Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Getting Volunteer Avocado Plants

I love volunteers!  They always feel like gifts.  An Avocado plant plucked from the compost pile.

 I tried sprouting these for years with minimal success using a few toothpicks stuck in the side of the seed to hold it up in a shallow dish with a little water in it.    Long ago I gave this up as a waste of time.   The past 2 years though I've found by just throwing them in the compost pile I end up with sprouted seeds ready to pot.  If you want an avocado tree and have a sunny place to keep inside for the winter give it a go.   I found this one last week and another one today just starting to sprout roots.   I've only had 4 or 5 avocados in the past few months so seems to me to be a darn good rate of success.   

I would love to hear what volunteers you all have had success with this year.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Altered Book = Handmade Journal

The inside is done and am now working on the cover with scraps of fabric.   The flower is made from the same fabric on top of the burlap on the book already.  Scroll down to see a finished cover.

Making a handmade journal 

One of my favorite things to do is to work with old books that aren't being used anymore and making them something I or someone else will use.

I am so forgetful sometimes and I always feel the need to write everything down or it may be gone.   I've been this way since forever and have gotten into the habit of having something with me to write on whenever I go.  When my last notebook was about out of useable paper I decided to turn the book below into a new journal.  I liked it because of the size and the fact that it would fit in my purse.

It also didn't hurt that it was about attitude either.  I thought I would leave some of the words exposed to remind me about attitude attitude attitude.  I thought perhaps it could keep me in an attitude of gratitude if I was when I was getting annoyed while shopping....well checking out actually.  After all I will be using it for shopping lists etc.  And I do find shopping to bring out the worst in me sometimes, but lets keep that between ourselves OK?  I'ld hate for everyone to know I was one of those people that once I'm in a checkout line I have been known to sigh deeply and roll my eyes if the line goes too slow.  My next altered book/journal needs to be in a book about slowing down and not being in such a hurry all the time.   OK...back to altered books.


I painted the cover white with some cheap craft acrylic first and then when it was dry I took a piece of burlap and covered it.  That yellow would have shown right through the burlap otherwise.

Then I started replacing the pages with all kinds of different papers.  I used a lot of lined paper so I would have a place to write but I also used drawing papers and scrapbook papers.  I used my decorative scissors and cut out 4 or 6 pages,  glued 3 together if I cut 6 or 2 if I cut 4 with PVA glue and then put  my own paper in between and glued it in.  I left the words to show through in some places and painted them to cover it in others.

Sorry for the poor quality of some of these pictures.  I need to invest in a better flash.

I made this envelope out of scrapbook paper and glued it in the front so I would have a place to carry things if I wanted to.  I took the piece to close it from another old envelope which I also used as a template to make this one.   The scrapbook paper was some I had gotten on sale from Michaels for 5 for  $1.

Some pages I did collages on to make it personal using scraps of paper or ribbon left over from some other project. 

I deckled all the edges of paper to make it rustic looking.

This was probably the most fun page I did.  The picture is great and I wanted to match the page to it so I used very heavy weight watercolor paper and lots of watercolor paint.

This page has some cheesecloth on it as well as part of a vintage bird book from the 1930's I picked up at an antique store just to use for my altered book projects.

I'll post a picture of it when the cover is done.

Here's a picture of a finished cover but I haven't started the inside of the book yet.   I haven't even decided which book to use for it actually but I got a few at the antique market so I have a choice when I get the one I'm working on now done.

This will just be the front cover.   The pocket is from an old pair of Malia's shorts and the batik brown is from a summer dress I made years ago sewn onto burlap.   

Last night while we were in town I got the fabric to start another one for my family photo's and documents that are heirlooms.   Jo-Ann's was having a 50% off sale and I had been waiting to get it when they were having a just such a sale.   Even the beads were all 50% off.  I'm really excited to start that one.

This I love enough that I may, the next time there is a sale on the fabric, get another piece to make a bag out of.   It's that heavy home decor fabric almost like what you would use to recover a chair.   I love love love it.   I hope the finished book with all the vintage family photo's will be something my family will hold dear.

Sweet dreams everyone.  I'm off to bed.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Frugal Fridays

Frugal Fridays

I am declaring Friday's to be Frugal Friday's from here on out.   Everyone is cutting back and looking for ways to make a dollar go further it seems, me included.   

If you have a good frugal tip please share it.  We can all use the help.  Or if there is something you feel your spending too much money on and think others are managing to do less expensively ask.  If your wondering about it someone else probably is too.   

Turning plastic food containers into garden pots

Although technically it's Sat., I haven't been to bed yet so it's late late Friday night in my world and this here will be the first Frugal Friday post.  

I have always got tons of plastic containers from sour cream or yogurt etc. around and I save them to freeze things in but still they add up.   I hate tossing them.  Plastic will be in our land fills forever and it just feels wrong to use them once and add to the growing mass of garbage in the world.  

I decided to use the extra ones I have on hand as plant pots in the spring rather than to buy peat pots.  Although they would be fine to use as is after being washed out, I wanted to dress them up just a bit so they were prettier to look at when I'm watering them.    

These are so easy to do.  First I cut the very top off with regular scissors.  Then I took a pair of my decorative scrapbooking scissors and cut again right next to the first cut,  to leave a pretty edge on them.  Michael's or any place that sells craft supplies sells these scissors for a couple of dollars in a variety of pretty patterns.  

Next I put a couple of coats of primer on them to they would hold a colored paint without it peeling right off.   When that was dry I used a cheap acrylic craft paint.  It took a couple of coats but I went from white to a medium brown.   Any color you like will do.  I'm messy when I pot things so I wanted them close to the color of the soil.   A terra cotta color might have been pretty too.

Then I punched 4 or 5 small holes in the bottom of each one and that was it.  I used a hole punch and hammer on a small craft mat to do that. 

  When they were really dry (24 hours later)  I took my fingernails and tried to scrape the paint off but it didn't come off like it would had I not used a primer first.   I didn't paint the bottoms so that if they sat in a wet spot for any length of time they wouldn't start to peel.   

Since I am always running short on pots in the spring when the seedlings need to get out of packs but it's too soon to put them in the ground these will help bridge the gap.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage and Artichoke Hearts

4 links of hot Italian sausage  (mild is fine too if you prefer)

1/2 lb. of spaghetti cooked

1 1/2 cup of marinated artichoke hearts with some liquid

1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese + a little more for the table


Cook the sausage in fry pan until browned and cooked through.   Cut into bite sized pieces in the pan.  Toss in the spaghetti and artichoke hearts along with some of the liquid it was marinating in.  Make sure to shake the bottle before pouring the liquid as the spices settle to the bottom of the jar.  Pour some liquid in, mix and taste.  Adjust how much liquid you use to your own taste.  Heat it all through.    Top with the parmesan cheese and salt to taste.  Serve with more parmesan on the table for individual tastes.

I use Cara Mia marinated artichokes that I buy in the large size at Sam's club.  A  64 ounce jar is under $9 and lasts months.  I eat them just plain as well or use them for a side dish or a light lunch by mixing with cooked rice and topping with parmesan cheese.  The liquid adds quite a bit of flavor so I always use that whenever cooking with them.



Thursday, July 26, 2012

My New Honda Mower

My 2010 power mower....powered by me that is!

My new Honda self propelled mower.   

I have struggled for some time now with the issue of having or not having a lawn and what to do with the lawn I do have in terms of maintenance.   When your trying to be self sufficient on a small property it seems so wasteful to use up much of it on lawn.

Any homestead has chores and usually there are a lot of them and a limited amount of time and hands to get them done.   Some would opt for a riding mower simply because it's the country and it is a large enough area of grass that it could be justified.   Not many would attempt to do it with a push mower and I can say after trying it for a while myself it's with good reason they don't.  

I am not mechanically inclined for the most part.  I can do a few minor things but if a mower has an issue more than likely it would need to be taken to a repair person.   For me that's a deal breaker with a riding mower.   Not to mention that I have a rental property in town that I  mow throughout the summer and having to hook up a trailer to haul a riding mower to town is just more work than it's worth.   A riding mower for me and my needs is just overkill.

That said, I knew I wasn't going to be able to do another summer of the push mower.   My body just doesn't do well in the heat and pushing that mower around both here and on my rental when the weather gets up into the 90's or higher wasn't going to work anymore.

I did a good deal of research on what was available and decided on this Honda.   Honda has a great reputation and all the reviewers for the most part talked of how easy it was to start....a huge plus for me.   And the self propelled feature made it seem like a good compromise between a push and a riding mower.  I bought it online from Home Depot for about $500 and it was delivered to the house free of charge.  It does in fact start very easily, usually on the first pull.  And the self propelled part is a dream.  I can get it easily into the back of my Mazda 3 hatchback using a piece of plywood for a ramp.   The handle folds down nicely so the back can be closed.

I've only had one problem with it and that was my fault, not the mowers.   I had taken it into town to do the lawn at my rental but ended up running quite a few errands first.   When I finally did get to the rental it wouldn't start.   I ended up bringing it back home with the intention of having a repair person look at it but I got to fiddling with it and realized the turns etc. while it was in the car had gotten oil all over the air filter.   I bought another one and replaced the oil soaked one and it started immediately.   I now drop it at the tenants house while I run my errands and go mow when I'm done.

It's a great little mower for the price and I'm glad I got it.   I kinda wish I had gotten it sooner now.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dog days of summer

Although I've never discussed it on ATH, for the past 15 years I've bred, raised and shown Tibetan Terriers in both obedience and conformation.  Conformation is your regular dog show like Westminster for any of you that may not know.  

This is Oliver.   Oliver is a big Tibetan weighing in at 42 lbs.    Most Tibetans are 18 - 30 lbs.   Given his size I decided to get him a pack for hiking and put him to work, not that he can carry that much.   15% of his body weight just isn't very much.    Still he could carry his own treats and some water, keys to the car, my license etc.  

I wasn't sure how he would do with a pack but it was as if he had always worn one.   He didn't even seem to know he had it on.  Mountainsmith is a good name in hiking equipment and this pack wasn't a disappointment.

Next best thing until I get a pack goat!

Stay cool!


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