Garden Planning 2014

I am ready! It’s currently snowing out and we’re at least two months away from reasonably starting seeds, but nonetheless. I am geared up for spring! Awhile back I found a brand-new seed starting tray for $2.00 at Goodwill to replace the ones that finally gave up the ghost last year.

And today, friends, I have placed the 2014 seed order! And I haven’t even gotten a single seed catalog in the mail, which now that I think about it, is really weird. I swear I got them before Christmas last year. At any rate, I placed my order with Pinetree Garden Seeds (my all-time favorite, even if they have gotten rid of flat rate shipping). This is the order I placed –

A

And this is about how it will look in the garden –

B

I love planning with Smart Gardener – the best free garden planner on the internet, hands down. It’s pretty self-explanatory – I’ve got tomatoes on the right, and a corn and pumpkin patch in the upper left corner. In front of the pumpkins are peppers and onion-type things, with leafy greens and peas next door. In the middle is an alley of dwarf sunflowers, with beans and potatoes in front.

And the crowning glory of the garden is the one thing that looks like a major blank spot in the plan – at the end of the alley of sunflowers with be a bean teepee covered in Rattlesnake Pole beans. So when we go to the garden, Little Man can run down the lane of sunflowers and play inside the bean teepee.

I also came across a great idea on Pinterest (of course) for DIY plant markers that I’m going to make –

C

Aren’t those cute? The picture (and the idea, naturally) are from Katy Harper and I think they’re great. I have a can of red spray paint and a white paint pen already, so if I can score some paint sticks this little garden project won’t cost me a dime. If you can’t find a store that will give you paint sticks (some do, some don’t these days) you can buy them on Amazon. The best deal on paint sticks I found was about $10 for a package of 100 – enough to supply you with labels for your garden for a few years! I also found out that Hobby Lobby sells a package of 24 for just under $4.00, if that’s more your speed.

Another thing we’re going to get again this year is another package or two of wooden landscape stakes, which cost about $12 for a package of 25. They’re great as plant supports and as the foundation for perimeter fencing. They worked great last year.

So, I’m really excited to get the garden going again this year – and I will be anxiously awaiting the arrival of the seed order!

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4th of July Pinterest Inspiration

I really wanted to find a way to combine the words “Pinterest” and “inspiration” into one snappy phrase, but “pinspiration” reminded me to much of “perspiration” so I abandoned the idea. Nonetheless, Pinterest addict that I am, I thought I would share my 4th of July board with you –

4th of July

Forgive the tiny screen capture, but the point is for you to check out the awesome projects and objects I’ve collected and give them a try yourself. Be inspired!

Happy 4th of July!

We’re having a low-key celebration here today – just having some friends by this evening to do some burgers on the grill. We’ve got little, little kids so no fireworks for us this year. But the house is looking festive, and after a great week of staycation (pool party at a relative’s house, botanic garden and zoo!) we’re ready to cap it off by hanging out on the deck and putting our feet up.

In the last few weeks I’ve come across some great 4th of July stuff that I’ve pinned to keep track of for future celebrations, so you might want to check it out – a lot of it you can do on the fly if you need some last minute ideas for decorations or food. Have a fun and safe Independence Day everyone!

New Year, New Plans

Hey All, I hope you had a great holiday season! We had a wonderful first Christmas with Baby Apartment Farmer and a nice low-key New Year’s Eve at home. In years past, January has been a real let down for me. The sparkle and glitz of Christmas are gone. Boring winter sets in. But this year, I was actually all set on go to get the tree down, the decorations put away and the house in order. I enjoyed them while they were up, but everything was put away by New Year’s Day. I wanted to start the year out fresh and clean!

And as a compulsive list maker, this is my very favorite time of year. Planning requires lists, after all! I have to admit, I’ve done something psychotic… I’ve joined a 52 Project Challenge on the one of the forums I frequent. It’s basically like a crafter’s support group – the goal is to complete one project each week of the year. Here’s what I’ve got planned –

House slippers January Me
Circle scarf January Me
Travel tissue case January Me
Scrapbook paper seed envelopes January Me
Valentine’s Day postcards February Holiday
Embroidered stationary birthday cards February Holiday
4th of July flag bunting June Me
4th of July pinwheels June Me
Halloween costume for the baby September Holiday
Spiderweb skirt for Halloween September Holiday
Snapfish photo calendar November Christmas gift
Snapfish Christmas cards November Christmas gift
Fanny pack/belt bag TBD Me
Dinosaur hat TBD Christmas gift
Magnetic paper dolls TBD Christmas gift
Lion stuffed animal TBD Christmas gift
Gorilla stuffed animal TBD Christmas gift
Kitchen knife roll TBD Me
Jelly jar shelf TBD Me
Patchwork table runner TBD Me
Apron TBD Me
A-line skirt TBD Me
Coming home from the hospital outfit shadow box TBD Me
Wedding/honeymoon scrapbook TBD Me
CD wallet scrapbook TBD Christmas gift
Tote bag TBD Me
Cold frame for the window box planter TBD Me
Portable spice rack TBD Me
Pour spout mason jars TBD Me
Gold glittered deer TBD Holiday
Travel cosmetics case TBD Me
Tile coasters TBD Me
Pattern piece lampshade for sewing desk TBD Me
Embroidery hoop pocket organizer TBD Me
Scrapbook paper pattern envelopes TBD Me
Diamond quilt – cut blocks TBD Me
Diamond quilt – piece horizontal TBD Me
Diamond quilt – piece vertical TBD Me
Diamond quilt – assemble quilt TBD Me
Diamond quilt – quilt/topstich TBD Me
Laminated kitchen helper magnets TBD Me
Change purse TBD Me
Crocheted ice skate ornaments TBD Christmas gift
Glittered paper leaf wreath TBD Me
Cookie cutter Christmas wreath TBD Me
Shutterfly photo story book TBD Christmas gift
Christmas gift for nieces – TBD TBD Christmas gift
Christmas gift for son – TBD TBD Christmas gift
Christmas gift for husband – TBD TBD Christmas gift
Christmas gift for husband – TBD TBD Christmas gift
Stocking stuffers for son – TBD TBD Christmas gift
Stocking stuffers for husband – TBD TBD Christmas gift

It’s quite a list, right? And I’ve actually gotten one done already – I made two of the pour spout mason jars. It literally took two minutes to put together. I’m using one for my bulk instant yeast and one for cinnamon sugar, and I love how convenient they are.

And as if that list weren’t enough to keep me busy, I do have a couple more goals for this year in the foodcrafting department –

Put up 52 quarts of tomatoes
Make pancetta
Make fermented hot sauce
Make fried garlic
Grow vegetables year round
Make chili powder from dried and ground hot peppers

That list is destined to get longer as I hop around on Pinterest and come across new things to make and try. And of course, I’ll be sure to post about all of the good stuff I accomplish. What are your goals for the coming year?

This Week’s Baking

I am on a serious baking kick these days. On Sunday, I tried a new recipe and made three plain pain d’epi and three bacon pain d’epi loaves. I wish I could tell you that putting slices of bacon into my favorite type of bread was my own idea, but one must give credit where credit is due. And credit is very due to Diamonds for Dessert for posting this incredible recipe for bacon pain d’epi.

My only deviation from her recipe was to use bread flour instead of regular white, and instead of doing all six loaves with bacon, I only did three. Not only are these loaves gorgeous (insert photo of gorgeous bread [here] – if I waited to upload any of the photos I take, sadly I’d never find the time to post…), the dough was gorgeous too. It was a dream to work with – like silk to knead. So smooth and elastic. It’s easily the best bread dough I’ve worked with thus far.

This bread was absolutely delicious with the potato soup I made for Sunday dinner. I didn’t have any leeks on hand, so I made the soup with a couple of big red onions instead. Bacon and onions; soup and bread – I can’t think of a better Sunday night dinner for an overcast, windy fall evening. And of course I’m already dreaming up variations on it – I could add green onions and sun dried tomatoes. My home made bacon would be even more awesome than the store bought stuff I had to use in Sunday’s loaf. We ate a little with leftovers for yesterday’s lunch, then had the very last plain loaf this morning with our eggs and bacon for breakfast. Of course, it wasn’t as good as when it was fresh, but it held up pretty good for three days. It still had a nice crust and chewy interior, and was just starting to show signs of staling. This dough recipe is a definite keeper.

I’ve got another batch in it’s first rise now. Instead of doing six small loaves, I’m going to do two larger ones. And we ate the rest of the bacon today sadly – the last four slices are in tonight’s dinner (crockpot balsamic chicken with potatoes). So I’m going to do a plain loaf for one and a sun dried tomato and olive loaf for the other. I’m pretty excited to try this new variation tonight. Now if only I had gotten the bread rising in time to have it with dinner… sigh.

Of course, Sunday baking isn’t complete without sweets. We’ve had a real sweet tooth lately. Must be the change of the seasons. I’m going through flour like nobody’s business. I’ve made tons of double batches of snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies (half with added walnuts for husband), and I can’t keep them in the house. Naturally I made a batch of snickerdoodles, but only a single batch this time because I also decided to make some soft ginger cookies. They will now be a repeat at our house too – so good! They’re basically a soft, chewy gingerbread. They actually had a touch too much ginger for my taste (too much ginger actually gives me a bit of a stomach ache, interestingly) so next time I’m going to just use a teaspoon instead of the two the recipe calls for. Other than that, it’s perfect. I love having three, solid go to cookie recipes. And so you can get in the cookie goodness, I’ll share where I found all three. 🙂 Another case of wishing I came up with these myself; that’s how good they are!

Snickerdoodles from Slow Like Honey

Soft Ginger Cookies from Allrecipes

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from Apple a Day

Seriously – make all three. And I found all of these on Pinterest, proving yet again that Pinterest is the coolest thing in the world. I’ve got a couple more cookie recipe pinned – I ought to try them since I’m three for three with the successes.

And in non-cookie, non-bread related business, I’ve been really tempted to make a chocolate lava cake… but it’s quite possible that we have enough sweets in the house for two people at the moment. Possibly.

Follow Apartment Farm on Pinterest!

Want to keep track of all of the things that Apartment Farm likes? Now you can, by following my Pinterest board. It’s a great site that lets you bookmark and organize all of your favorite things in one spot, and since I’m a devoted list maker, I just had to have one. If you want to stay informed of all of the great things Apartment Farm is cataloging across the web, just click the “Follow Me on Pinterest” button over in the right navigation bar. Happy pinning!