Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thinking About Seeds

I'm pouring over my seed catalogs, trying to decide which varieties to try this year. Last summer was crummy here, and apparently it was in some of the seed-producing regions as well, because many basic varieties, like Walla Walla onions, are not available.

So I'll be trying some new things. My lettuces will continue to be my good-producing Red Sails, Forellenschluss, Black-Seeded Simpson, Buttercrunch, and the to-die-for Salad Bowl. But almost everything else will be different from what I've planted before. Last year I tried a bunch of Fedco's tomatoes, and although it certainly wasn't a tomato summer, I'm not sure I want to try their tomatoes again. I'm not really certain that they're going to do well here, and I don't want to have another crummy tomato harvest again if I can help it.

However, I really like the fact that they're anti-Monsanto and have lots of open pollinated varieties, and want to support that kind of company. So this year I'm getting my squash, cukes, and tomato seed from Territorial, and everything else I'm getting from Fedco.

I've made up my garden plan and a simplified planting schedule, so hopefully I'll be able to keep up better. It's supposed to be a warm summer according to the Climate Prediction Center, which will help the tomatoes and curcurbits, if it actually happens. The only problem is that I'm running into timing constraints with the onions, but I'm sure I can work it all out somehow. If not, maybe Mr. E will dig me another bed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Leaving you with a few wintery scenes from our home.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


8.2 degrees F. (-13 C).

Need I say more?

Of course I do. There was ice on the inside of Thing 1's window this morning. The new thermal shade must be doing its thing. Yikes.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Colder than....

It got to about 13F here last night. Saturday it snowed somewhere between 1 and 4 inches, depending on where you measured. It took the ground quite a while to freeze so that the snow could stick. We're expecting more snow Tuesday night, although no-one is guessing how much.

Thing 1 walked to school this morning, and although it was a late start day, it was only 15F when he left. I totally bundled him up as if he were going skiing, so he should be fine. He left with a neighbor boy who was wearing much less.

Forty minutes later, I went to the bus stop with Thing 2 and all the other neighborhood kids. By then it was 23 degrees, but an icy north wind cut right through single layers (pants) and stung my cheeks. I hustled home to a warm house and hot tea.

I'm sure the rosemary is shot, and I'm going to cut it down to the ground in hopes that I can dry the needles. It may not work, but it'll be completely brown and useless by spring, so I figure I should get it while I can, and hopefully some good will come of it.

I'm also "should have"-ing. I should have covered the carrots and turnips with leaves. I should have dug some horseradish before the ground froze solid. I should have brought in those last cabbages.

Saturday was spent with friends from Mr. E's work, the brave souls who ventured out in the snow to our neck of the woods. Sunday was spent with Mr. E's friends and their wives (my friends, too). Lots of food and catching up on all the happenings.

Today I'm relaxing, wrapping gifts, and cleaning up the kitchen. Dinner will be all the leftovers, and a fire will be roaring in the wood stove.

Keep warm!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Preparing for Winter

Gee, I realize that for some of you winter is already here, but this weekend we're to get REALLY chilly. Well, for here, anyway.

The goofy weather of 2008 continues. We've had a really mild fall, with temps not getting much below 28 degrees. Winter is to hit us with a vengence this weekend and into next week, with snow expected Friday night, and temperatures down to 13 degrees by early next week.

So today was, erm, garden cleanup day. I still had some Wall-o-Waters up as an experiment to see how long the tomatoes would last (they didn't), some pea fence up, hoses still attached to the house, and all the soaker hoses on the ground. So I roped Thing 1 into helping me gather all of that mess up and store it. Then I went around the herb garden collecting the pots that were scattered about.

As I was cleaning up the herb garden, I frightened a little frog who was hiding in a rain-filled flat. I'm not sure if he could survive the water freezing solid, but he seemed happy in the water for now, so I left the flat.

Other bits, I got new tires for the car, as mine were balding, and got a bit of shopping done. If we do get snow, transportation grinds to a halt, and so will the Xmas shopping. Monday and Tuesday look clear, but icy, and then we're back to snow for Wed. We're supposed to be hosting a couple of parties this weekend; one for Mr. E's work friends, and one for his buddies he's known since, well, forever (like the 1970s!). We'll see if they happen or not. Mr. E swears that the forecasters have to say it'll snow seven times before it actually does.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The One-Pound Turnip

I was making beef stew in the crockpot this morning, and ran out to the garden to pull some carrots. I just love being able to do that, even if it was 38 degrees and misty. Anyway, I had planted some turnips in the fall, and forgot to thin them appropriately, so I did about a month ago but figured that the turnip trial was a wash. I decided today to check to see if there were any of a usable size, and what did I find? A monster one-pound turnip!

Egads! It wasn't very pretty, or I might've taken a picture of the giant. But I chopped it up and tossed it into the stew. I love the horseradishy taste of turnips, and they provide minerals, fiber, and some vegetable protein. So I chuck them into soups and stews to stretch out the meat, add a different layer of flavor that potatoes alone would lack.

I don't understand where people got off of eating turnips. My mom never made them. I found out what they were (and that I liked them) from eating Campbell's Alphabet Soup, and reading the label. Turnips, yum, lima beans, yuck. Still don't like lima beans.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Busy Busy

It's that time of year. With Thanksgiving so late this year, it seems like the holidays are knocking on the door, and I'm not even close to being prepared.

We have a wall of bookcases in the family room, and it had been years since we've had a really good book purge. So Sunday I went through, separated the books into hardback or paperback fiction, nonfiction, kid books and Jane Austen (she deserves a shelf all on her own, don't you think?). Then I alphabetized all the books (not in an OCD way, just the librarian in me coming out) dusted the heck out of everything, and tried to "artfully" get the books back on the shelf without causing the shelves to bend under too much weight. Now I have two grocery sacks of books to go to the used book store after letting friends' kids grab what they want.

Yesterday I tried to get the laundry room straightened out, but didn't manage to. I did finish four loads of laundry, but still need to find homes for outgrown coats, and I have a pile of things that need to go to charity. I did manage to hang the other new curtain in our room, get the lights, wreath and garland up, and some shopping in.

Last night was Meatless Monday, and I made spinach ravioli (Costco) with a butter and parmesan sauce. Quick, simple, filling, and yummy.

Today, I'm off to volunteer at Thing 2's class, then find a new coat that will stand up to Seattle rain and (whenever it gets here) 30 degree temps. I've managed to get a few things picked up for Xmas, but have only one person knocked off the list. Plus we're hosting two parties, one on the 13th, and one on the 14th, so I'm just a little stressed out at the moment.

Gotta find some ho.