Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Planting Dahlia Tubers; Pomegranates and Persimmons Picked and Ready

There was a threat of rain to happen on Monday.  It was Friday when I heard it, sitting in my chair knitting at night.  About 10 minutes later, I told Frank it was going to rain when suddenly it dawned on me.  It is going to rain on Monday!!!  The rain meant we needed to pick our pomegranates BEFORE the rain or they will split.  We learned that lesson the hard way, TWICE.  
There is a point when the weather is still hot, you look at the poms a few times, not quite ready, leave them on the trees as long as possible to get larger and sweeter. Then a week or so goes by when you think about them again.  Boom!!!  They grew too big and burst and you have a crop of split open pomegranates that are still good, but have to be sold or juiced quickly before the mildew sets in to the inside of them.
Saturday, I got up early and headed back to the trees and started picking, making piles of the poms for Frank to pick up with the Gator and tractor.  The crop was small this year because we had pruned them very severely last fall as the branches were falling with so much fruit and the trees were getting too tall to pick without using ladders.  We finished up picking them all by Sunday afternoon, all sorted, boxed and ready to sell.  Want any pomegranates to make jelly or to have the juice for smoothies, juice? They are terrific and such a cheap cheap price here at Windmill Farm.  Give us a call.
I have been obsessed with dahlias.  I am loving everything about them, where have they been my whole life?  I thought they were a problem to grow and thought people didn't really like them.  Well I have been wrong and I am on a mission to rectify my missing out all these years with having them in my gardens.
I went on-line to craigslist looking for dahlias because I had looked at several of the bulb catalogs and thought I would need a loan from the bank in order to purchase even a few dahlia bubs.!!!  
Boy are they expensive, PER TUBER.  Well I actually really lucked out because there on craigslist were these photos of dahlias growing and an adorable flower cart in front of a home selling the dahlia tubers AND flowers right near us, in Chico.  I sent her a reply and Joan was so nice, replied and I went to her house and purchased a box of dahlias which are now in the ground, just waiting to show their stuff next year in Windmill Farm flower gardens!  
I did plant some last spring from another wonderful lady who lives up in Oregon.  But I am afraid, my ignorance of growing them resulted in me loosing about 1/2 of them.  I planted them in a great spot, I thought, moist, heavy clay section.  Well, they don't like being wet all the time so I probably rotted about 1/2 of them.  Some did grow but not the big dinner plate ones I just love.

We also hustled around getting some of the Hachiya persimmons picked but not because of the rain, because of the birds.  Yes, birds just spy out that nice yellow/orange color and come knocking or should I say pecking at those sweet and beautiful fruit.  The Hachiya persimmons are great to use in cooking, cakes, cookies and they freeze very well either with the skins removed or not.

Our farm received more flower orders, so fun to put together each one, Nature always surprises me with the beautiful results of color and texture.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Designer Chairs Using Re-Cycled Surplus Office Chairs -Easy To Re-Upholster

The Butte County had a surplus sale a few weeks ago, I like to attend as I am a sucker for office supplies.  I had been thinking about getting a couple of regular office chairs to re-cover, one for myself and one for my daughter who needed a chair for her craft room.

I spent 27 years in an office chair, so I knew what to look for when selecting them.  But with so many people going to these sales, I used my head for a change-ahead of time.  I put a bunch of post its in my pocket saying "sold" to Paula.  When I got there, I put the post its on 4 chairs right away after waiting in a long line to enter. Then I started checking each one more carefully to make sure the mechanics of each one worked; up and down valves; etc. 
There were a few with arms, a few without; some had some really bad stains.  I made my final selections and went and paid for them, at $10 each.
When I got home, Frank took them apart so I could work on just the parts that needed fabric.  
I went to Joann's Fabrics and was very lucky to find the perfect fabrics; one of them had beautiful birds, for my chair.  The other chair was for my daughter, Celli's craft room which is done in purples, grays, yellow.   I found a great fabric for her chair, both fabrics were 50% off. Here are the steps I took to recover:
1.  I put the chair top piece and seat on top of the fabric facing me so I could see how the fabric pattern would look on the chair.  Unfortunately, when there is a large pattern, such as the birds, to position the chair back and seat where you want them, it does waste some fabric.  Cut enough all around so it will fold around the seat to be stapled underneath.
2.  Starting with the seat.  Once happy with the fabric placement, I sprayed the old seat fabric with fabric adhesive all around the flat part and on edges. (I actually did this on my kitchen table but put down a drop cloth.) and pressed the new fabric  all around the flat part and the edges. The fabric should be very tight against the old fabric.  Turn it upside down so the back is facing you and staple (I used an electric stapler) all around. 
3. Trim excess fabric. Be careful to smooth all around the corners, sometimes having to lift up the new fabric to work out the folds.  I used a muslin piece of fabric, cut it to shape and hot glued it down onto the underneath of the seat to cover up the raw stapled edges.
4.  The back part of the chair is done the same except the back of the chair is visible and is done in two pieces; one piece for the front and one for the back.  Cut your fabric pieces making sure the pattern is what you wish to be seen from both directions.  I matched the seat print to the back print.  But on the back of both chairs, I used a different design on the same fabric.  I sprayed the adhesive glue, pressed the fabric and
wrapped it around the curved edges.  But for the office chair back, you don't staple. It is like a clam shell of two parts pushing against each other.  I took a screw driver and gently pushed the fabric edge down between the front panel and back panel.  At first it is a little difficult but once you get going, it presses inside the two pieces very easily.  Then I cut out the back of the chair, sprayed it with the adhesive, and did the same thing, started pushing the fabric in between the two pieces, all around.  Careful not to push too hard with the screw driver which would rip the fabric.

5.  The blue chair, the one I covered with birds did not have the same connecting pieces, front and back.  It had these teeth that I pulled the old fabric out and pulled them loose again.  I cut the two pieces of fabric, sprayed, glued and pulled to back.  But this time, it pushed it into these jaw type teeth that held the fabric tight.  I worked my way around the chair, sometimes having to re-do a portion of the chair I had already done because it started to buckle.  After feeling they were all correct, I pushed down on this jaw of teeth, hit it a few times around with a soft mallet which tightened up the grip to give the back a very tight fit.  I had never seen these in chairs, but Frank said he had seen them in the automotive industry.  They use them in head liners of cars.

6.  The last part of the upholstery job were the arms on the gray chair.  It was covered with fabric but the blue chair (bird fabric one) had plastic arm pad.  I cut two pieces of fabric that matched, sprayed with adhesive, pulled the fabric to underneath, stapled, trimmed and they were done.  Frank put all the pieces back together in about an hour.
Re-cap:  The bird fabric was upholstery fabric, so came wider in width so I purchased 2 yards and had a little left over mainly because the actual chair seat and back are smaller than the gray chair.  The paisley purple print cost $8.50 a yard and I purchased 2 1/2 yards because I knew I wanted to match the large print in the middle and it would take more fabric.  I had some fabric left over but they were pieces. The chair cost $10 + $25 for the purple one = $35.00.  The bird chair was $10 + $30 for fabric = $40.  Not a bad price and a new designer look for old chairs.
If you have any questions or comments, would love to hear from you.  Don't be afraid to tackle them, I am not a professional upholstery person, just get your sissors, fabric, spray glue out and give it a try.  I knew that if it didn't turn out well, I could always SEW a slip cover over the chair and it would also look great.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Trends of Flower Arrangements-Going More Natural

Nature has moved center stage in all of our lives.  Our home decorating choices reflect more earth tones of colors; natural grass, hemp, rugs; rice paper wallpapers; wood coffee tables; lamps made from branches.
Kitchens are reflecting lamp shades made of woven branches or reeds; bamboo flooring; wooden blinds; wood beaded chandeliers; candlesticks made from shells, burled knots.
I have seen nature take center stage in flower arrangements too, especially those done by independent florists; flower farm florists; florists that are using more local products that are grown fresh at the time of the event. Those natural products dictate the outcome of each item made and dictate the final result so that many of the floral designs look like they were plucked right out of the flower beds where they were growing.
People aren't asking for flower arrangements that they pick from a folder on a counter where every single arrangement selected will look what is seen in a plastic photo.  Those arrangements look nice, but "fake", unrealistic.
Baby's Breath has been replaced to people wanting Queen Anne's Lace.

Roses are forever in arrangements, but have been replaced with people wanting old fashioned cabbage type
roses; roses with scents; (David Austin Roses); rambling roses; small roses hanging down off of string cascading from a ceiling or coming out of a bride's bouquet.  Something like you would see blooming in an arbor or hanging off country garden shed. Natural looking.
Arrangements may have pheasant feathers; pods; Magnolia leaves; Magnolia seed pods; ivy; soft flowing vines; fountain grass blooms; the silver of dusty miller; succulents;
the textural softness of lamb's ear.  These are items seen in nature, but rarely seen in a commercial, look at a photo picture.
Another trend in floral design done more by independent florists or farm florists is using vegetables and fruit-produce within an arrangement.
Who would ever believe that putting roses together with purple cabbage and turnips could be so beautiful.
I saw a wedding photo of  hydrangeas hanging from the ceiling creating a chandelier of flowers.  Simply Beautiful.
It is my opinion if flowers are selected as to what is grown in your area, are growing at the time when you need them for an arrangement or event; NOT selected from a book of what it is going to look like when finished; then the florist uses his/her imagination, talents, training to produce something far more unique and spectacular.
All flowers are beautiful, they just need the right people to put them together to make them PERFECT for you.
(Some photos are via Pinterest or mine)