All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Worth Contemplating

"I am like a forest that has been razed; the new shoots are stronger and brighter."
- Victor Hugo

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gardening Fun

I had fun attending this FREE! workshop at the Penn State Hershey University Fitness Center today.  It was great to connect with others who are wanting to learn how to garden.  Joe & Seppi, my favorite gardeners from Your Garden Solution were on hand to present an Introduction to Square Foot Gardening.  And, the UFC's Exercise Physiologist even taught us how to exercise out in the garden or yard, using our garden tools and pots as exercise equipment - certainly beats going to the gym!  :)
What a great way to spend a Saturday!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Asparagus Lament

I am in mourning....  I cannot be consoled.  The asparagus season is OVER for me - a very brief two-week harvest season for my crop since my plants are only one year old.  (This article nicely details the recommended cutting time frames during the first four years of harvest.)  Asparagus is a thinking-ahead-to-the-future kind of crop as it takes a while to get established, but then produces for years.  Oh my, I barely had a chance to enjoy my limited harvest, much less try out all kinds of recipes tucked away in my asparagus file. 

There is no picture to go with this post as I have no freshly harvested asparagus to photograph!

Boo hoo....  Sob.... Wail...

Words can't even describe how fabulous it was.  I had read that freshly-cut asparagus is so much better than anything you can buy because it quickly turns fibrous and woody after being harvested.  It's so true!!  It was wonderfully tender and tasty, both the thick and the thin shoots.  Maybe the flavor was so amazing, partly because of the memories of  digging that asparagus trench all by myself last spring in anticipation of this very moment (I had considered paying someone to do it for me, but who do you get to dig asparagus trenches these days??  Even if I had a husband, how many husbands do you know who happily dig anything  for their wives??), or maybe it was because it was some of the first produce of the season from my garden.  Either way, I was quite enamoured and incredibly satiated.

Of course, I could keep cutting some more spears for eating; the asparagus season will last for another 6 weeks or so.  But, I'm going to be a good girl and give my asparagus the chance it needs to develop into healthy, established plants that will yield abundantly for years to come - 10-15 years according to the same article I referenced above.  Believe me, it was tempting to keep picking it - who would know, much less care?  Bottom line, it's worth the present restraint for the bounty I'll reap in later years.  (There's nothing like a garden to teach you self-discipline, not to mention loads of other spiritual lessons!)

At this point, I think I'm going to see if I can survive the rest of the asparagus season without purchasing any whatsoever for my own consumption.  (Of course, if someone serves it to me, I most definitely will not turn it down!)  Yes, I certainly could ask my dear asparagus gardener friends for a stash since they always have an abundance and delight in sharing their bounty with others.  I certainly could buy it at the local farmers market since it is plentiful and inexpensive right now, not to mention local and in season.  Instead, I'm going to see if I can hold off until my plants produce again next spring.  Why??  For a number of reasons.  Because there's lots more veggies coming in season in my garden, and I don't want to miss their shining moments.  Because it's a reminder to me that we're often so busy looking off into the horizon for the things we want or think we need when there are all kinds of wonderful things right under our noses.  Because I want to eat out of God's provision, not out of my own ability to provide for myself.  And, because I want the anticipation for next year's harvest to heighten my enjoyment of it next spring.

Bless you, asparagus!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Harry Potter Purse

I finally finished this Harry Potter purse for my sister's Christmas present (yes, I do realize that Christmas was almost 4 months ago....)!  It's made from the cover of an actual book.  (I know, I know - it's a crime to desecrate a Harry Potter book, but I did make good use of the actual pages - see photo at the end of this post!)

I'm not even going to attempt to give instructions on how to make one since it's definitely a "fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants" kind of project (not my specialty!).  However, I did find a You-Tube video that helped to get me started.

I was stumped on how to secure the lining in such a way that the purse could actually be used. It's not the sturdiest, because the lining is attached primarily by glue. 

But, today I had the little Amish lady at the belt stand at Root's Market attach these little rivets to secure it.  I think it will do the trick.

By the way, the lining fabric is scraps from the dress Alison (far left) wore to our older sister Renee's college graduation in 1979.

Merry Christmas, Alison!

Here's a picture of the origami flowers made from the book pages.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sweet Peas

I was at Lowes the other week, and just couldn't walk past the seed displays without checking them out, even though I certainly don't need any more vegetable or flower seeds.  These Sweet Peas look just like a lovely picture I had seen on Pintrest recently, so I was happy to add them to my cart.  I went to plant them this evening, but thought I should read up on the how-to's first, so I did a little research on line.  I was dismayed to discover that Sweet Peas don't like the heat and need to be planted as early as possible in the spring because they tend to fizzle out in the heat- just like regular peas.  Bummer!!  I was so looking forward to enjoying them this summer....  Oh well, I packed them away with a reminder note to plant them early next spring when I plant my sugar peas and sugar snap peas. 

One of the encouraging things about gardening is that there's always next year to try new things or correct mistakes!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Today's Root's Find

I've been wanting to try growing some Ranunculus ever since discovering them on one of my favorite blogs, A Country Farmhouse, so I was tickled to stumble across them at Root's today.  I didn't know anything about them - didn't realize they are a spring bulb.  I'm eager to try my hand at growing them; just have to figure out where to plant them.  :)  Also, was happy to purchase some Lily of the Valley bulbs.  My mother always had a patch of them, and they remind me of sweet, old-fashioned days....

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunlight & Seedlings

Easter Traditions

Today was a busy day of preparation and celebration, but I had just enough time to make butter again this year, my annual Easter tradition for the third year now.  I know it sounds a little goofy, but I am comforted in knowing that my dear friend Phyllis gets the significance of my tradition too.  :)

A quart of raw milk cream yields approximately 1 1/4 lbs. of butter.  Believe it or not, that usually lasts me until Easter rolls around again.  The logs store nicely in the freezer wrapped in parchment paper, then in a plastic freezer bag.  Of course, I use it very sparingly since it's such a sacred commodity, and a bit pricey too (I paid $11.00 for the quart of cream from grass-fed cows at the farm down the road).  But it works great; I use commercial butter for baking, use olive oil as much as possible when I can, and save this for the times that nothing other than butter will do.