Friday, May 28, 2010

It's been too long, again.

Boy, did I ever fall off the regular blogging wagon, shame on me. The Spring semester at college kept me pretty busy and at the end of it I made the decision to change majors from Digital Design & Graphics to Business Administration. I was inspired by my Intro to Business professor and think it is a better path for me. It will definitely be as more of an asset upon graduating. I started the summer semester last week and it's going to be a busy one too but I do love being back in school. I am still looking for a "big-girl job", they are hard to find around here. I just keep plugging away and am hopeful that I will be hired soon. I haven't made much soap lately. I think it could help provide some additional income but I was so busy with school and the rest of "life" that it was hard to for me to get in the right frame of mind to make a lot. I have been batting around a few creative ideas and recipes the past week or so and may give them a try this weekend. Someone thought I had on perfume yesterday and complimented me on the fragrance; I told them "it's my soap" because I wasn't wearing any perfume. Perhaps I should consider making a solid perfume or a light spray? ~Note to self: Add this to my list of possibilities.~

My garden is doing pretty well. The tomatoes are fantastic, especially the Dillard's Cherry. I have picked from it continuously since mid-March, and they are quite tasty. The Beefheart is just now blooming and I think I will have to baby it through the heat; I bet they will be delicious. Wouldn't it be great if we could just live on tomatoes? My herbs are growing like gangbusters, and the lettuce and peppers are doing nicely. The lavender and tansy are taking the heat pretty well too. I want to plant more but we will be moving in June, most likely to a condo. It has a balcony so I will be able to have lots of containers full of garden goodies. Hmmmm, maybe I can talk them into starting a small community garden.... the wheels are turning, lol! I have a feeling I will be giving some plants away before I move, it's great to share the garden love! I have a lot to do before then, and am attempting to tackle a little bit each day so it's not overwhelming. I have some great friends who are going to help me too, since my husband is on the road and it's not likely he'll be down here on moving day. I am thankful every day for them, I wouldn't be able to do the things I am attempting to do without them. Thank you all so much for your help and support! I hope everyone enjoys the holiday weekend, relax and do something fun for yourself!

Monday, February 22, 2010

We finally had a truly warm day yesterday; I think it was only our second or third one since my last post. I am so ready for our wonderful Florida weather to come back and stay so I can really get out in the garden. I bought some great heirloom peppers and tomatoes from my friends (and former high school band director) at Our Garden Patch in North Fort Myers. In the tomato department, I got a Dillard's Cherry, Cherokee Black, Beefheart and German Pink. I bought two pepper plants; a Bird pepper and a Peter pepper. I also have a Celebrity tomato plant from the farmers market. I spotted tiny green fruits on the Dillard's Cherry yesterday and literally squealed with delight! I am going to be planting some flower seeds to go along with my veggies and herbs this year including Violet Queen giant zinnia and three kinds of sunflowers, which are one of my favorite flowers. It's been too cold to get the cucumbers planted so that's also on my gardening to-do list for this week. What are you going to plant in your garden this spring, and for all you warm climate and brave winter gardeners, what are you growing now?

I received the prettiest necklaces in the mail last Friday from Lana Manis of Honeysuckle Lane, aren't they beautiful? Lana creates such wonderful things; I wore the Dear Dolly necklace yesterday and got some nice compliments. Thanks so much Lana, your package made my day! This week I am eagerly waiting on some soap supplies to arrive so I can make soap for a festival I'm doing next month. I am ramping up production and looking for a few other items to add to my soap selections. One of my high school classmates, Colleen Groot, is a glass and mosaic artist. She makes a variety of beautiful items for your home and garden, including soap dishes. We are working on a collaboration of my soap and her soap dishes, and I am quite excited about that! I hope to have a few at my booth; they would make a lovely gift with a couple of bars of soaps setting in them and tied up with a pretty ribbon. I have a few other irons in the fire and this semester's classes are keeping me quite busy too. I wake up every morning and wonder what good things the day will bring. I wish all of you a very good week!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well it's been another busy two months! One of my resolutions for 2010 is to be more frequently consistent with my blog. I think I am going to put it on my calendar, that should help immensely. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season! Emily and I drove to Tennessee to visit family and friends, it was a long drive and it was cold the entire time we were there. I stayed cold just about 24 hours a day. It was wonderful to see my family and visit with some great friends I hadn't seen in nine years, I missed them more than I realized. Hubby got to come in for Christmas too and Emily really enjoyed seeing him. He was here just after Thanksgiving for 4 days but now we probably won't see him until mid-March when he comes down for Emily's birthday. We have spent this week trying to recover from the trip and get back in our routine. Still not 100% there yet, hopefully this next week will have us both back to normal.

It's cold here in Florida. Very cold! I do not like the cold weather and we are having an extended bout of it. Not your usual two or three day thing and then it's back in the 70's - there'll be none of that, thank you very much! The weatherman said the other night that we haven't had this long of a cold spell (temps in the 30's at night and not above 70 during the day) since the 1930's. I certainly don't remember anything like this when I was growing up here! The farmers are trying to save as much of their vegetable and citrus crops as they can but it's been difficult. They are saying that the price of veggies will rise at the grocery stores because some crops have been damaged, so be on the lookout for that. Florida produces 90% of the country's vegetables in the winter so this is going to affect a lot of produce. Just another reason to consider planting your own garden.

I wanted to post pics of my garden progress; I even told you I would in my last post. But alas, my digital camera has become obsolete and I have yet to buy a new one. It's an Olympus that is about 10 years old and it needed a new memory card - they don't make them anymore and I'm not going to search all over the Internet to find some that are reasonably priced. My cell phone camera doesn't do a good job so I'm waiting until February when I can buy a new one - still haven't decided what one I'm going to get yet. Have to do a little more research first. Things are growing in the garden but it does need some help. My lettuce was doing great until we went on vacation, it needed a little more water than what it got. So I will replant as soon as it warms up. The radishes are almost ready to harvest and the chives, basil, dill and oregano are growing very well. I am sowing cilantro, pepper and tomato seeds next week. I'm really wanting to try potatoes but don't know if I will be that ambitious this season. I have some new soaps planned for 2010 and hope to be in my own manufacturing space by the end of next month. School starts back for me on January 14th and I am looking forward to that too. I am taking an Introduction to Business class that looks interesting and challenging, plus Intro to CAD and Visual Communication. My first semester grades were pretty good - two A's, a B and a C (in math, of course). I am happy with that and aiming for straight A's this semester. It's going to be a busy year; I wish all of you a happy, productive and prosperous 2010!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Well, it's November already...

Yes, it's been a little more than two months since I blogged. I tried to get here and do it, but things have been a little more than busy around here! The spouse finally got a full-time job - he's driving a tractor-trailer over the road and he's not been here since the middle of September. Talk about a big adjustment..we went from him being home every day and just working 10-15 hours a week to him not being here at all. Emily misses him a lot and has what I call a "meltdown" about once every two weeks - life's not fair, she wants to see her Daddy, why does he have to drive a truck, etc. I try to tell her that it's better than the alternative of continuing to struggle to pay our bills all the time. She does understand, but it's still taking some getting used to. I had a lot to get used to also. I am doing all the outside chores around the house and am learning a little more about car maintenance, plus managing all the household finances (I was doing most of that already) and making sure both Emily and I are where we need to be when we need to be there. I have some amazing friends and neighbors who are wonderful about helping me get Emily to some of her activities and watching her when I have my night class or a meeting to go to; and others who have helped me with car "stuff". One friend in particular knows about everything I am dealing with and has been so wonderful and supportive, even telling me "I'm proud of you for hanging in there and doing this." That does my heart a world of good, and I know that I am doing the right thing. School is going well and homework keeps me busy. College Math is a bit challenging - having been out of college for 23 years has had me re-learning a lot of stuff but it's all interesting and I'm not struggling in any of my classes. Yay me! I'm still looking for a part-time job or the perfect venue(s) to sell my soap at. There's some holiday craft fairs/bazaars coming up that I am looking at participating in. They could bring in some additional cash which would be very helpful. I would still love to find a little bit of land to grow on and sell at the farmers market - the possibility still exists, I just have to make it happen.

Then there's the garden...

It has been exceptionally hot a lot longer this year. In fact, we really have just now started to cool off with daytime temperatures staying in the mid 80's instead of the low 90's. I didn't start all my seeds back at the end of August as I had planned because I knew they wouldn't survive, but I have gotten them in their little pots in the last 2-3 weeks. Tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, spinach, lettuce and peppers are all in various stages of sprouting. I have had a bumper crop of basil, oregano and chives this summer; they are acting almost like perennials so they must really like the weather this year. My lavender plant is blooming too and it smells heavenly! A lot of people say you can't grow lavender in Florida because of the humidity but I am here to tell you that it can be done. I may buy a few more plants if the nursery has them, maybe I can get there Saturday and check out all the goodies. I love going to a good garden center/nursery, don't you? I'll post pictures of my garden progress starting next week. Happy Gardening everyone!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Moving right along....

Things are coming along, both in my garden and in my life. I have planted lots more seeds, and the ones we planted a few weeks ago have germinated nicely. I transplanted my cherry tomato seedlings into bigger pots on Sunday. In a couple more weeks it will be cool enough to start some lettuce, cilantro and mesclun; I'm also going to sow some cucumber, bean and eggplant seeds. I made a few planters out of some ceramic/glass things that have been gathering dust around the house. Here's a picture of a little bird house (actually bought this at Goodwill a few weeks ago) with oregano in it, and a watering "can" with ivy. They would be cute on a porch or patio, or in the kitchen. I am now on the lookout for more interesting containers so I can turn them into planters too!

On the personal front, I am happy to tell you that I am starting back to college next month! I will be studying for my Associate's in Science in Digital Design and Drafting, and may pursue my Bachelor's degree in Computer Information Technology. One step at a time, that's how I'm taking things. My nine year old daughter is excited for me, and I am pretty excited too - I have wanted to go back to college for many years and something always seemed to get in the way. Well it's a done deal first class is September 15th at 8:30 a.m. I am still working on finding a job, or earning an income. I am looking at doing a "greenmarket" on Saturdays with my soaps and perhaps some fresh herbs, and possibly my little potted gardens - I'm still working on the plans to see if it will be a good potential source of income. I'll keep you posted. :) Happy gardening!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

It's been a long, hard summer so far

Life throws us curves sometimes, and we usually don't see them coming until they have smacked us in the head. That is what happened with my summer garden plans. I tried to take care of my little seedlings, but didn't really have enough time. I tried to rely on other family members (ie: the spouse) to help with the watering but it was haphazard at best. Needless to say they did not survive. So I have been left with my herbs for the summer and that is all. But I'm okay with that. I am experiencing several life changing events at the moment and the garden would still be suffering if it had survived. Event number one will have me as a single parent in a few months and event number two happened two weeks - I lost my job. This was a total surprise to me. Jobs are in short supply here and the unemployment rate is almost 13% so that makes it even harder to find one. I am thinking about going back to college but I am also contemplating what seems like a million other possibilities too. I have written about wanting to have an herb farm here on my blog before and that dream has not never will. I would love to be able to lease an acre or two of land and plant it in herbs, edible flowers and heirloom vegetables. I could have a booth at the local farmers' markets (there are three or four that I know of in the area) or have a selling area where I grow.

Another idea I have is to start a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It would be great to offer people fresh, locally grown food on a weekly basis. I have read about CSAs for many years but have never lived in an area where they existed. I think they are great and besides providing good food from a sustainable source, they help develop a sense of community that is lacking in today's society. A lot of people think my plans are idyllic and ask me "how would you be able to do that?" Well of course it would take some planning, and some money for funding the venture, but I think both are very viable options for me to pursue. And I would be following my bliss, which I think everyone should do. "Do what you love" should be everyone's mantra; I think that is a big part of being happy. Until I can follow through on my dream, I will continue to plant all I can in my containers. Soon it will be time to plant cucumbers, tomatoes, greens and all sorts of other garden delights. I can't wait to "get growing" again!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Time for the summer garden

For most of the country, summer is the time to garden. You plant in the spring and reap the bounty of fresh fruit, veggies, herbs and flowers until the first (or sometimes second) frost. As I have mentioned before here on my blog, it's different in Florida. We can start planting anywhere from August through around October/November and harvest while everyone else is enduring winter. Cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, and other delectable goodies are just waiting to be enjoyed. Late April and May begin to bring us warmer temperatures, and our little patch of paradise starts to show signs of weariness. The cucumbers are tired and don't want to grow anymore, the cilantro and lettuce decides they are going to send up flowers instead of new leaves, and the tomato leaves starts to curl under because it's just too darn hot. It's like they all decided to throw a temper tantrum and proclaim loudly "I don't want to play anymore!!" I told them "Okay, then, I'll just find some new garden playmates", and so I did. There are a few veggies that will grow well in the heat and humidity of a Florida summer; namely watermelons, okra and hot peppers. I don't have room for watermelons, but I do have room for the okra and peppers. Of course since I'm the only one in my household that eats okra, I'll probably be sharing it with anyone(everyone?) that I can give it to. I'm growing cayennes, habaneros, jalapenos, poblanos and "grove peppers". They are a tiny little pepper that my grandfather grew all his life and it makes the best pepper sauce for cooked greens. There are also a couple of tomato varieties that are supposed to be somewhat "native"; one of them is called Matt's Everglades Tomato. I have read about them on the Florida Gardening forum on but haven't found any seeds yet. Maybe next summer...

My herbs are still doing well. The basil is quite prolific and I am using a little just about every day in something. I toss a few leaves in our salads and have been putting it on my turkey sandwich when I brown bag my lunch for work. It adds a nice bit of flavor to what can be a very boring lunch. The oregano, chives, thyme (both regular and lemon), sage, dill and tansy are all looking good and being useful as all good herbs should! I think I am going to make some basil vinegar and I would like to make a large quantity of pesto; however I am not sure about freezing it. I'm afraid it will taste different than fresh pesto (which I absolutely adore) so I may make a small bit and see how it does. Of course I will dry some of my herbs to use later in the year, but I love to pick them fresh and use them...they are just delightful! If you have a garden planted this year, I hope you enjoy your harvest as much as I am enjoying mine. They can bring such joy and a sense of accomplishment to one's heart.

Happy gardening,