Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How does the garden grow?

 Ben took advantage of the cool and beautiful day today and took some photos of the vegetable garden to show you.  And he found the first ripe tomato!!  Yay!!

 I'm very glad we kept the two trees that flank either corner of the garden.  They don't shade it much and really pin the entire garden to the landscape.  My dad teased me with the payloader when he was shaping the garden last spring...holding the bucket up to the tree and saying "knock it down, right?"  lol  Oh dad....

The garden is quite lush and I let a few native vine grow along the stone steps...

 The garden may be a little too lush!  There's scarce a place to walk in some areas.  The cabbages and parsnips didn't bother to stay within their row and are intermingling with the broccoli and brussel sprouts, which in turn are invading and being invaded by the potatoes.  It's all good though...there's not much weeding to be done when the vegetables shade the soil. 

 The dry beans seem to be doing amazing well.  I experimented by planting a big patch of beans I bought at the grocery store.  Turns out they are climbing beans, so they've flopped over and are all atangle in one big square...invading the carrots, but on all other sides keeping to themselves.  Look at the black beans!!  There are soooooo many pods and they grow plumper by the day!  I also planted kidney and pinto and they are doing fabulous too...the kidney bean pods are huge and long!

 I also planted soybeans for the first time this year.  The flowers were these queer miniscule purple things growing right out of the stalks, but alas they've finally turned into mini (and very hairy) pods! 

 Some crops have come and gone (like the spinach), and so I've sowed round two.  Spinach is finicky in the heat, but a good bunch of it has managed to pop up!  I can probably over winter it again this year.

 The tomatoes have all but taken over the garden as well.  I planted two long rows of brandywine and romas, but last year's crop seemed to want to play a part this year too and I had hundreds of volunteer plants pop up all over.  I transplanted many of them and some I staked where they grew and they are doing far better than the new tomatoes I planted.  Most of the volunteers are these small roma like tomatoes with pointy ends.  Very similar to some of the fruit we had last year...but a little bigger.  I actually like this variety....whatever it may be... It grows plentiful, is easy to pick, and I can just throw the whole thing in the food processor when making sauce...no need to take that hard stem thing out.
 Yay!!  An almost ripe one!!  It's a good thing too.  With all the rain we've gotten this summer, all the tomatoes are suffering from a fungus that I think is septoria leaf spot.  It halted during the heat wave, but seems to have started to spread again with gusto after a few rainy days.  I have so many tomato plants though that until it starts affecting the fruit itself, I should have a good harvest (fingers crossed). 

I love the round leaves of this plant...and it protects the squash plant growing next to it...the bugs don't like the smell of it.  The flowers are good in salads too.

 The sweet basil I planted from seed is doing very well...even better than last year.  I'll have to share Ben's recipe with you when we make it...it's sooooo good!!  Seriously better than any other sauce anywhere ever in the world.  And it calls for tons of fresh basil.

 My sweet neighbor shared her funny multi petaled daylilies with me last spring and they have been blooming beautifully for the last few weeks.

 The wall garden is quite overrun with plants too...mostly herbs.

 The tarragon is a huge bush now and could use a nice trim.  The oregano needs to be picked and dried.  The thyme too.  And Ben has been using the parsley quite often in his cooking...there's nothing like fresh parsley!  And it's super good for you too.

 The perennials have been taking turns blossoming all summer long and look nice as a group.

 The chickens have been enjoying the outdoors too.  Sometimes I let them into the garden, where they like to dig up my seedlings...but for the most part they have free reign of their new enclosure...safe from the foxes!  Of course they still would rather follow me around.

 After the tragic fox attack, I got three more chickens from a nearby town on craigslist.  Ben didn't take photos of them all, but Tina is a polish and is more petite and noisy than the others.  Jenny is one of my original chicks that I raised in the studio.  She's got a bit of attitude, but is still sweet.  Poor Tina though...when I first brought her home, I noticed that she was practically blind.  She kept losing the flock and calling for them in distress.  After a few days I had Ben hold her and I gave her a bit of a hair cut.  She had feathers growing directly down like window shades covering her eyes.  After a few snips she was a new chicken and went running after her flock mates.  She still can't see as well as the others, but she's does much better now. 

 Hoped you liked our little garden update!!!  :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Introducing Digital Quill!

I am proud to announce that my beautiful and talented sister Sara has just opened up an Etsy shop of her own!!  She's a bit shy about her work, although I don't know why....just look at it!  If I ever thought I was the best artist of the four of us kids, Sara trumped me by the time she was 14 or 15.  She has incredible skill in the fine arts of drawing, painting and sculpting and she's translated that skill digitally and creates most of her art on the computer using a stylus, which is like a computerized pen.
Sara is starting her last year of college this fall and decided to spend her summer creating a collection of cards and prints to sell on Etsy.  And while she hasn't listed them yet, she will also be offering custom digital people and pet portraits, which are amazing!!!  She did one of Winnie that I really need to show you!  Her collection of cards is now available in her Etsy shop, called Digital Quill, but she can also make any of her card images into frame-able, long lasting prints as well (just ask her).

These cards look so crisp and beautiful and vibrant in person and I highly encourage anyone with a friend or family member with a birthday coming up to get either her mermaid, cat and fish, or pelican card (or ask her about buying sets).  She also has several super clever just because cards.  Who doesn't love getting a card unexpectedly just 'cause?

Go check out her shop!  
 We gave the pelican to Ben's grandma and she LOVED it!

 This one is my favorite!!  Two hearts, one shell...sigh...

 A thug and his granny...swoon!

 Love comes in all forms.  :)

 This is Ben's favorite...ooh la la!

 Love love love!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Porch Makeover!

 I haven't been following the weather around the country, but here in upstate New York, we've had quite a heat wave for the last two weeks or so and it's been impossible to be outside for more than three minutes without sweating through your clothes!  All grossness aside, the weather finally broke this weekend and being outside yesterday was like heaven!  What started with me wanting to finish painting the porch pillars (which had annoyingly been a little more than half done for three weeks with two pillars done, one with one coat of paint, and the other with just the bottom outside painted), turn into a full blown porch makeover!

 I'm not a huge fan of the color of our house, so short of spending a million dollars to have it repainted, I thought adding some accents to the two toned, boring paint job on the front porch might bring me to like it more.  I painted the pillars a light yellowy cream, almost white...basically a lighter version of the yellow that is already there.  I painted the pillars and the rafters.  Easy enough and it really does make a difference, albeit subtle.  The floor still needs a sanding and painting or staining, but I'll save that for next year maybe.

 After the painting was done, I thought, 'boy there's a lot of algae on this floor and spider webs on the ceiling!)  So I hosed down and scrubbed the floor and "swept" the ceiling the best I could, trying to spare as many spider lives as I could (they live to build another web, yes).  Then I rearranged the wicker furniture. 

 Our porch is a bit tight on space and the arrangement we had before was far from great and a bit cramped.  While leg room is still at a premium, this new arrangement makes us want to invite the neighbors for some lemonade!  I spent two hours out there last night spinning cotton and watching law and order on the laptop.  Bringing up the cushions from the basement finally was also a big improvement, lol. 

 I also added a little bit more pizazz against the wall.  Like the apple tree prunings I put in an old oil can and the large round screen thingy.

 Ben helped me put up this shelf, which had been patiently sitting in the basement for quite some time.  You may remember it from this post.  I had intended to hang it on the porch since we moved in, but until yesterday I didn't have the pep in my step to do it.  Funny how once the ball starts rolling on a project, it's hard to stop it.

 The new old light and deer doorbell have been here for a little while, but now with the rest of the porch in place they really shine.  I hung a cuckoo clock pine cone to the deerbell to give it some extra heft when ringing.

 This shelf is a garden tool junk collector and was starting to look a bit messy.  I reorganized and added even more junk, but made it look intentional.  :)

 Like a seashell covered bowl filled with rusty stakes and old doodads and a super rusty old roller skate.  I found a little box filled with super rusty things in my basement a few weeks ago.  Not sure where it came from.  Either the antique junk fairy has been stopping by during the night or my memory is going at way too early an age!  lol

 I finally hung up these lanterns too.  They'll look lovely at night.

 Winnie doesn't much care how things are arranged...as long as we're happy!

 And we are!

Now I just need to get to covering those concrete pillars with stone....

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Update!

Giraffe Rider - SOLD
Holly Hoots - SOLD

I love holidays and absolutely adore decorating for them, but there's certainly something to be said about adding festiveness between holidays and really just all year long, holidays or no.  Sometimes it's a bit challenging to create without a holiday theme, since that's what I'm so accustomed to doing, but I was on a roll with all of these pieces!  There are lots of animal riders, circus acts, woodland wonders, and best friends to be had here today!  I hope you like what you see and find something to make you smile all the year through! :)

As usual, blog readers get first dibs on my new spun cotton one-of-kind figures. If you see something(s) you love, just email me at vintagebycrystal@yahoo.com and I'll let you know if they're still available. First come first served! I'll update item statuses in this post as often as I 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.  I send Paypal invoices via email unless you specify that you'd rather pay via check. And of course email me if you have any questions!

Happy Shopping!

 Fin the Fairy - SOLD
Miss Bella and her Bunny Friend (on antique tin stamp) - SOLD
Miss Margaret - SOLD
 Miss Petra - SOLD
Balancing Beatrice - SOLD
Miss Flora - SOLD

 Miss Zelda and her Zebra - SOLD
 Hansel and Gretel (on box) - SOLD
Goldilocks and the Three Bears (on box) - SOLD
 Miss Hillary - SOLD
Newton the Gnome - SOLD

 Prancing Poodle - SOLD
The Amazing Pinkerton Pups - SOLD
Richard Strongman Rhino - SOLD
 Flobo the Clown - SOLD
Misty the Entertaining Elephant - SOLD
Beachie The Clown - SOLD

 Human Cannonball Carl - SOLD
 Little Miss Penelope and her Pig - SOLD
The Dazzling Henrieta and her Horse - SOLD

 Miss Laura - SOLD
Miss Madalyn - SOLD
Miss Glenda - SOLD

The Shoe Twins - SOLD
Soaring Sally and her Birdie - SOLD

 Jack Blue - SOLD
Sherry Cherry - SOLD
Miss Jenny - SOLD

Miss Sandy Star - SOLD
Little Miss Shelly - SOLD
Miss Clara Ocean - SOLD

 Peter Bass - SOLD
Miss Polly - SOLD

  Georgie Green - SOLD
Miss Molly Mollusk - SOLD
Miss Sunny Ray - SOLD

Miss Win - SOLD
Little Kimmy and her Bird - SOLD