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Have you been seeing all the personal, round outdoor mats on social media and in magazines lately?  Maybe I’m hanging on Instagram too much…. any-who….Hobby Lobby posted a “Round Outdoor Mat” craft and I glammed onto it!

I’m a huge daydreamer, how about you?  I’ve been dreaming of enjoying this summer, it’s bounty and soaking up all of it’s wonders for months now.  I mostly dream about having (or taking) time for myself.  Self-love, self-care is all the rage at this time, and yes, I believe it is important.

This craft popped up on my Instagram feed and shazam, I found myself in Hobby Lobby buying the materials for it.  Imagine that!

It’s so easy (right up my alley) and gosh, it turned out fabulous. Follow the links to Hobby Lobby’s DIY projects page under their sewing section, although there is no sewing involved!

The directions are easy to follow!  You need 1.5 Yards of Indoor/Outdoor fabric (54″ wide – 54″ long), 5 yards of fringe (I bought a super heavy fringe – it was more expensive than I intended; however, I was in a super hurry and grabbed the first bullion fringe I saw), fabric glue (which holds amazingly well even with this heavy fringe) and quilting clips to hold the fringe onto the fabric as the glue dries.  I believe clothes pins would work well too.

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Follow the folding directions Hobby Lobby gives.  You end up with a triangle.

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Then take a yardstick and measure and mark 26″ from the point of the fold.  Keep the yardstick in place at the point of the fold and continue marking 26″ across the fabric.

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Cut along the lines you made, and voila, you have a fabric circle!

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Don’t fret about your circle not being perfect – as promised by Hobby Lobby, the fringe covers up imperfections!  I should know….

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The glue dries clear too!  It would be cool to line this mat and sew the bullion or pom pom fringe onto it.  I chose to go with the flow and make this adorable round outdoor mat in a very short period of time with fabric glue and no backing.

I hope you enjoy this easy Hobby Lobby craft!  Bye Bye! I have to go now and enjoy every moment this summer has to offer and get some self care in too.  Summer never lasts long enough……

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If you would love to hear what’s happening here at Family Tree Farm, receive craft ideas, recipes,  or how to’s, CLICK HERE! 

Thank you!

Karen

Ah, yes…Spring

Yep, Spring has finally hit the South Central Pennsylvania!  YEA!  It could go to winter again next week, who knows, but for now, it’s spring!

I’m experimenting with starting a few (maybe several) seedlings inside this year.  I don’t have a greenhouse, so I set up a growing room in my spare bedroom.  This is what I have going on as of mid April!  Zinnias planted in 72 cell trays.  I started the seeds March 19th.

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I’m also experimenting with soil blocking.  This is a European method of seeding that uses very little space.  Lisa Mason Zeigler of The Gardner’s Workshop has the low down on all things soil blocking.  She literally starts thousand of plants inside a 10×10 room with shop lights every year.  Its a very different process and I’m trying to figure things out, but so far, my snaps are doing great.  We learn from our mistakes, right……

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The seeds are planted into each 3/4″ block of soil.  They should be ready to plant out much earlier than if I would have started them in the plastic seed starting trays.  Much better for the environment, too.  I started soil blocking March 30th.

This is the equipment needed for soil blocking…

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I purchased the soil blocking mix, (the mix needs to be a special blend because you want the soil to stick together more than regular seed starting soil) seeds and tray from The Garnener’s Workshop.  The soil blocker I purchased from Johnny’s Seeds.  As you can see, I can get 40 seedlings on one 5×10 tray.

Lisa Mason Zeigler has great tutorials on her website and has written some very informative books on growing flowers. They are all listed on her website.

For the regular 72 cell seed starting kit, I filled the cells with wet (not dripping) seed starting soil, then seeded the tray.  I purchased my seed starting kits at Dollar General.

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I put the seed tray on a heat mat, purchased on Amazon, put the dome on that came with the 72 cell seed starter kit,  and within two days, yes, two days, 50% of the seeds germinated.  I then took the seeds off the heat mat and put it under regular shop lights.  The shop lights should be about 3″ above the seedlings.  Not all seeds will germinate that quickly. 

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Why a heat mat?  The room temperature in the spare bedroom that I’m growing my plants in (I don’t have a greenhouse) is about 68 degrees.  The soil temp in the seed tray is about 15 degrees cooler, so the heat mat brings the soil temperature up to about 70 degrees which is perfect.  Not all seeds want heat, so you need to read the back of the seed packets and research, research, research.

Why shop lights?  The seedlings need about 16 hours of light a day that way they won’t become too leggy.

I’ll fill you later with what made it and what didn’t…..

Talk to you soon!

Karen

P.S.  If you are interested in whats happening at Family Tree Farm, please click HERE for updates, tutorials, recipes sent to your inbox at least once a month.  Just for signing up, I’ll email you my free printable PDF – 5 Easy To Grow Flowers For Your Cutting Garden!

#Tomato

Do you follow #tomato on Instagram?  There are 5.8 Million posts of this most delicious fruit.  Yes, we can buy tomatoes all year long here in South Central PA, but how many of us can’t wait for those precious few months when we can grow or buy them local!  Count me in!  It’s finally spring and time to start thinking about planting our gardens!  YEASSS!

We recently had the great opportunity to visit good friends in Florida.  Knowing how much we love farming, they took us to a Florida farm where we could buy fresh picked flowers, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet corn and more.  Lordy, it was pure paradise for Rick and I.  We both grew up on farms.  As children, when our families took car rides (yes, it was an experience, not an every day event typically ending with ice cream 🙂  our dads were always observing other farmer’s fields.  I still crane my neck to see how all the crops are growing and wishing the farmer who planted them all the best as I pass by LOL!  Farming is not for the faint of heart….

Anyhow, I posted a photo on Facebook of a lovely pile of Heirloom tomatoes that were for sale at the farm we visited in Florida.  I had a lot of questions about what kind of tomatoes they were, so I thought there may be more questions that I could answer.  I am by no means an expert on tomatoes or growing them, but I do know what I like and a few things about the different types of tomatoes.  I’m still learning.  There is a lot to learn…

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Here is my little unofficial tutorial.   There are three different varieties of tomatoes:

Open Pollinated (non-hybrids):  This variety will produce the same tomato plant year after year if you save the seeds.

Heirloom:  They have a history.  Either a family history or commercial history.  The variety must be at least 50 years old (or introduced before 1940) and typically have a great taste!  All heirlooms are open-pollinated but not all open pollinated are heirlooms.  Confusing, right…?  If you save the seeds of an heirloom tomato, you will grow the same plant year after year.

Hybrid:  This is the variety that we have gotten used to.  It has been cross bred to exhibit the best characteristics of varieties.  They have been bred to withstand shipping and have a longer shelf life.  They are usually a very pretty tomato too.  We all like that, right?  The hybrid seeds can be saved, but you will not get the same tomato plant.

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Tomatoes can be determinate and indeterminate……WHAT???  No quiz later, I promise!

Determinate Tomatoes are short bushy types (can still get up to 2-3′ typically) and the fruit matures within the same time frame.  There are early, mid and late season varieties.

Indeterminate Tomatoes provide fruit all season long till frost, however will grow quite large and need a lot of support (can get up to 6’ish).  I believe most heirloom varieties are indeterminate so you would need a lot of room in your garden for them.

When you are shopping for your tomato plants or seeds, all the info about whether it is a determinate, indeterminate, hybrid, heirloom, open pollinated, etc will be on the tag or on the seed packet.

Here at Family Tree Farm, we have sold heirloom varieties (which, in my opinion, are the most delicious and have that wonderful tomato taste that we long for all winter) at our roadside stand.  They are not big sellers.  It’s so hard for the heirloom to compete visually against a hybrid.  We all want those beautiful red, round, large slicer tomatoes for our BLT’s.  The heirlooms come in all different colors and sizes and can develop some really weird shapes!

Last year I snuck in a couple Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes along with the hybrids we planted.  Their taste was divine.  The plants got crazy big and I didn’t do a very good job of keeping them off the ground, but still harvested lots of them for my own delight!  I did share some with Rick.  He had to agree, they were delish!

I’m going to sneak more heirlooms in this year…..shhhh, don’t tell Rick.  I just have to do a better job of keeping them off the ground……

If you want to know more about heirloom tomatoes, I would recommend www.tomatofest.com.  They have an awesome site with lots of heirloom info and seed varieties.

Happy Spring Folks!

P.S.  Make sure you never miss out on the latest happenings at Family Tree Farm.  Click on the link to receive updates, recipes, tips, tutorials and more delivered to your inbox about once a month.  Just to say “Thanks” for signing up, you will receive my latest freebe printable “Five Favorite Easy Cut Flowers“.

 

Love Is In The Air…..

Yes friends, it’s that time of year….Valentines Day is just around the corner!  How do you feel about Valentines Day?  Do you celebrate with your snuggle bunny, or if you have children, snuggle bunnies 🙂  I recently saw a report that the $ amount spent is going down for retailers at Valentines Day.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe there are more people like the hubs and I!

We don’t fuss here on the farm.  A nice card, and my hubs loves flowers too…isn’t that sweet?  We try to make a little more effort for dinner than usual.  We don’t need to go out,  (although, if dinner reservations are made – I’m dressed and ready to go LOL!) it’s just nice to celebrate at home.  True Story….one year (about 25 years ago – SHOCK?!) my hubs bought a vacuum cleaner for me on Valentines Day.  As you can imagine, it didn’t go over so well….not that I want or need extravagant things, but a vacuum?…….Humph!   On the flip side, it was one of the best vacuum cleaners I ever had.  I kept it.  The vacuum was a beast and did an amazing job for many many years. Please know, if you ever bring his Valentine gaffe up to my hubs in front of me, I will deny what I just said….wink. wink.

Last year, someone sent me a lovely photo of a small bouquet of flowers wrapped in what looks like black construction paper.  Isn’t it adorable?  Wouldn’t you love to receive or give something like this?  I don’t know if she took this photo, or where she found it, so I can’t give credit where credit is due.

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Anyhow, I was reading one of my favorite blogs this week and there it was.  A similar sweet little Valentine bouquet of flowers in a paper cone.  The blog is StoneGable.  Check her out!  She has great farmhouse decorating tips and delicious recipes.  StoneGable’s blog post has printable paper too – very cute.  I just wanted to make my flower cones in black like the photo above.  Check out my video tutorial as I make one.

What is great about this little bouquet in a cone is, you can take a large bouquet of flowers that your purchase from your local florist and divide it.  That way all your snuggle bunnies get a little gift of love from you and you don’t have to break the $.  Sweeeet, right?  Super easy to do!  Try it!

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Happy Valentines Day!

Karen