Craptastic garden design

“Have you walked up the road to see the house on the corner yet?” my sister in law asked. We were at a family reunion in small town Idaho.

“Why,do they have, like, garden gnomes or something?”

“Well, no, I didn’t see any gnomes, but you have to go up and see it…”

“But why?”

“You just have to go see it.”

Well, we took a walk at sunset.

The shed was actually white, but glowed in the setting sun.

Wow. It was a high desert garden filled with junk- no gnomes, just farm implements turned into birds, bedframes hung with mugs and vases, a bottle tree. multiple bowling balls, a shelf of trophies. Craptastic!  Both of my brothers- in-law looked at it with dread, worried that they were going to wind up with a yard full of crap too.  DH didn’t say anything, but obligingly took a photo of the bottle tree in the setting sun.

One of the best structures was a fence around what I think is a goldfish pond- I stayed in the alley, so I couldn’t get close enough to be sure. The fence was alternating panels of sheet metal and either glass or plexi, and I bet it was designed as winter patio- not quite a greenhouse, but you would get a greenhouse effect- you could go out in the sunshine in the winter and be protected from the North wind, but still get sunshine, and since the structure was only around 6 feet tall, you wouldn’t have to get a building permit.

The family reunion was 4th of July weekend, and since then I have been evaluating the things I add to my garden- how much crap does one need? A little crap may look insecure, whereas a ton of crap inspires people from out of town to stand in your alley and peer over the fence.  I am thinking I might want a bottle tree, though…


DIY yoga mat spray

I’ve been doing yoga a lot lately, and one of the facts of yoga life is that the mat starts to smell funky. Research on the interwebs reveals that people spray with Febreze, or with store-bought yoga mat spray. Further research tells me that these sprays are pretty much alcohol, which kills most of the bacteria,and fragrance, which covers up the smell of the alcohol.

I hate the smell of Febreze, too strong, too fake. ( I had a student a few years ago whose mom put Febreze in his Christmas stocking. What was she trying to say, do you think?)
This is another of those non-recipe recipes. I hate to say this even is  a recipe, or a project, because it’s so simple.

Step 1: Buy cheap vodka.  You might already have some, I don’t know.

Step 2: Get a spray bottle (thank you, dollar store)

Step 3: Half fill spray bottle with cheap vodka, add tap water, add “some” drops of essential oil. How many drops will depend on how strong you want it.
Step 4: spray onto stuff that’s stinky.

I have a bunch of different varieties of essential oil; the last batch I made I used geranium and lavender- refreshing and “green”. Tea tree oil is also supposed to be anti-bacterial, but I’m not in love with the smell. I guess I’m picky. Peppermint would be refreshing, rosemary smells kind of like cheap men’s cologne.
Here’s the thing- if you don’t already have cheap vodka and some essential oils, you might be better off just buying some official yoga mat spray and just be done with it. Amazon has different varieties for around 10 bucks, but it strikes me that you can buy a lot of cheap vodka for that, and some essential oils, which you can use for other things.
For example, I use the oil for homemade handcream, and just adding drops to my bathwater. I use the cheap vodka for…cheap vodka. Nah, I’ve made homemade cherry liqueur, and limoncello.  You know, not just screwdrivers and jello shots.

Bloom Day- Let’s shop for stuff that blooms in August…

It has been hot and dry here lately. Typically we get late afternoon thunderstorms that cool things off and moisten things up, but not so much this year.The lack of water has made things peter out sooner than usual, and looking around, I am realizing, I don’t have that much that blooms late summer. I need to get to work on that.

The asteraceae family does well in the dry heat- purple coneflowers and daisies and black-eyed susans have been blooming their heads off, and attracting pollinators for a few weeks now.

I don't deadhead the Echinacea (purple coneflower) because the birds like the seeds. What the birds don't eat will self seed and grow next year.

The herbs are the pollen workhorses- bees are all over the lavender, anise hyssop, oregano, thyme and mints.Not much to look at, but the bugs sure love them.

I have one tiger lily blooming right this minute, and I want to order about a gross of late summer lilies. I had some other oriental lilies that have already finished blooming. Never liked lilies before, but they fill an important role in late summer.  Orange is never my first color choice, but they just fit this weather and this time of year.

Love this tiger lily.

Wait, a gross of lilies, that’s a gross of holes to dig. May have to rethink that plan.


edited to add- I noticed some sweet peas still blooming- which I have always thought of as cool weather flowers- but no, it’s crazy hot and dry, but those little old fashioned sweet peas are still blooming. Hooray.

Tie Dye in the Rain

Super concentration is required for application of the blue...

To aid in the Girl’s quest to wear non-matching socks, I suggested tie dye- she wanted to turn it into a party, but I have control issues- We have done tie dye parties before, and they aren’t that much fun for me.
We kept it small- a tee shirt, an 8 pack of socks, and some muslin scraps to play with- they’ll be quilt pieces, or gift bags, or whatever. I had a bunch of semi circles left from our angel costume experience, so I figured we’d dye them and play with them. I also have a biggish piece of white canvas that I wanted to dye to make a summer purse. Yes, I know what month it is. It’s just that I have misplaced the summer purse that I got at the zoo last year (seriously, has anyone seen it? you know, batik, in kind of blues and greens, with a Chinese coin clasp?) and I’ve been carrying an olive drab one that is just the right size, but kind of ugly. But I digress.

I used corn syrup as a resist to make squiggles on the canvas. I  saw instructions in the last issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Or maybe Quilting Arts magazine- I have a hard time keeping them straight.  The shirt and socks we just rubber banded the usual way. We bought a kit, which comes with bottles and gloves and instructions, for about 10 dollars.

We set up the plastic tablecloth on the back porch, mixed up the dye according to instructions and went crazy. Actually, the Girl went crazy, and I went all control-freaky on her. “are you sure you want to mix all three colors? You have to go easy on the… now it’s just…don’t squeeze so hard…would you just…” And then it started to rain. She went inside.

You can see the splotchy socks, but otherwise, it's a pile of success.

The results? The muslin scraps are really cool- I’m thinking of something with wonky log cabin? There’s not enough for a quilt, maybe a pillow cover, or gift bag? For the uninitiated, a log cabin pattern is a traditional quilt pattern with narrow rectangles surrounding a small square. A wonky log cabin is when none of the angles are 90 degrees, so each block is kind of crooked.

The Girl’s shirt has a few brown patches, but is otherwise cool.  The socks aren’t great- they are a cotton spandex blend, and didn’t soak up the dye very well.

My favorite piece is the canvas, though- the corn syrup formed an incomplete resist- some color went through, so there are light patches, rather than pure white. I got up the nerve to cut it up to make a new summer purse. Yes, I knowwhat month it is! But just think, I have until next summer to finish it.

I just need some d-rings and webbing for a strap, and we're good to go.

Tinto de Verano

Tinto de Verano- summer wine. Waaaay classier than Bartles and Jaymes...

” (alcohol) is a common disinhibitor that works against the prioritizing capabilities of the forebrain… It helps transform shy people into gregarious ones, and can make the shy vivacious.”  “Thumbs, Toes and Tears” by Chip Walter

I’m not a beer drinker, and I have tried many of the non-beer options for when I’m at a party or barbecue, and would like to drink an adult beverage, but not get blitzed. There is a time and a place for blitzed, I guess, but a family barbecue is not either.  Well, maybe your family. When the weather is hot, sweet stuff is too cloying, most mixed drinks are too strong for me- nobody wants me to sing another chorus of “Margaritaville.”

Enter Tinto de Verano.  It’s fizzy lemonade mixed with red wine over ice. Yeah, that’s the recipe. Tall glass, lots of ice, red wine, top with fizzy lemonade.  It isn’t too sweet, or strong at all, but I can get a little loopy, get some nice social lubrication at the pool party. It isn’t enough of a “disinhibitor” to get me dancing on the table, and that’s a good thing.

You might be thinking that this is essentially a wine cooler, and you’d be right.  It is not nearly as sweet as most wine coolers, or hard lemonades or whatever so you can drink it all afternoon and not feel rotten.