Sunday, May 7, 2017

How Does Your Garden Grow?

My gardens are coming along nicely now.  I have been harvesting lots of lettuce, arugula, spinach, green onions, cilantro, and herbs. 

The sugar snap peas are in bloom, and I am hoping to have lots of  those very soon.
 I have planted two varieties of beets, and they are getting close to harvest as well.
 The strawberries are yielding enough for me to munch on their sun ripened sweetness while I am out working in the garden.
I planted way  more yellow squash than we will ever consume.  And all of the plants are loaded with blooms and tiny veg.
The front garden is coming along too.  It was planted two weeks later than the back, so it is behind somewhat.  And, it isn't fenced from hungry rabbits either.  So my cabbage patch is only half the size of when it was planted, and so is the kale and sugar snap peas.

I planted both russets and sweet potatoes in the big pots out front. The sweet potatoes have taken off fast and furious. 
The russets only have one plant popping up. 
My yards are all in bloom, in both front and back.  The front is especially pretty this time of year.

 The swing in the front yard is the one from the cabin.  Many a good conversations have been had there.  And I shall always think of Nana.  She loved to sit in that swing at the cabin and wait for the lemon meringue pie to finish baking!!

Whenever I have a broken piece of pottery, or a dish I love, I tuck it down into one of my pots to continue to enjoy in the garden.

These photos were all so overexposed, it is hard to see the design on the dishes. 
Whenever I go to a garden center, I check out the clearance shelf.  Usually, these plants are need of nothing more than a good watering.  I have some beautiful hanging baskets that have been picked up for just a couple of dollars.

I think this is my favorite time for working in the gardens.  Things are at their prettiest, before the heat of the summer gets to them.  Today we are enjoying much cooler temps with scattered rain showers too.  I'll take as much as we can get. 
So, how does your garden grow?
XO Kris

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

My New Chicken Coop!!!!

Oh I have exciting news!  My new coop is built, and the chickens are all happily residing there now.  Greg spent all weekend putting the new coop together.  I had been at a home and garden tour all day on Saturday, and was delighted to come home and find it almost done!!  Then on Sunday, while I worked in my garden, he finished it up!   Would you like to see it????
It was already quite bright when I took these at 9:00 this morning.  Perhaps the evening light would have been better.  The front of the coop will be getting the morning light, but by about 10:00, will be well shaded.  They will be allowed to go to their run for full shade though, first thing in the morning.  But we are waiting for them to get a bit bigger before the run is built.  The bucket that is in left of screen is placed there to divert water from hitting the coop when the irrigation is on. 
We angled my old dilapidated swing to have full view of the coop, yet still remain in the shade of the big avocado trees.
 I have had my breakfast out here for three days in a row.
 This swing was past it's prime about 10 years ago.  We had it in the backyard, and used it a lot.   Anyway, instead of toss it out, I made a new seat for it by webbing old sheets in and out to form the seat base.  Then just added some old cushions I had.  I used quilted placemats as a soft spot for armrests.  It doesn't need a cover, as it is fully shaded here. But from time to time, I do add a canopy to it, just for pretty. It has drink holders, and a basket to hold my yarn projects, or books, or a big bag of Skinny Pop.  We use the HECK out of it!!! 
This is the side of the coop.  Three sides are fully enclosed from top to bottom, for protection.
 This is the back view.  See the little door at the bottom?  This is where they can exit and enter, once the run is in place.  I put the darling vintage sign that my friend Jane gave me, on the back.  This was her Dad's when they raised chickens.  He was a member of this Co Op. 
 I will be keeping the little brooder coop, as there are times when a chicken must be culled, for various reasons.  Plus it is an additional place to seek shelter in the event of a hungry hawk flying overhead.  The run will extend off of the back of the coop, and encompass all of this area under the shade and protection of  several large trees. 

Greg had the coop personalized for me too.  He chose this name because, although I usually go by Kris, my given name is actually Kristin.  I have been called Kristy all of my life by my family and friends since childhood.  And my middle name is Diane, after my Mom.  Hence the initial D.  Which creates a play on words for both of the names I go by, Kris and Kristy, or Kris (D) .  Pretty clever I thought.  And I loved that he thought of that for me!!!
The roof is a gambrel style, completely made of durable metal.
 There are many special features on this coop! Starting with the feeding system.  The system is designed to be able to  be away for up to a week, without your hens needing additional food or water given.  There is an exterior door just to the left of the entry door on the coop.  This can be opened exposing only the space needed to fill the dry feed hopper.  Also, a handy door to toss a handful of garden greens inside as well.   This tube funnels down by gravity, into a space at the bottom, where it only dispenses as needed, for the hens to eat.  There is a PVC cap, like a fence cap, that fits tightly down over the tube to keep is clean.  The water system is also housed in a large PVC pipe.  It can be filled from the outside of the coop, without even going inside at all.  It holds several gallons, and is only dispensed by the action of the hens touching the red nipple feeders that are at the bottom of the pipe.  Thus keeping the water clean at all times.
 The water pipe is the one with an elbow facing upward to allow for easy filling.  The cap fits tightly on pipe, keeping it totally clean.
Dry feed hopper is filled here, and then funnels slowly into a space for them to feed.

 Below, you can see the hens standing on cinder blocks to reach the red nipple water dispensers.  I sat inside the coop, taking each chick and holding her beak to the nozzle as water dripped from the spigot.  They all took to it after I showed them  They won't need the blocks to reach the water when they are full grown.
There is an attic, or loft space, with large door spanning the entire width of coop, to hold feed, hay, tools, and items needed to care for the hens.  There are also two vent holes to keep air circulating. And there were insulation doors included, in the event of cold weather, for both this door, and other doors on coop.  This is fully covered and enclosed to be kept clean.  There is a hook and eye above door to hold open while in use.
 Directly below attic space, and still sheltered from view and the elements are four night time roosting bars.
 Along span of coop at the bottom, is a day time roost.
The two nest boxes are both accessible from the inside and the outside.
I thought the egg shaped cut out was pretty cute!
This may very well be, my favorite feature of all.  Considering that my old coop was only about 4' tall, and I had to bend way over to the corner to retrieve eggs every day. 
Even though, there will be no eggs to collect until late August or September, I am sure that each feature of this new coop will make chicken keeping so much more enjoyable!  Greg really hit a homerun with this birthday present!!!  I absolutely love it, and am tickled pink to be back in the chicken raising business!  I hope you enjoyed the new coop tour!!!
Til next time....
XO  Kris

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter Celebration

Hello again!  I told you I would be back!  We had the family to our house for Easter this year.  It was a smaller group than usual, only about 20.  Some of you are gasping right now, I know.  But our usual gatherings are in the 25-30 range.  The weather was beautiful, and everyone had a really good time.  At least, that's what they told us. 
I had pinned a tablescape last year on Pinterest that I just loved.  A couple of days before Easter, I decided I wanted to duplicate that photo.  At least my version of it.  I was really pleased with the outcome.  The original had an apple green buffalo check runner.  I couldn't find buffalo check in apple green, but I found this pretty green dot fabric.  The bunnies I had, and the basket I had.  I did purchase those two ceramic vases, and used them for the candle holders.  I didn't find apple green pillars, but I found some in the right color that are battery operated.  I love them too.  They cast a flickering glow on our family room every evening from about 6-10.
 The chocolate bunny pillow I made.
 The quilted carrot I had made several years ago, and I still love it every year that I pull it out.
 I had a friend give me a bag of these pretty eggs with ribbon ties on them.  So I went into the grove and picked up some branches and stuck them down into some florist foam, setting all in an Easter tin, and topping with grass.  I distributed the pretty eggs throughout the branches for my Easter Tree.  I loved it.  The quilt on the rack behind it, is one I had made for our local quilt shop as a shop sample, and only got that returned to me recently.  I thought it was fitting for Spring.
I made a huge fresh veggie platter to snack on.  It was so pretty on a bed of lettuce, with a cabbage head hollowed out as a bowl for the dip.
 I also set out a platter of red grapes, and a block of gouda cheese, with some mounds of prosciutto alongside.  Some sesame crackers to have that with was perfect.
And then some Caprese bites, made with mini mozzarella balls, and fresh basil, and grape tomatoes, cut in half, and put on a toothpick.  I drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top.  Yummy!

Desserts were lemon cream pie, pound cake with strawberries and real whipped cream, cinnamon crumb cake, and some little coconut nests that I made.
Our meal was delicious!!  My Mom made a fabulous herbed salmon that we served ice cold.  She also brought the ham.  And I made potato salad, roasted asparagus, and everyone else brought the salads.  We had fresh fruit salad, broccoli salad, deviled eggs, and Mom's cream potatoes.
The food was delicious! 
The kids had their Easter Egg Hunt in the backyard.  Hannah got the most eggs, and Claire found the coveted Golden Egg!!

Mom hid a Golden Egg in the house, for the grownups to find. 
Gennifer was the winner of that!

Although I never got any photos of our desserts, we enjoyed them outside with our coffee as the sun was setting lower. 
A few family photos were taken.
My brother David, always the jokester, trying to get a picture with his Glennie.  She hates to have photos of herself taken!  Can you tell?

 Nephew Chad.
 Niece Deanna with her Fiance George, and Greg.
 Greg and I with son Drew.
 Drew with his new girl, Irina.
 Mom and her friend Dan.
It was a really fun day.  I spent the next day home in a chair, doing nothing.  But I am raring to go again after a little rest.  I hope all of you had a lovely Easter too.
See you soon.
XO Kris