Friday, 12 December 2014


Hello!  I hope you're all well and keeping cosy.

I can't believe it's time to get ready for Christmas with only 13 days left.  Panic stations!

This poor neglected blog needs a dusting off.

The lovely summer and autumn weather was more for doing. Winter is the time for writing (among other things) while hibernating and keeping warm.

I'm back!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Great Going With Growing


It's August ALREADY!!!!    It's that time of the summer when I'm so used to warm, sunny days that I expect them and sometimes take them for granted by not going out about to enjoy it.  It's also the time of the summer when I begin to panic that all my soaking the seeds in February/March, carefully planting them in little pots with my own rigged up "greenhouse"atmosphere for them, making sure they get time under the little grow light I have and hovering over them like a mother with a newborn will come to nothing.  I experience a touch of anxiety the first time I put them outside around the second week of April, putting them out for an hour the first time and checking them frequently for signs of stress.  As I build up time for them to be outdoors I to learn to be separated from them with less angst.  Once they're on their own I make sure that they're secure and staked up, safe from windy storms and I learn to adjust their watering requirements.  I'm learning who they are and what they need.  They grow, they branch out and then one day I spot the beginning of a flower.  I feel the excitement and anticipation of a grandparent-to be and try to make the best environment to help my "baby" give birth to her baby, giving her fertiliser and more water, giving her a spritz of homemade pest repelling spray. I love to sit out in the late afternoon sun and just look at all my babies growing their babies.  But then August happens I start to panic.  The pregnancy (flowering) is going on for far too long and I being to panic.  Will I have sunflower, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers,nasturtium?  Has something gone wrong at this late stage?  And then virtually overnight this happens!
This sunflower had to be re-homed to the garden on Sunday just as the larger one had to be the week before.  This time there was no neighbour home to help so I thought about it for a while and decided that going backwards down the stairs (very carefully) might get the whole thing down intact and I was right.  This was my reward for my great moving job.  The larger one continues to grow but the flower has not come out yet although I can see it  from my balcony getting more and more ready to burst forth . It's well over 8 ft. now! 

and these on the balcony:

The this tomato plant in the garden is growing taller and taller.  Little flowers have begun to pop out but I think it's going to be a late bloomer.  Luckily tomato plants can continue growing into October here so there's hope for these Beefsteaks yet.

The nasturtiums planted in the little flower bed I made are doing better than the ones on the balcony and the ones I tried to grow in the house.

They can also be late bloomers.  The ones I had on the balcony flowered twice through the winter.  That little flash of orange flowers was a cheering sight on the cold, drab, dismal days of December, January and February.

All this outside growing demands lots of water.  It's been a struggle carrying a 20 liter and 10 liter container numerous times down two flights of stairs.  OH has been a big help with these but it's been a struggle filling the supply with the demand.  Yesterday I put the pressure on for him to finally dig my hose that I brought with me from Ireland out from the depths of our storage room.  He can be a very lazy so and so at times but I presented a great case for reducing the need for water trips up and down the stairs.

That's it all rigged up from the sink in the shower room.  There's just enough room to store it on it's reel  in there when not in use so that worked out well. I'm still a bit afraid to leave the faucet unattended since I had a bad experience in my kitchen in Ireland that resulted in a flooded kitchen floor.  (I ended up getting an outside tap put in.) So for the time being it'll be a two person job: one to do the watering downstairs and the other to turn on/off the water and keep a close eye on any leaks.  I'll try fine tuning the connections. to keep a better seal from tap to hose but right now I'm a happy camper.

I wish you happiness in your gardens, too.

Monday, 28 July 2014

June Was Gone Too Soon And July Went Flying By

...and here I am finally!

How are you all?

The weather has been mostly beautiful this past few weeks and I've been taking advantage of it by working on the garden downstairs.  Everything growing on the balcony is going full blast now and demanding a lot of attention with watering, pruning, staking, moving, etc.  Yesterday I had to have an emergency re-homing (with the help of my upstairs neighbour, Luigi) of this monster that grew way too large for the balcony and was way over two meters tall.
It's now enjoying the great outdoors of the garden and can reach it's full potential.  I need to read the seed packet next time for maximum heights next time!

My little flower patch in the garden is coming along quite well. Things are growing and flowering and generally settling into their new environment.
I'm particularly proud of the nasturtiums growing in there from seed.  I must take a better photo of them.  This one is a few days old and they've leapt up a few inches more since then.  The forks continue to keep the cats of it this area. The red spots on the ground surrounding the flower patch is my own mix of cayenne pepper, cinnamon and garlic which keeps the cats from crapping there,too.

 I've been largely successful with Operation No Crap In Our Garden and am claiming more and more space for growing and human enjoyment.  I'm full of ideas and plans for the garden for next year and beyond.  I'm trying or organise a communal veggie and herb garden although a couple of the residents here won't be participating either because they're too busy or too old/infirm. The two on the top floor have larger balconies and also rooftop gardens so aren't interested.  So I've asked the ones not participating if I can have their space. There is another section to this building which has a ground floor apartment for a disabled tenant and it has a whole garden the size of ours. I've become  fairly friendly with him (Theo)  and keep his spare key for when he locks himself out (which is usually at least once a week.)  When he gets his apartment cleaned every other week  the cleaner invariably disconnects his tv and/or the internet and my OH goes over to get it sorted for him. So he likes us and it's all very cordial.  He's not able to maintain his garden (he has Parkinson's) and it's like a jungle in there. This is the view of it from my balcony:

 So I asked  him if I could have part of his garden for growing veggies and in return would clear out and maintain the rest of it.  He was more then happy to accept my proposal with the proviso that I don't grow any onions.  Agreed!  (Onions weren't in my plans anyway.)  It'll take a while to clear that mess out and we'll do it after the summer hopefully with some of the other neighbours helping us out.  This is what it looks like when approaching it from our side:
It's about 2 meters tall and densely full of a lot of everything all tangled together. You can't even get through there so I will have to hack my way through.  Theo tried to get in there last week and couldn't when he locked himself out again and thought he could walk through our side into his back door.  I have my work cut out for me!

I just keep planning and dreaming of garden  fresh veggies for me!  Plus I love planting seeds and watching, tending and loving what grows from them. 

My next post (hopefully tomorrow) will be about some of the other things I've been doing and making over the past several weeks.  I hope you'll drop in and let me share this with you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

May Days Part II

Hello Friends and Curious Anonymous Readers

I hope that you're doing well and it's all rosy in your gardens.

I got some new eyeglasses with current pair being 5 years old and the lenses were scratched very badly so much so that I was having trouble seeing out of them.  I needed my prescription adjusted, too so with the new specs the world was looking a whole lot better.  It's ironic that I then had an allergy flare-up which left me with itchy and teary eyes but the worst of it was blurry vision.  So here I was with new glasses but couldn't see anyway so I couldn't post as promised.

 I know it's not May anymore so this is now a retrospective look at the past month.

My son's partner was looking for hanging plant hangers on the 'net but hasn't found one he either likes or is available to ship to the UK.  His birthday was coming up so my son asked me if I could make something in particular colours to suit the giftee.  After a discussion over macramé vs. crochet I pulled out a few colours from my stash and with his approval began to make the hanger.  I've made a few before for myself so the actual design and measurements have all been worked out which made it a snap to do. Here is the finished result which was a hit with the recipient.

I decided I needed one, too but in my favourite colours not to hang but to cover -up an ugly pot.  The plant in it (peace lily/Spathiphyllum) has been doing very well so I thought I would give it a reward.
 I've been trying a new yarn It's called Zpaghetti and I got it from here.  It's mostly cotton and is from offcuts of T shirt fabric from clothing factories. It's thick and heavy and a bit stretchy and takes a bit of wrist action to work. I'm working on a rug for the kitchen and here it is in progress.

I've started it and ripped it out a few times and it's actually much further along now but I'm not quite ready for a reveal photo yet.  I've ordered more it of as I've got an idea for another project and this is just what I've been looking for. 

Outside on the balcony things are progressing very well now that it's warmed up a bit.  My tomatoes and peppers grown from seed (I love to point that out and boast about it) are over the "will they make it" hump and are looking very promising now.

Tomatoes, Peppers & Sunflowers Growing From Seed

The first few strawberries have appeared and I was pleasantly surprised to find these popping out:
I planted these seeds for these lovely and fragrant Sweet Peas in late July last year.  They grew a little I couldn't get the tendrils  to wrap around the bamboo stick.

Sweet Peas
  They survived being left outside during the winter in a spot close to the building for some shelter against the heavy winds that we had.  The bottom leaves tell the story of it's difficult beginnings but it's turning into a beauty.  I've got some carnations growing (no photo yet) and yesterday I sat outside between the sweet peas and carnations and the fragrance was gorgeous.  Every time a breeze blew through I get another hit of the exquisite perfume the combination of the two were making. 

Last night I was supposed to be going to a birthday party but I was still feeling a bit fuzzy and fatigued so had to pass on it.  This morning I'm feeling much better so will be going down to the garden soon to plant in some new flowering plants that I picked up on the Dappermarkt for €1 each yesterday.   I'm planting them in a spot where I seen them from my balcony.  

Oh, and Operation "No Cat Crap In Our Garden" has been a success so far.  I've gone down there a few times equipped with tools to remove any deposits but there haven't been any.  Success!  We need to stay vigilant over it and keep putting down the orange peels and sprinkling the stuff from the pet store along with the essential oils.  I mixed it up the other day and left out the asafetida since we could smell it throughout the whole building and I don't want to alienate the neighbours with the stench so I used citronella, lemon and eucalyptus instead.  That smelled really nice but didn't permeate the building like the asafetida and lemon mixture did. Now that we've reclaimed this space for human enjoyment I'm on the lookout for a table to eat on out there.  I think there's a Free Cycle here so will check it out on the 'net.  I've also been checking where the trash is laid out by all the residents on the street because sometimes what's one person's junk is another person's treasure.  Sundays (today) is a very good day for this since most households tend to have a tidy up at the weekends.

Well I'm off to enjoy the weather and hope that it's beautiful where you are. There are still a couple of more things to show and tell but I'll leave them for another time as the sun demands it's worship. So long for now!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

May Days Part 1

Hello Peeps!

Wow! May is almost gone.  It's been a mostly nice month for me. I've been in a some pain (mostly my knee)  this month because of all the rain and dampness but looking at all the plants and flowers that are growing as a result cheers me up.  The view from my favourite chair is lush, and colourful and I'm thankful for that view when I can't get out and do much walking.

I finally got around to using a gift certificate from my wonderful son for the Aveda Dayspa for a Spa Treatment.  It's been a few years since I've done anything like this and it was heaven!  I nearly floated out of there when I left.  It was just what I needed.

We've used this time to fix up the garden outside at long last. It only took 5 years of living here to get around to it.  It's a communal garden but no one seems really interested in it and a couple of the residents are too elderly to be able to do much.  It's down two flights of stairs and there's no water tap out there so it was already a challenge for me.  The local cats have been making one corner of it nearest the building their public toilet.  We spent nearly and hour digging, sifting and lifting out all the crap.  There was a bit of old fence propped up against a neighbours shed and it gave me an idea.  Cats can't shit on what they can't dig it so to get them to forget about that spot I thought I'd make as difficult as possible for them.  I laid the old fence on the ground with the nails sticking up and planted a few things in the spaces where the slats had broken off.  Before planting I thoroughly watered the area with asafetida and lemon essential oils mixed into it.  Asafetida, appropriately nicknamed "Devil's Dung", stinks all on it's own.  It's a cross between garlic gone bad and onion gone bad.  It's powdered form (Hing) is used in very small pinches in Indian cooking to help the digestion. I know that cats don't like citrus smell and no one likes the asafetida smell so here's hoping......  The neighbours have noticed the smell that lasted for a couple of days. After planting we laid down some orange peels from our fresh squeezed that morning. The OH has been replacing them every morning with fresh ones.  I also got some stuff from the pet shop to sprinkle on the area for good measure and maybe can ease up on the essential oil waterings.  So far so good although I noticed yesterday that an attempt was made to dig but no deposits left.  I know the crapping won't stop immediately but if we clean up any that does end up there as soon as it's noticed and water down the area with more asafetida and lemon eventually they should give up and find somewhere else.  This method worked for me once before in Ireland when I was having trouble with some feral cats for a while only then I had powdered asafetida instead of the oil.
I've been enjoying sitting out there and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.  I'm on the lookout for a discarded table or two since what's out there is more than ready for the trash. Various chairs, discarded or unwanted by neighbours (including us),  have found there way out there so there's plenty of seats.  I'm looking forward to a barbecue or two before the summer is over.

Here are a few snaps of it.


A slide made from an old table by one of my neighbours for his children.  Mind the splinters!

   We finally got some Museumkarts and went to the Hermitage on the Amstel to view the Silk Route exhibition.  I enjoyed it although I was more interested in what the archaeologists found rather than the process of finding it.   This time I tried the wheelchair although I hate it.  I finally decided after being in so much pain at various places that I couldn't concentrate on enjoying it.  OH had to push me of course but he's had to push his grandmother around during outings in here last few months of life so has had a bit of practice.  He pushed me into a couple of displays (embarassing) and forgot that I wanted to look at something while "parking" me sideways to the display.  We stayed for over a couple of hours and I got to enjoy what I saw instead of only being occupied by one thought: When could I  find a place to sit down soon?  I don't like being in the chair but have decided that if it's the only way to get out there and enjoy museums and the like then that's the way it has to be.  I was in fine enough shape afterwards to walk (with my crutch) a bit along the canals since it was a lovely, sunny day.  The next day I was in great form not having to spend it recovering from the ordeal of being out the day before.  It's had a knock on effect and I was good for a few days.

The good feeling came to an end when I became quite unwell with dizziness, itching and painful ear and sinus congestion.  It's gone now with the help of some ear drops from the doctor and massive doses of Wellness Formula.  The dizziness was caused by the ear problem it seems.  I think it was a major pollen allergy flare-up.

While I was feeling too dizzy to move around much I got busy with my hooks.  I needed some curtain tie backs that went with the colours of my other soft furnishings for the summer.  While I was at it I also made something for keep the balcony door from flying wide open when I have it open for fresh air on windy days.  I have a foam doorstop thingy to keep it from slamming closed but nothing to keep it slamming the other way.