Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Saving Electricity and Water

It takes quite a bit of work, and money sometimes, to save resources. Today I received my portable clothesline, delivered to my door by Mr. UPS Man. I ordered it Saturday, which means it pays to do the SuperSavers shipping through Amazon! Also, it means today was wash day! I don't want to run the electric dryer, not just because it wastes electricity on its own, but also because it heats the house up, making the a/c work harder, too.

I was very happy when I unpacked the clothesline and saw that it would fit perfectly into my umbrella stand. This is two loads of laundry on it so far (the towels are hidden inside).

Last Wednesday Mom and I traveled to Frisco (the long way) to Ikea trying to find one of those portable clotheslines, but this eagle design was what I ended up with instead. I've decided to use it to dry my night clothes and anything kind of short, since it can be hidden within the backyard. I do have a third clothes rack, my original wooden rack bought before they were cool to have, in the house drying my under things.

Now, I mentioned in the title "Saving Water." Well, this is why. I've had a slight clog in the drain of my washing machine for quite a while now. I had just been turning the washer on and off when it was draining, but I decided one day to just see if I could use some of that water going down the drain. I was so surprised when I realized exactly how much water I was sending down that drain. Turns out, a lot. I've started washing everything on low water, and it still fills up the trash can below, almost to the top.

Hmm... Ok, the pitcher hooked on the side is used to transfer the water from the can, into the mop bucket.

Then, the mop bucket is carried out to my rain barrels that I never got ready to collect rain (I tried, but I need a longer connector pipe... well, it really doesn't matter right now!).

I fill up the barrels.
Then, when it is needed, I use the water to water my non-edible plants.
They seem to like it.
Now, I kind of look at it this way. I paid for that water as soon as it left the pipe and went into my washing machine. Its my water, so I'm going to get a second use out of it. I use biodegradable soap and fabric softener, and it hasn't hurt the plants or the grass, so I guess I'm saving myself money, right? It's hard work and now I'm going to have a glass of wine to relax, except now I have to fold. Ugh. Never ending job, keeping up a house!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Garden 2008: Summer Solstice update

Today is the first day of summer, so it is only fitting that I update exactly what is going on in my garden.

This week has been a bit hectic, but I did take time to look over the non-vegetable plants and noticed that the oleander in the back yard has put on blooms. This is a big event because this particular oleander came from a cutting I swiped off of a tree in Florida during a trip to Destin in 2001. The package I had it in had several cuttings from different colored oleanders, but by the time I got home, I couldn't remember which cutting was what color.

Mystery revealed after 7 years- it's pink! This must be a sign to bloom this color at this particular time, since pink is the color of breast cancer awareness (an update on my mom will be Monday when she finally decides what course she is going to take).

Now, the vegetables and fruit...
I picked this basket of tomatoes yesterday morning.
Here is a close-up of a Green Zebra.

The potatoes are not doing quite so well. I'm not sure, but they may be ready. The saddest of them all is the Purple Peruvian above.

The most prolific greenery would be the German Butterball.
But not too far behind would be the Austrian Crescent. They are supposed to be harvested 90 to 100 days after planting. I'm going to have to go back and look in this blog to see when I uploaded those pictures!

Here are two of my watermelons. I've found at least 6 globes on the vines, so I'll have to see exactly how many will actually grow to maturity. I'm trying the "no till" method on these since I really did not have a tiller available at the time of planting. I'm cutting the grass back away, but I've heard that using this method helps retain the moisture for the plants (I don't see how, but oh well!). The corn is not doing as well using this method. I'm going to clean out the grass around them either tomorrow or Monday to help them out.

I have three cantalope all about the size of my fist.

This extremely tall sunflower planted itself. I make it a habit never to cut down a sunflower that grows on it's own. There is such determination there.
This is that crazy tomato and bean garden as of today.

Finally I have several purple-ish tomatoes on the Cherokee Purple (about 7).
The Green Zebra is producing so many, I can't even count now how many are on this vine.

This is my one and only tomato on the Mortgage Lifter bush. It keeps producing flowers, I keep shaking the plant, but this is it so far.

Nope, there are no pictures of tomatoes on the Boxcar Willie, because there are no tomatoes on the bush at all. The thing grew straight up, about 6 feet, puts on flowers, but like the Mortgage Lifter, nothing. I'm debating on trimming it down to about 4 feet to see if it will have better luck then. It might kill it, but hey, like it's doing anything now except suck up water anyway.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Mom...

Friday my Mom received some bad news. She had a biopsy done on Wednesday and was told on Friday that she has a very rare breast cancer. Luckily they caught it extremely early and will be doing surgery soon. She has a meeting with the surgeon on Thursday and we will know more then. If you pray, please add her to your list.

The Past Few Days...

Left- Mom and Me at the State Convention in Austin
Below- Chase's Birthday Party at Rosa's Cafe
Left- Elizabeth in her lovely dress at the annual Bungalow Party
Below- More Tomatoes!

Left- My most wonderful dinner tonight

OK, so these pictures turned out...a little strange this time, but I will work with it!

This month has been a little crazy for me. June 5-7th saw Mom and I travel down to Austin to the Democratic State Convention. It was a little strange, since everyone knew that Hillary Clinton was going to drop out, but it was an experience of a lifetime. Who would have thought we had over 12,000 Democrats in the state willing to go to a convention, let alone all of those who sent us there. I was a delegate, Mom was an alternate, but she quickly was elevated to delegate status. I just hope that the energy continues.

On the 7th I had not one, but two parties to go to, so we ended up leaving the convention early. I hope we don't get in trouble for that, but what can I say. I was there for the most stressful part- Being a Hillary Delegate (in a shirt!!!) in a sea of Obama supporters. The first party was for my little cousin Chase. We missed his brother's birthday in March (I was just studying too hard), so Mom and I will be taking them both out to eat at this place called Incredible Pizza. Whee!

The second party was at my friend Elizabeth's house. We had... adult beverages, relaxed and talked quite a bit. By the end, it was just Elizabeth, Heather, and myself out on the patio, just like old times. I actually got home by 2am! Who would have thought...

Monday, June 9th was my last day as a "teacher." It was also my last day at the high school I started teaching at six years ago. I don't think it has quite hit me yet that I will not be going to work over at the high school by the hospital in August, but I know it will soon. I have to go pick up my keys to my library this next week. That will make it truly official. I'll miss my people, but I know I have a new adventure ahead of me. Besides, we have email!

The harvest has been nice to me so far. The picture of the two bowls is actually out of date. By Friday of last week, I had three: one of Romas, one of Yellow Pear and Grape, and a full bowl of Green Zebra. I have been giving tomatoes away to anyone who will take them (really, just to my Grannie and Heather). Elizabeth had Heather and me over for dinner on Sunday, so I took a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad (she made the most amazing mussels, YUM!). The leftovers were my dinner tonight, placed on slices of toasted Parmesan bread from Central Market and broiled for 8 minutes in the toaster oven. Double YUM!

Ha, I almost forgot... graduate school started back up on June 2nd. I got a bit behind with all of the excitement, but I think I am finally caught up...maybe....if that is possible.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cooking with the Harvest

My dinner tonight- a personal pizza with my home grown grape and yellow pear tomatoes, carmelized onions and garlic (Texas grown), goat cheese, kalamata olives, salt, pepper, and olive oil on a locally baked pita. My mother will look at this and say: That's just too much goat cheese! I love goat cheese, so there can never be too much for me.

Yep, I think The Green Texan will turn into a food blog soon. It's hard to stop it from happening. I'm going to have to eat all that lovely food I'm growing at some point. I did cook the green beans the other night, but I have to say, they were not much of a success. I'm going to have to pick them earlier. They were just too big and tough. Oh, well. That is the fun in gardening. You learn about what works, what doesn't and exactly when you are supposed to pick things... like the Green Zebra. They need to be more golden in color, making the green stripes more prominent. Good thing I only picked one! I am definitely enjoying this locavore thing...