EDIT (5/26/2020): I forgot to add another skill I learned. I’m probably most proud of this one! 😎. While trimming a huge shrub I accidentally cut the cord!😩 I was 99% done with trimming. The cord was a nice, big, 100 ft cord … not the basic orange kind. Plus, I cut it right near the end so most of the cord was good… it was a clean cut through. Well, I tend to be ….frugal… borderline …*throat clearing*… cheap. 🤷🏽♀️ So, I learned about these little things called heat shrink butt connectors. They are amazing! After a couple of YT lessons I had a fully working cord again.
Skills I learned during The Lockdown
How to use a drill.🤷🏽♀️. Don’t laugh. My dad passed one down to me when he clearly was not going to be using it anymore. I had to figure it out because I have a towel rack or two to hang, and holes to drill in the bottom of plant pots. Thanks to YouTube I am a pro now (sort of), well, not quite but I can get what I need done.
How to dehydrate vegetables. Yes, people. Ran across a video on dehydrating and haven’t looked back. A great way to store food that I can catch a deal on but don’t need to eat right away.
How to hand pollinate squash. Now, this is something that never crossed my mind prior to starting a garden. You know what? … it works very much the same way as it does for people 🤪. The female flower parts look one way and the male part looks another way. Bees usually do this work but now I know how to help out the bees. 🐝
How to start/maintain a container garden.This was out of the blue but the thing that has kept me sane during the lockdown. You can see more about it on my blog, http://www.vesselsandvittles.com.
How to change a Condensate Pump on my HVAC system. I had NO desire to know how to do this but like most HVAC systems mine broke on a holiday. It was rather frustrating actually. Talked with a friend, watched a few videos, and did my ‘thang’. Bottom line, It’s working now … no pride here, just a necessity thing when you haven’t a choice. And, I decided to get a service contract.
Lockdown certainly hasn’t been boring.
Have you picked up any new skills during this time?
It seems I’ve heard that phrase a lot over the past three months or so. That’s because Corona has changed everything! Any plans made in January for early 2020 were knocked off the map immediately.
Well, with everything on hold, or stopped, I found myself needing to regroup. I’m not good at sitting around doing nothing in the evenings. I always have projects set up. I worked from home anyway so my days weren’t different but after work I’d usually head out to do stuff. Not anymore.
So, I did a patio project. 😊 …. on the cheap, because that’s how I roll. My patio was the typical 12×12 slab of cement right outside the back door.
Pretty boring. Here is what I did: 1. First, I measured out a 3 foot perimeter around the patio into the grass area. My lawn is pathetic bit I don’t care about that.
2. I filled in the perimeter with brown mulch from Home Depot. Only took about 8-10 bags.
3. Then I went around my yard and collected large rocks. I have more rocks in my yard than a quarry… really ridiculous….but they came in handy because I used them as a border on the mulch. Feeling pretty already.
4. My mom was parting with a nice patio chaise lounge so I grabbed it and stuffed it in my little car and brought it to its new home. 😎
5. Part of my reason for wanting to modify my patio was because I wanted to start a veggie container garden. So, next I needed to find ways to have my containers off the ground because I have The Wild Kingdom in my back yard… rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, possums, every bird species known to mankind, cats, and a hawk or two. I mainly needed to make sure the rabbits didn’t think I was opening up a buffet for them.
I went through a series of ideas …. using stuff I had because I don’t know how to build anything. So, using some extra landscape blocks and some shelves off FB for $5…and the seller was gracious enough to even deliver it. (Some awesome folks in the world)😊
6. The next treasure I picked up was from FB as well. A subdivision near me that had a pool area decided To replace all their umbrellas and sold them for $25 each!😳💪🏽 These were not small residential ones, they were commercial size heavy duty ones. I beat to the pickup place at 6am the next morn before work and grabbed one that, besides being A little faded looked great! Score!! I’d picked up a brand new heavy stand the season before for $15. 🥰
7. Again on FB I picked up two huge beautiful resin planters, which means I could lift them by myself. Got both for $10. The seller later told me that his wife was mad that he sold them so cheap but he told her, “l’m happy they sold and are out of the way and Jan is happy.” Lol lol. Yes, I am kind sir.
8. Last, I set up my garden. You can read my last post about the garden but once that was in place I just sat back and relaxed.
Along with a few other low-cost or freebie items I changed my whole patio for hardly any money! Part of the joy of it all for me is getting a good deal!!
Today, I sat and enjoyed the fruits of my labor.😍. So pretty to me.
Well, I hope Corona hasn’t derailed you too much and that you‘ve found something to put your heart and soul into while waiting out out lockdown.
It seems things are slowly opening back up so stay safe out there!
2020 has not been kind for the most part so far. In December we were singing Jingle Bells and only 3 months later we were all locked in our houses and avoiding each other. 😟
As of today, I have been sheltered in for about 9 weeks. I mean, I’ve been in my house alone and only went out for necessities. I tried to consolidate my outings; keeping a list of things needed and after a couple weeks I’d go out early in the morning and get what was needed, so I rarely ran into many people.
Recently , I’ve been starting to feel it. I’ve worked from home for a while for my day job so that wasn’t different but I could feel my spirit dropping. This morning I decided I was going out for a while, for no reason. I took a long drive on a sunny, air-chilled day. Then I went to buy art supplies. It was a perfect remedy. So, I think I will make it. ✌🏽
What I wanted to share here though is my new hobby. With all this ‘home’ time I decided to play in my yard.
If you follow my blog at all, you’ve seen my Japanese Maple posts where I started to grow a bunch of trees last year. I had no idea how they’d do over the winter. I tucked them in a corner on the outside of my house and poured a lot of mulch around them. A couple weeks ago I pulled them out, and watered them. They looked a little pitiful, I was sure most were dead.
However, after a few days, I started to see little buds on a few of them. 🙂
I did notice though, after the Japanese Maples started to grow, that there were 5 of them that looked QUITE different, and a couple of the strange ones like this eventually died.
When I emptied the pots with the dead trees I discovered that those were NOT Japanese Maples, they were actually OAK trees. Whaaaaat?? Squirrels had dug up my trees and buried acorns in the pots. Uuuugh!. So, I overwintered 25 or so Japanese Maples and in the Spring I had 20 Maples and 5 Oak trees. I decided to grow the Oaks too. Thanks Squirrel Rats!
Anyway, while sheltered in, I decided to try my hand at growing other things. Being in a place where the ground is basically clay, rocks, and boulders, I decided to grow vegetables in containers. What sparked all this is when I saw a video on YouTube where a girl grew lettuce from the soil bag. Whaaat?? I need to do that, I thought …. especially after having limits place on my ability to freely go purchase all kinds of salad fixings. After I watched that video and a million others, guess what?…..
….a GARDEN WAS BORN! 🥕🥬🌶🍅
This took way more thought than I’d imagined. I had to learn about what kind of containers, the layout, what vegetables to plant, etc. In order not to use all of my tiny patio space, I extended it all around by 3′ which gave me a perfect place to set up containers. Then, after a few changes to table set-ups I finally had something I thought would work for this first Test Veggie Garden.
I decided to grow purple potatoes, carrots, beets, ginger, spinach, summer squash, and of course, a soil bag of salad mix. I ended up using lots Grow Bags, which seemed perfect.
On FB Marketplace I found a wooden 3-tier shelf unit a guy built for his garage made out of pallets and he was moving and sold them to me for $5. He even delivered it to me. Thanks guy! I put water sealant on the shelves and you can see one of the shelves used as a container table on top of a few of my landscape blocks. So perfect. The pallets allow for drainage too. These Japanese Maples are just showing off now. haha! I seriously need this garden to be functional but also be kinda pretty…. I don’t live on a farm … yet. The HOA still rules in my world.
Grow Bags & a Bucket
Here are some pics of the veggies …
I just started seeing a little peek of spinach that showed itself today….
HaHa! I know they are all still babies but I’m a City Girl! I wasn’t even sure anything would grow so I’m excited!.
Now for the Show Stopper…. my SALAD MIX about six or so different varieties of lettuce!! Isn’t it beautiful? This is after only about 2 weeks after sprinkling seeds. It’ll be time to eat in about…. a month! It’s suppose to be a cut and come again process, so as the leaves mature I will just pick a few leaves from all over the bag and it keeps growing until it exhausts itself. That’s how it’s supposed to work anyway.
Well, I can add learning how to grow a Container Vegetable garden to my list of things learned during the Corona Pandemic.
Be sure to come back to see the progression of this project!
Today was one of those milestone moments. Two words kept coming to mind throughout the day: ‘passages’ and ‘seasons’. Different words but similar in that they both represent change.
I’m old enough now to be more aware of ‘being old’ and what that really means; not that I feel I’m old and creaky but I have friends who I met when they were around my age or older but now they are 70s and 80s; some are doing really well, but others are using walkers, canes, wheelchairs, sporting new knees, in assisted living, having memory issues, etc. I recently moved my own father into an assisted living facility. That whole process has struck a place in my heart that had been untouched until now. Having never married, no children, no nieces and nephews, I realized, in a stark reality kind of way, that my parents are my immediate ‘family’ and to see them move into the next stage of life, likely the final stage, is somewhat alarming and frankly a bit frightening. It has made me look at my own life in a different, more tangible, way I suppose. I remember when they were my age; and it wasn’t that long ago.
I looked out my window the other day and saw the tiny black kitten that has chosen my yard as a respite just sitting on the corner. I stood there watching it wondering what it would do. It did nothing. It sat there for the longest time. I understood. Sometimes, you just have to stop and in the middle of all the madness and wait until clarity comes… then move on and handle the situations.
I didn’t really have 55 candles; I need to conserve my breath😉. I have, however, been seriously thinking about how I want the next season of my life to play out if I have a choice.
At the end of last year, I thought I’d be deeply entrenched in working on a PhD in 2019. It didn’t work out like that, and I glad. This year has turned out to be very difficult; no way could I have been in an academic program, but I’ve been thinking about life, and the future a lot.
Sitting in front of a TV every evening after working all day is NOT on the agenda. Traveling the country, seeing new things, meeting new people, blogging, art, IS on the agenda. Planning for this new adventure, whether is happens or not, simply gives me something to look forward to. Pouring through endless YouTube videos has been like a RV-ing , road-tripping education. I’ve learned so much.
There are so many things I like about my life right now; I have a great job and one of the best boss’ ever, I have a great hobby as an artist, I have terrific friends, a wonderful church I attend. Life is good…and life is also very challenging at times. I have a lot of responsibilities, but I don’t mind it so much. I make the decisions I need to make, as I need to make them, and move on, through sleepless nights, laughter, tears and all. Thankfully, I’m good at decision making.
Not really much else to say here; just pondering on the gift of life, and how quickly it slowly rolls by, and how a lot of it is affected by the decisions we make and also how much of it happens in spite of us. We have to be ready for it all. That’s just life.
My prayer for this time and forward is that God helps me to age gracefully, not hating old age, not complaining about it, not wishing it was other than what is, just living each day as it shows itself; full of gray hair, groaning flesh, and hopefully with His unlimited grace.
Peace and love to you😘 … I’m headed off to find senior discounts. 😜
Blue Skies, Smiling at Me, Nothing But Blue Skies, Do I see. Well, not really. Do you know that song?
It’s been three months since my last post. That was unintentional. Back in April I was moving along with lots of goals, challenges, intentions, motives, duties, requirements, etc.. … then, BAM! I was suddenly overwhelmed. No one noticed. I didn’t even notice at first.
Life happens. Sometimes smoothly and uneventful, and sometimes like a boulder racing down a mountainside stopping only after it has run over you and slammed onto a street or some other obstacle below. I woke up one day feeling like a boulder had crushed my soul. I was doing too much. I am pretty good and managing multiple things; have always done it without much issue, either by choice or necessity. But suddenly, I was overwhelmed by my own life and circumstances.
The first thing to fall apart was my eating habits. After 2+ years of being healthy, I found food to be a visiting friend again. :(. Yep, gained some poundage. 😦 I woke up in the morning only looking forward to crawling back into bed that night. I did the things I had to do to with little excitement. Some disappointments rolled into my world. I thought I was getting depressed, but decided I was overloaded and tired; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
One of the biggest things I took away from this time is that ….. everyone else is overloaded and tired too. Everyone else is managing a boatload of issues as well. OK, not everyone, but I bet you needn’t look far to find someone in your world who is suffering from loss, death of a loved one, illness, children issues, aging parents, financial issues, relationship/friendship issues, etc. Lots going on in the world. Not to mention things that are happening politically, economically, and socially in the world.
I had to slow down for a few weeks. Be alone. I primarily got up in the morning, worked at my job, and slept. Thank God for friends… but there really is some truth to the saying, “Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.”
Anyway, in the midst of those low slow days I would go outside at lunch time and sit on my back patio and just look at the blue sky, the beautiful trees, different kinds of birds, and jumbo bumblebees hanging around the Rose of Sharon. I notices that after lunch I must felt better. Being outside in the sunshine, thinking about nothing, just sitting and breathing refreshed my heart and soul.
….. I even got a chance to photograph visiting bunnies too.
During this time, I realized I needed to do something that was out of the ordinary for my world. Fortunately, I discovered a ‘thing’ that has brought a happy distraction to my life. As a younger woman, I used to wonder why some older women I knew spent so much time in their yards and gardens. Why???
I know now.
I discovered that digging in the dirt a bit each day and planting things was a ‘happy’ thing for me. So, I planted. I bought a manual tiller and started tilling areas of my lawn and planted Microclover in the lawn. I planted 2 Moon Flowers plants a friend gave me.
I planted a container flower arrangement for the first time in my life. I loved how it turned out. Pretty good for a newbie.
Right before this time, I planted 25 or so Japanese Maple tree seedlings that I pulled from my yard this Spring. Tending to these babies was, and is, a wonderful daily distraction for a few moments each day. Here is a picture of the babies. I’ll do another post on this later. (See April 7, 2019 post)
All that to say, I’m feeling much better and back on track, finally. I am eating healthily again (…going to do another post on this process later… doing some changes to better maintain hopefully). I’m sleeping more soundly, and I am dealing better with life issues overall.