Monday, May 28, 2012

We can't eat that many cucumbers!

How's that for one day's harvest!
Besides the fact that I am getting eaten alive with mosquitoes every morning (we are in Houston after all), the gardening is going well. Check out what I harvested just this morning in the picture above. I also harvested a handful of cherry tomatoes and some green beans that aren't pictured.

Garden No. 6
Besides us eating out of this garden, we have given away quite a bit. I just love letting friends "grocery shop" in our backyard. We can't, after all, eat four eggplants at one time. And when will we ever eat nine cucumbers in a week? I also found out that our cucumber vine had gone through the fence and our neighbor had a juicy cucumber on his side of the fence. See, being our neighbor pays off!

I had to pull up one of our squash plants. We had a pesky vine borer take over and killed the poor plant. I will have to be more diligent about spraying the stem with garlic fire spray. Stink bugs like my cherry tomato plant, but haven't seemed to find the rest of the tomato plants yet. I am having to spray the cherry tomato plant every day to keep them off.

Garden No. 5

Garden No. 4

Garden No. 3

Garden Nos. 1 and 2

Garden No. 7

Garden No. 8

The cucumber vine intertwined with the
cherry tomato

Pentas are butterfly gourmet restaurants

Beautiful green onion flower

Stevia - bite a leaf for a sweet treat.
I dried some and combined with some tea
to make a sweet, calorie free drink!

Bumper crop of Louisiana Satsumas this year

Zucchini is already producing (and taking over
Garden No. 3)

A beauty! Stay away birds and bugs!

The second batch of bush beans I planted is taking off.

Green Bellpepper almost ready

A hidden gem - a sweet heirloom cantaloupe.
This is the first time we have grown them.

Cucumber and Purple Hull Bean

A little beauty

Artichoke doing OK in a pot in the shade

Easy addition for extra seating

We are in love with these ottomans! We ordered three! I had to share how wonderful they are. Our living room was feeling cramped with four long-legged people that wanted to stretch out when we watched TV. Adding these storage ottomans is one of the best things we have ever done. They are versatile as extra seating when we have company. The top flips back to reveal lots of storage. Perfect for blankets or kid toys. Safety hinge insures kid fingers don't get hurt. They are sturdy and just the right weight. They don't move when you put your feet on them but aren't too heavy so they are easy to move. They are leather but they are sealed against spills. They are the perfect blue-red and they aren't too shiny and cheap looking. We just love them! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Monster Steam Mop is a Monster Flop

I had such high hopes for my new fancy Euroflex Monster Jet II steam mop. I did tons of research into which one would be the best. Lots of reviews pointed to the Euroflex Monster Steamer as the best buy for the money. I was excited to try it out as many of the reviews said that their floors were the cleanest they had ever seen them. Well, these people must be filthy on a regular basis. I didn't see any difference between my regular terry cloth wide mop with vinegar and the clean I got with the steam mop. Seriously? What's all the fuss about? I have a lot of tile and Pergo in my house. I had to fill the thing up four times with a ten minute wait period so it could cool off between fills. It is slowing me down!

How is this disinfecting? I left the steamer on the tile in front of the toilet for 10 seconds. The tile wasn't even warm. Why? Because the steam does not shoot out from the bottom of the steamer. It has one tiny hole at the bottom of the steamer with a plate over it that directs the steam to shoot out of the sides and front of the steamer. I'm not sure how that does any good. Some reviews suggested taking off the plate so that the steam was redirected to the bottom. One hole? I tried it. Again, no good.

OK, so I tried it on my carpet. It has a plate that allows you to use the steamer on the carpet. I have one room that is carpeted and several throw rugs. I didn't see a difference.

Look on the front to see where it says "Steam min" and "Steam Max"
Mine doesn't have this. 
Another thing that I really needed was the adjustable steam because I have Pergo. The picture on Amazon showed that the thing had an adjustable steam function right on the front. The one I got in the mail was a totally different thing. It was just a door to open to pour the cleaner in.

Here is mine that clearly isn't the same as advertised
My major beef, and the reason I got the thing in the first place, was that I have grease in the grout in front of the stove. It makes sense that the steam cleaner would get it out. Nope. Didn't even touch it. I left it on there for a long time. I went over and over the spots. I sprayed with vinegar to loosen the grease stain. Nothing. I am thinking I need more of a handheld steamer for the grout. Heavens. I'm back on my hands and knees. Well, it went back to Amazon and I got my money back. Isn't it disappointing when things don't turn out as advertised?

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Little Spring Tablescape

I'm enjoying watching all the birds in our neighborhood hunt for the most perfect weed for their nests. The fledglings are everywhere. I am especially enamoured with a cute little Blue Jay fledgling. He tries to eats everything while he learns  what is edible. It is adorable. This afternoon, the little girl I watch in the afternoon got to watch three baby blue jays as they took advantage of my birdbath. She was thrilled.

This weekend I came across a beautiful metal candelabra at HomeGoods. It was begging for some embellishment. I stuffed the open cavities with some sheet moss. I added some cute felted wool mushrooms to the bottom and hollowed out a spot in the middle of the candelabra for a miniature nest complete with eggs and feathers. A nod to all our feathered friends in the yard. I'm not sure if it will end up with candles or not. I like it without right now.
metal candelabra with a few tweaks

birds nest hidden on the candelabra

Felted wool mushrooms
(click the link above for a tutorial)
Sunday, my sweet friend Sarah and I went on the hunt at a nearby antique mall. I came across this scale and I couldn't pass it up. It ended up on my dining table. It needed this artichoke and some twine. Why? I don't know but I think it looks just right!
antique scale - the twine and artichoke seemed
a good fit. Note the felted mushroom in a jar.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Trouble in Paradise

Everyone has gardening problems. Even though we are doing a Square Foot Garden which is pretty much maintenance free, we still have to deal with pests. We are organic, so I am using fire garlic spray and I finally found some diatomaceous earth at my Ace Hardware (Safer Brand Diatomaceous Earth). Diatomaceous Earth ("DE") is the fossilized remains of diatoms, a hard-shelled algae. Be careful to get the kind for gardens. The kind for swimming pools is actually a different composition and is dangerous to humans because it contains up to 70% "crystalline silica". Exposure to silica has been linked to lung cancer. The kind for gardens works like sharp shards of glass to bugs. They die from dehydration. While this kind is safe for humans, I still take precautions when dusting the stuff on my garden. 

look closely to see the matching bug -
I think he is some sort of a leaffooted bug nymph
Because we have just started our homemade compost, we had to rely on store bought compost for our Mel's mixture this year. Of course, store bought isn't as good as homemade when it comes to compost. As a result, I am currently dealing with a calcium deficiency in my garden which is affecting my cucumber and squash plants. How do I know? My squash has some blossom end rot. My cucumbers have some yellow leaves. I found a fix that seems simple enough. Time will tell. I purchased some water soluble calcium (Green Light - Blossom-End Rot Spray) to spray on the leaves and fruit. I am currently treating them with this treatment. I also gently scratched into the surface 1 Tbl. of bone meal to each square foot that contains melons, cucumbers, squash, zucchini and tomatoes. I will be sure to add lots of eggshells and bone meal to my compost to ensure we don't have this deficiency next year. 

note the yellow cucumber leaves - calcium deficiency

squash blossom end rot because
of calcium deficiency

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

For Ferdie - The empty cradle, the empty womb

Today is really, really tough. Five years ago today our sweet baby boy, Ferdinand Valentine Leger or "Ferdie", crossed over into eternity. I was only pregnant for four months, but they were wonderful months. It was a surprise pregnancy for my husband and I and we were thrilled (after the initial shock wore off). We had two boys already and thought our family was complete. I had always longed for another child, but was resigned to the fact that we were done. Miscarriage never crossed my mind. I had always had easy pregnancies and didn't expect this to be any different. I had morning sickness for the first time ever with a pregnancy. I was excited to work with a midwife for a home birth. I was starting to show and was just getting into maternity clothes. Yet, suddenly, here I was dealing with the fact that I would never get to raise this child. It was devastating beyond words. We got to hold him for a bit and marvel at how God was knitting him together. We know it is a rare glimpse at how perfectly we are made even at only a few weeks. We have never shared pictures of him. It is just so personal. My husband still, after five years, doesn't want to share pictures. It is out of respect for him, I will not post pictures of our baby here. I will say that he was amazing with his tiny hands and feet. A perfect little baby in miniature.

I still mourn even after these five years. The weirdest times it will just hit me. Life goes on. Friends get pregnant and have babies. You rejoice for them. I still feel the emptiness. Someone is missing from our family. I took pictures of our empty cradle just days after losing Ferdie. It was part of my mourning process. I had acquired the cradle just a week or so before losing Ferdie. Little did I know that it would be used during my mourning just a few days later.

I was surprised by the different reactions of friends. It was marked between those that had experienced a miscarriage and those that hadn't. Those that had, called and listened to me as I worked through my grieving process. Those that hadn't, sent flowers. I am thankful for both forms of outpouring. I am also thankful for the prayers that went up for me during that time. I felt them. Even years later, people that I just meet tell me that they prayed for me during this time. Wow!

I am thankful to God for helping me through this process. He continues to be my strength and a very present help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1


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