Monday, May 26, 2014

Strawberry Girl

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Growing up my mother read aloud to us daily. It's something I remember with fondness about my childhood. She's good at reading aloud and when I asked her to read Strawberry Girl (by Lois Lenski) to my girls, she enthusiastically said yes. During most of March they read a little here and a little there. When they finished and I asked Marin what was one thing she remembered about the story she said "The father was bad. He didn't give money to his wife and spent it all instead. We planted Strawberry plants after reading this story." She's right about the dad and about planting strawberries. That's my mom for you. She is more than willing to share the gift of reading with her granddaughters AND she looks for any opportunity to incorporate nature. She thought the girls would enjoy growing their own strawberries and showed up at the back door with six plants and invited the girls to plant them with her. Below are the plants (in May) with their beautiful pink blossoms and a hand full of the harvest. Thank you, Mom.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Porch Lights Restored

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 I purchased a set of vintage Phil Hinkley & Co. light fixtures from Midland Theory on Etsy for our back porch, in June, of last year. I had been searching for just the right fixtures, looking for period accuracy and something that mimicked what we already have on the house AND was a set. These were just the ticket. However, one of the lights was damaged during shipping and I had to contact the seller. We corresponded a bit and I promised to send her pictures of the lights when they were restored and hung. That's when I realized that it took me a YEAR to finish this project! Have I mentioned how slow we are?

First we had to repair the broken light (gratefully the glass was intact) I stripped the lights down to the original brass using steel wool, dismantled them, cleaned them, primed them, put two coats of black paint, rewired them with new sockets and bought new screw covers for the tops that were missing. Steven used his mad wiring skills and ran the electricity and hung them outside.

I love old light fixtures. Have I mentioned that before? Now searching for a vintage light for the back door.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

North Porch Sangria

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Krystina’s North Porch Sangria
3 lemons
3 oranges
3 limes
2 peaches
1-2 kiwi
1 fresh pineapple
½ cup raw turbinado cane sugar
½ cup water
1 750-milliliter bottle dry red or white wine chilled
1 bottle Sprite
1-2 cups brandy (depending on taste)

Cut one lemon and one orange into wedges. Placed half of the wedges from the lemon and orange in a sauce pan; set aside remaining slices. Cut remaining fruit in wedges, slices or cubes for inclusion in the final mixture.

For syrup, add the sugar and ½ cup water to the saucepan. Add one to two strawberries and slices from a peach.  Bring to boiling. Stirring till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cool for 30 minutes (or until fruit is cool enough to handle). Squeeze juice from cooked fruit into the syrup. Discard cooked fruit. Strain syrup mixture to remove seeds if desired. Pulp is okay.

In a pitcher or large jar combine remaining fruit slices, syrup, wine, sprite and brandy. Squeeze some of the citric fruit to release fruit flavor. Chill for at least 2-3 hours. Serve over Sonic ice.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Sweet Potato Farmers

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It all started when we had open spots in our square foot garden. I casually mentioned it would be fun to grow sweet potatoes and the next day Steven put a spud in a jar of water. On April 17 we had our first sign of success. We had NO CLUE what we were getting ourselves into...
It took 17 days for that little sprout to produce these slips.
Three days later the slips were broken off and placed into water to sprout their own roots.
Once we realized that we might actually have viable sweet potato slips, we decided to read about growing them. That lead to us having to build a separate box just for potatoes.
Did I say us? I meant Steven. I've started calling him my Potato Farmer.
Slips are in the ground. Now we wait until September to harvest.
Once we harvest they'll have to season for another six weeks. There's no getting in a hurry when it comes to sweet potatoes. Having lived in this old house for over 10 years, we're getting pretty good at patience.
Now to find something else to fill the empty spaces in our square foot garden.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Back Patio

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Here is what this area looked like in 2009.

Since then we've had the house painted and a tank less water heater installed, but otherwise it's been pretty ugly. It's also problem area for water running under the house. Steven and his dad have worked to change the fall of the yard, and these concrete pieces were the last of the projects necessary to keep the house dry underneath.

Here are shots of the dirt work and form setting that was done in April.
Steven and his dad poured the concrete on April 23, 2014. The girls had front row seats for the show.
In May we built a flower bed and planted hydrangeas and hostas.
I'm hoping this can be an nice area to set up a gardening table and an outdoor sink.


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