Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A haphazard gardener and her shallots

Being a haphazard gardener means that I don't always know why a particular vegetable has a great year, or why that same vegetable has a poor year.

The shallots did splendidly, this year. All of the bulbs are large. Not a single scrawny one in the batch. And I can't say that I know, for certain, why.  It could be due to fertilizing the soil before planting the bulbs. Or it could be the warm spring we had. But then again, it could also be the wet summer. Maybe they were in a particularly sunny spot. I don't know for sure. But I will be sure to fertilize the soil before planting the garlic next year. I didn't do so for the garlic this year, as I planted those bulbs in autumn, before I had a supply of good fertilizer. If that proves to increase the size of my garlic, then I may be onto something.

In any case, I'm quite thrilled for the shallots.

I plant a lot of ordinary vegetables, like carrots, lettuce, cabbage and potatoes, each year. Even if I didn't grow those vegetables, I'd still buy them at the market. I grow them because they do so well, and can be counted on each season.

But I also plant a few items that I'd likely not buy, but I enjoy cooking, like the shallots. I love the flavor shallots give to cooking. They're not as pungent as garlic and not as sharp as onions. Shallots are in the just-right zone for flavoring salad dressings, making soups, or sauteeing with mushrooms to spoon over meat. They can be tolerated, raw, without ill effect. Or cooked to caramelized perfection, and melt on the tongue. But shallots can be pricey in the market. So, I'd likely not buy them. Growing these vegetables that I enjoy but wouldn't buy, allows me some luxury in my cooking.

And as for growing my own, shallots are quite frugal. I bought the ancestors to these bulbs about 15 or 16 years ago. I just save the very biggest each year, for planting in the next. And there's enough leftover for cooking throughout the winter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bargain thrift store clothing to use as crafting fabric

Our local St Vincent de Paul's has the 99 cents all clothing, back on for Sundays. this is a great opportunity to buy clothing for super cheap, of course, but also to find fabric for craft projects.

Daughter number 1 found this dress for daughter number 2 to try on. I saw this in her hands and the wheels in my mind began turning before I even knew if she'd like it on herself. When she put it back on the rack because it was too small, I snatched it up. The good items go quickly on Sundays.

You see, I loved the fabric for its crafting potential.

Possibilities --

  • covering a hat box for storage, or
  • covering a plain journal for one young woman I know, or
  • a cute skirt for another young woman I know, or
  • a cover for a cushion, or
  • covering for a half-dozen DIY padded hangers, or
  • 2 cloth napkins to put into a romantic picnic basket gift, along with enough leftover fabric to line said picnic basket, or
  • fabric to add to a shabby chic quilt
The dress was 99 cents. I have close to 1 yard of usable fabric in this dress. 99 cents for a yard of crafting fabric is a pretty good deal.