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Harvesting Apples

October 12, 2013

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Am I the only one who finds grocery store produce bland? For years, I never noticed how bland and uninteresting that shelf-laden stuff is until I planted my own stuff. I just ate it (or my dad forced me to eat it!) and thought nothing of it.

But what a difference your own produce makes!

Homegrown apples

These are apples we collected from our “small” apple tree. They are the Jonathan variety. It’s taken the tree forever to grow, because it’s been outright warfare, beating back the herds of deer that annually chowed down on the tree. But that little tree kept growing, kept trying to keep enough bark and leaves to produce something.

VICTORY!!!

And now the house smells like apples. Oh, my goodness. Have you ever smelled freshly picked apples before??? It’s good. They say the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, hahah! I’m so glad I planted my apple trees. The fruit is mighty scraggly because we also have to contend with the wasps and bunnies and fruit flies as well as the deer, but it looks like there is finally enough fruit for all to share.

And once we peel the skin and sink our teeth into the sweet flesh… it’s simply wonderful. What a difference from the grocery aisle!

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Find the Kitty Friday… 11/12

November 13, 2010

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Sorry I’m late with this one! Where could she be?

FTKColorful Blanket

I love this photo. I usually take such “industrious” photos, and not very arty. But this one I like. Maybe it’s because of the color, or perhaps it’s the crystal-clear foreground and slightly hazy background. It looks so arty! I actually shot a nice photo!

It’s getting colder and colder now, here in Upstate New York– however, with temperatures in the mid-50s during the day, it’s actually unseasonable warm for this time of year. I am mostly comfortable with these temperatures, so I like this weather. It’s dry, it’s clear, it’s invigorating!

But we still have no heat downstairs. :O The Hubs has been too busy with work to do anything. And so have I. .. I love writing and blogging, but I can’t put all my eggs in one basket; I need to diversify. I figure I should work for a good year or so to pay off this kitchen; once that’s done, I’ll start the new project (garage and bedrooms renovations). Then, the house will be completed, Lord willing, and I can restore the exterior of the house and build some nice gardens. Here’s hoping I can get all this done before I turn 50….

I’m chatty today, aren’t I? It’s quiet in the house. The sun is mellowly shining with late autumn sunbeams, the kids are huddled in blankets doing homework. Livvy is curled up by my side. It’s a nice day, conducive to relaxing chat.

How is your season turning out? Have you completed your fall chores and are you ready for winter?

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Just a Little Walk Around the Gardens

October 26, 2010

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We’re in the bowels of autumn now. I tore myself away from the computer to go out and see how my gardens have been doing. I ignored them ALL spring and summer. Thank God gardens bounce back. I will attend to them in the spring.

My Secret Garden looks very forlorn.

DampLeafyArbor

Leaves collecting on the porch steps. I had every intention of painting the porch this summer, but the kitchen renovation got in the way. lol. I am glad we did the kitchen, though. It needed it. The porch can wait.

LeafySteps

My turtleheads are tired. Their bloom time was short this year. I hardly noticed.

TurtleheadTired

The Rose of Sharon pods. I love Rose of Sharon, but woo! can it spread. I did not pull out all the little saplings that shot up over the summer. Its gonna be fun yanking them out next spring. Looks like more are on the way, too. I like Rose of Sharon because the bushes grow thickly and shield the view of the neighbor’s buildings.

RoseofSharonPod

Overgrown Swiss Chard in the garden.

OvergrownChard

And poor, poor Livvy, stuck in the house while the leaves are having all the fun!

LivvyStuckinHouse

How does it look where you are?

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Cuddles

October 23, 2010

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Aww. I snapped this photo the other day.

CozywithKitty

It’s been a chilly week, as evidenced by the heater, blanket, and cuddly kitty. I hadn’t turned the heat on at all upstairs, and was surprised to see the thermometer read 49 degrees in one of the rooms! Weird thing is, the weather dudes are predicting we will experience a mini-heat wave with Tuesday perhaps getting up to 70!

I am happy to see the temps go up a little, still. I have to install exterior trim around the window, and would prefer to do it in above-freezing temperatures.

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Couldn’t Wait…

October 20, 2010

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I hung my beautiful giant clock up in the kitchen. I had promised myself to wait until the kitchen was completely finished, as a means of motivating me to keep on keeping on with this endless project, but I just couldn’t wait. I couldn’t!! The clock was BEGGING me to go up on the wall.

BigKitchClock

The thing is huge, and weighs perhaps 20 or 30 pounds. I was no mean feat hanging this sucker. Because there is no central stud on this wall, I had to cut open the drywall, insert a block of wood between the two flanking studs, and patch the drywall back in. It took about 4 days (spackle had to dry, we had to repaint the area, etc etc). But FINALLY, it is up! I absolutely love it.

It goes with the kitchen design so well, has that bronze-y finish and an “Old World” feeling. It matches the ceiling fans exactly.

Below the clock will be a long mantle-like shelf. My iPod dock will sit on it. Yes! We got an iPod dock! My Hubs picked it, and it is really high-quality. I’ll have more on that, later. And oh yeah- under this mantle shelf will go a heater… whenever we get those installed. ๐Ÿ˜ The forecast calls for flurries on Friday! I’m a little nervous because the basement window is still not filled in, and we have no gas lines for heaters yet. :S Both The Hubs and I have been totally swamped at work, and have absolutely no free time at all. *sigh*

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Plugging Holes For Winter

October 19, 2010

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I’m busy trying to get all my Internet writing work done these days, and at the same time, scrambling around trying to winterize before the snow falls (which, they say, will occur Friday morning). Eeep! I’m not ready for winter. I mean, I’m READY— there’s nothing I’d like more than to cozy up in front of a toasty fire, cuddled up with cat and blanket. But we have a LOT of loose ends to wrap up before anything cozy goes on in this house. For one, there’s this:

Basement Window2

Yes, that’s a hole in my basement window. The window fell out.

BasementWindow1

That’s the original 1855 basement window. The old cut nails are still in it. It had been patched at some point in the past 100 years or so, but I’m amazed it’s lasted this long. We have a few other ones that are seeing their demise, now.

Rather than figure out how on earth to replace the window (and figure out how we’d afford the custom craft), we decided to close off the window. This area of the house is extremely soggy, and water tends to pool beside it. Instead of exacerbating a water problem by keeping a hole here, closing off the window will seal out the moisture. Next year, we’ll remove all the top soil and lay a slab of concrete, to further direct water from the roof from collecting here.

I’ve got some kids who help me haul the concrete, and mix it. Yay!

BasementWindow3

I lay a thin layer of sand mix to give the cinder blocks something to grab as they sit in there. After the first row of blocks, I fill them with concrete. Then I slather another layer of sand mix, and add another row of blocks. I will eventually smooth out the entire side, to make the wall look seamless.

This is just the first row of blocks. I have since added two, and need to wedge in a narrow third before the window is entirely sealed off. Problem is, I’ve been SO swamped with work that I haven’t been able to get back out to the project.

BasementWindow5

I’d better hurry. We have a mass of water and drain pipes right in front of this hole. God forbid they should freeze.

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Signs of Autumn

October 15, 2010

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The fall season is so brief here in the Northeast; at least, it has been for several years now. The days are gloomy and rainy, and the winds blow off the leaves before we have much of a chance to enjoy the brilliant colors. Winter will soon be here! The temperatures have been unseasonably chilly. I still have a slew of winterizing yet to do. And we don’t even have the heating system installed downstairs yet! :-O I also have to tuck in my flower beds in for their long winter’s naps. So much to do, and so little time to do it.

So the signs of autumn are quickly blending into the signs of winter.

Mottled sunshine on a frosty lawn.

Fall_MottledSun

Long shadows.

Fall_Bunny

Colorful trees. These are Sugar Maples. They usually turn a brilliant orange in the fall, but oddly, this year they are yellow. Don’t know why. All the rain, maybe?

Fall_Trees

Dried, bald-headed Susans in the flower beds. I really need to get out there and clear out the gardens. I am usually much more “on the ball” with such things. After the summer-long renovation and my intense work load, I am not motivated, nor do I have much time.

Fall_Susans

Just a taste of the raking chores yet to come. But the smell of leaves is marvelous.

Fall_leaves

Livvy watching leaves fall.

Fall_Livvy

So how is your autumn “turning” out? Are you busy with preparations, or are you relaxing after a busy summer?

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Weedly

October 5, 2010

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I had very few garden updates this year. No wonder:

weedly2

weedly1

Egads, YES, that is my garden. We DID plant a vegetable garden this year… not that you can tell, hahah! In there somewhere are cucumbers (probably moldy from the torrential rains we’ve had) and red cabbage. The crops were poor, for the first time since I’ve had a garden. I’m not quite sure why, actually; the seeds were “OK,” but not all sprouted. And the rains were horrific this spring. We did keep the garden weeded now and then… but since August, we haven’t had the time to yank up our breeches and delve into the dirt. Such is neglect. My poor, poor gardens…

I had taken such careful attention for all my gardens in years past; to see this one in such great disrepair is a little disheartening. It’s filled with tares, burdock, and sorrel, as well as some kind of wacky wild geranium plant that has taproots to Hades. It will NOT be fun excavating this next year.

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Raking Season Almost Over

November 2, 2009

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We had some terrific windstorms last week and over the weekend. We usually do every late October/early November. What a site! People’s trash cans, litter, assorted clothing and tarps.. everything that wasn’t nailed down was blowing around the neighborhood. :S

Despite the inconvenience, the winds are nice because they usually blow off the last of the leaves, the ones that have been tenaciously clinging to life on the trees. This comes just in time, just as we down below are sick and tired of wondering how many more days we’re stuck raking raking raking. So the leaves blew down, finally, and we have only a little bit of the final raking to do. I’m glad the kid like to rake… but me thinks they fool around too much while they do so. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here’s the leaf sphinx that preoccupied them for an afternoon:

Leaf Pyramid

It takes a while to rake up the yard– usually about 3 weeks, on and off. I think we finally got all the leaves out of the Secret Garden area. Here are before and after photos.

Autumn Arbor3

Autumn Arbor1

Still left to do: prune and clip perennials (which look very messy not that they are withered and brown), bring in the garden hose, clean out the shed and get out the winter tools, prepare the pets’ homes for winter, and… reinstall our big automatic garage door, which broke. ๐Ÿ™ One of our kitties lives in the garage, and since the door broke and had to be removed, he’s been chilly in his home. I hope we can get all this stuff done before the snow flies! How about you, how are you doing with your final preparations for winter?

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Bug of the World

October 24, 2009

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Have you been invaded by ladybugs lately? We have. Last week the temperatures were below freezing; but this week, it’s been very mild– near 70 degrees today! And all this week that the temps have raised, the ladybugs are EVERYWHERE. We had a swarm swirling around our back door and our living room window. A few dozen have sneaked in the house, somehow. Livvy finds them entertaining.

LivvyBug

Bugs in Wind

I guess we’re not alone. My fellow New Yorkers have been inundated with ladybugs, too. The bugs even made the nightly news at 9wsyr!!

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – We’ve gotten calls and emails from many of you wondering what’s going on with an infestation of ladybugs and other types of beetles.

It’s the time of year for them to find shelter, but some years are worse than others, especially if the population had a strong summer.

Central New Yorkers join people from Illinois to Massachusetts in dealing with swarms of ladybugs, most of which are seeking the sunniest parts of peopleโ€™s homes.

โ€œSome of them will have lots of black dots and some of them will have almost no dots,โ€ says Cornell Cooperative Extension entomologist Kim Adams.

But there are similar species who are also making their presence known, particularly the box elder bug.

Yeah, we’re also getting a lot of the chinch bugs here– and they are not anywhere as cute as the ladybug. They are actually pretty creepy; good thing they crawl slowly– I can squish them easier. I don’t squish the ladybugs, though. Ladybugs are good for the garden. I remember as a girl, my mother purchased some through a mail-order gardening catalog. After a few weeks waiting, a small box came in the mail. When she opened the box, billions of ladybugs emerged from the box and poured into the yard. What an experience– bugs in the mail! I’ll never forget that sight of the boxful of a red, squirming mass with gazillions of little black legs.

They’ll go away soon, once we no longer have any warm or sunny days.

But if you just can’t stand to wait, Adams recommends you use the vacuum cleaner to collect them, and then release them outside.

โ€œI don’t recommend using any sort of pesticide in your home,โ€ says Adams.

Ladybugs in particular will stain fabric if you crush them, but these insects are not endangered, so the choice is yours.

I don’t mind them. I won’t kill them. But they are INTENT on suicide missions, it seems. They divebomb for spots under our feet as we walk, or cuddle around the bases of light bulbs in the lamps only to be fried with a disconcerting ZZZZAPPP, or make their way into Livvy’s paws and mouth. Oh well.

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