Garden and High Tunnels (and rogue moose)

Our major project this year (and the end of last year) was building two 26 X 48 foot high tunnels.  It sounds easy; screw the frames together, set’um up and bolt the whole shebang together.  Hmmm.  Not quite that easy.  Our first big discovery was that Curt and I could not lift a single frame unit.   So, hired a couple guys and Curt and they worked madly last fall to get the frames up by the deadline.  This is the one in the back field, frame is complete!

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Here’s the high tunnel by the house, shortly early in the season.

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This spring we moved a lot of dirt and rocks while building new beds.  The beds in the high tunnel by the house T the old beds, just moved.  Unfortunately, in moving all that soil a lot of rocks were picked up and now in the beds.  So, we are always picking rocks; it never ends!

House high tunnel.  The pea trellis Curt is working on is 8 feet tall.  The potatoes to the right of the trellis are over 4 feet tall and still growing.  The board running along the side of the high tunnel is 4 feet high.  Sun Gold and Stupice Tomatoes are in the red cages on the left of pic.  My herbs are just past the post with the hoses at the front of the picture.

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Some of our early harvest.  Tomatoes, potatoes,  dinner with fresh Talkeetan River Red Salmon, our herb and potatoes.

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Sun Gold Tomatoes, Calendula flowers, and a salad.

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The high tunnel in the the back is in the horse pasture.  The soil is very minimal; fine for grass but that’s about it.  We purchased garden soil from Susitna Organics in Wasilla.  Pricey, but high quality with added compost.  I wanted to be able to plant and have something not only grow, but thrive.  We’ve gone the route in the past of using “topsoil” that is mixed locally.  It looks great, but is sterile.  It has no soil structure, no  mycorrhizae, the pH is wrong and it needs fertilizer of some sort.  In short, time-consuming and needs a large infusion of money.  Our plants in the field tunnel are doing very well.  We are eating beautiful beets and beet greens, carrots and lettuce.  We have beautiful Toscano kale, De Cicco broccoli, Romanesco Broccoli and Calabrese broccoli, and Costata Romanesco squash coming.  All heirloom varieties.  If the weather continues to cooperate, we’ll be happy.

We also had a bed of Sugar Snap Peas outside the high tunnel.  Peas do so well outside here.  Sadly, a moose came one night and decimated those peas.  In the process, she also knocked down the pea trellis  which smashed into the raspberries.  Luckily, raspberries are hard to kill.  We do have peas in the high tunnel, so hoping they do well in there.   And lastly (for now), the horses enjoying the grass by the house high tunnel.

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Embracing Opposites Soap Challenge July 2015

Sponsored by Greatcakes SoapworksThe idea is to show opposites using soap as the medium and utilizing a log mold and a center divider.

Ohhhhh… I thought and thought and thought some more.  A vision of colors.  Blue on one side and orange (not just any orange but neon orange), and then a  purple neon swirl in the orange and a yellow neon, glow in the dark swirl in the blue side.  (I’m not totally blind yet!)  I envisioned wispy, jubilant swirls of color in dazzling neon glory.  Hmmmm…. Maybe one neon color would have done the job.  I decided on a summery citrus/floral fragrance I’ve used many times, it’s cooperative, and I love it.   I used a predictable Bastille recipe, high in olive oiI,  but also did a significant water discount,and  it moved quicker than I had planned.  OOPS!

Oh my, this began to accelerate.  Not soap on a stick, but working on it.  I don’t scare easy, I’ll tell you, so I continued.   This will not be the wispy, carefree swirls I envisioned, rather  like some weird pop art thing.  Swirls!  Quick, where’s my hanger tool?!?!?  Oops, don’t have a tool for this size mold.  Plan B:  find a spoon!!! Or a knife!!!  Anything!!!   Knife, not ideal, but will work.

Well now, It’s in the mold, and we’ll see tomorrow.

“Here comes the Sun!”   IT IS NEON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT IS BRIGHT!!!!  Definitely when the vision and reality are in different universes.

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You may wonder if I’m colorblind. No…it only appears that I am. This is an awesome, luscious recipe, it smells beautiful, and it’s glow in the dark neon.  Win-win I’d say!

Here are a few more pics.

This entry was posted on July 17, 2015. 8 Comments

Slaving away making soap!

I am working on restocking some of my popular soaps.  Here are a couple recently made.  The Denali Granite, Lavender Rosemary Mint and Talkeetna Rain.  Pick a favorite?  Can’t do it!  I love them all!  All available second week of April.Denali Granite Soap 3.14.15 lavender rosemary mint soap 3.14.15talkeetna rain soap 3.14.15

Quilting a bag

Update to this post; I finished my bag!  And I love it!  Here are finished photos.

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Here’s the bag turned to the reverse side.

 

 

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And a look at the side panels.

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I first tried free motion quilting many years ago, about 35 years I think.  I took a class at a local fabric store and remember recommendations to get a spring that replaced the press foot.  Unfortunately, I was never wildly successful with this setup.  I did do a couple very small projects that I can’t remember.  They were not very good, I’m sure!  I eventually became to frustrated with my less than stellar results and gave it up.

So, 35 years later and not one, but two awesome sewing machines that happily sew anything I ask, I am again tackling machine quilting.  I’ve taken several  online classes and finally, the planets and  karma seem to have aligned.  I am finding I enjoy the quilting process, quite a change from my experience years ago.  So, on to my current project.

I am working on a bag utilizing techniques in Leah Day’s Craftsy class Free Motion filler, Vol 2.  I love using my Janome 7700 for quilting because it has speed control.  It can sew a lot faster than I can and since I’m concentrating on perfecting my stitches, speed control really helps keep things manageable.

I don’t have a flat surface for sewing, a really useful feature when quilting.  I put some of my sewing books to good use to build up a larger, flat work surface.  Not perfect, but working pretty well for this small project.

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Here’s another view of my jerry rigged flat work surface.

 

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Here’s a shot of one side of the bag, pinned and ready to start stitching.

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Here is one of the sides in progress.

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Here’s a shot of the back of the bag in progress.

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And the completed quilting, both sides are beautiful.

 

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Day three of the bag project and I started on the second side.

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Below is progress from today.  Hoping to finish the bag by the end of the coming weekend.

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Free Motion Quilt Sampler project

Cold, gray, threatening to snow (or maybe rain the way this winter has been.)  What better way to spend the day (assuming you’re a sewing nerd) than to practice new techniques.  I recently have taken several Craftsy classes by Leah Day, a talented young woman who teaches classes online.  I was working on a free motion quilting sampler to practice techniques from Free Motion Fillers, Vol 1.  The quilting on this small project took about 4 hours, and I have another 2 or three hours of work to finish.

I used my Babylock Jane machine to piece and quilt this project.  Because this machine sews so fast, I duct taped a small screw driver to the foot pedal so I could not sew at full speed.  This worked great till my duct tape loosened and we were off again at breakneck speed.   I have to work on that, maybe a bigger piece of duct tape!

I’ll get right to the point and show you a pic of the quilted project.  It is not finished (need to bury the thread ends) but still looks great.

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Here’s a look at the back.

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And the back finished.

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And a look at different sections of the top.

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And a finished blue corner.

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Christmas Apron 2014

I recently visited my daughter and she was wanting a cute apron.  Bingo!  Mom can sew!  (IF ANY OF JOIE’S FRIENDS ARE READING THIS, DON’T TELL HER!  I don’t think she checks my blog!)  So, I made one for her for Christmas and it’s reversible to boot.  Hope she loves it.  I used a pattern from Sugar Pie Chic, the Simply Chic Apron pattern.  Very cute, and easy to make.  Also, the instructions are good.

My daughter loves mermaids and I had found a mermaid themed fabric last year with her in mind.  I figured I might as well make it reversible, since it doesn’t take much more work.   As you scroll through the pictures, keep in mind that I made a number of changes to this from the original instructions.

  • I made it reversible
  • I drafted a new pocket
  • The changes I made significantly changed the construction steps in the pattern directions.  Unless you’re an experienced seamstress, just follow the instructions.

Here is the bodice, one side has the mermaids, the other side is a coordinating water print.  It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the bodice is darted for better fit.  And of course, neck ties at the top.

 

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Here is the reverse side of the bodice.

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Here is the skirt.  The skirt is gathered, waistband is attached.

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Skirt ties pinned on and ready to stitch in place.

 

 

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Below, bodice and skirt has been stitched to waistband.  The waistband is pinned in place to be topstitched.

 

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Taa Daa!   Finished apron, the mermaid side.  I drafted the cute heart pocket.

 

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Here’s the reverse side.   The bodice looks darker in the pic, but is the same fabric as the skirt.

 

 

 

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