Garden Update for August

This seems to be what we're getting every week or so in August. The eggplants are small (I'm guessing because of the heat/draught we're in). And our first round of limes are kinda small as well. But the okra is still going strong! We have lots of breaded okra stored away in the freezer now.

Still getting bundles of basil every week as well. Who knew one plant would produce so much? I'm freezing as much as I can and using as much as I can to cook with (and giving away a lot as well) but I swear the more I harvest the more it grows.

little limes

persistent okra

every now and then we get more zucchini...I'm actually surprised this huge plant is still hanging in there. It's supposed to be 107 on Monday. I wonder how hot it needs to be before it finally gives up?

The eggplants are still going strong as well, though they are smaller than usual.

and still a few tomatoes hanging in there...I trimmed all the plants back and am starting to see new (albeit wilting) growth...maybe they'll survive our heatwave

The sweet potato vines are going crazy! Such a fun and easy contribution to an otherwise blah corner of the garden.

and this thing is finally doing something...if only I knew what it was...I'm going to guess either watermelon or pumpkin. All the other vines died when it started to get insanely hot - this guy is clearly a survivor.

Basil and parsley, just for the record, show no signs of heat stress.

And this pretty little gal is determined to see the arrival of fall...

Making a Blue Jean/Denim Quilt: The Easy Way?

Well, I had been saving blue jeans for a few years thinking someday I would make them into something. Then I came across an article in a magazine that showed how to convert blue jean squares into a quilt. Brilliant! Unfortunately I was busy (busier than now, apparently) at the time so I shelved the idea for a few more years. And then we downsized (considerably) and moved and then moved again (and downsized again, considerably) and with yet another move quickly advancing (with probably another considerable downsize), I decided there is just no way I can move this box of random jean squares again. I need to either do something with them, or toss them. I decided to carpe the diem. It's now or never. Just do it. Etc etc. So, here's what I did.

First, I cut the squares into the same size (6 1/2 x 6 1/2), then laid them out in a grid. Then we (myself, the man and the monkeys) stood around this grid dumbfounded...we needed to create some sort of pattern...something random that didn't look random. But all we could do was stare at it scratching our heads like we were looking at some sort of alien crop circle. Let's see, we can move a dark blue one here, a light blue one over here, then a gray one next to that, oh but wait, now we have two light blues together, so then let's do an acid wash here, a pocket one, then we have two pockets together. And so it went. Eventually everyone gave up and I was left to solve the mystery of the crop circle grid pattern on my own.

Once I had a pattern figured out I then stacked them up into neat little piles and completely forgot not only which row each pile was for but whether or not I started with the first one or the last one in the pile. I decided I no longer cared I just needed to start sewing and it would all work out according to God's plan natural selection. I'm all about form following function, so let's just do this already.

Once the squares were sewn into rows, I started sewing the rows together. I should also mention that I wanted a rag effect for this quilt so I sewed with the seams facing out.

Sewing the rows together took almost as much time as it took sewing all the individual squares together. It also became cumbersome with the weight of the quilt getting heavier and heavier (denim is not lightweight, afterall) and with the seams all facing out and getting in the way. This was not an enchanting Disneyworld-esq sewing project. There were no birds singing, no mice holding up the ends of the quilt...I did not cheer or dance around as each row was attached to the next. In fact, I think I might have cursed quite a bit, and considered giving up at least a half dozen times. I may have even considered setting fire to it or hacking it to pieces with scissors. I don't remember. It's all a blur. You see, I've never quilted before, so even though I think this is a very good introductory style project, it's not for the faint of heart. It is, in fact, a commitment of the highest magnitude. But stick with it. There is a light at the end.

Once all the rows were sewn together there was a joyous celebration in the village. There was feasting and drinking and I think even flute playing, and much happiness around the hearth (can you tell we're reading Beowulf?)

But I still needed to sew the backing on.

For the backing I found a chenille blanket for a few dollars at our local thrift store. Actually I found two and pieced/sewed them together since one wasn't big enough. Leaving the edges raw to match the rest of the quilt, I sewed the chenille to the demin top piece.

To keep it all together, I then took some white yarn and a large needle and, going thru both layers, I added ties in the center of each of the demin squares. This keeps the backing from sliding all around and, I think, adds a rustic finish that compliments the frayed edges of the denim (omg, who talks like that?)

And there you have it! My first quilt!

And noone got hurt. Truly a miracle.

I'm inspired now to work on another one.

Just as soon as I restock the liquor cabinet.

Now my gypsy girls will have something to hand down to their gypsy kids. And who knows, maybe they'll be inspired when they're older to save their kids jeans as well. If nothing else, it's at least a nice example of the beauty that is in recycling and repurposing. Though, as an added irony, I did discover you can actually buy this fabric now. I found this exact fabric, with the denim squares, frayed edges and faded coloring at JoAnn's the other day. Oh, I had a good laugh. I nearly hacked it to pieces with scissors, I was so happy. But buying it new isn't the same, right? I mean, these are squares from jeans our family has worn and loved. Our energy is imprinted in them. That has to count for something, right? Sigh.


I found a few more treasures at our local thrift store. It's amazing to me how sentimental something can become when you only pay $1 for it secondhand; when something you might pay $30 for first hand never becomes so. I think it has something to do with energy. Imprinted memory. Someone else's memory is handed over to us...entrusted to us. The green lazy susan wasn't found green. I paid $1 for it and it was brown wood, stained, icky. I sanded it and painted it. It's happy again. The little birdies were found in west Texas...Ft. Davis, to be exact. They weren't second hand but they most definitely needed to come live on the green susan. They're salt n pepper shakers. The proud white duck in back I found at our thrift store. The girls wanted to paint him but I think he looks nice just the way he is. He's the keeper of the napkins.

This lovely water mug I found on a different trip to the thrift store. And I should note, a wonderful feature of our local thrift store is you can take your own un-usables in and sell them on consignment. We take our outgrown clothes and toys and books and sell them so that when we go in looking for treasures, we have money already on hold for us in our account. It's a fun happy exchange.

I bought this white container to keep our compost scraps in by the kitchen sink. Works great and looks nice, despite it's job. When it's full we carry it out to the big compost in the yard and toss the scraps. The chickens and ducks (and worms) take over from there. It's also a fun happy exchange.

This is one of my favorite finds. No idea what it's called or how old it is but I've given it a medieval history. And it seems well-suited to sangria.

These lovely ladies were a birthday gift from my groovy thrifty friend, Megan. She's the one who first turned me on to our local thrift store exchange and she's most excellent at finding treasures there. I love that I have  friends who find beauty more in the used than in the new; who value well-made and hand-made, and who are raising kids who love thrift store clothes just as much as (if not more than) new clothes. Even if I were rich and had the money to shop at the mall, I still wouldn't do it. I'd still rather have this sweet little chicky from the thrift store.

and this one....

These sweet owls came in a set of 4 for .50 cents each. I bought all 4. They've become our favorite fancy drinking glasses. My littlest gypsy won't drink out of anything else, in fact. You can't tell from the pic, but the owls are actually embossed on the glass. They are wise, indeed.

I occasionally find canning utensils...

...which means, of course, I need to so some canning on occasion. We recently had a run on cucumbers from the garden and I had picked up a small bag from the farmers market, so I decide to make some pickles. I attempted this once years ago and wasn't very successful at it. Maybe this time I'll have better luck.

They at least look nice.

We also had a run on basil this summer. I've put up quite a bit in the freezer; I've given some away; but still have lots and lots left to harvest.

So, I made pesto. Lots and lots of glorious pesto. Don't cha just love yummy, beautiful treasures?