Friday, June 28, 2013

the shirt says it all...

Carson has been the lucky recipient of some new hand painted shirts thanks to my new Silhouette Cameo.  We're having a blast putting anything and everything on T-shirt.

I had seen this cute saying somewhere and remembered it.  Here's my little super hero making his very best "BATMAN" face!

I've found freezer paper to be THE way to go when making stencils for fabric.  The best part, you can buy a whole 75 ft roll at Ralph's for $3.99!

I used my new cameo for this project, but you can certainly use an exacto knife on freezer paper and create the same type of project.  This one might be a little too intricate for the exacto (if you're dying for a shirt like this you better just get in touch with me and I'll make you one!).

Here's how to use freezer paper as a stencil.  It couldn't be easier.

~ Cut your freezer paper to size.  Lay it plastic side down and cut out your design.

~ Remove the letters/design to create your stencil.

~ Iron the design onto your shirt (pillow, etc) using medium heat.

~ Use your favorite fabric paint to fill in your stencil.  I LOVE to use Annie Sloane's chalk paint on fabric.  It acts more like a fabric stain and lightens only slightly in the wash.  It doesn't have that stiff fabric paint feeling at all.

~ Allow the paint to dry and peel off the freezer paper.

~ Heat set the fabric paint once you're sure it's completely dry.

~ Show off your new shirt!

Friday, June 21, 2013

edible garden favorites ~ part 2

My last post featured all my favorite goodies planted in my raised bed.  We also have plenty of edible plants scattered around the yard.
If you don't have the space for a raised bed, just put a couple of these in pots.  They're pretty and delicious!  Remember not all plants are created equal.  I think I've got some winners this year...

{1} thompson seedless grapes ~ vigorous climber for a fence or trellis ~ we've got these all over an ugly fence back by our garage
{2} seascape strawberry ~ everbearing ~ produces fruit spring, summer and fall ~ these love hanging pots
{3} peach sorbet blueberry ~ a dwarf variety perfect for a pot
{4} raspberry shortcake ~ a dwarf variety with no thorns ~ this is the only variety I would go with if you have kids ~ regular raspberries can be pretty painful
{5} meyer lemon ~ so sweet + the blossoms smell amazing
{6} stevia and mint ~ muddle the leaves of these two in hot water for the perfect sweet mint tea
{7} a potted herb garden ~ basil, cilantro, chives, rosemary, thyme, parsley and garlic

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Monday, June 17, 2013

edible favorites ~ part 1

On my road toward edible gardening success, I've had a lot of trial and plenty of error.  This year I've finally got a nice bunch of fruits and veggies that are actually producing!

As I mentioned in my previous post, good dirt is your garden's best friend.  If you go with a cheap one (like I did my first year), your plants just won't do well.

The next most important thing is choosing your plants wisely.  Take yourself down to a local nursery for a visit.  If you're a beginner, you want hardy plants that do well in your climate!  My first year, I made the mistake of ordering all my seeds from a specialty heirloom catalogue.  They all sounded wonderful in theory, but many of them weren't right for my coastal area and just proved to be too hard to keep healthy. 

Here are this year's favorites so far!

{1} Sweet Peppers ~ Easy to grow, pest and disease resistant ~ starter plants are the way to go!
{2} Tomatoes ~ This year we've got three!  A super sweet heirloom black cherry {1}, a cherokee green (one of the best tasting, fast growing greens) {13}, and a yellow heirloom (not pictured) ~ starter plants are the way to go here too!
{3} Sugar snap peas ~ sweet, delicious and productive.  In my experience they like a little shade, so they're nestled behind my corn ~ easy to start from seed.
{4} Lettuce ~ If you like salad it's a must.  And you still have plenty of time to plant from seed and enjoy this year!  I've had great luck with lettuce from seed, but the starter plants are a super quick route to a dinner salad.
{5} Sweet White Corn ~ so easy to grow + pole beans or snap peas can climb right up it!
{6} Dill ~ for pickling my cucumbers
{7} Cucumbers ~ Salt and pepper for pickling (pictured) and a sweet slice hybrid for eating
{8} Rue ~ to keep the bugs away (we've got marigolds too!)
{9} Red Leaf Kale ~ easy to start from seed
{10} Japanese eggplant ~ so much easier than other varieties that I've tried
{11} Swiss Chard
{12} Multicolor beets
{13} Cherokee green tomatoes (see {2})

If you're starting late this year you've still got time!  Especially if you're in Southern California like I am.  Go get yourself some starter plants and build yourself a simple raised bed.  Cucumber, squash and melons can go in now!  And beets, carrots, lettuce and all types of greens will go in around August 1st.

And don't forget the PUMPKINS!  Throw those seeds in the ground now for great fun in October.  We just planted our pumpkin patch last weekend.

Later this week I'll post all of my potted edibles!

Friday, June 7, 2013

raised bed gardening for beginners

I've recently been sharing my expertise (that may be too strong a word) on gardening with a few friends who are interested in giving it go.  I promised that I'd get it all down on paper (this counts, right?), so here goes...

Although I've been gardening since I was a kid (we called it "yard work/yuck") I still absolutely count myself as a beginner.  I grew up on a farm with a really big beautiful yard, thanks to my mom's LOVE for all things green.  In retrospect, I wish, wish, wish that I had payed more attention to my mom's gardening genius, but I spent most of my time complaining and just getting the job done so I could move on to better things (sorry about all of the whining, mom & dad, I'm sure Carson will pay me back one day).

Ironically, gardening has now become one of my favorite pastimes.

And, now that I have a little garden assistant, we're all about the edible gardening.  You can literally see the vegetables grow overnight.  The ripe fruits and veggies are the perfect motivation to get him outside and helping me!

It all starts with a few 2"x8's and only a couple of hours.  You can build a bed in any dimension that will fit your space.  Our raised bed is 4' x 8'.

Building a raised bed is super simple.
Here's what you need to make one like ours (adjust sizes if necessary):
4 - 8' 2x8s
4 - 4' 2x8s
4 - 18" 4x4s
2.5" wood screws

I wish I had more pictures to share, but I built this last year, when my blog was just a little glint in my eye.  I'd be more than happy to answer any questions, just send them along (and if you've got my number, give me a ring).

There's probably no right or wrong way to do this, as long as you end up with some sort of rectangular-ish box.  Here's the general steps that got me to my finished product.

First, I grabbed my 4x4s and my 4 ft. 2x8s.  You probably want to do this near the location of your little garden, since it will be hard to move once it's built!
I screwed the 2x8s into the 4x4s, so the ends lined up perfectly.  See the pic above.
Once I had my 4 footers screwed in, I grabbed my 8 footers and screwed those in, lining them up with the ends of the 4 footers (again, see pic).   You'll notice that the 4x4s are longer than the bed so they can go a few inches into to the ground.

That's it!

The next step is to figure out exactly where you want your garden.  There's no moving it once it's filled with dirt!  The number one rule is SUN!!!  At least six hours for most of your crops!

Once I had found the perfect location, I lined the bottom with weed barrier.  I've heard you can also use newspaper (I bet it works, I wouldn't hesitate to take that route and save a little money).

Then I filled it with soil.  In the soil department I've found you get what you pay for.  Go for an organic potting soil.  Unfortunately, it's not going to be cheap (you'll probably need 10 bags of soil and 2-3 bags of compost.  I use a soil called Happy Frog (about $13/bag), mixed with some organic compost, and I'm having great results.  The good news is, next year you'll just have to add some compost to your soil and get to planting.

Speaking of planting...

my next post will be on the plants I've loved and the ones I haven't.  I'm all about easy and fast growing/producing.

You'll also get my thoughts on organic plant feeding and pest control (I've become a little bug crazy!) and directions on building a super cheap trellis.

Happy gardening!

Monday, June 3, 2013

blueberry crumble muffins

We're back from vacation!  It's always alway a little tough to get back into the swing of things, but it does feel great to be home.

It was a nice treat to return home to ripe blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.  Our garden is really doing great and providing us with lots of fun (not to mention food)!

Carson just loves going out each morning to check on his plants.  We're really working on the concept of "ripe" fruit.  A few too many green blueberries are being eaten in the process, but patience is a tough concept, and hopefully we'll get there eventually.

Blueberries remind me of my childhood.  My parents have a whole patch of huge bushes that produce more berries than our family can eat.  And, blueberry season certainly wouldn't be complete without a batch (or a few batches) of my mom's blueberry muffins.

This recipe is just delicious.

Shelly's blueberry crumble muffins

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
1 egg (room temperature)
2+1/3 cup flour (+1 extra Tablespoon to be used later)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/+1/2 cup blueberries

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
Mix the sugar, butter.  Add egg.  Stir in the flour, soda, salt, milk and vanilla.  Use the extra Tablespoon of flour to coat the blueberries (this keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins).  Fold the coated blueberries gently into the batter.  Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full.  Top with crumble topping.  Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 18 minutes.

Eat up!