Archive | October, 2010

Happy Halloween!

29 Oct

I’m currently at work, where we had a Superhero dress up theme for Halloween, and I wanted to share my costume.

Wonder Woman!

I didn’t get dressed in front of a mirror (I used an empty office) and I probably should have, but you can get the gist.  This will be worn at least once more (but probably on Saturday and Sunday both).  It’s totally homemade and cost about $15.

The skirt was from Old Navy (their clearance section, for $1.97) and the top was from JC Penney (also on clearance, it cost less than $4).  I had some dark fabric iron on transfers left over from a friend’s birthday party that I used to get the logo and stars on the outfit.

The headpiece is a $1.99 foam tiara from Michael’s that I cut the spiky bits off of and stuck a pretty red star onto (the star came in a package of 25 for $2), and the bracelets and belt are made from the same foam material – three pieces set me back about $5.  I got a belt to wear underneath everything from Ross on clearance for $5.  I also have a golden lasso but left it at home.  Darn!  The boots are the only things that cost more but I’ll be wearing them later so they don’t count!

Wonder Woman is easily my favorite superhero, so it was a no-brainer when I heard that was our theme.  When I was itty-bitty, my mom made me a Wonder Woman costume for Halloween.  I wore it until I couldn’t fit into it anymore!

Yes this is me about 27 or 28 years ago...

We have a full weekend ahead of us, with a party to attend tomorrow night and a mini-gathering at our house Sunday.  I have to keep this costume looking fresh and clean so I can wear it again (and hopefully sew on the belt properly!).  My husband is going as Clark Kent, complete with a Superman shirt underneath his suit…  That I made from an iron-on too!  Yay creativity and thriftiness!

 

Have a Happy Halloween!

Garden Update!

27 Oct

I’m so bad.

I haven’t blogged about my garden in THREE MONTHS.

Not only three months, but the most awesomely exciting three months my little garden saw for the entire year.

THREE MONTHS!

And I’m going to try to distill it down to an update that doesn’t have you scrolling for days.

I said “try”, ok? 😉

Unfortunately I’m looking through my photos and realizing I should have taken so many more.  Where are the pictures of the last of the cucumbers?  Or of the artichoke shoots springing out of the ground next to the dead stalks, like little phoenixes?  (For the record, the reason the dead stalks are still sitting in my garden is because they were too hard to cut with my little cutter and I couldn’t find the saw, and now they’re just too close to the new plants).  Or the brand new plants I just brought in, or the old ones that have suddenly sprung forth new life…  Or all the basil plants I spent hours pulling last week because they were just too huge and overgrown and blossomy?

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

First things first!

My 24 pound watermelon!

We harvested most of our watermelons during August.  The first two were 24 and 18 pounds, respectively.  We had a little party to celebrate, and crack them open:

My Daddy cutting into the melon

STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL yellow flesh on the melon. My mom was worried to taste it at first, thinking it might be strange, but it was SO sweet and good!!!!!

I distributed slices of this melon to my neighbors and my grandmother and great aunt and uncle.

The following week my husband was walking into the house when he noticed a big CRACK in the third melon in the yard – it had split right open under its own weight!  It was around 20 pounds as well, and surprisingly perfect (we were afraid the flesh would be mushy and overripe, and also that bugs might have infested it, but we cut off the split and the rest of the melon was wonderful).

It cracked open! Oops!

The fourth melon (the one you can just barely see in the background of this photo) didn’t fare so well – it, too, split open, but by the time we noticed it, it had rotted (it was quite a bit smaller than the rest and I’m not sure how long it was sitting there, split, before I threw it in the trash).  I saved the seeds – hopefully we’ll be able to grow more melons next year!  There a little more to come about the melons, but I’ll come back to that in a bit…

This is how my pumpkins looked in August, the day I harvested my first two melons:

Ripening pumpkin

Ripening pumpkin

Yes, that’s powdery mildew you see in the photos.  No, I haven’t taken care of it yet.  I keep meaning to spray milk solution on it (thanks Dana!) but I haven’t had a chance to just do it.  The plants seem to be fighting back pretty well, though, so I’m not super concerned – I think it’s just an occupational hazard of a small garden and a lot of dew.  That’s also a good deal of grass poking up in the photos – we seem to have lost the battle against the crabgrass, especially with all the rain we’ve been getting this season.  We don’t have time to pull it all so we just have decided to ignore it as best we can.  It’s not pretty, but so far it doesn’t seem to be choking our vegetables.

By the end of September, my pumpkins had fully ripened.

Ripe pumpkins!

I finally cut them off the plant about two weeks ago, partially because I didn’t really know what to do with them, and partially because they just looked so pretty.  But I thought perhaps it would promote further growth of the plant if I took them off, and I didn’t want any neighborhood kids to get any ideas just before Halloween!

Our smaller pumpkin, weighing in at 16 pounds. It's so pretty and perfect!

Our larger pumpkin, weighing in at 20 pounds. This was the one farthest from our front door. It's easily one of the most beautiful pumpkins I've seen!

My husband wants to carve these guys up on Sunday, but I’m 99% sure I want to save them and cook with them.  They’re Magic Lantern type, which is supposed to be just fine for eating…  But maybe I’ll break down and let him carve one of them? 🙂

We had a lot of comments over the last two weeks – “You harvested your pumpkins?” – from passers-by.  It makes me so happy that we brought smiles to the faces of random neighborhood-goers.

The same day that we harvested the pumpkins, we harvested a BUNCH of butternut squash.  These squash came off of two plants I grew from seed, so I’m especially proud of them (my pumpkins were from transplants).  The squash in this photo were literally taken right from the ground and lined up, so there are some dirt smears and wood chips on them, but you can see the variation in size and shape – I loved that we harvested a single-serving size and one big enough for a family of four at the same time!

We harvested nine butternut squash of different sizes that day too!

We also grabbed the very last, tiny (in comparison to the others) watermelon out of the yard.  I’m not sure if it’s good – we still have yet to cut into it (we should do that tonight!) – but it looks and sounds pretty…  What a strange harvest!  I love San Diego!

Yes, these were all harvested the same day: 2 pumpkins, 9 butternut squash, a watermelon, 2 eggplants, and a pepper

That night I made a butternut squash soup for dinner, with sage browned butter drizzled on top.

YUM

I really don’t have a recipe for this – basically I roasted the squash in the oven, peeled and cut it, and pureed and simmered it with broth.  I finished it with a little cream and then served it with the sage browned butter (basically just sage leaves from the garden cooked in butter until the butter solids turned color and the sage was crispy).  The photo is a little dark but it was SO good.

Now for the things I don’t have photos of…

I pulled up all the dead cucumber plants, and the dead tomatillo, and two of the dead tomatoes.  I pruned back the Sungold plant like crazy (I was going to pull it but noticed a ton of green shoots with little blossoms and so I left it).  I also cut off a few shoots and stuck them in water to root.  It looks like they may have been successful, and I’ll plant one this weekend (and hopefully bring the other to my parents).

I’ve planted brussels sprouts, two more kale, another few tomatoes (early varieties, the first of which has a red fruit just waiting to be picked tonight!), and some more lettuce.  I also have broccoli waiting to be planted, and some more beets (I actually need to pull the beets I planted during the summer and plant these new ones in their place).  We’re still getting okra and eggplant, even though we’ve been having unseasonably high rains and unseasonably low temperatures.

And we have a baby watermelon!  It’s about 4 inches long right now, and perhaps 3 inches across.  The plant seems to be thriving with the rain and so far it’s growing well.  I hope that it continues to – wouldn’t it be a trip to have a home-grown fresh watermelon in December or January?

We also have two baby pumpkins – sure enough, the plant started blooming like crazy shortly after I cut off the ripe fruit, and had its first female blooms this week.  One of the female blooms was (hopefully) fertilized on Monday while I was at work.  This morning I noticed another one as I was walking to my car, so I quickly pulled a male flower and hand-fertilized it.  Hopefully we’ll have fresh pumpkins in December or January too!

I’ll try to take photos of the watermelon and pumpkin babies, and maybe of the back yard too…  And hopefully share sooner than 3 months next time!

 

I’m still here!

15 Oct

I know you’re probably tired of me saying how busy I am…  But it’s true!  Yesterday was my day off and I had every intention of updating my blog with pretty photos…  Unfortunately I tripped and twisted my bad ankle (ruined 20+ years ago when I fractured it stepping in a gopher hole at my grade school, and prone to horrific twisting and swelling ever since) and spent most of the afternoon flat on my back.  Apparently, while nursing that injury I favored my right side, thereby tweaking my left lower back.  Yeah, I’m a mess.

So I’m updating this morning.  No pretty pictures.  Sorry.

I did experiment a little bit last weekend with baking – I came up with a beautiful savory muffin recipe that I will make some time soon for the blog.  It’s basically a biscuit dough that you add things to, but it comes out light and fluffy and gorgeous.  I was planning on making my Asti Spumante cupcakes for a birthday party and ran out of time.  Now I remember why I didn’t do too much “fancy” cooking when I was fully employed – lately if I cook it’s been either a crockpot dinner or a casserole I can toss together in under an hour (Last night was a tuna-noodle casserole riffing on my childhood.  The only time my mom would do something separate for me for dinner was when the rest of my family would have Kraft mac and cheese and tuna salad sandwiches; I hated both, so she’d leave a scoop of plain noodles and cook up some onions, garlic, and celery if she had time and I’d mix those with a scoop of plain tuna.  YUM.).

Speaking of fully employed…  I think I said a week or two ago that I’ve been working part-time.  It’s a testament to the whole “who you know is more important than what you know” idea – I got this job through a friend who happened to know the people running the department.  They had an opening, called my friend, my friend referred me, and – presto! – I got hired.  Now, I absolutely adore this department and I would stay here without hesitation, if I had a full-time position (or one that paid like a full-time position) and benefits.  The boss is amazing, the coworkers are incredible, and even when the mood was stressy (I’m working at a University and for the first few weeks of class we had some long lines of students needing help), there was far less pressure than at my previous jobs.  It’s about 180 degrees away from the environment of my former workplace.

Unfortunately there probably won’t be a full-time job for me here.  There’s a tiny possibility that a job will be created, or that the staff member who is currently out of the office will not return.  But the odds are about 100,000-to-1.  So I’m looking elsewhere.  I had an interview on Tuesday for a job that I think I would really enjoy.  Here, too, is a case of “who you know is more important than what you know” – I’m no more qualified for this position than for any of the dozens of positions I’ve applied for – at the same University – over the last year.  But since I have someone who works for the department who can vouch for me, I got called to come in to meet with the boss.  Will it work, so I can ultimately obtain gainful employment?  Who knows?  But it was awfully nice to be called in.  For the record, they didn’t ask any of the scary questions one worries about when one is unemployed for almost a full year.

I’ve had a nonstop barrage of baby showers and other parties to attend, and in the next month and a half I’ll be coordinating a fundraiser and a wedding.  I’m still trying to find time to attend a meeting of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  I’m still working on PR for the production company my friend is launching.  My garden is still teeming with life, including some brand new blooms on my pumpkin plant.  I’ve been helping my husband in his classroom a lot.  Yeah, life is busy!

But I’m still here…  Life is good.  And I’m happy!

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