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Archive for February, 2013

The edges of things lead your eye down the garden path, or along the hall, or into your child’s eyes.

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A line that leads along a fence…

snow fence

or into the sky!up the trellis

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The edge of this building. The line of the boards. Leads my (Sincerely, Emily)  eye into imagination. What was the building used for? How old is it?

Just a click - cool

The edge of the canning jar, an older one with a big deep edge. This particular jar came from an estate sale. Oh, how I would love to know what it has held.

Edge

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Where does your eye lead you?

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Last fall when my niece was visiting us, we spent some time making cards (and doing many other things too.) At the end of our visit there was a lot of paper scraps and supplies spread all over my work table upstairs. My niece picked up a few smaller pieces of paper and asked about making some little cards with the left over scraps. What a great idea!

The tiny Valentine cards I sent to my two nieces were born from that idea. Using up the left over scraps.

paper scraps

I never throw my scraps away. They tend to come in handy at some point in my card making, and here I was digging through the plain paper scraps and designer paper scraps to make tiny cards. Now they have come in handy again.

For these tiny cards I used a heart-shaped punch and simply punches out the heart shape from the designer paper. I chose papers I thought each niece would like and tailored it to them with the colors. They can use these cards anytime of year to write a little note to a friend and it will be something special. YOu can even punch a hole and add a ribbon to turn it into a gift tag. The next time I do this I will cut the cards to size and punch out the design and also add a stamped element and let them each assemble their own like I did for my niece in this post.

Tiny Cards

Whether you use scraps of designer paper, old maps, scraps of fabric or even cards that you have received in the mail, this is one way to create another neat little card. A perfect way to reuse and recycle. I know I will be making more of these and including them in different gifts that I send to them.

Do you save scraps of paper or fabric with the hopes to use it later? Do you ever get around to using it?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

 

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A Family

Seng is an ocean
Deep and shallow still and moving
Inevitable
With shores that stretch beyond sight
And fingers that reach up the strand
And retreat
Back to deep
To the hidden large and constant universe

Nga is a sea of tall grass
With roots tangled anchored
To the ground
And stems that stretch for the golden sun
And wave and reach for
air
They hide the small and private things of the earth
with sound and movement and mystery

Wei is the night sky
Far and sparkling faint lights reaching down
Bright as pain at the source
Soft as mystery to the eye
There is no end
There is no start
Deep beyond imagining and twinkling patterns
Moving across life

Xan is the deep black soil
Holding roots water living things
Nurturer and shroud
Feeding crumbling and flowing
Waiting
Wrapped around rocks, grass’s anchor
Ocean’s edge
As far from the night sky as dreams

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Sunday photos: reflections

As the snow and the ice melts, what’s reflected in the garden?

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The corner of my house and the photographer (Xan) look back up from the gathering puddles.

house reflected

xan reflected

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No puddles here at the moment…. oh how I  (Sincerely, Emily) wish and wish. During our last rain (9 Jan) I did head out and take some nice wet leaf photos. Reflecting the lighter sky.

Reflection on light I love the reflection of light in the beads as I work with them.

Reflection 2

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What are you reflecting on? (or in)

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My winter garden is doing alright this winter. It is missing a few things that did well last year, mainly turnips, but all in all I am happy with what is growing out there.

Spinach 2

Parsnips and salsify are the two new things growing out there. Neither are growing in abundance, but they are growing. After reading the seed package, I decided to start the salsify seeds inside. They can take up to 3 weeks to germinate so I wanted to give them all the help I could by starting them inside. The parsnips and the turnips I started outside. With the combination of heat and bugs. and then an early hard freeze the turnips gave up and only a few parsnips survived.  I will give them a better chance of survival next fall and start them inside too (and a bit earlier)

I didn’t plant as much lettuce as I did last year. Last year we were rolling in it and I was giving it away, so I cut back this year. Now I don’t have enough so I have new lettuce started. It is growing slow slow slow, but it is growing and we will be eating it before too long.

spinach 3This year the big producer is spinach. I have struggled to get spinach growing really well the past few years. I have tried starting the seeds indoor, direct sowing them and even transplants. This year, I put in transplants again and they have grown great. So the spinach is filling in were the lettuce left off. Along with the chard and kale, the greens are great.

I am still dealing with limitations since my surgery and I am unable to harvest anything in the garden, so I rely on my husband. A few days ago we headed out there. The spinach was in desperate need of a hair cut and I told him that if he wasn’t going to be home during any daylight hours anytime soon that I would be out there holding the flashlight for him. That spinach really needed to be picked!

The spinach was finally picked. There was a lot of spinach out there. After I had washed it I needed to figure out how I was going to get it all in the refrigerator. I turned to the plastic grocery bags saved from days gone by and collected for friends (we use them when we scoop out the litter boxes.) It took four Target bags in the end – stuffed full of spinach. After a few days of eating spinach I finally took a photo of the refrigerator for my step-dad.  He will be planting his greens before long (up in Minnesota) but until then he is drooling over my greens (I do the same when he has a flourishing garden in the summer and I have no greens growing!)

spinach 4

As you can see, spinach has been on my mind (and in our tummies.) It gets chopped and thrown on top of pizza. It goes into every fresh salad. It get steamed. It goes into quiches.  Every meal seems to have spinach (or another green) it it one way or another. In fact, I am going to try to extend the harvest by making up some spinach pesto to stash in the freezer for the dead of summer when it won’t be growing here. I will be making Green Linguini – the reversed version. Using spinach pesto and fresh chopped basil instead of the other way around.

Have you made pesto out of green thing other than basil?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

 

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Bells

Bells 1The year we stopped decorating at Christmas I pulled several small bells out of the ornament boxes.

I hung them on my office door, and on our outside doors. Whenever someone goes through these doors, the bells gently chime. It always puts a smile on my face.

Turns out, it’s feng shui. In particular, a bell on your main door, tied with a red ribbon, brings money luck into your house.  The noise of bells can also help control bad chi energy, especially when you choose the materials carefully– metal or ceramic, crystal or wood. While feng shui states that you should hang bells on only the main door, I like having the small chime ring whenever I enter or leave the house, by any door.

Bells 2

Bells 3

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If you really stop, take a deep breath and look around – you will see texture everywhere.

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I love taking photos and I love the different textures that I can capture. I particularly love texture in nature. The bark on trees, moss, leaves, old fences. I really like all the textures found outside in the gardens too.

What do you think this is?

What do you think this is?

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Under the snow, the beauty of sunlight on the path is waiting! -Xan

sunlight

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Do you notice the texture of things around you?

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It feels like spring in South Texas. My apple tree has some buds appearing, one of the peach trees has it leaves almost opening up, and the wrens are sneaking into the back screen porch to build nests. I am up and moving around, so I need to take a walk around the back yard (with my camera) and check out the other trees to see what they are doing. The day time temperatures have been warm, and at time downright hot. The night time temps have hardly dipped at all (although a few nights ago it was 45F – yes I know that is a heatwave for many of you. I grew up in Minnesota so I understand that when you have been in a deep-freeze and the thermometer rises to 30, your jackets start coming off and you roll down the windows in your car.

Perfect wren nesting area

Perfect wren nesting area

The past 3 days I have walked out into the screen porch and found wrens out their building nests (yes, in the screen porch.) I can’t get too upset, after all, I leave the back screen doors wide open, well, not actually wide open but blocked open for the cats to come and go during the day. So the wrens should know that there is a difference. Wide open would mean they were invited to come in and build. Just blocked open means, no not you, just the cats. However, I guess blocked open wide enough for a cat to get through (9″) is really wide open for a wren, isn’t it?! Dang it, I just lost my own argument.

Peach tree 2-2013With all this Spring-like weather the birds are active and singing their songs. The trees are right out there with them, showing their buds. That reads spring to me.  For me, I am way behind in where I should be for this time of year. I have no seeds started, and even though I would like to, it will not be happening this  year. That just makes me down right frustrated, but I need to calm down and go with the flow. And the flow this year, at this time, means I need to take care of myself, and it means no seeds started or yard-doings of any kind. I am finding that I am very good at walking around the backyard with my husband (when I can catch him at home during daylight hours – gosh that is challenging!) and point at things that need to be watered, moved, done, etc. In fact, I even found a bamboo stick back there to use as a pointer, then there is no way he can’t  see what I am pointing at (no bending over for the girl.)  The “water that”, “what?”, “that”, “which one” thing has been solved. I know can point with the bamboo stick, right down to the plant.

The wrens are certainly entertaining to watch (as long as I am not chasing them out of the screen porch.) They are happy singing and busy working. Me, I am just standing still watching and listening. Maybe this surgery is a big huge message for me to slow down and watch and observe. I have a hard time sitting still. Normally, while I work outside, I do sit and watch what is happening around me.  I enjoy listening to the birds and watching them, I just never expected to have to sit and watch them while the world went by.

By the end of March I can start to re-join my real world, with limitations. Limitations! UGH! I am grateful to be here. I am grateful to be able to watch the birds. I am grateful to be able to watch the trees and the bud and leaf out.

I am glad that I have the wrens around. They keep moving ahead, building next, planning for the spring.

Are you on track for your spring chores?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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This is the second in our repostings of Jen’s wonderful posts on monthly planning. Originally posted in 2011, here’s what to do in the traditional dead of winter.

February can be one of the last chances to get indoor projects completed before the spring thaw arrives. Gardeners are getting excited and it won’t be long before the first of this year’s farm babies are here! Spring is really just around the corner, so start wrapping things up inside and get ready to head back outdoors.

Indoors:

  • Check basement or crawl space for leakage during thaws.
  • Check bathroom caulking for re-sealing needs. While you’re in there, check your pipes for leaks.
  • Freshen your kitchen sinks by pouring a mixture of 3 cups hot water and 1/4 cup vinegar (or the juice of one lemon) down each drain.
  • Keep an eye out for cracks in your drywall caused by settling during thaws and freezes. There are expandable putties and spackles available for problem areas. While you’re at it, you may want to mark outdoor masonry to be repaired. Plan to complete this project after the last hard freeze and once your biggest worries of the house settling are past.
  • If you don’t have a cold frame or greenhouse, set up an area to start seeds for your garden. Few seeds need light to germinate (be sure to read the directions) so you may be able to get by without any lights other than a window for the first few weeks. (Check out chiotsrun seedstarting 101 guide).
  • Research and prepare for any animal purchases for the year.
  • Keep a tray of water and spray bottle near indoor plants to adjust humidity levels, especially if you have central air. Running the heater can dry them out quickly and cover leaves with dust.

Outdoors/Garden/Wildlife:

  • Keep fresh water available and free of ice for birds and wildlife.
  • It’s National Bird Feeding Month. Keep feeding those birdies! Seed, dried berries, and suet are great meals for our feathered pals.
  • If you live in a climate with mild winters, this month may be a good time to dig new beds. You may also want to repair or build new composting bins to be prepared for this year’s cleanup.
  • Southerners could get away with planting bare root trees on warm days.
  • Keep driveways and walks free of snow and ice. Have shovels, plows, and salt/brine accessible and stocked.
  • Watch gutters and roofs for ice dams.
  • XAN EDIT: if you’re in a short-season zone (5 and up) start long season seeds like onions and leeks indoors
  • If you didn’t get to it during fall, now would be a great time to oil and sharpen garden tools.

Animal Husbandry

  • Be prepared for early birthing. Have any equipment you’ll need ready and accessible.
  • Nights are still very cold in most parts of the country. Keep your critters warm with fresh hay, heat lamps, or blankets, but be sure to avoid fire hazards.
  • If you’ve been leaving a light on for your chickens you can begin weaning them off of it. The sun is setting noticeably later and your gals should begin laying more regularly soon.

You can also find Jennifer in archive at Unearthing This Life where she used to blog (or as she called it “blarg”) a bit about good food, home schooling, raising chickens, and being a suburban Yankee transplant in a rural southern town. She’s not writing right now, but her wonderful posts are well worth scrolling through.

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It is winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. Some people have no chance of a garden to grow anything this time of year. Others are able to grow some things with the help of green houses or row covers. In some areas people have gardens that are flourishing and growing strong in the winter.

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I (Sincerely, Emily) am thrilled to have a growing season in the winter. Our winter garden is flourishing and the farmers markets have an abundance of winter veggies to sell.

Broccoli Jan 2013

I look forward to the winter planting of lettuce, kale, chard and spinach because it is the only time of year that is will grow here. It is just too hot in the summer. I am picking broccoli and onions. Soon to be picking cabbage. Green is a lovely winter color in my garden.

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DSCN0222I (Xan) feel like we’ve barely even had winter this year. Far less than an accumlated 10 inches of snow (maybe less than 5), and very few days below the freezing mark, and here it is February already. The most amazing success of my winter garden this year has been the canna rhizomes that I potted, never believing they would actually grow. But here’s my canna “forest!”

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Northern or Southern Hemisphere – What are you growing right now or What are you buying?

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