Tag Archives: Home and Garden

Our DIY greenhouse takes shape!

I’ve been posting about the little greenhouse we’re putting up to use as a season extender. We live in the shadow on the north side of a hill in a temperate rain forest. To date, there hasn’t been a long enough growing season, enough sustained light or hot weather to produce a decent tomato. My Mom graciously gave us a greenhouse kit for Christmas and my husband started putting it up last week, during our first patch of sunny weather this spring. It’s a 4′ x 6′ Exaco EasyStart that we bought through WoodlandDirect.com. It was shipped from Texas to Washington, then I dropped down below the border to pick it up, thereby saving myself cross-border brokerage fees and shipping charges. We are setting it up pretty much opposite our front door, which faces west. This spot gets the most light, except for where my raised bed lies. I promised Mom I’d get a dwarf lemon tree and, besides that, I intend to grow tomatoes and peppers, red, orange, and yellow. Will start seedlings to transplant outdoors, too. It’s small and in proportion to our tiny cottage. The greenhouse has a heavy-gauge aluminum base, coated aluminum frame, and polycarbonate panels. It will have louvred windows for cross-breeze and is embellished with Victorian-style finials across the roof ridge.  We’re happy and thankful! After this project, a new covered porch is next….

Exaco EasyStart Greenhouse

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Clay & Self-Sufficiency

I  was at a garden centre yesterday, one that I particularly enjoy: Brian Minter‘s Country Garden. You can find ordinary and rare or unusual plants there. I saw saffron crocuses being grown for the first time… He also sells about 15-20 different kinds of seed potatoes. I finally decided on Norland, an early red. I trust his quality and selection and have listened to his shows and read his articles for years. I have his videos and really rely on them. In addition, he has a beautiful botanical garden, Minter Gardens, which rivals Butchart Gardens. Brian Minter is always willing to answer any question you might have and he is very approachable. Yesterday, I noticed that he’s getting ‘up there’ but he still has loads of get up and go. The centre also has beautiful gift items and curiosities. My friend Minoo and I slowly worked our way through the aisles and displays, clucking over this and that. As I was weaving my way around, I was, once again, struck by the fact that there were quite a few things on display that I could make. Knowing this affords me a sense of self-sufficiency. Yet, it’s one thing to know how and another to act on it. If I am truly interested, I’d better jot down some notes and make a few sketches before I forget. The fact remains: clay folk can make just about anything they want. Growing up with brothers and a father who were handy helped me immensely. That atmosphere informed me and I became conversant with electric and hand tools. By my teenage years, I was very comfortable making things on my Dad’s workbench. My mother’s father was also very handy and I spent enough time around him to bolster all these parts of myself. And my mother taught me everything I needed to know about cooking and sewing. It feels good to be able to do these things, but I am not talking about pride. I don’t like the word ‘pride’ or ‘deserve’ and I steer clear of them and what they represent. I don’t mind ‘gratified,’ though. Yesterday, it felt good recognizing that I could make some of the things I saw as we roved around Minter’s garden centre. I am eons away from ceramic mastery, but I’ve reached a point where I’m confident in ability. Technically, I can put something together according to plan. And ideas come to me. I have also worked in clay for so long now that I am so comfortable with the stuff it almost feels like an extension of myself. I identify with it. I’m happy to be where I’m at and happy to be doing what I’m doing. It feels good to become inspired and to know things are within reach if I want to travel a certain path. I’ve lived many places and moved many times, originally as a result of my father’s career and, later, out of habit and because of schooling. During those periods of my life, I was more interested in working with sculpture and abstraction. Now that I’ve ‘settled down,’ I am seeing myself making functional things I’d have never dreamt of making in the past and it’s sort of ironic. I recognize that my values, priorities, and tastes have changed or shifted. Some not all that much, but my needs certainly have. I ordered a greenhouse yesterday, my mother’s Christmas gift to us. As I was ordering it, I thought, gee, I could make some nice ceramic finials to run across the top of it after it’s up. Yes, I’m enjoying a sense of place and an inherited can-do mentality.

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Art Gallery in your Kitchen: Refrigerator Magnets

Fridge magnets are an under-appreciated art form. Yet, one tiny morsel of clay can go a long way, artistically. A well-designed, well-executed ceramic fridge magnet has lasting power. You want to walk over to your fridge to appreciate it. I applaud the artist who takes the time to make them. It’s true, there’s a lot of schlock out there, things that are cute, ugly or poorly made. But, there are many pieces that are quite fine and have taken a bit of doing to create. I don’t mind sweet, if it’s done well.  I guess I just, generally, like fridge magnets. They’re fun to get and give. I like visiting someplace knew and finding fridge magnets I’ve never seen. From here, I can see some of mine on our fridge. There’s a finger puppet magnet of Monet, a lunar rover (that actually winds up and runs), and a bunch of other cool ones. I have some cherished ones that are beautifully designed and were found in art galleries. Every once in a while I have to scoop everything off all three sides of my fridge (!) and be a little more selective. Many are stored and on a rotation. A small one only needs a ceramic magnet. If your mini-artwork has a rare earth magnet, be careful, it’s very strong and you have to attach it to the fridge carefully. I made some last year and had that experience. But, I wouldn’t mind at all if any of these tiny morsels graced my fridge. Most of the magnets shown in this slide show are from etsy.com and links can be found below.

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Sources: Heart, Lozenges, 3-in-one, Irish, Moth, Acorns, Armenian Family, Star Charm, Abstract Purple, Stuck On You, Oak Leaf, Owls, Star Charm (repeated), Guitar, Squirrel, Hand, Rose, Red Heart, Trees and Fog, Bud and Leaf, Butterflies,
love, Porcelain (4), Failte (Welcome)

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