Friday, September 22, 2017

Garden Friday

 Welcome to Garden Friday
on this first day of autumn!
Without a doubt, my favorite season,
I look forward to experiencing a true fall here 
in our new home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina.

We've been on the dry side for a while now,
which is why I was so surprised to see the lettuce take off!

Three varieties of lettuce have started to fill out their containers.

 Looks like we'll soon be picking our salad greens for lunch!
A few new six-packs have been started,
so that we can harvest greens all fall and winter long.

Six weeks ago, I sowed these Slenderette green beans.
The flowers are telling me that they will soon be making beans.
Oooh, I can hardly wait to eat some of those sauteed in butter.
I may even try pickling some so that we can enjoy them even longer.

The broccoli is making progress
in the 5-gallon pot.
There will be more sown in the straw bale garden later on.
Broccoli is one crop that will continue to do well during our mild season.

This is the first time I'm attempting Brussels Sprouts.
Some space may be saved in the straw bale garden for a couple of these.

 The Detroit Supreme Red beets are germinating fine,
but something has been bothering them in the pot.
See how they look flattened down?

It must be the same culprits who dig holes in the dirt of the pots.
Squirrels, most likely, burying their acorns for winter.
I need to make sure I have shade cloth to cover the pots next season.

 The straw bale garden is awaiting planting.
I got kind of behind on the conditioning,
so we may just attempt to plant and see what happens.
They have gotten plenty of water
and I recently purchased blood meal to use during the conditioning period.
I'm hoping to sow these by the end of the month.

 It's hard to believe it's already autumn.
We still have lots of color outside
and warm days.

 Fall is the perfect time to reflect on the past year
before the madness of the holidays hits.
We've been in North Carolina for going on 10 months
and it feels like we are where we belong.

spring blooms in autumn

 This fantastic bird feeder I got for my birthday last month
has been such a treat.
The birds use it only occasionally,
the squirrels are perplexed by it,
but I get to enjoy it each and every day.

May your autumnal season be filled with peace and joy.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Finally File Storage

When we moved up from Florida,
we either sold or gave away many of our belongings.
That included a desk which contained a file drawer 
and an extra stand-alone file cabinet.
Between the two pieces,
we managed to store all of our paperwork in them.
New house, new strategy.

Anyone who knows me, knows I can't stand clutter.
It gives me a great deal of satisfaction
to be able to find what I need when I need it.
I wear the "chronically organized" badge with pride.
After trying to find a particular type of file cabinet,
this one seemed to be the closest to what I had in mind.
I wanted one that had two smaller storage drawers on top
with one file cabinet on the bottom.
When it arrived, it was a lot smaller than I had hoped for.

The two smaller drawers would be ample enough.
Here I store my checkbook, extra checks, address book (yes, I still use one of those),
my budget ledger, some extra pens and cartridges for our label maker.
These are items I use regularly, 
so it made sense to store them where accessibility was key.

The middle drawer was a good place for our tape dispenser, stapler,
note cards, scrap paper, and our label maker.
I'm planning on adding a divider to tidy it up
and purchase a stapler that doesn't need quite so much space.

The cardboard boxes have been housing our files
since we moved in December.
It was really driving me crazy.
Every time we needed something,
we had to dig into one of the three boxes that held our paperwork.
One of the reasons the office was one of our first projects,
was so that we could have better access to our files.

We reused the file jackets that we had in our last house.
They were still in good shape
and fit in this new cabinet.

With a pillow to cushion myself,
I set to the task of sorting every scrap of paper we had.
The files were already in folders,
but I went through them again to ensure that we weren't keeping anything 
unless it was absolutely relevant 
to our present home and family life.
There were also a few things
that needed to be placed in the safe
(original birth/death/marriage certificates).

There were some plastic folders that will be saved for another project,
and these were placed in a new location.
Of course, the handy label maker was right by my side.

Folders were placed in the drawer according to frequency of use.
For instance,
all of the bill paying accounts were placed near the front
since we deal with those each and every month.
Health folders (one for each of us)
and job-related files were placed in the middle.
Automotive and things like property taxes were placed at the back,
as we don't need to address those quite as often.
I may eventually get around to color-coding the files,
but for now, it works the way it is.
The most important thing is to label everything and  
place the inserted papers in time order
(from oldest in the back to newest in the front).

What was no longer needed was placed in the shred pile
or placed directly into the recycle bin.
Any paperwork that contained social security numbers or account numbers were shredded.

It may be small,
but we were able to fit all of our relevant papers in it.
It's great to have a place where everything can be easily and quickly located
for bill paying, record keeping or looking up information.
This week we've been working on a new desk top
to place next to the file cabinet.
We are working toward a more streamlined look,
and we'll share that project upon its completion.
We also have a new solution 
for all of our owner's manuals.
For now,
I'll just be enjoying this labor of love.

Other organizing posts:
 Files, Organized
Manuals, Organized
Kitchen, Organized
Recipes, Organized
Master Closet, Organized

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Summer Hummer Haven

With autumn fast approaching,
we wanted to share one of the wonderful discoveries 
of our first summer here in NC.

A hummingbird feeder was left here by the previous owners.
We put it to the side and figured we would end up donating it.
I knew taking care of hummingbird feeders would be more work,
with having to mix up the nectar and regularly cleaning the feeders out.
Another job on my chore list isn't what I was looking for.

 After researching and finding out how little effort was needed,
we decided to give it a go.
Are we glad we did!
We are able to enjoy hummers all day long
with the feeder hung right in front of our office window.
I haven't yet mastered capturing these fascinating creatures in pictures,
but I will be able to hone those skills since they are such frequent visitors.

Once a week, we mix up the nectar solution
(only homemade would do!)
and flush the feeder with water before refilling.
It is recommended that the feeder be cleaned once a month
with a diluted bleach solution.

Nectar Recipe
1 part white sugar
4 parts water

We added 1/4 C of white, granulated sugar
to a cup of tap water and brought it to the boil.
After cooling the solution until it was room temperature,
we refilled the feeder.
It's not necessary to use distilled water
or organic sugar.
In fact, we've read that using anything but these two simple ingredients
can do more harm than good.

Since the nectar is only a supplement to their diet,
hummers will have plenty to eat should you run out of the solution.
They also love to eat flying insects
and the nectar naturally occurring in many flowering plants.
As we plan our spring garden,
we will be adding many more of these type of flowers,
so that we can support the hummers (and other pollinators) in our area.

We are so thankful that these critters choose to visit us each day.
They are a magical element of summer .

Friday, September 15, 2017

Garden Friday

 It's Garden Friday.
I hope those of you who had to deal with the hurricane
will be up and running soon.
Many of our friends down in Florida are still without power
and will be for days to come.
We continue to keep them in our thoughts.

It seems that the sheets I surrounded the tomatoes with
are keeping the squirrels at bay.
At this moment, I have a half a dozen tomatoes
I'm hoping to sample within a week or so.
I'm calling it a success!
Over the winter,
I will be fashioning my stake cages,
so that I'll be better prepared for next tomato season.

Peppers are still doing well,
despite overnights in the 50's.
Another success.

The Chioggia beets are making slow progress.
These are the beets that look candy-cane striped on the inside.

The Detroit Supreme variety is the one that my farmer friend Lynn grows in Florida.
They are so sweet and perfect for roasting.
I will be starting another pot of these as soon as I get some more soil.

Happily, the Slenderette green beans are coming along.
With the abundant rain we've had,
they responded by shooting right up.

This one should soon have flowers on it.
And where there are flowers, there will be beans!
I'll be staking this one on the weekend,
as it can use a bit of extra support.

I've been pleasantly surprised by the germination and growth of this Vates kale.
It's a variety I've never grown before,
so it is especially rewarding to see it growing without much effort on my part.

The Dino kale is a little slower in growing,
but as it is one of my favorite greens,
I don't mind waiting.

A lone broccoli grows in one of the buckets.
I'm planning on starting more in the straw bale garden,
as I've read that it is one of the most successful plants to grow in that medium.

Even the Brussels Sprouts are making progress.
This is a fun plant to grow.
Even if you don't enjoy eating them,
the way the crop grows is worth the trouble of starting it.

The straw bale garden is in the process of being conditioned.
We are on about Day 4 of the 10-day program.

Yesterday was the first day I added fertilizer.
I am using rabbit manure that I got from some fellow vendors 
at the Mooresville Farmers' Market. 
Man, does it stink!
But it is one of the few manures that can be directly added 
without further processing.
It doesn't burn the plants like some manure,
so it can be applied directly to the bales.

I finally found the dead rack plant section at our local Lowe's.
These dismal looking plants will be nursed back to health
and we will enjoy them until the first frost.
At just a buck apiece, they were worth the investment.

 Lantana is one of the best plants 
with which to attract butterflies.
We'll be planting this around our mailbox.

Blanket flower is one of the plants that I used in my Florida-friendly garden.
It also attracts butterflies and many other pollinators.
Plus, it just looks so doggone cheery.
In a couple of weeks, it'll look a lot better than it does now.

Here's hoping that the bad weather stays away
and that you can find something to celebrate this weekend.
It's the little things...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

New Market Event

 On Saturday, we were invited to participate in an artisan market, called the Shop and Sip.
It was hosted by Ghostface Brewing
in downtown Mooresville.

 This market showcased local crafters and artisans
from within the Mooresville area.
Sue's Soaps featured a lovely array of handmade soaps, lotions 
and other "pamper me" items.
Her display reminds me of an exclusive boutique.

Brad Hartle at Ole School Craftsmanship
showed off his amazing woodworking offerings. 
What I love about this event
is that all the items are actually made by the folks selling them.

The Handmade by Erin booth highlighted a variety of knitted pieces.

 She has been knitting for a while
and even offers lessons to those who want to learn this skill.

A flourish of paper crafted samplings were found in this booth.
Sometimes I marvel at the creativity of fellow crafters.

I adored this chicken coop display.
Wouldn't this make a great bookshelf or yarn holder in a craft room?
The owner actually found this on her property and decided to repurpose it.

 I set up my daisy tote booth next to Bug's Bees Honey
The three of us attended the Mooresville Farmers' Market in the morning,
and then set up our wares in the afternoon at the Brewery parking lot.

With each experience, I feel more a bit more comfortable.
It feels good knowing that I am creating a purposeful product
that is made from something recycled.
It is a blessing to be able to spend time with other crafters
who are following their chosen path.
I meet the nicest people and feel an instant connection
to those who work with their hands.
Spreadin' my wings.