We Got a Woodstove!

This was a home upgrade some time in the making. We really wanted a wood-burning fireplace or wood stove when we were looking at places to live. In our corner of the world, firewood is readily available. Winter is not usually a serious affair here. One idiosyncrasy of the home, though, is that all of the heat is electric. No natural gas furnace to fall back on. Big storms are uncommon, but like to show up with a vengeance once in a while. There is more to it than just throwing some logs in the fireplace. Too low of a … Continue reading We Got a Woodstove!

Top 5 Steps to a Cozy Autumn

First, comfy clothes. As I write this in November 2020, we are all experts on lounge wear, athletic wear, and pajamas. Even for those of us who are still working, there is nothing much to do the rest of the time. I most enjoy getting into comfy clothes after a good run or work out, but a lazy Saturday from start to finish has its place too, especially after a long shift or when it’s your first day off in a long time. Favorites include: Flannel pajamas. Leggings. Thermal shirts. Sweaters. A little something called “cabin socks,” which were a … Continue reading Top 5 Steps to a Cozy Autumn

15 Garden Ideas

I titled this post last winter, but never published it, and now it is summer. Here are the 15 garden ideas that actually were implemented this spring. Put up the fence. Simple wire fence with t-posts that we take down at the end of the growing season. With the addition of an electric fence along the top to keep the deer out. 2. Fixed an old bird feeder and added it to the other two. 3. Added compost to the top of the straw bale planter, and planted onions, garlic, and peppers. (This is where the tomatoes were last year.) … Continue reading 15 Garden Ideas

3 Garden Benefits of Catnip

I planted catnip (aka catmint) a couple of years ago. Popular in landscaping, it produces small purple flowers essentially from spring to fall. As it turns out, the deer leave it alone while demolishing hostess and every other supposedly deer-resistant ornamental. The cat loves it. I have since planted a bunch more, and this is why: It looks nice. A compact, rounded shrub, it does not seem inclined to spread and forms an orderly procession right where it is planted. It is indestructible. While deer eat everything and summer storms alternate with high heat, the plants just keep on blooming. … Continue reading 3 Garden Benefits of Catnip

Tomato Heaven

Late frost. Very late frost. Goodbye, promising young vines planted in too timely a fashion. So, we bought seedlings. Lovingly, I planted those. Plenty of room. Then, three of the original tomato plants re-sprouted from the roots. I planted Early Girl, Best Boy, Better Boy, a yellow heirloom variety and cherry tomatoes. Oh dear. We are going to be in tomato heaven! Next up, summer squash apocalypse. Continue reading Tomato Heaven

Hazelnut Delight

One of the few nuts that grows here naturally, is enjoyed by our family, and forms shrubs rather than a single, tall tree: hazelnuts. Also known by the less catchy “filbert,” the hazelnut bushes will form thickets if allowed. They thrive in the saturated ground here. I planted some rather spindly specimens last year. They never really grew, and presumably spent last summer putting down roots. Then the winter killed them. Then—quelle surprise—in late spring they put out some blooms, and now have fully leafed out! Not dead after all. The songbirds seem to like them, too. For the gardener … Continue reading Hazelnut Delight

Did you panic-buy dried beans? Here’s what to do with them

Here are some ways to use them: Traditional cooking. Soak overnight, slow cook. There are good recipes online. But a few pounds of dried beans goes a looooong way. Grow bean sprouts. Yes, these are the same as fresh sprouts you would get at a sandwich shop or add to a noodle soup. Takes a few days, and provides a fresh crunchy green vegetable full of micronutrients. Incidentally, you would want to use food grade seeds for any sprouts; commercial garden seeds are often treated with substances to prevent spoilage and enhance germination. Alternate source of greens. I would not … Continue reading Did you panic-buy dried beans? Here’s what to do with them

Indoor Clothesline

Easy project. I bought two different versions of this on Amazon, and ended up keeping both. If we ever move, I would certainly consider an outdoor clothesline or hanger. Not all neighborhoods allow outdoor clotheslines. Also, some climates are very humid and rainy in the summer. We use air conditioning and the indoor air stays quite dry for that reason. This particular project also helps the house stay cooler in summer because I am not running the dryer.  Then we are also not paying for the electricity to run the dryer. Both lines are retractable. So easy. Would you hang … Continue reading Indoor Clothesline

Growing Catnip

Catnip is in the mint family, but is NOT invasive like peppermint. It makes a small, hardy shrub that shows up fairly early in the springtime. It is perennial. The pet supply store is full of various toys, cat condos, and scratchers featuring dried catnip. Not all cats like catnip. Our cat does, but he is really interested in the catnip itself rather than the fancy accessories. If your cat is habitually unimpressed, or pointedly chooses your significant other over you, then this could be your new secret weapon. My cat loves it. I love to bring in a sprig … Continue reading Growing Catnip

Plenty of Peppermint!

Last year, I planted mint in my garden. ROOKIE MISTAKE. This plant spreads via long, stringy underground rhizomes. It grows like a weed. Super invasive. One of the first tasks this spring was eradicating the mint before it takes over. I picked a few of these rhizomes and put them in pots. I want mint. I just want it to be contained. As an invasive plant, it is perfect for containers. Mint is sturdy. Ripping these plants out and turning the whole area over, I have still been seeing one or two sprouts come up every few days. Mulch mulch … Continue reading Plenty of Peppermint!