Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ferry ride to the Island

Yesterday we decided to spend the beautiful day on Bainbridge Island. We got on the ferry just as it was pulling out into the water; perfect timing. The kids love to stand in the wind at the front of the ferry, so we went up stairs and went outside. Dummy me, I didn't even think about the wind and when son stepped over to look out at the water his Clifford the big red dog hat blew right off his head and over the side of the ferry. He was really upset (and so was I), so we had to go back inside and sit for a minute. We talked it over and after a while decided that he wanted his hat to go into the water because a turtle or a fish really needed a nice hat like his. Crisis averted and fun day saved.

We'd never been to Bainbridge before so we went downtown to see what was there. We had lunch then had Ice cream at Mora. I guess this is THE place to go, and after eating the dark chocolate mint I can see why! Yummy! My plan was to find some hiking and maybe a beach. So we headed to the Grand Forest thinking that with a name like that it had to be good. Well, after driving around for a while with a map and a GPS we couldn't even find it. So we went to this park with a HUGE castle playground. I don't think I've ever seen a bigger play structure than this one. They had bridges, lookout towers, xylophones, ladders, climbing walls, swings and even a little covered sitting space in the middle for the parents. I want one of these here! We all loved the playground, and when the kids' faces got a little too red from the heat we got back in the car and went in search of hiking. Next we tried the Gazzam lake park. This one was almost as hard to find as the Grand Forest. We drove on these little non-maintained roads until we found a small sign for the park and a closed gate. No luck here.
Next stop was the Faye Bainbridge State Park. A state park has to be be easy to find and open, right? Right! This one was pretty nice. They had spots for camping, bathrooms and a nice Big sign that was easy to see! I was expecting a sandy beach here, but didn't find that. It had a TON of drift wood that you had to climb over to get to the beach, then the beach was all rocks (smooth rocks but rocks all the same). We got there at low tide, so there was about 10 or more feet of this seaweed covered "beach" with little tide pools before you got to the water. Well, this turned out to be better than a sandy beach would have been. The kids loved the tide pools. They were filled with tiny crabs, shells, sea weed and lots of wet sand. Daughter collected a lot of perfect shells in her bucket while son dug holes in the sand and made mud pies. Fun!

We then had dinner at this place that had terrible service but ok food and got back on the ferry home. This time we stayed in the car and used our binoculars to look out at the sail boats and Mt. Rainier. The kids were asleep by the time we got home. So they got carried up to bed and slept through getting their pj's on.

I think when we go again we'll just go straight to the beach and skip the search for the hiding forests. (Pictures will be added later)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lost Teeth and Veggie Starts

Daughter lost her first tooth yesterday evening! She's had shark teeth for some time now where 2 of her adult teeth are growing in behind her bottom front baby teeth. The dentist told her to wiggle the baby teeth until she could pull them out on her own or she'd have to have the dentist "wiggle" them out for her. So she's been working really hard to get those teeth to be wiggly and get them out. Yesterday at school the tooth was so wiggly that they nurse gave her the little tooth box to hang around her neck to put the tooth in when it fell out. But it didn't fall out at school; when she got home it was hanging by a thread. After bath she was really working on it and finally yanked it out. She put the tooth in her little tooth box that she bought at the Tulip festival; and during the night the tooth fairy left her $2! I believe that the tooth fairy was just glad that the tooth finally came out and will not be quite so generous with the teeth that come out next. :)

Son and I went from house to house today planting veggie starts in friends' pots and gardens. Well, actually the friends and I did the planting while son played. I brought both flats of starts to the first house early this morning, where 2 friends and I filled every pot and available garden space with lettuce, beets, carrots and cabbage and still had one whole flat left over. Then after spending a glorious day at the park with MOMS Club friends I went to my friend Kate's house. There we created a 7' x 10' garden space, framed it with wood found behind her compost bin and planted a ton of veggies. I found some strawberries growing wild in some weeds; so we dug those up and planted them in pots and in various places around the yard. So from the start of the day till the end I planted those little baby veggies all over. Spreadin' the love and the produce!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Manicures and tutus

Yesterday was a teacher workday for daughter's school but son still had preschool. So I thought we could spend some mommy-daughter time together getting manicures. The lady gave me a shocked look when I said we'd both like to get our nails done. I guess they don't have too many 6 year old clients. I'm not very fruffy so I picked a really pale pink for my nails, but daughter picked the hottest pink they had. We even went all out and had them paint little flowers on her thumbs and ring fingers. Her fancy fingers were a big hit with the preschool teachers when we went to pick up son (she used to go to the same preschool). She was very careful not to mess up her nails with bath last night and getting ready for school today, and from what I'm told the girls in her class oohed and ahhed over them.

Later this afternoon she had dance class. Today was picture day, and they all wore their costumes, did their hair and wore makeup! We both thought the fancy nails would be a great addition. When she went to have her individual picture taken the teacher positioned her in a cute dance pose then almost jumped when she noticed the nails. "Oh no, you can't have painted fingernails!" So she repositioned her so her nails didn't show for the photo. My thought here is that the individual photos are really just for me. The dance studio doesn't hang these up or even get a copy of them. So if I'm ok with her nails, then why can't they be in my photo? Daughter got a little distraught and thought she had to remove the polish ASAP. So she starts trying to peal it off her fingers. I stopped her before she did any damage and tried to explain that by the time she has her recital the polish will be worn off and her pictures had already been taken today. "No, no, Ms. Julie said I can't have polish!" "Well, Ms. Julie didn't pay $10 to have those little nails painted, so she doesn't have a say in it!"

Ahhh the joys of having a little girl! :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The soybeans in the garden have sprouted!

That is all. I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Crazy gardening

I feel like this was a very productive weekend. Yesterday I put 6 coats of poly on our dining room table. I think it may need one or 2 more in order to make it as smooth and shiny as I'd like it to be. But all in all I think it's going to be a lot nicer than it was before I started.

I also went a little crazy with the loppers. We have a little stand of cedars right behind our deck that the kids call the Secret Trees. They like to play secret agent in there and call some parts of it the Sword Room because it has so many sticks on the ground to use as swords. So I decided to clean that out a bit. I took out the little holly sprouts and some of the smaller cedar branches to make it easier to walk around in there without getting scratched. Apparently cedar branches have a lot of tiny dead twigs hanging on them. So in some spots I could just run my hand up the branch and break off a dozen or more little dead twigs. So now there are a lot more swords for the kids to play with and a few more Agent Rooms to go along with that.

The garden is almost in a state that requires me to just wait and see what happens rather than needing to plant or transplant or weed. I'd almost rather have something to do. When I don't have something I NEED to do in the garden I find things to do anyway, which is not always the best thing for the garden. :) So yesterday I decided to divide the rhubarb. I believe that many years ago the rhubarb was one plant, but now it's divided itself into about 11 plants that produce a fair amount of rhubarb. I've been able to make a couple of rhubarb crisps already this spring, but I'd like more. So I broke off 3 of the crowns that were off to the side by themselves and moved them to another spot in the garden. I got a lot of root with them so hopefully they'll do ok. I then proceeded to dig up all of the volunteer strawberries that were in the rows where I'm growing corn and put them into a big planter. About 10 minutes after I'd put them in the new pot they all fell over and looked totally wilted. I watered them, and hopefully they'll perk up, but as of last night it didn't look too promising. I think I should have transplanted the whole root ball filled with dirt into the planter of compost rather than shaking the dirt off of the roots first. The compost is fairly coarse and will have more problems getting all around the roots to deliver water than the dirt they were already in. But we'll see what they do.

I also jumped the gun a bit on planting my pumpkins. We made a 10x10 pumpkin patch next to the big garden and would like to fence it to keep the bunnies and chickens out of it. We have enough fencing to go around 3 sides of the patch and need to get more to finish out the 4th side. I got antsy and decided to plant my starts in there anyway. I had chickens in there with me almost immediately trying to "help" me dig my holes and peck at the rhubarb stalks I'd put in my pocket to take inside. I shooed them away and managed to plant my starts. I then put the plastic fencing over the top of the starts to keep the critters from going back into the bed. I really should have waited until I had enough fencing...but I got antsy. :)

And, Yay! I have someone who's planning to take some of my many extra starts. Actually I have 4 someones. I guess I've talked about them enough that people are feeling sorry for them and will give them a home out of pity. Whatever the reason, they will be going to some good homes and will hopfully grow up to be big strong yummy veggies. It makes me so proud to see my little ones going out into the big wide world. :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

First Greens of the Season

So last night for dinner we had the first lettuce of the season. I thinned some of the bigger lettuce starts on my greenhouse floor and brought a handful in to eat. Yum! Daughter ate most of them, but I did get a few.

I put my watermelon starts in the garden yesterday and replaced a few of my original zucchini starts with new ones as some didn't survive. I think I might have planted the zucchini in the garden a little too early in the season, or I may not have watered it enough. But I've got plenty of starts and really only need about 3 or 4 plants to mature in order to have more than enough zucchini to eat.

Hubby has been working on upgrading my garden fence. Last year my mom and I hastily put up a 3' rabbit fence around the whole garden using the few stakes I had and some cut up branches. We were intending to replace the branches with better stakes but never got around to it. So this year hubby has put in what seems like telephone poles around the perimeter to hold the fence. The plan is to put up another level of 3' fencing on top of the first on to make a 6' fence that has a better chance of keeping Bambi out of the garden. Last year I had very few leaves on my beans and peas but had plenty of deer pebbles to spread over the rest of the garden. Hopefully this year I'll have the reverse.

I also took the opportunity during the beautiful sunny day to start the job of refinishing the dining room table. I've been wanting to do this for years as the finish has gotten thin in some places and sticky in others. So we took the table apart and moved it to the driveway. I used the belt sander to strip off the old finish and get the table back to bare wood. Tomorrow I plan to put on a few coats of poly to bring it back to the glory of years past. And since we didn't have a dining room table today we had a good excuse to eat outside on the deck.

Ahhh the deck...that's the next project.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Boneless Chicken Ranch

It's such a nice day out today that I decided to let the chickens out to free range when son and I got home from daughter's Daisy Scout meeting. The chickens all rush out of the coop, gather about 10 feet from it then they all take off across the yard flying chicken-style. There are certain parts of my yard that will not grow anything because the chickens like to sun themselves there. They scratch around until they have a nice hole then use their wings to flop dirt and dust onto their backs. They then sit in the hole looking like a boneless chicken (courtesy of Far Side). They also do the boneless chicken bit on the deck which is even stranger looking. I guess the dust baths are supposed to take care of mites or something. They will also try to pack as many chickens in that one hole as is chickenly possible. Which seems strange to me since they spend a lot of the time being cooped up together. You'd think they'd want to get away from each other, but I suppose once I start understanding the chickens then I'm in trouble.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I love my Green house

It is a BEAUTIFUL day outside today! It's not too hot, not too cool. I went out to check on the greenhouse after picking up my son from Preschool. When it's sunny outside, regardless of the temperature, the greenhouse can be 130 degrees. That's not good for all of those little sprouts inside. So hubby has hooked up this window fan we bought at the MOMS Club garage sale last year to blow that hot air out the roof vent. To my surprise, when I checked the temp it was only 70 degrees in there. So I guess the fan is working well.

I also noticed while I was in the greenhouse that some of the seeds I just threw on the ground in the corner are sprouting and growing pretty well. Looks like I've got 2 zucchini, some chard, lettuce, and (drumroll please.....) 6 tomato plants growing on the ground in the greenhouse! The ones I lovingly planted and tended in the pots are barely doing anything, but the ones that I just tossed wherever are growing like crazy! I guess as long as they're growing, I shouldn't care where they grow, right?

I think I may need to start a few more butternut squash; only 2 of the 8 seeds I planted have sprouted, and I'd like more than 2 plants. But my rutabaga has sprouted and a few more pumpkins have come up, too. As son and I walked around the yard, I noticed that a few more of the potatoes that I planted wherever I could find a bit of dirt are sprouting. I won't be able to cover them with a mound of dirt like I'd like to, but they should produce a few potatoes, anyway. And the bush beans that the kids planted are doing pretty well. They each planted a bean plant in their old rain boots from last year. They look pretty cute. I'll have to post a picture of them on here.

Ok, It's son's preschool graduation this afternoon, so we're off to take a nap to avoid the afternoon meltdown. nighty-night

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

People who spoil things are so annoying!

Ok, this has nothing to do with gardening or any other topics that this blog was planned to cover, but I am so ticked off right now that I had to vent. Why is it that people feel the need to tell the entire world of FaceBook how a show ends the second it's over in their time zone?!? I'm on the west coast and American Idol doesn't start here for almost another hour, but I now know who won because at least 2 people who are in another time zone blabbed it in their status. I guess I just need to boycott Facebook for the day until I've watched any show that I don't want spoiled. Grrrrr!


Yay! I have followers! Isn't this Internet thing cool? I send out an email to say this blog exists and now I have 2 followers, just like that! Not that I have anything much for the followers to read, but they're there.

Turns out that I did not need an Ark to weather that torrential rain storm last night, but it was touch and go there for a while. I wonder if my little seedlings survived. I know the chickens battened down the hatches. I've noticed that after it rains like that my garden is full of little stones. Unless it's raining rocks and I don't know it, I guess the rain is washing away my dirt leaving these rocks behind. I really need to get compost on the rest of the garden to stop the erosion.

I can see blue sky through the trees; so I think it's going to be a nice day. Maybe I'll get that compost spread, or maybe I'll thin a few more of my jam-packed seedlings into their own separate pots. I really need to learn to be more brutal with my seedlings. When you read the back of a seed packet it will say something like "plant seeds in rows 6 inches apart. When seedlings are 1 inch tall thin to 2 inches apart". I am physically unable to thin seedlings and then throw them away. Last year we had chicks in the greenhouse when I was in that thinning mode, and I'd just throw the thinned seedlings to the chickens to eat. That seemed liked recycling or at least a good use of materials. This year I've been trying to transplant every single little seedling into a bigger pot or into the ground. That is the reason I'm drowning in red cabbage. I JUST CAN'T THROW THEM AWAY. I've been telling my friends that any day they might look out in their yard or garden and see me planting red cabbage in it. Too bad, if you don't like red cabbage; you're gettin' some anyway!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

First Attempt at this Blogging thing

I am a Mom of 2 wonderful kids, ages 3.5 and 6.5, and have lived on a beautiful 1.3 acre lot in the suburbs for the last 3 years. In that time I've become somewhat of a green/self-sufficiency/gardening fanatic. Luckily my loving husband is right there with me in this adventure!

When we moved in, the garden patch was 10 x 10, but last year we increased that to about 1800 sq ft. About 1.5 years ago we bought our first 6 laying hens, then were given 5 more by a neighbor. We then raised 6 chicks to adulthood the spring after that, and last fall raised 25. If you don't know already, raising chickens is very addictive. Once you have a few you want more and more and more. The only problem with that is that we can't eat, sell or give away the eggs fast enough. I guess I need a bigger fridge. Right now we have 25 hens and 2 roosters. The flock is a mix of Aracauna, New Hampshire Reds, Golden Sex Link, Black Star, Buff Orpington, and Barred Rock. The kids have named the roosters Rainbow and Fluffy. I'm not sure what the rooster thinks of being called Fluffy, but I guess he doesn't get a say in the matter.

Spring can't come fast enough for me. All winter I look out at the empty garden and wish I could start planting. We do have a greenhouse, of which I should take more advantage in the winter, but it's really spring when the gardening bug bites me badly. I started a lot of last year's seeds in the greenhouse thinking a lot of them wouldn't sprout, but almost all of them did. So I have a ridiculous number of starts of some veggies. I started moving some starts to the garden in the middle of April. First the Pak Choi and Red Cabbage went in, then the green leaf lettuce and the zucchini. I started spinach seeds and corn seeds in the garden around the same time. Toward the end of April I planted my sprouted potatoes in pots. I think the best way to grow potatoes is in a potato barrel or a pot. At the end of the season you empty your pot and you've got a pile of potatoes. Can't beat that! By the first couple of weeks in may I'd put in starts of beets, Swiss chard, carrots, red leaf lettuce, onions, cukes and Leeks and planted peas. I've planted almost all of my carrots this year between other things like the red cabbage and chard. Hopefully it'll work out ok. This past weekend I planted some soybean starts and planted more soybean seeds in the garden. I have watermelon and tomatoes started in the greenhouse as well as pumpkin and some butternut squash. I don't have high hopes for the tomatoes. I am notorious for not being able to grow tomatoes! When most people think of a garden the first vegetable they think of is a tomato, and I CAN'T GROW TOMATOES! Last year I had a bushel of green tomatoes and not a red one on the vines. This year I cooked the first batch of seeds and have had a heck of a time getting the second batch to sprout. Hopefully I'll get something if I keep them in the greenhouse in the summer rather than putting them in the garden. We'll see.

I've been starting most of my seeds in compost that we made this past year. We mixed the chicken manure, shredded paper, straw, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, etc. and I guess it's turned into some nice compost. Things seem to be growing in it pretty well.

This past weekend I noticed that the spinach had come up in the garden as well as the corn! Now I'll go back through and plant some pole beans next to the corn. I really like the Native American way of planting the 3 sisters together. They would plant corn, beans and squash in the same planting bed. The corn needs extra nitrogen, which the beans put back into the soil. The corn is a tall pole that the pole beans can climb, and the squash has pricklies that deter predators from eating the veggies.

So now, I get to wait and see what grows and what doesn't. I'm pretty sure we'll have more beets and red cabbage than we can eat and may not have any red tomatoes. But like everything else, gardening is a journey. And it's one I wait all year to have.


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