Pumpkin Parade

Happy Halloween! When we carve Halloween pumpkins around our house, we are a bit non-traditional and steer clear of the typical "scary pumpkin face." As I was looking at these pictures I realized we must have a thing for Halloween cats. It seems to be a recurring theme. Please enjoy a pumpkin parade from Halloween's past.

The Halloween Cat

Bats and Another Cat
Silly ;P and, oh yeah, a cat

The Frightful Denver Bronco

Bats and an Arizona Full Moon

Enjoy trick-or-treating this evening. Don't eat all of the kids' candy!

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Fettucine Alfredo with Fresh Basil



Master chef I am not. But even I get inspired to cook once in awhile when I have a garden full of fresh herbs. This year I planted, Thai basil, sweet basil, hot and spicy oregano, English thyme, chives and dill. There's also some mint that I can't seem to ever get rid of.

I have two kinds of tomatoes growing in the garden, too. There aren't any tomatoes in this recipe, but they are in the picture of the garden, so I thought I would mention them.







The tomato plant on the right is nursery grown celebrity tomato that I planted a few weeks ago. The tall, ugly one on the left is my own perpetual cherry tomato plant. It started growing out of my compost bin a couple years ago. I transplanted it into the garden and it has been producing tomatoes ever since, except in June-September when it just looks hot, dry and mostly dead.





On to the recipe. I have made this recipe before with dried basil and it's fine, but fresh basil really makes the flavors pop. (My daughter thinks this dish tastes even better with bacon crumbled on top, but being a vegetarian, I pass on the bacon.) Here's the printable Fettuccine Alfredo recipe in case you want to give it a try.

½ lb. dried fettuccine, uncooked
¼ c. butter
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ small yellow onion, diced
½ t. salt
handful of fresh basil, washed and torn into small pieces
2 c. cream
2 c. fresh grated parmesan

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, onion, salt, and basil. Cook until mushrooms are a dark brown stirring occasionally. Slowly add about half of the cream while stirring. Stir in parmesan a little at a time so that it completely melts before adding more. Continue gradually adding cream and parmesan until the sauce is thick and creamy. Cook until the cheese is completely melted.

Drain pasta.

Serve the sauce over pasta. Garnish with one or two fresh basil leaves.

Makes about four servings.

It's a fresh, filling, fall meal. Enjoy!

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Fun Find Friday

'Botanical garden in autumn' by oktak


flowers photography -  nature print flower art retro pink and green home decor fine art  - 8x10 print - ZoiShop
flowers photography - ...
$25.00
Rough Emerald in 14k Gold Ring- Custom Made - Specimental
Rough Emerald in 14k Go...
$1650.00
Poppy Pod Print - elisemahanfineart
Poppy Pod Print
$10.00
1960's green feather fedora - mydrawingnumberone
1960's green feathe...
$46.00
Woodland Soap - Moss, Evergreens, Galbanum - Handmade Glycerin Soap - FirebirdBathBody
Woodland Soap - Moss, E...
$5.50
Cecropia Moth Art Print Reproduction - giardino
Cecropia Moth Art Print...
$15.00
Vintage Hall Mixing Bowl Set - Red Poppy - GoldenDaysAntiques
Vintage Hall Mixing Bow...
$55.00
Black Floral Brooch Shabby Folk Rose Flowers Cameo Tole Gift for Mom Mother's Day Gift Box - MySelvagedLife
Black Floral Brooch Sha...
$18.00
Vintage Brass Leaf on Gold Necklace - clacontemporary
Vintage Brass Leaf on G...
$24.00
personalized guest book -  custom birch bark wedding wood book wedding gift - rustic -fall botanical garden forest - made to order - ThreeTreesBindery
personalized guest book...
$190.00
Pink peonies with water droplets, pink and green, lush flower photograph, 8x10 fine art photography print - dianapappas
Pink peonies with water...
$40.00
May Birthstone Emerald Necklace with Sterling Silver Chain Precious Stone Pendant Summer Fashion Woodland - JarosDesigns
May Birthstone Emerald ...
$42.00
Vintage English Candy Tin. - OceanSwept
Vintage English Candy T...
$18.00
botanical no. 0002 limited edition numbered print - kariherer
botanical no. 0002 limi...
$35.00
Old Green Metal Toolbox - 22BayRoad
Old Green Metal Toolbox
$18.00
Poppy Temptation 10 Giclee PRINT from originl watercolor painting - siiso
Poppy Temptation 10 Gic...
$20.00

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Brick Plant Stands

When we moved into our house, the patio had been extended with brick pavers. It looked very nice at the time, but the bricks began to settle unevenly, making the patio less than attractive. So, a couple of years ago we had the brickwork removed, the patio extended with a concrete slab, and a fire pit installed.

As the landscapers began to remove the old bricks, they asked if I wanted to keep them or they should haul them away. The bricks were beautifully weathered and I knew that I would be able to use them for something, eventually, and I chose to keep them. My first project was practical, compost bins. The second project was more aesthetically pleasing, plant stands. They were simple to construct and added a pleasant dimension to our new patio, making it one of my favorite places to spend my free time.

Materials


  • 20-40 bricks (multiples of four) for each stand
  • 1 - 16 x 16 brick paver for each stand
  • large pottery containers filled with plants

Directions


Notice in the materials I did not mention mortar. I chose to simply stack the bricks. That way I can change the height or placement of the pillars fairly easily if I feel like a change.

Decide how many plant stands you will be making and where you will be placing them. For our patio, I constructed five stands with varying heights.

Wherever you place them should be level. If it's on a patio, it's probably level already. If you will be building on the ground, make sure it's flat and compacted.



It's time to start building. Place four bricks to form a square. Make sure the bricks are placed snugly together leaving a square hole in the center.








Place your second row of bricks on top of the first, changing the direction of the bricks. The center of each brick in the second row is above the space between two bricks in the first row. (Look at the pictures, it will make more sense.)







Continue stacking the bricks in alternating directions until your pillar reaches the desired height. This pillar is five rows high, but I made others that are ten rows.

Once you have finished stacking your bricks, center and place a 16-inch square paver on the bricks.

Place your pottery on the stand and enjoy.








You could use your brick plant stands for containers that hold herbs, flowers, or other plants that will add color and life to your patio and yard.


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Lettuce Rejoice, It's October!

October is my favorite month in Tucson. We are finally past the oppressive heat, it's not very windy, and we get a little rain here and there. That combination makes it perfect for planting a winter garden. Yeah, it's the desert, so it's easier to grow veggies in the winter.

Last year I planted lettuce the first time. The lettuce amazed me. I did not realize how much lettuce you can produce from a few plants in a small area. Since I am used to buying a head of lettuce at the grocery store, I figured you would plant the lettuce, let it grow and pick the whole head when it's done. That's not the way it works. I planted my lettuce in October and we had fresh salad greens almost daily until March.

Lettuce can be grown in a small garden or even in pots. I plant mine in my wine bottle garden filled with fresh compost. This year I planted six different kinds of lettuce - Simpson Elite, Red Lollo, Green Oak Leaf, Buttercrunch, Romaine, and Chinese Cabbage.


As I said before, it's not necessary to wait and harvest the entire head of lettuce at once. After the plants are established, you can pick a few leaves from the outside of the plants every few days. They just keep growing. It seemed to me that the more often I picked, the faster the lettuce grew.

You know your days of fresh lettuce are over when the plants begin to bolt. They start to grow a tall, leafy stalk in the middle. You can't miss it. Last year all my plants bolted within 2 or 3 days of each other. When this happens you don't want to eat the lettuce anymore. It will drip a sticky white liquid when you trim off a leaf and the taste changes and becomes very bitter.

Here's to cooler weather and fresh, mixed greens salads through the winter.

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Fun Find Friday

'The Great Pumpkin' by windyriver


Pumpkin Teeth 3 Pack Halloween Special. (36pcs)Teeth in Total. True Blood Style Fangs for Masks ,Costumes, Dolls, and Halloween - PUMPKINTEETH
Pumpkin Teeth 3 Pack Ha...
$6.99
Orange Cowl, Pumpkin Chunky Hand Knit Cowl, Womens Winter Fashion, Burnt Orange Neck Warmer, Neck Wrap - Magiedimemi
Orange Cowl, Pumpkin Ch...
$36.00
Adventurine Gemstone Necklace Black Brass Chain, Fall necklace - TrudyAnnDesigns
Adventurine Gemstone Ne...
$14.00
Pumpkin Flower Girl Basket Rustic Fall Wedding (item B10354) - braggingbags
Pumpkin Flower Girl Bas...
$39.99
Textured Ceramic Copper Bowl, Raku Pottery - ThrowingShop
Textured Ceramic Copper...
$54.00
Halloween Home decor Frankenstein - jalinde
Halloween Home decor Fr...
$14.99
Primitive Folk Art Pumpkin Pattern:  PUMPKIN FARM - PrimFolkArtShop
Primitive Folk Art Pump...
$11.75
Scary Cute Skeleton Earrings Sterling Skeleton Skull Earrings Silver Skull Earrings - madebymoe
Scary Cute Skeleton Ear...
$35.00
TEXTILE ART, Garden In The Night, Art Quilt, Home Decor, Midnight Blue - BozenaWojtaszek
TEXTILE ART, Garden In ...
$370.00
Rectangular Bubble Necklace Recycled Sterling Silver Artisan Handmade - SpiceofLifeDesigns
Rectangular Bubble Neck...
$95.00
Needle Felted Pumpkin - Set of Two - scratchcraft
Needle Felted Pumpkin -...
$20.00
Halloween Upcycled Book Pumpkin, black with orange bow, MADE TO ORDER - whimsysworkshop
Halloween Upcycled Book...
$15.00
Knitted Rustic Burnt Orange Pumpkin beanie Hat with Knit Curly leaves Newborn Baby or Child Kids Toddler Size - ShoppeBare
Knitted Rustic Burnt Or...
$23.00
Fall Squirrel in the Pumpkin - PhotosbyHeatherLee
Fall Squirrel in the Pu...
$3.00
Halloween Dark Noir Antique Copper tone Earrings Dangle Fashion - LoveandCherish
Halloween Dark Noir Ant...
$16.00
Grey White Spotted Medium Pumpkin (00303) - jackpinestudios
Grey White Spotted Medi...
$95.00

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Composting 101

I like to make stuff. I can make quilts, scarves, sweaters and more. But there's one thing I can make that is a little more unconventional, dirt. You read that right. As crazy as it sounds, I make my own dirt for the garden.

Gardening in Tucson is a bit of a challenge. It's hot, dry, and the soil here is a rock hard clay called caliche. It's not an easy environment for growing herbs and vegetables. A few years ago, I did most of my gardening in containers. It was easy enough to buy a bag of potting soil at the nursery and fill the containers before planting. As I began thinking about building my wine bottle garden, I realized I was going to need a lot more dirt that was very nutrient rich to compensate for the terrible soil here. That's when I started learning about composting.

Composting is the process of decomposing organic matter into a nutrient rich soil amendment. Some of the articles I read about composting made it sound like a difficult, time consuming task that should be left to the professional horticulturalist. But, I am always up for an interesting challenge, so I thought I would give it a try.

The first thing you need is some sort of container outside to hold your organic matter (fruit, veggie, and plant waste.)

I constructed two bins out of some old bricks that in a former life were part of our patio. I also use pieces of pegboard to cover them. I like to use two bins so I can add new organic matter to one while the other is just decomposing.




You can build a bin out of almost anything. Old kitchen cabinets work great or you could use scrap lumber. It doesn't have to be fancy. If you are not the DIY construction type you can even buy simple compost bins like these. Pre-assembled bins come in a variety of sizes and price ranges.

     


A good compost bin has:
  • an open bottom so it is exposed to the ground
  • air flow because things can't decompose without oxygen
  • a cover to maintain the temperature and moisture (and keep out large critters)

Once you have your bin, it's time to start adding your dirt ingredients.

Most of my compost ingredients come from our kitchen. I compost a lot of the veggie parts that don't get used for cooking - stalks, skins and peels.






What can go in your compost:
  • fruits and veggies
  • coffee grounds
  • crushed eggshells - if you don't crush them, they take forever to decompose
  • yard waste like leaves and cut grass
  • wood shavings - aspen or pine bedding from pet rodent cages

What NOT to put in your compost:
  • meat or dairy products
  • animal waste
  • weeds
  • large branches - they will decompose, but not nearly as fast as the materials listed above
  • anything moldy or diseased

Once you start adding organic stuff to your bin nature does most of the work for you. Two things you can do to help the process along are add a little moisture occasionally and turn the materials in your bin with a shovel to keep the air flowing. Don't panic, though. Even if you never add moisture or turn the compost, nature will take it's course and everything will magically become dirt. It just takes a little longer.

After your organic matter is broken down, add it to your garden or a container. You can use it with another type of soil or on it's own.

Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill as well as provide valuable nutrients to your garden!

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