The Propagation of Succulents Part 2

The cuttings that I took from my succulent garden have been scabbed over for a couple days, but due to the daily rain (I didn’t know that I lived in Florida…) I didn’t want to add them to the garden just yet for fear that they’d take on too much water. This morning after yet another forecast that included rain, I decided to bring the succulent garden into the ‘not-so-sunny sunroom’ to add the scabbed over cuttings and give the whole batch of plants a break from the rain. I’ll hopefully get them back outside this weekend to enjoy the sun, and possibly a little rain. The goal is to cultivate a thriving succulent garden so that once the deck is finished (or started for that matter…) I can hang the garden vertically in that space.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

A Rare Saturday

I cannot remember the last time that Mike and I spent an entire weekend day together. Usually we have Saturday mornings over breakfast and then go our separate ways for the rest of the weekend. And by go our separate ways, Mike heads off to work and I stay at home and work – usually with visits with friends/family interspersed. Even after getting his new job, he’s had to log some hefty weekend hours (boo). So it truly was a rare Saturday yesterday when we were in the same place at the same time all day (we did spend some time apart for a few hours when Mike mowed the lawn and did some chores while I launched my second Etsy shop – Peas & Thank You Paperie: Whimsical Stationery for your Baby – moved some tomato plants and straightened up around the house).

I actually got through the majority of my to-do list, which rarely happens on a Saturday, largely in part because Mike was home also being productive. After all, I couldn’t very well watch a few episodes of Will & Grace in good conscience while he did the dishes. The most amazing part of the near completion of my to-do list was that we spent the whole morning and into the early afternoon on a wonderful excursion to the Chicago Botanic Gardens with my parents (I’ll post a few photos in another blog post) – which meant that I got a lot done in just the timespan of the mid-late afternoon.

Dinner consisted of an actual meal (something that I usually only have on the weekends if I’m hanging out at my parent’s house – otherwise I just graze). We made bow-tie pasta with kale, pine nuts and alfrado sauce. But when it came time to add the kale, the bag that we’d opened to make tacos with however long ago smelled funky, so we had to throw it away. Not to worry though, I was able to go out to the vegetable garden and cut some fresh kale to add to our pasta. We decided that at least for the summer (unless it dries up in the upcoming heat) we don’t need to buy bagged greens that inevitably go bad when we open them and don’t finish them right away, rather we can just cut what we need from the vegetable garden (FINALLY!!! YOU DON’T KNOW HOW LONG I’VE WAITED FOR THIS MOMENT!)

After a full day of walking and getting things done we settled in for the evening with some West Wing while I packaged stamps and Mike kept his laundry moving. So this must be what it’s like to be a regular couple on the weekends for a change 😉

A Study in Succulent Propagation

A Study in Succulent Propagation

This mixture of sunny/rainy weather has breathed new life into my succulents. Enough that they’ve started growing new branches off of themselves – which I think bodes well for propagating new plants. Succulents can grow roots and new plants off of cuttings and detached leaves.

This morning I took some cuttings and am going to attempt to grow new plants to add to my little succulent garden. I’ve brought the cuttings inside to let the ends scab over. Then they should be ready to be inserted back into the soil, where in theory they’ll grow roots and continue to grow as new plants.

An Evening In the Yard

Wednesday morning I was out cutting some arugula for my friend Steve when I noticed some flower buds starting to form. Those buds + the impending string of hot days in the forecast meant one thing: my arugula was about to bolt. Cue a joke from Mike about not knowing that arugula had legs… Bolting actually means that the plant is going to flower, and the leaves will shortly thereafter dry up. The first year that I grew arugula, back in the Wilson house, I thought you could just leave it in the ground until you were ready to consume it – and it was there that I learned about bolting when I went out into the yard one day to a dried up patch of arugula.

arugula_flower

I believe that little piece of white fluff is where the flower is going to form

Learning from the past, I decided to harvest the rest of the arugula when I got home from work last night. I brought three bags to work for some arugula-loving co-workers and dropped a bag off at my parent’s house. So. Much. Arugula.

Thanks to all of the rain that we’ve been having and some new water-management equipment that I purchased prior to planting this year’s garden everything in the raised bed seems to be thriving (the tomatoes and blueberries are located in pots near the backdoor, and the vote is out on how well they’re doing since I have no experience with them – time will tell).

whole_garden_2013

In order bottom to top: miniature pumpkins, arugula, kale, mirco greens

About half of my pumpkin seeds sprouted – next step is to get them to flower. After that, we’ll have to see – that’s about as far as my pumpkins made it last summer before dying.

pumpkins_1

Pumpkin plants

The arugula is a small forest, and as usual, is doing the best.

arugula_1

Forest of arugula

I think the kale is almost large enough to start cutting. I’m excited to see how it tastes in comparison to the stuff in our refrigerator.

Kale_1

Kale

And lastly, the not-so-micro, micro greens. With the week+ of daily rain these took off before I could cut them while they were 2 inches tall. I might plant another batch to actually cut in time, but I’m curious what would happen if I let this batch continue to grow. Micro greens are a mix of other types of vegetables that are intended to be cut in their earliest stages and added to salads and such for concentrated flavor.

microgreens_1

Micro greens

Having a water timer has been one part my lifeline in adequate watering. This way I can just set it (I usually set it for 30-60 minutes) and walk away to go something else and know that my plants are getting plenty of water. The one that I bought (pictured below) is pretty basic – but there are others on the market with more bells and whistles. As of right now, I have no gripes with mine – it’s done what I needed it to do, and for that I’ve got no complaints.

water timer

Water timer – bought on Amazon.com, click to visit the product page

The other part of my watering system is the ‘weeping hose’ otherwise known as a soaker hose. The beauty in how these hoses work is that they just connect to your regular hose, you weave them throughout your garden, and they ‘weep’ water out of loose seams that drips right onto the roots of your plants – making it harder to lose water to evaporation and keeping the leaves from rotting. The soaker hose that I got works great, the only thing I wish I’d thought to do would be to have purchased a longer soaker hose. I bought a 25 foot soaker hose and think that with a 50 foot soaker hose more of my plants could get water from it (the plants along the soaker hose are thriving).

soaker_hose

The soaker hose in action. You can see it delivers the water where you need it and no where else. Click on the photo to get to the product link.

While I was busy in the garden, Mike was at the grill making dinner. I assumed he was grilling the usual brats and hamburgers, and was surprised when he lifted the grill lid to show me a beautifully golden Beer Can Chicken. It was fantastic and between the 2.33 of us, we consumed all of the meat off of the bird.

beer_can_chicken

For those of you not familiar with beer can chicken, you get a beer can chicken stand (usually about $10, you can find them on Amazon and probably in cooking stores). In the most basic sense, you put a half full can of beer in the stand and stick the chicken on top. Then it sits on the grill and you end up with a juicy, flavorful chicken. I’d recommend looking at instructions or a recipe for best results, Mike referenced a Beer Can Chicken cookbook for cooking temperatures and such, but overall found the process remarkably simple and straightforward.

All in all it was a wonderful evening spent on our back porch: great food, flowing conversation, beautiful weather and each other’s company 🙂

Side note: Steve has challenged Mike and I to plus-up the next Beer Can Chicken with the following modifications:

Beer_can_chicken_mod

Illustration courtesy of Steve Wilson

Mortgage 102

On Saturday, while Mike was at work, I happened to check online to see what our bank accounts were up to. Everything was business as usual: bills were paid, paychecks were direct deposited, according to the bank account Mike had recently eaten at Potbelly’s, and our mortgage had gone up. Wait. Oh, nevermind, we’ve been in the house a year, we knew this would happen due to property taxes. *Sydney opens the calculator app on her phone* … *insert expletives here*.

The number on the calculator read $450. Yes, four hundred and fifty dollars! Okay, maybe that’s normal, I’ve never owned a house before.

Because I enjoy to use my calculator app more than most people, I multiplied that number by 12. And then I jumped out of my skin. Our taxes went up over $5,000!?!? That doubles our income taxes!

I immediately shot Mike an e-mail. His response, “there wasn’t enough money in our escrow, they miscalculated our taxes, I have a sheet explaining it in the filing cabinet – we can go over it if you’d like”.

Man alive, whoever calculated our taxes when we bought the house needs a new calculator app on their phone… they were clearly off by a lot. Speaking of lot, why did we fall in love with a house on such a big lot, this is clearly why our taxes are now in the 5 digits!

After a few more minutes of lamenting about affording these new taxes and the size of our lot, I decided to do what I do best. Call Helene.

When I asked mom how much taxes typically go up each year she said $60-$100 and some rare years they go down. It didn’t take her more than a second to figure out that our taxes did not actually go up $450/month. She said that it was a one-time adjustment that you can pay all at once or spread out over months to get your escrow account ready for the next installment of taxes if the bank doesn’t think that you’ll have enough in your account to cover your taxes.

Mike confirmed this when he got home.

Crisis averted. Our taxes are back down in the 4 digits and I’ve jumped back into my skin.

Raise Your Hans

Who’s Hans you might be wondering? It’s the name of our baby. Well, not the name of the baby once he/she is born, but while it’s in utero. Maybe I should rewind 😉

Back in mid-April – and confirmed by a doctor in early May, Mike and I found out that we are expecting a baby in mid-December! We’re incredibly excited to finally be through with the first trimester and at a point where we can share our news with family and friends.

It’s been smooth sailing (knock on wood) thus far. The only symptoms that I’ve dealt with have been exactly the same as those that my mom experienced when she was pregnant: extreme exhaustion, headaches and heartburn (which some say is a sign that your baby is going to have lots of hair – with the amount of heartburn that I’ve been experiencing daily, I’m prepared to give birth to an ape). Seeing as I’ve been dealing with heartburn since I was 20 (it was the moment I realized that I was an adult), that’s been nothing that I can’t handle. The headaches haven’t been unbearable, with the exception of one particularly painful evening where Mike ended up at CVS at 11pm searching for something that I could actually take to ease the pain. And the tiredness has just been pesky. Those who know me well know that I don’t just lay around on the weekends – I craft massive to-do lists that I cannot possibly finish even when I’m awake and plow through most of the things needing to be worked on. But these past several Saturdays I’ve found myself incapable of moving further than from our bed to our couch and mentally that’s been rough.

Some FAQ’s we’ve been getting as the news has started to spread:

1) Will you find out the gender?
Yes, we fully plan to find out at our end of July appointment. What we do with that information is TBD. We’ve heard many a tale of folks planning for one gender only to deliver a baby of the opposite (My parents were planning for Hannah Elise only to deliver an Ian Andrew being a textbook example). So we’ve decided that at that ultrasound, if we see ‘man-parts’ then we’ll make the official call that we’re having a baby boy. If we don’t see ‘man-parts’ and the doc says girl, we might still play it neutral in terms of the nursery and might downplay the gender.

2) Do you have names picked out yet?
We’re currently making our way through the “Cool Baby Names” book. In the lead currently is Chamillionaire. I jest. We’ve got a list of about 5 names for each gender thus far that we both like enough to write down, and once we finish the book we’ll start to whittle down the list. We’ve agreed though that ultimately the name will be a surprise to everyone as we don’t want to fall in love with a name only to have it poo-pooed by other people. After all, getting us to agree 100% on a name is going to be enough of a task – trying to get anyone else on board just seems futile. We promise we won’t actually name our baby Chamillionaire (though it is one of the names listed in the book under the Rapper Names chapter – no joke) and we’re pretty sure that any name that isn’t Chamillionaire you’re going to love, or at least tell us that you love it.

3) So who’s Hans?
A long time ago (okay, back when we started talking about having a baby, so late 2012), I said some Italian-sounding name and Mike said it was too ethnic for our German last name. So I told him instead that we’d name our children names like Hans, Heinrich or Helga. Well, Hans stuck as a temporary name (I was tired of referring to the baby as it, or embryo or fetus). Mike wasn’t on board with calling the unborn baby Hans, but it seems to have stuck for now haha.

4) When are you going to make it Facebook Official?
In a word, never. Much like our engagement, Mike and I are opting to keep this pregnancy off of Facebook. I’m sure that we’ll announce the birth and share a few photos on FB after the blessed event, but we don’t plan to before that. We’ll keep the blog updated with news/stories as we have them and if the occasional photo leaks onto FB where I look obviously pregnant we’re not going to make a big deal about it – but we’re asking politely that comments/statuses about our pregnancy stay only on the blog or via private messages, not public on our walls or your newsfeed. Thank you in advance for your respect on this issue.

5) Who knows/who can I tell?
Now that we’re out of the first trimester, we’re okay with people spreading the news. Our immediate families know and they have been telling our extended families and their friends. Additionally, both of our places of work know. And anyone else who we’ve seen in person to share the news with. Please, please don’t be offended if you’re finding out via this blog post – we’ve had an incredibly busy last few weeks with Mike’s new job and wedding season and as a result haven’t gotten to see everyone that we’d have liked to have seen to tell in person.

That about wraps up the past 14 weeks in a nutshell – July promises to be a very exciting month for us and we’ll keep you up to date as we know more. I’ll leave you with the fun fact from my pregnancy app (yes, I’ve got an app that tells you weekly what’s developing): This week Hans is the size of a lemon, about 3.5 inches. He/she can make faces, suck his/her thumb and pee – my brother and I agree that the peeing part is a little bit weird.