Hello, Blogness, My Old Friend

WOW. Has it really been a month and a half since my last post?! HELLO, little long lost bloggie. And how are you?

I wish I could say I’ve been solving world hunger or writing a manifesto that will lead to sustained peace on Earth and good will towards mankind, but no. I’ve just been busy – working, living, prepping for and then celebrating Christmas, playing with my super amazing kid, and watching movies in my jammies with my husband.

So what drove me to post today? It’s pretty self-serving: garden planning has begun, and this is still my official place to store such knowledge for future seasons. This is the second year in a row that I’ve received a gift card to Seed Savers Exchange for Christmas, which is pretty much the best idea ever for a gardener in the winter. Just cracking open that amazingly colorful catalog on these insanely gray December days has been good for the soul.

Day 43. I think Seed Savers Exchange has perfected when to send their dreamy catalogs, full of promises of beautiful, colorful, delicious growing things. Don't worry, Willem, we'll get plenty of green beans. #100happydays

And today was the magical seed ordering day. I also ordered a heat mat, and we’re heading to Lowe’s later to step up our game with lighting in the basement. No more lights zip tied to the bottoms of shelves; no more of this propping up of seedling trays on various boxes to get them closer to or further away from the lights depending on their stage of development; no more needing to constantly rotate the trays so they actually get sort of, kind of equal lighting. We will have adjustable, bright, wonderful lights this year, and my life will be so much easier for it.

Here’s what I ordered today. It also turns out I have an insane number of seeds packets from last season, too, which I’m hoping will still germinate somewhat successfully. Mama needs her arugula!

Exciting things this year: cucumbers will make their return to the garden, and we’ll be trying to grow acorn squash and muskmelon for the first time this year. Oh, and I’m going to have a lot of space dedicated to growing onions right this year. And maybe an entire husk cherry area somewhere. And tomatillos!

  • Tomatillo, Green Husk
  • Swiss Chard, Five Color Silverbeet
  • Tomato, Mexico Midget
  • Tomato, Italian Heirloom
  • Squash, Table Queen
  • Radish, French Breakfast
  • Pepper, Tequila Sunrise
  • Pepper, Jalapeno Traveler Strain
  • Onion, Red Wethersfield
  • Melon, Schoon’s Hard Shell
  • Kale, Lacinato
  • Ground Cherry, Aunt Molly’s
  • Cucumber, Japanese Climbing
  • Beet, Bull’s Blood

Basically? After my disappointing seed starting endeavor last year (I DID have a baby in the midst of prime seed starting time, so I have a  good excuse), I AM NOT MESSING AROUND THIS YEAR. You hear me, future garden? NOT. MESSING. AROUND.

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The Sweet Daily Grind of Vacation

Vacation life, in bullet point and photo form:

    • Christmas vacation started with a wonderful visit from my parents. It was the perfect combination of fun things to do and straight chilling out. We wandered around Nashville, Indiana; watched football; ate homemade chili and egg casserole and cinnamon rolls and WAY too much chocolate, beer, wine, and Bailey’s (family tradition); watched a really excellent version of A Christmas Carol; enjoyed one of my favorite Christmas movies (ahem…. Die Hard 2, of course); perused the Indianapolis Museum of Art‘s contemporary floor; and, of course, opened loads of presents.
20131225. Christmas collage.

Clockwise from top left: adorable whale rattle and fox baby booties, our new family photo, my lovely parents, me and my mom, and Boombox scanning the presents.

20131225. Christmas collage.

Clockwise from top left: Our present-laden tree, my new chalkboard drawing with Die Hard quotation, Chris and his new handknitted hat, anatomically correct gingerbread men, and Birdie getting cozy with my dad.

    • Yesterday, I took the tree down so we could start Ambitious Vacation Project of 2013 (TM): replacing the carpet in our living room with laminate flooring. I am currently typing from a couch in the middle of a mostly empty, very carpetless room. With all the animals we have – plus adding a kid into the mix – the carpet is just gross. It will be AWESOME once it’s done.
20131226. Family room, pre-flooring.

The living room before.

20131226. Family room, mid-carpet removal.

The carpet comes up!

    • In baby news, if you see a pregnant woman (aka ME) waddling along, it’s not because her belly is so giant she’s about to fall over. It’s because her back hurts so badly it has become difficult to walk. Unfortunately, this pain is most exacerbated by bending over to do work (picture weeding in the garden or – here’s the unfortunate part – pulling staples out of the floor or moving heavy furniture to allow for laminate flooring to be laid). So I felt pretty useless today. I like to be able to help, to DO, and I’ve never really had a health problem that seriously kept me from being able to do the things I want to do.
20131225. Cabled baby blanket.

Instead, I’ve been reading a lot, doing yoga, running errands, and finishing knitting projects, like this cabled baby blanket.

    • In other baby news, I’m starting to feel like I CAN’T WAIT TO MEET THIS BABY. Like, I’m ready. And I’m starting to feel excitedly impatient. Seven weeks and counting!

20131225. Whale rattle.

Today was the quintessential vacation day:

    • I started with day two of morning yoga, which is helping the back out and generally making me feel better about my suddenly unwieldy frame and non-existent stomach muscles.
    • Over coffee, I ordered seeds for the 2014 garden. This is always one of my favorite winter activities: dreaming of springtime’s seedlings poking through the soil, hot summer breezes playing through the bean blossoms, bees buzzing, and chickens scratching through thick grass.

20131227. 2014 garden dreaming!

    • I also did an inventory of the seeds I already have from the past few years. Yikes. I wouldn’t call it a “problem,” per se, but I’ve got quite a seed library going.

20131227. Not that it's a problem, but I might have a bit of a seed problem.

    • It was a balmy 45 degrees today, so after a shower, Birdie and I went for a quick jaunt around the ‘hood, then I ran some errands (including a treat Starbucks run for me and my hard working husband) with my coat unbuttoned, my window down (a little), and Birdie as my co-pilot.
    • Following some afternoon baby book reading, Chris and I tucked into spicy turkey chili and fresh broccoli. YUM.

Not usually one to photograph my food, but dinner tonight was kind of the bomb. Turkey chili and broccoli, what?!

Now? Now it’s movie and snuggle time in our deconstructed home. For posterity’s sake, here’s what’s on tap for the 2014 garden, thanks to a Seed Savers Exchange gift card from my in-laws. Great Christmas gift, am I right?

  • Sunflower, Autumn Beauty
  • Radish, Plum Purple
  • Radish, French Breakfast
  • Pepper, Aji Cristal
  • Pepper, Black Hungarian
  • Onion, Yellow of Parma
  • Lettuce, Forellenschluss
  • Ground Cherry, Aunt Molly’s
  • Cucumber, Edmonson
  • Cucumber, Double Yield
  • Beet, Bull’s Blood
  • Bean, Ideal Market
  • Bean, Purple Pod Pole
  • Asian Green, Mizuna
  • Arugula

Reduce, Reuse, Reprettify!

REDUCE, REUSE, REPRETTIFY! Since we got married at such a beautiful location (South Circle Farm), we kept our decorations really simple: some fun banners, beautiful flowers, big white paper globes, floral buntings, and strands of origami birds.

Koester-112-2769817604-O

20130907. Our wedding!

Koester-114-2769817664-O

I had a wild hair to re-use them somehow in the nursery, so after the wedding, I saved them. I kind of love our nursery “mobile.”

20131214. Nursery "mobile."

20131214. Nursery "mobile."

And a couple of prints I made:

20131214. Nursery art.

ON WINTERIZING THE CHICKENS: Earlier this week, it got frigidly cold here in the Midwest.  We’re talking low single digit temperatures with wind chills in the negatives. What with this pregnant/giving birth in the middle of winter thing, I decided we needed a reliable way to keep the chicken’s water completely unfrozen, even if we have to step out to the hospital for a day or two. So, although the DIY warmer was doing okay, I broke down and bought a legit chicken waterer warmer (this one, to be exact) – and just in time.

I also rigged up a light bulb clamped into the rafters of the coop for the two nights where it got really frigid. I feared I would awaken to a Little Red popsicle on Wednesday morning, but it’s amazing the heat that one 60-watt light bulb, some cracked corn before bed time, and five chickens can produce in a small space.

Safety Note: All you have to do is Google search “chicken coop fire,” and you’ll see that heating coops is no joke. Pine shavings and dried chicken poops make a pretty good incendiary device, so be smart about any electrical or lighting device you put in those coops! Our neighbors had a heat lamp going the other night, which would scare the bejeezus out of me with how hot they get.

In short, the girls are currently happily scratching away in their snowy run, searching for treats in the hay. I also realized one of my greatest chicken-related fears last week: went to pull a glove out of my parka pocket and found it covered in goo from a forgotten, smashed egg. This is why you shouldn’t really carry eggs in your coat pockets.

AND OTHER GENERAL CUTENESS/AWESOMENESS LATELY IN OUR LIVES:
My loves:
Friday night faves.

Birdie hugs:
20131207. Birdie hugs.

Me and my beautiful madre:
20131130. Our baby shower.

Chris’ new mistress – taking things to the next level at the Space-Farm Continuum!
Taking things to the next level at the Space-Farm, y'all!

Sneak preview – Christmas knitting:
20131214. Beard!

20131214. Grumpasaurus.

Birdie and Chris’ snowman from this morning:
20131214. Chris made a snowman.

And, as of today, we are in the single digit countdown: 31 weeks down, 9 (+/-) to go!
20131213. Almost 31 weeks.

Giving Thanks, the Wrap-Up (in Which My Family Is Amazeballs)

Right after Christmas, Thanksgiving is my favorite. I mean that in an Elf sort of way. Actually, I generally relate to this clip perhaps a little too much this time of year.

Chris and I went up to Chicago and had a wonderful Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house with my parents, aunt and uncle, and some of my cousins and their kids. Food, family, football: the Thanksgiving trifecta. It was a warm glow kind of afternoon, and I’m not just talking about the weather.

20131128. Me and Chris. Our amazing baby shower!

On Saturday, my mom threw us the best baby shower ever. For real, the best. It was at a tea house near their place, complete with your choice of 50+ types of tea, personal tea pots, mismatched (gorgeous) China cups and saucers, and delicious itty bitty sandwiches and desserts.

20131128. Grandma, Amy, me, and Pam. Our amazing baby shower!

The women in my family are pretty rad, too. They are down to Earth, funny, silly, loving, generous, REAL ladies who inevitably have a serious hoot any time they get together. Our shower was no different. I think my favorite part was getting to spend the morning with them all.

20131128. Shawna, Braelyn, me, and Chris. Our amazing baby shower!

That beautiful “little” girl standing next to me? I was her nanny when she was 6 months old until she was 13 months old. It’s hard to believe that was 11 years ago!

I also feel like we are so ready for this baby – at least, as far as “stuff” is concerned! Between my parents’ astounding generosity and these amazingly generous ladies, I am overwhelmed with gratitude – and BABY STUFF. I don’t know how they managed it, but we didn’t even have any duplicate gifts. Well done, family!

20131128. Bibs from Pam. Our amazing baby shower!

Wait… we’re going to be PARENTS?!

Of course I don’t have a single photo yet of my mom and me! (Hint, hint, Chris – you need to upload your shots stat). I got a wild hair when we got back home Saturday and managed to unpack and put together almost all of our goodies. Here are a few outtakes from the office/nursery (heavy on the “nursery” part):

20131205. The office is giving way to the nursery.

My desk gets more and more interesting every day.

 

20131205. Baby's got the goods.

An army of sleepers, the most amazing chicken hat, and tiny baby booties knitted 34 years ago by my grandmother, now for our little one.

 

20131205. Baby's got the goods.

A blanket my aunt Beth embroidered for me when I was a baby, art I made for the kid, and the most ingenious storage idea ever for tiny baby things.

Thanksgiving weekend also meant another four weeks of BUMP WATCH 2013. We’ve learned the kid now weighs 3.5 pounds, which puts it in the 80th percentile for weight. No wonder I feel so rotund!
Bump Watch, 2013: Weeks 26-29.

It’s CHRISTMAS! Music, Storms, Priceless Projects, and SOMUCHFOOD

I have a confession to make: I bought the Carpenters Christmas album off the Apple store last night. Have you ever heard it? There is just something about Christmas that wouldn’t be complete without Karen Carpenter singing, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” to me. I recognized the correct album based on the cover image – I have stared at that cover every Christmas morning, emblazoned on a bonafide record cover, not some mamby-pamby CD cover, since I was probably four.

In other words, it was totally essential to add that to the Christmas playlist today…

…along with this album, which apparently aired the same year I was born (“If you believe in love, that will be more than enough for you to come and celebrate with me” – SING IT, KERMIT!):

In other words, it has been a good day so far. I got to Skype with my family in snowy Colorado, including my two beautiful nephews, this afternoon so I could watch them open our presents (including this handknitted owl for Ben).

20121225. Skyping with the Colorado fam. Ben and his new owl.

Then tonight, we should be getting a massive storm (for Indiana) blowing through with a predicted 6-9″ of snow. Bring it, snow! I got no place to go!

In preparation for tonight’s storm, we stocked up on supplies…

20121225. We are ready for the blizzard.

20121225. Making new (food-related) traditions - cinnamon buns.

We have many good things to read (including TWO copies of this book – such a good read we bought it for each other!)…

20121225. We got each other the same book for Christmas.

We have a doggy to keep our laps warm…

20121220. MY doggy.

We have plenty of eggs (and a brand new egg skelter so I can admire them – best present ever!)…

20121225. Christmas prezzies - an egg skelter!

And we even made a warmer for the chicken waterer! Tin from Goodwill + lamp kit from Lowe’s = $13 warmer. Not having to refresh the chicken waterer four times a day all winter? PRICELESS. We followed the directions from the Chicken Chick, although you really only need to drill one hole and run the wiring through the screw that feeds through the side of the tin. It’s amazing what a 40W bulb will do.

20121225. Chicken waterer warmer.

20121225. Chicken waterer warmer - ready for tonight's storm.

The warmer for the chicken waterer gets highest marks: the Little Red seal of approval.

Tomorrow, all we have to do is watch the storm outside, skim coat a wall or two, plan out our dream furniture for the office, knit, and watch movies. Sounds downright decadent, doesn’t it? Merry Christmas, and hoping you are having an equally blissful day!

20121224. Skim coating the office walls.

Nothing says “Christmas vacation” like an ambitious drywall-related project!

So THIS Happened Tonight…

Alternate post title – THE HOLIDAY SEASON: ARE YOU FEELING IT? Because we sure as heck are, dammit (as is clearly evident from the following display of Photoshop vomit I felt compelled to create tonight)…

Happy Holidays from the Space-Farm!If you are unlucky enough that we have your address, be forewarned: this beautiful monstrosity will be spewing Christmas cheer all over your mailbox any day now!

Christmas Knitting in Full Effect, Y’all!

NOTE TO MY LOVELY FAMILY: Stop reading this entry if you want any surprises this Christmas!

I really like knowing how to make things for myself. I like understanding different aspects of gardening and composting, canning and cooking fresh greens from the backyard, and caring for our various ridiculous menagerie of animals.

I feel like knitting is an extreme example of that (and probably a little bit decadent, too, in terms of time, cost of materials, etc., but also something you could actually do if you had the know-how, lived on a mountainside with no power, surrounded by sheep).

I wonder, though, if people truly understand the time (and cash) investment that goes into a typical knitted item. Way back when, I tried to make a profit off knitting. Maybe it’s possible, but for the things I was knitting, even with buying yarn in bulk off Ebay, and for the cost I was able to charge, it came out to about $1.50/hour wage.

So now I only knit for people I love. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing this fall! I still have about twice this many projects planned out, but, hey, I’ve got another month or so. PLENTY of time.

For newest nephew Zachary, I give you… SQUAREY!

20120908. Squarey! First Christmas knitting.

For nephew Benjamin… an OWL!

20120913. Christmas knitting continues! Big puffy owl.

Also for Ben… a SNAKE!

20121015. Christmas gifts abound! Ben's stripey snakey.

A special hat for my mama:

20121015. Christmas gifts abound! Ysolda Teague hat.

Cable sampler cowl for my sis-in-law Sarah:

20121015. Aran sampler cowl.

Amazing slippers, also for my sis-in-law (really, they are so squishy and comfy, I need a pair of my own):

20121106. River slippers.

And a ridiculously large pair of slippers for my daddio.

20121106. Nola's slippers.

The Christmas knitting will continue. I still have so much to do! Another pair of slippers, a scarf, mittens, maybe a wee Linus blankie for my sweetest little nephew… oh, and probably something fun for my pub knitting friends!

Criminy. What am I doing here? I need to stop typing and get back to the knitting!