Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Blanket for my Sister

Post by: Lindsay

I'm not a quilter, I'm a blanket maker. Yes, there is a difference. A quilter has the patience to sew scraps of fabrics together into detailed designs. Blanket makers prefer large blocks and quick results. This is the blanket I made for my sister Lenore's birthday in keeping with my 2013 handmade gift challenge.

Lenore's Blanket
When Lenore and her husband Jack were married almost two years ago she DIY'd all of the decorations. The tables had different fabrics that looked good together but were different enough not to be too matchy-matchy.

Lucky for me, Lenore was willing to give me her wedding fabric and turn it into a useful blanket filled with memories from her special day. I cut the fabric down into 4 1/2" by 11" rectangles and then pieced them together in a subway pattern. The final blanket is 42" by 60", hopefully a good lap size.

A present for Auntie Lenore

I had to sneak my tulips into this picture. They are my flower garden superstars right now. Happy (belated) birthday Lenore, hope you like your blanket.

P.S. I have three children but somehow Wyatt is the only one around at picture time. I'll try to mix it up next time.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Snakes Snakes Everywhere

Our winters are long and summers are short here in good ol' Manitoba. Last year Lindsay and I decided that because of the short summers, and no holiday time for myself, we wanted to jam pack our weekends with as much fun as we could handle. This coming summer will be no exception and I thought I would share our first summer excursion.

We spent the day at narcisse snake pits. This Manitoba wonder contains North Americas largest congregation of snakes in one place. Our climate doesn't fair well for reptiles to thrive all year long. The red-sided garter snake has adapted to the cold winters in an underground tunnel paradise formed in the limestone rich area. Snakes travel from all around in the fall and find solace and warmth underground. Then when the spring air warms they emerge and spend about a week um ah well.. lets just say assuring their existence. Even if you are not a big snake fan, we would recommend, at least once, experiencing this phenomenon.

Hailey was the only on brave enough to catch and hold one of the snakes.

Wyatt was amazed with all the snakes slithering around.

View of one of four pits.This pit was by far the most active.

Mating Ball of Red-Sided Garter Snakes.
End of the trail. Lots of fun had by all.

 What kind of fun things have do you do over the summer months? Anything big planned this summer?


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Garden Update: Seedlings and Soaker Hose

Happy Mother's day to all the mommas out there. Hope you were spoiled rotten today!

It's been a really long winter here in Manitoba. The weather has finally come around and I was able to get outside for some long overdue gardening. Jay and I put these raised cedar beds in 3 summers ago in the only sunny part of our yard. I like raised bed gardening because:

1. I like clean lines and contained dirt.
2. I don't have to bend over as far to take care of the plants.
3. I have minimal weeds so far. I know this can get worse over the years.
4. I can plant things really close together because I don't need walkways.

Garden Beds with New Soaker Hose
This year I decided to add a soaker hose. Our summers can get pretty hot and dry here and it just makes sense to water more efficiently. I'm also pretty lazy so this can be a huge time saver. Those little white specks in the dirt are actually egg shells. I guess they weren't fully composted when I added it to the garden last Fall.

Basil and Sweet Peppers

The first round of basil and sweet peppers I planted didn't germinate. I had them in peat pots and I think they dried out (I'm a lazy waterer, see reason I got a soaker hose above). This second round was started in plastic pots (I reuse them) and they are all doing great.

These tomato plants are taking off. I have 3 different varieties of shorter season plants, Carbon and Anna Russian (both heirlooms) and a hybrid cherry tumbler.

I ordered all my new seeds this year from Heritage Harvest Seed. They are a Manitoba mail order business specializing in heirloom vegetables, flowers and herbs. I chose them so that I have the option to save my own seeds to replant next year.

What are you growing this year? Do you have a preference for heirloom, organic or non-GMO seeds? Do you think it's important for kids to know where their food comes from?


Monday, May 6, 2013

Chest Freezer Organization

I recently signed up for a meat subscription service with the local family business Harborside Farms. Over the next year we will receive half a cow (quarterly installments), half a pig (quarterly as well), a dozen chickens and one turkey (fall delivery), 4 dozen eggs per month as well as a number of farm goodies like bacon, sausage, honey and maple syrup. Yum!

Freezer Before
Did I mention I have a small chest freezer? Jay's grandma gave us this freezer when she moved out of her house and it's been really great. It never bothered me before that it didn't have any wire baskets or dividers. Now that I've ordered all this meat I started wondering how I would store it in here. I imagined dinners would be sort of like picking names out of a hat except that I would be picking brown paper packages out of the freezer. "Tonight we are having...drumroll...pork chops!"

So I did what I always do in situations like this, I went to Google and Pinterest for inspiration. I found lots of great ideas for upright freezers but all the chest freezers seemed to be organized by putting food into boxes or milk crates and stacking them in there. I actually bought two different types of containers and brought them home to try but didn't like either of them. There was so much wasted space and I didn't like the idea of pulling out a bunch of containers to get at the stuff on the bottom. I'm pretty lazy by the way.

Then I had my Aha! moment. I decided to make dividers out of leftover 3/4" plywood. First I asked my husband to cut the pieces on the table saw. The pieces were:
1 piece - 18" x 26"
2 pieces - 18" by 9"
3 pieces - 18" by 7"

Adding Dividers
I had originally planned to screw the boards together but the pieces were so snug Jay had to hammer them in place. Now I can quickly remove a board or move it over to make room for larger items or make bigger spaces.

Finally, I made some labels and stapled them on to the edge of the plywood so that whoever is in there can quickly find what they are looking for.

Freezer After
The best part of this project is that it was FREE! You can see the pink 50% off sticker on my loaf of bread so you know I love a good deal. I also think this makes the best use of space. If you're wondering why I didn't make the compartments even deeper (they are 18" right now), it's because I thought it would be difficult to reach in and get things at the bottom and I also want to find some of those wire baskets that slide along the top edge of the freezer.

I'm really happy with how this turned out but the real test will be when the meat delivery starts next month. Hopefully I will have enough room for everything. If not, do you want to come over for a Barbeque?