I Need a Shower, a Cocktail and a Bucket of Icy-Hot Please.

Wooooo boy.

I have been unintentionally MIA recently, mostly because my workload tripled this week. This means I have been not only sick, but stressed, snarly, coughy and not fit for public consumption. I’ve even gone so far as to take a couple of vacation days next week, because my house is starting to look dirtier than the Haunted Mansion.

And that’s WITH Granny coming by and secretly doing my laundry. Sad, I know.

Despite running fever and coughing up my left lung on occasion, I still slapped on my gardening gloves and spent the weekend catching up on our various projects. We had plants that needed planting, and waiting another week was probably not a good idea. After all, when a heathen has actually gone through the trouble of planting some seeds, the least we can do as parents is plant the seedlings before they outgrow their pots:

I continue on my quest to overcome my green-thumb-of-death, but admit that it’s too soon to tell if I’ve improved on my total stupidity on all things plant-like. We had a truckload of dirt delivered to fill the remainder of our raised beds, but the closest the load could be dropped was our driveway. My poor husband has been shoveling and pushing the wheelbarrow so much that he probably needs muscle transplants; meanwhile, our driveway is still piled high with more dirt than we could ever need. Poor planning on my part, I guess. We got most of our plants in the ground, including our tomatoes:

Peppers:

Eggplant:

And herbs:

I also planted zinnias around the tomato bed, because I think I heard somewhere that they are supposed to help…help do what I have no idea….or maybe it was marigolds….oh well.

I also planted another flat and a half of various flowers, but was too tired to get the camera and walk around the yard.

So, that’s what my weekend looked like…now I just have dinner to cook, dishes to do, sheets to wash…

Or I could just fix a drink and hide in the bathtub.

Decisions, decisions……

Having a Love/Hate Relationship

Spring is here! As you can see, my dogwood tree is blooming. So are the wisteria, which I love, and the dreaded oak trees, which I hate. My car and porch are coated in greenish-yellow pollen, and as a family afflicted by seasonal allergies, our home is not the happiest place on Earth right now. Given the high cost of even over-the-counter allergy medication, we may go broke trying to keep our entire family from sniffling to death. Kleenex and ear phones are our saving grace.

The weather is gorgeous, and we are trying to make the best of it despite the fact that we all sound like someone took a blow torch to our vocal cords. On a recent trip to our local home improvement store, our kids decided that they wanted to plant something…not just anything, mind you. Ohhhh, nooooo. They wanted to plant a marigold…and only a marigold. I kid you not, you would think those heathens were angling for a puppy with the way they hounded us through the store. Given that a $1.50 marigold is a heck of a lot cheaper than a puppy (and it doesn’t poop), that was an easy request to give in to, even if I was shaking my head at two boys who seemed inordinately attached to a potted plant.

Thank goodness Venus fly traps are not indigenous to our area. Otherwise, we’d be in big trouble.

 

A little less imagination and a little more reality

Ooooh boy. It’s been a week.

After my house was felled by the stomach virus last week, both my youngest and my husband have developed some severe cold/allergy funk that has made sleep elusive for all of us.

When my youngest woke up with fever on Saturday, (and after I finished banging my head into a wall and lamenting the fact that we can’t seem to catch a break lately), my husband and I still managed to finish the raised vegetable beds we’ve been toiling with for weeks:

Yes, I realize those beds are obscenely high. In our neighborhood, the soil is hard-packed clay, and even if we will till the top layer, the ground remains inhospitable to healthy vegetables. We learned this the hard way last year, and decided to play it safe from here on out.

After my husband finished swearing at his decrepit electric drill, we planted our squash, which had quickly outgrown its’ seed-starting cups:

We had not wanted to plant any of our seedlings so soon; from the get-go, we realized that we would need a truck-load of dirt to fill all our vegetable beds, because buying bags of soil from Lowes was not economically sensible. However, I had just not gotten around to making those arrangements…I blame the stomach virus…work…solar flares…and/or wardrobe malfunctions. The squash seedlings had other plans, as well as a lack of compassion for the calamity of stomach viruses/solar flares/work/wardrobe malfunctions, so we compromised and filled one bed with too-expensive soil.

After lifting 40 bags of 40-pound soil, I am a sore, whiny wreck of a woman.

And all the sudden, my dreams of a picture-perfect garden have a nice dose of reality. I am not deterred, however.

I’ll save disillusionment for the 105 degree days of July.

Garden Fever and Manual Labor

I came home to this today:

The bulbs around the yard have started to sprout like crazy. Meanwhile, our seeds sprouted too:

And the weather this weekend looks very promising. I think we may find time to construct the raised beds we have planned for our vegetable garden. Both the landscape of our yard and the soil are not very conducive to healthy gardening, so raised beds are the best option for vegetable success. We’ve built raised beds in the past by following the easy picture tutorial from Ree Drummond, a.k.a the Pioneer Woman (http://thepioneerwoman.com/homeandgarden/2009/02/build-your-own-raised-flowervegetable-bed/). Having all the steps and materials described in layman’s terms made constructing the old beds a snap, so I bet we could knock out all four new beds in an afternoon. I may be getting overly optimistic, but I really want to conquer my green thumb of death this year.

Besides, the kids are old enough now for manual labor, and I foresee pulling weeds as the new punishment for mouthy boys.

Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

Good Weather + Ambitious Husband = Victory for ME!!!!

My husband has been busy this weekend. In an effort to stop me and the kids from slipping and sliding in the mud between our deck and the cars, he decided to recycle some paving stones the previous owners of our house left behind.

As you can see, this is a work in progress. He laid out a path from the driveway to the deck, and then another from the deck to the detached garage. He has been hard at work, digging out the squares, sinking the pavers, and leveling the whole mess off.

I helped too…that is, I kept him supplied with cocktails and tried to look far too delicate to do any heavy lifting.

Hopefully, he’ll finish this section soon, but in the meantime, I can get to my car now without my heels sinking into two inches of mud. For these small things, I am grateful.

Recycling K-Cups and Plywood into Seed-Starting Trays

A few days ago, I posted about how my husband figured our coffee K-Cups were the perfect size for starting seeds. In an effort to recycle these plastic cups, as well as the plywood scraps from our Halloween decorations, he created some impromptu trays for starting seeds. I was really impressed with what he was able to throw together, using only materials he recycled from other projects…and it gave me a good excuse to drink more coffee while I ogled him with the power tools. All we needed for this project were the K-Cups, plywood scraps, a pencil, an electric drill and a jigsaw or circular saw. We also ended up using some screws we had leftover from Halloween as well.

To get started, my husband first laid out some of our empty K-cups onto a plywood scrap in order to try and see what the best way to arrange the cups was. We wanted to maximize the use of the plywood scraps, while still giving enough room for plants to actually grow. Also, he wanted the trays to be smaller and more maneuverable, so that we could easily move them around as needed:

Once he had the design, I traced the base of the cups onto the plywood, and he drilled holes using his 1-1/2 inch drill bit:

Next, he used his jigsaw (though admittedly a circular saw would have worked too), and trimmed down the plywood scrap into a rectangle:

We used this first rectangle as a template, and quickly traced it repeatedly over our larger plywood scraps, so that we could speed up the process:

Once he had cut out the rectangles, my husband free-handed a design for legs, so that the trays would be supported and allow the K-Cups to drain well when watered. We cut out two for every rectangle:

In the meantime, I put my oldest heathen to work cleaning out all our collected K-cups and punching drainage holes in the bottom…because why have kids if you can’t make them do a little manual labor every once in a while?

Finally, my husband screwed the legs onto the rectangle, and the kids dropped in the K-Cups:

Overall, we made nearly a dozen trays in a very short amount of time, while using only materials we had on-hand. In our slow efforts to be more environmentally conscious, we’ve accomplished two goals with this project: we found a way to recycle and repurpose some things, and we are even more motivated to get our garden going this year.

As long as I keep my green-thumb-of-death contained, this should be a good year…

Thinking Spring…And Suckering My Husband.

You may remember that I got my husband this coffee maker for Christmas:

While I am still in love with it, the coffee maker also requires these little plastic cups:

That’s the part I’m not so in love with. I am by no means the princess of environmentalism, but I am a little uncomfortable with that kind of waste…even if those boogers produce the tastiest coffee I’ve had outside of a Starbucks. So, I’ve been enjoying my tasty, tasty coffee with the nagging guilt that these plastic cups are a problem.

In the meantime, I’ve had just enough time to develop amnesia about the reality of 105 degree summer days, and have yet again convinced both myself and my husband (not really), that this year, I really will overcome my green thumb of death. I look at seed catalogues, and plot about how I (i.e. my husband) can turn our yard into a Southern Living photo op.

Rather than try and talk me out of it (again), my husband looked at our pile of plastic coffee cups, and realized that they would be just about the perfect size in which to start our seeds.

See? My madness is contagious. Either that, or I have whined him into submission. Whatever the cause, he has big plans for our plastic cups, and I’ll post some pictures soon.

I now have perfectly good excuse to drink more coffee than I should…just promise to peel me off the ceiling later.

A Slice of Friday Randomness

Today was field day at Oldest’s school, which any mother knows is always barely organized mayhem. This was Oldest at the beginning of field day:

field-day-1

About ten minutes later, he started looking a little funky. Wasting no time, I hauled him out of Field Day and down the street to the doctor, because it is a universal rule that your kids will always get sick on Friday night about 10 seconds after the doctor’s office closes. Seriously. If I went back and documented all my children’s illnesses, I would bet you that at least 70% of them popped up on a Friday night. Well, this Mama is no fool, and I decided that it was worth the co-pay to make sure we weren’t spending a weekend worrying. Sure enough, after a record-speed trip through the doctor’s office, we affirmed that Oldest has an ear infection. So, for the next 10 days, he gets his juice with a pink chaser:

meds

Gag. I feel for him. Just the smell of that stuff is enough to make me cringe.

I came home to check on the garden:

tomato

But don’t worry, I kept the minimum safe distance away, and did not touch…my green thumb of death will not infect anything.

These vines on my fence were blooming:

roses

They always do right around my birthday, which is tomorrow by the way.  I like them, but they are swallowing my fence, and it may just collapse under the strain pretty soon.

I made this for dinner the other night:

chicken-cakes

It’s a Southwest chicken-something-or-other. It was dang tasty. Leave a comment if you want the recipe.

Yep, I know there is no rhyme or reason to this post. Friday afternoons are often like that around here. That is why God invented the Drive-up Daiquiri!

This concludes my rambling, Friday afternoon musings. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

I have a Green Thumb of Death

Don’t let the banner fool you. Me and Gardening?

Not so much. Those are my husband’s efforts, and they only look that pretty because I stay far, far away.

I want to be the princess of gardening, I really do. Every spring, I have visions of a beautifully landscaped yard. I want a vegetable garden that is the envy of my neighbors and capable of feeding a small army. I see pages of Southern Living dancing in my head. As a result, I end up spending a ridiculous amount of money at my local home and garden store, and getting in way over my head. It’s my own personal brand of spring fever.

Spring in Louisiana, all two weeks of it, is perfect. And its’ perfection lures me to create grandiose plans for the garden of my dreams. I fantasize, I plan and I drastically overspend, all while my husband grumbles, sighs and tries to stop the cycle of garden mayhem that strikes every year about this time.

Because said husband knows something  very, very true about me:

I have the memory of a goldfish, and a green thumb of death, both of which are not conducive to gardening.

My goldfish memory always lets me conveniently forget that spring eventually turns to summer, and in summer, Louisiana gets hotter than Satan’s sauna. Weather over 100 degrees with humidity at 100 percent…who wouldn’t want to be outside in that happy state? Me, that’s who. To make matters worse, bugs emerge that are the size of small cars, and lie in wait to attack me the second I walk outside. Giant bugs…think Mothra, but with teeth.

Heat and bugs….those are two horsemen of Bayou-Mama’s personal apocalypse.

If that were not problem enough, I always have my green thumb of death. I kill any plant I try to cultivate. I could kill a cactus because I am a gardening moron, and should have my own support group or something. Gardening apparently takes a part of the brain that I just don’t use. Or maybe it just takes someone willing to risk the heat and Mothra-size bugs with only a kinked water hose for protection.

Good thing for me, Bayou Husband is not so afflicted. Bad news for him, that just means that he gets to do all the work while I “supervise.”

 Last year’s garden succumbed to my green thumb of death, despite efforts to quarantine it from my influence. It was truly tragic, and made my husband swear off gardening forever.

So, when we planted the garden again this year (the fever is contagious by the way) we’ve tried a little experiment with raised beds for all our vegetables. I think the raised beds are to ensure that my green thumb of death is not mysteriously spread simply through the ground I walk on.

We have tomatoes:

tomatoes

Squash and zucchini:

squash

An assortment of peppers:

peppers

and a few marigolds for good measure:

029

I’ll keep you updated on the precarious progress of this year’s garden. It’s sure to be a soap opera, but I’ll try to keep the histrionics to a minimum.