Wednesday, April 16, 2014

State of the Garden - April 2014

It's time to look into the garden for the monthly update!

This month was the first one all year (until yesterday) when things were really nice around here. The snow was done by the beginning, it was raining regularly but staying in a good temperature with blessed, blessed sunlight giving me back all the Vitamin D I was missing over the winter, and I got the itch to garden. Well, technically, I got the itch in late Feb when I would have been gardening in FL, but I haven't been up here long enough to have an instinctive feel of when I should be putting things out in NC yet. I've got to mediate between what my instincts are telling me is the best time and when the world is allowing it.

But last week, there were plants in the Garden Center and I used some of my food money to get a Marigold and the first baby Tomato of the season--one that's supposed to make big fat cherry tomatoes in a container without getting too big.

I also got a strawberry--because I love strawberries (or, really, any berries), and because they were cheap, and because I have had NO LUCK, in over 15 years of gardening wherever I am, to grow them from seed. And the ones I had in FL died because it got too hot where we were. This one I picked up because it already had a bunch of berry-babies on it and lots of leaves and no gross-spots.

Early on in the month, basically as soon as the last snow melted and it got over 50, I went out and threw in some more baby greens leaves, and they're coming along nicely, as you can see. There's also, in the picture below, the one random potato I found sprouted in the pantry that I didn't have the heart to throw away because it was trying so hard to live. I don't know if I'll get any new potatoes off it, but it's happy for now.*

The local useful weeds are also going strong. This is a nice big dandelion growing just behind where I have all my garden containers, and I'm just going to leave it there if the dude with the weed-whacker doesn't take it down. Actually, there's dandelions EVERYWHERE right now, and I'm super-tempted to go and pick all the flowers and see if I can get enough to make dandelion wine, except that I don't have anything to put it in while it ferments, and really I don't know how to do it. I'll have to go look it up soon--or put it on the list for next year!

And then yesterday, the weather dropped 40 deg in the course of about four hours, and then poured all night while it dipped into freezing temperatures.

So the new babies and my lovely old jade plant are inside until tomorrow when it's supposed to warm up and not be stupidly freezing again.

We also got a pot of tulips for Easter. We picked them because they were totally yellow when they were buds, and we thought "yellow is very spring and sunny"...and then woke up the next morning to see that they'd turned pink! They tricked us! But I guess it's fair because we actually went to the Garden Center to pick up new roses (my old ones died--so much for subzero), and wound up not being able to afford them because I'm out of dirt and didn't have pots big enough and we didn't have the funds to get those AND the plants. And then we almost got these gorgeous shrubby blackberries, but mom wanted flowers, so we wound up on tulips because everyone in the house likes them. 

They'll be in the garden after Easter, too.

Also in the garden, but not pictured: 
  • Two of the ten trees the Arbor Day Foundation sent me when I signed up last year survived the winter, and they sent out new leaves. I think they're both crepe myrtles, and I'm hoping they'll bloom in the late summer when the rest all over town do. I'm sad the dogwoods and maples didn't make it, but I'm leaving them around for a few more weeks before interring them in the compost to see if they're just taking their time waking up.
  • The lilies my sister got me last year for my birthday are growing like super-fast-growing things. There was three stalks last year, and about nine this year, so on hindsight, I probably should have divided them before they rested all winter. It's on the list to do this fall, so I can have, like, ALL THE LILIES next year!
  • The spinach, peas and beets I planted didn't sprout at all; I think most of my seed collection is just too old, and I haven't had the funds or stability to worry about refreshing it / rebuying everything. But the onions I planted are just little skinny seedlings, if they survive the pummelling they got last night in the rain, and the carrots I planted are just starting to come up.
  • The Random Lettuce that somehow survived the snow all winter is putting up yummy-looking new leaves!
Next up:
  • Those roses and blackberries.
  • Herbs! I've had the best luck, weirdly enough, buying the ones from the produce section at Target, rather than from a garden center or from seed, so I'll be doing that again for the main ones. I want a lavender from the center, too, because that stuff is too expensive to buy for sachets, tea and lavender sugar cookies.** Maybe I'll try more exotic herbs from seed, since I have a bunch, and some of them are not as old as the rest.
  • Sunflowers! Lots of them! It was great having them last year, and I want more this year.
  • Two zukes so I can see if they'll give me something other than piles of flowers and no fruit. I don't think I'll do more than that--they're huge and I don't want to wind up being a zuke-avore because that's all I get from my garden in bulk!
  • More tomato-babies, and some pepper-babies. I've had much more luck growing peppers from seed, so I think I'll do some of those.
  • When I re-up for Arborday, I'll make sure I have dirt and pots set up more ahead of time so I can plant the tree-babies properly, and then more will survive.
  • Fruit trees! I've been collecting seeds from whatever I eat all winter, and I'm going to plant them and see what happens. Lemons and limes and oranges should be grow-able; apples and pears grow different plants than their parent-plant, so it'll be like a surprise to see what they give me. And I have an avocado to try out.
Out in the world, we've gone through Daffodyll Season, Crabapple Season, and now we're in Tulip and Azalea Season; I'm looking forward to the summer fruit season as we take our walks around the neighborhood!

*I once grew a sweet potato for a whole spring-summer-fall in a windowbox for much the same reason.
**I really like being able to eat flowers. I think I was a either a caterpillar or a fairy in a previous life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

National Sibling Day!

The pretty kitty here totally counts as a sibling. She was Rhiannon, prettiest and sweetest of all the purebred showcats who were sold as pets because their breeders got short-warning transfers. So, basically, of her litter. We found out that her brother, who my mom almost got instead, wound up being a 20lb mouser on a Navy ship somewhere. Rhiannon never got over 8lbs!

But I digress.

Since this National Siblings Day happens to also be on Throwback Thursday (and maybe always is? I dunno.), I thought I'd start with that picture of my sis and I. We were in Scotland there, so I was maybe ten, tops, and so she was no more than eight, and probably more like seven.

She's the mom of those kids I keep posting about!

Both of them will probably be scandalized that I posted these pictures, but they can suck it, because that's what sibs do. This is my bro, of Dave's Empire 1981, and my sis, soon to be manager of her own shoestore in a fancy mall around here, and sometimes baker of LPMidnight Bakeries--which is the silly name we gave to her habit of making cookies and cakes late at night for the people at work.

Both are awesome, and both usually look more put together than they do in these pictures, which is why I love these ones so much. Also, both are tattooed, both have kids, and both are super-creative. For years, when we were living overseas, we were the only friends we knew we could keep, so even when we were all awful teens at the same time, there was that underlying bond.

We all sing badly, but badly in the same way, so that we harmonize perfectly even though we're all off-key.

Who're your sibs?

Happy Name Yourself Day!

When I was a teenager, I wanted to have a different name. I'm pretty sure now that it's because I was going through a lot of culture shock* combined with a rough transition through puberty, a lot of spiritual questioning, and severe introversion, so I didn't even really know who I was, and that made me not fit into my name all that well. So I spent a lot of time trying to come up with other names I could be called, and settled on Abigayle or Charlotte Johanson. When I first started writing, these were the names I signed on the stories, and the first poem I got published was under Z Lereaux.

Now I'm pretty okay with my name, but I still think about names a lot. I think about what I'd name a kid**, I think a lot about how to name my characters***, and sometimes I think about renaming myself. I really, really love the idea that as you get older, you can choose a new name for yourself. I love the idea that your community can choose a public name for you as you develop a role in the society. I just love the mutability of names.

I'd never heard of Name Yourself Day until on a whim as I was working out my writing calendar for the month I decided to look up fun holidays, and this was one of the ones I found. According to Holiday Insights, "Name Yourself Day is your chance to give yourself whatever name you'd like...for a day. If you like your name, then change your name for just today. If you don't like your name, use today to select a new name for life!" It would have been so freaking great to have known about this day when I was a kid, if it even existed back then, but I probably would have been too shy to tell everyone to call me something else!

Name Yourself Day Exercise!
So for today, I want everyone who wants to to think about their names. Why were you named what you were named, and what would you prefer to be called? What name would you give yourself if you had the choice? Take a page of your journal, or start a journal, and just list names--names you'd like to have, names you'd like to call a kid or a cat or a dog, names to use in stories, awesome names of famous people. Just journal about names!
Will any of these names make it into rotation? Will any of them never get used despite how cool they are? Why?

I was almost named Meghan Rhiannon, but my mom changed it because she didn't want me to be called Meg, and she didn't want me named after the witchiest of Fleetwood Mac's songs. My dad is still lobbying for me to be called Chloe Phaedra--or else to be called Ruby Mae or Agnes Mildred. It's hard to tell how serious he is about those two, though, because he's been lobbying for them literally as long as I can remember.

What's your name story?

*We came back to the states, where I'd never really lived, just as I went into middle school and hit puberty like a brick wall. It was rough.
**I'm pretty sure I've settled on the pattern of two weird names, two normal names, samisdottir / [father]son, hypenated last name.
***The names have to suit the story and the world they're set in, you know, and if there's different cultures, they have to suit the feel of the culture they come from!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Today is Caramel Popcorn Day AND No Housework Day, so here's some popcorn for you

You know, I've always been a fan of popcorn, and now that I'm avoiding wheat, it's sort of become a go-to snack. On it's own, it's pretty relatively good for you, but who wants snacks that are good for you? Especially on a food holiday!

So here's ten awesome recipes I found on Pinterest just for you!

  1. Salted Caramel Popcorn
  2. S'mores Caramel Popcorn
  3. Gooey Marshmallow Caramel Popcorn
  4. Vanilla Caramel Popcorn
  5. Double Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Caramel Popcorn (not GF)
  6. Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn
  7. Vanilla Honey Salted Caramel Popcorn
  8. Caramel Corn Cupcakes (not GF)
  9. The Artisinal Cracker Jack Recipe You Never Knew You Needed So Badly
  10. Caramel Nutella Popcorn

You can find these pins and more in my Snackery pinboard!

Music Monday - Let It Go - Frozen - Alex Boyé (Africanized Tribal Cover)

I'm so late to the game, I know, but we only just saw Frozen last night, and it was as cute and sweet and charming as I'd been led to believe! And, you know, because internet, I'd already been sort of constantly in love with this song, and I think this is my favorite of the covers I've heard. 

I'd love to  hear one that's done in the style of the cultures in the movie--like, Finnish or otherwise Scandinavian, or Northern Germanic, or something like that.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Link Roundup #2

I adore these Katherine Tromans illustrations so much.

A lovely post about the Sharable City, an alternative sort of economy based on what we actually already have.
From that, these links:

One of my fav journal-printable sites, Grace is Overrated, is at a new address, Adventures In Guided Journaling!

Look at all these reasons to love Amy Pohler! And also to listen to what she says, dudes.

A new parenting study.

Create A Wallpaper Look With A Geometric Stencil. Man, I wish I was allowed to paint my walls.

How to know when you're a grownup.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Foodie Penpal #1 - From Sheila in VA!

Such a lovely note! I wanted to find local stuff to send to her in my box, but our grocery store is apparently lame and I couldn't find a lot. But I love local stuff! 

This post is late because the box got delivered to the complex's office instead of to my door, but here it is and I'm thrilled to have it!

Here's what was inside! GF herb crackers made with flax and quinoa and rice that look awesome, a chia bar with coconut, a super snack that looks awesome, and the best-looking bag of almond toffee with chocolate, which I've already broken into! Toffee is my fav variety of burnt sugar! 

I'm going to skip this month because of slim funds, but I'm definitely doing this again in May or June!

Thank you, Sheila, for the lovely gift!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Time for a change - New hair color and a new tattoo

I've been feeling restless and looking for a change again, and since I can't move somewhere less stupid*, I decided to just go for it. I've been wanting to dye my hair purple for a while, and I've been craving a new tattoo for yonks, and my sister decided of her own accord to help me out with both. She took me to the neat little Korean Beauty Supply place up the road and I got some fab purple hair dye, and then she paid for me to get a tattoo that matches the ones she and mom were also getting (though it wound up costing twice as much as we thought, and though we all decided to get different interpretations of the theme).

First, the hair!**

Before and after! Wow, my hair's getting long! And wow, it's not really purple, but came out actually sort of a purple-leaning red. In a few weeks, I'm going for a bluer, deeper purple, and then it'll be awesome. Here's what it looks like in sunlight, the day after I dyed it...

And for the tattoo, My sister got a whole branch with twelve or thirteen flowers on it, but I had a smaller space to work with***, so I decided to go with three flowers. Three is my favorite number, and it's how many of us girls are in this immediate family, and it's how many kids we are, so it covers quite a lot of ground.

All my tatts are blue, so I went with all blues here, too, and I LOVE how they turned out! This is a good show of where they are and what it looks like (though reversed, because it's a mirror-shot, obvi). It's going to look SO COOL with tanktops and bathing suits this summer!

And this is my favorite of the pictures my sister took while the work was being done. I just love it. If you're in the Raleigh area, this was done by Dave at Immortal Ink in Wakeforest, and he's a trip. Sang songs to me about the work as he was doing it, joked with my mom and my sister, kept things goofy so I wouldn't get nervous or too tense, and his art is great!

*NC is not as great a place to live as they'd have you think.
**These pictures originally appeared on my IG page.
***She did her whole back; I just wanted my shoulder, since my back is reserved for my wings that I haven't actually gotten yet.

Music Mondays - These nuggets

These were originally posted to my Instagram account about a month ago, and I just keep looking at them and smiling because they're the cutest nuggets out there. Go ahead and tell Ellen about how cute they are. I'll wait.


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