Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gardening 2013

I know I have been neglecting this blog. I have my other two blogs plus doing regular day to day stuff that comes first.  I thought I could at least give an update on the back yard where we have the garden.

Last year we built three above-ground planter boxes. We built another one, bigger though. It's deep enough for root veggies and we already have turnips, beets, carrots, parsnips and radishes growing. The carrots and parsnips were pretty slow to germinate last year so I will be patient.

We also bought some more paver stones and have filled those in around the new box. Oh let me back up a bit. We had to dig a trench, add drain pipe and irrigation system piping first. But we aren't done because there is a whole lot more sprinkler system to install. That is our next phase.

And let me tell you how bad it is to dig up my back yard. There are abnormally large rocks. They are embedded in nasty clay. Normal people can dig a hole in 5 minutes. Not us. We started the trench in February. It would take hours to get a couple feet dug out. That's with a pickaxe and a pry bar. No kidding. So below are photos spanning Feb 16 through April 10 to document the whole ordeal.

I started some seeds indoors to get a jump on planting. They were doing so well inside. Some didn't make it once we put them outdoors to harden off. Then a few more kicked the bucket when we planted them for real.

A lot of outdoor plants died over the winter. It was a rough one. I lost lots of the raspberries, two blueberry bushes, the arctic kiwi, various flowers, and a rose bush.  Too bad the stupid broom bushes by the driveway didn't die. I hate them. I'm allergic to those damn things so I'm campaigning to rip them out this Fall.

After lots of hard work and determination, the garden is doing pretty well now.  We have tons of squash plants, (yellow crookneck and pattypan summer squash, kabocha and acorn winter squash) that were infested with squash bugs.  We have found a non-pesticidal way to dispose of them.  Mix 1 tablespoon soap with water in a big squirt bottle and VOILA! Dead squash bugs!  We found the info from this awesome YouTube video from Greg Holdsworth. We also have been removing the eggs like him and killing all the bugs we can find. So far, they aren't all the way gone, but we have way fewer bugs bothering the squash, which mean there will be more squash to eat.

We also got a shed. It's up and looks great. It was work getting the footings and pipework in. It was also totally worth the effort! We can make some space in the garage by moving all the yard tools out!

And now for some pretty pictures of the yard. We have Greek basil, cucumber, June-bearing strawberries, and yellow alpine strawberries.

Then there are peas, pole beans, and squash.

A few tomato plants, various hot peppers, zucchini, Japanese eggplant, tiny white egg eggplant, more squash, and a watermelon plant. We also have a broccoli and brussels sprout plant in here, but they didn't ever make anything edible.  They were habitat for a weird orange spider.  I had to relocate the spider to untangle some squash vines.

This is the Ai Qwa purple skinny Japanese eggplant, followed by the tiny Japanese white egg eggplant, then one of the kabocha squash plants, some squash blossoms, and finally the Anaheim peppers.

And there you have it for today!

Seed sources I have bought from online and liked:
Petaluma Seed Bank also called Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Bountiful Gardens
Territorial Seed
Native Seeds/SEARCH
Totally Tomatoes

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I'm a winner!

It's kinda funny that I've been on a bit of a streak of good luck. I typically don't win things. I always lose at bingo and poker, so I think that has somewhat ruined me. Maybe the casino life surrounding me here has deadened my senses when it comes to "luck."

Nevertheless, I still enter contests. And holy holy I won something! Two somethings actually!

1st, I won a grant for a school garden from Annie's Homegrown. When I told people at the elementary school, they were like "huh what?" Yep. I won something to give to them to make a garden at our school!

2nd, I entered Beadaholique's Big Book and Magazine Giveaway. I won Swarovski Elements's jewelry-making magazine, SALT. 

Here, look at some of the beautiful photos.

It's inspiring!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cruising Vacation

This year's vacation sort of came at an odd time and it didn't require much planning. My son is currently off-track from his year-round school. The hubby was gearing up to start a new job. We knew we needed to take a quick trip somewhere. We originally thought about just going to LA and going to various theme parks. Then, we got a last-minute bargain-priced deal to take a Carnival cruise out of LA. We jumped on it!

Here's the photo evidence of our vacation!

First, we drove down highway 395 from Reno to LA in one day. We went past Topaz Lake.

We stopped in Bishop, CA for gas and lunch. We spotted the Erick Schat Bakkery. I was dying of laughter! (Because to us, shart is code name for a wet fart and shat is to have soiled oneself!) We had to stop there and check it out.  It was cute, had decent food, and was easy to get in and out of.

Next, we drove down to Mojave and past the plane/jet boneyard. It was pretty cool to see them all lined up. We also drove this way last year on the way to Andrea's graduation. We got to LA, easily found our way to Long Beach and checked in to the hotel. We walked to the restaurants on the beach for dinner, and did some simple gawking.

The next day, Monday, we had some time to blow before boarding the ship, so we drove along the coast to Newport Beach. The kids played in the water before lunch.

We had lunch, shopped a bit, then headed back up to the dock in Long Beach to get on the ship. We got settled into our cabin, attended the safety briefing (where Haley lost one of her precious Cinderella dollies) and then signed the kids up for Camp Carnival.  They were pretty much climbing the walls, so the ship's equivalent of babysitting was definitely appreciated!

The second cruise day, the boat floated off Catalina Island. We had to take a little tender boat to shore. It was cool! 

While on Catalina Island, we rode the trolley, visited the Wrigley Botanical Gardens, walked a ton, and had super delicious lunch at the Lobster Trap. We noticed the main method of transportation was by golf cart.

Once back on the ship, we relaxed, ate dinner in the fancy dining room, and sent to kids to the Night Owls at Camp Carnival. We finally had a chance to sit at the bar and enjoy a comedian and a drink. The kids LOVED going to "camp" and begged to go back again. They each got a cute stuffed owl toy and a flashlight pen.

On the third day, we docked in Ensenada, Mexico. We had signed up for an excursion to a resort with a nice pool and a lunch buffet, but it got cancelled. We rebooked for a beach trip to Rosarito, which required a bus ride. It was a bit odd to go through checkpoints with grumpy-looking military police. The tour guide specifically said not to take any pictures of the police or the check point. So that right there made me a little worried.  However, we made it to the beach with no issues. It was breezy. The kids played in the surf. We ate lunch and the kids rode the mechanical bull inside the restaurant/bar. Then back on the bus and one hour later, we were back to the boat.

We checked the kids in to camp again, and went back into Ensenada. We noticed tons of police patrolling the touristy shopping strip we were on. We bought some candies and souvenirs and avoided the dark corners and street food vendors.

The fourth day, the boat just floated at sea. We slept in, ate, shopped in the duty-free shops, ate some more, meandered around the ship, played video games in the arcade, and ate again. It was not a terribly exciting day. I watched the map channel and noticed that we were floating in circles off the coast of Ensenada. Oh, and the kids attended a Build-a-Bear workshop, so they both got a cute fluffy puppy stuffy. Eric named his "Friend" and Haley named hers "Sparklepup."

The fifth day, we were back in LA. We got off the ship and drove up to San Pedro to see the Battleship Iowa. It was cool. Eric was very interested in the cannons. I think he didn't know that battleships really existed. The idea of many tank-like cannons on a ship fascinated him.

One of the ship's guides told us about the SS Lane Victory. Maybe next year we can go back and take a ride. Turns out, the Lane Victory takes you to Catalina Island, gives you a full tour of the ship, serves a meal, and then you watch/participate in a war re-enactment with shooting blanks and airplanes that swoop over the ship. We are totally game for that!

Anyhow, after the battleship tour, we drove to Torrance to visit Redondo Beach to see the pier there. It was windy and cold, so no swimming there! A few very determined surfers were out. After some crab legs and ice cream, we drove back to Long Beach and met up with Justin's youngest sister, Andrea. We had dinner and caught "Wreck-It Ralph" at the movie theater.

The last day of our trip, Saturday, we visited the Aquarium in Long Beach. They had small sharks you could pet, starfish, urchins, jellyfish, and anemones in special tanks.


They had otters and seals.  There was one seal that was very playful. It was chasing a wadded up ball of paper along the tank window. It was so cute!

There was also a huge enclosure of rainbow lorikeets.  I got a little cup of nectar for the birdies. As soon as I walked in, the birds flew to me. I had three birds hanging on me to get a drink!  It was pretty awesome since they are just like our bird at home. The kiddos were very interested in the birds. Our birdie, Squirt, is a black lory, a close relative to the lorikeets. They don't get to play with Squirt because she is a biter.


Finally, we had to call it quits and drive home. We took I-5 to avoid the big snowstorm that hit Truckee, Reno, and down to Topaz Lake. We got home very late, but we were happy to be in our own beds. The pets were also very happy to see us! (Extra thanks to our friend Chris for pet sitting!!)