April 18, 2014

Garden Notes

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The seedlings I planted in the window at the end of March are taking off. I didn't use supplemental lighting, so they may be a bit leggy, but they're doing much better than any of my previous attempts at starting seeds indoors.

Outside, we've got our mint, arugula, lavender and chives potted, and I've planted lettuce greens and peas. They should sprout any day now, and they'll be protected by the small chicken wire fencing we put up along the perimeter of the yard. So far, the fence has been enough of a deterrent for the hens that they don't hop over even though they easily could. However, it does pose other interesting problems:

For the past (almost) two years that we've been living here, we've noticed cat droppings here and there throughout the yard. Especially during garden season when the soil is tilled and loose. Well, last weekend the chickens were being noisy so I peeked outside to see what the problem was. I found six cats - six! - in our tiny backyard watching Starbuck lay an egg in her corner of the coop floor where she always lays.

I dashed outside to shoo them away, but they got confused with the new chicken fencing, and four of them were stuck in a frantic frenzy trying to figure out how to escape. They finally figured it out after I backed off enough to give them some space, and I haven't seen them since.

April 14, 2014

Weekend Snapshots: Rediscovering the Kitchen

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Sadly, I lost my adventurous spirit for the kitchen sometime last year when I switched over from eating (and drinking) anything and everything I wanted to a gluten-free, mostly-Paleo diet, and I have yet to find it again. This in conjunction with the new work schedule in February meant I was all too happy to dine out for dinner almost every day of the week, and so I did.

Well, it's been two months of this routine, and my body - and my wallet - are suffering the consequences. And while I haven't yet undone all the hard work I achieved last year from eating clean, I'm starting to feel achy and bloated and lethargic again. Big time.

So, this weekend, rather than splurging on yet another carryout meal, I decided to drag myself into the kitchen to make some food. Among said food was a killer cauliflower-crust pizza and one of my favorite desserts of all-time: paleo chocolate chunk cookies. I really can't believe I haven't shared either recipe with you yet, but I assure you, both are coming soon, and are worth trying whether or not you suffer from a gluten intolerance.

April 4, 2014

Naturally Dyed Easter Egg Experiments

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Natural dyes are fascinating. The dyes used for these Easter eggs, for instance, took me by surprise because the onion skins I used to make the coppery red color made for a really intense, effective dye. On the other hand, the cabbage used for the purple dye left such a light stain that I had to add a handful or two of frozen berries to kick up the intensity.

After all is said and done, I'll probably just dye red eggs next year because the pigment from the onion skins (both red and yellow) is so rich and satisfying that the rest don't really compare. For a tutorial on dying your eggs these three natural dye colors, check out my post for the Evermine Blog.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend, rain or shine.

April 1, 2014

March Favorites + Egg Count

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I enjoy writing these Monthly Favorites posts. They give me a moment to reflect on the end of a chapter, and to prepare for a new beginning when I might otherwise barely notice the transition from one month to the next.

This month has been busy and full of creativity, but unlike last month, I think I'm finally getting the hang of this new routine of mine. Enough that I'm feeling more confident in my ability to keep up with this space, my own personal journal and writing efforts, AND work projects at the same time. My life is brimming with various writing endeavors, and that's just fine with me.

Favorite March Links

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March Egg Count
Starbuck: 23
Seven of Nine: 20
Amelia Pond: 21
Milly: 25

Total: 89 Eggs!

March 28, 2014

Garden Notes: Starting Seeds

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Last weekend, we pulled one of our shelving units from the basement, gave it a good dusting off, and set it up in our south facing window in the dining room so we could start some seeds. We also bought a full-spectrum light from the store, but I'm hoping the seedlings get enough direct sunlight here that we won't need to set it up.

Among those planted, we have:
-Flowers: marigolds, nasturtiums, and sunflowers
-Herbs: sage and chives (we also have lavender and mint herb starts)
-Arugula
-Peas
-Peppers: cayenne, jalapeno, and poblano
-Tomatoes sent to me from Katrina (SO excited for these!)
-Succulents. My three surviving succulent plants are going crazy, so I'm attempting to propagate.

So far, the arugula, peas, and sunflower seeds have already sprouted. Again, I have to say: It never fails to surprise me when something I plant actually grows. Nature is magic.

March 21, 2014

Garden Crafts: Painted Rock Garden Markers

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Last week, I scavenged the yard for stones. Large, flat, round - smooth enough to paint. It was a fun project and kept me occupied while I wasn't feeling well enough to enjoy the sun. This week, I'm hoping to finally plant some seeds, but first I need to prep my garden. It's going to be a lot of work, but I'm looking forward to using chicken compost for the very first time. If all goes as planned, I won't need to buy another bag of compost ever again. Wouldn't that be nice?

As for my new fruit and veggie markers, I can't wait to put them to use in my garden beds. If you want more details, check out my post on the Evermine blog where I've written a simple tutorial.