Sunday, September 27, 2015

Community Garden: The Spoils, Part 1

Well, this has been both the itchiest and most rewarding summer I have experienced as a gardener. M and I have been enjoying lots of fresh vegetables while researching and studying really hard to make sure we are the best gardeners possible.

Everyone we meet at the community garden (there are about 60-ish plots in all, I think) has said that the first year is the worst when it comes to weeds, and we sure have been battling those. It has been really tough. We have also been battling bugs. Specifically, we had trouble with grubs and squash bugs/cucumber beetles. There are many varieties of cucumber beetle and squash bug, and they basically all converged upon our garden this summer. Our squash made it, though! Aside from a few that got wilt, we managed to make it through with most of our squash. The cucumbers made it for a while, but ultimately got wilt and didn't make it. This is to be expected- only organic gardening is allowed, which we really like.

Now for the itchy part: we were also afflicted with bug damage. The mosquitoes were terrible at our garden plot this summer! I know that the amount of bug bites I have had on my legs all summer cannot look professional in a nice dress for work... but what can you do (aside from wear terrible, uncomfortable panty hose)? Oh well.

The real champion this year was the okra! We like okra pickled and fried, and since we are in the habit of eating pretty healthy meals in our house, fried is not going to happen. Pickled it is!

Our garden is slowing down, but still going!

So far we have pickled 21 jars of okra, made 6 jars of habanero pepper jelly, and 3 jars of green tomato relish. And that is just what I have gotten to so far!

I am really proud that my habanero pepper jelly actually set! I made a failed first batch with some jalapenos. :/ There is Norman in the background!

We have given away even more okra than we have pickled!

We have grown about 15 huge zucchinis and about 8 nice-sized yellow squash, 3 butternut squash and 3 spaghetti squash. We also grew two delicata squash before the bugs got that plant too. Many of the zucchini and yellow squash got blanched and frozen for use in soups in the winter!

We have also harvested about 6 lbs of cherry tomatoes so far. Almost all of those go to making a really wonderful fresh cherry tomato sauce for pasta (I use it on baked polenta). Any green tomatoes that fall off the vine are used for green tomato relish!

Needless to say, even with the weed and bug problems we think it was a really good first year. Stay tuned for more, we are still growing!

Did you have a garden this summer? I would love to hear about it, and about how you're preserving your harvest for winter! 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

DIY Your Jewelry and Never Be Without the Perfect Accessory!

When I look around at the people I know and how they decide to style their outfits with accessories on a daily basis, it makes me realize how many different preferences there are when it comes to wearing jewelry.

Some people have matching sets to go with every outfit, some have a wide variety of costume and non-costume jewelry, and some have a few meaningful pieces that go with everything and that they never take off.

I fall somewhere in the middle. I have many pieces with meaning (like things M got me while he was deployed, or things that were my mom's when she was my age, for example), some with value and some with  not so much value, and many more costume-y pieces that I either made or just liked for some reason. I like to have a lot of options. That is why I like to make my own jewelry!

Now, I am no professional, so everything I do involves beads of some kind and very rudimentary jewelry-making practices, but I am very happy with the outcome of most of the things I make! My style is a little bit more on the classic side, so this it is easy to make some simple things that work perfectly. :)

If you want some customized creations that you can tailor to your favorite outfits (and something to keep your hands busy while binge-watching crime shows on TV), hit up the jewelry-making section at Michaels or Hobby Lobby!

Here are a few of my own creations (as you can see, I really like pearls!):

I found this cool DIY list to get you started. :)

Do you DIY your accessories? I would love it if you'd post links to your DIYs in the comments!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fabulous Fall Sweater Refashion

Fall is my absolute favorite season! I love falling leaves, cozy warm food, fall fashion, but most of all, I love the cooler temperatures (like a true Northern girl)!

I found this really cool sweater dress from the 80s (I am guessing) at my favorite thrift store in the South while visiting my granny, and I have been saving it for the cooler temperatures.

I don't think I have mentioned this before, but I usually do not try things on when I am in the store. This is especially true if they are cheap like the "stuff a bag" thrift store I love, and anything that is inexpensive. If I am in an actual store, I will try things on. :) In the case of this particular sweater-dress, I tried it on when fall was approaching and realized that the top fit perfectly, but the hips and butt were a little too tight for what I like, so I thought it would make a wonderful sweater!

I love the pattern, it is just 80s enough. I also love the sleeve length and the little front buttons. There is a bonus... it has pockets!

Since it is knit, and me + knit almost always equals a disaster when using the sewing machine, I tried something new. I folded the bottom raw edge over once and used the sewing machine on it. As expected, it was really uneven and unsteady-looking. After that, I folded that end over one more time and sewed it by hand with a whip stitch from the inside. That worked marvelously! I love this sweater.

Since the bottom of the dress didn't fit, I took the before picture on my dress form.

You'll have to pardon my use of bathroom selfies... I haven't worn this sweater out yet (because it has still been a little too warm, darn it!), my sweet husband wasn't awake yet to take a picture, and I was just so excited to share it with you! :)

Look how cool the pockets are!

I love the henley-type buttons on the top!

Are you doing any fall refashioning? I would love to hear about it!