Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Hill

Every yard has its issues.  Every. Single. One.  Whether you have too many shade trees or no shade at all.  My issue here is the hill.  Our home is on a hill.  We have a corner lot with the front of the house being our street and the side being the alley access to our garages as all garage access on our street is in back.  Both sides of our lot are hills.  The front isn't as bad as the side but my husband still needs to wear baseball cleats just to mow it.  

The side hill, you can't mow with a mower.  This side hill is higher than I am tall (5'6") and about 35'+ long.  For years, my husband used a weedeater to "mow" this hill.  Several years ago, after some researching, I decided to landscape this area to stop the weedeating.  I put junipers on the hill.  I bought smaller ones because they are so expensive, but they spread fairly quickly.  While I waited on them to spread, I bought a flat of Creeping Phlox to interplant with the junipers until they filled in.  The Creeping Phlox spread fast and quickly filled in the hill until the junipers caught up.  The Junipers were about $17 each, I bought 4 but moved 3 from another area on the property and the flat of Creeping Phlox was about $16.  I filled in the areas that still weren't covered with mulch.  By getting it in bulk, it was under $30.  So for around $100 and our labor, we solved the hill problem.

That is a good hint in using inexpensive flowers to fill in until more expensive things fill in.  It really allows you to have a nice looking yard throughout the process.

Until last year...the drought and heat wave wreaked havoc on my hill.  We were under a watering ban that I did my very best to abide by.  I did put soaker hoses in my veggie garden to keep it alive but that is because that fed my family.  Unfortunately the hill became over run with weeds.  Due to the heavy rains in the beginning of the spring and my health issues of late, it has been a long time coming to get this hill under control.  

So today, I started.  As the picture will show, I only got about one-third of the way done but under the circumstances, I'm not mad!

Some kids were climbing on my hill and messed up a bucket I had buried but I'll just pull it out and we'll figure something else out.  I also am a fan of rocks.  I was shocked to see that in the city you have to BUY rocks.  I am too much of a tight-ass to buy rocks...LOL.  I went to some farmers I know and they allowed me to get rocks from their piles that they dig up out of the fields.  It was labor on our part and the going and getting them but instead of $.69/pound, I spent a little money on gas and got as many as I could carry.

If you don't know a farmer, another good hint is to check out for your area.  I've seen people changing out landscapes and just giving away the old stuff if you just go get it.

I know I didn't get a lot accomplished today but it was more than yesterday.  I hope you are all enjoying your day.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Homemade cleaners

As I was looking for something in my cabinets over my washer and dryer, I saw the items that I use to make cleaners.  That's a huge savings in my house.  Commercial cleaners can be so expensive and tend to be uni-taskers as Alton Brown would say.  If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a huge Alton Brown fan...LOL.

Anyway, homemade cleaners.  I originally started making them after reading a book from the library about saving money in the home.  Now I love using them because there is not that chemicaly smell and they really are good cleaners.  They are good for the environment and cheap.  Um, I mean frugal!  LOL

First and foremost, plain, white vinegar is a great disinfectant.  I also accidentally found that it works on lots of fresh stains too.  I removed grape KoolAid out of a blue couch with it.  I also got blood out of a beige carpet.  With nothing but plain, white vinegar.

I make a homemade window cleaner that is just 1 cup of alcohol, 2 Tablespoons of non-sudsing ammonia and 2 cups of water.  I do add a few drops of blue food coloring, not only to differentiate between the cleaners but we're used to associating window cleaner with being blue.  I put this in a cheap dollar store spray bottle and it's great.

My friend, Secrena, shared this carpet cleaner recipe with me, I use it in my Kirby carpet cleaner.  In the resevoir, I mix 1/3 cup Tide, 1/3 cup bleach and 1/3 cup of Downey.  This stuff is amazing!  It does not alter the color of your carpet with the bleach in it but it does seriously help to remove the grunge in the carpets.

Another good one from Secrena is homemade Febreeze.  It is also just in a spray bottle, it's    just 2 Tablespoons of Baking Soda, 1/8 cup of your favorite fabric softener and fill the bottle with water.  I fill it with warm water so that the baking soda dissolves.  I use this stuff everywhere.  I spray the carpets, couches, curtains, pretty much anything that is fabric I will use this to freshen it.  It is seriously amazing.  

Speaking of baking soda, it's a great non-abrasive cleaner.  You can not only scrub the tubs and such with it but mixed with vinegar, it does part of the work for you.  I will run vinegar through my coffee pot to clean it.  I'll sprinkle baking soda in each side of the drain in the kitchen sink and some in the toilet just off the kitchen.  Once the vinegar has gone through the coffee pot, I'll pour part of it down each side of the sink (maybe a cup per side) and then put the rest in the toilet.  Vinegar and baking soda fizz and in the drain, when using the hot vinegar from the coffee pot, it will help to remove any grease in the drain and it will freshen it too.  In the toilet, the fizzing will help to loosen anything on the sides of the toilet and when you scrub with the toilet brush, it doesn't scratch the porcelain.  

These are just a few to get you started.  They really are easy to use and cheap!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pray for Oklahoma

Please everyone, keep those victims and survivors of the tornadoes in Oklahoma in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The garden is in!

The garden is planted!  I was beginning to wonder if I was going to make it this year.  It took me more time this year but you have to be persistent to it done.  I had my family working to help me but this last day, the kids were at school and hubby was at work and the weather man said we had serious storms coming.  And I had 43 tomato plants yet to get in the ground.  I made it with about an hour to spare.  Woo Hoo, it's all planted.

A friend was asking me about planting things to deter bugs and pest in your home. She had googled and found suggestions for planting oregano, catnip, chives, garlic and citronella in pots by the doors to keep them away and that lavender and peppermint deterred spiders.  I will have to look into this as I hadn't heard of this before.

I do know a little about garden critters.  As we were planting the garden, I loved seeing my 16 year old daughter picking up "wormys" to show her 8 year old brother.  (shhh, don't tell her I told you she's not all girly-girl...LOL).  Finding worms in the garden is good, it means your soil it in good shape.  Another critter I love finding in the garden are ladybugs.  They eat aphids and that's good, too.  

You can do a lot to help your garden without using chemicals.  You can plant things that help control things.  You can plant strong smelling herbs with certain plants to confuse the critters looking for the plant you are in essence hiding.  Rosemary helps prevent cabbage worms.  Garlic deters Japanese beetles. Basil repels thrips, flies and mosquitoes.  Chervil works on slugs.  Dill helps with spider mites and squash bugs but do not plant this by tomatoes because it attracts tomato hornworms.

Keep in mind, there are some bugs that you want in the garden.  Bees are important for pollinating things.  Some types of wasps eat caterpillars and tomato hornworms.  

Here is a great blog that has some organic tips for pest control.  She even has a homemade insect repellent recipe on the blog.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Don't let a disability stop a garden!

Good Morning!  

I want to take today to touch on disabilities and gardening.  This topic has been brought back to my mind this year because I have a heart condition that is giving me fits this year.  I am still putting out a huge garden this year, I just have to adjust how I do it.  And that is the biggest thing to remember, there is no can't there is just different!

For me this year, different just means that I am taking a long time to get my garden in.  This year, I am planting:  12 Lemon Boy tomatoes, 4 broccoli, 4 cauliflower, 12 Better Boy tomatoes, 6 celery, 12 Early Girl tomatoes, 6 Orange Jubilee tomatoes, 4 jalapeno, 3 yellow squash, 3 cantaloupe  4 zuchinni, 3 cabbage, 4 red peppers, 8 leeks, 4 yellow peppers, 6 green peppers, 12 sweet potatoes, 1 grape tomato, 4 cucumbers, 25 vidalia onion sets, radishes, carrots, lettuces, spinach, snow peas and green beans.  I also added an additional 25 strawberry plants.

Generally, I have my entire garden in the ground by Mother's Day.  Not this year.  So far, I only have the yellow squash, zuchinni, cantaloupe, the strawberries and about 70' of green beans.  I just have to take it slow and it will get in.  I should also add that our garden is a family project and my husband and kids help too.  Hopefully, if the rain holds off, we can get it in by the weekend.

My Mother gardened and although she grew a veggie garden, her passion was her flowers.  I remember when she got sick and was wheelchair bound, she would direct us kids on picking that weed or deadheading that flower.  It got her the pretty flowers but not the therapeutic effect that gardening always had on my Mom.  I now see that I get that same therapeutic effect from my garden. 

Once Mom entered the hospice facility, she was thrilled to see they had wheelchair gardening.  It was a set up similar to this:

This picture was taken from this website with lots of wheelchair gardening tips.  I had no idea, I guess because it was not something I'd had to deal with before.  But it was amazing!

I loved the look on my dear Mother's face when she found that she no longer had to "direct" us to do garden work for her, that even confined to the wheelchair, she could still garden, herself.  

Even if you aren't in a wheelchair but can't get down to ground level, you can put containers on a deck, or small table.  There is almost nothing that you can't grow in a container of some sort.  I've been thinking, trying to come up with one and I just can't.  

So, although I don't have my garden entirely in yet, I will.  As my husband says, "Hide and watch, she'll get it done!"

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!  I hope that each of you has a wonderful day!

I'm sorry I've been MIA for a week or so, but I've been finishing up finals and had a brief hospital stay and graduation...all in a week!  

Throw in finding a dress to wear to graduation and it was a full, full week.  I, admittedly do not enjoy shopping for myself.  It's hard to find things that fit and look nice.  Just because I am not a size 2 doesn't mean I want to wear a dress made to look like the pattern from a 1970's couch cover!  The hint I want to give here is to not discount those stores that you think might be out of your price range for clothing.  I had scoured the mall and was about to give up when I thought, "What the heck" and walked into Von Maur.  I found an absolutely beautiful dress for 75% off and got a dress with a jacket for $50, much less than I had budgeted for.  

I want to share a little tip with you for those who have spouses who can cook but can't seem to find a meal amongst the items in your pantry.  My husband is a great cook but, bless his heart, you could turn him loose in a grocery store and he couldn't find a meal!  So I keep a shelf  in the freezer that has everything for a meal right in one spot.  It's nothing fancy but it's a meal he can put together quickly.  In the freezer, I keep some chili in a Ziploc bag.  I also keep some pulled pork BBQ and buns in there.  When I make things like chili or pulled pork, I always make a little extra for the freezer.  So that something is not just sitting in the freezer forever, every couple of weeks when I have something on the menu that will freeze well, I'll pull out the "emergency" meal and make it for lunch on the weekend.  Nothing like a nice pulled pork sammie on a Saturday afternoon.  Even though this "emergency" meal changes every so often so that it's not a meal that has sat there so long that it's freezer burnt, my husband and children know that this particular shelf in the freezer is a quick, decent meal that can be on the table quickly.  

This eliminates those unnecessary, unplanned restaurant meals that are so expensive.  Unfortunately, we learned this strategy because of my hospitalizations but it comes in so handy when ever we are faced with busy kids needing to be in different places on the same evening.  We can still have a semi-healthy meal, quickly and, if need be, in shifts as people are home.  

I hope you all have a wonderful Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Happy early Mother's Day!

Every year for Mother's Day, my family knows that I want to go to Cox's Plant Farm to get the things for my garden.  I want to be able to wander around and look at what I want to look at, take all the time I need and pick out not only my veggie plants but also the plants for in front of the house.  

I know it's not Mother's Day yet, but since I was in the hospital and not supposed to be out in the gardens, my wonderful husband thought that taking me to Cox's for Mother's Day a week early might fulfill that desire to garden and keep me from working outside.  Again, he's awesome!

Here is my favorite garden store ever!

I think it's funny but if you can eat it, I can grow it.  If it's just pretty, it doesn't stand much of a chance around here unless my husband is tending to it.  I have no idea why this is.  This is why for the flower boxes that run on either side of the stairs coming up to my house, I am planting wave petunias. You can almost kill them, water them and they'll come back.  Plus they are cheap to buy and they get all viney so you don't need as many.  There are 7 steps coming up from the street and three of these plants on each side will be more than enough once they start spreading.  And I have only ever truly killed one of these!  I also bought 2 clematis vines hoping to build a sun screen for my porch.  I'm going to let my husband tend to these.

I was able to spend a lot of time here and got what I hope will be all of my garden plants.  Just a few of the things I got were 5 different types of tomato plants, 4 different types of peppers, zucchini, cantaloupe, leeks, vidalia onions, my lettuces, radishes, celery, carrots, yellow squash, green beans, cucumbers and more.  

And then, of course, being Indiana, it rained last night.  So now my husband doesn't have to worry so much about keeping me out of the garden.  Mother Nature is taking care of that for him!  LOL.  Just wait though, this is Indiana...the rain will stop soon!  

I can't wait to plant!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

School is done, it's Garden Time!

So much has happened in the last week.  The best part of the week, other than the beautiful weather, is that finals are over!  One more semester is in the bag.  I spent Friday dealing with a health issue but things are better now.  The ER doctor wanted me to take it easy this weekend until I see my regular doctor next week but the weather is so nice.  It's absolutely beautiful out.  While my hubby was mowing the front yard, I snuck out back to look around my gardens.  Hubby busted me...LOL.  He did tell me that he realized that I needed some "dirt therapy" as he called it.  I needed to be out in the sun getting dirty.  I love this man!

When I got caught, I was weeding the blackberries in the area where I'd recently moved them.  They're not looking too bad!

Ignore the weeds behind the stakes...I didn't get all the weeding done when I got caught!  LOL.  I found some free growing ones that were still in the area where I moved these from so they're a bit droopy from the transplanting.  But it's a start.  

I share the not so perfect pictures too to show you that you don't have to have a picture perfect garden, I'm not Martha Stewart so there will always be a weed or 50.  I'll get back out there later and finish the weeding behind the stake things.

There is a good helpful hint.  I took an old broken garden arch and gate and turned it into something for my blackberries to run up.  This originally came from WalMart and the gates had rusted off the arch when I was asked if I could use the arch part.  I took it all and flipped the gates upside down and drove them into the ground, now I have the arch itself and both gates to let the blackberries trail up.

Since I couldn't do it today, my wonderful husband got my tiller out and tilled my big gardens.  Mind you, I don't have the beds raked into place nor the second tilling done but hey, the first tilling is done and I am so thankful that my hubby took care of it for me.

It's a start!  Although I was made to sit and watch a lot of this, it is still nice to see it starting to come together.  

I hope you got to get outside today and enjoy the weather.  I hope you gardened a bit too.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Finals Week!

Just a note to let you all know I haven't forgotten this!  I am finishing the semester and it's finals week.  This is a rough one too!  

It's 76 degrees here at noon and the sun is shining.  I'm trying to stay focused on school work but so want to get outside!  If you have similar weather, try to get outside and enjoy it!

More later!  Back to working on the History study guide!  LOL