This past fall Nate sold his house (with a yard and a garden) and bought a downtown condo. While I miss being able to use his yard for my gardening purposes, he’s really loving the downtown life and the fact that he doesn’t have a yard to mow.
My apartment doesn’t have any outdoor space, so I’ve decided to make the most of his 5′ x 10′ balcony. I’ll post more on the balcony garden later. Today I’m excited about the plant markers I finished this past weekend.
I’m always pinning cute markers that I think I could make myself, but never get around to making them.
I usually draw a few pictures to remind myself where things are planted, and by the time things start coming up I can usually tell what’s what. Since this garden is on a balcony rather than tucked in the back corner of a yard I’m trying to keep things looking clean and organized. I’m probably a ways from the balcony being magazine worthy or anything like that, but the markers really help to unify everything.
While some of the example I pinned are pretty fantastic I decided to keep my investment low and the style simple. Here are the ones I made and how I made them.
Black and Gold Homemade Garden Markers
Craft sticks from Dollar Tree (I used wide ones)
Black paint (I already had some cheap chalkboard paint from Michael’s on hand)
Foam brush (also had on hand)
Gold (or whatever color you’d like) permanent marker (I found mine in the dollar section at Target a while back, but I think a sharpie style marker would be great)
Paint two coats of paint on each side of the craft stick also paint the edges. When they’re dry go crazy labeling them for all your plants. One note about your permanent marker. I tried several different paint pens and even a white grease pencil, but finally settled on my gold pen because it wasn’t too liquidy (which caused the paint to run in the groves of the wood) and had a fine enough point to look nice (I’d read some good things about the grease pencil, but decided against it in the end because the point was unreliable).
Now there’s no telling how well these will hold up outside, but I’m ok with that considering I spent $1 (even if I’d had to buy everything I still would’ve been under $5). I’ll report back at the end of the summer, but I also suspect someone in a traditional garden may experience more wear and tear on their markers than I will on a balcony.
Father’s Day weekend I went to Mangum, OK to visit the grandparents. They have a farm, and it has always been one of my favorite places to visit. There are just so many different things to do and experience in the country that we don’t have in the city. During my visit I had sand plums on my mind. I’ve only picked them a time or two and only had sand plum jelly a few times, but I thought it might be the right time of year for them. Saturday afternoon my grandpa (who refuses to ever eat sand plum jelly again after having so much growing up) was so sweet and took me to one of his pastures to pick a bucket full of plums. We got lucky and there were tons of ripe ones!
I ended up with over 7 lbs of plums!
I’ve never made jelly or canned anything before, but other than my small second degree burn mishap my jelly was a delicious success (16 jars of success worth!). If your going to make some jelly or jam check out Sure Jell’s instructions and amount charts. The instructions also come in their box of pectin, and it’s very detailed for all types of jam (bits of fruit) and jelly (fruit juice).
Sand Plum Jelly
Sand plums (5 lbs is what the Sure Jell recipe calls for)
A Box of pectin
New canning seals
8 oz canning jars
1. Pick your plums, remove the stems, sort out the ripe ones and put them in the fridge, put the unripe ones in a paper bag to ripen for a day or two, throw out the ones that are bad or holey.
2. When you’re ready to cook down your plums wash them all (throw out any more bad ones you find, and cut off any suspicious looking spots or holes) and put them in a pot. I read some things that said just cover them with water, some said don’t quite cover them, and the Sure Jell instructions said 5 lbs of plums to 1 1/2 c. of water. I didn’t quite cover mine (my grandma told me with Sure Jell you could probably make water jelly if you wanted) and mine all jelled properly.
3. Don’t boil the plums just let them simmer, and as they get hot mash them with a potato masher. I decided mine were ready when I didn’t see anymore whole plums.
4. Strain the contents of your pot to remove the skins and pits. A lot of what I read said you want to strain it really well so the juice is very clear (no scientific reason just for pretty, clear jelly). That seemed like a waste to me, so I just used a colander and let some of the pulp through. At this point you can store the juice in the fridge until you’re ready to make your jelly.
5. From here just follow the Sure Jell instructions! I’d recommend reading through them a time or two before you start so you know what you’re supposed to do and also have all your tools within arms reach and ready to go.
– I didn’t buy any special canning tools (other than the pectin, jars, and lids). You can do this with regular metal tongs, a tall soup pot (I stuck a metal veggie steamer deal in the bottom of mine to keep the jars from touching the bottom and sides), and a regular funnel.
– Do use a funnel! I’m not sure if the Sure Jell instructions didn’t mention the funnel or what, but I forgot to use mine until I ladled boiling hot jelly over my hand while trying to ladle it into the jar. Definitely not a fun experience.
– Test to make sure the water will cover your jars in your boiling water bath before you start.
– If you’re still feeling nervous Google for some jelly canning tips. I read this site through a couple of times and found the tips and instructions really helpful.
– Heat your jars in a 200 degree oven until you’re ready to fill them.
Happy jelly making!
If you follow the NBA or live in the OKC area you probably know that the Oklahoma City Thunder have made it to the second round of the playoffs and are now in a series against the Lakers. At work during the playoffs they let us wear Thunder t-shirts. Last year they let us wear jeans and Thunder shirts every single day of the week while the Thunder were in the playoffs which was a bit of a problem laundry wise since I only had my Nick Collison Thunder jirt. While it might have been fun to buy four new Thunder shirts, it also could have gotten a little pricey.
I’d collected several free thunder shirts while attending games, but it was the usual story. All free shirts are XL, and I prefer to wear my t-shirts in size XS. In the past I’d toyed with the idea of cutting XL shirts down and re-sewing them to fit me, but I just didn’t know how to go about it without the shirt ending up looking weird. But I needed extra shirts ASAP, so I started doing research. There are a lot of how to videos out there detailing different ways to cut up and re-do your big t-shirts, but below is the very helpful and basic one I followed. The only things I did differently was measure the sides with a ruler to make sure I was cutting similar amounts off each side, and pin the front and back together so that they stayed in place better while sewing.
And here’s how one of my shirts turned out:
I am pretty happy with it, and I’m always getting complements on it because you can’t buy a shirt like this. You can probably see in the picture that the shoulder seams do come down a bit far, but really it’s not too noticeable and doesn’t bother me. One of these days I might try out a shirt where I cut off the sleeves and bring the shoulders up to their correct spot and then sew the sleeves back on.