Friday, July 31, 2009

And the Winners Are...

Wow guys! Last time I did this, there were just a few more participants than "winning" I went ahead and made EVERYONE a winner. Tricksy, right? I just never posted a "these are the winners" list, but rather proclaimed "Congrats to our winners, I've contacted you!" :) Oh I know- I'm a rotten lying scoundrel.

But with 22 participants, I just can't do it! Thank you to EVERYONE who participated!

So. Here's the list- please write to me at madebymyrnie(at)gmail(dot)com and let me know your shipping address :) If I have your e-mail I'll try to contact you that way, too. If I don't...and I don't hear from you...well, I picked some extra names. And to everyone who didn't get picked this time... I love giveaways, I'll do another soon!

11 Ticia
14 Sarah
13 Anna
22 Alexandra
10 Nikki

There was also lucky #18 Anonymous...but since the comment was signed off as "The Husband"...well, there's a batch of cookies on the counter :)

So! Ticia, Sarah, Anna, Alexandra, and Nikki... let me know where to ship your loot!


Monday, July 27, 2009

Gardening 101: How to Prune

By request from a good friend, here are a few pointers on pruning. What we're looking at here is basil.

So. On almost every plant you'll come across-- bush, tree, or flower-- you need to be careful where you cut. On basil, at the base of every set of leaves you'll see dormant leaf buds. You can see them in the picture below, although in our recent heat wave they've opened. If you prune basil back to just above (maybe a 1/4 inch) above a set of leaves, these dormant leaf buds will be activated, and will grow into TWO new stalks. (Like a hydra, but yummy.) This holds for trees and bushes too- wherever you cut, that branch will die back to the first set of dormant buds, which will sprout out. To minimize dead plant matter, and the chance for disease, cut close to a set of dormant buds. Of course, if you're pruning something like boxwoods or other thick hedge shrubs, just go ahead and shear it- it will be so bushy, and the leaves are so close together, this really won't matter. But it WILL be bushy.

***This is a good trick if you want your azaleas to be a MASS of flowers, for about a week, in the spring. Shear them into a uniform shape and watch the show next spring! It will all be over in about a week, but it's very impressive. Of course, azaleas not pruned like this will flower for an extended amount of time, as different flowers mature and die. Your call.***

***This is also a good trick to remember for flowers. When they're young, pinch them back to 2 or 3 leaf sets a time or two before letting them grow big, and you'll have nice bushy flowers. Great for fuchsias!

I think the reason these opened is that we're in a heat wave, and the plant is doing everything in its power to produce flowers and reproduce before it dies.

You can see the flowers in the second picture. However, in herbs, lettuces, and other plants we want for their leaves and not their flowers, we don't WANT them to flower. The plant will put all available energy into flower production, leaving the leaves bitter and woody. So make sure you harvest well before that point! The same is true for root vegetables- if your radishes or turnips flower, you might as well put them in the compost pile. I don't know if they can be saved by pinching back the flowers.

So there you go. When cutting plants, cut close to a leaf set or branch, to encourage bushy growth, head off unwanted flowering, and minimize chance for infection to your plant.

Oh, and make pesto. Lots and lots of pesto.

PS- If you're growing cilantro, go ahead and let it flower at the end of the season so you can harvest coriander.

PPS- I let my lemon balm flower this year, as I can never figure out a way to use it. Can anyone disabuse me of this notion?

PPS- Don't forget to sign up for the giveaway! Deadline is Friday :)
Posted by Picasa

It's Giveaway Time!

I've been thinking it's time for another giveaway...and I opened my reader this morning to find a five-for-five giveaway! It's meant to be, don't you think?

So come on- throw your hat in the ring! Oh, and because i'm a rebel and a mom and an oldest child, and I had to throw out my entire harvest of lettuce (so THAT'S what it looks like when it bolts!) I'll draw five random names from the comments AND subscribers. Meaning, if you're a subscriber you're already entered once. Oh, and if you don't actually want to host a giveaway...that's cool too. I won't tell. Life's tough enough without every gift having strings attached :)

I'll pick five names on Friday, July 31st!

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. Whatcha get is whatcha get.
2. What I create will be just for you, with love.
3. It’ll be done this year (2009).
4. I will not give you any clue what it’s going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. Or it may be monstrous and annoying. Heck, I might bake something for you and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that’s for sure!
5. I reserve the right to do something strange.
6. In return, all you need to do is post this text on your blog and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to your blog post.
7. Send your mailing address – after I contact you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Amanda Barnes Smith

June 24th is celebrated as Pioneer Day- the day that the pioneer members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints entered the Salt Lake Valley, in what is now Utah. They didn't know where they were going, they only knew they would go as far west as they had to to escape the mobs and hatred they left behind in the East. The story goes that when they rolled into the valley the current prophet, President Brigham Young was ill and laying in his ox-drawn wagon. When he saw the valley he raised up and said "This is the place." So there they stopped!

***(Yes, Joseph Smith was our first prophet. He was murdered by a mob in 1844, so President Brigham Young became the second prophet and led the early church members. Our current prophet is President Thomas Monson, the 16th prophet of the church.)***

***(Did you know that in 1846 the Governor Lilbrun Boggs of Illionois issued an extermination order against the Mormons? Kill on sight, and it wasn't repealed until someone said oopsie in 1976? True story!)**

This is a story from a woman I'm descended from, Amanda Barnes Smith. She had 11 children, so a LOT of people are descended from her! (Like Wonder Daddy. Yeah, I was pretty surprised to find THAT out! Good thing she's a good few generations back, eh?)

My dad scanned these and sent them over- enjoy! It's an amazing story. When I think about what others have gone through so that I can enjoy the freedom that I have, it just about breaks my heart open with gratitude.

Now, because I'm curious, leave a comment if you learned anything! My parents have been traveling back and forth from Utah this summer, and were surprised to find out that most of the locals who don't belong to our church have no IDEA why there are so many Mormons in Utah. I guess that part of our national history gets dropped in most classes, eh?

Below is a PDF of her story- if it's blank, wait a few minutes for it to load, it's linked to from a host site.

height="500" width="100%" > value="">

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cool to Touch: Cornstarch Goop

Another fun kitchen-table project: cornstarch goop! It's just half a box of cornstach, mixed with enough water to make it fun.

Ernie liked to take up gobs of it, then carefully peel everything into our cup of water.

The finished product

I can't really describe how weird this stuff is. There's very little mess, since whatever is on your hands quickly dries to powder. You can easily grab a handful and make a firm ball in your hand, and it snaps apart when you bend it...then starts oozing. Just cool!
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How You Know You're a Parent

Wonder Daddy and I were lying on the hide-a-bed, testing to see if friends coming to stay tonight would be comfortable.

Staring up at the ceiling, Wonder Daddy snorts.

"THAT would be a bad idea."

"What would?"

"I was going to say (scrunching his hand towards me) 'I'm gonna get your belly!'"

"Huh. Yeah. Don't do that."

Happy Sunday everyone!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to Make Plastic Dolls Wonderfully Modest

File this under "another messy project that didn't make a mess."

Ernie pulled out her princess dolls yesterday, and I remembered that Miss Ariel had a shocking lack of upper-swimsuit. Time for Mama's Big Box of Paint!
Ernie picked a color, and I painted a top on our under-dressed heroine. Ernie wanted shorts on her, too, because every one knows that we ALWAYS wear shorts with swimsuits. So now, our tiniest mermaid has a full-on unitard!

After I finished painting, I started spreading the leftover paint around the paper plate I use to hold my colors, and Ernie wanted to finish for me. Then she wanted another color. Then another. Before I realized it, my four-year-old was painting with a REAL brush, using REAL acrylic paints...and you know what, nothing bad happened!

After the plate was full, she moved on to painting a page from her watercolor painting book, and that DID get a little messy, but only because she wanted to paint to the very bottom edge of the paper and ended up sticking her wrist to the paint 10 or 15 times. But acrylic washes up with water when it's wet, Ernie had a blast, and I had 15 minutes to get dinner started. (Recipe to follow- I can't believe I haven't shared this with you guys!)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cheap, Easy, Edible Fingerpaints

Another project with colors, but MUCH goopier than last time!

I found the idea at Making Do With the Not So New. Throw some flour in a bowl, add a bit of water and food dye, and go to town! We made this in the morning, and Ernie came back to it three or four times. It was totally fun to touch, and we painted on cookie sheets so it was easy to wash up. Each bowl had a 1/4 cup of flour, and two "shhhhhhhhps" of water :) She made pictures, and practiced mixing colors together to make new shades.

It was fun to work with, and as the day progressed the gluten kept developing...and developing...

By the end of the day, it was a total gloppy mess...and SO much fun. We didn't clean up until each bowl had been emptied onto her tray! Total sensory BLISS!

A note about clean up: this stuff was so snotty, I just scraped it into the trash can. It's possible it wouldn't have gummed up my pipes...but then again, it's possible it might have! That said, this was a breeze to clean up. It didn't stain her fingers, or our wash cloths even.