Friday, March 31, 2017

Garden Friday

One of the things I really love about living in North Carolina,
is the delightful spurts of rain we get.
Back in Florida, the steady pattern of thunderstorms
became more erratic and less predictable.
For a gardener, rain is such a gift.

 Our lettuce plants have been slow to get started. 
The next couple of weeks are predicted to be fairly mild,
with temps in the 60's and 70's.
Hopefully, more sunshine will get them moving along.

The leek have enjoyed the cooler temperatures.
A few more tin cans were sown with the two varieties we're growing.

The cauliflower out front is coming right along.
The collars placed on the stems
seem to be keeping the bugs at bay.

These cauliflower were actually transplanted on the same day.
I think they'll be ready for larger pots soon.

The lettuce is being harvested for salads now.
The container on the far left has been sown with snap peas.
Still waiting for some action there.

The carrots took their time,
but finally started popping at about the 21-day mark.

The tomatoes need to be transplanted,
as they are starting to get rather leggy.
We'll plant them on their sides, to ensure more contact area for roots.
The collar on the right side is to correct for a floppy stem.
I'm hoping it will help it straighten out.

The bushes out front finally have some color.

Help me out here, is this an azalea?
The flowers are big, vibrant and abundant.

The pansies are still going strong.
It's been so nice having flowers through the crazy winter changes.

These dianthus were planted by a previous tenant.

I have no idea what kind of tree this is,
but it's beginning to come into flower.
If you could see the condition of this poor tree,
it's nothing short of amazing that it is able to produce such beautiful blooms.

These are the flowers that are beginning to show themselves.

ID anyone?

amazing spider web

It's been a challenging week,
but being able to witness the changes that Mother Nature creates,
sure makes taking life's difficulties easier.

What's spring looking like in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Statesville Craft Show

Last weekend,
I was able to visit a local craft show event in Statesville,
about 30 minutes from our current location.

It was held at the Statesville Fitness and Activity Center,
which is part of the town's parks and recreation department.

The place was massive, with a huge outdoor playground area.

The craft show took place inside one of the gymnasiums.

Look at this giant rock climbing wall that greets visitors. 
Doesn't that look like a lot of fun?

The craft show featured quite a few vendors.
The beautiful day made it perfect for venturing out.
The turnout seemed good,
as vendors were kept busy showcasing their wares.

The first artisan I met had beautiful artwork on display.
His paintings were eye-catching,
with vibrant colors and bright, bold scenes portrayed.
This was his first show.

These hand-carved pieces of wood
act as natural speakers.
See the phone propped inside?
Who knew?

At the Creative Nook booth,
there was an array of various artwork,
including these adorable painted wooden boxes.
I could think of so many possibilities for these!

These handmade pens stopped me in my tracks.
For someone who enjoys journaling and other types of writing,
these pens would be a wonderful indulgence.

PopsKreativeStache also fashioned these wine corkers.
What a lovely gift for your favorite wine lover.

These unique puzzles from Bent Cedar Creations are another great idea for a gift.

You know these puzzles would last through a lifetime of building,
or simply framed for their beauty.

Sweet Fire Farm features upcycled and repurposed jewelry and furniture.
All of their items are farm and rodeo inspired.
Love when folks find new purposes for things.

Jean, over at Painted Glass Designs 
showed off her superbly painted bottles, jars and serving pieces.
So many talented artists!

Handsome handmade metal crafting was displayed by Boonville Metalworks.
I really enjoyed their rustic array of items.

Isn't this the cutest lil' berry colander you've ever seen?
The lively color caught my eye.
This bowl was courtesy of RosylouPottery.

The Soap Shack had a nice variety of soaps, lotions and other handmade products.

Hats, Bags, & Quilts, oh my! had something I'd never seen at a craft show before.
These are bookmarks that fit in the corner of the page.
These are a lot fancier than the simple versions I make from feed sack scraps.
What a great gift for an avid reader.

I certainly found a lot of inspiration at this craft show.
Folks never cease to amaze me with their creativity.
It makes me think I need to find some other uses for my feed sacks.
Who knows, maybe we'll be working at the next show.

What field trips have you been on lately?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Garden Friday

We are working slowly but steadily
on getting our veggies sown.
Although the weather has been less than cooperative,
we've managed to get a few things going.

Our tomato starts are looking pretty good.
We have two varieties growing,
San Marzano and Arkansas Traveler.
Too bad it's still too cold to put them outside.
They've spent a  lot of time on our southwest-facing window,
being teased by the sunshine that streams in around lunchtime.
Whenever the temperature reaches about 70, 
they get to visit their friends outside.

The leek don't seem to mind the temperature fluctuations.
They spend time inside overnight,
but get plenty of outdoor exposure during daylight hours.
I will most likely be starting some more of these this weekend.
Leek is a delightfully mild alternative to onions.

We are making do with the pots we've collected.
Sister was kind enough to bring these buckets by
(they had even already been washed!).
They seemed like the perfect vessel to grow lettuce in,
as it doesn't need a very deep pot.
Holes were drilled in the bottoms for drainage.

These Romaine starts had been purchased from a farmer 
out at the local Saturday market.

It had been a few weeks, and I thought they would appreciate
having a little more room to stretch out.
Three to a pot should fill it out nicely.
There's no need to wait until these plants fully mature.
Tender, baby leaves can be picked and used while they are still growing.

With a freeze coming overnight, I needed a cover that would work,
as these are already spilling over the top of the containers,
and the lids would have crushed them.

I simply inverted a few more of the buckets without holes
and used heavy branches to weigh them down.
It did a great job of keeping the worst of the cold out.

The cauliflower out front (facing southeast) is doing great!
These starts were picked up from the same farmer at the Denver (NC) market.

Upon close inspection, small lime-green bugs were found on them.
I decided to try using collars to keep them at bay.
These are just toilet paper tubes cut in half
and sunk into the soil.
Hopefully, they'll do the trick,
as we believe in growing pesticide-free
and prefer not to use anything harmful.

I'm not sure if I shared this,
but I'm taking a course through the local Extension Center 
to become certified as an Advanced Gardener.
The learning never ends...

What's growing on in your garden?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Beneficial Bone Broth

About a year and a half ago,
I started having health issues.
Having been an active person my whole life,
this came as quite a shock.
I've always exercised (I actually enjoy it),
ate pretty cleanly, and kept a positive attitude.
This recent bout of malaise didn't sit too well with me.
It completely transformed my day-to-day life.
There were times when I needed help getting from one room to the next,
and many days when all I could do was sleep.
The worst part of that is that it didn't seem to help.
I never felt rested. 
The weakness in my limbs was unreal,
sometimes not even being able to support myself.
I hadn't experienced such fatigue 
since I worked overtime after Hurricane Andrew.
A few days of R & R had me right back to my typical energy.

But this, this, was something that I never expected and couldn't seem to resolve.
I've been to doctor after doctor, had test after test,
even traveled to a specialist at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida to get answers.
No one could figure out what was going on.
After ruling many things out,
my PCP tagged it Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
That seems a catchall diagnosis, 
but nothing else really added up.
It's been a frustrating experience,
as I am the type who likes closure.
So I decided to look for answers myself.

That's when I started researching bone broth.
I'd heard about it, read about it,
but wasn't sure about the efficacy for my situation.
I tried it anyway.
Since I don't eat meat, I decided to begin with fish broth.
I've been making a few quarts of it each week for a few months now.
My dear friends Faye & Lynn have kept me in bones,
thanks to their fishing endeavors.
I haven't made any other types of intervention.
it seems to have made a massive difference.
I'm able to get my chores done, gone back to regular exercise,
and wake feeling more rested than I have in months.
Without the renewed energy I have,
I never would have gotten through an interstate move and all its trappings.
I can't say for certain that this is the reason that I'm feeling so much better,
but I can't think of a single other thing to which it can be attributed.
The bonus is that it may help with my osteoporosis.
If someone you know has lingering health issues
that can't be explained, it's worth a try.
I'm a believer.

This recipe comes from the book, 
Bone Broth by Quinn Farrar Wilson.
I altered the ingredients just a bit to my own taste.
It's the process that's important. 
There are also recipes in the book for beef and chicken broths, 
if that better suits your needs.

Fish Bone Broth  
2 fish heads
1 lb. fish bones
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 white onion, sliced
1/2 medium fennel bulb, cored and sliced (I omitted)
1 garlic clove, cut in half

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roast bones in pan on parchment paper for 10-20 minutes.
Transfer bones to slow cooker and fill with water and add vinegar.
Allow bones to steep in crockpot for 15-20 minutes (turned off).
Skim off any scum that surfaces.
Add remaining ingredients to crockpot.

Turn slow cooker on low and cook for 4-6 hours.
Skim off any scum that forms on top several times while cooking
(I haven't had to do this).

Remove bones from slow cooker and compost or discard.
Let broth cool at least an hour.
Pour strained broth into containers and refrigerate.
Use as needed.

Here's a great article about this amazing healer.

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