March 1, 2011 - And the Award Goes To....

Lynda, from Cortina Creek Farms, has honored me with this award. Thank you, Lynda, I love getting awards!

In return, I am supposed to do two things: (1) Divulge 7 things about myself that you may not know, and (2) Pass on the award to 15 people.

Being the cantankerous old lady that I am, I'm changing the rules somewhat. Since I've already done this several times before, I'm only going to pass this on to two people, but in return I will divulge twice as many things about myself that you may not know. Unless, of course, you've been following my blog from the beginning, as all fourteen things were divulged previously!

I'm passing the award on to my dear cyber-friend Robin, The Gardener of Eden. She's not only a blog friend, she has become a personal friend who exchanges emails with me on an almost daily basis. She's been there when I need a hug, or a laugh, or just need a friend. Thank you, Robin, and thank your dear Italian, too!

I'm also passing the award on to Ginny, at Gingerbreads House, just because she's such a sweet person, and deserves it.

Please don't feel obligated to pass this award on, or tell your deepest, darkest secrets. I just want you both to know that I love and appreciate you, as I do all of my dear readers.

Now, here are fourteen things about me. Yes, it's all about me-me-me!

1. I am a 2X survivor of cancer,having had cervical cancer in 1974 and colon cancer in 2004.

2. Although most people call me Granny, and some call me Annie, my name is Carol. I am a granny (and a great-granny), but Annie is my girl dog. She has a brother, Otto.

3. We used to "snowbird" in our motor home, but I hated riding in it. I was a white knuckle rider. We finally bought property in AZ and got rid of the RV. Now I'm just plain tired of traveling back and forth and would like to stay home in Washington.

4. My neighbor Pat moved last fall, but she still cries when I leave her to go to AZ.

5. My BFF lives in Redding, CA. We've been buddies since high school.

6. My favorite TV shows are of the reality type. I usually watch CNN or MSNBC, The Food Network (especially Chopped and The Worst Cook in America) . I also like American Idol, America's Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With the Stars and The Biggest Loser. I hate, hate, hate soap operas, and I cannot stay awake through an entire movie.

7. I am appalled at people who speak badly of any of our presidents. I feel our elected officials should be treated with dignity and honor, and if we really are personally unhappy with them, we should vote for someone else the next time.

8. I only drink one cup of coffee a day, and that's half coffee and half lowfat milk with a packet of sweetener.

9. I used to do a lot of painting, in acrylics or oils, on canvas or objects. If you're curious, here are photos of a few of them.

10. I'm a yo-yo dieter. I go on "healthy eating" binges and lose 20-30 pounds, keep it off for a couple of years, then blow it during one winter in AZ. Too many potlucks, card games with refreshments, tacos at the local bar. I can go from size 8 to size 14 in the wink of an eye.

11. I don't drink alcoholic beverages, with the exception of my once yearly Margarita. I think I could get hooked on those, if I were so inclined.

12. My (step) Dad was a WWII hero. He lead the 392nd. Bomb Group in the first bomb drop on Berlin. For this, he received the Presidential Citation, which was presented to him by General James Doolittle. He was also the recipient of the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. Daddy passed away in 2003. My birth father is still living, and turned 94 this year, but we are not close.

13. I was married right out of high school, and widowed when I was 20. I found Mr. Granny three years later, and have kept him around for nearly 49 years.

14. I have a thing about planting too many tomatoes. I need an intervention.

February 28, 2011 - Today's Super Buys

With the coupons in my hot little hand, I headed for Fred Meyer's seed racks. It was raining, and I drove our new car. You know, the one we bought last summer, that's been sitting in the garage for the last 4-1/2 months. I turned on the windshield wipers, and they didn't work! I had to keep pushing the button on the end of the lever, which would squirt and wipe. I was rather upset to say the least. Then Mr. Granny got out the manual, and read aloud how to work the wipers. Duh.....on the the Ranger and my old Intrepid, all I had to do was turn the end of the lever. On the Malibu, you have to lift up on it, just like the turn signal!

I bought ten packets of seeds, for 50% off the regular price of $19.10, for a total expenditure of $9.55. Hopefully, I'll have more flowers in the garden this year.

Then we headed for Ace Hardware, and...TA-DA!!!

I got a large bag of potting mix, probably enough for all the soil blocks I'll be making, and another seed starter tray. Total cost....are you ready? Just $1.03 for everything! You can't beat that deal with a stick!

That put me in a pretty good mood, so I made Mr. Granny a lemon meringue pie. I swear, the crust was the lightest, tenderest I've ever made. I was just telling Robin it floated right up to the ceiling, it was that light!

February 28, 2011 - February Finale

What a good way to end February! With all the plants I want to start in March, these coupons couldn't have come at a better time. I always buy Ace Potting Mix for making my soil blocks, and that $10 coupon will almost pay for two large bags. I already have a lot of seeds, but at 50% off for Ed Hume seeds ( I love Ed Hume seeds) , I can't resist. I'll replace some of my older seed, and probably buy a few different varieties of others. I am short on carrot varieties, I think I might have about five broccoli seeds left, and I'd like to plant some turnips. I'm sure I'll find a few more seeds I just can't resist. more tomatoes, I promise ;-)

February 27, 2011 - GO!

The first seeds were planted this morning, and are all tucked into their asparagus-crate-turned-nursery. I planted a six pack each of nine varieties of lettuce: Buttercrunch, Iceberg, Little Gem, Mesclun Mix, Parris Island Cos, Red Sails, Rocky Top Mix, Summercrisp and Yugoslavian Red Butterhead.

I had an empty six pack and a four pack left , so I filled them with Tyee spinach.

I also had a six pack of parsley that was planted a week ago, so that filled the flat.

These will live in my warm bathroom until they germinate, then be moved out to the mini-greenhouse in the shed. Getting the greenhouse ready is my project for this afternoon. I have to make a few improvements in my shelf system before the seedlings can go out. The shelf I was using last year warped too badly from the weight and humidity, so I have to think of something different to do....and then try to find what I need in Mr. Granny's very, very messy garage.

*a few minutes later*

What on earth has gotten into Mr. Granny? I found two boards I needed for the greenhouse, and he didn't balk a bit when asked to cut them to length and drill a couple of pilot holes! Then, when I needed to find some 1"x6" boards to form the shelf, he jumped right up and went out to the garage to help! Then he cut them to length! I swear, that's the hardest he's worked all winter ;-) He's not usually this enthusiastic about gardening.

*and later yet*

Whew! That was a job, but I got the mini-greenhouse cleaned out, and the new boards nailed in for the shelf. I had a bit of aluminum bubble insulation, so I installed it on the uninsulated side of the unit, and put what was left over on the other side for a bit of reflective light. The hooks were screwed into the two 1"x6" x4' boards that will be used as the shelf, and to hold the fixtures for the bottom half.

I broke one florescent bulb in the process of hanging them. It loosened up and dropped out right on its end, so will have to be replaced before the lettuce-seedlings-to-be go out there. Or I'll have to borrow a tube from one of the shed's ceiling lights that wasn't working (don't ask me why!). All the tubes in the other three fixtures are working just fine.

All cleaned up and ready for spring! I did get the spoiled squash off the shed counter! It wasn't so bad, because it was still frozen solid. It took a bit of soaking with bleach to finish the cleanup, and there is a bit of a stain, but it is only a shed.

The new "babies" will be all tucked in, snug as a bug in a rug, very soon!

February 26, 2011 - Ready, Set.....

It's almost a "go"!!

When my neighbor Pat moved last fall, she gave me some big asparagus crates. This morning I got a wild hare, and with Mr. Granny manning the drill, we converted them to seed starting chambers.

Mr. Granny drilled a hole in the corner, just large enough to put the rope light through. His job for the day was done. A 6' rope light was the perfect size for the bottom of the crate, and it was held in place with a few twist ties. Zip ties would have been nicer, but I didn't have any. This will provide the bottom warmth the seeds will need for germination.

The seed flat fit perfectly in the bottom of the crate, over the rope light.

Then the dome fits over the flat to provide a moist environment. It was a bit of a tight fit, so the dome bulged out just a bit at the sides, which might be a good thing, as it will provide some ventilation.

A second crate was assembled just like the first one, then they were stacked on my bathroom counter. I can assemble and stack a third one, if needed, but I suspect the first seedlings will be moved out to the mini-greenhouse in the shed before I'd find the need for another seed germination container. The first of the lettuce seeds will be planted inside tomorrow, and then....

Let the gardening season begin!!

February 25, 2011 - Bummer :-(

Bad news. Our realtor just called, and our Arizona buyer just backed out of the sale. Now get this.....the reason being the furnace filter is too difficult to reach to change! It showed up in the house inspection she had done, and that was all she needed to get out of the deal. The realtor felt the buyer was grasping at straws, and probably just couldn't come up with the money. To say I'm upset would be an understatement. I mean, it's not a new house, it's an old single wide trailer, and priced to reflect just what it is. The land alone is worth what we were asking, so it's like the residence is being thrown in for nothing!

What a bummer.

February 24, 2011 - Baby, It's Cold Outside!

We had a skiff of snow this morning, and another storm is supposed to be heading this way. In the meantime, tomorrow the predicted high is 27F, with a low of 2F.

As cold as it is, there's something that warms a Granny's heart......

Alicyn Paige (click on photo to better see that pretty smile).

Tomorrow, Alicyn's big sister Alicia is coming for dinner, and will spend the night. I'm so glad we're back from Arizona, I missed all the grandchildren so much. I'll be even happier when it's warm enough to garden, so I can put them all to work! *wink*

February 22, 2011 - Look What I Found!

The carrots I planted last fall actually grew! I have quite a few of them, so I pulled a handful yesterday. After they were washed, I took a bite of one and it was crunchy and sweet. Alas, as I began chewing, it began crumbling in my mouth, a very unpleasant texture. The hard freeze was just too much for them, rendering them unpalatable. However, Cookie (our pet rabbit) thinks they taste just fine, so they will not be going to waste.

February 21, Harvest Monday

I have no harvest to show this week. Although I do have a bit of spinach that wintered over in the garden, I'll save that for next week's harvest post. I see some carrot tops out there too, but it's too cold to go out and check to see just how big they are. Sometime this week, I'm sure curiosity will get the best of me, and the sun will shine and the wind will stop blowing.

I have, however, been eating last year's harvested foods, as well as stuff from the Arizona garden. I've also given more than a dozen jars of canned goods to the kids.

I've eaten strawberry jam on my toast, pickles and sweet relish on my hamburger, AZ green onions on my pork and noodles, AZ spinach and lettuce in my tossed salads, 2 pints of tomato sauce, frozen red & green peppers and AZ green onions in a casserole, a lot of red sweet peppers in my chicken fajitas, and cooked the last of the AZ spinach for the two of us. It was so good, Mr. Granny asked for seconds, but alas, there was no more.

Daughter Amy went home with jars of dill pickles, strawberry jam, hot pepper jelly, salsa and apple butter, while son Scott took both strawberry and peach jams, salsa, bread-and-butter pickles and pickled beets. I still have so many jars of food that need to be used up before it's time to start canning again! I should have canned more diced tomatoes, and not so much sauce and juice. Definitely, an inventory of canned foods will have to be taken before the 2011 canning season starts.

I discovered by tipping the lemon tree forward just a bit I could put the bottom shelf back in the plant window. It gives me just barely enough room to hang a light and use two flats (with domes) for starting a few seeds. It's too bad I don't have some half-length shelves and a couple more of these 24" shop lights. I'm going to buy a rope light today, to provide some bottom heat for starting seeds. I filled the flats with 1/2 commercial potting mix and 1/2 vermiculite, so they're all ready for planting lettuce seeds in a week or so. Now, if I can only remember where I put the 18" shop light..........

February 21, 2011 - I Am An Urban Homesteader

Well, I'm not actually an urban homesteader, because I don't raise chickens and stuff and I'll be darned if I'm going to eat my dogs. I am, however, an urban homesteader wannabe who is angry that the Dervaes family (of Path to Freedom fame) has successfully trademarked the terms "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading" and is forcing Facebook to shut down pages that use the term, and are sending legal notifications to businesses and blogs with the term "urban homesteading" in them. I'm not alone. If they want to shut down my blog, have at it, along with hundreds of other angry bloggers who will be proudly stating .....

I Have An (almost) Urban Homestead!
I Am (almost) Urban Homesteading!

Really, the following people have stated it much better than I ever could. I urge you to read each and every one of them.

I Practice Urban Homesteading!

Urban homesteaders: cease and desist

Adam Parfrey of Feral House Fame and the Electronic Frontier Foundation Prepare to Challenge Dervaeses over "Urban Homestead" Trademark

I Am an Urban Homesteader

The Dervaes Institute Sparks Debate in Urban Homestead Community

The Importance Of Having Integrity

Larry Wilson: Legal dirt of Pasadena's farming Dervaes family

I'm an Urban Homesteader

Urban homesteading – or PR 101

Facebook's page Take Back Urban Home-steading(s)

February 20, 2011 - Craptacular BOC

I got my WOOT! Bag of Crap yesterday (see January 26, 2011 - WOOT!) Nothing to write home about, but all in all worth the $3 + $5 shipping.

1. A pair of Aqua Globes. I put one in my Meyer lemon pot, and Amy wants the other one for her snake plant.

2. A darling black beaded purse. Too dressy to go with my jeans and sweatshirt, but will sure look nice when my granddaughter Alicia carries it to the prom.

3. Two screaming, flying monkeys. Annie loves them, Otto runs and hides under the bed when Mr. Granny plays with them. Yes, Mr. Granny is having fun!

4. OK, don't you dare laugh at this one.....a breast pump. Sheesh, I'm 72 years old. Maybe it could be used as a respirator in case I stop breathing? Well, my granddaughter has a pregnant friend who is planning on nursing her baby, so this will be donated to her.

5. An absolutely worthless Delphi satellite radio audio system. Just the shell, no radio, no cables, no power cord. Off to the landfill.

This was actually less crappy than my previous Bag of Crap. I'll probably try for another one when it comes up for sale.

February 19, 2011 - Garden Planning

I sorted out my vegetable seeds last night, and entered all the information into a spreadsheet. I haven't figured out just how to present a Google Document here, so if you're interested in seeing it, just click right here. It doesn't look as though I'll have to buy many more seeds this year. So far, I've purchased less than $18 worth, and many of those will carry over for several more years.

I also worked on my personal planting calendar for the year. I like listing a range of planting dates for each vegetable, so I can refer to the calendar each time I have an open spot for planting. I can just check to see what can be planted on that particular day.

Then the bug hit me, so I had to do a layout for my east garden. You can click on this picture to enlarge it, then click on the + to make it full size. Of course, this plan will change many times before I actually get out to the garden. It always does.

one square=1'

I'm worried about how I can get a load of compost by March 1. Mr. Granny is not going to want to take the canopy off the Ranger, as we'll have to have it on when we head back to Arizona to pack up and move our belongings. I'm so dependent upon the rich dairy compost I get from a local nursery. Last year I bought the leaf and twig instead of the dairy, and my garden didn't do so well. Since I'll be building all new beds this spring, I MUST have a load of poo!

*Update, since I wrote this last night....Mr. Granny says the canopy is coming off, and I will get my cow poo! I love Mr. Granny.

February 18, 2011 - Oh, Dear!

As nice as the butternut squash that were stored inside all winter looked, the two that were left out in the garden shed.......well, let's just say they didn't keep very well!

Oh, dear! I'm not looking forward to cleaning that counter!

February 16, 2011 - And Then We Got The Phone Call

Three days ago we were in Arizona. Today I got a phone call from our realtor, that we had a firm offer on our AZ property. Why, why, why didn't this happen last week? Now we'll be making another trip to move everything out! We do have until April 4th., if the sale goes through. Daughter Amy and her husband will go down with us to load/clean, and son Scott will come here to stay with the dogs and rabbit, so we won't have to deal with them. But....HURRAY!!! It looks like we'll be spending all of our time in Washington now!

It's been a busy, busy day. Besides driving over to Amy's (about 18 miles) to fax all the paperwork to AZ, I had to deal with the remaining 12 butternut squashes. I dragged the roaster oven out of the garage, and baked six of them at a time. The first half is finished, with 6 1/2 pounds of puree in the freezer, and the second six are baking now.

A roaster oven full of butternuts.

I'm so proud of myself! Last year son John put a grounded cord on a 2' double shop light, so I could use it in the laundry room plant window. It just bugged me that he used a bright orange cord! Yesterday I bought a white extension cord, with a grounded plug. I cut off the end, and removed the orange cord and rewired the fixture with the white cord. I plugged it in and.....

I have light!

I was going to use the light for the lemon tree, but.....

She was too tall. I had to remove both upper shelves. I hope she gets enough light from this north facing window, at least until the weather warms enough to set her outside during the day.

She is getting more blossoms! Oh, just look to the left and you can see that she has set some lemons. There are seven little green nubs all together!

More baby lemons, and more new blossoms forming. I'm so proud of her, she's not even a year old!

February 15, 2011 - A Day Late For Harvest Monday

I did have a real harvest last week! I pulled all the onions, lettuce and spinach from the Arizona garden. The onions, which started off much smaller around than a pencil, were much fatter than my thumb. The spinach and lettuces never did put on much growth, but I ended up with a gallon bag full of baby spinach leaves for our salads, and two gallon bags of lettuce for the pet rabbit.

A pot of onions were harvested.

Lovely after they were cleaned up!

A large mixing bowl full of baby lettuce plants.

Enough for two gallon bags full.

Spinach was uprooted.

Cleaned, they made a mixing bowl nearly full of baby spinach leaves.

Enough spinach for a large dinner salad, and a gallon bag full for the fridge.

When we got back home to Washington, I discovered more of my preserved 2010 garden vegetables than I had remembered! There were still thirteen more butternut squashes stored in the laundry room, and a few of them had a bit of mold around the stems. I took the worst two, cut off the bad spots, then steamed them in the microwave until they were soft. I also retrieved a gallon of garden green beans from the freezer.

Butternut squash and green beans for dinner.

I pureed the squash, baked half of it with butter and brown sugar, and froze the other half for another meal. Granddaughter Alicia came by and stayed for dinner of pan fried pork chops, squash and green beans. She loved the squash, and is now on her third helping! Annie and Otto got some nummy green beans with their dinner, too.

There are still many, many jars of tomatoes, jams, pickles......and it looks like the freezer is still quite full of green beans and bell peppers. I don't think Granny and Mr. Granny will be going hungry any time soon!

Visit Daphne's Dandelions to see what others are harvesting!

February 14, 2011 - I'm Home!

We got back home this afternoon. The trip was uneventful, the weather was great, and the roads were bare and dry. By dinnertime, the house was filled with kids, grandkids and great-grandson, so I did what any loving Grandma/Mom would do....ordered pizza. Actually, my daughter Amy, and son Scott treated the entire family to the pizza fest.

I'm exhausted, after a ten hour drive yesterday, and an eight hour drive today. Annie and Otto are already sound asleep. I said I wasn't going to let them sleep in the bed any more, since they did so well on the floor in Arizona, but I caved. They were so happy to get home, the first place they checked out was the bed! I don't have the heart to move them now.

Granddaughter Alicyn wasn't a bit shy when she saw us. She was happy Gamma and Gampa were back from "Zara-ona".

I had some Harvest Monday photos to share with you today, but I really need to get to bed. Tomorrow is another day, and hopefully all internet connection woes are a thing of the past. I want all of you to know that I read and appreciated all of your comments, even though I wasn't able to respond to them directly. Thanks to my daughter Amy for publishing them for me, and for calling me to read them over the phone each day. She's a good girl :-)

February 9, 2011 - You Can't Keep a Good Blogger Down!

Even if she has to dictate it to her daughter over the phone because she has no internet!

February 8, 2011 - Five Days to Go!

Oh, I know I told you I'd quit counting the days until we leave to go home, but I can't help myself. At least I'm getting everything packed up, and the house is spotless. If you readers didn't have an internet connection, I'll bet your houses would be spotless too! I went to the library this morning, but they were packed full of people and there was nowhere to sit, so I just stayed outside in the truck and downloaded my email. I decided I could write my blog offline, then go down later to publish it.

It's not like I have a lot to say right now, and no pictures at all. I'll be pulling out all the lettuce and spinach plants on Friday. I'll wash them, roots and all, and store them in a damp pillowcase in the refrigerator. They will stay nice and crisp in the cooler for our trip home Sunday morning.

I think Granddaughter Alicyn (age 2) is as excited about our coming home as we are to see her again. Her Mom told me of the following conversation between them:

Amy: Gamma and Gampa are coming home soon!
Ali: YA!
Amy: What are you going to do when you go to Gamma's house?
Ali: Pee!
Amy: Pee? You're going to pee and Gamma's house?
Ali: Ya.


Ali: Gamma got a toilet?
Amy: Yes, Gamma has two toilets.
Ali: Gamma got a BIG toilet?
Amy: Yes, Gamma has a big toilet.
Ali: Niiice.

What is it with grandchildren and toilets? I'll never forget when Ali's big sister, Alicia, was about five years old and she was sitting on my lap in the rocking chair. We were watching TV and she was in such a lovey mood, she kept hugging my head and telling me how much she loved me. After a while she had to go to the bathroom, so she got up and left the room. A minute later I hear:

Alicia: Grandma...come here and give me a kiss.
Me: What?
Alicia: Come here and give me a kiss!
Me: On the toilet?
Alicia: Nooo...on the LIPS!

Kids really do say the darnedest things!

PS: "I decided I could write my blog offline, then go down later to publish it." Remember when I said that? How silly of me. Why didn't I know the library would be closed this afternoon, due to "technical difficulties". You guessed it....their computers are down.

That kind of reminds me of what happened last week in Parker, the nearest town of size (and I use that term loosely, it means it has two supermarkets and a Walmart). We went through the drive through at McDonald's and ordered a couple of burgers and some fries. I asked for extra ketchup, and got "We don't have any ketchup". I said "what do you mean, you don't have ketchup?" and she said "No, we don't have any ketchup". I basically screamed said "this is freaking McDonald's! You can't be out of ketchup! Find me some ketchup, or you can take back these fries and refund me my money!" She finally decided she could get some from the kitchen and put it in a cup, so I kept the fries. But can you believe a McDonald's wouldn't have ketchup? Don't even get me started on our Walmart shopping experiences. The Parker store's shelves are so empty, due to mismanagement and under stocking, I can usually find about five out of ten items on a shopping list to be unavailable. Everyday generic items. Like peanuts. Or canola oil. Or bread flower. Or envelopes. I could go on and on and will be so nice getting back to civilization. Five days and counting.

I will also be glad. I am typing this for her while at work, and with all the interuptions, this has taken us about 2 hours and 6 phone calls to get through this ONE blog!

February 2, 2011 - Eleven Days & Counting

I'll stop the counting before you're all sick of it. I promise.

It's not warm enough up home to be leaving yet, and yes, it is early for us. It's just that both of us are absolutely bored to death this year, and missing the kids and grandkids, and sick and tired of the internet connection woes. We used to stay down here for six months at a time, then it became five months, now four months. We're already planning on only three months next year, if the place doesn't sell. Just long enough to make sure everything is running smoothly, like the watering system.

Oddly enough, I could access most websites yesterday and this morning, but could not download any email, nor could I open gmail or banking websites. Yesterday I could even access my Blogger Dashboard, and publish comments. Today Dashboard would time out, too. So.... here I am, sitting in a cold, cold pickup in front of the library, just long enough to publish your comments and let you know what is going on. At least the library wifi is up and running again, so I can sit outside even when the library is closed.

February 1, 2011 - Twelve Days & Counting

The hotel reservation has been made, and we'll be heading home in twelve days! Mr. Granny says we're going whether it blizzards or not. After all, we do have a 4-wheel drive pickup. We should be home by Valentine's Day, with lots candy for the grandkids.

I'll be so happy to get back home to civilization. I'm having internet problems here again. Sunday everything was fine, but Monday morning there was nothing. There's still nothing, so I'm at the library today, trying to catch up. If I can't find Kolby, the "keeper of the net", I'll be MIA for a bit. I hate it when that happens :-(