Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My new purse!

I made something for me! Actually it's not as exciting that it's just for me, but more that I actually got to sit down and start and finish something, in only two days. Gareth very kindly took the boys out this morning to give me the last hour to finish it in peace :)

When I go out with the boys, I now no longer need to carry the big diaper backpack. But my small every day purse is still too small. I needed something inbetween. I have my stuff (which really isn't much), plus snacks, drinks and Roans diaper change kit. And occasionally a few extra items too. I wanted something that I could wear over my body to keep my hands free for child wrangling. And something that was easy for me to just reach in and out of (ie no zipper).

So here is what I made. I found an awesome tutorial on Craftster, and it was actually so easy to complete. I added four inner pockets and a key hook so my keys don't just fall to the bottom of the bag. It closes with a magnetic snap (which is decievingly strong) which is nice that I can sneak my hand in if needed. I interfaced it with a lightweight fusible interface, just enough to give it some structure, yet still be soft and light. This used about 3/4m outer fabric, although I'm glad I got a full metre. I might make a matching zipper pouch to keep my stuff seperate.

Anyways, here she is. I haven't taken her out yet, but wearing around the house has been great!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Container garden - wk 10

I've missed posting for a few weeks. It has been a busy summer for us so far. Lots of activities and just playing outside. And we took our first family camping trip! I swore my version of 'camping' included a motel at the very least, but we met up with my best friend and her family and went camping in a tent! And you know what? It was awesome!! We've already booked our second trip of the summer, and hope to even do a third.

And in the meantime, my garden has been growing, and growing, and grooooowing!

So here is the update. I took these pictures last week, about the Week 10 mark.

Here are the herbs and Batch 3 potatoes. I've been harvesting the basil which is doing great. The cilantro seeds I planted a few weeks ago have sprouted and are growing quickly. The potatoes are big, but who can tell what's happening underneath.


The tomatoes!!! My awesome awesome tomatoes! They're all still green, but there are so many of them. It's crazy! We're going to turn red once they ripen as we'll be eating so many tomatoes.


The spinach and lettuce have bolted. The spinach was yummy, I will definitely do spinach again. But I didn't like the lettuce. I did a leaf lettuce (Early Curled Simpson), and I found it limp, wilty and tasteless. While on vacation, we stayed with my sister in law who is growing her first garden, and she had an awesome leaf lettuce and made us a great salad. I'm going to try her variety next year (I forget the name, I have to remember to ask her again!).

And in the same picture is the zucchini. Holy Moly, the zucchini! It's huuuuuuge. It's completely taken over the container, is running over the lettuce, and I have to keep cutting it back from totally covering my carrots. We've been harvesting the sweet tender young zucchini's, and jebus was it yummy. I thought I had some time before the next harvest, yet tonight my stepdad pointed out a huge zucchini that I swear wasn't there yesterday. Grilled zucchini, roasted zucchini, baked zucchini, stir fried zucchini, zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini muffins...


The beets are beets. You can just start to see the tops of them, but they're still pretty tiny. It will be a while yet before we get to eat those.


The potatoes are great. There were flowers, and now the foliage is starting to fall over. It has been super hot here for a couple weeks, I don't think they liked that much. Next week I'm going to try harvesting one. Hopefully they'll be the yummy little 'new' potatoes, yum!! I missed taking pics, but they don't look that much different, just a little bigger then last time.

And my peas. Sigh, my peas. I love peas. I love eating fresh peas right in the garden, shucking them, eating them and thowing the pods back in the garden. I was so excited for my peas. And they were doing well! So well! These picturs taken last week, they still look like they're doing well. Although on closer look, you could maybe tell something was starting to go wrong. And now, one container from Batch 1 is all pretty much dead. And the other two containers from Batch 1 are looking sad. It doesn't seem to be pests, my stepdad mentioned perhaps a fertilizing issue (nitrogen poisoning?). I don't know. There were a ton of peas growing, but they've all stalled and though some of the pods are getting bigger, when you open them, there are no peas inside. Batch 2 is still looking pretty good, so fingers crossed I haven't lost them all!


My peppers are surprisingly great! I have two hot peppers about ready to harvest, and several small sweet peppers. While the plants are much bigger then when I bought them, I don't know if they'll be big enough to make grocery store sized peppers. Right now they're about golf ball sized peppers.


My front flower garden is doing really great. The scarlett runner beans threaten to attack anyone who stands too close. I've added extra, taller supports, and they covered those in literally days. Not sure what else I can do. I might get a super long piece of wood (1"x1" or so) and pound that in the middle. Otherwise I think they may just reach across the lawn and crawl up our tree! The sweet peas have bloomed and are wonderful. I cut a bunch for my first 'bouquet'. They looked much better on the plant I have to admit! The cosmos are so tall. I didn't realize how tall they'd be. And they're so close to blooming. But nothing yet. One thing I don't like about them is they are covered in ants. I'm guessing they're like peonies where the ants crawl all over them and eat the sap which allows them to bloom. But it's kindof icky when you look really close! The pansies look good. Can't go wrong with pansies. But one thing I did do wrong was try and put a dahlia in the middle of a container and surrounded it by pansies. The pansies grew way bigger, completely covered the dahlia, which is now dead. Oh well, live and learn! The snapdragons are in full bloom with lots of great colours. And the osteospermum are okay. They don't bloom nearly as amazingly as when I first got them, but there are always a few flowers every day, and the greens are so pretty on their own.


And the sunflowers and marigolds are looking great. The marigolds are blooming nicely, and the sunflowers are growing steadily. Can't wait to see what they'll look like!


And that's it for now! I probably won't update this week (it's hard playing catch up), but plan on definitely posting Week 12's update. Hopefully the peas will still be in the picture!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A different kind of deodorant

I enjoy making my own cleaners, and have even dabbled in making some of my own lotions and potions. And one that has been on my mind for a long time is making my own deodorant.

Somehow, it just seems like a really delicate spot on the body to be slathering chemicals onto every day. A quick search of the internet will pop up links to Alzheimer's and cancer. However taking a few extra moments, and you will also find leading organizations who dispel these claims. You can easily find arguments for either side of this claim. I'm not a scientist, doctor, or any other kind of expert. But I like to decrease the amount of gunk I use, so this makes sense for me.

So, putting all those issues aside, lets focus on a few of the other issues. Someone has to make all that deodorant, make all the plastic holders, put it all on a truck, drive it here, there and everywhere. It leaves a footprint. And then you pay $5 per stick. (yes, the only brand I like is Mitchum and was $5 the last time I bought it). That's enough to make me never want to buy it again.

Except I'm also not willing to be all sweaty and smelly. So again and again I shell out for this everyday staple. I did try a deodorant crystal, and it did leave me dry, but smelly, and so that was a very short lived experiment. But wait! Another blog I visit, The Poor College Students Guide to Raising A Baby, recently had a post about making your own deodorant. I followed a few of her links, and came across some different 'recipes' and approaches. Some more complicated then others, some containing ingredients I know I don't have, and I'm not sure where to buy. But then I found one so simple, there was zero downside to trying it out. Absolute worse case scenario? It doesn't work, I'm out approximately 90sec and a wee bit of ingredients I already had in the house, and I'm sweaty and smelly for a little bit until I can go back to my regular deodorant.

So, I gave it a shot, and one week later I'm amazed to tell you I cannot find any difference between this and my $5/stick deodorant. So here is the link, the recipe and my review...

1 part baking soda
6 parts cornstarch

Put in a small container and shake well. Use a brush, pad or sponge (I use an old blush brush) and apply to underarms.

Really. That's it. So simple how can you not try it?

My review... I honestly cannot tell the difference from my regular deodorant. It has been hot outside, I have chased children around and around, I have cleaned my house (and not a daily tidy, a clean for guests heavy clean). I have been in hot stuffy cars, and then in chilly air conditioned stores (always a recipe for that clammy feeling). And I cannot tell the difference. And hubby swears I'm not smelly. I used 1/2tsp baking soda and 3tsp cornstarch for a trial batch (which is easily 2-3wks worth). Put it in a little snack container, shook it up and then I just dab my brush in it, give it a little tap and apply it like any powder makeup, just to my underarms.

My only tip is when applying, the dust does travel a bit. But it easily wipes away. And it will leave a white mark on dark clothing if getting dressed right after applying. But again, this is white dust, not the sticky white residue from regular deodorant. Simply brush it off, use a damp cloth if necessary. And like regular deodorant, if you use it right after shaving, it will sting for a bit. But the next day (and every day since) I have had zero reaction.

Anyways, I am converted. Sometimes it truly is the simple things that are worth doing!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Container Garden Week 7

So it has been seven weeks since I started planting. That's about 49days (give or take, not everything was planted on the same day). Which means, harvest time is coming for a few things soon, and already here for a few things as well.

Everything is growing amazingly well. I didn't know what to expect when I started out doing this, but so far it's more then I thought!

So here's the updates...

Here are my herbs and Batch 3 potatoes. The basil is doing great, which is good because I'm learning it can actually be a tricky herb to grow. My cilantro seeds have sprouted, maybe I'll get some more this season. Chives are a-thriving. And Batch 3 potatoes are nice little bushes. I'm done topping up all three batches, so now I just get to watch them grow. I used a bunch of different things to top up with, starting with a peat/container mix mixture, but that was $$$. Then I tried a 3in1 mix, but again, $$. Then I went to straight compost. Cost effective, but I was a tad worried it was too heavy. So then I just used a topsoil. I fertilize them once a week anyways, so hopefully topsoil will be enough. I had no idea the containers would take so much to fill up!! Next year I will have to preplan everything, and buy in bulk.

Wk 7 herbs, batch 3 potatoes

Next up are my tomatoes. My wonderful tomatoes! They are all flowering and huge. And both my Champion's (a cherry variety) have little green ones. I hope we get lots, cherry tomatoes are a favorite food in our house.

Wk 7 tomatoes
Wk7 tomatoes a

And here is my spinach. All my spinach. The prolific spinach. So much spinach! It's awesome. It's been starting to bolt a bit, I've been pinching. So time to harvest harvest harvest before it's too hot and it's done. Please share your favorite spinach recipes, spinach salad gets a little boring.

Wk 7 spinach

Leaf lettuce. I haven't actually had any yet, but it's ready! And I have to start harvesting it soon, Calgary will start to get it's hot weather soon.

Wk 7 lettuce

Here is the zucchini. Interesting to note, these four plants came from one 4pack. They were all the same size when planted. The two on the left get a little less sun then the two on the right due to the shadow of the shed. And you can tell! The two on the right are bigger, and both are starting to flower/fruit. The other two are healthy and growing, but they are definitely behind. All because of a difference of maybe an hour or two of sun a day. But the two on the right are each growing a little zucchini!

Wk 7 zucchini
Wk 7 zucchini flower

My carrots are growing fast. In fact I can't even thin anymore, there is just too much foliage to dig through. So I don't know if they'll harvest well. But I love the carrot tops now! And next year, on a tip from my mom, it's seed tape all the way for the carrots and the beets!

Wk 7 carrots

My potatoes are HUGE! Batch 1 you can no longer even see the containers underneath. The bag is pretty much rolled all the way up. Batch 2 is not far behind. Emily happily took a picture to give you some scale as to how large these plants are now. Unbelievable! I hope there are a ton of yummy potatoes soon. Being in containers, and possibly planted too close together, I think I will harvest a little early and enjoy 'baby potatoes' instead of waiting for the full sized ones. They're norland variety, so that may be in the next few weeks I can do that. I can't remember, so I have to go a-googling'.

Wk 7 potatoes

The peas are looking good. One or two flowers are starting to appear. Can't wait to start snacking!

Wk 7 peas Batch 1

And we have strawberries! They started as little green ones, and now they're starting to ripen a bit. We have quite a few wildlife pests in our neighborhood including squirrels, rabbits and birds, so I just hope we get to enjoy a few!

Wk 7 strawberries

My beets are looking good. There's never too much to report on them. I just hope they're growing under that dirt!

Wk 7 beets

And last are my peppers. These I bought just a few weeks ago, but they are also starting to flower. If everything goes well, I will have some hot ones for salsa, and some sweet ones for snacking. I've never had success with sweet ones, so fingers crossed!

Wk 7 peppers

That's it for the veggies! Now for the flowers. Again, it was fun at first to watch the seeds sprout and grow, but I really want more colour by now. Next year I will either start the seeds indoors early, or just buy annuals.

The sunflowers and marigolds are slowly but surely growing.

Wk 7 sunflowers, marigolds

The scarlett runner beans are getting huge! Can't wait for the flowers, I think it will be quite the show.

Wk 7 scarlett runner beans

The cosmos are doing great and are quite tall. The foliage looks nice, but again, I want the flowers!

Wk 7 cosmos

And my sweetpeas are climbing, can't wait until they flower and we smell them everytime we go in/out of our house.

Wk 7 sweet peas

And I bought and planted a few snapdragon plants a couple weeks ago to replace the seeds that never sprouted (seriously, not one!). And I'm about to get some blooms!

Wk 7 snapdragons

So I am still loving this whole 'gardening thing'. I love seeing the changes every day, the anticipation of the next stage. And hopefully soon eating the bounty. And using containers has been awesome. When we finally move to our own house, I will be building raised beds, but using a lot of the stuff I'm learning now! And the potatoes may always be in containers!

Oh, and Happy Stampede to all my fellow Calgarians. We will be staying as far away from the brewhaha as possible, but I hope those who do enjoy the festivities have a great time! Yahoo everybody!