Friday, July 18, 2014

The Garden!

I always mean to post a little more about the garden for all of those who are interested.  Well...finally Ben took a whole bunch of photos for me share.  Yay!
We've been getting lots of rain again this summer and everything is booming!  The tomatoes have septoria leaf spot again this year, but they are still growing fruit and I planted way more plants than is reasonable (many are transplanted volunteers, which are always more robust than the others), so I'm sure I'll have a fine crop nonetheless.  Look...my first reddening tomato!  Exciting!

On one side of the rock wall next to the garden I planted wildflower seeds.  I noticed something coming up this spring while weeding and left it, not knowing what it was.  Well...now I know!  A mix between traditional black eyed susans and these wow factor black eyed susan type flowers (anyone know the name?).  Beautiful!

Only one peach tree survived the winter, so I bought a new, more tried and true one from the nursery in town.  Unlike my old one, this tree produces full sized peaches!  My other peach tree has yet to blossom...we'll see if ever does!

Radishes are bored with being underground.  They like to pop up and see what all the fuss is about on the surface.  Well...what say you, Little Radish, of the world of the light?

Last year I made my main garden path very narrow and as the season went on, it grew narrower still.  This year I smartened up and made it fairly wide.  The big lump of green in the middle of the photo is a small tree that I can't bring myself to chop down.  I trimmed it way down and planted lettuce around it, which enjoys occasional shade, especially in the heat of the summer.

This wire mesh protects my tender plants from Mr. Wood Chuck (aka Mr. Goundhog) and his family.  He tried to dig under it a few times this spring, but the wire is buried 6 inches or so and he gave up.  Sorry Mister!  I guess it's milkweed and clover for you!

Many gardeners think that growing dry beans can be a waste of garden space, but being a vegetarian, I eat a LOT of beans.  When I plan my garden out in the winter, I think about what we eat most and use that as my guide of what to plant (makes sense of course).  We're at the point now where about half the food we eat comes from the garden or my dad's farm (dairy - I've been making butter, yogurt and ricotta so far - and sweet corn) and I'm always aiming to increase that, especially now that we've started a family. 

Last year I planted the beans on the ground, not knowing they were climbing beans (I just bought dry beans at the grocery store and planted them, black, pinto, and kidney).  This year I built a fence for them to climb.  It's much better this way!

And two white eggplant plants live nearby.  I'm not a huge fan of eggplant, but I like it in dried chip form and as eggplant parm, so two plants should do nicely.

I planted tons of peas this spring...but made the mistake of planting them on the outside of the garden fence (I was planning tomatoes for the inside).  I hadn't seen Mr. Wood Chuck at all last year and so thought I was safe.  Nope.  He ate most of them.  The few plants that escaped are really robust and producing lots of peas.  Now I just have to wait for them to get nice and plump and ready to shell!

Dill.  I kept planting in the wrong spots the last two years...but not this year!  I've already dried a whole bunch and the rest are waiting for pickles.  Yum!

Kale and Collards...two of the best garden plants you can grow in my opinion.  You can plant them as soon as the ground thaws in spring (they like cold weather).  You can start harvesting in a month or so after planting and they just keep growing all season, whether you pick them hard or light and will keep producing until December in zone 5 before the cold finally conks them out.  The leaves on both plants are large, so picking and prepping takes little time, and they freeze really well, blanched or raw.  They are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.  In contrast to spinach, which is very healthy of course, but not as easy to grow.  Spinach only likes cold weather (it bolts as soon as it warms up), so you plant it early and it's done by early July.  Fall plantings are difficult in zone 5 because it doesn't germinate in warm soil.   The leaves are also smaller than kale or collards and so picking takes more time and the harvest is always smaller than I ever hope it will be.  I love spinach, but for cooked dishes, we often mix or substitute with kale, since kale is so much more bountiful.  I've also just discovered beet greens, which I think makes a much better substitute than kale...it's taste of texture being a lot more similar to spinach.  The leaves are nice and big and if you're growing beets anyway, then the greens are merely a fortunate byproduct.

The green bean plants are heavily loaded right now and Ben has been sauteing then and I've been experimenting with drying them into crispy green bean treats (blanch and freeze, then while frozen, coat in oil and salt and dehydrate for a few hours, then pop in the oven at 170 for a while more and the result is a shriveled and ugly, but very crispy, salty, and yummy snack!  The texture is kind of like a crispier cheese puff)

The zuchinni and yellow squash are pumping out the produce and I've been experimenting with drying those too, but less successfully.  I have one more idea up my sleeve...wish me luck!

These are radish seed pods.  I love radishes, but they are so spicy I can never seem to polish off my crop and then they go to seed.  I had radishes popping up all over this spring!  Anyone know of a variety that isn't so spicy?

Ben took these photos last week and the difference between then a now is astounding!  Many of these squash and pumpkin plants have reached the tops of their trellises already!  I have these planted in such a small space, I'm experimenting with going vertical...even with heavier fruited plants.  We'll what happens!

And lastly here's the progress on my grafted apple tree.  So far so good!  The branches are growing and popping out leaves!  Three varieties on one tree...not bad.  I may try to graft more onto it next spring. 

I hope you enjoyed my long winded garden tour!!  If you liked it, let me know and I'll post more of them!  :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Update!


T. Rex Rider - SOLD

These cuties are ready to get out of the summer sun and into your hearts!  
Now remember... each and every piece is made with an exorbitant amount of love and joy.  
These head-turners will surely make any home shine with whimsical delight!     

As usual, this blog update offers first dibs on our new spun cotton one-of-kind figures. If you see something(s) you love, just email us at crystalandben@vintagebycrystal.com and we'll let you know if they're still available. First come first served! we'll update item status in this post as often as we can to make it easier for you to know what's available. Items often get scooped up quickly, so make your selection as swiftly as you can, you can always add available pieces to your order later.  Also feel free to include second choices in case your first choice is unavailable, but make sure you label them "second choice".  Click on photos to enlarge.

 

Shipping is $3.50 for one item and $1 per additional item up to $6.50, then additional pieces are free.  All paid orders will ship out immediately via first class mail and should arrive within a few days.  If you prefer 1-3 day priority shipping, please let us know (there will be an additional $3 charge).  We send Paypal invoices via email unless you specify that you'd rather pay via check. And of course email us if you have any questions!

Happy Shopping!



Tiger Rider - 60
Pup Riding Clown - SOLD
Miss Quincy - SOLD
Miss Anabelle - 40

Pippy Papillon (ornament) - 35
Miry Mariposa (ornament) - 35

Miss Andi - 40
Musical Molly - 45

Equine Dancer - SOLD
Snake Trainer - 38
Ring Twirl Girl - 30

Mike - SOLD
Greg - 26
Peter - 26
Bobby - 26

Carol -26
Marcia -26
Jan - 26
Cindy - 26

Yellow Mushroom - 20
Tea Stained Double Mushroom - 26
White Double Mushroom - 26
Tea Stained Mushroom - SOLD

Siamese Sammi - SOLD
Tabby Abby - SOLD
Raptor Rider - SOLD

Lion and Lion Tamer (set) - 60

Miss Aurora - 45
Miss Fawn - 48

Birthday Barb - SOLD
Party Pam - SOLD

Pagliacci -  30
Bim Bom - 30

Miss Luna - 36
Miss Liza - SOLD

Miss Matilda - 38
Miss Mona - SOLD

Miss Tinker - SOLD
Miss Geneva - SOLD

Cradle Baby - SOLD
Kay Nine - SOLD
Dog in a Shoe -SOLD

Hen and Chick - 38
Mr Frogger - SOLD
Miss Tabitha - 42
Miss Trixie - SOLD

Party Cracker Swing (ornament) -SOLD

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summer Update Sneak Peek!


Here's a little preview of what's to come for Wednesday's Summer Update!
We hope to see you here! :)


Wednesday, July 16th - here, the blog - 11:00 am EST

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer Update Announcement!

I hope you are all having a spectacular summer filled with fun, sun, and excitement!        There has been a crafting frenzy in the studio and I am thrilled to show you this fantastic collection for next week's Summer Update!  These pieces can be enjoyed all year round and without reason.  Display them whenever and wherever you wish, just because...   

Blog readers get first dibs as usual and if you'd like to be notified about upcoming blog updates and special events, just sign up for our mailing list on the right side of my blog, or leave a comment with your email address

**********************************
New one-of-a-kind pieces will be available for purchase on:
Wednesday, July 16th - here, the blog - 11:00 am EST 

Just a reminder that our email address is now crystalandben@vintagebycrystal.com

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mimi's Foxes

 My friend Mimi has been sewing up a storm and a recent trip to her blog proves it.  I am in love with all of her foxes and their amazing outfits.  Gorgeous!!  

This little guy has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and looks to be hanging out in an alley way.


 This sweet girl has an outfit I wish were big enough for me to wear.

And look at her dolly!  Sigh...

This chap is out for stroll in the jungle I think.  Perhaps on an entomology exploration.

 A brown fox wearing swans...


I don't know how many are left in her Etsy shop, but check it out!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day!!  Hope there are lots of fireworks and sparklers in your very near future!  :)

Bang, Boom, Bang!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Getting an Early Start on Halloween

 Having Ben in the studio (for almost a year now!!) has been awesome.  I'm actually getting a super early start on Halloween this year, which is something of a miracle.  And I have someone to photograph my hands when I'm working...which is always fun.

 This week I've had a troupe of papier mache character slowly come to life.  They'll be paired with some spun cotton companions.  I can't wait to see how it all comes together!

Yay!  Now time to plan for our Independence Day outing tomorrow...hehe.