Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Mini Arctic Bouquet

Look! I made a tiny bouquet of tiny arctic flowers. The "vase" is a souvenir Iqaluit shot glass.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Secrets of Crop Rotation

While feeding my current obsession with edible landscaping (from Nunavut...), I came across a fascinating page from Designing Edible Gardens on how and why to rotate you vegetable crops. It all finally makes so much sense!

There are 4 phases to crop rotation:
Year 1: Leaves (lettuce, cabbages, etc.). These will feed on high nitrogen levels in the soil
Year 2: Fruits (tomato, peppers, squash, cucumber, etc.). These don't like nitrogen as much, and will feed on phosphorus in the soil
Year 3: Roots (onions, carrots, beets, etc.). The root vegetables will take the last of the phosphorus from the soil
Year 4: Rebuild (peas, beans, etc.). In year 4, you plant vegetables that increase the nutrition of the soil, fixing nitrogen, etc.
There's a lot more to it than this, but it clarified crop rotation quite a bit for me. There is also the option of mixing plants together (one that needs high nitrogen with one that fixes nitrogen in the soil, for example), but that's another matter, and one I'm not yet too familiar with.

On that topic, my copy of Rosalind Creasy's Edible Landscaping has arrived in Vancouver and is waiting for me to come home! 2 more weeks, and I'll get to read all about it and look at the piles of beautiful pictures... So close...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Make Cheese? Make Cheese!

I always thought that making cheese was a long, drawn out process (that must be why it's so expensive, right?), until I saw this tutorial on how to make your own ricotta cheese, from Lex. Who knew it was so simple?

And then I found you could make your own cottage cheese, or paneer. Also awesome. I must look into this whole cheese-making business.

After making cheese, you end up with whey - milk plasma. It can be used to substitute milk in baking; apparently it works well in biscuits or bread. I imagine it would be excellent for pancakes, as well. There is also a recipe for whey wine on the Wikipedia article that, though I have no idea how it will taste, I am strangely compelled to try...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Muslin beginner

I been sewing for years, but am only just cluing in to the concept of using a muslin to fit a pattern.

The term muslin (or toile) refers to both a test/trial version of a sewing pattern for fitting purposes. It also refers to the cheap un-dyed cotton fabric frequently used for this purpose. Old sheets can also be used (hooray for re-use!)

The bonuses of using a muslin include that you can fit a pattern without ruining your more expensive fashion fabric, plus you can keep the muslin fabric to be used again later as a pattern perfectly fitted to you.

Since the muslin doesn't need to be finished, just fitted, it goes together fairly quickly. Plus, if something is too small, you can just cut it and sew in a strip of fabric - the look is not what's important, just the shape.

I am looking forward to getting home to my sewing machine and putting this practice into use. while in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, I bought tons of lovely cottons in the markets there that I am dying to put to use. Many of my previous patterns I have put days and days of work into, only to be unhappy with the final fit. I am hoping that a few hours sewing a muslin will keep this from happening too much in the future...

Abu Dhabi Cottons:
So fun and colourful, and some were as cheap as ~$1.50/m!! I <3 shopping in Abu Dhabi...

I recently found this post through the ever-fabulous Gertie, and fully intend to use the resources mentioned, especially the website.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Edible Landscaping = Very Yes!

I love gardens. Unfortunately, I live in an apartment with a small patio, and I am out of town for work for the greater part of my summers, but I dream of the day when I will have a yard and will be able to have a garden of my own. What will I put in it? Will it be ornamental? Or full of delicious herbs and vegetables?

I have been realizing lately that, when that day comes, I may not have to decide between the two. After hearing about Julie Bass in Oak Park, Michigan facing jail time for planting a vegetable garden in her front yard (after the city forced her to rip up her lawn, no less), I began to look into how to make edible gardens aesthetically appealing as well. Read her blog on the experience here.

I came across the book Edible Landscaping by Rosalind Creasy. The images I have seen are so beautiful - to think you can eat (almost) everything in the garden! I immediately bought the book; it will be waiting for me when I get back home. I can't decide if this is great planning, or just teasing myself...

I also was directed to this wonderful page at the Dave Wilson Nursery all about growing orchards in your yard. What a wonderful way to enjoy delicious fruit and a beautiful tree!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Knit daisies - so cute!

When I get back in to civilization, I HAVE to make some of these knit gerber daisies. They are so colourful and long-lasting (and the pattern is free!)