Viva Fiesta!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

In my hometown of San Antonio, each April brings Fiesta season.  When I was a girl, it was only a week-long celebration held sometime around San Jacinto Day (April 21st).  The week was capped off by 2 parades, the Battle of Flowers parade held on Friday afternoon and the Fiesta Flambeau parade held Saturday evening.  (We used to call them the day parade and the night parade.)  Fiesta not only celebrates Texas heritage, it celebrates San Antonio's deep Hispanic and Mexican roots.  There's lots of bright colors and rich traditions.  Last weekend was the close of Fiesta, and I was inspired to crochet these colorful dishcloths.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any bright pink or yellow, or those colors would've been included. 

These are made using Neatly Tangled's Just Right & Big Time Dishcloth pattern.  Since I have smaller hands and my husband prefers a smaller kitchen dishcloth, I started off using the Just Right pattern.  However, I found that was a bit too large for me, so I started with a chain of 25, chained loosely, and it made a dishcloth approximately 7.5" square.  I absolutely LOVE this pattern!  It's quick and easy and produces a great looking dishcloth. 


Spring...A Time for Renewal and Newness

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Start to Fiesta Pinata by Barbara Ana Designs

I figured since Spring is upon us here in North Texas, that I'd do a spring-y project.  Many years ago, in 2008 to be exact, the designer emailed me this chart after she'd posted it as a finish on a message board.  It's been collecting dust in my inbox ever since then.  Can you believe it?!?  It's full of bright, vibrant colors and it reminded me so much of growing up in San Antonio and the spring Fiesta season, which is towards the end of April.  At the time the designer emailed me this chart, she didn't know what she was going to do with it, and I don't think it's released yet either.  Anyhoo, I've chosen to stitch it on 32ct. Banana Splash evenweave from Silkweaver.  That little piece of fabric has been languishing in my fabric stash for a piece just like this. 

As you can see, my progress isn't much, but I didn't realize how much I had to strain my eyes and concentrate on that fabric!  It's rough when you get old.  LOL  I tried a 28 ct. fabric and that was even worse, plus the purple color got lost in the color of the fabric.  Of course, I was also stitching on this while preparing dinner and watching Dancing With the Stars, so that might have impeded my progress a bit as well.

My first bloom of spring is this little Four Nerve Daisy.  I love this little happy flower!  They can handle the heat and the cold and keep on going.  I need to work on adding more of these to my flower bed because I really like them. 

This precious little girl is also blossoming.  She's been with us now for 2 years and she's come so far from that half-wild thing we brought home.  She's settled down nicely, learned some manners, learned to trust us, and no longer tries to escape through the closed windows.  She is free with her purrs and head butts, unless she's mad at me for going to work and leaving her with the hubby all day!  I love this sweet little thing. 


The Garden is Gearing Up!

Monday, March 10, 2014

For many of you, there's still snow on the ground and/or the temps are still very frigid.  Down here in Texas, we're getting ready to plant our spring into summer gardens.  We're expecting a cold front to swing through in a few days, so the only thing in the ground right now are some cold hardy things, such as these onions.  The hubster planted these yesterday and has more to plant today.  We order our onions from Dixondale Farms which is located in South Texas in Carrizo Springs.  They are a family owned supplier of onion plants that has been around for many, many years.  We also use their onion fertilizer and follow their planting guide.  We did an experiment last year and the onions grown following their planting instructions and their fertilizer were larger than the ones we just planted and fertilized.  This year, we are growing Texas Legend, a sweet yellow onion, and Texas Early White, a sweet white onion.  Both are very delicious! 

In January, I sowed my tomato seeds indoors under lights in my spare bedroom.  Today, the plants went on their first field trip outside starting their hardening off process.  This year, we are growing Large Cherry, Pantano Romanesco, Homestead 24, and a new one, Marmande.  I had a very other varieties, but never got around to sowing those, so maybe I'll try those for the fall. 

Hardening off is the process by where you take your indoor seedlings and gradually expose them to the outside world to prepare them for living full time in your garden.  It helps avoid transplant shock and it keeps them from dying due to temperature shock when planted out.  I start them out with 2 hours of exposure in full shade.  Tomorrow, I'll increase it to 3 hours in full shade.  I'll do this for a couple of days, then move them to partial shade for a few days.  Then, they'll move to shade in the morning and sun in the afternoon and lengthen the time they're out.  As it gets closer to their plant out date, they'll stay out all night.  Initially, I bring them in at night, especially if we're going to get down in the low 40s or lower.  Otherwise, they can stay out.  I also make sure to water them well as they are root bound in their cups.  I also might need to provide some support for them since they are a bit top heavy and lankier than in years past due to our light set up this year.  We get a lot of wind this time of the year, and I don't want them to topple over.  Last year, I set them in a large laundry basket and that worked well.  I might do that again this year. 

Do you see these garlic plants in the picture?  I didn't plant them this past fall!!  I didn't plant ANY garlic this past fall!  These have sprung from either missed plants last year OR from the small bulblets left from harvesting garlic last year or even the year before.  I'll have fresh garlic either way.  However, I still have tons of garlic left from last year's harvest!  I'd better start giving it away to make room for this year's garlic harvest.
We tried to kill the comfrey growing in our garden.  It didn't work as you can see in this picture.  Sigh!  While comfrey is very good for your tomato plants and to use as fertilizer in your compost pile, it's a bear to get rid of once it's established itself in your garden.  It becomes invasive.  This time, I think I'll pour some vinegar on it and see if I can burn the roots.  First though, I'll harvest some of the roots, plant them up and them offer them to gardening friends.  If I plant it again, it's going in a container...lifted up off the ground...on the it won't spread and breed!

Winter is coming to a close.  The birds have eaten most of the berries off the Nandina plants.  I laughingly call these damndinas because they, too, are invasive if left to their own devices for too long.  They have a very extensive root system that is almost impossible to dig out unless you have a backhoe.  My husband broke the handle on his pick axe trying to dig up a stand of these near our back door.  They had to come out, though as they were blocking the door and the walkway.  I do love the colors of the leaves and the berries in the winter, though, and they take our hot, dry summers well.  We'll thin these out this year and pluck out the babies.  Again, I'll probably plant them up and offer them to gardening friends. 

Each year, the biggest problem we encounter in our garden is watering.  Due to the heat and the fact that we don't get a lot of rain during the summer (or other times of the year for that matter), we try to conserve as much as we can.  Plus, to water, you have to get up way early in the morning to beat the heat or water way late at night then you have to fight the mosquitos.  The other day, I ran across an ancient watering technology that has been used in places like Africa and China as well as more locally in South and Central Texas.  It's Olla Irrigation, and I think we're going to try it out this year for at least part of our garden.  We might do a side by side comparison with ollas and traditional gardening to see what happens.  If you'd like to know more about Olla Irrigation, check out these links and You Tube videos.

Ancient Irrigation   (This is the video that got me interested.)

Ollas: A Collection of Information and Techniques

Thesis on Clay Pot Irrigation in Africa (This is a *.pdf document that's 25 pages long, but good research)

Say Hola to Ollas


Perfect Morning for Pancakes!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Like many of you, it's very frigid in my part of Texas today.  Saturday, it was a gorgeous 82º, but that changed dramatically yesterday.  Overnight Saturday, a very strong cold front blew through bringing us a 60º drop in temps along with rain, sleet, and snow pellets.  Some places experienced thundersleet, but we didn't.  We got rain, sleet, snow, and cold temps, though.  I'm so ready for this winter to be over.  I've got tomatoes to plant!!

Since it was so cold out this morning, the Mister decided to make pancakes.  Not only would it be filling, it would help warm us and the house up.  We prefer to make them from scratch rather than use a mix.  It took several failed attempts before finding the perfect recipe for us.  It's from an Amish cookbook and makes enough to feed an army!  I usually cut the recipe in half and that makes enough for the two of us with leftovers for a couple of meals. 

Yoder's Pancakes
5 C flour
5 heaping teaspoons baking powder
1 t salt
1 C vegetable oil
2 eggs
4 C milk  (when I half the recipe, I use 2.5 C milk or the dough is very thick)

In a 4-qt mixing bowl, measure flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix well with a fork.  Make well in the center and fill will oil, eggs, and 2 C milk; beat well with a spoon.  Fold in remaining milk while scraping sides of bowl.  Stir just until blended; batter should be lumpy.  Ladle 3 T batter into hot, greased skillet.  (I use a 1/4 C measuring cup) When bubbly around edges, flip.  Flip several times until well done.  Yields about 18 large pancakes.  

Enjoy and stay warm if you're getting snow or icky weather!



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mew in the container of catnip

Mew is our neighbor's cat.  He likes to live outside because he doesn't like dogs and they have 3 or 4 indoor/outdoor dogs.  He will go home for the night and sleep overnight with the neighbor's younger daughter, but when they leave for school, Mew goes outside.  He is litter trained and is a very nice 3 yr. old kitty. 

Two summers ago, we started befriending Mew after I came home and found him wailing at the neighbor's front door in the 100º+ heat.  He had no water and no means of getting inside.  So, I put some cool water with a few ice cubes outside in a bowl for him and then coaxed him into our backyard to drink.  That began our befriending process.  He gradually came to adopt our yard as his domain and works hard to keep any rodents or bugs out of our yard.  We noticed he was appearing a bit on the skinny side, so we began feeding him a little bit.  How now knows that we feed twice a day and if he shows up around those times, he'll get fed, too.  He patiently waits on the ledge outside the sink over the kitchen window.  He knows the routine and will be waiting at the back door when I open it to feed him.  He has a feeding station and is a love bug when we go out to feed him. 

Several days (& nights) this winter, Mew has been left out in the cold to fend for himself and try to stay warm.  Cold for us, anyway.  Several nights it was in the 20s and teens and we've had several ice events and light snow, so we opened up our enclosed sunroom to him.  Our kitties love the sunroom and we've got lots of windows for them to enjoy.  We put our outdoor potted plants in the sunroom during the winter months and we've got a small electric heater out there we plug in when it's going to be below freezing.  So my husband rigged up a comfy spot for Mew to sleep and he has all the basic amenities, food, water, and litter  box.  This has worked out well for all of us.  I spoke with my neighbor and she's fine with us making sure he's safe and warm.  At first, Mew wasn't too keen on being inside, but we don't let him out unless it's above freezing and now he just hangs out and sleeps most of the time he's inside the sunroom. 

Hannah in front and Tumbles in the back guarding the door!
When Mew's in the sunroom, Tumbles and Hannah are the most curious.  Tumbles likes to sit in the window above our couch and keep an eye on Mew or he sits by the door to the sunroom and guards our house against the intruder.  Hannah looks out the door, then goes and sleeps.  Daisy could care less! 

Tumbles on the windowsill above the couch guarding the house.  Mew is in the sunroom dreaming about being inside.
Mew is a great cat!  He loves attention and isn't dominant at all.  In the spring and summer, he hangs out in our garden and sleeps under the leaves of the okra plants. 
He loves to be petted and will roll over on his back for you to rub his belly if he trusts you.  He has a high pitched, squeaky meow and a deep rumble of a purr, which I got to hear for the first time just a week or so ago.  I've told my neighbor that if something happens and they are unable to care for him any longer, we'd happily adopt him and bring him into our home with our crew.  Tumbles might not like it and Hannah might revolt, but we'd make it work out somehow. 

Mew in his favorite spot in the sunroom.


Is it Spring Yet?

Monday, February 24, 2014

My tomatoes are ready!  I started these from seeds in early January and now they're big enough to be planted out, but that's a few weeks away yet.  I have 25 tomato plants, but not all will go in the garden. Most will be given away or sold.  We decided to grow the ones we had the most success with last year, so we have Pantano Romanesco, Homestead 24, and Large Cherry.  We are also trying 1 new variety this year, Marmande.  It's also time to plant our onions. 

My husband is in the process of preparing the garden for planting the 4 bunches we ordered that have been sitting on our living room table for a month now.  You see, as it figures, we ordered them to plant early, then we had 3 weeks of very freezing temperatures.  Of course!  That's the way it always goes, it seems.  I'm just not one of those gardeners who likes to put too much effort into hoop houses and covering plants once they're planted.  I'm sorta lazy that way.  I hope there are enough onion starts still alive to plant when we get around to planting them!

During the cold weather we've experienced since December, I finished my first non-dishcloth crochet project.  (Woot!)  I crocheted myself a scarf to cover my head on those blustery days as well as to keep my ears and nose warm when I have to walk outside in the cold when the wind is blowing 40mph.  Did you know that this part of Texas is located on the plains?  Yep!  We get more wind than The Windy City. 

Full Length

Stitch Detail

I found the Clamshell Stitch pattern online at Hailey's Helping Hands.  I chose it because I could do the stitches and rather than running the length of the project, the stitches ran the width.  I also chose it because I could work the pattern and the stitches were easy.  I chose to do it in a solid color so I didn't have to worry about changing colors and I could make it whatever length I wanted and didn't really need to worry about counting rows.  To make it long enough, I just draped it over me and decided if I liked the length!  Again, I'm a lazy crocheter.  I used a Vanna White yarn called "Berrylicious" and used almost 2 full skeins (balls).  It's come in quite handy during the past couple of cold snaps.

I am still working at Amazon in the fulfillment center located 26 miles from way.  Believe you me, I feel all the miles on the way home!  The drive to work only takes about 30 mins on a good day.  On a really good day, like Saturday, it takes less than that!  The drive home can take anywhere from 45 mins. to an hour and a half, depending on traffic.  The 4-day work week makes me pretty scarce Wed-Sat, but I enjoy the 3 days off.  I am usually worn out by the end of my shift on Saturday, too. 

I know I've not been around much since October, but I just didn't have anything to share.  I've also been thinking on combining all my interests into one blog rather than separating them out.  Due to my work schedule, it's difficult to write daily, so I'll probably only post once, maybe twice a week.  Thank you for reading!


Finishes to Share!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Before I started my new job two weeks ago, I was able to get a couple more WIPs finished.  (Yay, me!)  First off the needle is Sunflower Garden Sampler from Prairie Schooler. 

 I originally started this project back in 2011 while my husband was having a myriad of health problems which turned out to be his heart.  I remember working on the sunflowers below the birdhouse while I was waiting for him doing his cardiac rehab.

Next up is LHN's "Blessed are the Peacemakers".  This is part of the seasonal saltbox series that she did several years ago. 

 I stitched all four squares on one piece of fabric.  Here is the complete finished project. Although fall is my favorite season, I think the summer square was my favorite to stitch. 

Lastly, my current project is Heart in Hand's Sunflower Sampler.  This is my January 1st piece for this year.  Maybe I'll get it finished by New Year's Eve!

Actually, I don't have much more to do on this one, but my stitching time has been severely limited due to my new job.  Since beginning my job at Amazon as a fulfillment associate in their new fulfillment center in Haslet (just north of Fort Worth), I don't have much stitching time.  I work the "backend shift" which means I work the latter part of the week, Wed-Sat.  My shifts are 10 hours long.  Although the drive is only about 30 miles, it takes about an hour to get there with all the traffic and construction.  To allow plenty of travel time, I have to leave my house around 5:45AM.  I eat a little something before I leave, then I eat the rest of my breakfast in the breakroom at work.  Work starts at 7:00AM on the dot!  When I get home, it's usually 6:30PM or later, again, depending on the traffic.  I've learned to eat high protein food every break, breakfast, and at lunch or else I am starving all day long.  Our building is huge, 1.3 MILLION square feet, so it's a hike to the bathroom, breakroom, and entrance.  One day, it took me 5 minutes to walk from my work area to the breakroom.  Insane!!  Good exercise, though.  I like the job, too.  That's always a good thing.  Maybe next week, I'll have another finish to post!