Sunday, February 28, 2010

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed

It's EASY!

First, pick a nice sunny spot with at least 6-8 hrs of sun or, preferably, 8-12 hours and clear out anything that may be in the way. Fruiting veggies such as tomatoes, peppers, zucchinis, eggplants, cucumbers and squash need the most hours of sun. Root vegetables such as beets, radishes & carrots can get by with less, and leafy veggies such as swiss chard, spinach and lettuce and traditional winter vegetables like turnips and cauliflower will tolerate the most shade - even as little as 4 hours a day. Then you'll need to come up with a design. You can get all fancy with geometric designs or stack in a pyramid effect or you can just go simple like I did with a 8' x 4' rectangle. Maybe down the road I'll take this to a new level, but for now we're keeping it simple.

Once you've figured out the size and shape and maybe come up with a neat little drawing, figure out your dimensions and head down to your local lumber store. You'll also need some basic supplies and tools. You're comfortable with a drill, right? Sure you are! Here's a general list but alter as needed for your design:
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • carpenters square
  • mallet
  • drill
  • 7/64 #8 counter sink bit
  • #1 3-3 1/2 & #1 2-2 1/2 exterior screws (make sure they're exterior screws so the won't rust)
  • a bundle of 18" or 24" wooden stakes
  • 4 2x6 boards cut 8' in either UNTREATED cedar or redwood
  • 4 2x6 boards cut 4' in either UNTREATED cedar or redwood
Okay, once you've got all that, drill them all together and you're done! Go take a nap!

Just kidding.

First, you'll want to pre-drill the holes for the screws. Make sure you pre-drill the holes instead of just drilling the screws straight in because that could split the wood which would make you sad.

Make sure you've got all your boards where you need them and a balloon couldn't hurt either.

Make sure your measurements are correct.

Find some wiggle worms... just in case.

Make sure everything is level.

Then go take a nap and wake up to find that your husband has
miraculously built you a raised veggie bed!

If you're still perplexed on what to plant and how, here's a nifty little link to get you started with a beginners veggie garden recipe.

Now get to it!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

in my shoes

This child has a serious shoe fetish. I know, a girl after my own heart. It's cute, it's normal... but really, is it? I've pretty much had to throw our "no shoes in the house" policy out the window because as soon as you take off your shoes, they're on her feet... and she definitely has her favorites. In particular, these damn white sandals that I recently picked up at Target for summer. As soon as she wakes up, there's no good morning, no nice to see you, oh no; she demands shoes, pointing her finger in the direction of her closet where she knows the sandals reside. I've tried to convince her to wear more seasonally appropriate shoes, but I might as well have asked her to wear squirrel carcasses on her feet. She wants sandals... oh, and OVER SOCKS no less.

So, the other day I tried to come up with some way to get her off the sandals. Maybe purses? Dolls? ugh! What to do, what to do? Finally, I realized that there is only one thing to do... Get her better shoes. Shoes to make her forget the silly sandals. And what could be more appropriate for the job than a pair of red mary janes?
IT WORKED! Now I just need to accept that these aren't coming off any time soon & she's probably going to insist on bathing and sleeping in them, too.

Now I want a pair!

Another favorite pastime is raiding my closet. She, without fail, will go for the highest heel possible. Heels I don't even wear and for some reason happen to own. She'll systematically pull every shoe she can reach off the shelves, trying each one on and parading around the house exclaiming, "CHOOOOOS!".

Choos? I wish. Kenneth Cole, actually.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Almost Spring

I'm so excited for Spring. This is the year that I decided to not be such a giant resource suck and start growing my own food in my own backyard. We all know about the chickens. Hell, even the checkout lady at Vons knows about the chickens. But now, I'm going a predictable step further and I'm doing a little vegetable garden experiment this Spring. Jon's just waiting for me to bring home a goat or bee hive because that's logically WHAT'S NEXT. I've flown so far into the deep end of this urban farming revolution movement or whatever you want to call it, that it's got a few family members and friends concerned.

So, a few weeks ago I sowed my seeds; a few types of tomatoes, a few types of peppers, carrots, beans, salad mix (that was actually what the seed pack called it) and Thyme & I've got strawberries in the mail. In years past I've always just picked up a few small seedlings from the nursery, which is fine, but this year I'm going from scratch, baby. I want to know where my seeds are from. I'm going the hardcore GMO free, open pollinated, non hybrid, untreated, organic bla, bla, bla... my head hurts. Anyway, THE SEEDS. Right, I'm beyond containing my excitement because some have actually started to sprout! I know! I can't believe it either. I'm actually growing something other a pile of laundry.

The next step is to wait for the true leaves to appear and once that happens I can transplant them into the ground. Only problem is, the ground outside my backdoor is a toxic mix of sand, clay, oh and nuclear waste. I'm only slightly irked by that that, but irked enough to buy a bag of organic soil from the local nursery and opt to plant in a raised bed. Okay, no problem. Now I just have to get Jon to build me one. On second thought, I may be transplanting these seedlings into pots.

I'm kidding. Jon, my hero, went to the place I loath beyond any other, the local building super store, and picked up some nice untreated redwood, got the pieces cut to size and now all he has to do is screw them together this weekend. I'll be sure to document that entertaining process later.

Monday, February 22, 2010

An EGG! For Reals This Time!

In other news, Ethel laid an egg! A real egg from her own butt! And this time I don't have my father in law here to worry about it being a gag. Here's a photo of the pretty lil' thing. I'm so proud. I even wrote her name and the date on the egg and am going to keep it like any insane chicken mama would. I'll eat her next one.
These girls sure know how to cheer me up.

Ethel's is the one on the right and the one on the left is from the store. Her's is such a pretty color and way cuter than the store bought one. Am I right?

Addendum as of now, 3 hours later...

Oh boy, where do I start.... So, I just found out the egg in that there picture probably wasn't Ethel's first egg. Turns out there are 5 others that my mom "thought were dummy eggs". Let me back up, I had 3 wooden "dummy" eggs in the nest box to show them, Lucy & Ethel, that that's what they're suppose to do there. They had been there for a month or so and my mom even knew about them. So, yesterday after my mom discovered Ethel's "1st egg", I asked her to remove the wooden eggs because they obviously get what to do now. Only, unbeknownst to me, she removed 7, yes SEVEN EGGS. I don't know, maybe I'm just being persnickety, but it strikes me as hard to believe that it didn't dawn on her that there were more eggs there than before and half WERE NOT WOOD. I know she's getting old and all but if you can't tell the difference between a wooden egg and a real one, that's scary. So, I have a sneaking suspicion that she is just playing "REALLY DUMB" and just didn't want me to know that they started laying while I was in the hospital. I like the latter of the possible explanations. Less scary. And since I can't really tell which egg was the first one and have five whole eggs, I better start eating them!


ouch doesn't even begin to cover it

"ignorant pre-surgery bliss"

If someone would have warned me that surgery REALLY HURTS way worse than child birth for a really long time, I don't think I would have done this so carelessly or took the above smiley photos during pre-op. There is pain, and then there is pain that makes you very aware of everyday things like lying down, rolling over, sitting, coughing and pants.

This whole experience has made me appreciate wellness in a whole new way. Life with out pain. Or constant drugs to mask said pain.

I guess you could say that I'm lucky that I was so naive to what was in store for me. I remember going into this thing as if I was getting a tooth pulled. I remember the last thing I said to the doctor as he was pulling the mask over my face went something like this, "my son would like to put the tumors in a jar and put them on his shelf.", and him saying, "okay, that's nice.".

And then, fluffy clouds.

Six or so hours later, the next memory is of myself cursing at some nurse because of the pain I was in and how I needed more of SOMETHING. I think I actually grabbed a passing nurses arm and let out some words that resembled, "my nurse was not listening and not helping me.". I figured out pretty quickly that there are a lot of medical staff out there with some serious job satisfaction/sensitivity chip issues. Thankfully, this nurse was not one of those and she quickly intervened with more morphine. And thankfully, the surgery was a success, but part of my diaphragm, to which the tumors were connected to, had to be removed and patched up with mesh (I have no idea so don't ask). The big one was the size of a grapefruit and the smaller one an apple. Fruit salad anyone? no? okay, moving on.

ICU for 2 days followed with more disgruntled nursing staff and pain beyond, well, anything I had ever experienced. I did have this handy little device called the pain pump (in non medical speak) which is basically a remote control with a button that delivers Dilaudid whenever I pushed it as long as it was 8 minute since the last time I pushed it. BEST INVENTION EVER. I spent every day watching the clock and dissecting it into eight minute increments so I'd know when I could push the button next. If I accidentally pushed it too soon it would throw everything off because there was no way to tell if the medication was actually delivered. The pain never did fully leave so I was never sure if I got the meds or not. In retrospect, the whole thing was probably a placebo type of thing and they were just giving me saline and not any pain reliever at all. Conspiracy!? Perhaps paranoia is a side effect of the meds. moving on.

Thursday they finally pulled out the chest tubes which caused a lot of the discomfort I was experiencing. These things had been in place since the end of surgery in order to keep my lung from collapsing. It is something I'd rather not go into detail about, but I'll just say that I'd really like to avoid doing it ever again. I just remember the doctor saying something to the effect that I might feel some pain. Pain and hyperventilation and shaking uncontrollably is more like it.

Once things calmed down, he asked me if I felt better and lighter now that they were out. Oh yes, excuse me while I skip around the room, enjoying the freedom from chest tubes. weeeheeee! no chest tubes! Can you believe it?!

Friday they let me go home and I've been in hiding ever since. I love our house even more now that I've spent some serious time in bed staring at the same walls. Everyday is getting a bit easier, but I still can't believe that I'm staring at 6 more weeks of recovery. And, while it's kind of nice to have some time to myself, I wouldn't exactly call this or the hospital stay, club med. The pain kind of takes away any pleasure I can get from the "break" I'm getting. BUT I have finished planning and shopping for both kid's birthday parties, knitted a good portion of a knitting project and am BLOGGING! Go figure.

Oh, and check out this crazy bruise on my arm. You'd think I had arm surgery too, but it's just from the a-line iv during the surgery. NUTS!

Lucky for you, some a-hole nurse threw out the photos that my surgeon gave me of the tumors on my diaphragm and I just can't get a good angle on my sutures.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

napping, baking and granola making

There isn't much that's more glorious than a rainy day filled with all of the above.

Here is the fab granola recipe that I used. I stole it from Alton Brown.


  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup cashews or pecans (I used chopped pecans)
  • 3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.

SO GOOOOD! The kids gobble it up over yogurt & I always need to make more than one batch.

The View Outside My Window

knock, knock, knock, hello?

oh, hello.

Bad Day to be a Chicken

Oh, come on now. Keep your snarky comments to yourself and indulge in some stupid humor involving screaming chickens. There's just no getting around the fact that chickens in spacesuits, sunglasses and ties are pure comic gold. These made me laugh and, well, had to share.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

oy to the vey

So, where was I? To sum up, we rang in New Years with some good friends and a bunch of people in Houston at the wee hour of 10:34 (tivo time), Lucy & Ethel still aren't laying me any eggs but are becoming good friends in the meantime, Jake and Chloe are bigger and louder than last year & I have lung tumors. Other than that it's pretty much same ol', same ol'.

You're probably wonder, well, what about that weather? Are you still knitting? The answers to both are rainy and yes. Oh, what, the tumors? So, about the tumors, I've named them Bob & Larry and they both have to go. Tuesday the 16th to be exact and we'll know for sure if they are malignant or not. The doctors think that even though Bob & Larry on the large side (a small orange & a lime) they most likely are benign. I've had no symptoms and was floored when told the news. If and when I get the xrays, I'll show you what these bad boys look like. Maybe they'll let me take them home in a jar. That would definitely make for an interesting show and tell for Jake.

The crazy thing about all this is they sort of got discovered on accident. It was one of those crazy things where I went into the ER thinking I had a burst appendix and instead had lung tumors. Thankfully, my appendix is fine. WOOHOO! It's really lucky in a roundabout way. I could have walked around with Bob & Larry for who knows how long and not even known it.