Thursday, April 30, 2009

Giddy Recycles!

Never one to waste anything, my latest recycling idea is quite brilliant, if I do say so myself.

As you know by reading this blog, H and I have two beautiful rescue kitties. Spike and Sluggo truly do light up our days and we love them dearly. Not a day goes by that they don't bring a smile to our faces or a hearty belly laugh with their antics. Not to mention that the cats always have the best seat in the house!

Now, the downside of having pets is the, how shall we say it, ahem, the "exhaust" created by them.

We purchase the clumping kitty litter in big 40 pound, plastic tubs, which unfortunately, cannot be recycled by our local recycling company. I have used these tubs for everything from yarn storage to compost buckets, but alas, they still pile up in the garage. What to do? What to do?

Last year, I began buying all my eggs in recycled cardboard cartons. As I used the eggs, I kept the shells in the cartons and then stored them all in the garage with the intent of using them in my flower pots instead of styrofoam peanuts in order to save on the expensive potting soil. Not only will the cardboard help keep the soil moist, but the eggshells add calcium and other nutrients to the soil. At the end of the season, the egg cartons and depleted soil could be conveniently thrown on the compost pile for next year's garden. Perfect!!

A couple of days ago, I found some really nice tomato plants at our local nursery and decided to purchase them even though it's too early to plant them outside, but I knew if I waited, I would not have the selection of these lovely, healthy plants.

In years past, I've not had the best of luck with growing tomatoes like I did when we lived in the warmer climate of Kentucky, so I decided that perhaps growing them in individual buckets would be best up here in Maine. Voila! The need for buckets presented itself and what a better way to recycle the kitty litter pails!!!

The tomatoes spend every warm spring day outside in the sunshine, but I'm able to put them back in the garage in case of an unexpected spring freeze. Once the danger of frost is over, I'll keep them in a warm, sunny spot outside.

And just what is this nasty looking tub of vegetative stuff?

Why, it's seaweed collected while on one of our favorite walks in Sorrento Harbor. This stuff has been sitting above the high tide mark on the shore all winter long and is perfectly dried and ready to be spread on the garden. It's full of lovely nutrients like potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and loads of other things good for the flowers and veggies. We'll be collecting more each time we go.

I've finally managed to find the time and left over building materials to create a small planting area on the sunny side of the house. The area was mostly sandy fill, so I added lots of composted cow manure and seaweed and then planted red and white onions and red and green cabbage. It will be interesting to see how things grow. Our friend, little gnome "Dopey", keeps watch over the patch.
We're finally seeing some color in the garden as the primroses are beginning to bloom.

The Rock Arabis is blooming in the middle of the vegetable bed. I'll have to definitely move it this year!
Pansies always bring a spring smile to my face....

However, the Italian Parsley seedlings look as though they need more sun.

All in all though, I'm so happy to finally be able to get dirt under my fingernails again!

A dirty life is a good life!

Hugs, Giddy

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I'm Back!

The past three weeks have just flown by with way too much to do. We headed south to visit with my Mom and Dad and while we were there, H and I cooked up a storm for them. By the time all the slicing and dicing was said and done, we had about 75 meals cooked, individually packaged and squirreled away in their freezer.

H made a big batch of his yummy Chicken, Smoked Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo and a double batch of 15 Bean Soup.....

while I made Chicken Parmesan, Cube Steaks with Mushrooms and Gravy, a big pan of cornbread to go with the soup, and together, we made Chicken and vegetable stir fry and egg rolls.
We think Mom and Daddy were pleased.

It was a fun visit with them and we look forward to another one soon.

In the meantime, when we returned home, the weather had turned to springlike warmth and it was time to get out in the garden and get things cleaned up. To that end, we spent the next few days cutting back perennials, getting the deck furniture unwrapped, brought the deck fountain up, but didn't get it going yet, but did open up the pond. Gunther Gnome is holding up the water fall tube until I can figure out a new configuration for the water flow.

I transplanted the poor Japanese Maple that had been bent to the ground for the past two years from the snow plow. I think it will be much happier planted next to the pond.

Now what do the above potato, carrot and broken light bulb have to do with each other, you ask?

When I tried to use the oven, I discovered the appliance light inside had burned out and as I tried to unscrew it, it broke off. I attempted to use the time tested method of using a raw potato to retrieve the broken part but it didn't work. So, instead, I used the end of a carrot, which worked infinitely better! Just another little hint for the time you need to retrieve a stuck bulb.

The boys, of course, were not pleased that we had left them for a few days, but they were well cared for by our friends who looked in on them frequently. We got a few dirty looks from them, but they eventually came around to loving us again.

Spike just glared at us for a few minutes...........

while Sluggo just regally ignored us for a while.

I don't often air my Libertarian leanings, but unable to attend any Tea Parties on Tax Day, I protested by hanging a tea bag from the pocket of my shirt and emailing my representatives in Congress. I may be one lone voice in the wilderness, but each voice, like each vote counts!

And so, dear ones, as the sun sets on another day on the beautiful, rocky coast of Maine, I look forward to dragging myself back out to the garden tomorrow for yet another round of pulling weeds, turning soil and breathing deeply of the fresh spring air.

Life is Good!

Hugs, Giddy

Sunday, April 05, 2009

And so it begins

Spring, that is. Yes, dear friends, spring has finally arrived here in Downeast Maine. The huge snowbanks are melting quickly these days and wee bits of green are emerging from the soil to greet the sun ever higher in the sky.

And the sleepy plants aren't the only ones to enjoy the warmer days. Even though there may still be snowbanks surrounding us, we Mainers take every opportunity to sit outside on sunny days.

A couple of days ago, we had a 50 degree, sunny day and I took the opportunity to do a bit of cleanup in the perennial beds. I raked piles of leaves out of the sunny side, but they were still frozen in the shady side. There is still so much work to do!

I've begun starting a few seeds. I saved all of the cardboard egg cartons over the winter and use them to sprout seeds. These have Italian Parsley in them and the directions said to keep them in the dark until they sprout, therefore, they are sitting in the closet as I write.

The Genovese Basil has already sprouted!

Whenever a bit of Jade plant drops off, I can't bring myself to toss it into the compost pile and now, I've got another "orphan" to find a home for.

Last year, I trimmed the Schefflera at the Clinic and rooted the trimmings. I gave all the ladies in the Clinic one and kept the runt of the litter for myself. The "runt" has grown quite nicely!

I over wintered the tradescantia "Purple Queen" in the background and it will be ready to set out around June.

Since most of the days are still chilly and rainy, I've been doing lots of baking, as well. I had a bunch of bananas in the freezer, so it was time to make Banana Bread again. However, since I like to experiment with recipes, I deviated a wee bit and added some good Ghiradelli cocoa, substituted dark roast coffee for the water, whole wheat for half the flour and voila!, I had a luscious Mocha Banana Loaf.

I was going to put in some grated orange rind too, but I forgot. Oh, well, maybe next time.

I also made pita bread for the first time. What fun that was to watch the dough puff up in the oven.

The recipe is from the "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" book. I then cut the pita breads in half and each half into triangles, sprayed them with olive oil and baked them til crisp. Sprinkled with Seasoned Salt, they made a wonderful chip for dips!

The boys have been very good all winter long, so we got them a little surprise the last time we went to the pet store. They love their new perch and so far, have been sharing the top seat quite nicely.

Life is Good!

Hugs, Giddy