Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Garden Kneeler

I used to have a little foam mat that I would grab to kneel on as I reached into my garden beds in spring when the ground is typically muddy.  Last year, the mat finally became trash; I can't even quite recall how, but I think it involved the children's play.

I would never buy such a thing now, so I made one with materials I had on hand (not going anywhere or buying anything much besides food because pandemic). I had a scrap of shower curtain, some outdoor fabric pieces, and an old life-preserver my father-in-law gave me filled with kapok. Kapok, I learned, is fluffy stuff from a tree that grows in the rainforest.

I first sewed a bag out of the shower curtain and filled it minimally with kapok.  I wanted some softness, but not a fat pillow.  Then I encased the whole thing in the striped outdoor fabric.  I meant to put a loop on one end for easier grabbing and carrying, but oh well: such is the state of my brain these days.

My rhubarb is coming out strong.  I just planted it last summer, so this is the first spring I will be able to harvest it.  I am thrilled!

I babied an expensive little clematis last year, and it appeared to die in August.  Oh, I was mad.  Now, something green and viney is coming in that space and I think it's the clematis! In this strange spring, I want all the green, growing hope I can find.

Here is Genevieve's new bunny, just a few months old, a mischievous little sweetie.  Genevieve named her Daisy Augusta Saoirse Diamond, and is entirely responsible for her.  There is so much joy in this relationship!  Daisy's poop is going be great in the garden.

I've planted spinach and snow peas in the raised bed, as well as spinach in some containers out front. I also snagged some basil and parsley seeds at the grocery store.   This is really all the room I have to start seeds in a sunny location; the rightful occupants of this windowsill are visiting other windows in the house. 
I'm relieved that my summer seeds arrived yesterday - I had gotten an email saying they would be delayed indefinitely - so I am trying to be on track with the garden and trying to continue learning. Seems like a good year to grow more of our food.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

My Florida Skirt

This post has literally nothing to do with COVID-19; it is just me getting around to blogging this skirt I made in January.

The best everyday tablecloths I have found are twin sheets from thrift stores.  And one day in November, I came across this ridiculously wonderful queen-size flat sheet with lemon trees, orange groves, egrets, bunnies, and red-roofed Spanish-style villas.  I held it in my hands and could not even guess what I wanted to do with it, but it had to come home with me.  

In December, my husband wangled a way for me to go to Florida with him on a business trip in January.  Suddenly, I realized that I needed to wear that sheet somehow.  I chose a full circle skirt to get as much of that declarative, whimsical print on display as possible. 

I've made half-circle skirts before, but the volume of a full circle skirt really gave me the giggles.  I used an entire package of "spruce green" bias tape on the hem and had to finish with a scrap of blue, which means the bottom circumference of this skirt is about 6 yards.  Six yards of swish at my legs!  Delicious.
The little scraps left from hemming.

I really like the side closure on this skirt that includes the pocket.  It was fairly easy to do. I had some difficulty getting the waistband just the right size - first it was too tight, then I pieced in some ease and it was too big.  But this print serenely disguises lots of things and keeps up the blue sky.

I got to wear my circle skirt for a beach walk and dinner on the deck, although I was shivering by the end because Florida in January is not really balmy and there was a sharp breeze off the Tampa Bay.  But I'm a Northerner and I wanted to wear my Florida skirt in Florida.  Spring is gently rising around us, and I am eager wear this skirt soon again.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Home-All-Day Beans

Now we are home all day, every day, thanks to COVID-19.  I'm a little distracted and I'm prone to teariness - is that what you're doing? I start something, walk off, and do something else, and stare into space, and burst into tears.

We are playing board games, doing chores, watching movies, eating our normal good food with extra desserts (morale booster!), and deliberately, consciously, running around in the fresh air every day. I am an introvert and a homebody, so overall, if I don't look too hard at what is causing this situation, I'm content to cuddle down and nest with my dear ones. 

So, the beans. I actually don't have a photo of these beans because they only look like black beans, a little bit soupy. Enjoy these photos of Phoebe playing her daddy Uno instead!

As I put the beans in my slow cooker this morning, I realized they are just absolutely what I want to be cooking in this strange time.  They are forgiving of my distraction, they do well with little check-ins throughout the day but they're fine without, they might get done early if the beans are fresh and then they can sit and wait for dinner.  They use pantry staples, and they are cheap and nutritious. They don't make a big mess, which is lovely because even though I have time - lots of time! -  to clean up the kitchen, I'd rather be sewing.  These beans are the kind of  simple, fundamental food we didn't realize we were craving.  They are creamy and salty and while they have flavor, they can be a side dish or the main dish of a meal.  Tonight we ate them spooned over cornbread with a crunchy purple cabbage salad with cilantro and lime and frying cheese. Also great next to garlicky greens and mac and cheese, or over rice with salsa.

Home-All-Day Beans
Put 1-3 cups dry beans, whatever color you like, in slow cooker in morning (I typically do 2 cups black beans in my 4-quart cooker).  Add water to cover by an inch or so.  Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil, a few shakes of cumin, a sliced garlic clove or two - I just slice it in my fingers with a paring knife, very quick and casual.  Turn on High. In an hour or so, stir the beans, add a little more garlic or cumin, and keep it all cooking.  I check on the beans intermittently, tasting and adding more garlic and cumin if I feel moved, and when they are almost soft, I add salt (the experts vary on when to salt cooking beans - eye roll - I get contrary sometimes and add it whenever I want to).  Sometimes I turn the cooker down to Low.  Sometimes I take the lid off mid-afternoon if the beans have more liquid than I meant them to have.

Phoebe lost the Uno game, can you tell? Be well, friends. Let's keep in touch and lift each other up.