Saturday, May 21, 2011

Plants are in the ground

Since we are pretty sure that there will not be any more frosts, we decided to go ahead and put all of our plants in the garden beds.  I used the Gardner's Supply Company's garden planning tool to lay-out the garden ahead of time.  I wish I could figure out how to post my diagram.  Each 6x2 bed contains 12 square foot plots.  In the first bed, we have 2 peas (planted a few weeks ago and growing well!), 2 cucumbers, a pole bean and a bush bean on one end, and 6 tomatoes on the other end.  The second bed contains two more tomatoes and 4 peppers on one end, and a mix of herbs -- basil (2), cilantro (2), dill, green onion -- on the other end.  All of the herbs, as well as the beans and cucumbers, we planted from seed.  We obtained the tomato and pepper plants from a local nursery.  This is all a big experiment for us, so we are excited to see the results.  Crossing my fingers that everything grows :-)

On another note, I need to post about my ongoing craft projects.  I just started knitting a shawl this morning, and I'm still working on my sweater.  I also have started sewing an easy skirt, but I need to swing by Mama K's to get additional instructions.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tomato Plants

My main gardening goal for this year is to can tomatoes.  We go through a ridiculous amount of canned tomatoes throughout the year, and I would love to have a homemade stash on hand.  Lately, we've been buying canned San Marzano tomatoes because they are supposed to be the best for sauce (and that's what all the Food Network chefs use!).  Luckily, Grow Pittsburgh is offering San Marzano starts this year, so we took a trip to a nearby nursery yesterday to pick up a few.  They only had 5 plants, so we cleaned them out.  We also got an Italian Sweet, a Brandywine and a Green Zebra.  One the pepper side, we got two Bounty Sweet Banana Pepper plants and one each of New Ace and Gourmet Orange.  I had planned to grow heirloom peppers from seed, but it didn't work out for me.  The lack of direct sunlight coming into our house should help keep it cool this summer, but it's not good for growing things.  We are waiting until next weekend to plant them outside just to make sure we are really truly frost-free.

In other garden news, the pea seeds I recently planted in our garden box sprouted this week and are growing quickly.  Also, our lettuce is doing well, but I should have planted much more.  I'll have to expand for the fall crop of lettuce.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cloth Bags and Napkins

I hope to start using my sewing machine more in the upcoming weeks.  I bought 3 patterns on sale at JoAnn Fabrics yesterday, and maybe I can convince Mama K to help me get started next weekend.  In the meantime, I've been refreshing my sewing skills with a few projects.

Last weekend I stitched up two produce bags to use at the grocery store instead of those clear plastic bags that the store provides.  About a year or so ago, I made two by combining instructions from a few different sites.  This time, I tried to take my lessons learned and improve the end product.  I used sheer fabric leftover from last time and just cut it into 2 equal rectangles.  I did a double-fold hem along each short edge (top of the bag) and then folded the fabric in half and did a french seam along the sides.  I inserted a piece of bias tape into the seam to use as a tie.  I'm very pleased with the results.  If I make any more, I intend to re-purpose old sheer curtains instead of purchasing new fabric.

This weekend I finished up a cloth napkin project I started around the same time as I made the original cloth bags.  Although we've been regularly using the napkins I made back then, they are a bit too small.  For this batch, I cut the fabric into 16" squares -- unfortunately, I only had enough for two napkins -- and then I did a double-fold hem along each edge.  The finished products are about 15" square and just the right size.

 Just because I think it's cool, check out my vintage green Singer sewing machine.  It even has a lid that goes over it and snaps on to form its own carrying case. 

According to my Google search, these machines were made between 1955 and 1964.  The copyright on the machine manual is 1958.  Also, please notice my awesome vintage pink plaid sewing basket.  Inside, the markings on my measuring tape indicate it was made in West Germany (fyi - the wall fell in 1989).  The trick to getting these ancient goodies?  You need relatives who purchase things at yard sales and Goodwill just because they are in good condition and someone they know might need/use them some day.  I believe my grandmother gave the sewing machine (along with many other "treasures") to my mother years ago just in case one of us girls wanted one.  Turns out she was right this time.  I'm pretty sure all my other sewing supplies were purchased under similar circumstances.