Posts Tagged Apartment

Bewitchingly Serious Moonlight

HeatherJ, this post is for you. You commented a while back that you were interested in knowing more about my homebrewing endeavors. I hope you find this information useful when deciding upon your brother-in-law’s Christmas present. Thank for reading and following my blog. I so appreciate you!

Did you know? Sweet Mother Nature, BEER IS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOU!

One reason I know this is because, back in my librarian days, I worked with a knowledgeable Catholic mother of nine (yes, nine!) children who extolled beers’ virtues for its milk producing capacity for breastfeeding Moms experiencing low milk supply. Of course, she was not advocating getting schnockered, but said having one beer a few days a week precisely timed around the breast-feeding schedule was not detrimental. Turns out, she was right not that I’m breastfeeding or anything.

A quote on a beer community forum site reads ” Beer is a wholesome liquor….it abounds with nourishment. ”

Dr. Benjamin Rush- American physician

Now working for a medical publishing company, I know physician testimonials are worth their weight in gold so I put on my librarian cap and did a little more research. It turns out moderate beer drinking benefits include: a stronger heart and bones; healthier kidneys and brain; reduced cancer, diabetes, and stroke risk; a boost in B vitamins; and a longer life. Heck yah, everybody grab a cold one!

It just so happens that the beer community forum I was visiting was that of MrBeer.com and since discovering it, I’ve decided that MR. BEER ROCKS!!

I decided to buy Mr. Beer’s Premium Gold kit for $59.95, plus $7.95 shipping and handling. This kit included everything one needs to brew and bottle two batches or four gallons of what turned out to be truly great tasting beer. This is what came with the  Premium Gold kit:

  • 1 Fermenter (2 GAL)
  • 2 Standard Booster™ Refills
  • 8 Bottles with Caps
  • 8 Labels
  • 1 Brewer’s Guide
  • 1 Set of Instructions
Of course, being the feminist I am, I had to make some minor adjustments to the kit when it arrived. (HeatherJ, your brother-in-law would not have to make these adjustments.)
Mr Beer Kit

That Would Be Ms. Beer  😉

Some words of advice before creating your first batch:

1) Read the directions

HeatherJ, I hope you found this informative and helpful in your decision-making process. And, finally there is an issue close to my heart that I hope you will agree is important to our health and the health of our children. So, for my friends reading, please take a moment to click the link and support Senator Gillibrand’s healthy food amendment.

And, when you’re done signing the petition, please take a moment to check out HeatherJ’s blog SoFull EATS. She is a phenomenal writer and she will have your mouth watering before you can say yummy in my tummy.

To Mother Earth,

Heather's Homegrown Signature

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There Once Was A Cucumber That Fell In Love With A Grape

cucumber and grapevine

There Once Was A Cucumber
That Fell In Love With A Grape

None of the other EarthBox plants could blame it. The grape was a pink seedless RELIABLE grape from Gurney’s. And, man, was it reliable! So reliable, in fact, it nearly quadrupled in size in just a few weeks. Yes, that fast!

How do I know it’s LOVE?

Well, cucumber has wrapped its dainty (but powerful) spiraling tendrils around grape’s straight, purposeful shoots; and grape has leaned its lovely, delicate vine toward cucumber, exposing its new growth in adulation.

cucumber tendrils and grapevine

Cucumber And Grape In The Garden Of Love

I’m praying this is the compatible, nurturing kind of love; not the sick, choking, sleeping-with-the-enemy kind. But, if you know me by now, you know I usually err on the sunny side; and like every other potential obstacle in this experiment in EarthBox container gardening that I believed would result in something positive, I believe this union will result in the healthy and mutually beneficial relationship between two different types of plants known as companion gardening —  I believe they will help each other grow. And, that’s a very cool and beautiful thing.

The grape planted with the stevia (formerly known as “The Stick”) is not doing nearly as well, but it’s thriving nonetheless and I have no concern for it doing otherwise. In fact, all of the plants are thriving, almost as if they’re happy for cucumber and grape (there is no room for jealousy in this garden); and they’re turning their eager faces to the sun and reaching a bit higher for the sky every day.

new additions to the earthbox container garden

EarthBox Container Garden Plants
“Grow, Grow, Growing!”

You may be asking yourself how cucumber and grape came to arrive at “first base” in the first place as I had not planted cucumbers initially. And, you also may notice some additional plants in the picture above as well. That’s because there are.

On Mother’s Day weekend, Christine, the boys, and I left our apartment (still undergoing a facelift), and hit the road up to the home of my parental units in Tennessee. Their home is just over the Tennessee/Alabama State line, not far from the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. (If you’ve never been there, it’s definitely worth the trip!)

brown trim paint

“The Crib” A La New Color Scheme

It was an easy and uneventful ride up and a lovely visit overall. We went to church on Mother’s Day and afterward Mum took me to Plant City in Fayetteville, Tennessee (pronounced Plant See-dee in Fayetteville, Tennessee) to get me something for Mother’s Day. An avid gardener herself, she supports Heather’s Homegrown despite her skepticism over the grapes.

I told her I wanted a strawberry pot for Mother’s Day because I read that consuming strawberries is beneficial for reducing stress and therefore stress-induced inflammation, which I have a tendency to suffer from particularly during stressful times when they happen on this third rock from the sun. Plus, my youngest can eat his weight in strawberries.

Additionally, I got a basil plant and a rhubarb plant — and from the 50% off “dead pile” no less.

I’ve been entertaining the notion of making a strawberry-rhubarb pie for my Dad because he is forever pleading fervently, “Please! I just want one fruit pie like Mum [his Mum] used to make. Can’t I just have one fruit pie?”

rhubarb growing in an earthbox container garden

Rhubarb (Planted With Tomatoes):
Just For You, Dad

I got the basil because I like to eat it in salads and make pesto with it. Plus, basil possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and antibacterial properties so it offers many health benefits.

basil growing in an earthbox container garden

Basil Springing Back To Life In An EarthBox

That’s when I saw the cucumber plants for a whopping $1.50 each.

I explained to Mum that I had been reading that cucumbers, which we used to grow on the ground in Connecticut, actually prefer growing up trellises. If you think about it, with all over sunlight exposure the hanging cucumber doesn’t end up with one side of it underdeveloped and yellow (or even rotten) from laying directly on the ground.

I explained companion gardening and told her I had read that cucumbers like growing up cornstalks. Not having planted corn, I told her “just for kicks,” I was going to plant them with the grapes and simply… see what happens.

Being a ‘Go for it!’ kind of gal, Mum advised accordingly. Either that, or she truly has no hope for the grapes!

So, that’s how we got where we are today — with love blooming on the balcony. I pray cucumber and grape remain a happy, healthy couple of companions, and not so much like this couple on the Mother’s Day edition of Saturday Night Live featuring Will Ferrell.

Hopefully, this couple will be in a healthier place soon.

Enjoy!

To Mother Earth,

Heather's Homegrown Signature

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The Circle of Life

Before I begin my next post, I want to share something with you that’s been weighing on my mind since last Saturday. I don’t want to sway your opinion so I’m not going to tell you what I think. You decide. (Oh, and I apologize in advance — I got just a wee bit excited.)

Thank you for voting. You rock.

Well, there have been many ups and downs at Heather’s Homegrown since my last post… Some happy, and unfortunately, some sad.

I’ll start by telling you, for the record, it’s official that I did not overserve myself my homebrewed West Coast Pale Ale as speculated in my last post. Like the second system I assembled, the netting on the third staking system didn’t install correctly either. However, in defense of my constitution — look at what I had to work with!

Faulty staking system netting

Does This Look Right To You?!

The blasted netting didn’t stretch  the width of the staking system!  What am I supposed to do with that!?

I had no choice but to tie one side, skipping the other side, alternating all the way down in a sort of herringbone pattern with curly little Tim Burton-esque “danglies” hanging from each row.

staking system complete indoors

3rd Staking System Assembled
With Stylish Herringbone Pattern

I chose to forgo the netting on the fourth and final staking system. Well, actually I think the sofa ate it, which is just as well because the netting obviously wasn’t reliable — West Coast Pale Ale or not. Instead, like a resourceful Renaissance woman, I used wooden stakes and fishin’ line.

Now, you may ask, what’s that EarthBox doing inside the apartment?!

Well, it all goes back to that lovely phenomenon I dub the apartment complex “facelift”. The follies du jour? Pressure washing.

I had to drag EVERYTHING off the balcony and into my apartment, including the confederate jasmine pictured below. Talk about a major pain! That jasmine hasn’t moved in two years other than to grow and entwine itself around the balcony railing.

Apartment Balcony Pre-Pressure Washing

Apartment Balcony Pre-Pressure Washing,
Post-Hardie Boarding

Now Jasmine looks like this:

Confederate Jasmine

De-Railed: Poor Jasmine, She’s Come Undone

Even worse, the pressure washers were supposed to be here three days ago so I’ve had to drag everything on my balcony in and out of my apartment for the past three days!! Thank goodness, I just so happened to be home on this particular day  because when I saw what the pressure washer guy was doing on other folks’ balconies, I realized I would have to move Mr. and Mrs. Finch’s babies (gulp) on top of everything else.  I prayed Mr. and Mrs. Finch didn’t abandon them if they detected human scent on their nest.

Baby Birds

Awwww, Just Look At All Those Babies

Mr. and Mrs. Finch were gone, and their babies asleep, so I hung the babies on the light fixture by my front door temporarily. I prayed an additional prayer: Please God, don’t let these babies wake up and start their cheep, cheep, cheeping lest Mr. and Mrs. Finch discover they’ve been relocated and freak out on me. No lie. I started to feel like a surrogate mother to those babies, as though I and Mrs. Finch were parenting in tandem. Yes, I know, crazy.

babies finches sleeping in temporary home

Shhhhhhh, Babies Sleeping

Here’s everything dragged inside… Again.

EarthBoxes Indoors

Hooray For Casters!

On another note, the apartment complex wasn’t the only thing around here to receive a facelift! Just one day prior, I’m thrilled to say, I took my car to the fine folks at Birmingham Auto Painting and got her a new paint job.

So, while I waited for the pressure washer guy to come, I decided to go admire the object of my vehicular affection, Christine. I named her after the Stephen King novel because she has a mind of her own. Most days, she purrs like a kitten. Some days, she has P.M.S. But, I forgive her because I love her unconditionally.

Birmingham Auto Painting was awesome! If you live in the Birmingham area and are considering making your old car look brand spankin’ new again, and for not a lot of money, then go to Birmingham Auto Painting. Jackie Shores, the owner, is knowledgeable beyond belief and his staff works fast!

She was Jaguar racing green when I took her in, but the clearcoat was peeling and there were a couple of minor rust spots. I dropped Christine off at 8:30 in the morning, called to check on her at 3:30 in the afternoon, and about fell out of my chair when Jackie said I could pick her up at 4:30! How do a handful of guys paint a car in a day?!

christine jaguar no tag

Heeere’s Christine!!

What’s amazing about Christine is that ever since my eldest son was a little boy and we would pass a green 2002 Jaguar XJR (he was born in 2001), I would say, “Wow, what a pretty ride. Mark my words, son. Your mama is gonna have one of those one day!”

So, Christine is a testament to the power of positive thinking. The Universe gave me my dream car — and she’s paid for.  🙂

I saw the pressure washer guy approaching so I ran back upstairs to my apartment.

pressure washing balcony

Hello Pressure Washer Guy

Son of a nutcracker!!

pressure washer kills satellite signal

Good-Bye Satellite Signal

I’d hoped to watch Saturday Night Live that night. Oh well, so much for that. It was time to schlep everything back out to the balcony, which was no small feat. I put the baby birds back in their normal place of residency just in the nick of time as they were awaking and coming to life. I plopped into the chair on the balcony and took a breather.

furnished balcony with EarthBoxes

Chaos Restored

Chet, happy to see the birds back, started circling.

cat after birds

I’m Just Gonna Go Over Here

chet salivating

Well, I’ll Just Go THIS Way Then…

chet and the knee

Doh! The Knee

cat on balcony

Foiled For Now, But There’s Always Tomorrow

The satellite signal was restored on Sunday at 6pm. When I awoke Monday morning there was a note on my door from the apartment complex stating painting would begin on my building that day. So, on a steamy May-in-Alabama morning, I had to haul everything back in again. I left the birds outside and told an English-speaking worker dude on my way to work to “Please, watch out for the baby birds on my balcony.”

He nodded and probably thought, ‘Yeah right, lady.’

When I arrived home from work, someone had caulked the balcony. Thankfully, he had not disturbed the baby finches.

caulked balcony

He Did, However, Hit The Satellite Dish And Knock Out The Signal… Again

So, after much inconvenience, continued service calls to the Dish people, and a few more days of dragging everything off and on my balcony each day, the painters still had not gotten to me. I was thankful when it rained for a couple of days because I knew they wouldn’t be able to paint — and I could leave everything on my balcony.

As is sometimes human nature, I got lazy and kept hoping for rain. Days passed and they still had not painted my balcony!

The plants grew taller…

baby birds with feathers

…And My Babies Started To Grow Feathers!

The next morning, it was raining again, so I went off to work and happily left everything on the balcony. However, being born and raised in Connecticut, I failed to remember the expression regarding Alabama weather. It goes something like this (and please do comment if you know how the real expression goes):

You can wear a sweater to work in the morning, need a tank top by lunch time, an umbrella for the ride home, and it will be snowing by nightfall.

In other words, it’s pretty extreme.

So that afternoon, I was sitting at my computer at work when it hit me. The sun is out! My babies!! I flew home.

Murphy’s Law: I was too late.  My balcony had been painted and the painter was already onto the next one.  I had just missed him.

I went up to my apartment to inspect.  I was pleasantly surprised. They managed to paint around everything pretty well. I immediately looked in the birds nest.

Much to my horror, it was empty. My babies were gone. My heart sank. After all that, I had failed them. I had failed Mr. and Mrs. Finch. Sadly, I dropped my head, looked down, and immediately gasped.

There, next to one of the casters on one of the EarthBoxes, was a baby bird.

It appeared to be panting because its sides were puffing in and out as if in distress. Without another thought, I cupped it in my left hand. It became instantaneously calm. It was rather surreal. It was as though it thought, ‘Phew, I’m safe now. Put me back in the nest.’ So, I put it back in the nest, said a prayer for the M.I.A. baby birds, and went back to the office.

When I returned from work a few hours later, I was thrilled to see Mrs. Finch sitting atop the satellite dish, chirping like mad. When she saw me, she flew to a tree that stands just off to the side of my balcony. I peaked my head around the corner and heard a cacophony of cheeps. I could only assume baby bird’s siblings were in that tree and doing fine. I took the nest down and saw the baby bird, not in the nest, but on the edge of the fern as if it was trying to pluck up the courage to attempt another take-off.

My spirits were lifted and my hope restored for the Finch babies!

Chet had been in the house all day and needed to go out. I figured since the bird was in the nest and Chet not on the balcony, all should be well. A couple of hours later, I went back out and checked on baby Finch. He remained in the same spot. All alone. My uneasiness returned. He has got to be getting hungry by now.

A bit later I went outside and checked on Chet. He was sitting under the tree next to my balcony, staring up, waiting for gifts from Heaven. Dang cat. I decided that if nature was going to take its course, it would have to take it because I had to make dinner before I faced an uprising. Everyone around here is acting hungry!

While up to my elbows in ground turkey sausage and oatmeal, there was a knock at my door. I quickly washed my hands of meatball goo and opened the door. My neighbor, Bill, was walking away saying over his shoulder, “He’s got something. I don’t know what he’s got, but he’s got something!”

I heard Chet’s telltale muffled my-mouth-is-full-but-I-got-you-something meow and I said to myself, ‘Oh, God.’

Chet ran up the steps and laid a baby bird proudly at my feet.

I started bawling like a baby and went and checked the nest. As I’d figured, the baby bird was gone.  After all we had been through together, I felt shattered, and all over a baby bird.

I had to tell myself to look at the bright side. The other babies grew and flew away with Mr. and Mrs. Finch. They were healthy and alive with a little help from me.

And, I couldn’t be angry with Chet. He’s a cat after all and a very good hunter. He’s always bringing me “treats” of some nature and I couldn’t expect him to be any other way. I love my Chet. Yes, I had to look at the big picture.

Things in life come and go like the ebb and flow of the ocean. Like the pressure washer man and the satellite signal. Like the plants that are thriving, and the stevia plant that bit the dust.

Some things are restored — like Christine.

And, some things are taken away — like sweet little baby bird Finch. May it rest in peace.

empty birds nest

They Are All Part Of The Circle Of Life

To Mother Earth,

Heather's Homegrown Signature

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