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Catching Up, A List

1. Being pregnant is hard.
2. I want to sleep all of the time, but constant sleep is not conducive to the doing of the stuff.
3. Like gardening

We might get some zucchini!
We might get some zucchini!

4. Those blackberries tho

blackberries2016
Our blackberry bush has gotten massive this year, and look at all those potential future berries.

5. I’ve been dropping hints here and there about starting a soap company. I am ever so slowly building an inventory, but see #1 for more info. But here’s a sneak peak.

From left to right: french vanilla soap, sandalwood soap, piney-woodsy-manly soap, earl grey soap, and lavender bath salts
From left to right: french vanilla soap, sandalwood soap, piney-woodsy-manly soap, earl grey soap, and lavender bath salts

6. I’m hoping to launch the soap company before the baby comes (in 11ish weeks!), but if not, look for it before the holidays. (And if you’re interested in my pumpkin spice soap, let me know soon, so I know how much of it to make this summer!)

7. De-cluttering ground to a halt, because we had to do all of the things in April and May. We started tackling the two last big projects this past weekend: the big kid room and my studio. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

8. I am preparing a query to send to an agent for the book I wrote last year.

9. I realize I should probably try more than one agent, but baby steps.

10. While I didn’t set out to write a romance, my first book project turned out to be one. While thinking about a second project, I thought I might try to write a romance on purpose, so I found a book on romance novel writing.

11. As I’m reading this book, a lot of the advice felt familiar, and I remembered that I have a degree in creative writing, and you know, have apparently already written a romance novel, so I’m probably doing OK. (I read the whole thing anyway.)

12. It’s not a bad book if you’re just starting out though. Plus, she uses illustrations from a bunch of different books, and some are so intriguing I now have a whole new list of books to look up.

13. I am kind of excited to plan another novel project.

14. Except, I’m not so good at the planning part.

15. I love writing by the seat of my pants, but it’s not very efficient, so I am attempting to outline my next book before I start writing. It kind of sounds like torture.

16. In between being writerly, building a new business, and you know, growing a baby, I’ve been doing a little knitting.

Action shots once there's a baby to wrap in it, I promise.
Action shots once there’s a baby to wrap in it, I promise.

17. I wanted to make this new wee one a nice, heirloom quality baby blanket that didn’t use all of my brain power. Enter the twinkle blanket.

18. It’s knit out of 100% merino, undyed, and I am in love.

What have you been up to? (And what kind of soap do you want?)

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Kicking off the 2015 Garden: Indoor Planting

Garden planting time might be my favorite time of year. The weather is finally turning warm, it’s pleasant to be outside again, and the whole world feels full of potential. This March has been warm and sunny so far, and in a fit of vitamin-d influenced optimism, last weekend, I started our 2015 garden.

spinach_seedling
Our first seedling of the year was this little spinach sprout. I planted three pots worth of spinach, which are living in our dining room window. I have three more pots to plant next week, to hopefully keep greens in rotation most of the spring. We didn’t have much luck planting greens in the ground last year. A combination of too much clay and ants made the leafy parts slow to grow, but the plants quick to bolt, so I’m sticking with pots this year.

tomato_seedlings
I am attempting grow all of our summer vegetables from seed this year. We spent a ton on seedlings last year, and this year I’m hoping to grow more plants. We currently have about two dozen little tomato seedlings, and I’m hoping to put them all in the ground.

basil_seedlings
Last year was a disaster four our herbs. We got a late start on them and the soil in our yard was so poor, the only thing that took was the mint. I missed fresh basil so much, that this year I’m hedging my bets and have a whole pallet of basil seeds sprouting.

Basil seedlings are so cute and determined looking, I find myself peering into the tray multiple times a day, just admiring their fortitude.

root_vegetable_seeds
If our Earth boxes are thawed enough, because last week they were still big blocks of frozen dirt, I’m going to bring them inside and start our first rounds of root vegetables. We also had trouble with these in the ground last year, they grew, but they were slow to take off and by the time they were sizable, they were also bitter. The ones we ate small, however, were delicious.

I’m hoping that planting the spring vegetables inside this year will give us more opportunity to get the yard ready for summer veggies and herbs and flowers. Our soil is so full of clay, I could take up ceramics and never need to buy it. We’re planning on working the compost we’ve been making since we moved in a year and a half ago into the soil and building up a few inches above the ground–we did this last year, but we decided we needed to go a few inches higher than that.

What are you planting this year?

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Weekend Garden Update

This week has been full of last harvests and first blooms.

instagram carrots
We harvested the last of the peas and carrots, and tomorrow we’re tearing up the spring veggie beds and planting pumpkins.

secondandthirdtomatoes

firsttomato
The first tomatoes showed up.

eggplant blossoms
The eggplant started blooming. I love eggplant blossoms. Aren’t they gorgeous?

firstzucchini
The first teeny tiny zucchini.

thelonepepper
And the lone pepper.

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2014 Garden

You know what I haven’t talked about yet this year? My Garden! Which is awful, because this is the first year ever I’ve had a yard and planted stuff in the ground!

We didn’t get around to planting our spring crops until the last weekend in March, which is a little late for Kansas weather, because you never know, it could start being 90 degrees everyday the first weekend in April. I was gigantically pregnant, and the ground was barely soft enough to dig. Our soil was far more clay-ee than I expected, so that was fun to work with on hands and knees at full term.

peas
We planted peas–and for the first year in four years of planting peas, I have actual peas on the vines. I am so excited!

carrots
For the first time, we planted carrots. I have no idea how these will grow, but the greens keep getting bigger, so I am assuming they are growing down there, despite the clay.

beets
Beets! I think we’ll only get a handful of beets, and even if they are bit size, I will eat them.

turnips
The turnips germinated like crazy, and because I was ridiculously pregnant and busy nesting, I didn’t get back outside to weed or thin the seedlings, so I have a blanket of turnip greens in the turnip bed. We’ll see if any turnips develop. The weeds in that bed have also been nearly impossible to keep up with.

first harvest
And the radishes are my first successful crop from an in-the-ground-garden. These were extra spicy radishes.

Next time, we’ll talk about the summer plants!

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Let’s Talk about Gardening

gardenmidjune2

It’s time (or perhaps a little past time) to start putting the summer garden together. The photo above shows just about the entire extent of my gardening abilities. We have three Earth Boxes two potato planters and a few pots for herbs. Last year we had a modest new potato crop, two good tomato plants, an eggplant a day, plenty of fresh herbs and one super giant zucchini.

059 Garden from 2011 with strawberries and cucumbers. (The cucumbers were awesome that year. Last year we had one and the plant shriveled and dyed because of the heat the very next day.)

I have tried and failed for the last two years to grow spinach and peas. Is that going to stop me from attempting them this year? No way! I realize though, that if I am going to grow them, I need to get a move on. I haven’t even started cleaning the balcony up from winter yet. That’s first on the agenda. Then tracking down fertilizer and dolomite for the earth boxes.

zuchinniblossomI can’t tell you how excited I am for spring and for growing things and big yellow blossoms and the promise of fresh, sun-warmed produce.

The balcony garden is not the only thing I am doing this year. During the summer, I will be tending a Sunflower garden out at my Dad’s house to grow some flowers for the wedding. Then, at my Dad’s church, they are starting a community garden project.

What are you growing? Where do you grow it? And how?

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Vegetables, etc.

Though I have had the garden planted for a few days, yesterday we finally got the balcony organized so all the plants received their optimum levels of sunlight.

All of the Earth Boxes are up front with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and cucumber. Then we have basil, rosemary, oregano, and mint spread around the balcony in pots (and a bunch of mini basils that need to be repotted asap).
When you buy an Earth Box, it comes with plastic mulching covers that fit over the box. Last year, we used these, but the holes we had to cut in them to get them over our seedlings still left room for squirrels to dig at our roots and pigeons to root around in the dirt after the squirrels had gone. This year, instead of investing in new covers, I went ahead and planted to boxes as per usual, then Brock duct taped trash bags over them. It seems to be working so far, as all of our plants have doubled in size (and it was a lot cheaper!) And yes, those are old vitamin jars over the watering tube–to help prevent evaporation.

I am overwhelmed with joy every time I check in on my potato bags.

I can’t wait for new potatoes!

Today’s garden tasks include:
Repotting tiny basil seedlings
Adding more dirt to my runaway potatoes
Harvesting some of the giant rosemary plant for drying and then repotting it to promote growth

And just for fun, a look at what I can’t grow.

All of this (except the big chopped onion, which came from the grocery store) was out of last week’s veggie bag. Carrots, peas, turnips, radishes, and green onion all went into last night’s dinner. (The turnips are really good this year!)

Some day, I will grow all of these too.

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Good Morning, Zuchini

Good morning, zucchini blossom

This is one of the plants that still needs to go into the earth box. Apparently pretty quickly, because it is getting ahead of me.

So are the potatoes!

I didn’t look in on the potatoes for a couple of days (just a couple, I am not neglectful) due to my job trying to kill me (another post I hope to write soon, I promise) and the potatoes grew! I am a new enough gardener that seeing something sprout after it’s planted in dirt and then watered it still magical. I don’t think it ever stops being magical, which is probably why gardeners are always adding more plants, taking up more of their yards, learning to can and freeze properly. They are addicted–and so am I. Now, if I can just remember to check the potatoes every day, I might be able to keep them alive.

Despite the job that’s trying to kill me, I have done some other stuff too.

I took this sweater out of Pterarnodon Worsted that was too big

to this kinky mess of yarn


And overdyed it a couple of times (I know it’s hard to tell from the photographs, but I promise, it’s much lovelier) to get a darker, richer brown that is destined to become some kind of vest I think. I have just under 1000 yards of yarn here, so I have room to play. Any suggestions?

Also, I started a new sweater.

I do love a poor photograph in the morning, don’t you?

I cast on the Surfer Tee that Stefanie Japel has been blogging about this week–mostly because I liked the neckline and I am a sucker for a kangaroo pocket. The pattern is free right now on her blog–not sure how long it will be up.

I am doing something that most people would advise you not to do ever never ever. I am knitting this sweater in the size I want to be and not the size that I currently am. Perhaps I am overly optimistic because I have lost 20 lbs recently, and am hoping that I can lose another 20-30 more before the cold comes again. I am knitting for my future self and I don’t care who knows it. I needed some sweater therapy and this is just about right. (Yarn is knit picks swish worsted in lost lake heather–which is knitting up nicely, but I have to say, I am so used to minimally processed stuff (EG, Pteranodon Worsted) that this feels kind of like American cheese when you’re used to artisan cheddar.)

What are you working on this weekend?

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Garden Update


Basil ready for transplanting.

I have been a bad gardener so far this season. Most of the seedlings Athrun and I planted failed, mostly because I couldn’t afford the soil to transplant them soon enough. I can’t take all the blame though, the weather has been so wishy washy that we have had random freezes, even with days regularly in the 90s since March. One pour squash plant was decapitated by an errant yo-yo. Things happen, and there is still time to start over.

Last night I went to the hardware store and bought a whole heap o dirt. I mean, during this time of year, I am sure it’s not uncommon for someone to buy 4 bags of 2 cubic feet of potting soil, or even more. I do think it is probably unusual for someone to ask for it to be loaded in the back seat of a Ford Escort instead of the bed of pick up truck (at least there was no kid in the car seat is all I am saying because there was no room back there for anything but dirt.)

And, I am pretty sure my neighbors thought I was crazy, hauling that much soil up into my apartment. They know how small the apartments here are. Where would you keep that much dirt? What would you do with it?


I am keeping my mounds of neatly bagged soil on the balcony–along my garden table (folded for now), a blanket for low temperature nights, a chair for convenience (you can see a leg off to the left) and these:


That my friends is what I am now christening a potato bag. It looks to be tarp sewn in a cylinder with two little velcro flaps on the side and some drainage holes in the bottom. I got two for $14.99, which looking at the materials out of the package, seems to me a little steep. However, I have never grown potatoes before, so what do I know?

Over the winter we had some organic potatoes sprout before they could be eaten. I kept them in the window all winter long and they were growing very well off their own tuber energy. Last night I planted six of them in the potato bags.


Some alien-looking potato sprouts.

I followed the instructions on the package for the planter, with a little bit of wisdom from the Vegetable Gardener’s Bible (which is due back at the library tomorrow and makes me sad.) With any luck, we’ll have our own crop of potatoes this year.

I’ll be planting the Earth Boxes this weekend with tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, and one box will be dedicated to whatever Athrun wants to plant. Probably something impractical that he won’t eat, but you never know.

I loved getting my hands in the dirt again, even if it was bagged potting soil.

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Seedlings at Four Weeks

Athrun and I planted this years seedlings four weeks ago. I know it was a bit early for pretty much everything but the peas, but we’ve been having fun tending them. Since we have very limited space for planting, we only seeded one flat worth of vegetables for the year. We had 100% germination for every variety of plant except peas. Now, I have up to five seedlings when I really only have room one or two plants out of each variety. Some of the seedlings were getting so large that I have already put them in larger pots (I’m looking at you squash and cucumber). They seem to be thriving, I just hope they survive the move from pot to earth box. There is also the secret hope that I can somehow find room all of the seedlings to grown out on the balcony. Of course, then I have to contend with whether I will be able to get out there and water everything.


The start of this year’s yellow squash.


A jolly cucumber seedling. Last year, we were giving cucumbers away with only one giant plant. This year I have plans for at least two giant plants. The cucumber plant also kept producing through the six weeks we had at 100+ degrees when the tomatoes took a break.

My tomato seedlings are still rather small, therefore not pictured. I waited too long to thin them out. They are doing well, but they look small compared to the rest of the giant seedlings in the tray. (Also not pictured are peas, which are already outside and doing pretty well. Maybe because I am covering them with a blanket at night.)


I have to say that if it hadn’t been for Athrun, I probably wouldn’t have tried to go sunflowers in containers. Sunflowers are so lovely in the summer, and they can really be good bug deterrents, but they are just so darn big. Plus, flowers aren’t food. But, like every year, the balcony garden is one great big experiment. Imagining a row of giant sunflowers on my balcony in late summer gives me enough joy to try it out, even if it doesn’t happen.

And now for the plants that will likely prove the biggest container garden challenge.


This my friends is a cheerful little watermelon seedling. One of five cheerful little seedling full of sweet, refreshing, mouthwatering mid-summer potential. This little watermelon seedling is mocking me. It’s daring me to plant it in an earth box and train its vines to grow up while training it’s fruits to grow down. This will test my limits as a new gardener. This plant is telling me that it wants to grow and thrive, but if I don’t take care if just right it will mock me unceasingly until I can afford a house with a yard.

I saved my favorite seedling for last.

The pumpkins. I know I shouldn’t play favorites, but look at this gigantic plant!

When Athrun and I planted the tray a month ago, we opened our little packet of organic pumpkin seeds and there were three–THREE!–seeds inside. We both felt as though the seed company had pulled one over on us. I mean, have you ever pulled seeds out of pumpkin? There are only about a million! And here we had paid $3 for three seeds. We made little soil mounds in the box and planted our three seeds. And then waited. All the other seedlings were bouncing up out of the soil. We had a veritable tomato sprout forest (which I used a magnifying glass to thin), and the peas were getting too tall for our plant shelf.

Then, one week ago something started to pop out of the row marked “pumpkin”. It has been ONE WEEK since the pumpkins germinated. All three seeds are up and growing strong. These seedlings are just defiant. Unlike the watermelon, these guys are saying to me, “I am going to go grow no matter what you do to me.” And I can get behind that kind of attitude in a plant.

So far, everything but the peas are growing in the balcony window on a wire shelf. I need to prune my basil plant and chuck the oregano and start over. Athrun’s mint plant is full of new leaves, but needs a little cleaning up after the winter. The hardware store down the street had started setting up its garden center in the parking lot. That means it’s just about time to grab giant bags of potting soil and some fertilizer and replant the earth boxes, even if I have to move them in and out for a couple weeks. (Then I can also direct seed some spinach!) The trellis needs to go back up, because it’s been rolled up in the corner of the balcony all winter and it’s really starting to look sloppy to me. I want my clean, green balcony back.

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Inside Outside


The 100 degree has started in Kansas already this summer and my garden is exploding. Pictured above is my baby basil plant, which doubled in size yesterday My surprise cucumber plant, which I thought was dead at one point, has made a monumental comeback, complete with vines, blossoms, and little baby cucumbers. My roma tomato plant is visibly adding inches everyday as well. I have to say, this growing stuff thing is all very exciting. I have never had a garden before, and while my balcony garden is fairly low maintenance, I have really come to love going out each day and spending time with each plant. And now that the finch chicks that were nesting in my spider plant have all flown away, I might actually be able to spend a substantial amount of time outside without the mother finch having a panic attack.

The heat has also not stopped me from getting out and around on this beauty.

The bicycle was a graduation present to myself. My summer goal is to get to the point where I am riding everywhere (within a manageable distance) I want to go when I don’t have the kiddo in tow. Unfortunately, my job is not a manageable distance for me at the moment, and riding through eastern Topeka at 5 am is also a little scary. My bike and I have done a couple of trips to the grocery store and back successfully, as well as a few pleasure rides. I have even made it up the giant hill, at the top of which sits my apartment. It was slow the first time, and I am sure I looked awkward, but I am proud I did it, because last week I couldn’t. And when it did it a second time, it was ever so slightly easier.

The period it has taken me to adjust to not being in school has been longer than I expected. I kind of thought I would hit the ground running like I always have in the past. I did not count on being as physically exhausted as I have been, even though I have felt that way for much of the past year. I have been taking time out each day to rest and enjoy myself, and not forcing myself to work constantly. It has been good for me, but it means my productivity has been low. Here’s a look at the first BA-certified skeins.

I hope to get some more dyed this evening, but my hands are itching to spin and I am working on some top-secret birthday projects as well. It’s kind of nice having birthday presents as my only deadlines. Though, I don’t intend to keep it that way for long.