Monday, November 24, 2014

Garden Wrap-Up

2014 Garden Wrap-up
 This is me this morning with bright sunshine and temps warming.
I planted three rows of onions on October 15th.
A sweet onion known as Texas Grano 1015Y, meaning you should plant them on October 15th. 
I did. 
The middle row is Red Burgundy and seems to have been the best germinator. 
And a row of White Bermuda. 
 This is me this morning showing a row of collards and a row of spinach. 
Did you know that spinach seeds do not keep? 
In other words, I had to buy new seeds and replant the spinach after the first planting ..... did nothing. 

This is the garden on October 29th  with the tomatoes and peppers still going full force. 

 Not all are visible but this plant had 18 tomatoes on it and was still blooming. 
 Eventually I had to shut them down and collect the bounty before hard freeze. 
 Early in November, I happened on an article about green tomatoes.
I knew green tomatoes will ripen inside because I did that early in the summer when a limb broke with green tomatoes. 
But I did not know that after the night temperature gets down to 50ºF and lower for several days that you should pick the produce and bring them inside to ripen.
Therefore, you can't necessarily leave them until a predicted freeze which was my plan. 
I harvested the green tomatoes and peppers on November 11th.
Sure enough, they began to turn.
Each day I pulled the newly turning tomato to the rim side....well just because.
I am so glad for this tomato lesson because, I have fresh homegrown garden tomatoes for Thanksgiving.   
 Of course I also made fried green tomatoes.
My first time. 
Delish!
Here's my recipie.
After coating them with yellow mustard (yep the kind you put on your hotdog), then I toss them in a plastic bag with Zatarain's Seasoned Fish Fri.
Fryed in oil.
Try it.
Cooks Tip: I coat them by squirting about 2T of mustard in a plastic bag. Then I smush the mustard around to coat the inside of the plastic bag. Then, dump the sliced tomatoes in the bag and smush them around to coat. Add the Fish Fri mix and shake the bag. I do the same thing when something needs to be coated with olive oil.
 The other thing I learned in the tomato article is, the small green tomatoes will not rippen because they haven't matured enough to do so. 
This to-ripe or not-to-ripe all has to do with what's going on inside the growing fruit.

But you can make green tomato chutney with them. 
I did. 

Now here is the biggest surprise of all. 
Dill. 
Remember I left the seed pods on the dill so they would self-seed in the spring. 
I didn't expect them to germinate in the fall. 
But the surprise is, we have had several days of freezing and below temperature and here is the dill today. 
Unfazed.

You can see the dill in the top two photos too.
First, to the left of her head.
Then, to the right of her head.

That's it for the garden this year!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Who are These People

These People on cardboard by Sharon Tomlinson
Who are these people?



That Sunday back in October when I initiated the Attic Studio and documented the event on Instagram with the above photo was a beginning.

It was a beginning of a huge attic studio project; the details of which I will save for another post.

Not until I posted it on Instagram did I see the haunting white face right there near the middle.
Do you see him? 

I got pretty excited but this is when we were having big rain and wind storms and I didn't go back over for a few days. 
All the time, I would pull up the photo and wonder about who he was and how I would paint him.
I really did get myself worked up about the process.

At last we had a clear day and I rushed over to look at the face in-real-life to see how in the world I had overlooked him.

At first glance, Oh No!
He's gone!

In shock, I remembered the quick documentary photo shot was just a moment in time. 
I had totally forgotten that in the zone and flow of the day in the attic studio, I kept pushing cheap pastel craft paint around with a cheap foam brush on this big piece of cardboard.
And he was gone!  

I was back to no inspiration with this piece which was my starting place when I first sat down at the easel in the attic back in October. 

I left it be.



As stupid as it sounds, I grieved about the loss of this phantom (a physical manifestation of the soul or spirit of a deceased person) face.

Time passed and I finally was ready to face the project again. 
Due to the cold, I decided to fetch the cardboard and paint here in my warm home studio. 
 I propped it up in front of me while in the cozy chair zone just thinking about what I would do next. 

He was sure enough gone. 
So I flipped it over with the up side down
and
lo and behold!
There are people on it!
I would probably never have looked for them were it not for him. 
 Here they are after I lightly penciled around the shapes that clearly were people. 
 Sometimes it's not about pretty faces. 
My technique is to capture what I see with minimum paint.
 This is not the first time A Group Of Strangers has shown up while I'm painting. 



I don't know who These People are but I'm pretty sure these people know my people.
I'm also pretty sure they have lots of stories to tell.

On that Sunday back in October when I started this project, I prepped and pushed paint around on several more cardboards. 
Yep, more people.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Evolution of my Attic

"Before"
Remember this?  
This is the back wall view of the attic before I pronounced last fall that I would reclaim The Garden Palace from the furry beast and flying creatures.

"after"
 Here is the "after" with a few word to document the evolution of my Garden Palace attic. 

"before" front wall
"after"
 Dear sweet son came in early June.
He and I installed the floor. 
The truth is, I never really really thought this would happen. 
 Nearly done.
Taking a break.

 When the floor was finished, I started closing in the end walls. 
After a few days, I enlisted the help of D.J. who uses a bigger hammer than me.
Pipe Hand Rail
 On July 1st, we installed the hand rail. 
What a glorious day!
Maybe you can see how steep the stairs are.
You can't imagine how excited I was about this project. 
It couldn't be done until the wall was closed in.

 The thing to notice here is how little shelves were created in a "make it work" design moment.
 I placed jars on the shelves so they would show in the photo. 

By this time is was well into July and the Texas heat was not bearable in this tin roofed attic.

 Late September, I started back at it and finished installing the front wall. 
Now is when I should tell you that the wall material was any and every kind of board you can imagine. 
I used hundred year old floor boards, new floor boards, old garage door facing boards, old shelving boards, old bead board, new and old lumber bits and pieces.
Some had been painted, some had not, some was obviously new wood and some had an aged patina. 
The width nor the thickness mattered not to me. 
The point was first, to clear out a couple of hoards of such material and secondly, cheap.

 The first layer was a whitewash effect with just watered down white paint. 
 Then, I went back in with some paint colors on random places.
I really wanted to love this but when I realized the huge job I had created for myself in order to get the final finish that I wanted, I just knew that no matter what, I wasn't going to love it. 
 I also realized or rather remembered that my intention is to cover the walls with framed art and photos. 
That fact cinched it.
I had to paint the walls white. 

When I got the left side painted white, the conflict was over.
I loved it!
 On October 9th, the first painting was hung. 
It just felt like I needed to have this here while I continued the work. 

 Then the back wall. 

The Bridge

 To reach the wall and rafters above the stairwell, a bridge and ladder is used. 
Yes.
It's a little scary up there.

The Floor
 Even though I knew, I'm not crazy about gray paint, I still started out with it because it is a ready-mix color easy and quick to get. 
The color was light gray.
That is the light gray on the left.
It seemed too dark.
So I mixed it with a white to see if I might be happier.

Not really. 


 I went back to the store and had this light color mixed.
After using it, I saw that I could go a little darker without making the room dark, so I got another gallon mixed for the second coat. 

"after"
"after"
Stay tuned for more projects.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I'm Nesting


Did you ever watch a nest being built? 
I have.
In June 2009, I watched a red bird, another name for a Northern Cardinal, build a nest at my back door.
I documented it here on my blog as it was in progress in several post. 

That is why I'm positive these two nest were built by red birds. 
I just discovered these nest recently near the Garden Palace in side by side Oleanders. 

Made me wonder if they were setting there eggs at the same time. 
It must get pretty lonely on the nest. 
So, I chose to think they planned this. 

The interesting thing is they build in layers.
The first layer is large coarse material which shows nicely in the first picture. 
I recognize this as dead branches of a vine which is hanging in a nearby cedar tree. 
That big green leaf in the forefront is of the same kind of vine. 
Then, as each layer is added, the material gets smaller and smaller. 
A layer of dead leaves is added before the final very fine material is added and smoothed into a perfect cup like home for nesting.

Just thought you'd like to know.
PS:    I don't know if redbirds clean up and refurbish to reuse a nest but I'm leaving these in place and will be watching....come spring. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Last post on Texas Native Plant week

This will be my last post recognizing and celebrating Texas Native Plant Week, October 19 - 25. 
Today, it is all about the unknown.
The unidentified.
I will give some of my observations about these native plants that I have yet to identify.

This one has beautiful gray-green soft color which I really like.
It is pubescent, meaning covered with hairs and is nice to touch. 
I fear it is a very prolific and probably on the farmers' dreaded noxious weed list.
Nevertheless, I will add one to my near-the-house gardens.

This unknown looks a lot like a Heuchera.
I see it growing low to the ground but that could be because the ones that I have observed are in areas that are mowed. 
I really like the leaf shape and coloration and plan to use it as a ground cover in shady areas.
Although, I have seen it in full sun as well. 
I don't remember seeing it bloom; however, it may bloom in spring.
I will be watching.

This one again.
I love this plant.
It grows as tall and taller than me.
At daylight, I'm going out to see if any of these seed heads remain. 
I have been seeing the birds working this area.
It is a beautiful plant that has rust color during it's peak and then as it begins to die, it all turns rust as you can see in the background of this photo. 

If left to grow, in other words, not in the mower's path, this unknown has a very desirable branching habit.
I think it could be grown as a small hedge. 
I do remember seeing it in bloom and I think it is a violet-purplish color.
I will have to wait until spring for the blooms and then I should be able to identify it.

This unknown with a small yellow flower is a bogsy type plant. 
It pops up near the edge of the water each year. 
It is growing in an area that is under water when the tank is full. 

This is a nice little shade loving shrubby plant.
It grows from runners underground. 
Sometimes I love it and sometimes I don't 
I think I'm back to the lovin it stage.

 I forgot that it made this little berry-fruit-seeds.
Because not all of them have these. 
This might be clue to identifying this native.