Lettuce Garden

Harvest time has already rounded the corner, and it's a true fight between my furry friends outside and how bad I want to juice some fresh greens from the garden.

I'm keeping my eye on the juicy Green Leaf Lettuce in the background, as my Swiss Chard struggles to produce a leaf that won't get snatched up the second it sprouts. In the photo above, you can see I planted some marigolds to help ward off my neighborhood deer. They like to peruse my garden looking for any freebies. In the upper right, I also squeezed in three small Dead Nettle plants this spring. I have the 'Anne Greenaway' species that is more lime green with variegated leaves. This ground cover produces a delicate purply-pink flowering stem from spring to summer. Not only will this bushy plant spread and act as a natural form of mulch, it also has a peculiar smell that is supposed to ward off the deer and rabbits. 

You can see where I interlaced my Swiss Chard with marigolds and strategically placed the Dead Nettle to quickly spread its stinkiness to fill in the gaps. The marigolds and Dead Nettle were an afterthought. When my chard was getting nibbled on by someone other than me, I knew I had to build up a barrier to try and stop the mayhem. So far, it seems to be helping. New leaves are sprouting.

My Red Romaine Lettuce (shown in center) are doing okay. We've had a few plants leveled, but others are growing strong. Those green stakes are also deer deterrents - more on that in another post.

The Green Leaf Lettuce is flourishing and serves as a pretty chartreuse accent to my blueish-purple catmint (in background). However, I made the grave mistake of planting the lettuce too close to the catmint this spring. That's an easy mistake to make - overlooking the amount of room your plants will need as they mature. 

I also planted Red Mustard Japanese Giant (pictured below) this spring. This may be the only lettuce I don't indulge in because the leaves look simply stunning against the lime green of the Creeping Jenny ground cover. I find it quite ironic that I'm faced with the choice of gobbling up my edible garden, or leaving the plants intact for the sake of beauty. However, the lettuces are cool season plants, and once the weather heats up the flavors become more bitter. So, time is truly of essence and I'll have to flip the coin soon - to eat or not to eat! 

City Map Scarf

For those of you who have been following me, you may recall this series of City Maps that I created last year. As it turns out, I had the lovely opportunity to collaborate with Demdaco to create this collection of six neckerchief scarves.  

I've attached a few of the photos of the original illustrations in my sketchbooks.

I hope to sell these scarves in my store soon! Will keep you posted!

Italian Arugula

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I harvested my first batch of Italian arugula yesterday (Rucola Colivata). I only picked a handful last night to make a light salad. The baby leaves were quite tender with a lively peppery taste. I left most of the arugula in the garden, as to sample the flavors as the plants mature. All in all, it was a delicious first batch!

The salad is simply dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, shaved parmesan, freshly ground celtic sea salt and black pepper.

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Spring Garden

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April is coming to a close and I have everything planted to kick start my spring. I will be journalling the growth (or demise) of my plants and will hopefully have some cool weather veggies to harvest soon. I learned from a few of my fellow gardener friends that I may have added too much compost to my soil last year. A few of my root vegetables didn't taste so yummy, and my cucumber plant was a little colorless and tougher than toenails. So, with better luck and more organic garden soil tilled in, I plan to have a better yield of crops this year. Will keep you posted!

Living Wall

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Just finished hanging my air plants from airplantshop.com! It took me awhile to figure out to hang them, but I simply tied a small loop of hemp twine around each base and hung it to a nail. Voila! Very easy to do and I love the look! Now, I've just got to keep these babies alive! Will take them down every other week and let them soak in some filtered room-temp water for 20-30 minutes. That should do the trick!

Drying Herbs

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I had an abundance of herbs last year from my garden. I wasn't sure if I'd infuse them in oil or butter; and because I couldn't decide, they sat out on my counter for a few weeks - maybe more. Needless to say, they dried themselves out naturally. There were a few stems that trailed off down the brown crispy route and had to be thrown. But otherwise, I had a delightful array of herbs that kept me going through the winter. Here is a small sampling of some basics - sage, thyme, and oregano.

Italian Seeds

Spring has sprung, folks! I'm looking forward to tilling up my garden and mapping out a new bed of spring yummies! I missed the cool spring season last year because I created my garden in May. Here, I have a few seed packets that I purchased in Italy several years ago. Not knowing if the seeds are too old to germinate, I thought I'd give them a trial run.

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I scattered a pinch of each lettuce variety onto a wet paper towel. I then rolled up the individual paper towels and placed them in a ziploc bag near a sunny window (not direct sunlight). If the seeds don't germinate within a few days - or only a few have sprouted by next week - chances are the seeds are no good.

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As much as I would love to have my Italian varieties in full bloom this spring, I do have a backup plan just in case.

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I'm looking forward to getting out in the dirt, once again, to start a new menu of spring offerings!

Day 365

I can't believe this is it! Day 365! Well, last but not least - the little Chihuahua! Again, another Easter egg inspired illustration! Hope you've enjoyed my year of illustrations! It's almost hard to believe a whole year went by already! Please don't fret, I will continue to post pictures along the way. My painting doesn't stop here! Thanks for following me along and I promise to update you with little treasures along the way! In fact, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I may have gotten a book deal based on some of these illustrations! I will happily share the details once it gets finalized!! ((Big hugs))

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Day 362

Wow! Can't believe I only have a few days left of my 365 Sketchbook Project! Where did that time go? I must say, there's a part of me that is looking forward to taking a break. It wasn't always easy to pick up a paintbrush on the days that I was sick or had to help my kids with homework. Committing to anything for a year, or longer, takes true dedication. Somehow, this experience has become secondhand to me now - the act of creating art every day and sharing it with my friends on Facebook and Instagram. Just because my yearly project is almost at an end, please know that I am not far. I am right here, and will be regularly posting to share my creative tidbits along the way.

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