Changing Into Another Season

Summer is gone, but I am not even sure that we even had a Summer over here. This was a strange Summer as we did not have the typical temperatures we normally do. The garden suffered a little with all the rain we got, but it is still alive and producing all the Juliet Tomatoes we could ever wish for. The pepper plants are doing well and we have been enjoying all the home grown peppers in our meals.

JULIETS 8-23-14

GARDEN IN SEPTEMBER

Out of all the pumpkin plants that we had planted, we only got two pumpkins out of that entire batch. We are bummed, but we think that perhaps we planted too many in one area, so next year we will do half the amount. We could have had a few more pumpkins this year, as we had lots of pumpkin vines crawl up the back fence, then fell due to the weight of the growing pumpkins and the vines got cracked, and that did them in. By the way, the adorable “Pumpkin Patch” sign was a gift from our neighbor Steve! (Thank you Steve for such a wonderful gift!)

PUMPKIN PATCH

The Cleveland Browns beat St. Louis on Sunday 26-24 on their first home opener game, and they said that this is the first time in ten years that the Cleveland Browns won on a home opener. Amazing! It was a nail biter game, but a win is a win, and we’ll take it! I took advantage of cheering on the Browns to a win by dressing up our Skellie as he sat in the front yard waving to everyone who passed by the house. The funny thing is, is that when I brought Skellie into the house afterwards, I sat him at the kitchen table and left him there overnight. When I woke up the next morning, he scared the crap out of me because I thought someone was sitting at the table! LOL  (never will do that again)

VAL AND SKELLY LOGO  9-14-14

With the changing of the seasons from Summer to Fall, we need to take advantage of this time of year and start clipping the seeds from all of our flowers and save them for next year. I have a huge supply of Marigold seeds that I have harvested & dried for next year already. Once your flowers die back, make sure you clip off the dried flower and extract the seeds. Let them sit out and dry thoroughly, then label a small baggie and place them in there for next year.

SAVING SEEDS

I hope to get a few more Fall Mums from the garden center because I want to place them in this wood box that I painted & stenciled for the front porch. My little yellow mailbox already adorns a nice purple mum too! One of my nice huge paper mache pumpkins is also on display here!

FALL FRONT PORCH

Nikita and Bella must know that the season has changed too, because all they pull out of their toy box are their Halloween toys! Their favorite one is the huge stuffed pumpkin that they always play tug-of-war with!

BELLA IS READY FOR HALLOWEEN

NIKITA SNATCHED PUMPKIN

What is going on at your end of the world with the season changes? How are you enjoying the Fall season?

Peeking Out The Window

I pulled out one of our many Skellies over the weekend because I am so ready for Halloween! This one I placed in our bedroom looking out the window that overlooks our neighbors back door. Hopefully, I did not scare them too much when they peeked out their window and saw this looking back at them! LOL

SKELETON IN WINDOW

HELLO FALL! How to Make Paper Mache Pumpkins

HOW TO MAKE PAPER MACHE PUMPKINS

Welcoming Fall is always fun, because I can start making more paper mache pumpkins! If you know me, you know that I have made many paper mache pumpkins, a paper mache mummy, and a paper mache fireplace. I had a thought that I wanted to try, and I decided to go “smaller” this time around with some cute paper mache pumpkins.

Here’s how I made them!

I started off with blowing up two balloons nice and small. I did try tying a string around one of the balloons, but it did not make a difference, so I did not use it on the second one.

PUMPKIN SMALL1

Next, I mixed up some flour and water and made a paper mache paste. That is all I use when making my pumpkins, and you want the paste to be like a pancake batter, not too thick, not too runny. (use a wire whisk when mixing up your paste)

Now comes the fun part! Make sure you have lots of little strips of newspaper cut up, dip each piece in the paper mache paste, and run the strip through two fingers to remove the excess. Then place piece by piece on your balloon. Run your fingers over each piece so that they are laying flat on the balloon. Keep going until the entire balloon is covered really well. Let your paste dry. I normally get out my small heater and place it next to my object to get it to dry faster. Once it is good and dry, you need to add another layer of paper mache newspaper strips all around the balloon. Let that layer dry, and keep doing this step over and over until you have a pumpkin that is so hard that you cannot push in any part of it. THIS PART IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

PUMPKIN SMALL2

Once your pumpkin is formed and nice and hard, you are now ready to draw a face on your pumpkin. You can use a pencil to draw your face on, or a Sharpie Marker.

PUMPKIN1

Once you get the face drawn the way you want it, you carefully take your sharp knife out and cut out the face. Go slow in this process so you do not slip and cut yourself!

PUMPKIN2Since I am making really small pumpkins here, the openings on the face are too small for me to insert a battery operated tealight in it, so I cut a round opening in the back of the pumpkin for this purpose.

PUMPKIN5

Wait, I am not yet done yet at this point. Since the face and the hole in the back are now cut out, I want to make nice smooth edges around what I just cut out, so I placed a few more pieces of the newspaper strips dipped in the paper mache mix around the face and the hole in the back. Let it dry.

PUMPKIN4

Now it is time for the paper mache pumpkin to be painted. What I do for all of my paper mache pumpkins, is to lightly and I mean lightly, spray paint the pumpkins with flat black paint. I do not cover the entire pumpkin all in black, but rather get it slightly covered as a base coat.  Once the flat black has dried, I am ready for the orange top coat.

PAINTING BASE COAT

Just like the base black coat, I lightly spray paint my orange top coat over the pumpkin so that some of the black shows through. I think this make the pumpkin look so much better.

I decided that my pumpkins needed something. I felt that they needed to be on display, and what better way to display them than with a cute base! I used a $1 glass candle stick base that I found at the Dollar Store, and spray painted it with a Hammered Black paint. I went over the candle stick two times just to make sure that it was evenly coated. The last thing that I did was to spray paint a clear coat over the pumpkins to keep the paint sealed.

PAINTING THE BASE

BASE

The last thing that I did was to glue the pumpkin onto the candle stick base, and I now have an adorable pumpkin decoration! One thing to note when lighting up any paper mache pumpkins, is to never ever use a real candle in your pumpkins, as they could definitely catch on fire! Always use a battery operated tealight in them for safety!

PAINTING PUMPKINS ORANGE

My finished paper mache pumpkins are approximately 6″ and will definitely add some flare to my Halloween decorations around the house! Now that I see how cute these turned out, I have already started on a few more because I know that they will look great in every room of the house! Now, back to the Dollar Store for more glass candle sticks!

Wordless Wednesday: Stuck

BELLA STUCK IN BAG

When I come home from the store, the dogs always have to check out what I got. They stick their head in the bags to sniff everything. This time, Bella got her head stuck in the bag handle. She just stood there, and stood there, and would not move. I had to go save her from that bad bag. LOL

 

The Boogie Man Is Coming

With the arrival of August, there is only one thing on my mind…Halloween! I am starting to get into full Halloween mode and have already started a few more paper mache pumpkins which I will be posting about soon. But, I wanted to show you my latest Halloween craft project, the Boogie Man.

If you don’t already know, a few years ago I started creating wood tombstones because I found that I was tired of chasing our Styrofoam tombstones down the street. The Styrofoam ones are really neat, but they are not practical with all the high winds we get around here in October. So the creation of wood tombstones was born!

I quickly filled up our yard over the last few years with nice durable wood tombstones in varying designs, shapes, and sizes and I no longer have to chase them down the street.

I am always doodling new designs and I came up with the Boogie Man. He looked really good on my sticky note, so I decided to try to hand draw him bigger. I started off by cutting a large box open and lay it flat on the floor, as this will be my template for when I cut it out of wood. Then I go to work hand drawing the design onto the cardboard. I lightly draw my design until I get the right size and shape, and then trace over it with a Sharpie Marker.

BOOGIE MAN DESIGN1

Then, I use an X-acto knife to carefully cut out the cardboard design. This part is really time consuming and you need to make sure that you have more cardboard under your cardboard piece so you don’t cut the floor or your carpet accidentally. (I am very careful with this step)

BOOGIE MAN CUTTING IT OUT

Once the design is all cut out of the cardboard, my template is now ready to trace on a piece of wood. I normally use pressed wood for my tombstones, but I got a nice free piece of 1/2″ plywood and decided to use this for my Boogie Man. (getting a free piece of wood is like candy to me!)

BOOGIE MAN FINISHED CUTTING OUT DESIGN

Now that my design is all traced onto the plywood, I need to drill a nice sized hole in the areas that need to be cut out. I do this so I can insert my Jigsaw blade into that area.

BOOGIE MAN DRILLING HOLES

I carefully insert the Jigsaw blade into the drill hole and start cutting out my design slowly. The first thing that I noticed is that cutting plywood is so much nicer than pressed wood because the wood does not splinter with the blade.

BOOGIE MAN STARTING TO CUT OUT DESIGN

I really love working with wood and creating new Halloween props! By the way, this Craftsman evolv Jigsaw that I am using is variable speed and you can change the blades really quickly.

BOOGIE MAN ALMOST DONE CUTTING

The Boogie Man is almost complete! Isn’t he adorable!

BOOGIE MAN COMPLETE

The only thing that I need to cut out is the base for the wood tombstone.

BOOGIE MAN

This is the completed Boogie Man tombstone that I designed. I love the open design and I am now thinking a bit further on how to make this tombstone better. Since most tombstones you place in your yard are only seen from the front, I might take some frosted thick shelf liner and glue a piece behind the design, then add a light so the Boogie Man lights up. I am sure an awesome red or purple glow behind the Boogie Man will do the trick. I will do an updated post on what I decide to do to finish off the Boogie Man.

So, what are you doing to prepare for the arrival of Halloween? Have you started any paper mache pumpkins this year? I hope so, because it takes time to complete these projects, so you need to prepare in advance!

 

Garden Update

JULIET TOMATOES 8-1-14

This is the happiest photograph ever! Look at the variety of colors on the Juliet Tomatoes! This is a sight that we have been waiting for!

PUMPKIN COLLAGE2 8-5-14

This is our one pumpkin that is outside of the garden bed that we get to watch grow. I decided to take photographs of this pumpkin every four days so we can see how much it has grown. In this collage, the first photo is on 7/20, then 7/24, 7/28, 8/1, and on 8/5. It is coming along nicely, don’t you think!

PUMPKIN VINE

Watching our pumpkin vines grow is fun! The only thing that I get upset about is when I see a new little pumpkin on a vine, and it turns yellow before the female flower can get pollinated. Bummer!

BIG BOY 8-1-14

Some of our Big Boy Tomatoes are starting to ripen! What a nice sized tomato!

RED PEPPERS 8-1-14

Our Red Pepper plants are growing some strangely shaped peppers.

PORTULACA PUPPY

I put my Portulaca plant on my little doggie planter and it looks so adorable.

HORN WORM

After finding 10 small Horn Worms in our garden a few weeks ago, we found this HUGE one over the weekend and freaked out! Holy crap! Every day, multiple trips out to the garden to check for Horn Worms is a must, since we know we have an issue. This one we cut the small branch it was on, and immediately placed it into the jar where I threw all the other ones to die. While it was in the jar, I watched it quickly munch down this entire branch in a matter of minutes. Minutes, people! Minutes! That is why it is so important to find and remove them in your garden immediately. Look for any Horn Worm piles of poop on your leaves, and look for little white eggs too, as this is a sign that you have a Horn Worm in your garden! Act upon it immediately!

HORN WORM CLOSEUP

I am so grossed out by this close up photo. If you click on the photo you can see it’s teeth better but I hope you did have anything to eat because you might get sick. Those little orangish rings on its side is how it breaths, and it has nine on each side of its body.

Gardening for us this year has gone to the bugs, and we are doing our best to keep on top of this problem. Every year we deal with “something”, and this year is no different, just a different problem. I refuse to let these issues take down our garden and all the hard work we have put into it.

 

Danger In The Garden

WHEN TO CALL IN A PROFESSIONAL TO HANDLE BEES

Fear. Pure fear is what I would call it. I ran across a scary problem last week in our flower bed while I was weeding. I swatted at a bee that did a fly-by past my head, then noticed that we had a problem. A BIG problem.

Within a few inches of where I was kneeling, I ran across a bees nest in the ground, and to me, that was a huge problem. When you run across something like this you basically freak out (like I did) because you just don’t know how “big” the bees nest is, since it is underground. We found out that it was yellow jackets who built a nest under a rock in our flower bed.

I ran and got the bee spray and sprayed the opening and surrounding area by the nest, but that only seemed to piss them off – a lot! (I found out from our exterminator that it would have taken about 7 cans of bee spray to kill a nest) We needed help, so we called a professional in to do the job. We got our exterminator to come out to take care of this nest because we did not want to handle this ourselves, nor did we want to get stung. A yellow jacket will continually sting you if it attacks, and it does not die afterwards like a regular bee, so having a pro handle this for us, was a no brainer decision.

READY TO HATCH

The photo above is gross, scary, and I am glad this nest is now dead. All of the “empty” cells are the bees that have already hatched. The darker cells are the bees that were about to hatch, and the white ones are all the other bees in the nest. The exterminator said that this nest was a deep one, so we have no idea as to how many yellow jackets were actually in there. All we know, is that we are glad that it is a dead nest and that no one got stung.

Our exterminator showed up, suited up in his bee suit, and went to work.  I was so concerned about him when I saw all the bees swarming out, but he was calm and cool while he went about his work. Glad it was him and not me doing this, since I don’t have a bee suit just hanging around here! He told me that “I was lucky” that I did not get stung after I told him how close I was to the opening of the nest that day. I got goose bumps after hearing this.

Anyhow, the nest that I found under the rock is now dead. At the time when the exterminator was here and sprayed the nest with something called “Demon” (which I thought was a perfect word), we watched tons of bees swarming over the nest. I asked him what was going on and he said that those were the bees that were not in nest when he sprayed and they were returning to the nest. I was shocked to see how many there were that returned to the nest, and that got me even more scared because of the number of bees. He said that they will eventually “move on” to somewhere else, but will not rebuild that certain nest because it was dead.

Well, that is what happened here on Friday, and now, on Monday, I found another nest! Geez! This second nest needs to go too, so the exterminator is heading back out here. The second underground bees nest that I found is in our strawberry patch!  Not a good place, because I am in our garden tons of time during the day. With the amount of bees that I have noticed flying into the ground in between our strawberries, I know we have a problem…again. I am glad that I did not get stung with this nest either, because I water our garden & strawberry patch twice a day. Bees do not like water, and they could have attacked me. Phew, I am lucky.

Birthdays Make You Smile

NIKITA SO HAPPY 7-18-14

I’m so happy because I just celebrated my 4th birthday this month!

NIKITA SMILING

Oh what fun I had on my birthday! I can’t stop smiling!

NIKITA IN FRONT YARD

Other than Mommy making me wear this stupid birthday hat (like she always does), my day was awesome. I can’t believe she made me go outside so other doggies could see me in this ridiculous hat. How embarrassing!

NIKITA IN BIRTHDAY HAT

You can’t look mean while growling at another doggie when you are wearing a birthday hat! I can hear them laughing at me under their breath.

NIKITA WITH TENNIS BALL

I got lots of toys for my birthday, including some tennis balls. I demolished this one in about five minutes. I guess they don’t make tennis balls like they used to, eh?

NIKITA AND BALLOON

I got to play with and chase lots of balloons that Mommy blew up for me! She even tried to make some balloon animals with these skinny ones, but all they did was pop! I guess it was not as easy as it looked in the directions! LOL

NIKITA BY BACK DOOR

Here I am taking a rest from all of the fun I had on my birthday and sat by the back door for awhile. Mommy followed me around all day taking pictures of me, but that is what she does best. She always make me feel special on my birthday.

What do you doggies do on your birthday?

Garden Update – Highs and Lows

I have always said that “Gardening is an adventure”. You just never know what is going to happen. You experience highs and lows on a daily basis, and always hope for the best. Our recent garden highs are the nice sized zucchini’s that we have been picking. Our largest zucchini was 3 lbs. 9 oz.

3 POUND ZUCCHINI 7-20-14Here I am, in all my glory, holding our nice sized zucchini. We call them “clubs”. I could definitely leave one on the counter in case someone broke into the house and they would be beaten with a zucchini. Now, that would make an interesting police report, eh?

PUMPKIN 7-20-14

Here’s one of our pumpkins that I pollinated a while back.

PUMPKIN

Four days later, look at how much it has grown!  I placed a small piece of wood underneath the pumpkin to keep it from rotting while sitting on the grass.  This pumpkin is on one of the long runners that is now running around the outside of the garden, so we can watch this one grow every day. We know that we have other pumpkins back along the fence, but we can’t see them any longer.

JULIET TOMATOES RIPENING 7-24-14

Another huge high for the week is the sight of our Juliet Tomatoes starting to ripen! This is so exciting and I’ve got my Italian Dressing ready!

JULIET TOMATO 7-24-14

Don’t you just love how beautiful the Juliets are looking?

ROMAINE

Our Romaine Lettuce has been definitely enjoyed by us this year. My Sweetie can’t get enough of it! He used to love leaf lettuce, but now he is hooked on the Romaine, and I knew he would. Next year for sure, we will be planting a lot more Romaine. Our first batch of plants (above) are coming to an end, but we have back-up plants already growing so we can enjoy more Romaine.

ROMAINE REJUVINATING

And, if you did not already know this, you can regrow your Romaine Lettuce from the established stalk. Once you have removed all the leaves, just cut the stock down to have a few inches of it still coming out from the dirt. New Romaine Lettuce will start to rejuvenate on that stalk!  As you can see from the photo above, we have new leaves starting on this stalk.

GARDEN PORN

It appears that we also have some “Garden Porn” going on too!  The “X” reminds me of legs…well, you know the rest! LOL

CABBAGE 7-24-14

Our cabbage is forming some nice sized heads already too!

BIG BOY TOMATO 7-24-14

The Big Boy Tomatoes are getting bigger by the day!

SUNFLOWER 7-24-14

Here’s one of my sunflowers currently growing under the kitchen window so I get to see it every day.

HORN WORM 7-24-14

And now for the lows of the week… Yesterday, we found some baby Horn Worms on our tomato plants. THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING!  A Horn Worm can destroy your garden and take down a tomato plant in no time flat. I am so thankful that I noticed them in the garden.

The signs you have a Horn Worm in your garden:

  • You find chewed leaves and branches on your tomato plants
  • You find tiny white eggs on a leaf
  • You notice little black droppings on a leaf (Horn Worm doo doo)

What you need to do to immediately:

  • Find the Horn Worms on your tomato plants immediately
  • Pull them off the branches or leafs (I know, it’s gross, but it needs to be done to save your garden)
  • Look at each and every branch on your tomato plants for them
  • Look for the areas where there are signs of chewed leaves, as you will find them somewhere on that plant
  • Look for their “doo doo” droppings, to see where they have been and check that plant out thoroughly
  • And lastly, dust all of your tomato plants with Sevin-5 Dust as it repels the Horn Worms.  We are not a huge fan of using things like this in the garden, but would rather use something to get rid of them other than having all of our tomato plants eaten!

Here is a link to a post I did two years ago when our neighbor first showed us a huge Horn Worm he found in his garden. We are glad that the Horn Worms we found are not the size of the one he found, but nonetheless, we are very concerned that we have the small ones in the garden.

As you can see, gardening is an adventure and you just never know what you are going to run across from one day to another. You take the highs and lows, the good and the bad, and roll with it. But the most important part of gardening, is acting immediately upon what you see, as your actions can save your garden or kill it.