*note: in the process of replacing images*

Monday, 20 February 2012

Thrifting Mojo Returns!

I think I'm back on track with my thrifting schedule now that I've a) donated a whole bunch of things and b) have a lot more energy. Good times are here once again.

Baby crap bought from our local brand spanking new Goodwill Plaza - two crib sheets and three varying-in-size onesies for just under $8 in total. The green one is from a Carter's John Lennon range, and thus says "Imagine all the people". Cute, slightly athiest AND philosophical.

Used books from Maxwell's. We don't shop here nearly enough, and they have a wide range of books - from kind-of-rare to $2 science fiction paperbacks. My choice out of this pile is the predictable "Letters of a Woman Homesteader". IMPORTANT NOTE: please do not worry, I am not remotely turning into a fundie Christian. I just really enjoy reading about that era, especially it's impact on women.

Old and classic knitting patterns that needed saving, $2.25 of one of my favorite brands of yarn, and a $0.75 embroidery hoop (still not a fundie, just like making stuff) for my first attempts at making tiny crosses on fabric.

$1 of button porn. I have a jar I'm trying to fill to make a button stash for the future, and when I examined the ziploc these came in and saw the teacher/graduate owls (on the far right), there was no way I could let them go. They're now unquestionably heading for a cardigan related future. Perhaps this pattern.

The tiki masks (?) are a bit unexpected. Not sure if I could pull those off on a garment for me, and there's only four of them. Maybe something for the kid? I have no ideas. If in complete crisis, I'd put good money on Ravelry having a button swap group. Someone, possibly less white than I, could put them to good use.

I'd given these buttons the side eye last year but didn't expect to see them still hanging around in the store. They're mushroom shaped, made in Japan and kind of... squishy, almost like gummy candy? But not. I have no idea what I'll use these for, but I know I was meant to have them. Even if they are pink.

And something for the man of the house. Because he sat around in that thrift store forever waiting for me to be done. Once again: I love that our thrift store sells magazines and all thrift stores should do this.

Also bought but not photographed: a mint condition $1 copy of Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake's The Enormous Crocodile and a battered copy of Super Baby Foods. Not easy to photograph, and while useful and awesome, not interesting enough to take up more visual retail here.

Unrelated note: still haven't mown the backyard. We'll do that next weekend. Suuure.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Spring in February

[top to bottom: 1) succulents a-sprouting | 2) an unknown wildflower, seeded before the October rains | 3) Dai Mao beneath the grapefruit tree | 4) honeybee aloft a bok choy flower | 5) the first ever flower on my Alpine strawberry plant, originally started January 2011 | 6) Cour Di Bue cabbage]

As you might notice, everything still needs a good weeding and mulching. It rained again last weekend, not something I'm liable to complain about as this has been a dry winter, but it does prevent any kind of taming of the weeds. The bees are loving it, and that's enough for now. Hoping to put a bit of work into it over the weekend so that I can take a long overdue wide shot of everything and make some notes about our raised bed arrangement.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Winter 2011-12: What A Bust

You could say that things started going downhill around the time I found out I was pregnant, and got knocked on my butt for three months dealing with the first trimester exhaustion/sickness. But in all honestly, all that would have happened if that was the only obstacle would be that the weeds have grown - I was getting out to water the plants, I was just too tired to weed until now.

And sure enough, the weeds grew - because given half a rainfall's chance, SoCal vegetation will appear. So we have a situation like this, where I can't get to what I thought would be my Mammoth Red Cabbage until it's mown flat:

I'm certainly not risking the contents of my uterus traversing that.

But like I said, if that had been the only combination of problems, we'd be out there conquering it with machines and gloves now. Good compost will thrive with only weeds and food scraps, so it's certainly useful. Unfortunately, it's also been unseasonably hot over the last two or three months - barely into the 40s at night, and an average of 70-75F during the day.

So my bok choy bolted

and while that's lovely for the bees, that doesn't really help a household that wants to actually eat from their back yard. I also don't know if my spinach will last in direct heat - none of my plants are very large. I'll keep the faith for now.

I'm coming to the conclusion that it's not really worth planting any extra "winter" crops that take longer than a month until harvest, because I can't see this year getting much cooler. I'm seriously considering just moving straight onto beans, tomatoes and squash at the end of the month. I'll try radish and carrots around summer plants and wait until next time for onions and turnips and broccoli and bok choy.

But hey! Not everything is an abject failure!

I'm thankful I followed good advice to pick Italian-origin/hardy type heirloom seeds - this bed from left to right is Russian Red Kale, generic Buttercrunch lettuce (seems to do well under 85F), Oak lettuce and Cour Di Bue cabbage, all of which, despite my lackadaisical watering, are thriving in the unseasonable heat. I'm starting to pull the Buttercrunch, and the Kale could easily start being added to a stir fry or when roasting vegetables.

This Alpine strawberry plant I started from seed in January 2011 somehow survived last summer and is now expanding quite happily. Should I repot this plant? Possibly. There's an idea. I should do that soon.

Mixed lettuce seeds in containers in the shaded side yard, also another success. Although at one point, I accidentally left the watering can on the wrong setting and nearly obliterated these with the pressure. Large they are not, but they're great for a salad or two. I just wish I liked lettuce more. Next October, I'll try growing spinach in containers.

And today, unsure if it was ready to bolt and with no plans to water until tomorrow, I pulled in most of the Rapini Broccoli and a head of Buttercrunch lettuce. At the very least, once the aphids are washed off, this can all be put in the wok, cooked with chili flakes/garlic/green onion/sesame oil, and it will make a great greens dish to eat whenever the fancy is taken. Hot or cold. Trust me on the cold thing - it's basically a Korean recipe, and those people know what they're doing with vegetables.

Subnote: It's good to be back in the land of the doing. I'm very fortunate the baby is due into this world as the downturn in planting productivity begins - all I ever need to do between the end of June and the start of October is check for bugs, pull suckers on tomatos and harvest produce. Having months upon months of doing nothing is not my chosen way of living, and I'm hopefully going to set the garden up to work as hard as it can while I can't. More on that later.