Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Friday, March 30, 2012

A couple of cuttings

Took a half dozen cuttings of thyme and three starts of sage today. We shall see how they turn out.

But today is a cooking report kind of day. I totally miss a Chicago restaurant today for a particular dish of penne pasta, asparagus, and prochitto in a creamy tomato sauce.
Well, don't have any of that in the house, so I'm using rigatoni, frozen mixed cauli, broc, and carrot, a pound of bacon, and a couple cans of diced tomatoes.

Sizzled up the bacon in a small dice. Whacked up three fat garlic cloves into a very rough dice, and tossed them in after the bacon was crispy. Let that start getting smelling of garlic in the air and drained the two cans of diced toms into it. Then I dumped in a whole ton of herbals. A small palmfull each of dried onion, parsley, and Italian herb mix. A Tablespoon of garlic powder, and about half that of garlic salt.
I tend to sub garlic salt for straight salt in sauces like this. Hubby picked up a bucket of the stuff and so I try to use it as I can instead of salt for boiling pasta. Once that container is empty and washed out, it will become the new container for homemade dried chopped garlic.

Anywho, the tomato sauce is tightening up, so it's time to kick up the heat under the pasta water and lower the heat under the sauce and start watching it.

Had enough base to split half off for the freezer. Added dairy to the other half, tossed in the pasta with a bunch of Parmesan... yum!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

So more stuff to say and plans made...

Ok, finally decided what to do about a couple of things in the yard whilst I was taking a couple barrows of burning scraps down to the firepit today....
I think I'm going to continue to encourage the ivy starts I put in under the cedars last year to help fill in the underbrush where I just whacked out a bunch of weedy tree things and some dead cedar branches. Already moved one of the bird feeders to a branch on that side. And har har, I will for sure have to drop in a couple steps for me to get down that particular hill slant. That spot where the ivys are growing in the solarium just need one more goodly watering and then it's time to dig them up and plop them under the pines. Apparently the hummingbirds like to nest in the cedars, so I think my eventual feeder movements will include a nectar feeder in that area. Kind of a full plush undergrowth of ivy with the hummingbirds and other flighty feeders rest areas. And a few chicken hang out spots too.

Got the driveway outside the office cleared of debris. A couple barrows to the firepit, and raked up all the dead leaves drift to their appropriate spots. One side went to under the feeder tree area, and the other went to the tip of the FOH garden. Want to mulch in those spots anyway, and didn't feel like picking out all the little twigs to toss it all into the compost. Sooner or later we will have some sort of mulching device, lol. A lot of nasty viney bits need to be removed along with the weedy tree bits- I think I might just drag them to the other side of the cedars for easier removal.
The top of the wee folk hill has suddenly become a bigger priority for this year. Need to put in steps and rails at the top and do some basic landscaping in for people to pass through easier. Keeping my fingers crossed for good weather next year- I want to set up most of the food and beverage service in this area, lol.

Got some of the most preliminary straightening up done down by the raspberry bed. Mostly just marked off the basic inner corner for where the garden rows will start. Took a snips and trimmed up all the little shoots of the weedy trees I cut down last year. Still have a lot of cutting down of what's left. I'm hoping now that if I keep whacking at it right, I may end up making some kind of interesting topiary action with the fool things that are along the fence. Thinking maybe they might end up as nasturtium poles for longer varieties if this years experiment goes well.

So, this years experiment with those. I'm going to totally clean up the arch drive, and I've made some plans for what I want to do with it. It may end up being the hop pergola home. We figured doing it down to the sanctuary would just be too view blocking. So this year along with the squash rows on either side of the drive, I will be adding in a bunch of mammoth sunflowers go mimic "poles" of a future pergola line. Silly things grow 7-12 feet tall so that should cover pretty much any ceiling height. I think I may plant in a further line of the sunflowers from the arch drive down to the road. That way I can mark off our approximate new easement line so I have a good idea of where to start planting lilacs next year. And what all fill can go in on the easement side too. Still planning on relocating a bunch of the ditch lillies. Figure it would be a good fill marker for along at least the part of the roadside that leads up to our mailbox.
So, what to do with the newly cleared arch? Block it again of course, haha. I'm going to mark off the easement end, strategically pile up a few of those weird and kind of too heavy branches to block off the far end mostly. I will leave a space a bit bigger than my wheelbarrow across the middle of it as a "gate". I have two varieties of nasturtiums that I'm going to do in container pots and line the arch side of the wooden "wall" with. And we have a log that I can pull across the opening for when the drive isn't in use.

I still need to give some attention and consideration to more of the side and back yard areas. Thankfully most of them are more about some easy care and cleanup more than anything else. I will need to do a big push of relocating a bunch of the lilly of the valley around the base of the chinese chestnut. Hehe, I'm going to do a rake in of the sharp hulls as the fence line for the lillies.  I also need to take a bunch of bamboo stakes and twine really soon and mark off the border around the outside of the solarium. So much of it is spring blooming, so I lose track of what's there really fast.

Which reminds me, lol. I need more twine and bamboo stakes.

And I'm going to be using up a whole bunch of recycled soup cans again once the weather starts holding a bit more steady again and I have room for more starts- or I get off my bum and drag out a couple more coolers to serve as countertops. I'm going to plant up a whole bunch of lettuce starts in them an use them for markers this year. If I can do enough, I plan on marking in the polebarn side of the roadside for next years parking. If I do it right, I should end up with a lawn tractor pass or two on the roadside, a swath of lettuce, and then start mowing again on the inside of the border. A sort of quick and easy way to mark off the area. I plan on sinking in the cans partway, and filling in the rest as I can as heavily as I can of other sweet greens seed. Between bolting and just heavy non grass plant action I can draw up a sort of line there. Perhaps I will do up some ornamental kale as a center marker line to that.
And I now have a plan for all of the cement molding scribbings- I'm going to save them up in a bucket and use them down by our mailboxes to our drive. I want to make that a goodly opening of no vegetation that it's also feasible that I will dump that there. Gravel and stones that I find in the yard I still need to set up buckets for so I can dump them leading down to the eventual pier.

So, in some future plans... I need to make up a bunch of cement castings. Important molds to fill?
Large octagonal- however many I can make, about a dozen in glow pieces
Deep step red mold- however many I can make
Knot border piece- need at least a dozen, about six in glow for corners
Shallow red mold- need at least a dozen
Knot border rounds- about eight to ten, half glow pieces. 

Glow in the dark... I have a goodly handful of glow backed star shaped glass and there is reflective paint available.. Think I will use a combo of the two to kick off the glowing stones. As I find super cheap clear glass tile and glow paint, I will start making my own.

I'm going to do my first tarp recycling for the cement barrow. Figure it would be easier just to butcher up an already icky tarp into the right sizes pieces and make patches over the bad spots. That way I can mix up a batch of cement, let the remains dry then lift out the liner and shake it out into a bucket for the mailbox area and reuse it as much as possible.

Anywho, a ton of borders are being introduced in this season. Already got most of my plant action going on for the living hedge and veggie rows for this year. And I can tuck some other border annuals for this year too along special lines.

Special lines. I've decided were I want the first clothesline in the backyard to be. And a second line too. Tucking into the trio of oaks we are saying our vows under tied up to the solarium roof line. Those will be the edge markers for our garbage bags and tarps concept. As it expands, it will crawl from there to my office corner and over the walkway in front of the house to a canopy up to the first garage stall. Perhaps in future years these markings will lead to permanent porch action.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Planted more seeds...

Yep, planted in a ton more seeds.
Kicking off on what I planted on the 16th.
Papri peppers, pepperchinis, and mini bell peppers failed completely, not even their shells cracked :(
They have been replaced by red cheese, cayenne, and tangerine pimento pepper types. Respectively, a paprika, a hotter preserve, and a sweeter preserve.
The hot pepper mix currently only has 4 of 8 plants sprouting- one full tray sprouted, one didn't. Gonna wait another few days to see if the blank tray starts anything or not before I reseed.I gave that tray some extra water to make sure all was moist, and moved to the inside of the heat zone.
Everything else is trundling along just fine so far. Some stuff hasn't come up yet, and I'm not sure if that's because it isn't supposed to or not yet.

What I planted on the 17th. the snowball X cauliflower was a fail, I replaced it with early snowball A cauli. I may be shifting the beds pattern to allow one full row of cauli, and one full row of cabbage now. Reseeded 2 of the brussels sprouts, and everything else is trundling along very well so far.

What I planted today other than replacement seed... Lutz beets, parsley roots, parsnips, red carrots, envy soy, luffa gourds, moonflowers, wildflower patch pots, parsley patch pot, cutting celery, long island mammoth dill, and brown, black, and white mustards.

I already started 3 containers of compacto dill, and those will stay in containers. The long island mammoth dill I planted a dozen paper pots of and plan on plugging them into that troublesome hill spot. The parsley patch pot is for outlining the mow line on the top of the hill outside my office window. I want to start marking in that area so I can start working on putting in steps leading down the hill. The luffa gourds are for along the fenceline that walls in the compost pile. I'm going to train them to drape over the top of the runs I hope. Moonflowers will hopefully line the white fence from the garage to the end of the fenceline. Eventually I will cultivate that whole pathline to a tad wider than the riding tractor. The wildflower patch pots are to plant into the sanctuary.

If even one third of the seed I'm planting this season yields, I will have a ton of preserving to do. And yay, a ton of self grown produce I got for pennies per plant instead of bucks per pound or package at the grocery store.

Spending so far?
A bunch of seed I've been using was bought, and a bunch of it was free. After this season I'm going to try to save as much seed as I can- for next years plantings of stuff I liked. And whatever is left over we shall see what happens. A few care packages I'm sure, perhaps a few packages of seeds for selling too if I'm lucky.
I've purchased a few bags of potting soil for this year. Around 25 bucks so far I think. I'm keeping track of the bags this year so I know how many cubic yards of the stuff I will need for next year.
All of the planting containers have been free so far. Stuff that we have had for years and a ton of recycled goods. All the pots are either recycled newspaper, soup and coffee cans, or egg cartons. Exceptions to this are a few cooking pots that went to junk that I reused for planting purposes.

So, now that I have a couple hundred seeds planted, Mama N shows her playful side. We are just coming into a week of 30's for nighttime lows. Eeep! So we have slid the whole bench a few feet away from the windows, and I have all the pots packed together. Both ceiling fans are running along with a little space heater on the floor on a cinder block. My love has started tinkering around with the pond, so that has helped keep the temps around 50 and above. With all the new plantings today that requires me to sit for another 7-10 days before I should report progress or even think about plantings. Right now I need to take the next few days and plan out what will still be started and what will be starting direct seed.  cx

I also got all the black plastics done today, hooray! All neatly folded up and hopefully I will remember the fold patterns and open them up right, har har. If things go pretty well this year, I hope to have three boxes made by next spring. And then the next years added boxes will be on plastic.
Next step for this year is to sort out all of the gallon milk jugs and slice the bottoms off most of them. When I put out the plastics I will insert them into the ground rain gauge style, and if I need them for a little bit of weather bell action, I can use them for that too.
And place out my markers around the raspberry bed on that side. I need to mark off that whole corner so I get a better idea of what needs to be done down there before I start laying out plastic.
The price for the plastic and the yard pins to place them. I paid 25 for 150 landscaping pins. 16 for 4 rolls of black plastic, 10 ft by 25 foot. I found that though the 10 foot wide usually holds up, the 25 foot long sometimes varies a bit. So I have a couple rather long tails leading into the conjunction. That's right fine by me. If I find myself with too much tail, I'm sure I can put it to other use.

We got in the new raspberry bushes yesterday evening. I totally forgot about them till just now. I have now opened the bag up into two pots and separated the root bundles with a little water to tide the plants over till next week when the temps look a little more handlable. Caroline, a red, and Anne, a gold.
This corner I'm building is a pretty pivotal marking for the yard.

Got the rest of the bird scares done, I'm kind of disappointed with the yield. We shall see what an unopened box yields, lol. A bunch of the caps are now going to be sent off to gridworks for the treads on some cement stair casting.

I'm off, I got more to say, but it's dinner out tonight, and I need to get dressed, lol.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Super cheap bird goodies..


Been saving all of our beer bottle caps, so those are pretty much free.
Got 2 boxes of tinsel for christmas @ 50 cents each. Only used one, and had to strip the tinsel back off the tree because it's a kitty hazard and a wildlife one too. Will be hitting the stores after christmas this year and pick up a box or few for a dime a pop once they hit rock bottom prices :)
Bag of bamboo skewers, they kind most stores carry for cheap kabob action. Comes 80-125 per bag at around 1.50-2.00 a bag. If they are more expensive than that, skip em and look elsewhere.
I might make some twisty tie style, so I cut up some crap wire bits I had laying around. I figure those will be nice for attaching onto trellis bits or tall plants.  I'm also going to use a bit of scrap ribbon.

Tools needed:
A pair of needle nose pliers.
Wire cutter if you are using a wire to make the scare a twisty tie instead of clamping it onto the skewer. 
A tall vase or jar. This is handy to put your skewer scares into as you get them done so they don't get too tangled up if you toss them in a pile.

Ok, so how many scares you can make depends on how much tinsel you use per scare. I started out using quite a bit, then cut back on them. I figure the way I was starting out I might get three dozen, and I cut the amount of tinsel in half so I might get five dozen from this pile. Still have a new box that I can divide up much more neatly.
Took me some dinking around to figure out just what is the easiest way to make them.  Now that I have it figured out I will take the camera upstairs and take pics of what I am doing next time I go up. I will add them in after that :)

Take your pliers and slightly bend out a tooth on either  side of the cap.

Bend cap just a bit to get the fold started. Make sure you don't bend it too much otherwise the skewer/wire won't fit in nicely to the fold.
 Pinch up some tinsel and  wrap it around the blunt end of the skewer one full time. You should end up with an end on one side of the skewer, a full band around, and the other end on the other side of the skewer.

Pinch the ends of the tinsel into the skewer and place the skewer into the fold of the cap.
Pinch cap down around the skewer and tinsel, first using fingers, then use the pliers to really crimp it down.

The tip of the scare should be totally closed just above the tip of the skewer, the whole cap clamped in an "overbite" down to the skewer, and the other end of the cap should be snugly clamped over the skewer.
If using a wire or ribbon. Center  it over the cap before wrapping the tinsel around it and wrap the tinsel over the center point. Crimp both ends very tightly, making the "overbite" in the cap.

For all of the crafters out there... Put aside a weatherproof container for all of your cut offs. All those scraps and scribbins, tail ends and trim offs of thread, embroidery floss, yarn to some extent, try to keep it to mostly natural fibers... A couple inches to about a foot pieces. So whatever scrap you got, cut it up a bit if you are tossing it for the birds. In the early spring a month or so before spring nesting, put the container out in a place you pass by on a regular basis. Then over the next couple weeks, sprinkle out threads along that path as they get plucked away.
When doing spring laundering in the dryer. Save up some of those lint lifts and scatter those around in the spring too.

Over the course of the year, think about recycling your eggshells for the birds. Eggshells have a lot of uses, this is one of the lesser sung ones. Save up your eggshells, rinsing them out well or not using any with any egg scraps in them still that could cause rotting. Save them up and mash them up pretty fine for bird consumption. An open tray feeder is best for this, both closer to ground level and/or hanging depending on what kind of wildlife you have going on.
We tend to go through eggs a lot, about a dozen a week or two. So as we crack eggs, we rinse the shells and stack them to dry in a styrofoam egg crate. After they are dry, we empty them into a large coffee tin, and crush them up at will. The egg crate sits atop the can and takes up little counter space.

One week later...

Ok, so a week ago I planted up the first load of seeds. Well the parsley was a few days before that, but meh.
So, what do I have popping up today after one week? The parsley, dill, basils, cilantro, both types of toms, some of the hot peppers, the brussels sprouts, Mammoth Red Rock cabbage, Early Snowball A cauliflower, the leeks are just starting to peek their heads up, and the lettuces. Holy cow, with the bigger pot I planted, I was getting sproutlings the next day! And the current count for the marigolds? Out of 72 plantings, so far 46 have sprouted up. Not too bad for old seed, gives me some big hope that the seed I wild broadcast along the edges of the keyhole leading down to the firepit will produce some plants too :)
And haha, I have already figured out I will need more seed starting space. Right now we got a couple 10 inch boards set on coolers running the sunny window length of the solarium. I want to replace the coolers with cinderblock, and do a center pillar as well as the end ones. I'm thinking if I do that I will probably be able to stack a second shelf on top of the first, and really utilize all that window space.
And it is time for the massive solarium cleanup. Really need to dig out what's there so I can start dropping in herbs. I got sage, thyme, and rosemary ready to go. Thought about putting them outside, but I have year round picking available by keeping them indoors for now.

Started to get some of the brush along the fenceline cut up and removed. Not much though, think I'm gonna move it over to the arch drive for further breaking up. Think I'm going to reserve the few big funky branches instead of cutting them up to use to block the far end of the drive too. Instead of having it full of brush all the time, I'd rather use it for other staging.
Got the plastic cut for the squashes along the fenceline, and box 3 of veggie row marked off on plastic. Today will hopefully see the rest of the plastic marked. This will hopefully make it super easy to put in the gardens this year. Thinking of making up a bunch of the beer cap bird scares too. I think I'm going to attach them to a bunch of the bamboo skewers I picked up. Hopefully the little birdies will leave my garden alone, lol.

After torturing Ocelot with weeks of meds... She got a clean bill of health, hooray!! And she's forgiven me enough to be curled up in my lap right now, so I may not be starting on anything for a little while. It's just so nice to have her curled up in my lap again :) Even better to know she's healthy again.
And ugh, the grackles are back. I got a couple cheap tube feeders, and they are just hanging out on one of them. I need to trim that little branch off the tree and see if that makes a difference. All the other birds don't want to come hang out because of the grackles. And the chase is on on the pond. Never fails that a couple of geese try to press their luck- and they always lose to Mr. Mcswanums.

Allrighty, need to go get some stuff done...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Got a wedding to plan...

Got a wedding to plan. We got engaged a couple days ago, but it took a couple of days to get over the WOW factor and calm down enough to be able to type about it without totally babbling too much.

We already had a lot of plans and notions, it was just a matter of having the right place and time. Well, we moved here a year ago, and already knew it was the place. My love thought now was the time, and I wholeheartedly agreed :)

So, we are planning a simple wedding in our yard next year. Simple ceremony, and a potluck to celebrate afterwards. Yay for super simple celebration.. But sheesh there is already a lot of planning and budgeting to be done.

Our theme is kind of spring wildflowers. Tee, hee, makes it super easy to mix and match pretty much anything. Since we are doing a potluck, I'm planning on picking up all sorts of kinds of paper plates and disposable flatware and drinkware to scatter all over the potluck tables.  And electric candles all over the place. I can shop clearance stuff all year and easily come up with all the regular goodies.
Also gives me time to make stuff.. Oh the many ideas of making stuff...  Might babble here, so gonna stop now.

And holy crap is there a lot of yard prep do be done this year so it's in place for next year. And lol, will have to carefully plan next year too since the wedding is smack dab in the middle of spring planting start up. A special thank you to my love for giving me my yard time, lol.  Some stuff I would have left to next year I will for sure do up this year.  And still on keeping with our third year plans for the yard.

I think a fence along the easement drive and the neighbors to the south. Both to keep them out and so I can start planning in nasturtiums for next year. I still got time and seeds to start if I can get them in this spring. An added bonus is that I can clearly mark off our drives and property lines so that next years guests won't be confused as to where to pull in.

I'm already cleaning up the pines next to my office. Geez, I pulled down a crazy huge scrubby weed tree thing. Still got a few branches to go with it. By the time I'm done with all the dead trim out and planting in with the leftover ivy that sprouted back in the solarium... I will have a lovely archway built in there.

We still love the newly opened keyhole to the firepit. We are kicking around building up the ring from two to three bricks high. With the opening of the keyhole is a great area for some seat and eat action as well as other elements. I spread out all of last years home collected seed as well as almost all of the bought seed last year for broadcast seed along the path lines. I started six dozen egg carton seedlings of marigolds to plant along the line as well. Where blank spots show up, I will plant other bug repellent plants as well.

Acl too much to think about.... 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Starting seeds and stuff

Yay, got some stuff done this weekend :)

First off... got some stuff done down around the firepit sanctuary. Got the keyhole path mowed open to where I want it- and we both love the result. Gives a much better and open view down to the firepit, and when night falls, no more trying to find the path in the dark, lol. We have decided against a pergola down there- it would block the view far too much. So that will end up going elsewhere. Got all the marigold seed scattered along the edges of the keyhole, and about a third of the wildflower seed patched in. Only did a third just in case we get a cold snap before the month is out. Also cut out a bunch of the withies from last year. Not quite all of them, but geez my arms got tired. Also got eight loads of wood debris down by the pit, so now we get to start burning stuff, hooray!!
Unfortunately, the jerks next door also thought it was a prime weekend to baha around my firepit, across the sanctuary, and tear up the easement drive- they were very lucky I wasn't home to see it. But it really has driven home the point that we need to put up a fence between their drive and ours since they have no honor or respect.. Best just to fence them out.

Got most of the pine needles scraped off the driveway and distributed under the triple pines. I'm gonna keep doing that till the whole silly thing is buried- that way I don't have to worry about mowing once we start installing mushroom logs there.

And hooray for a boatload of seed starting!! On the 16th, I planted in rosemary, marigolds, a couple kinds of lettuce mixes and arugula, compacto dill, roman chamomile, oregano, toothache plant, lovage, rue, calypso cilantro, fraise des boise strawberries, purple basil, garlic chives, genovese basil, papri peppers, green zebra tomatoes, ghost chilis, pepperchinis, mini belle peppers, hot pepper mix, and paul robson tomato. On the 17th, I planted in Lancelot leeks, early snowball A cauliflower, mammoth red rock cabbage, snowball x cauliflower, long island improved brussels sprouts, danish ballhead cabbage, pumpkin pepper, the direct seeding of the marigolds and the wildflower mix. Today I merely got some mixed color aquilegia scattered in under my loved office window. It's a pretty shady and dead spot, so I'm hoping it will fill in there.

So here's a couple pics of the seed starting in the solarium..

 Me rolling up some paper pots... Awesome recycling, and makes the pots free! The low pot waaay on the end is the one I used to start parsley seed a few days ago. I think I may end up starting another large pot of the stuff- never can have too much dried on hand with they way I go through it.
 A good shot of the variety of stuff being planted. Yes, those are bags of soil, my compost pile just isn't up to snuff for starting seeds yet... Hopefully next year it will be :)
And a nice shot of most of the stuff... I recycled crapped out pans for lettuce, and the yucky muffin tin went to starting the strawberries. The soup cans are all the different herbs. The pink egg cartons are the roman chamomile, and the yellow ones are marigolds. The paper pots hold veggies. I used a wine bottle for my big pots for toms and peppers, a soda pop bottle for slightly smaller pots for my cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts, and a small spice jar for my leeks. Why so small on the leeks? so that way I can start hilling them right off the sprout with some of the cardboard tubing I've been saving. By the time they are ready to go into the garden the tubes will be more recycled soup cans. Now I just need to pull out the square foot stencil I made up and figure out which cans to use, lol.

AND OOOHHHH EXCITING EDIT!!! Just checked the seeds... and one whole pot of lettuce is already sprouted and showing heads... I just planted them yesterday!!

Maybe if all goes well this week I will start laying in some of the black plastic. I want to get in on that pretty darn soon if I'm going to have any chance of smothering out the grass where I want to be planting in stuff, lol.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A little bit of spring :)

Well well, Mama N has graced us with some spring weather this week. I got out into the yard for a bit during the weekend and took some pics of the land waking up from her slumber.

The view from outside my office window. Yeah, I am a lucky duck that this is what I get to see every time I sit down at my desk... But it's often distracting too with it's beauty, lol.
We got the seat logs rolled onto the firepit pad, and I'm hoping for dry enough weather this week so I can get out the lawn tractor and mow open the top of the hill. I REALLY want to get some marigold seed in place before we start hauling brush down to start spring burning. And trust me, we got a shitton of brush to be burning off.
 Discovered we have quite a bit more flower action than I thought in the brush area down by the raspberry patch that I started cleaning out last year. I think instead of moving them all I'm just going to promote them to fill in that whole spot. These are in the fence side section. I figure, heck, I am not going to be planting anything else there for quite a while since it's going to take forever to get the scrub tree crap cleaned out anyway.
 And we have these little lovelies outside the patch area, next to the lilacs. Looking at the area in the sun, I fear I might have done a bit of too good of a job cleaning out the area- there were what I was pretty sure were blonde morels in that spot last year- just not sure that they will come back this year since I really opened up the area to the sun.
 This is a nice fuzzy patch of moss growing at the base of one of our maples. So vibrant and alive!! Our neighbor told us the other day that what we got are sugar maples. Maybe there will be some syrup production at some point in the future.
 The first catkins are appearing on the magnolia tree, hooray!! The first fuzzies and buds are starting to appear on a lot of the other trees too- very exciting :)
 This is a shot of the house from across the pond. Kind of surprising, you can see little ducks on the pond that the swans haven't chased off. Apparently they are too little to be a bother :)
A shot of the creek that feeds the pond. Not actually our property, though it's fine that I get to wander around on the back 40's. It's almost like I have my own huge park to wander around on, and for that I am deeply thankful.

So, in other cool news... We now have a hot tub!! Took a bit of tinkering around by the neighbor to get it up and running, but today is it's first successful test run. We are letting it run for a while today to get up to temp. It's part of the exchange we made for doing up the paperwork for the new easement lines. Now I have to do my part of the job and figure out how to fix the cover for the darn thing. The vinyl is all good, but the underside is junked up. Keeping my crafty fingers crossed that I can actually fix it- to my understanding a whole new cover would be pretty frigging expensive. I'm going to check with the local pool and spa place anyway to see what their prices are just in case I royally screw up trying to repair the cover.
Sadly with all the fill and drain we have been doing to get the thing up and running- we have realized we got some pretty serious sediment coming up from our well. Might be nothing more than well drillers clay, might be indicating a more serious screen problem. I have to dig out the paperwork from the bank to find out who the company was that tapped the well, and give them a ring about it. LOL, if it ain't one thing, it's another.

Ocelot... Well, the first two weeks of antibiotics didn't work too well. So we tried pills- that really didn't work- one time of her taking a bite of food with the pills in it and she foamed, drooled, and puked. The second time of trying the gun, and she scratched and bit. So she went back on liquid, a different one this time. Either it's having a good effect, or she is finding somewhere else to piddle. No bad puddles in any of the bathrooms or in the kitchen that we have found for a couple days. Seriously hoping the next urinalysis comes back clean, or else it's back off to the vet for more tests. And we really can't afford that :( So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will come back ok.

It's supposed to get into the 70's this week, so hopefully I will be able to write next time about really getting some yard stuff done!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Soup!! And happy anniversary Growbox Hill!

Ok... Just as a quick hooray... We have now been here a year!! Woot!! And have survived it :) Hoping this year we can really proceed with plans as we want. I had already planned on our first year being checking out the property and seeing what we can do and need... So I consider ourselves right on schedule for year two. This year it's mostly gardening and setting up the yard for yet more future plans :)

So soup. Had a heap of spinach and beans leftover so I decided it was either a pot of spinach soup, or a couple pots of other soups. I opted for a couple pots. A batch of bean and ham, and a kind of Zuppa Toscana.

Had half of a bone in picnic ham left over that's been in the freezer for a while... That went to making up a big pot of porky goodness stock. I quick boiled a couple cups of the dried bean mix I made up in the fall, drained them... And added in porky stock goodness, a bunch of chopped carrots and celery, and a handful of chopped onion. At the end I will add in the chopped up bits of mere poix from the stock, all the ham I stripped off the bone, fortified with goodly bit of spinach and beans.... YUM!!

For the zuppa, I pulled out a bag each of turkey stock and broth from the freezer that I made up off the Tday turkey carcass. Browned up my sausage and pulled it to drain. Used just bacon grease instead of the half pound of bacon to sautee the onion, and since I'm out of fresh garlic, used a palmful of garlic powder. Put in my three pounds of unpeeled sliced up potatoes and the turkey stock and broth... Topped it off with some of the porky goodness stock. Once that finished boiling up I will add a couple cups of milk.. I don't have any cream in the house, so I will be fortifying the milk with a few tablespoons of dry milk solids. Then I will dump the sausage back in and the other half of the leftover spinach and beans.

Between the two not only will we have some gratutious dinner action, but I'm figuring probably 12-16 more portions to go into the freezer for future meals!! Gotta love it when a pile of leftovers and think ahead cooking combine in deliciousness!! Thank goodness for cooking school too. I was a pretty decent cook before, but I learned a tremendous amount of on the fly cooking action.

Future plans for my cooking action will be getting back into safety and sanitation. I want to study up and get my Michigan proctorship... That way I can spread my love for food and my driving need for safe and wholesome food to other people. I want my proctorship so that I can help disadvantaged people get their s&s certs. Like cottage industry, medable makers, school kids... People that can't really afford the classes necessarily, but require that proctor attended testing.  I'm willing to give my knowledge for free if they are willing to pay for their own testing fees. The other nice part? I will already be fully certified for when Growbox Hill starts developing and selling food type products. Which yeah, makes me think about the upstairs kitchen. It's totally yoinked right now anyway, so I'm thinking when we do start working on it, it's going to be done up to commercial specs :)

Time to go stir the soup!!