Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Surprise Pooka

For Pooka's birthday, Brother and I made a big deal about this huge, heavy box.We made it seem so heavy, and so difficult to handle, you could see Pooka's eyes light up that something perfect was in the box.
Pooka's gift
Needless to say, she was a bit disappointed when all that was in the box was a small card. She read the card, and after Mommy explained it, she lite up. This GIANT box was her gift.  We gave Pooka a spot to make a flower bed the size of the box. I even promised to limit my funny faces at growing flowers since we won't get anything out of them.  She has already been spending her gift cards to some department stores on seeds. Places where most kids would of bought toys, my little one spends $20 on seeds and decorations for her new bed. This bed will be hers to design and do what she wishes and we will help her with some of the cost. But to see her light up and be happy about the perfect gift, that makes it worth it, even if I won't get any food out of it. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

What to do on another snow day?

We are home yet again due to the cold. It is nasty out there, but what do we do to keep a Pooka out of trouble and Brother's hair. We resort the seeds and seed what we need to plan on getting for the upcoming planting season. Maybe I will even get orders out today, if I don't clean. There is that little road block.

Seeds everywhere
I will also admit this is that time of year where I get more then a bit overwhelmed with everything. Where are we going to put it? How do I know how much to plant? How much do I let a Pooka follow her curious instincts to try new things when I want to scream "Don't we have enough?" I generally get excited again quickly enough, but it can be more then a bit overwhelming. Besides, all it takes is that little Pooka face giving me the "Mommy, wouldn't this be great?" and I melt more then I should.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What does it take to make a Pooka happy?

Pooka is very much like other children right now who are very confused. School keeps being cancelled for cold, but it looks nice out and she wants to do things outside. I know she is tired of hearing me tell her to put on another layer. She looked at me the other day and said "Mommy, I want spring." You are not the only one child. I am tired of having to figuring out if what we have planned is going to happen or if it is cancelled.

So imagine how excited she was after yet ANOTHER cancelled day of school when I came in with the mail that contained a package for her and more seed catalogs. She dove for the catalogs until she realized the package had her name on it.
Pooka restarts more lists of more "Can we Momma?"
Pooka read her name and address off the package, then I helped her read who it was from, which was her great Aunt and Uncle. Pooka tore into the package and the look on her little face. She was so excited. She pulled out this metal tin which she flipped over to see it contained flower seeds.  I helped her read the types and she asked if we really could plant the flowers, even if we can't eat them. Little did she know that I already had a plan there. I will admit, not being a flower person, I didn't know what a cosmo or a larkspur is, and I think I have heard of verbena before, so we had to look up some pictures of it.

The package also contained a gardening calendar that Pooka made a point to sit down and read front to back. She wants to hang it in her bedroom, but people were coming, so we put it on the back of the front door with a magnet for now, and Pooka loves looking at its pretty pictures and I read her little facts off it.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow Day and Flowers

Today we woke up to a 4:45 AM phone call from the school saying yet again it was too cold and nasty to send the kids to school. No problem, I could use a snow day. And Pooka and Brother were happy with it too. Granted it is too cold to play outside, but kids always find something to do. I think Pooka is planning to make plans for the garden.
Signs of life when it is just too cold.
In all the cold and the snow, Pooka was so happy to see a small sign of spring. Her paperwhite bulbs had finally flowered and the front room smelled wonderful. Pooka was so happy to see signs of life when the outside world is frozen over. Although it has made Pooka more in interested than ever in what she wants to grow for spring. Good thing a couple of new seed catalogs came in the mail and have her complete attention. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Jam Anyone?

Over the spring/summer I bought fruit when it would go on sale. Blueberries and raspberries were one of many fruits where I did this, especially when they were 75% off or buy one get one free. We then froze them much like we freeze green peppers.  We told ourselves that when it wasn't as hot, when we had more time we would make jam.
One afternoon of work.
Well that day finally came and today we canned and canned and canned. Pooka was our little helper, never really leaving our side (except while her friend was here to play) in her little Mommy's helper apron and her chef's hat. She would hand us tools and ingredients. When we would start pouring things into the jars, Pooka would man the hot water bath in the sink, handing us warmed rings and jars for me to fill. She loves doing this and spending the time with Mommy and Daddy.  Pooka looked at me and said "I love doing this with you, and I hope I get to do it when I am older with my kids."

We made spiced blueberry jam from the book Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan. This has become one of my favorite go to books. This blueberry jam has a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg in it. We decided to try something new with this recipe.
Spiced Blueberry Jam
The other batch of blueberry jam we made previously that I know Brother will like. He loved having this in his lunches last year and is super excited that it will be in his lunches again.
Blueberry Jam
The third batch was another new recipe of Raspberry jam, also from the Food in Jars book. I tasted a small bit while it was till hot and while it was HOT. It tasted really good. Daddy tasted it and said he might need to start having toast in the mornings so he can eat good jam. That is high praise from him.
Raspberry Jam 
All in all, Daddy and I walk away knowing that A) Pooka is learning to do something for herself and B) both of them will have a healthy homemade part of the lunches at least until we can get the garden producing again.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lemon oh lemon....

Cave Johnson finally produced a lemon, it just took 6 months. This is the same lemon that our lemon tree started in the early part of the summer.
Lemon oh lemon, how we have awaited thee.
It turned out to be decent sized, big enough to make our small tree start to lean to one side. It was very nice to see the warm yellow of the lemon against the snow of the polar vortex.
Leaning tree. 
During the "I left the camera somewhere" stint, we did cut into the lemon and ate it with dinner. It had a wonderful lemon flavor without being as acidic tasting as most lemons. Pooka is already dreaming of multiple lemons to make fresh lemonade with. I will be happy if we get a lemon every so often. Now to see how hard it is to keep the lemon and lime trees alive through a winter. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

A nice night in

The other night, Daddy and Brother had a guy thing to go to. We could of gone, but decided to let them have their moment. Instead, Pooka and I had a girls night. What does that entail you ask? The same thing every girls night entails, sorting the seeds.
Time to sort seeds. 
Wait, you mean not everyone sorts seeds and looks through seed catalogs on girls night. As Pooka would say "Awkward." (it is her new favorite word).
WE have new catalogs,but I figured the old ones work just as well. 
Anyway, Pooka and I sat down with our list and checked to see what we still had and what we needed. We are in pretty good shape, and with what Santa brought a Pooka, I am hoping we won't need to buy much more. Although Pooka had already started a list of things she wants to grow. And no, I didn't help her write all these words. She did it totally on her own, including the Alpine Strawberries.
The beginnings of a list of plants by Pooka . 
Then again, Pooka got a gift certificate in her stocking to her favorite nursery, so I may not have much of a say in the matter.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Paperwhite things...

A few days after Christmas, Pooka and I were at Target and we found these paperwhite bulbs on clearance for 75% off. Seeing as Pooka's birthday had just passed, we grabbed it so she could have some sort of plant in the house.

Sadly, I don't have any pictures since this was during the stint where I left the camera at Grandma's house, but Pooka was so happy to rehydrate the dirt and plant all these little bulbs. She just kept telling me "I am finally getting dirty. I am a happy girl. Spring needs to come soon. "

Pooka's Paperwhites. 
My poor girl was born in the wrong season. She loves spring and summer and planting and getting dirty for her birthday. Simple things make her happy.

She has been watching the progress of the flowers carefully and this is what they look like today. Now if I can remember to bring in Pooka's amaryllis from last year we will see if we can regrow them. At the end of the summer, we cut the plants back to the bulb. Hopefully they will work when I bring them in the house soon. But thats a job for another day. Until then Pooka is happy with the plant she has.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The part of the year I didn't tell you about.

With our bit of a disappearing act, I know many of you (okay the 2 who read this) are wondering what has been going on around here.

The garden did well before the end of the year, I need to update all the pages with our total output from the garden and our canning numbers. The garden put out a total of 150 lbs of produce. That doesn't even count all the herbs we pulled out and dried. We are still canning some jams from frozen fruit I bought over the summer. At least canning in the winter I don't need to worry about putting added humidity into the air.

Final clear out of tomatoes only. 
In the end, our savings from the garden totaled 128.6% return on investment on our EVERYTHING cost, including the bricks for the new herb bed out front. The consumable return on investment was much much higher. We have been asked if we see that money come back and my honest answer is yes. Our grocery bill is still on the small side since we are able to pull the canned tomatoes out for dinner, or the fact I haven't bought jam in 2 years. Although right now I cringe when I go to the store and have to pay a dollar per pepper when I know ours taste so much better and is not outrageously priced.

We also took in a few new plants at the very end of last season. Pooka asked if we could get a rosebush from her great grandma's house for her. Our dear friend Aunt S came up and helped me try as best we could to transplant it. However, it had been in the ground at Great Grandma's for about 20 years and it didn't like the idea. Right now it is sitting dormant in the garage in a pot and we are hoping that it will survive being transplanted again in the spring. Aunt S and I had decided that the roots were too small to risk putting in the ground when we first grabbed it.
Great Grandma's rose bush we are keeping
With the rose bush came some free succulents from Great Grandma's. We left quite a few in the pot with the rose bush. We also tried planting one in the ground outside, but I am not 100 certain it will survive the winter.

Succulent in the ground,. 
Pooka kept quite a few in the pot with the rose bush, but we did try to transplant one into a pot in the house. It seems to still be alive, if looking a bit spindle at the moment.

Pooka's plants for her room.
This is a quick update of what has been going on. More to come in the next few days.

Monday, January 13, 2014

After a very long break

We are back. I swear we didn't forget about you, but after the death in our family and adjusting to our new schedules and then the holidays, we just couldn't find the time to pop in and let you know how we are doing. Now that things are slowing down for us and we have pulled the garden stuff back out, we are coming back. We still miss Great Grandma, but we know she would want us to resume our lives and we will grow some morning glories and snapdragons for her.  So look for a an all new fancy post coming in the next day or so.

One of our morning glories from last year for some color