Archive for October, 2011

* lumpy space pumpkin

Posted on October 31st, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Holiday.

My one jack o’lantern pumpkin was pretty green when I pulled the vines a couple of weeks ago.  Sitting in the sun for two weeks turned it (mostly) orange, yay.  More orange than last year, anyway.

My pumpkin is also super lumpy.  So I carved it to look like lumpy space princess from Adventure Time.  Oh. My. Glob, you guys.  I love Adventure Time so lumpin’ much.


I copied the design from this picture.


* garden season change

Posted on October 30th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

With the nighttime lows starting to dip down into the 40s the last couple of weeks, I finally had to admit that the summer is over.  A couple weekends ago I tore out all my squashes and tomatoes, added in some compost to my beds, and replanted them with garlic and shallots.  I also planted all my flower bulbs, including 60 ranunculus, a few stray daffodils that were displaced by the new raised bed, and some checkerboard fritillaria.

Harvest first:


Tomatoes: two huge colanders full of green and greenish tomatoes.  Due to my tomato splitting problem ever since the rains started up again, I’ve been picking the tomatoes a little before they ripen anyway to let them finish on the kitchen counter.  I pickled three jars of green cherry tomatoes, using the small batch pickled green tomatoes recipe at Food in Jars.  While I was pickling, I also threw in one jar of the last few baby summer squashes.

The remaining big tomatoes were set on the kitchen counter to ripen up.  It worked!  I canned four jars with some garlic and herbs from the garden (striped romans with thyme and momotaros with basil).

We also made a big salad with the red cherry tomatoes.  Also in the salad was my pathetic carrot harvest.


I had all sorts of germination problems this year, and it shows.  At one point I seeded this area so heavily that I mixed up all the different varieties, so I’m not entirely sure what kind they are (Baby Little Finger?)  Interestingly, my fall bed carrots are going like gangbusters.  I may actually have to thin them!

More salad vegetables: a kind of spongy head of lettuce, a couple golf-ball-size lemon cucumbers, some arugula, and two radishes from an Easter Egg mix.  One of the radishes, a big white one, got so big it split open, but it might have been the mildest radish I got all year.

Winter squashes:  Given the real estate I devoted to the pumpkins and squashes this year, I didn’t get much back.  One Blue Hubbard, one Sweet Dumpling, two Delicatas (though one of them looks really weird, like it cross-bred with something else), 3 greenish Sugar Pie Pumpkins, 2 perfect Jack Be Little Pumpkins, one very green Jack O’ Lantern pumpkin, and one hilariously immature Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkin.  That last one was supposed to be a beautiful red Cinderella coach pumpkin, but it didn’t set fruit until late in the summer.  I’m told you can eat immature pumpkins, so I’ll give it a try.  I set the rest of the green pumpkins in a sunny window and they all turned orange!  I can’t wait to eat them.

Of the winter squash, my Blue Hubbard is my favorite because it’s so enormous and so pretty.  I planted two of these, but the second plant didn’t successfully set until way too late.

Out with the old, now in with the new:  I got an amazing garlic sampler from Nichols Garden Nursery.  I’m lucky I was able to find someone to split it with because this is a lot of garlic!  1.5-3 heads each of 6 varieties!  I also got two packs of shallots at the garden store.  I coincidentally just this week finished up my shallot and garlic harvest from the summer, so planting these gave me something to look forward to.

With my fall bed going, though, I don’t need to wait all that time until next year: I’ve been getting peas, beets, chard, and turnips.


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* how not to plant ranunculus

Posted on October 29th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.

Last year I planted a bunch of ranunculus and only got two flowers.  Well, I figured out what I did wrong.  I followed the directions on the package:


I remember being confused because ranunculus bulbs don’t look anything like the bulb in the drawing.  (Apparently they’re not true bulbs, but some sort of rhizome or corm or something.)  But the package said pointed side up, so I dutifully planted them all with the pointy spider legs up.  Well, it turns out that is upside down.  The two flowers that I got were probably ones that flipped over while I was filling the dirt in or something.

It really makes no sense to me why the company would do such a shoddy job of including planting instructions with their product.  Other parts of the packaging are presumably customized, like the spacing and depth, and the giant ranunculus photo.  It annoyed me so much I actually just wrote a complaint to the company.  Unfortunately, they are the only brand I could find locally, or else I would not have bought them again.  At least they were on sale, I guess :/


* Ornament swap signups

Posted on October 26th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Holiday.

Ive been in an anti swap mood since my quilt block project turned out so badly: I only got 2 blocks back for the 9 I made for others, boo. The two I got were pretty great, though, so there’s that. I did a graph paper swap with girl for all seasons recently, and it reminded me how fun they can be.

So when I saw the sign up for the 6th year of this ornament swap, I went ahead and did it. Now that gardening is mostly done, I need to get back in the crafting saddle anyway.


* canning class

Posted on October 23rd, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review.

Mark got me a canning class from Seattle Can Can with a half price deal on Living Social.  There were three classes available, and I chose Canning 005: Wicked Quick Pickles & Homemade Hot Sauce.  It was supposed to be a 90 minute class covering Cucumber & Zucchini Pickles; Spicy or Not Pickled Beans, Asparagus and other garden veggies; and Salsa & Hot Sauce.  Instead it was a 45 minute class that just covered pickled asparagus and hot sauce.  Coverage of the other pickles was essentially, “You can do the same thing for whatever veggies you have,” and salsa wasn’t mentioned at all.  The description also promised 2 e-books to accompany the class, plus a booklet by the instructor.  The e-books were just the USDA guides, and the pamphlet was a xeroxed hodgepodge of random stuff, including frequent instructions to look things up on the internet.  Call me crazy, but the whole idea of taking a class is to learn from an expert instead of the internet.

The class was super super basic.  Apparently the idea is to make it seem so easy that people will not be intimidated, but I had hoped for a little more than that.  Maybe show the most basic cold pack pickles first, and then show an additional recipe that’s more complicated.  I thought the instructor played fast and loose with some of the safety guidelines, too.  At one point, she claimed that nothing that could grow in acidic food could be dangerous because the human body is not acidic, QED.  She also said you don’t have to wash and sterilize jars if they’re new.  There were enough parts that I was iffy about that I felt no confidence in her other advice.  Like, she said you don’t have to warm up the lids any more and that the companies just never bothered to update their instructions.  Also, that you can process cucumber and zucchini pickles below boiling temperature and that will make them crisper.  It was nice to see the demonstration so I feel like I’m not doing anything horribly wrong, though.

I would have asked for my money back if I’d paid full price ($20).  And lest you think I’m being too hard on it, apparently a couple reviewers on Yelp agree, though Fresh Picked Seattle had a better experience.

The class comes with 10% off all canning supplies from Goods for the Planet, the store where the class is held.  I got a pizza screen they recommended using as a canning rack.  It seemed to work great when I made some pickles last week, and it is very low profile.  So +1 for that idea, at least!


* chicken attack

Posted on October 19th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Chickens.

File under texts you don’t want to receive when you’re 3000 miles away from home in an all day meeting:


That is a giant hole that something tore in the roof of the chicken coop  :O

The picture was quickly followed by “Everyone is ok btw.”  Whew.  I hope the chickens weren’t too traumatized.  They’re molting right now and looking pretty pathetic as it is.

The raccoon we spotted down the street the other day is the prime suspect.  The roof was apparently totally rotten.

A few hours later he texted me this:


A new roof, made out of cedar fence slats, our favorite building material.  Yay Mark!


* balsa wood embroidery

Posted on October 10th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Art, Cross Stitch/Embroidery.

I was lucky enough to win a piece of art from a is for anika.


I wanted to make her something as a thank you. It seems like it must be hard to part with so many original artworks, so I tried to recreate the picture I won in thread. I wasn’t able to capture the awesome color blocking and depth of the original, but I still kind of like how it turned out.

I got the idea paging through the new Doodle Stitching book (photo here). I just printed out the image, masking taped it to the wood, and used a pin to poke holes following the drawing. You can’t poke the holes too close together or else they can merge when you pull the thread through. I had that happen a couple of times, but it wasn’t too hard to cover up.

What I like about it is that the wood is a nice stiff backing that makes long, straight stitches possible. I’m already working on another one :)


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* watercolor wreath

Posted on October 6th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Art, Crafty Review.

I just noticed this post languishing in my drafts folder from a few months ago.

Another project from Aesthetic Outburst: a watercolor flower wreath.  I was initially not very happy with it because it looked so childish. Doodling on top of it with a black pen improved it enormously, though.  I used it for a Mother’s Day card.


I also got Water Paper Paint from the library for more watercolor fun.  It’s a very well done book, with projects that seem do-able, but are also interesting and not too simple-looking.  I had a hard time giving it back to the library, so I’ll probably buy it at some point.



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