Sunday, July 6, 2014

Xtracycle 2 Kids Seating Arrangement

We changed the Xtracycle Edgerunner into yet another seating arrangement.   This is how it had been for a while (two kids with hooptie and homemade seat as a divider and water bottle/ bag holder).  The new arrangement  is quite similar to how it is shown in the ads (kids in hooptie on back). 

Then my older son, who is almost 6, started doing this:

No training wheels!

And now he wants to do a lot of that.  So I don't need the extra weight of the homemade seat to divide them (his brother is just 3), especially if he is doing a lot of riding and a little sitting, and when he sits, I drag his big bike in the back.  So I need my bike to be as light as possible (because it gets heavy quick when I have them both up top and a bike dragging along in back).

It's nice- with just a pad and the hooptie.  We moved the kids' water bottle holder to the front of the hooptie.  It is zip tied on.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Amy Butler Blossom Handbag

This is the free Amy Butler Blossom Handbag Pattern for her "Blossom Handbag."  The photos of hers are gorgeous, and it din't seem as, er, hefty as mine turned out.  It's just a lot of fabric all in one bag.

It's just ok.  In addition to how much is there before you fill it, the top flap doesn't close nicely unless it is full.

I added a side interior zipper for my wallet.

I like the detail where the straps attach to the bag (where it looks like a larger hook).

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Monthly Garden To-Do List: Year in Review (School Calendar)

Dry your hot peppers, eat figs and zucchini, prune blackberries, plant lettuce and snap peas and winter veggies, plant garlic, make sure narrow trees are protected from deer.

Clean gutters, mulch garden with fallen leaves or start a leaf mold compost bin, eat kale and chard, harvest winter squash (pumpkins!). Prune the raspberries after you eat them all (twice annual task).

Eat persimmons, store winter squash, order bare root trees, prepare veggie boxes for winter (plant winter veggies or mulch them), plant bulbs for spring.

December/ January
Make applesauce, sauerkraut, split the strawberries and plant bare root fruit trees.  Pay attention to the nighttime temperatures and cover your citrus and avocado trees with frost blankets or tarps. Turn off your irrigation.

Last day of frost: February 18th: take your frost blankets off then.  It's also time to start seedlings inside, and do spring pruning of fruit trees (but take the cuttings inside to enjoy the flowers).

Eat green garlic, plant your summer veggies into your boxes (turn the compost then also add some extra), enjoy the magnolias and the flowering bulbs, plant wildflower seeds and poppies before the last rains.

Pick (and possibly eat) those dandelions, enjoy the California Poppies, strawberries, and perhaps some wild plums, make your last cabbage sauerkraut of the year. Turn back on the irrigation. Prune the raspberries after you eat them all (twice annual task).

Plant sunflowers, pick lavender.

Pick then braid garlic, pick little zucchini so the plant keeps producing, start that summer harvesting.  Strawberries!

July/ August
Harvest Time! Eggs, Basil, Tomatoes, Figs, Pluots, Cucumbers (make pickles!).

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Monthly Garden To-Do List: July/Aug

Finally!  Harvest time: Tomatoes, Basil, Cucumbers, and Zucchini!  Try to keep cool out there!

One of our favorite mid-summer meals is steak with a Cal-Prese salad (Tomatoes, Basil, Avocados, and an Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinaigrette).  Nothing beats garden-fresh tomatoes (and having a use for all that basil!).

We also love making our own full-sour dill pickles.  We use the recipe from The Joy of Pickling but there are a ton of recipes out there. 

Our wild plum trees are ready just about this time of year.  There are at least three varieties: deep red, yellow/ green, and red.  We use a cherry pitter to get the pit out, and eat these by the handful.  They also make fabulous jam, sorbet, and torte.

HOT out there!

This was our 3rd year harvest from our Dapple Dandy Pluot tree, the most fruitful in the garden.  For perspective, we planted a dozen trees that same year, and the next most fruitful had 6 fruits.  This bowl shows less than half of what the tree produced that summer.  And they were delicious.

The kids debated the peaches from our Saturn Peach tree's harvest (which didn't "Saturn" but was delicious)-- which was best.  

We have had great luck with alpine strawberries, both in red and alpine (white) varieties.  These don't travel well, but fall off the plant in the garden and are delectable out of hand.

Both pf these buckets are full of August apples- from an early-season tree.  Keep an eye out.  Also look for the sunflowers and their varieties.

Our chickens love the long days and reward us by laying almost daily.  Here is a mid-summer cucumber and zucchini as well.  Make sure to pick both before they get too big.

Figs fruit twice per year- once on old wood in late spring, and once on new wood in late summer.  We like to plant our trees and use live mulch; in this case, we used strawberries on rocks with lavender at the corners.  The strawberries crowd out weeds, and the rocks make a nice landing place for the berries (to keep the slugs at bay).  The lavender helps attract bees for pollinating.

What's Ready?

  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Grapes
  • Green Beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Melon
  • Nectarine
  • Onion
  • Peach
  • Pepper
  • Plum
  • Pluot
  • Radish
  • Strawberry
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomato
  • Turnip

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Kids' Art Idea: Flag-Making

   It's almost red-white-and-blue time!  

This was a self-directed activity for my almost 6-year old, but it adds another use for old cloth diapers (though this is a single-use activity).


He took a little flag we had as a model, and cut a piece of muslin cloth (aka cloth diaper) to size.  Then he decorated it with fabric markers.

Then he asked for some help and I ironed it flat and ironed the edges under, then --he is totally capable of sewing with my machine but asked me to do it-- I sewed a zig-zag around the edges.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Old Mailbox into Kids Playhouse Mailbox

We just got a new mailbox and thought it might be fun to let the kids have the old one for their playhouse (it is white, on the left in the photo).  To give it to them, we cut it down using the circular saw (I had to turn the post a few times to get through it).  Then we dug a hole and stuck it in.  I am debating if we will cement it in or not.  It is a bit wobbly in the ground, as I just patted the ground in around it.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Upcycle Birdseed Bag into two Totes

We recently emptied a bag of bird seed and I thought it would be fun to make it into a bag.  It ended up as two little totes.  The boys each have claimed one and want to bring them to the farmer's market for their goodies.

Tote 1:

This is the back of the bird seed bag, stitched together.  Then I pinched the bottom corners (from the inside) and sewed across them to give it a structured bottom.

The handles are made of the sides of the birdseed bag folded in half and stitched together.  I used a box stitch to attach them to the tote.

Tote 2:

This is the front of the birdseed bag with the same pinched corners stitched across as with the first tote.

But with this one, I used canvas material from my stash for the handles and for a credit card/ money pocket.  

To make the credit card pocket, I took a rectangle of fabric and folded it in half, right sides together.  Then I turned and topstitched it together to make a patch pocket.  I added a snap.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mulching to Expand the Garden (Taking over some Grass)

It started with a fig tree.  This little spot seemed a great place for it...

Then it looked lonely.

So we found it some friends.

And we found some aged horse manure (two car-loads full).

We planted a few things, and spread the compost (manure) out.

Then found a tree service with a couple of loads of wood chips they needed taken off their hands.

And we got going.  And going. And going.  Then there was a heat wave.  Work stopped.  

Then it started again.

And finished!

We added some more plants and expanded the thick drip irrigation to cover that area.


With this project, we also refreshed the mulch all over that we put down almost four years ago.  

I was also thinking ahead to another area on the side of the house (behind the bench).  It is fairly shady, but we wouldn't be able to get to it after this little front area was finished.  So I got a truck of chips there and we spread it for future use.

I am going to get some pavers or something for a path, and wait to irrigate it until we decide if it's going to be a garden, or pond, or something else.  Grass, no.  It won't be that again.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Returning a Tree on the Xtracycle Edgerunner

The bare root tree is attached to the hooptie with the roots on my side.  I had been hoping not to get poked.  We ended up attaching a piece of hot pink fabric to the end of it as a flag after I took these photos.  I was returning it because it never got any leaves (and yes, I called in advance to make sure they would take it back!).

This ride was fun, actually, though I hadn't noticed the slow hill to the nursery from our house before.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Garlic Harvest

Here is this year's garlic harvest.  

In the past, we have made garlic braids to keep the garlic for the year.

We are trying something different this year.  Instead of braiding them, we dried them slightly, then cut the tops and bottoms off, and are storing them in a cool place in the kitchen in two vases.

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