with the seedlings. Please send me all your good gardening vibes.
Yesterday I bought a bucket of red worms from my local garden center and introduced them into the garden, along with starting up my worm bin again. I decided a $13 bucket of worms would be a cheaper investment than buying a rabbit and all the things to help the rabbit live happily. Though I do have my mind on getting a rabbit “for the garden,” as in we have a rabbit and all its poop goes towards garden fertilizer, not that the rabbit would actually go into the garden. I’m of the mind that every animal in my care should have a job: dog guards the house (well mine is more of an enthusiastic welcoming party), bunny fertilizes the garden, chickens lay eggs and make fertilizer, worms make compost, bees pollinate and make honey, and so on.
I’m also trying another new thing: propagating plants. Right now I’m trying for new lavender plants and mushrooms. We’ll see… I want to fill the backyard with lavender so it looks pretty and attracts so many bees!
Lastly, I’ve pulled the last of the broccoli rabe. We enjoyed eating the leaves when the plant was young and the temperatures were cold. But recently the day time temperatures have grown warm, making those little tender florettes a little too bitter for us. I think next year I will try broccolini instead.
For now enjoy some sunshine from my part of the world and throw a snowball for me!
There’s nothing like taking a hike on a beautiful day with your best friends. Wishing you all a happy weekend! Yes it was 82 degrees yesterday when we took this hike, winter decided it had had it with Southern Arizona.
As I type this the garden is buzzing with bees. We just finished up a three-day rain storm that gave the garden a thorough soaking. I won’t need to water the garden for at least a week. However by next weekend we should see temperatures in the high 70’s.
So what’s going on in the garden? Lots of tiny things, lettuce is finally growing, peas are flowering, the calendula is about to bloom, radishes are sprouting. While inside we’ve got lots of tomatoes and peppers both sweet and hot, various basils, eggplant, yarrow, chamomile, and oregano.
In this little bed snug in the far corner of the garden are the experimental potatoes. So far so good! I even found a potato growing in the compost pile!
In the weeks to come many more seeds will go into the garden: squashes, melon, okra, along with all the seedlings in the seed trays. Our growing season starts in March because by June it will be too hot and dry for most plants to produce fruit; at that point they will go dormant until the monsoons come and then the second planting will happen.
This will be my most adventurous gardening season yet as it will be the largest amount of plants I’ve ever planted: twenty-five tomato plants, 15 pepper plants, and more. My goal is not to buy veggies this spring and summer, and I think I can do it!
Send me all your gardening goodwill, please!
Just after the new year I sat on a sunny but chilly afternoon looking through an online fruit tree catalog dreaming of future harvests and having home grown fruit. That afternoon I purchased seven trees:
Two types of apples
All of the varieties I choose require low chill hours and can handle heat and drought. They are also grafted on small rootstocks. With any luck next summer we’ll have our first harvest.
I’ve planted the trees very close together using the new method of backyard orchard culture. This means you plant the trees close together and prune them twice a year to keep them small. No taller than my height on a low stool they recommend.We choose these trees because we know we’ll eat these fruits willingly when there is an abundance of them.
I look forward to sharing with you all a picture of this mini orchard a year from now! Maybe they will all look like taller sticks.
This weekend I turned 31 and the comment of this year’s birthday was “oh you’re so young!” It would seem that I have surrounded myself my whole life with people ten years older than me, and that’s totally fine. But I keep thinking when will I be old enough to not be considered so young? I guess I will be perpetually youthful!
This birthday brought me lots of love in the form of cake, flowers, good food, and friends. In the picture above we were at a lovely Thai restaurant. I had a very fancy vegetarian Pad Thai served in a fish bowl and to finish it and cool my tongue from all the thai chili I had a coconut ice cream with chunks of pineapple and coconut flakes. Oh it was yummy!
Best of all I went to the bathroom ALONE! Hehehe……
Over the holidays I found myself unexpectedly gifted a new hobby: spinning. I asked my dear aunt if she had a drop spindle and she came back a few days later with a drop spindle, two bags of roving, and a beginner book.
She also gifted me a two hour class with a local spinning teacher. We had a great time talking about fibers and what you can spin and the history of fiber making. I learned a lot of great tips from that class.
Spinning is not hard. What is hard is consistency in the size of yarn you spin. That all will come with practice though. For now I like to think of my thick and thin yarn as an aesthetic choice, like a chunky malabrigo! Spinning, like knitting, is very soothing and terribly satisfying as you watch a huge bag of fluffy wool turn into yarn.
I finally finished spinning one bag of roving and am now plying it together. I think I might have enough for a chunky ear warmer headband. However we’ve already left winter behind entirely and have headed to spring with 70 degree days. Whew, I’m not ready to make popsicles yet.
Do any of you knitters spin too?