Monday, May 30, 2016

Dinosaur Kale

Something keeps getting into the garden.  I see it out of the corner of my eye from time to time.  It really seems to like my kale.

First squash bugs, now this.  My garden issues just never seem to end.
Readers, what plagues your garden? 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Pallet Fence Update

I hope you're not sick of garden posts yet.  Because I'm pretty sure you'll keep seeing them this summer.  All of my spare time is in the garden lately!

I wanted to share an update on our pallet fence, which is coming along.  It's about half done, and my husband made some little planters in the tops for me to put herbs.  I love them! 
Once things start blooming, I'll have to share another picture.  I have been searching everywhere for peppermint seed packets, but there seems to be a shortage this year.  I can't find it anywhere!  I am planting herbs in hopes of doing more medicinal tinctures this fall. 

Readers, do you have any herbs planted? 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Wasp Sting

A few weeks ago, Reid got stung by a wasp.  We didn't think much about it.  He's been stung before.  The next morning, his finger where he'd been stung was a little swollen.  I sent him off to school.  When he got home, his hand was extremely swollen and had one blister.  We loaded into the car and headed to Urgent Care.

The doctor we saw at the Urgent Care didn't like the look of it, and sent us on to the ER.  It was a very busy Monday night in the ER.  There was nowhere to sit and they ran out of wheel chairs.  We saw a number of people in handcuffs with police escort.  Must've been a full moon.
They put some gauze on Reid's hand for compression and marked where the swelling was so they could track it.  After a couple of hours, they sent us home with antibiotics and Benadryl (which we already had, but I guess you can never have too much).  The following pictures are a little gruesome, so if you don't want to see them stop reading here!
Here is how his hand looked the next day.  The swelling wasn't as bad, but he had new blisters, and couldn't move his fingers.  We went in for follow up and they were concerned that he could have an infection in the tendons or bones, so they did blood work and x-rays. 

Luckily, there was no infection.  Here is how his hand looked several days later, when the blisters started to pop.  By the fifth day after the sting, his hand looked like this:

Finally, a week after being stung, all the blisters had popped and the swelling had gone down enough that he could move his fingers into a fist again.  One of my nursing students told me that the combination of Zantac and Benadryl was similar to an epipen, because they work on different histamine receptors.  So we now have some Zantac in the medicine cabinet, just in case.  Reid will go see a pediatric allergist in August to find out if he is truly allergic to bee stings, or if it was just a weird one time reaction.

Readers, do bee stings bother you?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mabel's Labels Giveaway

For several years I've been using Mabel's Labels for all three boys to label their gear.  They are so durable - they last through numerous washings and tough play.  It sounds crazy, but I've found that their clothes fall apart long before these labels do!  Pierce, Cort and Reid have their labels on things like backpacks, lunch boxes, water bottles, towels and jackets. 

This summer, Mabel's Labels has a new day camp set and offered to send me one to review.  I ordered a set for Cort.  You can personalize the labels with fun pictures unique to your child - Cort loves to ride his 'trick' bike so I picked a bike for his labels.

In addition to receiving the two metal tags which are perfect for swim bags or backpacks, he also got an assortment of different sized labels.  One thing I love is that they have rounded edges, so even if you stick them on a tag in a shirt, they aren't prickly or itchy. 

Would you like the chance to win a pack of labels for your child?  Just click on the Rafflecopter giveaway below for the opportunity to win:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: I received a pack of Mabel's Labels for review purposes. The opinions above are my own. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

October Beans

I was talking on the phone with my grandmother a few months ago, and she told me about October beans.  She said that she grew them every year.  I knew I had to try them.  They were a little tricky to track down, but I eventually found some online to order. 

I think they have to be one of the prettiest beans I have ever seen. 
I hope that they grow well so we can try them in the fall.  Maybe I will even be able to take some to my grandmother. 

Readers, have you ever tried October Beans?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Less Weeds

I was complaining last winter to my blogging friend The Texan about how the weeding in my garden does me in every summer.  She suggested using a hay method like she does.  Since we get up our own hay each summer, we usually have a number of old bales around that we need to use up.  So I started using them in the garden.

It's working really well so far!  I need to add more hay to these rows of turnips, kale, carrots and beets.  But so much less weeding to do.  This may change my gardening life. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Working on the Garden Fence

I mentioned earlier this year that we're extending the garden area and redoing the fencing.  The first estimate for fencing was about $500.  We realized we needed to find a cheaper way.  So Paul started bringing home pallets.

It's not the fastest way to put up a fence, but it's coming along.  The only limitation is how many pallets can be brought home at a time!  I think it'll look neat once it's all done. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Asparagus Season is Over

Asparagus season is over now, but we had our best year ever.  I think it's been about five years since I planted the asparagus bed.  This year for a few weeks straight I had to pick asparagus daily.  And the flavor!  It had such a sweet flavor this year.

I kind of wish asparagus wasn't so fleeting.  It would be nice to be able to eat it year round.

Readers, how do you like to fix asparagus?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sweet William

Back in March my Dad gave me some Sweet William that had been transplanted from my great grandmother's flowerbed.  It was cold the day he gave it to me, and when I brought it home I put it straight in my partial shade flower bed with some water.

It seems like every other thing I plant in this bed bites the dust, so I'm thrilled to see now that the Sweet William seems to be thriving.  Even since I took this picture a couple of weeks ago with my cell phone, it has spread more.

It's native to southern Europe and the flowers are edible and may have medicinal properties.  It attracts birds, bees, and butterflies.  Supposedly in the Victorian language of flowers (whatever that is), it symbolizes gallantry.  For me, it symbolizes family.

Readers, do you have any plants that were passed down from family?

Monday, May 9, 2016

I Bought a Falcon at the Grocery Store

A couple of weeks ago I was a victim to the impulse buy at the store.  I was at the grocery store.  Of all places!  And they had peregrine falcons.  Of course my garden needed a falcon.

My grocery list most certainly did not contain the phrase "peregrine falcon" in between the tortillas and the almond milk. 

As tempting as it was to buckle him into the passenger seat and call him Fred on the way home, I bagged him and stuck him in the trunk instead.  Just as well, because he might've tried to control the radio.  Now he has a prominent spot in the garden where his job is to scare away rabbits and groundhogs.

I'm not sure how good Fred is at his job.  I hope he's on his game.

Readers, have you had any impulse buys at the grocery store lately?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Learning is Fun

I've mentioned before that I listen to a lot of podcasts when I'm running.  Recently I made the accidental discovery that you can watch entire college courses on iTunes on various topics.  There were a number that interested me, but I decided to start with a history course at Yale called Epidemics in Western Society since 1600. 

I don't have the textbook for the class, but I have been making an effort to read the books that are mentioned as well as watch films that are discussed.  After watching the three lectures on the bubonic plague, I read Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year.  Like other books from the early 18th century, it's a little dry, and it does bother me that there are no chapters.  However, if you want to experience what the day to day life was like during the terror of the plague in London in the late 1600s, it gives a realistic picture.  At moments in the book, I felt that some things hadn't changed all that much, when considerating things that happened with the Ebola virus in 2014. 

I love to learn and I've enjoyed immersing myself in this fascinating topic (some of which, like the lecture on Hippocrates and the four humors, has been relevant to the psychology classes I teach).  I do wish the course included the entire reading list - I have to listen for books mentioned in the lectures (next I'll be reading Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic from 1775 - 82). Once I finish Dr. Snowden's course I have downloaded several other courses I want to take (there is an EMT course that I think will be very useful).  These courses are all free!  Just click on ITunes U to check them out.  You can watch them on any computer and do not need a special device.  It's an opportunity to 'sit in' on all the fun classes that you were never able to take when you were younger - only you don't have to take any final exams or write any papers.

Readers, is there a class you'd love to be able to take?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Christopher Newport

Pierce is in third grade, and one of the big projects they did this year involved choosing a famous American to study.  Pierce chose Christopher Newport.  He wrote a biography report on him, did a painting in art class, and had to dress in costume for the PTO meeting.  I confess I had to google pictures of Christopher Newport so we could figure out what he looked like.  I don't think he typically wore a backpack....but in this picture "Christopher Newport" was waiting for the bus. 
At the PTO meeting, they had a wax museum.  The students stood in costume in the halls with the portrait they had painted of their historic person.  Each kid had a button on the wall, and you could "push the button" and they would tell you all about their person.  It was really fun and the kids did an excellent job. 

Readers, who would you choose to study if you researched a famous American?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Why You Should Plant Blue Hubbard Squash

Last year I planted one blue hubbard squash start in the garden.  I didn't know anything about this type of heirloom squash, but had picked it up at a garden center and wanted to try something new.  It grew some of the ugliest squashes I had ever seen.  Bulbous.  When they fully mature, they turn a weird gray color and are massive in size.  Most of mine reached 20+ pounds.  I was a little scared of the first one, but was delighted when I tasted the creamy flavor.

The blue hubbard squash stores very well in the winter.  I put mine in the basement in September, after a brief cure in the sun.  I just roasted my last one.  It was just as firm as the day I picked it, even after six months of storage.  And when I cut into it....glorious rich orange and just as much flavor as the ones I roasted last fall.

Blue hubbards produce a lot of food!  I roasted this last squash at 375* for 45 minutes, then put all the flesh in a blender to make puree.  I filled up one 2 quart casserole dish to make as a side for dinner, and then froze another 10 cups of puree.  The shell went into the compost bin.  I always save some seeds to use for next year. 

I like to use the purees to make my version of pumpkin bread.  Or maybe I should call it hubbard bread.  You can find the recipe HERE - just sub hubbard squash puree for the cushaw squash.  This time, I cooked the bread in my sun oven.  It does a nice job baking breads - they just turn out slightly crooked because of the angle I have to put the oven on to maximize the sun exposure. 

The blue hubbard squash is win/win - you get a ton of food, it stores for a very long time, and it has excellent flavor.  You only have to buy it once - it's an heirloom so you can reuse the seeds from year to year.  If you haven't grown this before, it's my top recommendation for you to try in 2016.  Happy planting!