It’s been too long!

Wow! I hadn’t realized it had been so long since I posted on my blog. What the heck?

I won NaNoWriMo and came in with just over 50k words! Yay me 🙂 I then took December ‘off’ and read some books on writing in hopes that my revisions would go smoothly. It didn’t help. I have been struggling with it since. I really need to get my story to at least 80k words. After 5 months of working on it I am only at 59k. Are there any other writers out there that can give me tips on how to stay focused? Any advice or suggestions would help.

Other than that it is now spring! So we have been working on our garden. We started seeds for tomatoes and peppers. The tomatoes are happy, the peppers are not as happy. We should be planting them in the ground outside over Memorial Day weekend, so we will see how that goes. I will be sure to post pictures when that happens.

In our new backyard we are making a flower garden. My mother really wants one and I love color and whimsy. We have years to make this place ours and anyone who has a place of their own is probably very familiar with the fact that you can’t do it all at once and it takes time.

I am looking forward to growing vegetables for food and flowers for beauty.

Pictures coming soon!

Inspiration and Relaxation in the New Place

We have been at the new place for a little more than two months. A lot of things have been completed and in the list of things that we need to do just keeps growing. Work is never done.

We have started building screens for all the windows that have been without so we can open the windows. I thought living in a brick house would help keep it insulated and cool, but it turns out that brick seems to absorbs heat. So in the interest of not killing each other due to heat we bought a window a/c unit. I try not to use it if possible because of the use of electricity, but it has been necessary more days than not so far.

We have also started building our raised garden beds. Once we built them I had 5 tons of top soil with 10% compost amendment delivered. It was so much cheaper and less time consuming then the bagged stuff found at the local home improvement stores at $40.12 a ton. Plus we got to support a local business, which I always like. We didn’t have quite enough to completely fill all the beds we built, but enough to get some late start stuff in the dirt before the season is over. Until we design and start building a greenhouse we will create hoop houses over the raised beds to get things started for next year.

This is the first bed built by my boyfriend.

This is the first bed built by my boyfriend.

My boyfriend built panel sides in the shade of the garage so we could just bring them into the yard and  screw them together.

My boyfriend built panel sides in the shade of the garage so we could just bring them into the yard and screw them together.

We lined the bottom and sides with cardboard to keep down the grass/weeds. We just laid these beds on top and didn't till any of the underneath. You can also see the tarp that we are waiting to put dirt on.

We lined the bottom and sides with cardboard to keep down the grass/weeds. We just laid these beds on top and didn’t till any of the underneath. There is a  tarp in the background to put dirt on.

The 5 tons of dirt arrived. You can see the comparison with the house in the background and the beds waiting.

The 5 tons of dirt arrived. You can see the comparison with the house in the background and the beds waiting.

We had more dirt then beds so we built a few more.

We had more dirt then beds so we built a few more.

So we have used as much dirt as possible to fill the beds. It wasn't quite enough, but that is ok.

So we have used as much dirt as possible to fill the beds. It wasn’t quite enough, but that is ok.

In the last picture you can see that we have transplanted a few tomatoes that we had in the ground. They were doing ok, but not getting any bigger. There are also tomatoes in the white buckets. They got beaten up by the last hail storm we had about a week or two ago, so we will see if they come back. To give you an idea on size, the corner bed on the right is 8′ long on the long size. The two detached rectangular boxes are 8’x4′. I think this is a decent start in a new place. On the other side of the rectangular 8’x4′ on the right I am going to start my asparagus bed. From my understanding they take a lot of space and several years to get going, but once established can last 30 years or more. I have the space and nothing but time.

We have also started doing simple sustainable things in the kitchen, like making pickles from cucumbers bought at the local farmers market. Unfortunately in the small town we are in that means about 4 vendors. We have also started making our own bread from scratch. But it is so good that we eat almost a loaf a day. It is so good! To be clear, when I say we have made pickles and bread, I mean my mom has. I have dubbed her the official pickle and bread maker.

Mom's Pickles

Mom’s Pickles

The new house in the new town is so relaxing. It has also inspired the ability to unplug. We don’t watch as much television out here. We like to sit on the porch. We have been taking the dogs for a walk around the park that is a block away. We eat dinner at the kitchen table. It has helped us get more creative. Mom has been sewing. My boyfriend, Jason, got a 3D printer for his birthday and is using it to fix tools, print little fun stuff for me, and to build a walking robot, We’ll see how that goes. For me I have been inspired to write, color, I am going to start a fairy garden with supplies I am gathering, and I am going to start learning how to do wood carvings. I got a couple knives and am going to practice with Ivory soap that I can then use in my laundry detergent.

We have also repotted several things. The avocado tree got a bigger pot. I am not sure how well it will do since it is growing taller but not much bigger around so there is no support structure. The top is flopping over. The dwarf banana also got a new home. It seems happy. The orange tree stayed where it is because it seems just fine where it is, it is even getting a little fruit on it. I am not sure if I should leave it there or what to do with it. I will have to do some more research. I have promised my family I wouldn’t buy anymore houseplants and instead I am concentrating on the ones we have.

Projects we having coming up before winter are to build a shed for the riding lawn mower and yard implements and to put a fence around the property. As you can tell from the pictures, that is a lot of fence. And because we are in the city and it is our front yard it can only be 3 feet high. So we will be doing a fence that is wood framed with wire. I will post pictures when we are done. In the meantime we have already hired a property surveyor that came out and staked the property lines. It was expensive, but better than having angry neighbors or land feuds.

Until next time!

From the New Place

We are finally in Sterling, CO! We moved here about a month ago and it has been a whirlwind. Instead of renting out my old house I decided to sell it. I don’t deal well with stress and it tends to manifest itself in physical ways with me, so for my sanity I sold it. In the Denver area it didn’t take long. I listed it on the 17th of June and got an all cash offer with a quick close on the 18th. So we close on Tuesday the 30th and that will be that. I’m really looking forward to being done with that.

So far in Sterling we haven’t really been able to accomplish much because we were working so hard to get the other house ready to sell. We have still managed to plant a few tomato plants, lavender, garden sage, and flowers. I’m not sure if we will get anything else into the ground this year.

The bugs are so horrible out here, I wasn’t prepared for that. Plus it pretty much rained for a month so the river nearby is really high and the neighboring fields to that are flooded. When we first got here we had moths, mosquitos, and gnats. Now we have mosquitos, gnats, and wasps. We had to clean out a lot of the overgrown brush where all the things are living and it seemed to help a little. It is a constant battle in this house for territory with us and spiders. But we are winning. Yay to old homes.

The list of things to do is growing constantly. This house has old slider windows with rope and weights. Due to the moisture they aren’t sliding right. I am sure that also has something to do with the years of paint on them and the fact that the interior rope is old. One of the things we are going to do is take those out, re-rope them, sand them and repaint them. They also need exterior screens and storm windows for the winter, which are separate pieces. I will take pictures and post them as we work on that project.

We are also going to build a shed for all of our lawn equipment. The garage will be used as a work space. And I will begin to do research on greenhouses, because I would like one of those as well.

I also have enough space in this house to have a meditation area. I haven’t had one before but it is something I am starting to explore and it has been helping. So I am working on setting that up as well.

I will be posting more pictures of progress as we start working on things. I’m really excited about it!

Have a great week!

Tara

Spring is Here!

So spring is showing its warmth in Colorado. I have no idea what is really going to be on the agenda for my garden this year. I am in the middle of moving from my suburban house in Aurora, CO, to my older house with a little more land in Sterling, CO. The climate is different there. It is farther away from the mountains and is much more prairie like. It is windier and a little more humid. I am sort of happy that I wasn’t all that great at gardening in Aurora since I have to learn all new things when we move.

We aren’t moving until the end of May, so I will also be getting a late start on things. Plus, the one thing that is left out of a lot of information, setting up a new garden can be pricey. We are going to do it a little slower since the point is sustainable living and not spending money on what we don’t have too. We will be moving the raised garden beds and the really expensive dirt we created a couple of years ago. We are also taking the several hundred pounds of flagstone that we have. I know I can find a use for it and since it is expensive stuff I am hauling it with me.

For good news, residents of Colorado may be able to start collecting rainwater! This would be awesome for my garden. The idea is going through the legal channels right now, so let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Yay Spring!

The Over Grown Garden

I’m not sure how many of you, if any, live in Colorado. Typically we have a fairly hot, dry summer with some random rain storms. This year, it has rained nearly every day all summer long. It has kept temperatures down, but I have felt like we didn’t really get a summer at all. My water bill is loving it, my lawn looks good because of it, but my vegetables haven’t been too happy.

The extra water seems to have over done some of them and created a lot of bugs. Apparently earwigs love tomatoes. However, they can’t climb up plastic so the tomatoes in the buckets did a little better than the ones in the ground. Peppers don’t like the chilly rain. And I couldn’t keep up on the every overpowering bindweed. Grrr. Some things grew big and tall and happy, but not many vegetables. I am not sure what I could have done.

Overgrown

 

Overall, I feel that this was a somewhat disappointing growing year. Many of my gardening friends did much better than I. I wonder if the still super soil has something to do with my lack of success or if there is something else I need to do? (Remember that we created dirt from vermiculite, peat moss, and 5 types of compost.) Advice?

Next year we will just grow peppers, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers. Perhaps I need to get really good at a few things then add to it.

I’m Still Here! Update……

I am so sorry for not being around. It has been crazy. I started a new job, got the flu, started my volunteering and then Comic Con. But I am still here.

I really wanted to participate in Writing 101, but am not sure if I should at this point. I am two weeks behind and I don’t work well under pressure. So I think for now I will just write what comes to me that follows along with really what I want this blog to be about. I am going to try to stay at it once a week. 

Next weekend I am sewing. I need new tops for work and just can’t bring myself to buy a shirt I have no strong feelings for at $25. Plus they just never seem to fit right. I will post pictures to let you all know how it is going.

The garden is amazing! It has been raining here almost every afternoon, which is unusual for Colorado in June. My garden loves the rain water and so does my water bill. The spinach went to seed, so we pulled it up. I am seeing peas now. The peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes are also growing well. This is the first year for the strawberries, so I think I will leave them alone and wait until next year to harvest fruit.

At Comic Con I dressed in my Steampunk outfit. I love that thing. It makes me feel sexy. I went with a friend and she and I got asked at least 20 times to have our picture taken. It really made my day. Here is a picture of me, yes I am sticking out my tongue. 🙂

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I think one of my first wood working projects is going to be to make a cane/walking stick for this outfit. I love it.

Besides sewing I am going to attempt to try something different with my hair. I already make my own laundry detergent. I am learning to reuse candle wax. I want to do something healthy and natural for my hair. So I am beginning to investigate alternatives to shampoo. There is no reason to put chemicals on my head. Does anyone have any recommendations? Advice? Personal experiences? I would love to hear from you!

The Garden is Planted!!!! And I Got a Job!!!!

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Peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers before planting.

We are done planting! It seemed so easy this year. Last year we got a late start and had to build garden beds with store bought dirt. This year, we simply cleaned up the beds and planted. It was so nice! Now we just get to maintain and enjoy.

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Clean bed, ready for cucumbers and tomatoes!

 

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The grate squares measure 1’x1′. We use these to easily measure and to keep the cats from using the loose dirt as a litter box.

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Tomatoes!

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Cucumber plants in one corner of each square. Seeds in the other corner of the square.

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Peppers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Strawberries!

Here is an overall picture of the garden. The paver area is still a mess, that is the next project.

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Very top left in the shaded box is green beans. Clockwise from that: Peas, lettuce, carrots, spinach, strawberries, potted dill (not seen). potted tomato, 3 tomato plants and a whole bunch of cucumbers. In the white buckets are tomato plants, one that you can’t see has a cucumber plant (I’ll explain this in a minute). In the white box are peppers. Each large box in the middle measures 3’x6′. I have twelve squares (1’x1′) with several cucumber plants. My mother fears we planted too many, but last year she had the same concern and I held back and we didn’t get any. I can always thin them out if needed.

Most are pickling cucumbers, then there are two of burpless cucumbers. Peppers include 4 bell pepper plants, 2 anaheim peppers and 2 poblanos. Tomato plants include 2 mortgage lifters, one each of beefmaster, cherokee purple, brandywine, Mr Stripy, fantastic and an early girl. If you are counting along that would be 8 tomato plants. We are testing to see what kind we like best.

I am so excited. We plan on canning and if we need extra stuff, like onions or dill, I hope to find it at the farmer’s market. I think I may start early, I have never canned before and don’t want to have a learning curve when I have all my veggies ready to go. Some things we decided not to do this year, like potatoes. Just want to concentrate on what we have.

The white buckets are an experiment of my mother’s. Self watering potted plants. They are sort of like a pot you would use for your violets. On the bottom is a bucket that has a drain hole drilled into in about 2-3″ up from the bottom. A second bucket sits in it that has drain holes drilled on the bottom and towels that are threaded from the bottom to the top. The towels soak up the water that is in the bottom bucket to feed the roots of the plants. How does the water get into the bottom bucket you ask? Well there is a 22″ length of PVC pipe from the top through the bucket to the bottom. We put water through the pipe into the reserve. Yes, I get the irony that we still water the bucket, but we will see if it works.

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The bottom of the top bucket. There are many little drain holes to let water out. The large hole in the middle is for the towels to come up through. The larger hole off to the side is for the PVC pipe to thread to the bottom bucket.

 

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Three towel strips coming up from the bottom bucket to the sides. Now time for dirt.

 

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Finished….almost. You can see the bottom bucket, the PVC pipe on the left. In the background you can sort of see the finished product. We put black plastic over it to keep the dirt warm and extra water out.

I ordered a few little fruit trees in January and they have now all arrived. I have an orange tree (which is doing great), a lime tree and now a dwarf banana tree! When these things get bigger my living room will look like a jungle….but there are worse things. For perspective they are each planted in a 6″ pot.

 

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Orange tree

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Lime Tree

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Dwarf Banana

An update on the avocado tree. I moved it out of the bright direct sunlight and started ignoring it, just watering it weekly. Check it out. You can see on the bottom that the leaves are still burnt looking, but it’s still growing new leaves and getting bigger. I also started two new ones, because I could 🙂

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Avocado as of 5.17.14

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New avocados

And lastly, sorry for the long post, I got a job. One of my pimps came through for me. I should start next week sometime after my finger print background check comes back. It isn’t as much as I really need to make, but after 3 months of not working it is better than nothing. It also has no direct customer contact. That alone may be worth the decrease in pay.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend! Please leave feedback, advice, or just say hi 🙂