Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Goodbye... Til Next Spring

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to let you know that I am taking the winter away from blogging... And I will return next spring when my plants are starting to sprout and form.

I'll be reading your blogs as often as I can, though I don't know if I'll have the time to comment. I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed Christmas season!

Take care!

P.S. I leave you with some photos of Luka... watching Frasier on TV.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Apple Tree Pruning

Remember those beautiful apples (above) from our very plentiful apple tree? By summer's end, the limbs were out of control--way too many apples. The tree had begun to slant, but it was too heavy for us to straighten out.

A few weeks ago, we picked all the apples that we could save. I made the apple jam and some apple sauce; we gave buckets of apples away to friends.

Then, recently, we started to trim the tree. We trimmed everything, and now our two once-plentiful apple trees are now just bark...

It will come back next year, and I hope the apples return as well. I have no luck with trimming trees, but the trees do look much neater now, and we've used straps to pull them up as straight as we can.

Any tree trimming/pruning at your home?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Birthday... To Me

Today is my 24th birthday. I've always hated having my birthday in November. It's always a bit chilly, and I'm not a fan of the cold weather. (and it's cold and a bit wet too... Grrr.. Why couldn't I have gotten sunny weather! Oy! LoL).

For my birthday, I wanted to share with you my one and only doll...She's an Adora doll. I picked her out because she looks exactly like me when I was a baby. How rare is that?

Check out her photo and my baby photos... (can you tell who is who?)

Doesn't she look a lot like me? She's one of only 700 dolls that were produced, and I think she's just precious. Cam bought her for me for Christmas last year. We saw her at an old-fashioned European toy store in downtown Franklin, TN, and I just had to have her. She cost about $120-130 bucks, and I absolutely love her.

She sleeps/lies in this toy crib that I bought. (The Adora accessories were way too much money).

Now some up-close photos...

And here's the baby in her entirety. Her outfit is pretty cute too!

Okay, so I probably went a little obsessive with the photos. But how often do you have a doll that looks a lot like you when you were a baby? Almost exactly.

My mom says she's like my baby clone, that's how freaky it is. When I first got her, my mom used to hold her and just squeal at how much she looked like me... And now I love her... because maybe my kids will look like an Adora doll. How cool would that be?

Anyway, enjoy your weekend!

Now officially 24 years old!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fall Leaves

I apologize for the lack of posts. With the fall weather, there's not much to post about. There are a few things still growing in the garden, but nothing new has gone in. I think we're going to wait until next year as we begin to plan what we'll be growing.

Today I wanted to show you some photos of beautiful leaves that grace my yard. It's my next-door-neighbor's tree, but when it's sunny outside, the orange color fills the windows in the front door and in the kitchen, it's magnificent.

This photo was taken a few days ago, but isn't the tree so pretty? The orange color still remains on the tree, but its leaves have started to fall. It's not too cold in Nashville yet, but we've had a few cool/frosts I believe. All of our indoor plants are now safely in the house. In the upcoming weeks, I'll be posting photos of the last days of the outside garden as well as some of our indoor plants.

Enjoy the fall!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Last of the Apples and Apple Jam

The last of this year's apples were so perfect and ripe that I decided that I would make apple jam. I guess there's no such thing because I've never seen it at the store. It's always apple butter or apple preserves.

I used a package of pectin and followed the directions to make the jam. It's delicious and sweet, but the consistency and taste are a bit like apple sauce. It's a little thicker than apple sauce, but still it's pretty liquidy.

Next year, I think I will just make apple sauce and can it. The apples were perfect and were so delicious.

Here are a few photos.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Last of the Tomatoes and Luka

When the frost killed all the tomatoes, I took Blogger Tina's advice and put all the green ones in a paper bag. It will be going in the garage, and I guess we'll see if I will get to taste any ripe garden tomatoes soon...

Below: Beautiful green tomatoes

As I look back on this summer, I will miss these ripe tomatoes the most. They were so tasty and so delicious in my salads. Store-bought tomatoes just don't taste the same; they are too watered down. Now that I've tasted the real thing, I don't think I can ever go back. I have to wait until next summer and try to grow some more.

I may be planting a few seeds in pots and place them in the sun room, and hopefully it'll be like a green house for these seeds and maybe I can have some veggies in the winter. We'll see if this experiment works out.

In the meanwhile, it's time for a Luka update. Skeeter mentioned that I should've posted pictures of Luka for Halloween... but I forgot, so here's my belated Luka pictures. As you can see in the photos, she's been a busy kitten... (and it's very hard to take photos of her cute little face)

Now that we're starting to bring a lot of our potted plants inside, I'm trying to keep Luka away from them. She really does like to eat those leaves, and I noticed that she ate some rose petals (from a vase on the living room table) when we were away... And then she threw up... and it was not pleasant to clean up. So I bought her some pet grass at the pet store, and hopefully this will keep her thirst for greenery away from other plants.

I'm keeping my eye on her!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Planning For Next Year

Cam and I have started to plan for our garden next year. We decided not to purchase seedlings next spring, but to plant heirloom seeds. We figure if we can save the seeds from all our heirloom vegetables, it will save us in the long run.

We may have gotten ahead of ourselves, but we purchased many, many seeds for various vegetables. Some of them I can probably plant this fall, but I'm not sure what. Is it too late?

Here's what we purchased. What do you think? Which can we plant now that won't die with the intermittent frosts? Also, what's the best way to save the seeds? Do I need to freeze them?

America Spinach
Monnopa Spinach
Calabrese Broccoli
Dragon Carrot
Scarlet Nantes Carrot
Country Gentleman Corn
Bushy Cucumber
Boothby's Blonde Cucumber
Seed Savers Lettuce Mixture
Australian Brown Onion
Yellow Onion
Amish Snap Pea
Alma Paprika Pepper
Orange Bell Pepper
Early Scarlet Globe Radish
Blacktail Mountain Watermelon
Amish Paste Tomato
Black from Tula Tomato
Cherry Roma Tomato
German Pink Tomato
Italian Heirloom Tomato
Brandywine Tomato
Boston Favorite/Eating
Dwarf Gray Sugar Pea
Stowell's Evergreen Corn
Early Snowball Cauliflower
Buran Pepper
Long Island Improved Brussel Sprout
Blue Solaize Leek
Star of David Okra
Purple Top White Globe Turnip
Amish Melon
Double Yield Cucumber
Lao Green Stripe Eggplant
Copenhagen Market Cabbage
Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage
Chioggia Beet
Detroit Dark Red Beet

Friday, October 31, 2008

Lots of dead things....

Today's post is short and sweet. This week's light frost has killed almost all of my plants. Even drapping the cloth over the tomato plants didn't help them. All of the green summer leaves have withered and only sadness remains.

I'll post pictures of the sad garden this weekend.

The only thing that currently survives are the carrots. The leaves are still green, and I'll be harvesting those soon.

How did your garden do?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cold Weather and Bell Peppers

It's been a bit on the nippy side in Nashville. My tomato plants have been growing strong, despite the cold, but this weekend's cold weather has given me quite a chore. I had to find a way to cover up all my plants to protect them from any chance of frost. Cam and I read that you could cover them up with bed linens, if you didn't have the fancy plant weather protectors. So far, the plants look safe and snug and green underneath the linens. We'll see how they hold up if or when the weather decides to warm up. Nashville weather is always a bit unpredictable.

Here's something I wasn't expecting--my bell peppers seem to be ALIVE! After staying dormant and fruit-less all summer, I had given up on them. But I guess they like the colder weather because they are really growing quite well.

Below: One of the bell peppers out back

I really don't think this is a green bell pepper. It looks like a huge mix between jalapeno and bell, but when we bought it, it said bell pepper. I read that peppers can cross-pollinate, but I don't think this is the case for this plant. It's nowhere near any other variety of peppers. It was planted next to a purple bell pepper and a red bell pepper. Anyway, maybe Lowe's labeled the seedling incorrectly...

We've picked this particular pepper, and the flavor was mild enough to eat in a salad. Pretty tasty!

Below: Bell Peppers from the Front

These peppers will hopefully ripen into beautiful red bell peppers.

I'm excited about the bell peppers actually doing great! I guess the cold weather hit the spot, and maybe they didn't grow well in the heat. Or my bell peppers are just special. Whatever the reason, I am pleased!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm Back!

Hi Everyone,

After a month long absence from the blogging world, I am back--alive and kicking. I apologize for not blogging for so long. Cam has been sick and my great-uncle (my grandmother's youngest brother) passed away. On top of this, I've gone to two children's writing conferences.

I do have one piece of good news: I have two literary agents currently reviewing my manuscripts, so I hope that at least one of them will take me on as a client. That would be wonderful... and a step closer to getting published. Please pray for me and hopefully something wonderful will happen soon.

Back to the garden.... Everything is coming along very nicely, despite the cold fronts that we've had. Tomorrow, there is a frost warning... but I'm hoping my vegetables survive.

The cabbage head was killed off my bugs, the bell pepper plants seem to FINALLY producing fruit, and the eggplants are still going strong. The watermelon is on its last leg--but we've had plenty of watermelon fruit that we've enjoyed. All of this and more on upcoming posts this week and next.

For now, I leave you with a recent harvest from the garden.

Below: Lots of tomatoes... A few beans

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Apple Sauce

With all the apples from our trees, I finally decided to try to make some apple sauce. I used a handful of apples--about 10 or so. (Maybe more, maybe less).

I didn't follow a recipe, and I didn't bother to watch heating times. (This plays a crucial part in making apple sauce, as I've recently read).

First: I peeled, chopped, and cored the apples. Don't they look so juicy and delicious?

I actually ate several apple pieces as I was cutting them up. They looked too delicious and tasted SO good, and I just couldn't help myself.

Next, I experimented with a variety of flavors. I used cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and several other spices (which I can't remember now, LoL). I mixed them all up in the bowl. They ended up looking like spiced apples.

And then I cooked them on HIGH (big mistake) with several tablespoons of water. What I didn't realize is that you are supposed to lower the heat after the initial boil. So the stove was on high the entire time, and the apples got soft but dry. So I added more water than I needed.

When the apples were soft enough, I used a potato masher and mashed all the apples together until they were smooth. Then, I placed the mixture into two jars and had apple sauce as a side snack.

All those apples only made two jars--the apples really cook down. The end result was delicious. It tasted a bit tart and sweet at the same time. I enjoyed my experiment, and I will be making more apple sauce in the future.

The apple trees are still huge with tons and tons of apples.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Betty and Bam Bam

Betty, the cantaloupe, was finally ready for our stomachs. She was about to fall off the vine, so I took her inside. Sadly, I have no pictures of her flesh because I gave her to my little sister to take back to her dorm at Vanderbilt University.

Below: Beautiful Betty

My sister reports that she was delicious and beautifully orange and sweet. Good-bye Betty. I had a lovely time raising you.

Below: Bam Bam, the watermelon

With a ton of watermelons, we decided to harvest another one for a summer's day treat. The flesh was pinkish, but it was sweet.

Betty has other brothers and sisters that are growing. I say about three little ones (more about them next week), but I don't know how will survive and who will die. There used to be five little ones, but two of them withered away. I guess the vine was not strong enough to support that many fruit. I'll keep you all posted on the cantaloupes' development.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Luka and a Tomato Update

The tomato plants have slowed down their production, but there are new flowers and tiny fruit that are growing. It's just slower than it was. I suppose that has to do with the fall weather. I'm enjoying what I can before they die on me.

Below: My latest tomato harvest

I also harvested some oregano from the garden. I didn't use the tomatoes for spaghetti, but I did use fresh oregano instead of dried. I may need to dry some herbs for summer.

Anyone have any good ideas on how to dry herbs? (Natural (or old-fashioned) ways without buying any extra machines).

Now onto Luka...

I believe that I have the strangest cat ever. I love my little Luka, and she is a tad feisty. I believe she’s between 5-6 months old and growing strong… into a beautiful black cat. I wanted to dress her up in a pet outfit for Halloween, but Cam said, “she’s already in her costume.” SADNESS! LoL.

As she’s gotten older, she’s sleeping a bit more… but not as much as an adult cat. She still wrecks havoc in the house. Let me list her “bad” deeds this week (so far):

(1) Knocked over two potted plants—dirt splattered everywhere
(2) Killed one of those plants
(3) Knocked over my favorite rose vase and broke it. The vase smashed into millions of pieces on the ground
(4) Sunk her teeth into me… A LOT! Biting seems to be an every day thing.

Here’s how I’ve tried to punish her… unsuccessfully, I might add.

(1) Time out in the bathroom for 30 minutes
(2) A loud “NO” with a clap of my hand
(3) Moved her to the hallway and closed the door for 1 hour (withholding attention)

Yup, she doesn’t care what I do. Oh well. I still love her. She does have many lovable qualities:

(1) She has never scratched the furniture or couch with her claws. She is loyal to her scratching post
(2) She cuddles with me at night
(3) She wakes me up at the right time every morning, purring. She gets lots of rubs and kisses, and she likes to lick my face and give me a "bath" in the morning.
(4) She loves every single toy that I've ever given her.. Has never disliked one single toy.
(5) Loves every type of cat food that we've tried.

And tada... Her strangest habit... When she's on the bed, she likes to sleep on her back with her paws in the air... Isn't that funny? I've never seen any other cat do this...

Below: This picture was taken right when she woke up. She was already moving her upper body a bit...

She does have a cute little white belly. But anyway, I thought I'd share. I love my little kitten, despite how bad she can be.

My parents say that she's only fiesty and hyper when I am home. When I am away for the day, she is very quiet and is very docile.

Hmm, I guess she just misses her mommy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Watermelon Everywhere

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I'm going to try to post 2-3 times a week instead of Monday through Friday. Because my garden isn't producing as much, there's not much to report.

The weather in Nashville is getting bit colder. It was in the 60s yesterday, and I had to wear a sweater when I went out. (I am very sensitive to cold, so anything below 70 is chilly to me). I wonder if the chilly weather is here to stay or just the reminisces of Ike. I hope it is Ike because I really loved the summer weather, and my veggies love it too.

I am prepared for the fall though. (I'm not a fan of these high gas prices though. All of the gas stations near where I live are all out of gas! And the next closest gas station charges $4.25, ridiculous!)

Anyway, the good news is my plants are still producing, even though the chilly weather is here. The watermelons are out of control. They are everywhere!

Below: The watermelon

Each and every of those pictures show a different watermelon! It's like a watermelon party out there. We've tasted two watermelon, and even though they aren't that red inside, they still are very taste and delicious.

Btw... There's also a watermelon growing on our porch...

I'm thinking next year that I will only plant one watermelon plant instead of three. And maybe I'll have the smaller variety of watermelon instead of these huge ones.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I apologize for the lack of posts this week. I have been busy, busy. I'm attending two writing conferences (one is next weekend, the other is in October in Birmingham). I've been getting ready and doing the research for the conferences. They're being sponsored by the Society of Children Book Writer's and Illustrators. I've written a multi-cultural chapter book for kids (grades 1-3), so I am hoping to pitch it to some agents and publishers. I'm very excited.

Anyway, the lettuce is my father's garden is doing very well. We've eating lots and lots of delicious salad. We grew Romaine and head lettuce. They're pretty delicious, and because we didn't wait until they formed a real head, no slugs!

Below: Numerous views of the lettuce

The seeds for this lettuce were planted in early August. I have a feeling the lettuce will begin to bolt before October comes. But it's been a nice crop for us, and I will try again next year.

Monday, September 8, 2008

September Beans

Hi Everyone, I hope you had a great weekend.

I wanted to update you on my green bean plant. It has done remarkable well, and it is still producing. Some of the leaves are getting a little brown, but there are tons of new blooms and baby beans on all the plants. I've gotten an amazing harvest from my two rows of beans this summer. I don't know how much longer they have, but I am just enjoying my time left.

Next summer, beans will definitely be on my list to plant. I will buy the beans that grow up. The bean variety I bought this year was the bushy kind. So cucumbers and beans have been extremely successful in my garden.

Below: New blooms
I love the graceful look of the blooms. It's so dainty and precious. Their white color screams more baby beans to come.

Below: Bloom and babies
I didn't do much research on beans before I planted them. I put one row in a sunny area, and the other row was in shade. By far, the beans in the shade have been the best producer. The ones in the sun have also produced beautiful beans, but the shaded beans produce much more. Next year, I will do several rows of beans in the shade.

Below: Lots and lots of green beans

Below: My most recent bean harvest
Mostly, I've been eating lots of green bean stir-fry with white rice. Green beans are always on my family's grocery list, and this summer, that's one thing we've been able to save money on. The seed packet, which cost only a few dollars, has saved us lots of money. =)

What are some of the best producers in your garden?