Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cassie's track season completed and gardening underway

Cassie's ended up having lots to be happy for at her Conference track meet was this past Thursday.  She's been plagued with a nagging back injury for much of the season, and has unfortunately found herself sitting on the sidelines for many of the meets this year.  However, the downtime paid off and she was at her 100% for the Conference meet.

She started the day by taking 1st place in the high jump.  All of the competitors scratched out at 4'6", so the officials asked if she wanted to keep jumping.  With no pressure on her, coach gave the okay for her to keep jumping.  Neither Cass or myself knew the heights the bar was being set at; she just kept jumping.  Oh that sneaky coach!  In the end, Cassie tied the Junior High high jump record of 4'10" established by, none other than, her track coach 10+ years ago.

While on cloud 9, she moved over to the Discus area and set a new PR of 79', moving into 2nd place on the Leader's board, and then, when she was called for the 400M, she continued her record-breaking evening by running a 1:04.06, breaking the previous record of 1:05.4, and leading by over 4 seconds from the rest of the competition.  Yes, folks.  She's still on cloud 9, and I'm super super proud of her!!

The 8 ducklings we hatched out a couple of weeks ago have moved into a ground-brooding box. 

The plants I began as seeds in February have finally been able to be moved outside to the deck indefinitely.

Cherry tomatoes already being harvested, as well as peppers :)  Who said people in Wisconsin can't have two growing seasons?!?!  ;)

But now, we need lots of finger-crossing for all of our other tomato plants that have been hibernating in the basement for the past couple of months to see if they survive the transplant into the garden.  I've most definitely learned my lesson -- starting plants in February (tomatoes, specifically) is NOT in the best interest of the plants OR myself.  But -- forty plants were transplanted into the upper garden yesterday;  about 12 more wait patiently for more fence posts to be purchased.
(Mind you, we started 56 new plants last weekend from seed -- just in case ;)  I guess we're going to have two growing seasons in Wisconsin this year ???)

The strawberry patch was expanded and tidied a couple of weeks ago...

... and the blossoms are popping up in exponential rates.  In another 3-4 weeks, we should expect berries.  GOOD!  We just opened up our last strawberry jam container!

There's a saying....."there's no rest for the weary."  However, when the weather cooperates, taking a snooze in the hammock given to us by my parents was on Paul's mind before needing to start his night shift.
The yard is purposefully being left un-mowed, waiting for the dandelion season to pass.  Yes, yes... the bees' food takes precedence over a 'pretty-looking' yard.

The only crafting project I've been giving time to is a new afghan man-ghan for Paul.  A couple of months ago, I was sequestered into making a large queen size afghan.  Paul fell in love with the weight and size, so.... I took that as a hint ;)  At a width of 106", I predict the project taking most of summer to complete.

Today:  more gardening and planting.  Perhaps my blogging time will become more consistent again;  two weeks of school left for us in the northwoods!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Yes, I live

Oh dear, faithful readers out there (if any of you remain).

Yes, yes;  I'm indeed alive and kicking...
... and crocheting...

... and teaching...

... and celebrating birthdays

... and watching Track meets

... and enjoying our animals during Spring

... and watching more Track meets

... and Volleyball matches

... and enjoying more animals...

... and more...

... and spending evenings at FFA banquets...

... and pruning/watering/feeding our inside garden

... reaping fruits of our labor (or...vegetables!)...

... and supervising Math competitions...

... and watching scary movies!
... and chaperoning Prom...

So, yes folks.  I'm alive and kicking.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Crochet deadline; plants doing well!!!

A new project; a new deadline has been underway for the past week.  A customer (via Etsy) requested a 90x95 afghan in the same colorway of another afghan I have for sale in the shop.  He's willing to wait the 6-8 weeks I've requested to complete it;  this will most definitely be the largest afghan I've made.  Each row is taking about 20 minutes to complete, increasing the length by 1/2", so... approx 60-65 hours will be needed to finish off the project.  Guess who's going to busy? ;)

Just prior to having the newest customer, I had been making progress on the Mystery Crochet-Along;  I had been worried up until the last clue -- I'm really liking how my colors are playing together!

And of COURSE, the plants are growing, growing, growing!  Yesterday morning, Cass and I had the task of transplanting many of the tomatoes, peppers and broccoli;  some herbs too.  For the first few minutes, I was really feeling overwhelmed!  I've never jumped the gun like this before.  I've never planted so MANY tomatoes before.  I was running out of transplanting containers.

Growth after transplanting last week (Week #4)

Current growth (Week #5).  The tomatoes look AMAZING!  I just hope I can keep them alive for another (*whiper*) ......... two months!  There is NO WAY tomatoes can go in the ground in our area before mid-end May.  *gulp*
Lesson learned. :)

Time to find some (LOTS) of 5-gallon pails...

Spring weather has hit!  Last weekend, we found ourselves enjoying the first 40 degree day since last Fall!  The girls couldn't wait to pull out their bikes and enjoy.
Since then, this past week, we actually hit temps of 60!  Hallelujah!  Most of the snow is now melted;  even snowbanks have mostly melted away :)

Paul decided to finally burn up the pile of rubble we've been growing for the past few years.  Bonfire time! 
*sigh*  I can only hope that our Spring is truly underway similar to 2012.  We had a stretch of weather just like this;  our first picnic on March 16 even.   Every week, we were all wondering...."Is this the week the temps will drop back down?  Is this the week we get a Spring snow storm?"
But, it never happened!  We had green grass in April;  by May we were ready to mow AND plant the garden still with a little nervousness.  The rule of thumb up here:  "never plant before Memorial weekend".
I was done with harvesting the whole garden in August that year;  I'd love for another year like that!!!

Did you enjoy PI day yesterday?  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Quilting over embroidery - It can be done [Quilting]

A couple of weeks ago, MIL and FIL came for a visit, partially due to MIL needing to drop off some crib quilts she wanted me to machine quilt for her.
I've quilted some of her hand-embroidered quilts in the past.  The first time was the toughest because I struggled with the thought of, "Dare I really quilt over her embroidery?"
I had found only a few images via a google search about quilting over embroidery before attempting it for myself.  My biggest concern for quilting over the embroidery, of course, was losing the embroidery in all the quilting, but I don't think that really happened.  Another concern was 'catching' the embroidery with the machine quilting foot, but that never happened.
A concern for NOT quilting over the embroidery was whether the non-quilted areas would get all puffy looking in comparison to the quilted sections.
Therefore, in the end, the full pantograph quilting won out.  And MIL was satisfied with the results.

I had been putting off the quilting of these projects for her simply because it is SOOOOOO cold downstairs in the basement, specially in my open space where the quilting frame is.  At least in my sewing room, I can turn the space heater on, but not so much in the open area.
Therefore, hubby to the rescue this morning without me even asking him to do this.  He simply realized that it's COLD down there, and I NEEDED to get going on this quilting projects.
He uncapped one of the venting pipes from the wood furnace that is directly in line with my open quilt-frame space.  Yay!  It was actually reasonably comfortable while quilting my mini-marathon today.

The first two quilts went smoothly and quite quickly, using a pantograph "Climber" by Meredith England.

But as I unfolded the last two ....
Oh dear MIL.  I must must must stress to her again the importance of having at least 2" of extra width on each side for the backing and batting...

These last two.... well.... she kinda gave me zero.  In fact, in some spots, the batting almost equated to a -1" span. Ummmmm...... 

But, I did my best, and figured I'd trim off some of her edging if needed...
After breaking three (3) needles and dealing with some minor frustrations on the finishing edge...

They were both finished.

Quilting marathon -- a success.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eggs and seedlings

Cass and I spent a bit of the morning outside tidying up the chicken coop, putting some nesting materials in the nesting boxes, and also carrying some hay down to the goats.

Two days ago, Cass shared the amazing news that there were eggs in the coop again!  Yay!!!!!  I'm always happy and excited at the time of year when the chickens start laying again.  It means that the daylight is getting longer, and the fried eggs will be tasting better! :D

The sunshine today was a very, very welcome sight!  The temps continue to be cold, cold, cold!  And anyone watching national weather lately knows that much of the nation is battling snow and cold, so... there's no point lingering on this topic.

Although, I'd LOVE to be one of my plants in the greenhouse right now!  
We're three weeks into our seeds/seedlings, and they have never done better. Between the toasty warm greenhouse, and the new grow-lights purchased this year, everything is doing superbly well.

I've been transplanting seedlings from germination plugs into small containers on-and-off since last week.  But I'm running out of containers due to the over-planting it appears I've done.  Ha! ;)
FIL left a stack of papers after his visit two weekends ago, so I pulled up a bookmarked YouTube video on DIY seed pots, and I spent the morning doing some origami.  I watched a variety of DIY options, and tried a couple of the others, but this one simply seemed sturdier.

When I started the basil two weeks ago, it was an after-thought.  It actually only became a thought when I was tossing out the bathroom garbage and saw two toilet-paper rolls.  I cut them in half, tossed in some starting-soil and sprinkled some seeds on top.

Now.... time to give them more room!

This tray now holds some basil, parsley, marigolds and convolvulus (Morning Glory).  A lot of the literature I've read about Parsley mentions how difficult it is to germinate.  ??  It didn't seem all that tough (or long) to me.  My Rosemary seeds haven't germinated yet;  but I'm remaining patient.  There's enough other green goin' on in there that's keepin' me happy happy happy.

These marigolds and convolvulus were from my first planting three weeks ago and are doing excellent with 14-15 hours of grow-light everyday.  Unfortunately, they've been moved out from under the grow lights to make room for some tomato transplants.  I guess I can only wait to see how they do in only 10-11 hours of natural light now, on the top shelf of our new mini-greenhouse.

Yuppers.  TWINS !! :D  Our older one (right) was a gift from my parents..... five (?) years ago.  After some hemming-n-hawing, and a little bit of online searching, it's twin was purchased and arrived on Wednesday.  

And oh boy!  The lettuce that was planted last Sunday is ready for transplanting too.  **shrug**  I've never done lettuce inside, so I don't know if this 'germination box' is deep enough to simply keep them in the tray rather than go through the process of replanting them. (??)  

And just to the right of the lettuce box -- GARLIC!  While shopping last Sunday morning, in addition to some 'good' garlic bulbs, I brought home one bulb that (most likely) no one else was going to pick;  it seemed that every clove was starting to sprout.  So..... why not?!?  I've never done garlic.  I don't know if this garlic is "safe" for Wisconsin.  But....holy cow!  It's jumping out of the lil' containers I threw them in.  They TOO are ready for larger containers!

And even with two mini-greenhouses, I'm starting to run out of shelving space :D  

Reason to smile #368:  My three week old tomato seedlings!!!  I definitely chalk up their progress to the grow lights.  And now, the younger tomato seedlings are joining them under the lights (paper pots pictured front).

No quilting today, but tomorrow I'll have to spend some time on my quilting frame.  MIL handed three baby quilts to me when they visited two weeks ago, but I never found the ambition last weekend.  Time will quickly run out, so I really just need to buckle down tomorrow.